Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Anomaly / Adrienne Frantz - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

I recently did a post about the wonderful cast of The Bold and the Beautiful and how grossly underrated they are. Within that, I spoke of a woman named Adrienne Frantz and her album, Anomaly. I mentioned that I was going to review it, and I will do so now.

A little back story. As I had said, when I first saw Adrienne on The Bold and the Beautiful, I wasn't all that crazy about her. Well, I suppose that feeling was directed more toward her character, and when you know nothing about the real person, the two tend to meld. Eventually, I had some exposure to her in the real world, and I began to like her. So much so, that, when I heard she had made an album, I went out and got it. Now I had heard her sing on the show and liked her voice. It was quite different from anything I had ever heard, so I was intrigued. Of course, a good voice does not mean one will record a good album, but once I had a listen, I see I need not have worried.

Anomaly was released in 2007, and it is (I have to use this word again) brilliant. I suppose it would be put into the pop category, but if we must do that, I would have to say it's more like high end pop. It has some sophisticated melodies and well-crafted, personal lyrics, but still with some moments of pure fun sprinkled in there. And Adrienne's unique voice is perfectly suited for each song. Speaking of which - the songs. Let me tell you about some of them.

We start with "Halfway", a song that has a bit of a mellow mood but is actually about empowering oneself in their relationship and asking for unwavering support from their partner. That leads into "Giving Me Names", the oldest living song on the album and my favorite. It's another slow song, but as it progresses, the chorus is infused with just a dash of epicness without overdoing it. Now we really hit that pop area with the third song, "Taken", due to the catchy melody and the subject of - let's just say it!- boyfriend thievery fantasies. Yeah, that's right. And if you hear the story behind it, there is also a touch of humor. According to Adrienne, drunk dialing is involved.

Those three songs are a strong start to this very well-balanced album. Adrienne takes us through a lot of emotions here, both personal and universal. There is a touching song called "Seren", which spawned from a letter she wrote to her baby goddaughter during a difficult time. Then we have "Wide Awake". Adrienne has actually referred to this as the meanest song she ever wrote. Oh, and she got one of the melodies when her cat walked across the piano keys, so we have to give a little credit to one Miss Cuddles Patricia. For real, she middle names her cats. She is a young, gorgeous, married woman who middle names her cats. Way to take the cat lady stereotype and toss it from a tenth story window. Look, I may poke fun at her for the naming thing, but I'm certainly not judging her for getting her song ideas from unexpected places. I mean, the Bee Gees got the sound of "Jive Talkin'" by driving over a bridge, so she's in legendary company. I also should mention the song "Getaway". Not only because it is a fantastic song and another of my favorites, but because there's a video of it on YouTube. So if you want to get a taste of this album, you can get it there.

So while Adrienne Frantz is underrated as an actress along with her fellow B&B-ers, she is also underrated as a musician. This wonderful woman should be a Grammy-winning, interviewed by Rolling Stone, fixture on Entertainment Tonight superstar. But of course, she is too talented for that. She does get props from those of us who have taken the time to get to know her and her music, and I'm sure she is appreciative. Still, if there is justice in this world, she will eventually be recognized for her great talent. With this review, I, for one, am trying to do my part. I hope it works.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, July 30, 2012

Top Ten Dr. House Quotes

Greetings Pups,

I am still going through withdrawals. That's right. It has been two months since the final episode of House, and the sarcasm thirsty corner of my heart still sheds a tear. I know I have the DVDs and the episodes are shown on TV constantly, but it's tough to know that there will be no more adventures with our favorite doctor, nor will their be anymore of what I will be counting down today. We'll get to that in a minute.

First, let me address that final episode. I won't give anything away for those who may not have seen it, but I'd like to give my opinion. While, due to the overwhelming sadness we have, it is hard to put the word good anywhere near the episode, I must say I liked how it ended. It was creative but also typical. By typical, I mean, you are not at all surprised that Dr. Gregory House could not only come up with the idea of what happened, but he also managed to pull it off. I was actually pretty impressed with this ending.

So, like I said, there are a lot of things I will miss about House, but something I will miss mostly are the things he said. His genius, hilarious, offensive quotes. Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but I always felt like this was the best part of the show. So now that it's over, I thought I could run down through some of my favorite "isms" belonging to Dr. House.

#10. "I solved the case. My work is done." - This pretty much sums the doctor up quite well, and how he feels about his profession. He's a diagnostician, not a therapist. He's there to figure out what's wrong with your physical self. Once he does that, it's on to the next mystery. And House loves a mystery.

#9. "The simplest explanation is almost always somebody screwed up." - Take that, Occam. Now judging by the way that Dr. House is constantly taking shots at his inferior team members, I doubt that he will ever think of the "somebody" here as being himself.

#8. "I like you better now that you're dying." - Yep, this is about as sympathetic as he gets. But not to worry. I'm sure he'll start hating them again once they are dead.

#7. "Like I always say, 'There's no 'I' in team'. There is a 'me', though, if you jumble it up." - I love when people take old sayings and turn them on their butt. I guess whoever thought of that 'I in team' thing should have thought about it a little harder.

#6. "Read less. More TV." - As a writer, this one should offend me. But if Dr. House didn't watch a lot of TV, we never would have gotten all those scenes of him enjoying his soaps in that tiny little TV. And may I say, I love when a grown man is not ashamed of the fact that he loves his "stories".

#5. "We all make mistakes and we pay a price." - Okay, this one isn't that funny. It's not even always true. Well, the second part anyway. But when it is, this actually turns into quite a poignant statement. And the fact that he said "we", therefore, including himself, shows that, every so often, a little humility can sneak its way into him.

#4. "Weird works for me." - I am weird. This quote makes me feel very, very special. Thank you, Dr. House.

#3. "I've found that when you want to know the truth about someone that someone is probably the last person you should ask." - That was a bit of a long trip. But if the truth is our destination, it's worth it. This quote, though, is a bit ironic to be spoken by Dr. House considering what most people say about him. Although, if you ask me, the truth about him would be that he is fabulous.

#2. "Never trust doctors." - I know this may seem like an odd thing for a doctor to say, but when you think of how many times that were wrong, per episode!, it's probably a really good piece of advice.

#1. "Everybody lies." - This is probably the most famous of all the House quotes, and it is the most true. I believe he is mostly talking about his patients, and they did do a lot of lying. That never made sense to me. I mean, he's a doctor, not a recruiter for the Ivy League. If he asks you if you do drugs, don't say no when the answer is yes. He is trying to save your life, not trying to slip you up so the best you can hope for is to get wait-listed for freshmen year. The saddest thing is that I'm sure this carries over to real life. People are so considered with how they are perceived by others that they are willing to risk their own lives. For real, the truth will set you free, and sometimes lead to a cure.

And so that is the last we will hear from the finest doctor on the planet. I will miss him. I will miss his sarcasm. I will miss the cane that I am disappointed he never used to hit anyone. At least, I don't think he ever did that. Certainly, I would have remembered if he had.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Beatles Anthology Review

Greetings Pups,

So it is my final post for Documentary Week, and I wanted to end big. I think I have chosen well. All this week I have been titling my posts as movie reviews, but this last documentary isn't really a film. No, no, it was an event!

I was fifteen when The Beatles Anthology first aired in 1995, and it had a major impact on my life. Before then, I knew who the Beatles were, and I knew about their music. Of course, I did. But this gave me a whole new insight on their story. It ran over three nights, so it obviously had a lot of info in it. I won't go into detail too much, because then this post would be a mile long. But I can pinpoint the highlights and then tell you all to see it.

A good place to start with a story about the Beatles would be at the beginning, so that's what they did. We got a bit of detail about their pre-band lives, but not too much. The show really took off once they formed their legendary group and began their rise. One of the best aspects of this part, though, were the very rare musical recordings that we get to hear. I mean, these things were ancient, and you could barely hear anything, but somehow you could still feel the potential of what was to come.

We see some good footage of their earliest performances at the Cavern Club. I hope the boys appreciated them, since it was about the last time they would be able to hear their own music while performing. Oh, sure, people cheered, but it was nothing compared to the psycho teenage girls breaking their lungs and the eardrums of poor security guards that was in store for them. And those girls were a big reason why they had to stop touring. I suppose that was an important thing that The Anthology let us know. It was the fact that the Beatles cared deeply about the art of making their music and their fans did not!! Okay, I get that that is a bit harsh, but this seriously made me want to build a time machine and go back to 1964 everyday. Each time, I would find a young Beatles fan and say to her, "Hey, if you really like the Beatles and you want them to be able to make great music, then the next time you and your little friends go to one of their concerts, SHUT IT!". Yeah, I would do that.

Now though I enjoy the entire landscape of Beatles music, it was when they stopped touring and concentrated more on the true art of the music and what they could do in the studio that I became very interested. We did get a spark of that with Rubber Soul and Revolver, which I believe were made when they were still touring, but The Anthology really went in depth on how much no longer going out on the road changed them. Thankfully for the better.

As it went on, we are exposed to more about the Beatles outside the realm of their music. We get footage of their trip to India for transcendental meditation, proving that some people who are desperate to have something in which to believe will pretty much believe anything. We also go behind the scenes, if you will, on the Magical Mystery Tour movie, which basically bombed. Ringo said it was because it was shown in black and white. Yeah, I can see how that might have had an effect, since that really wouldn't suit this movie. But I think there may have been other reasons, too. Still, we can stamp it with the legacy of eventually being appreciated as an art film.

Oh, yeah, and of course, we had to bring up Yoko. I really wish she could have kept her hands off here,but if you're going to talk about how a band got together, you have to talk about what drove them apart. And a lot of people think that thing was Yoko. I don't. I don't think she broke up the Beatles as a band. I think she broke up John, Paul, George and Ringo as friends. And there is a difference.

