Saturday, September 29, 2012

Top Ten Episodes of The Drew Carey Show

Greetings Pups,

I recently posted my Top Ten list of Whose Line is it Anyway? games. Since Drew Carey was the host of that show, I briefly mentioned his sitcom, The Drew Carey Show. I may not have mentioned that it was one of my favorite comedies of all time. I know it was never critically acclaimed. I think some critics had a problem with the fact that the actors weren't exactly Shakespearean trained, but that was what I liked about it. They all just seemed like regular people who you might know in your own life. And it was funny. I'd like to think that would be the most important thing for a comedy show, but call me crazy.

Now I, like most fans, can admit that the show was a bit slow in the beginning, and it began to decline a little in the last couple of years, which seems to be the life cycle of a lot of shows. I think most of us consider the middle five or six seasons to be the best. And though there were later changes, it was within those years that the core and best known characters would lie. Those characters were led by the main man, Drew Allison Carey. Yes, his middle name was Allison. There's some trivia for you. He was joined by his lifelong friends Kate (Christa Miller), Lewis (Ryan Stiles) and Oswald (Diedrich Bader), as well as his generously eyeshadowed nemesis Mimi (Kathy Kinney), his brother Steve (John Carroll Lynch) and his boss at the Winfred-Louder department store, Mr. Wick (Craig Ferguson. Yes, THAT Craig Ferguson).

And so now I will share with you my Top Ten episodes of The Drew Carey Show. It was actually quite difficult for me to narrow this down, since there were a lot of great moments. But I did my best.

#10. "Two Weddings and a Funeral For a Fridge" (Season 3) - In this episode, we suffer a tragic loss. That of Bessie. And if you haven't figured it out by now, Bessie is Drew's refrigerator, a refrigerator that had been with the gang since childhood. Obviously, they're upset, so they all compete in the Winfred-Louder annual employee games to win him a new one. Unless, of course, Mimi gets in their way. Think that might happen?

#9. "Drew's Brother" (Season 3) - After losing his job and going through a break up, Drew's brother, Steve, suddenly shows up at his door asking for help. You can see that Drew and Steve love each other but also that there is a history of comical sibling abuse. Of course, I say 'comical', because I am an older sibling. So Steve is your typical older brother. Or is he? Well, surprise for us and Drew, it turns out that Steve is a cross dresser. Funny enough. Now I know some men may easily pass themselves off as a woman if dressed in drag, but the wonderful and underrated actor, John Carroll Lynch, who played Steve, is not exactly one of them. Yes, sir, it is a compliment that I find you more attractive as a man. Ironically, this is the same episode where, due to an allergic reaction, Mimi is forced to go two weeks without make up. Oh, the horror.

#8. "The Curse of the Mummy" (Season 7) - Here we have a guest appearance by Richard Chamberlain . . . as Mr. Wick's mother. I only have three things to say about this. Number One: Dear Richard Chamberlain, how did we not know? Number Two: What is it with this show and cross dressers? Number Three: A year. ONE WHOLE ENTIRE YEAR before I could watch The Thornbirds again! Thanks a bunch, one and all!

#7. "It's Halloween, Dummy" (Season 7) - In a nice change from Drew's past experiences, Winfred-Louder gets a new owner who loves him. Who is that owner? Why, it's Mr. Newsome played by Henry Winkler! Oh, classic! He plans to move Drew up in the company, but, alas, (spoiler!) he dies. He is literally scared to death by a fake spider while he is dressed like a turtle. It is the second funniest thing in this episode. The first would be Oswald's "mushroom" costume. If you can't figure it out, look it up online.

#6. "Batmobile" (Season 3) - Believe it or not, Drew won the actual Batmobile in this episode. Needless to say, everyone is quite excited, but none more than Lewis and Oswald who go so far as to take the car without permission while they are dressed in some very specific outfits. Yes, it is exactly what you think. And do not think Nolan Batman.

#5. "Hush, Little Baby" (Season 6) - This is the first episode after Mimi gives birth to her and Steve's son (yes, she married Drew's brother. More on that later). She is plagued by the fact that he will not stop crying . . . unless he is held by Drew. To make matters worse, Steve gets sick and has to move to Drew's house, and then makes Drew stay with Mimi and the baby. Nobody is happy about that, except for us, of course.