As The Anthology draws to a close, you get this odd feeling. With the rooftop concert and the recording of Abbey Road, you can actually feel a sense of finality for everything you're experiencing, even though it had happened twenty-five years earlier. And so it ends with slow motion footage of the Beatles, not long before their break-up,, and the sound of them singing the words to the song "The End", which I don't know if I am legally allowed to include here, so I won't. But we all know them. It may have been obvious and predictable, but there really was no other way to finish.

So there are a couple more specific things I really like about this. Of course, I loved getting the sort of new Beatles songs "Real Love" and "Free as a Bird", the latter of which had a phenomenal video. And I loved the interviews. Why? Because for The Beatles Anthology, they basically just talked to the Beatles. We did get some good interviews with a few people who were very close to the band. Those people included Neil Aspinall, their road manager and personal assistant, and of course, George Martin, because when you really think about it, if you don't have George Martin, you don't have the Beatles. But for the most part, all the information, all the stories come from the band members themselves. That is exactly how it should have been because no one knows them or the experience better than they do. It makes me remember this special I saw about ten years ago about the Beatles, and they interviewed the most random people to talk about them. I just didn't get it. I mean, does anyone really give a crap what Kate Hudson has to say about the Beatles? I certainly do not. If I want to learn things about them, I'll go straight to the source.

I suppose I have to bring up the commercial aspect of The Anthology. It was initially released as a VHS collection, and of course, later on DVD. There were also three double CD collections where you get some of those old recordings I mentioned as well as studio outtakes, a few more interviews and some funny moments. And yes, I do own these things.

If you haven't seen this, you should. Whether you're an insane Beatles fan or not, you'll probably find the stories and performances very interesting and entertaining. It's been nearly twenty years since this came out, and no one has been able to do anything better. I doubt anyone ever will.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Perfect Cappuccino - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

It has been about a month since I first saw this little documentary. I was drawn to it because of the title. See, I like coffee, so a movie called The Perfect Cappuccino seemed right up my alley. I had never even heard of this and, therefore, had no idea what to expect. I just dove right on in and watched. Was it worth it? Let's find out.

The Perfect Cappuccino is about one woman's search for . . . the perfect cappuccino. Surprise! The woman in question is Amy Ferraris, and while that search was the basis for this film, it actually expands into something bigger.

Amy loves coffee, and she LOVES a good cappuccino. However, she has a problem finding that cappuccino anywhere in America. You may think that this is a snobby and unpatriotic attitude, but, newsflash, what you get at a gas station is not a good cappuccino. She knew this already, but a trip to Italy broadened her mind and taste buds even more. In Italy, not surprisingly, really good coffee is not a rarity. It's commonplace. No matter where she went, Amy got a really good cappuccino. Here is where we learn a lot about the great care that goes into preparing these drinks. It is seen as something of an art form, and, judging by the end result, it really is. But why should one have to go all the way to Europe for one of these? This led her to travel around America to delve deeply into our coffee culture.

Guess what it was frighteningly inundated by?

Yes, you can probably figure out what brand I am referring to, though, I'm not sure if I'm even allowed to say the name. Watch this movie and you'll know why I am hesitant to do so. Anyway, Amy is not surprised that this is where most Americans get their coffee, but that didn't stop her on her search. This brings us to one of my favorite aspects of the film.

While on her quest of visiting several small coffee shops, she comes across one in Tulsa, Oklahoma called the DoubleShot Coffee Company, on which a big chunk of the plot is centered. It is owned by a guy named Brian and, as far as how to run a business goes, he and his staff have become my heroes. They are there to give people the product that they sell - coffee. One should never go in and ask for some special order drink filled with everything but coffee. I know a lot of places are into the mentality of "the customer is always right", but are they? These guys are the experts, so why would I or anyone go in like we're the ones who know better? We shouldn't. Perhaps, this attitude may be an acquired taste, but they certainly have gotten a faithful clientele. Their customers go there to get real coffee and real people, and they love it. Due to the fact that he only has one store when he probably could have started a chain, you can see that Brian cares far too much about the quality of what he is doing rather than trying to make the most money. It sucks when someone with that much integrity would be considered an outcast in the business world. (P.S. They do have a website where they sell their beans. Check it out and buy something!)

Amy realizes that, though our coffee culture here is dominated by chains, there are some small places popping up all over the country that care deeply about the quality of their product. They are passionate about coffee. Hey, you have to be passionate about something. Why not this?

So is this a good documentary? I would say yes, it is very good. But I think it's good for a lot of reasons that may cause others to have a problem with it. I know that documentaries were and still sometimes are put into the same category of indie films. By that, I mean they are usually low budget films out of which people do not expect much. Recently, though, it seems that a lot of documentaries have "gone Hollywood". Nothing wrong with that, I guess, but I sometimes prefer things a bit more stripped down and real.

This movie almost feels a little like it was made as a student film. I know that may seem like an insult, but it is done so in such an excellent way that this statement turns into a high compliment. You can feel how much of a passion project this was for Amy Ferraris, so much that it's something of a one woman show. That brings me to the fact that she narrates it herself. Normally, with a lot of documentaries, I expect the narrator's voice to be very professional, in other words, analytical and somewhat cold. Amy's voice may not be one you'd expect to narrate a documentary, which means you might have to get used to it, but I love the way it feels as though a friend of mine is telling me a story about the caffeinated adventure she went on. It is precisely that down to earth feeling that makes this film work extremely well for me. And I love that Amy was, I'll say it again, passionate about this and worked hard to make it happen.

Oh, and what about the burning question? Did she find the perfect cappuccino? I'm no spoiler, so you'll just have to watch. Actually, whether you like coffee or not, this is a film worth checking out.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Grizzly Man - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

Oh, where do I begin with Grizzly Man? I suppose I could start with a spoiler, but would it really be a spoiler since everyone, even people who haven't seen the movie, knows what happens? To sum it up in the simplest terms possible - man lives with bears; man is eaten by bears. If you had to sum it up that quickly, this is how you would do it. Of course, the film is a little more complex than that, and I will do my best to show all sides.

Grizzly Man is a 2005 documentary that was made by Werner Herzog, a man who likes to make movies and likes to narrate them. It takes us through the life of Timothy Treadwell, an animal, particularly bear, enthusiast to say the very least, and through his time spent with those bears over thirteen summers in Alaska. Most of what we see here is footage that Treadwell recorded himself, and it was later found and used for the movie. Consider this a blessing, by the way. I mean, how often do we get a "found footage" movie that is legitimately found footage? Anyway, all of that is interspersed with interviews with family, friends and a few experts, and it ended up being a very well put together film.

Let's talk about the obvious thing first. When the movie came out and since then, it was major joke fodder for practically everyone who saw it. Despite the tragedy of the ending, everything leading up to it seemed to make people either roll their eyes or laugh. I'll admit it. I was one of them. I just did not get what he was doing. I did not get what he was thinking. I'm really not certain that a group of bears could recognize one human from another, much less trust that human. It seemed about as logical as thinking a great white shark is taking revenge out on your family. I also find it hard to believe that he was seeing the same bears every time he went back. All the bears he named, by the way. But it was what he believed.

As I said, most of us knew the deal before we saw this. I know I did, and I went in with the mentality that this was a guy who really loved nature and animals and just had a very tragic thing happen to him. It turns out I was not totally accurate. Yes, Timothy Treadwell did say that he loved the bears and wanted to protect them, and that's fine, if that's what he was doing. I and many people feel like he took it too far. He spent all this time living with the bears in their territory, and he admittedly was breaking laws when it came to where he was staying in the area and how close he got to the animals. He constantly said he respected them. Maybe in his mind he did. But I almost feel like he did not fully respect their power. Sure, he admitted that if one of US messed with them, we would get hurt, but they would never hurt him. Obviously and sadly, he was wrong.

As Treadwell's own footage is shown, it does seem at times that he was really losing it. To this day, I don't know if it was an act or if all of those seemingly insane rants were genuine. I mean, there's passion, but then there is whatever he was doing and feeling. There were times when he was even angry at people who did not want him to be out there, and by that, I am referring to the native people of that land. One even said that he may have been doing more harm than good by making these bears think that all humans are safe. For all the time that their ancestors had inhabited that area, it was always bears on one side, humans on the other, and they do not cross that line without expecting the obvious consequences. Maybe it is some of that Native American blood running through my veins, but I agree. Sometimes the best way to respect and protect is to keep your distance.

Now I don't want to come off as insensitive to what happened. I won't say he got what he deserved like some people have. I just think he paid the price for putting himself into that dangerous situation. Most of all, I have so much sympathy for his family and friends, especially the friend who ended up dying along with him. One of the most powerful moments of the film concerns the tape recording of the actual attack. The camera had been on, but the lens cap had not been removed, so there was only audio, which we, the audience, do not hear. Werner Herzog, however, listens to it on headphones in the presence of the woman, a very good friend of Treadwell's, who was in possession of it. She had never listened to it, but watching someone else do it had a major effect on her. Herzog was clearly shaken, but the look on her face was absolutely devastating and your heart breaks for her. I admired this film maker greatly for advising her to never listen to it, never let anyone else hear it and to just get rid of it.

I know that even now, people still laugh about the situation and mock Timothy Treadwell as they watch the film. But it is something that should be seen, especially if you love seeing nature. The human aspect aside, this film was beautifully shot, including Treadwell's own footage. It is a fascinating story as well, and, in all the times I've seen it, I enjoyed it.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man is another movie about which I had reservations when it came to reviewing it this week. In this case, though, it is because this might be considered less of a documentary and more of a concert movie, since it was based on a concert that took place in Sydney in 2005. But there is so much info about Leonard Cohen himself here, his life and career, that I think it fits the bill.

As I said, there was a tribute concert entitled Came So Far For Beauty that was filmed, I believe, over two nights at the Sydney Opera House. There were several performances by artists who, sadly, I don't think many people have heard of. Not to say they are not talented, but I just don't think any of them are uber-popular, especially in America. But we will get to those performances later.

Let's start with "the man" himself, Leonard Cohen. While the concert was a good thread to hold the film together, I was quite interested in the interviews and past footage that were interspersed throughout. Leonard Cohen graciously took part in the filming of this documentary, agreeing to be interviewed about many of the aspects of his fascinating life. Of course, there were very good conversations with those who have known and worked with him as well, but I found it best to hear it directly from him. Speaking of Leonard Cohen's . . . well, speaking, it truly shows his gift for words that transcends what he puts into his lyrics and poetry. He literally speaks as though what he is saying was written, prepared and beautifully edited in advance, but all of this just flows from him as naturally as his breath. Not only were we privileged enough to hear him speak, but we were also treated to SEE his written work, as well as some of his visual art. All of this was perfectly edited and a great compliment to what was being said as we watched.

Okay, let me talk about the concert and the performances therein. I would call Leonard Cohen the perfect artist to be covered. Even he has said that he does not have the best voice, and, as much of an admirer as I am, I agree. His voice has always been a little monotonous, more so, since he has gotten older to the point where he basically talks his way through his lyrics over music. And that is fine with me, because it is his writing that has always been his greatest strength. So because he does not have this overwhelmingly wonderful singing voice, it is fairly easy for a singer to perform these songs and put their own twist on them. In my opinion, each cover of one of his songs sounds different from the others. I think it's because he gives us the base on which we can vocally build something for ourselves.

The performances here, for the most part, do not disappoint. Some of my favorites are a powerful duet between Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen of the song "Anthem" and a haunting rendition of "Sisters of Mercy" by Beth Orton. But the best of these was a performance of one of Cohen's most beautiful songs, "Tonight Will Be Fine" by Teddy Thompson. I had never heard of this guy before, but now I absolutely love him, and it is this performance I use to rope people into seeing the film. I literally tell them to just hang on until this scene. Even if you don't get into the film that much, which I find impossible, just hang on until you hear him sing this song. It will be worth it.

Now of all the artists featured, there is one that everyone will know - U2. They did not take part in the concert, but they do perform "Tower of Song" along with Mr. Cohen at the end of the film, so I guess that makes it a partial cover. While on the subject of U2, Bono and the Edge were also two of the people interviewed in the film. Admittedly, while I like a lot of U2's music, I am not the biggest fan of Bono. He just talks sooooo much. Fortunately for him, here, he speaks so highly of Leonard Cohen that I was okay with listening and even agreeing.

If you are already an admirer of Leonard Cohen, then this is a film you should certainly see. If you're someone who has always known simply in passing about Leonard Cohen but has wanted to know more, this would be a great way to start. Personally, this film has been an absolute inspiration to me as a writer, so I would also highly recommend it to other writers. We can learn a lot from Mr. Cohen. One thing I appreciate that he always says is that being a writer is, in fact, work. It is a job. It is a profession, whether you are paid for it or not. Again, as a writer and someone whose work is regularly belittled as being not "real" work, I love that he always reminds the world of what exactly goes into what we do. And he is absolutely right.

To finish, and though I hesitate to say this, I think it was actually Bono who summed Leonard Cohen up the best. After speaking highly of Cohen's own humility, the final statement of the film is Bono simply saying, "The rest of us would be very humbled by the stuff he throws away". I cannot disagree.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

1000 Journals - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

From the time I was little girl, I have tried to keep a diary or journal. I would buy a new one each year, start writing in it, then lose interest by around mid-February. Phenomenally, when I was about twenty years old, I got a journal, wrote in it and actually kept it up for a few years. Not a few years in the same journal, mind you, because that would be a really big book. But eventually, I stopped. Not because I had nothing to say, but because I realized that writing about my life in this typical way was not MY way. I would struggle to write about the events of the day in a journal, but then I could easily write ten poems about the same things. So those poems and the lyrics to my songs, they have become like my journal. Forgive the personal exposition, but I thought I should share.

When it comes to journaling these days for me, I am currently doing something I've never done. I'm keeping what could be called an art journal, where I can exercise some of my skills as a visual artist as well as my writing. And what inspired me to do this? Well, it was a little movie called 1000 Journals.

I discovered this movie a while back and was very intrigued by it. I was actually downright flabbergasted that I had not heard of it before then, but I'm so glad I did find it. The film centers around Someguy. Yep, he calls himself Someguy. And I am certainly not judging anyone who chooses to not use their real name. Anyway, he had begun contemplating a simple, but important question - Where did our creativity go? So, in 2000, he had the idea to send 1000 blank journals out into the world and dubbed it The 1000 Journals Project. Yes, where DID our creativity go? Anyway, he stamped each one with an explanation of the project and a website where they could get info about giving and receiving journals. So, some people got them in the mail, some got them from strangers or friends, and some even just found them in one of the random places that Someguy left them. People got these books, and their creativity exploded, just as the creator of this project had hoped for. To be honest, the only negative thing I could say about this idea is that I was not the one who came up with it. I wish I had, because it is brilliant.

The film is basically full of interviews with people from around the world discussing the project and the effect that it has had on their lives. I know that, on the surface, that may not seem like anything entertaining. Still, once you hear the stories that people have to tell, and there are some really good ones here, your curiosity is aroused and you want to hear more. And, as far as the actual journals themselves go, we get a lot of exposure to their contents. We hear people reading from them, see the visual work that has been done and watch as they are worked on by people who want to add more. As an artist, I was thrilled to see people's eyes light up when they were allowed, finally, to be truly creative, knowing that what they had done would be shared with so many others. I was actually pleasantly surprised that so many people were eager to be a part of something like this. I suppose it proves that everyone has creativity hidden away somewhere and all they need is an outlet and someone to give them permission to use it.

Now there is still a 1000 Journals website where you can see entries that have been scanned in, and, initially, it was where you could go to sign up to receive a journal, but I don't think you can get one there anymore. However, since there was such a buzz, Someguy launched the 1001 Journals website, and I believe you can still get yourself into the mix there. I've actually considered getting one, and I just might do it one day. In addition to that and this movie, there is also a book that contains a lot of the entries from the 1000 Journals if you're interested in seeing more.

This is a movie that I would definitely recommend to any artist or anyone who just loves art in general. You truly are able to see what can happen when whatever people may have inside is unlocked. And, since I have always considered all real artists to be family members to one another, I loved to see the sense of community that this project ignited. Believe it or not, I am actually hoping for a sequel.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, July 23, 2012

Catfish - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

I was hesitant to do a review of Catfish for Documentary Week for a couple of reasons. First of all, documentaries are generally about something based in reality, something that has actually happened. Well, a lot of people think that what happened in this film is not what happened for real. Second, I can only say so much about this before I start giving away the "twist", but I'll do my best. Let me just say that I believe what happened in this film did, in fact, happen. Of course, it is not "exactly" what occurred. Hello! They're called editors, and even documentaries have them. But I think it is as true to life as it can be. I could be wrong, I realize this, but, as I said in an email I sent to one of the guys involved in this film, I refuse to believe that three adorable boys would lie to me. Thinking that may have gotten me into trouble in the past, but I may be safe here. Moving on.

So this movie centers around three guys from New York. Yaniv "Nev" Schulman, his older brother Ariel "Rel" Schulman, and their good friend, Henry Joost. Twenty-four year old Nev is a photographer and our main "character", while Rel and Henry are filmmakers along for the ride.

The film starts with Nev talking about a little girl named Abby who he met online. Before you start to worry, it's not what you're thinking. Abby is actually an eight year old art prodigy who got some of Nev's photographs, painted pictures of them and sent them to him. Impressed by the talent of this young girl, Rel and Henry decided to start making a film about her art, as well as Nev's interactions with Abby and her family. Oh, yeah, about her family.

Being the responsible and not wanting to look like a creepy internet predator man that he is, Nev asks permission from Abby's mother, Angela, before having any communication with her. This parlays itself into his developing a friendly relationship with the whole family, including Abby's dad, Vince, her older brother, Alex and her older sister, Megan. Her nineteen year old sister who looks like a model Megan. See, sometimes even documentaries need an obvious love interest. As expected, Nev and Megan strike up a long distance, over the phone and internet relationship. Initially, though, he is hesitant to go too far, because Megan is only nineteen, and she lives in Michigan, and she's a virgin. Yes, at some point, she tells him that she is still a virgin. While we are not privy to this conversation firsthand, we are pretty much told point blank in other places.

Now Nev and Megan do seem to have some things in common. Megan is a photographer like him, but she also works with animals and is a dancer and a singer/songwriter. She even frequently sends recordings of herself singing to Nev. However, it is that very act that leads to a turn in the story. Not to spoil anything specific, but the boys discover that perhaps Megan has not been completely honest with them. Turns out, they also start to suspect that this may be an inherited trait. So amid all these suspicions, they decide to full on Nancy Drew it and go to Michigan to find out just what exactly is going on. Well, they go, and they do find out.

Okay, here's about where I have to stop as far as the story line goes, because here is where the "twist" is revealed. And, in my opinion, this part is a very good payoff. Initially, it may seem predictable, but, as things go along, the story goes much deeper and is very rewarding.

I will give a bit of a warning to anyone who might want to check this movie out. Do not go online to look for trailers for it. I've seen some for this movie, before and after, and a lot of them make this film out to be something it is not. Don't get me wrong, the movie is amazing, but it's not THAT movie that you might see summed up in one of these little adverts. I mean, come on, 12 Angry Men is an amazing movie, too, but seeing clips of a spaceship blowing up is not going to give you a good hint as to what it's about. It was just a little misleading. Though maybe that was the point.

While it may seem like a simple story, initially, Catfish has a lot of layers to it. There is a bit of mystery there, but I would call it more of a character study. It goes deeply into how otherwise everyday, ordinary people behave and react when they are put into unexpected and extraordinary situations. And near the end, there is a scene from which the title is spawned, and I found it to be a very poignant moment. Bottom line is, whether you believe that it is all true or not (I still believe it's true!), this is still a very good movie and worth the watch.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Good Hair - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

I do not have good hair. I can admit that. It's very temperamental and usually never does what I want it to do. Oh, sure, if I spend an hour on it every morning, it might look decent, but I just don't have that kind of time. But it seems that there are some who would say that I do have good hair. I had no idea. And how was this revealed to me? Well, it was Chris Rock and his hilarious 2009 documentary, Good Hair.