#4. "See Drew Run" (Season 2) - Due to Winfred-Louder's refusal to build a skywalk, the employees are forced to cross the street at a dangerous intersection. Now it wouldn't be a comedy if a few people didn't get hit by cars. No disappointment on that one. So, in protest, Drew opts to go on a hunger strike until they build the skywalk. Things begin a little slowly on that, to say the least, but the gang comes up with a hilarious and somewhat creepy looking way to get what they need. Oh, Drew, you and your big head.

#3. "Steve and Mimi Get Married" (Season 5) - Okay, a little back story. Soon after arriving, Steve begins a romance with Mimi, much to Drew's chagrin. No kidding. They date for a while, but it all culminates with this wedding episode. A lot happens here. Steve is mad at Drew for his attitude toward Mimi and wants it to stop, which is the basic plot of this one. But we also get some special appearances, like Joe Walsh in his recurring and extremely funny role of Ed, and Tammy Faye as Mimi's mother. I wonder how she got that part. Hands down though, I'd say the best part of this episode is Mimi's dress. I've seen a plethora of TV wedding dresses in my lifetime, but none better than this. None!

#2. "Drew Blows His Promotion" (Season 2) - Drew is offered a promotion if he remakes the store's safety videos, which he does. This coincides with his birthday, a day where his friends attack him with pranks. Lewis and Oswald criticize Kate for not pulling any good pranks, so she takes a copy of Drew's newly made video and adds amusing sounds. And what might they be? Well, let's just say that the sound editor's whoopee cushion was working overtime. It was meant to be shown at his party, but the tapes were switched and Drew got embarrassed in front of his bosses. At least, he entertained them. And us. No lie, the first time I saw this, I went into that 'I can't stop laughing, but I wish I could because it's replacing my breathing at the moment' type of laughter. Good times.

#1. "The Gang Stops Drinking" (Season 5) - After eating a meal that Kate prepares, the gang becomes very sick. They think it was her cooking, but it turns out that Mimi dosed their dessert with a drug that makes you vomit if you drink alcohol. Oh, did I mention they all drink a lot? So they must spend St. Patrick's Day sober. Tragic. But since the actress who played Kate looked a tad pregnant at the time, perhaps no beer was a good idea. Still, seeing them sit around the table at their favorite bar drinking not beer was a moment to remember, because I'm pretty sure it never happened again. Also, 'the night the toilet cried' is a phrase now in my vernacular. Thank you, Drew.

So there you have it. I tried my best to recall these episodes since I have not seen them in years. Yeah, this show is nowhere to be found anymore. Why, oh why can't they put it on DVD? It would make me so happy. Come on, Drew. Use some of that mojo that Bob Barker left lingering to make it happen.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chiklis and the Change

Greetings Pups,

I am never certain if I take change well. Sometimes I do; sometimes I don't. But if there is one thing, or one person I should say, who makes me think that I fall more on the side of the "don't", it is Michael Chiklis.

Let me start by saying that I absolutely love Michael Chiklis and have for over twenty years. That should be your first clue as to where I discovered him. That's right - The Commish. The Commish was and still is one of my all time favorite shows. It was fantastic. The stories were great, so were the characters. Although, some people would always point out that commissioners never went out to crime scenes like detectives or beat cops. They may have been right, but The Commish was not just any commissioner. He was Anthony J. Scali. His friends call him Tony, so I'm going to call him Tony, because, in my world, we are friends. Problem? Anyway, Tony Scali was the commissioner of Eastbridge, New York, a place that may or may not have been real. I never really looked into that. He was a wonderful, loving, cuddly - yes, cuddly - family man with a wife and two kids. Tony was just an all around nice guy, and that included his life as a cop. Oh, sure, he may have gotten angry at a suspect or two, but nothing too crazy. You could always tell how much he cared about the people he was helping.

Unfortunately, that wonderful show ended much too soon in my opinion. So after several years of waiting, I heard that my man Chiklis was going to be doing a new show called The Shield. He was going to play a guy named Vic Mackey who was a cop. Yay, a cop! Just like he was on The Commish. Yeah, I think everyone knows I kind of jumped the gun on that assumption.

In case you don't know, Vic Mackey of The Shield is nothing, NOTHING, like Tony Scali of The Commish. For really reals. If I could sum it up easily, he was just not a nice guy. And I figured that out with just one episode. Yes, I'll admit it. I only watched one episode of The Shield. I just couldn't handle it. I certainly couldn't handle my sweet, little Chiklis acting like such a meanie. So, therefore, I came to the conclusion that, perhaps, I do not take change very well. I certainly didn't in this case.

Now as I say these things about The