As far as I know, the genesis of this idea came when one of Chris Rock's adorable little girls asked him, "Daddy, why don't I have good hair?". The thought of a child asking that seems so sad to me. But that got him thinking about what exactly is good hair. Through many interviews and much traveling, he went to great lengths to find out.

Now as I've said before, I do watch America's Next Top Model, so I know what a weave is, and I know about the pain involved. Same goes for a relaxer, in theory anyway, though I did not know about the exact chemicals. Oh, but I learned. We'll get to that. I actually learned a lot about things I thought I knew.

So Chris Rock visits beauty schools and hair salons to talk to women, and some men, about the things they do in order to get "good hair". What DO they do? Well, first, there are the weaves. I could talk about how painful or time consuming it is to get one, but let's discuss the money issue. I think the cheapest one they spoke of was a thousand dollars. ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS! For hair. Okay, fine. I guess if you have the money, then go spend it. Of course, one shop owner did mention that she had a layaway plan for hair weaves, and that amused Chris Rock very much. Next, we have relaxers, which sound to me kind of dangerous. It seems I am right. We even visit a scientist here who displays the actual harm these chemicals can do. He demonstrated this with, what else, a soda can. It was a soda can that could have simply been sliced by an infomercial knife, but, clearly, it was meant for bigger and better things. Anyway, I can mock it, but what I saw that stuff do was frightening. It was especially frightening when I saw someone putting it on the hair of a tiny, little girl. Really?

As the film progresses, Chris Rock takes other pilgrimages. One of them is to a huge hair convention where vendors sell their products and stylists compete in a show that may as well be a rock concert by the looks of it. And, in this world, those stylists are something like rock stars. He also went to India to find out about their massive hair exporting industry. Oh, yeah, forget GOOD hair. Apparently, India has the BEST hair. And women want it badly. Badly enough to pay a load of money for it.

There were a lot of interviews with familiar faces such as the great Maya Angelou, Raven Symone, Ice-T and Al Sharpton (of course), and these provide some of the most amusing moments. But herein also lies my only real criticism of the film. They just had to go there and have a discussion about the struggles of being intimate with a woman with a weave. I really didn't need to hear about that, but I couldn't stop them from putting it in there. I'm sure someone found it funny.

After I watched this film, I found that I had been entertained a lot, but also informed. I personally enjoy learning about other cultures and the way of life for other people. The thing is that when we think of "other cultures" we tend to think of far off lands and whatnot, but here we realize that these are the cultural ways of people that we know, people who are our friends. It made me remember that we don't always know people as well as we think we do, unless we're really willing to sit down, talk to each other and learn from each other. I think it's always worth it.

So all in all, I give this movie a good rating. I laughed, I learned and those two things go very well together.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Documentary Week - It's Coming!

Greetings Pups,

Okay, short and sweet today. This post is to give everyone the heads up that, starting on Sunday July 22, I will be doing daily reviews of documentaries. I'm calling it Documentary Week, because sometimes I am so overly creative that I need to do something to balance things out.

I'm putting a lot of work into this so I hope everyone reads and enjoys.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Great Pretender

Greetings Pups,

Sometimes I like things that other people do not. Sometimes I like things that other people have not heard of. These "people" of which I speak are the ones I know. And I talk about so many things of which they are so unaware. Maybe it's because I love going against the flow, I'm not sure, but when it comes to television shows, this aspect of my personality leaves me constantly disappointed. I start to watch a show, I like it and it gets cancelled within a year or less. I suppose some people just can't grasp the greatness of some of these series as I do. Of course, there are exceptions, like my beloved Law and Order or Beverly Hills, 90210. And then there are the shows that do last for some time but never become the huge hits that they should be. Rather they tend to develop what has become known as a "cult following". And here lies The Pretender.

The Pretender ran from 1996 to 2000, or 2001 if you count the two TV movies used to wrap everything up. It was a show that would most likely be considered science fiction, but I've always called it "sci-fi with heart". It had a lot of heart. Now this was a series that, if you watched it, you got it. It wasn't confusing to the regular viewer, but trying to explain it to a non-viewer can get a little complicated. Not overwhelmingly so, but if you intend to watch it on DVD reruns, you really have to start from the beginning and not lose the flow. I hate to make watching a TV show seem like work, but it's not. What it is, in fact, is one of the best series ever on television. And I'm going to tell you all about it.

Let's start with our main character, Jarod, played by Michael T. Weiss, a disgustingly underrated actor. He was brilliant. His face could literally go from innocent man child to psycho in about two seconds, an ability that became quite useful here. Not to say that face wasn't extremely attractive. It was. Extremely. What can I say? We girls love a project, and that is what this character was. Now Jarod was a man who, as a child, was stolen from his parents by The Centre (I did not misspell that) which was a think tank of sorts cloaked in a lot of secrecy, and it was in Delaware. Yes, Delaware. The reason that Jarod was taken was because he was a genius and a child prodigy who could easily become whatever he wanted to be. For example, if he read a book on heart surgery, he could flawlessly perform a heart surgery. So The Centre groomed him as a "Pretender". As Jarod became an adult, he realized that his abilities were going to be and had been used for unethical, even dangerous purposes, so he managed to escape from the Centre and the show begins with him on the run. He's kind of like a fugitive who has done nothing wrong. Before I tell you about what he did while on the run, let's discuss some of the other characters.

So any nemesis to the protagonist would be considered the villain of the show. But here we have two types of villains. While they all come from the Centre, they are different from one another. We have ones that are more just opposition who are actually sometimes sympathetic and even compassionate characters. Then we have the serious villainy villains, the real bad guys. Let's start with the nicer crowd.

First, we have Sydney played by Patrick Bauchau, a wonderful character actor who has quite possibly one of the best accents I've ever heard. Sydney was Jarod's mentor and eventual father figure, which we see in regular flashbacks. Despite the objections, he has always been emotionally attached to Jarod, and his desire to bring him back to the Centre is more out of concern for his safety than anything else. Then, we have Miss Parker, played by Andrea Parker. It was apparently destiny. I love this woman so much that I have often been known to say that I want to be Miss Parker when I grow up, and I don't know if I mean fictional or non-fictional. Maybe a little of both. Anyway, Miss Parker also grew up as part of the Centre and was even a childhood friend of Jarod's, but she existed on the other side as her parents were involved in the work there. As an adult, she has become an operative. She can be vicious, wonderfully so, but due to her difficult childhood, which includes the loss of her mother, there are so many times where we feel sympathy for her. I've always seen her as a little girl trapped in a woman's body searching for love and a place to belong. Finally, we have Broots, played by Jon Gries of Napoleon Dynamite fame. He was often comic relief and was constantly given grief by Miss Parker. These three together were a team tasked with finding Jarod and returning him to Centre. Of course, at times, their personal feelings sometimes foiled the plans.

And now for the baddie bads. We have Mr. Parker, played by the late, great Harve Presnell. I miss him so much, if I may say. Mr. Parker was the father of Miss Parker (you'll love the way she calls him "Daddy")and he had a very high position in the Centre. Of all the baddie bads, I think he may have been the least of such. As many secrets as he was keeping and as much as he knew, you always felt like someone always knew more than him. Then, we have Mr. Lyle, played by Jamie Denton, who would later become known as James Denton and rise to fame on Desperate Housewives. Yeah, he was so mean to my Jarod that he is the main reason why I never watched Desperate Housewives. Not the only, but the main. Anyway, Mr. Lyle was a young man who had a checkered past, to put it very mildly. He was quite power hungry and was dangerously determined to get Jarod back. No love lost between these two. Finally, there's Mr. Raines, played by Richard Marcus. Genius actor, by the way. Raines was the big bad, and he was that the entire time, save a fling of "finding God". Yeah, so he was like the Larry Flynt of the show.

So those were the villains and villains not so much on The Pretender who were there on a regular basis. But each week Jarod faced other adversities while trying to make a difference in people's lives. And here's where I can delve more into what he actually did.

While he was constantly on the run, Jarod still found time to aid people in their troubles. So every week he would meet someone who had been wronged in some way, and, since he could fall so easily into any persona, he used that ability to make things right for them. Basically, because he was so innocent after being caged away his entire life and he had this overwhelmingly compassionate heart, his first reaction to seeing someone in trouble was to help them, no questions asked. Of course, he always had fun and interesting ways to give the weekly bad guys their just desserts. If memory serves, he may have used actual desserts to give them their just desserts, a couple of times. That's where the aforementioned psycho face usually came in handy. It was this main aspect of the show that kept it episodic while still having the thread of the ongoing plot.

Now I would be remiss not to mention my favorite thing about this show. See, because Jarod, from childhood, was locked away in the Centre, they only exposed him to things that THEY needed him to know. That was not much in the way of pop culture type things or just the fun things we experience every day. So every week, he would discover some new thing, be it Wheel of Fortune or Silly Putty or ice cream. Man, did he love ice cream! And it was always done in the most hilarious way. Oh, and of course, they never taught him about the sex so we had to have the obligatory, and in my opinion unnecessary "30-something Jarod Loses His Virginity" episode. Why? Now, as to be expected, after the first couple of years this got hard to keep up. I mean, you can only go so long without knowing what Pop-Tarts are, but it was super fun while it lasted.

Over the years, many secrets about the Centre and the people involved with it were revealed, but it was done in a very good way. Questions would be raised and mostly answered in a timely fashion, a skill that perhaps some other shows that shall remain nameless should have learned. And in the end, they did the best thing that could have been done. By the time the fourth season finale came along, the show was still in limbo when it came to renewal, but they still ended on a cliffhanger, complete with a huge explosion. Well, the show did not get picked up for a fifth season, which initially left fans very upset. But they did what every show should do in this situation. They made two TV movies that resolved the cliffhanger and eventually wrapped up the show and the mythology surrounding the ongoing story line and characters. While this probably could not have ended perfectly, and what show does, they really did an amazing job with it. I think so. Now, of course, some fans probably weren't pleased, but I bet that most of us, though sad to see it end, were quite happy with the fact that they took the time and effort to try and reward us for being loyal to them for those four years. It made me feel like they really appreciated their audience, something I rarely feel from a show.

So that was my little tribute to one of my favorite shows, The Pretender. I would recommend this to everyone really. The stories and the characters are so rich and complex, but never overwhelming, and that is exactly what a show like this should be. It keeps your mind going without making it go insane. And, like I said before, it had a lot of heart to it. You actually care about these characters and want to know about them. It's just an amazing show, and I hope everyone checks it out. It is so worth it.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

They're Bold, They're Beautiful, So Why Aren't They More Famous?

Greeting Pups,

Ah, soap operas. Or, as so many of us have called them over the decades, my stories. Sometimes they are the only moments a woman (or man) gets to escape her hectic reality. In my life, I have visited a few of these shows, even enough sometimes to actually keep up with what the heck is going on. Currently, though, I only have time for one - The Bold and the Beautiful. They win, mostly, because they are only half an hour long. But there are other reasons why I like this show. First, I love fashion, and it is based in the fashion world. I thank you all for that. The other of those reasons is the people. There are some amazingly talented actors and actresses on this show, but, like with most soap operas, they are completely underrated because of the work they choose to do. I never understood that. Of course, they win their Daytime Emmys and have a lot of fans, and I am not trying to undermine either of those things. I am, after all, one of those fans. But I still don't get why some of these people are not uber-famous. They certainly have the chops to be. So today I will honor some of the fabulous actors and actresses of The Bold and the Beautiful.

Now over the years, there have been many people coming in and out, but I'm going to stick with current cast members. Let's begin with the Mom and Pop of the show. First, we have our matriarch, Stephanie, played perfectly by Susan Flannery. Before B&B, she had a pretty decent career in television and movies. One well remembered movie role was in The Towering Inferno. Yeah, if you've ever seen her character in that movie, it will make every jab she takes at another B&B character, Brooke, seem kind of ironic. Anyway, Susan Flannery is the best, and I love nothing more than to see her get mad at someone. Oh, yeah, the clenched jaw, the blazing eyes, the balled up fists ready to throw a punch - perfection. Now her sometimes husband is Eric, played by John McCook. May I humbly say that, despite the fact that he is very much more "mature" than I am, I find this man incredibly attractive. It's no wonder he has always gotten the chicks on this show. Why wouldn't he? And I must reveal a little pre-B&B experience I had with him. Second season of Family Ties, an episode entitled "This Year's Model", he shows up as what IMDB calls "Tuxedo Man" helping Elyse Keaton hock frozen food called (I'm not kidding!) The Proper Penguin. It is quite possibly the best guest appearance on any show in TV history. It must be seen.

Moving on to the next generation. Here lies the infamous threesome . . . yeah, I don't know what else to call them but that. Well, I guess I can go with trio. It does make them sound like they're in a sixties singing group together, but it's far less disturbing than the predecessor. We're going to go with trio. Anyway, it's Taylor, Ridge and Brooke. These three have been on a carousel of marriages, divorces, love, heartache and everything in between and beyond since the show started, and they are all fantastic at it! Let's start with Taylor. She is played by Hunter Tylo. Now I could go on and on about how much I love this woman. She is truly one of my life's heroes, and she has an amazing story that everyone should find out about. Here on this show, however, her poor character often gets the shaft. Somehow, though, mostly, she has managed to show this character as a strong woman who has been able to overcome much adversity with much dignity and grace. Her nemesis, if you will, is Brooke, played by Katherine Kelly Lang, or KiKi as I call her because of the two K's in her name. Anyway, I am always on Taylor's side on the show, because I just am. But we NEED Brooke. And it is a testament to the brilliant acting of my dear KiKi that she can be such a lovely woman in real life, but then turn around and make me want to punch her on the show. That is a gift with which one must be born. And finally we have the man in the middle, Ridge, played by Ron Moss. He has perfected the art of playing both sides to Oscar-worthy levels. I can't tell you how many times some of us have wanted to grab him and say, "Dude, seriously, grow up and choose a side!". And let us not forget that he was (maybe still is) in the band Player, which gave us the song "Baby, Come Back". I don't think I have to say any more about that.

Okay, all of those fine people are what we would consider the big legends of the show, but they are backed up by some excellent . . . well, back up. I could mention a lot, but I will mention a few.

Let's start with Heather Tom. She has been here on B&B for about five years, but she is also very well-known for her role on The Young and the Restless (Y&R), a soap I never got into. Sorry. And I even saw her playing Marlee Matlin's sign language helper on an episode of Law and Order: SVU. This woman can do it all. But here, she plays Katie, a character that has had more ups and downs than a roller coaster on crack. She does manage to balance a sense of grown up innocence with an inner strength that makes her very memorable and, at times, quite admirable. Her husband on the show is Dollar Bill Spencer (no, really, his nickname is DOLLAR BILL) played by Don Diamont. This guy is MAG-nificent. He also was swimming in that Y&R pool for awhile, but he's been settled here for about three years now and what a wonderful three years it has been. He is so deliciously evil that every time I see him I think, "How has this man never been cast as a Bond villain?". He's that good/bad! And since we seem to be liking the Y&R people we've shared, I have to mention Adrienne Frantz who plays Amber Moore. She has been in and out of B&B for the last fifteen years or so, and to be honest, at first, I wasn't crazy about her character. I don't think I was supposed to be. But once I got some info about Ms. Frantz in real life, I started to love her and Amber. Now Adrienne is a great actress, but she is also a great musician. Her 2007 album Anomaly was brilliant, and it has added one more reason to my list of why I do not trust the Grammys. It didn't win one. But it gets a big thumbs up and a future review on this blog from me. Stay tuned.

Okay, I am giving one more paragraph here to one more cast member. She has become one of my all-time favorites on the show and also of the show. She is Jacqueline MacInnes Wood a.k.a Steffy Forrester, daughter of Ridge and Taylor, namesake of Queen Stephanie, and she is fabulous. She has been on the show since 2008, and as good as she has been from the start, she has only improved and become a better actress since then. Jacqueline has also managed to branch out to other television roles, like on the upcoming show Arrow, and also into film. She was featured in the last Final Destination movie, something I may not have seen had I not wanted to see and support her performance. And, like some of her previous cast members that I've mentioned, she's got some serious music skills. I must say that, of all the youngsters on this show, and there are some really talented ones, I believe Jacqueline has the most promise. And I cannot wait to see her fulfill it.

And so there is my tribute to the wonderful folks at The Bold and the Beautiful. The wonderful folks who, yes, should be more famous! Now I know it is difficult to get anyone to start watching a new show, especially a soap opera, but check them out if you can. They are all more than worth your time.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, July 16, 2012

Top Ten Monkees Songs

Greetings Pups,

It's been nearly five months since we tragically lost Davy Jones. I know a lot of people were stunned, and I'm no different from them. His passing had special significance for me because, believe it or not, he was my first celebrity crush. It does seem odd due to my age, but I got the bug during that eighties resurgence of the Monkees TV show, which was surprisingly started by MTV. After that, I was hooked. Funny enough, this is probably also where my tendency to like things that are unexpected for my age started. So when all my little friends at school were crazy about New Kids on the Block, I was listening to the Monkees. Don't get me wrong. I eventually started to like the New Kids, because as much as I want to go against the flow, I cannnot deny good things for long, no matter how popular they are. Anyway, that mentality went right through high school where my locker was plastered with pictures of Fleetwood Mac and the Bee Gees, but it all started with the Monkees.

So I thought I'd share with you my favorites of their songs. Now bear in mind, if you're not as big of a fan as I am, some of these songs may be unfamiliar to you. I suppose that's a good thing because then I'd just be telling you what you already know.

Alright, here we go. Or should I say "Here we come".

#10."Valleri" - I'm going to move beyond the fact that this song made me want to change my name to Valleri so Davy would be singing to me. Just let me bring up that amazing guitar rift. If you've heard this one, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

#9. "Papa Gene's Blues" - This is one of the few songs they recorded that was written by Mike Nesmith. It makes me wonder why they did not let him do more, since he was obviously talented. I think it's a fairly simple song, but it brought the "country" which is what Mike did very well.

#8. "Words" - If there's one thing I can say about Peter Tork, it is that he is a very gifted musician. Now is he a gifted singer? Not so much. He's not that bad, but next to Micky Dolenz, well, let's say that's a hard act to follow. However, on this song, we actually get to hear him sing. It's not a solo here, because he is doing a duet with Micky. The verses that they both sing are beautifully arranged in this back and forth, overlapping way that ends up sounding amazing. And thank God Micky was a phenomenal vocalist. But . . . still love ya, Peter!

#7. "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" - Generally speaking, the Monkees would be considered a "pop" act. This song, however, was straight up rock. Logic would tell you that this should not have worked for them, but it did, again, thanks to Micky's fantastic vocals.

#6. "What Am I Doing Hangin' Round?" - Here's another one that shows their country flavor. Though Mike was not the writer, as one might think, it was written by an old friend of his, and Mike did choose it for the country feel. And may I say that, in this one, it is Mike who gets to show off what a great voice he has.

#5. "All of Your Toys" - A little back story on this song, which is probably one most people don't know about. This was put on a 1995 reissued version of their 1967 album Headquarters. That album was a big step for the Monkees because they chose to write a lot of the songs themselves and play the instruments, instead of using professional songwriters and session musician, which was commonplace in those days. And it actually kind of worked. The album went to number one . . . for one week . . . until Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band came out. And that marks one of the few times where I am angry at the Beatles. The good news is that Headquarters did stay at number two for about three months, and being second to Sgt. Pepper's isn't that bad at all. But besides all that, the song is awesome.

#4. "Porpoise Song" - Okay, this song is from the soundtrack to Head, a movie (I guess) they made in 1968 that was partly written and produced by Jack Nicholson. Yeah, THAT Jack Nicholson. The movie did not do well on its release, but, of course, it eventually got a big cult following. Don't they always. Anyway, this song is considered the theme for the film. It was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and it is, frankly, a little strange. But that's why I like it.

#3. "She Hangs Out" - I'm not sure how big of a hit this song was, if at all, but I love this one. It has what I would consider a bit of a quirky feel to it, and the basic rhythm of it is so catchy. Plus, in the "video", you get to see Davy dance . . . a lot!

#2. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" - I love songs that you can see, and this one has lyrics that are so incredibly, visually stimulating. You can literally see this place about which they are singing. It's another Goffin and King contribution, and, of all the songs they's ever written, which is a ton, I really would call this their best. And they gave it to my boys. Yay!

#1. "Love is Only Sleeping" - Again, I don't think a lot of people know about this one, but they should. I've often referred to this song as being very "garage band". Not the game or whatever. I mean, a legit garage band, stripped down, but very powerful. It opens with this amazing guitar rift, and that is used throughout the whole song. The melody is driving, and the payoff when you get to the title lyric is so worth it. Oh, and about the lyrics. They are great, and you know how I am about lyrics. AND, wait for it, you get to hear Mike Nesmith singing falsetto. It's just the best song I've ever heard from them.

So there you have it. One day, I might do a top ten Monkees TV show episode list, but for now, you'll have to be satisfied with this. Now though I've bragged about the guys throughout this post, let me emphasize the fact of how underrated they were. Maybe not as celebrities or even legends, but as musicians. I feel like, because of how they came together, some people still don't consider them a legitimate band or a legitimate force in the music industry. But they were extremely talented with what they did, and no one will ever convince me otherwise. And I will miss Davy Jones forever.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Curiosity Killed the TomKat

Greetings Pups,

Okay, maybe it wasn't curiosity that killed this celebrity name mash-up that spawned from a relationship, but what did? Oh, come on! You didn't seriously think I'd let slip by the opportunity to mock a celebrity scandal, did you? At least, I let a week go by without saying anything . . . here, anyway.

I'm sure the whole world knows by now that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are getting a divorce. Now whether the whole world sincerely cares or not is open to debate. I put myself in the category of someone who doesn't care on an emotional level, but I do try to get as much info as I can so I can spawn as many jokes about it as possible. Now don't go criticizing me and say that divorce is no joke. Maybe it's not, but you know what has become a joke? Marriage, and nowhere more than in Hollywood. So does it really matter if another celebrity marriage ends. These days, the rumors of break-ups start as soon as guests start leaving the reception.

Now I certainly don't know how much faith people had in the TomKat relationship. I wager not very much. First of all, I can't trust a marriage between a girl in her twenties and the picture that used to be in her locker. Yeah, she had a high school crush on Tom Cruise and ended up marrying him. I suppose I could have married my high school celebrity crush, but I think polygamy is still illegal. I had a lot of those crushes, what can I say. And I'm sure that infamous couch jumping incident, which is still burned painfully into our memories, did not add any validity to this courtship.

Okay, I'm going to step out of my blogosphere zone with you, my little pups, for a moment, so I can address someone else.

Ya know, Tom, I don't mind a person saying that they're crazy in love with someone else. Just try not to be so literal that it spills over into your actions. I know we all said you were nuts to let Nicole Kidman get away, but there was really no need to go ahead and prove it. And a third wife who can't wear heels around you? Was that really necessary?

Okay, I'm back.

A lot of people were certain that this would not last forever after all the hype in the beginning. I know some people let that go after the birth of their daughter and their wedding. Yes, baby first, wedding after, because that's how we roll these days. Personally, I think it was the wedding that doomed everything. What about the wedding? you may ask. Simple. The guest list. From what I've heard, there was one glaring omission. OPRAH! Really!?!? Really, guys. You know the woman who gives the best gifts in all the land, and you didn't invite her. You did not invite the Oprah to your big fat, Jedi wedding. Yeah, I call Tom Cruise a Jedi on account of that Scientology thing.

Oh, right, about the Scientology aspect of this break-up. How did I guess that this would allegedly be the contributing factor to the split? Certainly not because it had anything to do with Tom's split from Nicole Kidman. Now though I am a Christian and I obviously believe that way is THE way, people can believe whatever they want. It doesn't mean they are right at all, but even God says we all have free will. We just have to deal with the consequences of those choices. But the Scientology thing? I just don't get it. I have tried to read things about it, just so I can get an idea of what the heck is going on with those people, but then my brain starts spinning, then it starts thumping and hurting and I have to stop. Does it count that I saw Battlefield Earth? Because if so, then it is clearly a religion of horrid movies.

Anyway, for some reason, people seem to believe that it is this that caused Katie Holmes to literally plan an escape from her husband a la Jennifer Lopez in Enough. Now I don't know if Tom or anyone involved with that church was abusive to Katie, but it's been reported that she wants her daughter far from that religion. True or not? I don't know. I don't think that any of us ever will. Still, a lot of people think that Nicole Kidman literally lost her older children to them. Again, could be true, could be not. I just hope that everyone in the situation remains safe.

As far as I'm concerned, if their personal beliefs meant anything to them, then they wouldn't have been together in the first place. In the Bible, it says that we should not be "unequally yoked" with non-believers. I don't see why that shouldn't somewhat apply to other religions. I mean, Tom's got his Scientology and Katie was previously a Catholic, a religion I don't completely buy into either, but still those two are fundamentally pretty far apart. Apparently, she gave up what she believed in very easily. I just could never do that. I don't care what I might feel for any man, what I believe in is far too precious for me to ever toss it aside.

The bottom line is that, despite my jokes, divorce is not a good thing. Maybe if people respected the sanctity of marriage more, not to mention the basic rules God gave us about relationships, divorces wouldn't be so common. You may not believe me, but I will probably say a few prayers for Tom and Katie and, of course, their daughter. I have a strong feeling that they are going to need it.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Last Sin Eater - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Due to some recent problems I've been having in my life, I thought I could gain some blessings by blessing others. Others, like anyone who may read this, and I thought I'd do it through one of my movie reviews. This one, though, is something that I find very inspirational as a Christian, but I believe it can affect even someone who is not. It's a movie called The Last Sin Eater.

Now this movie is actually based on the book of the same name by Francine Rivers that came out in 1998. I am in the middle of reading this book myself. I cannot believe it took me so long to get around to it, since I've loved the movie for quite a while. It was written after the author heard about the old tradition of "the sin eater" that was practiced in Appalachia by early settlers from Europe. The sin eater is a person chosen in the village to absolve the sins of a deceased person by taking them upon himself. Does anyone else feel extreme pity for that man?

The story in this movie centers around a ten year old girl named Cadi Forbes, played flawlessly by a young actress named Liana Liberato. At the funeral of her beloved grandmother, she meets eyes with the sin eater of their village, something that is strictly forbidden. Afterwards, word gets around about what she has done, and she also begins to be accompanied by a little girl she befriends named Lilybet. But another family tragedy that happened before the most recent death weighs more heavily on her than anything. Feeling rejected by her mother because of past acts, Cadi seeks out the sin eater to take away her sins early so that she can move on. She fails to have the act completed, and, during a dramatic second attempt to escape her pain, she comes into contact with someone who is simply known as a Man of God. He is portrayed here by an all grown up Henry Thomas, who is absolutely brilliant in this small but powerful role.

Cadi shares her story with the man, as well as their tradition of the sin eater, and he tells her of another sin eater named Jesus. After accepting this new belief, Cadi runs from the river with Lilybet, joyfully proclaiming about how free she feels and goes to tell some of her closest friends about what she has discovered. Unfortunately, not everyone is pleased with the visiting man of God, mainly Brogan Kai, the leader of the cove and the father of Cadi's best friend. He goes to great lengths to keep this new message far from his people.

The movie culminates with everyone gathering together, including the sin eater, because it was his tolling bell that brought the people there. A multitude of secrets are revealed that night going back decades from when the settlement was first established. They all realize that, when they are no longer burdened by all these secrets, they can finally put themselves on the road to freedom and redemption.

Besides the main story of the Cadi, there is also a beautiful, yet tragic love story between the sin eater, whose real name is Sim, and a woman named Bletsung, whom he has been separated from since he was given this unfortunate destiny. Also, there is a wonderful performance by Louise Fletcher as Miz Elda, an elderly confidant of Cadi's and, for all the CSI:NY fans, you'll recognize A.J Buckley playing Cadi's father, Angor. Or maybe you won't since this role is quite different from that one, but still wonderfully portrayed.

Now, despite the obvious Christian theme here, I don't think this movie shoves it down anyone's throat. It tells the true message of Christ the best way that it can be done, with love and understanding, but above all, the truth. And whether people like it and accept it or not, it is the truth. All those "stories" from the Bible did happen, and the power in them is as real today as it ever was. There is a loving, forgiving, yet very holy God waiting for each and every person to come to Him. I do my best to live every day not making Him want to regret the decision to give up His Son for us. I hope He looks at me and smiles. I know that when I think of how blessed I and all of us have been to have had Jesus "eat" our sins, I smile, too, to the depths of my soul.

As much as I love this movie, I am looking forward to getting through the book. I've already been inspired enough to write some songs based on the events of this story. I just hope I can share them one day with Ms. Rivers and make her proud.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tyra, I Appreciate the Effort, But . . .

Greetings Pups,

It has come to my attention that, within the next couple of months, we will be getting a new cycle of America's Next Top Model. Yes, we do not call them seasons, but cycles, because . . . that is what we call them. Refer to it as a guilty pleasure if you must, but I actually like this show a lot. I'm sure a lot of people like it for different reasons. Whether it's the cat fights or the fashion aspect or just Miss Tyra Banks herself, we keep getting drawn into this show. I personally, being an art lover, really enjoy the photography part of it. I've always been impressed by the creative ideas they come up with for the shoots, and I love seeing the finished result. Some of the pictures are incredibly beautiful and just plain great art.

Now I know that the show has come under criticism from the public and even some of the contestants, but the fans seem to brush it off and keep watching. I know I do. But, despite my enjoyment of the show, I do have my own criticism. I suppose it might fall into the category of "no good deed goes unpunished".

From the beginning, Tyra has always emphasized the idea of her girls and all women having a positive body image no matter what their shape or size. As a woman who is not and has never been a size 0, I like how she has always reminds us that we are beautiful, too. And I really believe that Miss Banks is truly sincere about this. So every cycle she has at least one plus size model. Again, appreciated.

Okay, now here's the problem. More often than not, these so-called plus size models look to me like they might be in the neighborhood of a size 8 or 10. Yeah, that is not really plus size when you consider the fact that most women are on average a size 12 or above. So how is a woman who is maybe a 16 supposed to think about herself when you're calling an 8 plus size? She's probably thinking, "If that is plus size, I am a whale!". So this is not as helpful as one might think.

But to give Tyra some credit, she has recently started referring to these formerly known as plus size models as real size or fiercely real. You know how Tyra likes that F word. Now even though those 8/10's are still smaller than the average, at least, they are trying to be more accurate. And it is nice for someone to say that you can be beautiful and not anorexic all at the same time. Yay!

Now let me address the (forgive me for this) elephant in the room. I do not hate skinny girls, and I never have. Well, not for THAT reason anyway. If you're naturally skinny, fine. Be what you are. If you force yourself to be skinny, and then develop an attitude, we might have a problem. It's just sad that women have tricked themselves into thinking if they are skinny then that means they will be gorgeous and successful and (God help them!) loved. They are sometimes so convinced that they put themselves on a dangerous path and that is completely unnecessary.

The bottom line is that if you're healthy and content with yourself, look however you want to look. You'll never make EVERYone happy with your appearance, so don't try to make ANYone happy with it. Just be happy. And since God loves us and forgives us for all our repented screw ups, why shouldn't we be?

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, July 9, 2012

Top Ten Destination Truth Half-isodes

Greetings Pups,

Tomorrow night brings forth the return of a show I enjoy very much, Destination Truth. For those of you who don't know, Destination Truth is a "reality" show on the SyFy Channel where a team of investigators go looking to uncover the "truth" about a number of strange beings in far off locations around the world, and, occasionally, even in America's own backyard. The show is hosted by Josh Gates, a well-known and quite adorable photographer, adventurer and explorer. Can I just say I love that someone can still, even in the 21st century, be famous as either an adventurer or an explorer? Anyway, he leads a team of some very interesting people, currently including (according to my information) awesomely hair-styled cameraman Gabe Copeland, always on top of things medic Rex Williams, and the well-experienced field investigator who could probably kick the butt of every guy she works with Erin Ryder a.k.a. just Ryder. And there are many more fascinating characters that fill the past of this show as well.

Basically, each hour long episode includes two different subjects to examine. Each one starts with Josh explaining what they will be looking for and where they will be going, then the team heads off to get more info, especially from the locals. This tends to be the most entertaining part of the show, because really what's funnier than people being exposed to a new strange culture, including all their customs and "food" right before your eyes? Yeah, I say food with quotations because sometimes I think my poor DT friends are just getting punked. Then we move on to the actual investigation. A word to the wise, if you are not a fan of night vision, this is the part of the show you may want to skip, because pretty much every investigation is done at night. Finally, they head back home to examine whatever evidence they may have obtained. There is a reason why this part of the show tends to be the shortest.

Now let me say this. I am not a huge believer in the paranormal. I don't believe in ghosts or aliens. I don't believe in Bigfoot, but I do believe in the Loch Ness Monster. Actually, some of the "monsters" for which they search seem almost plausible. There are a lot unexplored places on our planet, especially under the water, so in some cases, I can keep an open mind. Still, like on a lot of these types of shows, I get a fair number of eye roll moments. Like they'll be sitting in the middle of the rain forest at night and someone will claim that they heard something. Really? You're in the jungle and you heard something? I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but I think that's normal. Call me when you're in the jungle and surrounded by complete silence. Now that would be creepy.

I also find it amusing that a show with the word "Truth" in the title is on a channel called SyFy. Because, you know the Fy was formerly Fi, which was short for fiction. Even Josh Gates himself has said it's more of a travel show, as well as an adventure show, even a food show at times. That makes me think it would be more suited to the Travel Channel, or Discovery than SyFy, but, hey, take the checks where you can get them.

Alright, let's get to the meat of this post, my top ten list. Like I said, with a few exceptions, every episode has two parts. One may be good, and the other, not so much, so I had to divide them. Therefore, I refer to them as "half-isodes". And normally, I wait until a show has ended before I do a list for it. But I have waited over a year for this new season to start, so, out of frustration and anticipation, I am going to do it.

#10. "The Leperchaun" (Ireland, Season 3) - No, seriously, they went looking for leperchauns. Apparently, in Ireland, there are actual protected areas for these creatures. That is how much they drink. Wait, I mean, that is how much they believe in them. Yeah, I made an Irish people drink a lot joke, because I am nothing if not original. I just hope it wasn't the booze that made the boys, at one point, misplace Ryder in the caves.

#9. "Bigfoot" (Malaysia, Season 1) - Despite my previous denial of the Bigfoot, this half-isode is special because I've heard it is the first one they made, the one that got them the deal for the show, so it means something to all of us fans. Plus, it's the one where they got their best piece of evidence ever. On the first one. Peak early much, boys?

#8. "Chernobyl" (Ukraine, Season 3) - Okay, we all know the story of the tragedy that occurred here over twenty-five years ago. What you might not know is that people claim it is haunted. So Josh and the gang headed off, got their shiny haz-mat suits and went looking for ghosts. Even if there were ghosts at this place, you know what's scarier than ghosts? Cancer. I don't care how much protective gear you offer me, you couldn't get me to spend even a minute in a place that is, to this day, basically a big ball of radiation. The things people do for an adventure.

#7. "Ghosts of Antarctica" (Antarctica(duh!) Season 4) - I cheated a bit on this one, because it actually took up a whole episode. It was a biggie. And, yeah, ghosts again. The whole thing was pretty interesting, considering most of the adventure was just in getting to the huge and mainly abandoned continent. Two things stuck out for me, though. First, it was Josh's and Ryder's Titanic re-enactment on the bow (I think) of the ship. That's fine in the Caribbean, but you may want to avoid such things in the Arctic where there are, what do call them? Oh, yeah. Icebergs! The second stand out moment: Josh's "sweet Arctic beard". His words, not mine.

#6. "El Lobizon" (Argentina, Season 1) - So this is a basic werewolf legend where the seventh son of a family is in danger of becoming a Lobizon. He must be baptized by the president of Argentina (what?) in order to be safe, but they found a little kid who had not been baptized. So what did they do? Well, logically, they kept him outside, sitting in a chair until about one in the morning. Just to see if he would go werewolf on them. Did he? Guess you'll have to watch and find out. But, really, what do you think?

#5. "Haunted Forest" (Japan, Season 2) - This one is actually on my list because it's really sad. The team went to explore the Aokigahara Forest in Japan. This forest has a lot of history concerning Japanese mythology of demons and probably ghosts, as well, but it is also a very, I guess you can say popular place for suicides. There have been so many suicides that Japan has put up many, many signs around the area encouraging people to not do it. They did go looking for paranormal things, but they did find tangible evidence, such as ripped up pictures and tickets, that were no doubt the remnants of someone's life that had been given up on. Even the team members seem to moved by it, proving that real life can be more effective than anything they may be looking for.

#4. "Worm Monster" (Iceland, Season 2) - Okay, back to amusing incidents. This half-isode is full of funny moments. First, they had a hearty meal of lamb's face and goat testicles, the latter of which will, according to the waitress, "make you a man". Second, as they prepared to do an initial dive into a lake to search for the monster du jour, the boys realized that their wet suits were a bit small for them , not that it stopped them from painfully squeezing their way into them. It did though give Josh the opportunity to brag about his size 14 feet. He is such a man. Hey, I guess the goat testicles worked. Anyway, the actual investigation was kind of a nail biter because, due to a heavy fog, some of the team got lost on the lake, forcing them to spend practically the whole night in frigid temperatures. But all is well that ends well.

#3. "Island of the Dolls" (Mexico, Season 3) - Here the team heads off to an island in Mexico inhabited by creepy, evil dolls. Yeah, I know that's a little redundant. These dolls are purported to open and close their eyes and move their heads. Sadly, a little girl drowned there as well as did the former owner of the island, so everyone thinks it is haunted. The most memorable part is when Josh and Jael, a former team member, explore a shack full of, what do you know, dolls! They get a strong reading on their EMF recorder from one doll, so they stopped and you see a shot of Josh just staring at it for a few seconds, then - BAM! - the doll's eyes opened! It was awesome! It was awesome because Josh made a noise like he was going to puke or pass out or both. Now later Mike, another former member, tried to upstage him by running and screaming like a little girl after hearing a noise, but, sorry, Mike, the best I can give you on this one is second place.

#2. "Israeli Mermaid" (Israel(duh, again!) Season 3) - Sure they wanted to find a mermaid, but what they really wanted was the million dollar reward for finding it. Now Josh tried to say that if they did, he got the whole million, while the rest of the team got a free trip to Israel. Ryder, of course, later got him back for that remark by puking over the side of the boat while he was in the water. Girl power! And, later on the bigger boat during the nighttime investigation, there was an entertaining conversation between Josh, Ryder and Rex. It's worth a view just for that few minutes.

#1. "The Lusca" (The Bahamas, Season 3) - In this, my favorite half-isode, the DT team goes to the Bahamas to search for the Lusca, which is basically a GIANT octopus. This is one of the times where I actually believe it is very possible that this thing might exist. Apparently, Josh felt the same way because he expressed concerns about being "hugged to death". Oh, I can hug you to death, babe! Sorry. Moving on. The actual investigation was yet another nail biter. Josh went down to the caves where the Lusca allegedly lived, and he went at night, of course. Anyway, he is in communication with the team on the boat, says he sees something and then they lose contact. They lose contact for a really long time. Giant octopus or not, that made the team nervous. It made me nervous, and I wasn't even there. But, of course, he resurfaced after both he and the others got a look at something really big in the water. In this case, I think I may decide to believe.

So there is my list. Check out these episodes/half-isodes if any of my synopses interest you. I look forward to many more adventures with this group of wonderful people. May they always remain safe.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Terrible Twos? Not If I Can Help It

Greetings Pups,

So as I was going through the archives of my blog here, I noticed something. I began writing this thing exactly two years ago today. I guess "Happy Birthday/Anniversary To Me". For whatever reason, I did not acknowledge the turn of my first year, and I may never acknowledge this date again. It all depends. But since I'm doing it now, I'll just do it.

I can't remember exactly what made me want to do a blog, other than the fact that I am a writer and love to use it however I can. It may, though, be attributed to my viewing of the movie Julie and Julia. I really liked this movie, and I recall being quite inspired by the fact that this woman who longed to be a published writer started a blog and people actually read it. While I did not and still do not have overwhelming delusions that I will become an internet sensation through this, the idea intrigued me. Since I am not the most computer literate person, it took me nearly a year to get this thing up and running. But I finally did. I just had to figure out what I should write about.

Admittedly, I did not have such a focal point of cooking over five hundred recipes in the span of a year, but I did want an outlet for my opinions about . . . well, frankly, whatever. In the past, I had written several "Letters to the Editor" to my local newspaper, and they got very good responses. So I thought why not do this here. I notice things, A LOT, things that affect me one way or another, and I wanted a place to vent. Got it.

I also loved the idea of doing reviews of movies and albums and whatnot, because I do love exposing people to great things that of which they may have never heard. I also have an odd love of making lists. I figured that Top Tens could be a part of this, too, because making top ten lists is not trite or overdone at all. Not at all.

Now I've had some ups and downs with this blog over the past two years. I began very motivated to do it, albeit, I will still trying to figure out exactly how I should be coming across. So while I had some good subjects(or not), I was still trying to get my footing and those are not the best things I've ever written. I also had a lot of dry times, mostly because I was so busy with my other writing, specifically finishing, editing and publishing my first book, that I lagged behind on putting up posts. It almost became a chore, and I didn't want it to be that.

But this past New Year's I made a little promise to try and work on this more. It took a bit of time to get off and running, but now I am truly motivated to do this. For one thing, at me commoner's job, I am forced to be seen and not heard. And for someone who is as opinionated as myself, not to mention surrounded by things and people who are amazingly eye roll inducing, this is very hard for me to do. If I did not have my writing to get these feelings out, I don't even want to think about the result. May I also give some credit to a website called ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com where they do all kinds of reviews. I was so entertained that I remembered how much I loved doing reviews and lists of my own. So a big thanks to everyone there. And I hope they don't mind me mentioning them, especially since my one criticism is that they all swear too much, But . . . love you guys!!!

As I begin another year of doing this blog, I hope to strive for as much excellence as possible. I actually even went back into the archives to edit a few things that needed it. Nothing really with content, just more with a few of the titles, like the ones for my reviews and lists. I had been introducing them in a way that, at first, seemed creative, but then it quickly became annoying. To myself especially. So any new viewers won't have to deal with that mess. I also may begin to do some videos for this thing. Yeah, I don't really have a face that people would want to see, nor do I have a decent camera, but if things come together, I will do it. It may even afford me the opportunity to bring some of friends in to help/co-star. Example: I have plans to review every last Rocky film and I will be forcing my friend, Amy, the biggest fan of Rocky I know, to join me. She is not yet aware of this, but she will be.

So, in closing, thanks to everyone who has been reading my posts. It is greatly appreciated, and I will continue to put forth the best things I can.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Butler's Back

Greetings Pups,

I believe in miracles. I really do. Of course, every now and then, I may have weak moments where my faith is tried, but always something comes along to pull me back in. Recently, I experienced something that has erased any doubts I may have had about the validity of miracles.

About a month ago, I saw a movie entitled Coriolanus, and a mere three days ago, I saw Machine Gun Preacher, which I had been wanting to see for quite a long time. And what do these have in common? First of all, they were both, in my opinion, excellent movies. Second, Gerard Butler was in them. That's right. The Butler did it. He was in two good movies in a row. And therein lies the miracle, my Pups. It appears that Mr. Butler has decided to be a good actor who appears in good movies again. Now some people may replace my word "again" with the word "finally". It all depends on the angle from which you've been looking at him. I personally have always held him in high regard, for one reason or another, and I have done so for longer than most people, especially in this country.

Now I have known about Gerard Butler for a really long time. Not only did I know about him before 300, which is pretty much considered his major "Okay, now I am a famous movie star" moment, but I knew about him even before The Phantom of the Opera, which gave him his main introduction to us here in America, albeit on a smaller scale. And I can prove that . . . sort of. See, when I heard about this new Phantom movie based on the Broadway show, I wanted to know who would play this iconic title role. I found out and my first thought was, "Gerard Butler? I didn't know he could sing". Yeah, I still don't know if he can sing, but we'll get to that later.

And so I will give a retrospective on my Gerard Butler experience. No, there is nothing else I can call it, but that.

My life as a member of the concubine of Gerard Butler began around the year 2000 when he played Dracula. Well, look at that, a guy from the UK playing a vampire. There's a trend that'll never take off. Anyway, I saw him and was immediately infatuated with him. Now this movie and it's alleged plot, particularly the ending, can be considered somewhat preposterous. So hilariously preposterous that, in fact, it kind of becomes entertaining. But Gerard has quite a commanding presence in this film, and he manages to hold his own against such a legend as Christopher Plummer. Yes, Christopher Plummer was in this, keeping his title as the face that can add legitimacy to any sub par movie of the last twenty-five years. Not to say that this film is super sub par. I'm just making a point.

Moving on. The next film I saw him in was Attila, as in Attila the Hun, where, again, he played the titular role. Let me say that again and more slowly. Gerard Butler, of the SCOTLAND Butlers, portrayed Attila the Hun in a movie. Okay, I was not a history major in college. I barely passed that class in high school. But I do not recall the Huns coming from anywhere near that area of the world. If you want to see a legit Hun, I suggest you watch Mulan. That's right. For maybe the first time ever, in a race to historical accuracy, Disney is actually in the lead. And, of course, it will not be the last time that Gerard's acting career coincides with inaccuracies such as this. However, I do find this production very well done and entertaining, so, give and take, I suppose.

Now between these early days and those of the Phantom, Gerard Butler did make a few movies that some people did not consider . . . well, good. No help was it to put him with overrated actors who shall remain nameless, but he did have a stint with Christian Bale in Reign of Fire and was a teamed up again in Timelinewith the great Billy Connolly, who was actually with him in his first movie Mrs. Brown in 1997. Despite all of this, Gerard was cast in the, no doubt, long awaited and highly anticipated The Phantom of the Opera.

It is this movie that proved I was truly blinded by love, or in this case, deafened. A lot of people were perplexed at his being cast in this role, citing the fact that he was too young or too good looking (Yeah, life sucks for him!) and when it came to singing, Michael Crawford he was not. But I certainly came to his defense on more than one occasion. I tried to explain to people that they wanted this Phantom to be different from the above ground character of Raul. The Phantom, dark and growling and brooding with his rock and roll-like persona versus girly-man Raul with all his on-key-ness. Who wants that mess? (P.S. Sorry, Patrick Wilson.) After all the years that have passed, though, here is my conclusion of this movie and its star. He wasn't the best singer, but he wasn't the worst. He was what Andrew Lloyd Weber wanted, if not exactly what the fans wanted. I guess I can still give it a thumbs up, and a good many people have also done that.

And then after a few more movies that maybe weren't seen by many, though in some cases they should have (I'm talking to you, Dear Frankie), the big break of 300 came along. I remember seeing a big display for this movie in the theater, and I had to do a double take. My Gerard just looked so mean and ferocious, but good, don't get me wrong. Yeah, that was the main buzz about this movie. How good he looked. Now I personally preferred his physique in the aforementioned Attila movie. He was built, but he looked natural, not like he borrowed the fake chest of Ricardo Montalban from Star Trek 2. And since I bring up the Attila thing, I may as well address the historical accuracy, or lack thereof, once more. Again, I am not a history major, but yet again, Sparta? Pretty sure it's nowhere near Scotland. No, it was in ancient Greece, and I don't even think they asked him to tone down his Scottish accent. In fact, everyone in this movie had an accent, but no one had a Greek accent. What the heck? Regardless, I enjoyed it.

Like I said, this is the one that really thrust him into the stratosphere of stardom. Unfortunately, this also put him into the category of people who get paid big money to make really bad movies. Again, don't get me wrong. I did enjoy a few of his post-300 films. P.S. I Love You was one I liked, as well as Nim's Island, the latter one there I mostly liked because it is something that we can one day show our children. Oh, there I go again. But for the most part, in the last four or five years, I have not been pleased with his choices. I would see these movies and say "What are you doing? You are a good actor! Do good things. It's not that hard. Just call Daniel Day Lewis and ask for his advice!". Well, it seems that all of my ranting made its way to him, and he has decided to do as I asked.

I must say that I am really proud of him. He has these two amazing movies, and I also heard that he quit smoking. So, if that's true, yay. Clearly, he is on an upswing. I just pray that it will last. All we have to do now is keep him away from all those disease ridden skanks, and we will be good to go. I kid. We would only have had to worry about them if Gerard would have gotten picked to play James Bond. Wow! That was a bit harsh. But, remember, who doesn't cast you makes you stronger!

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer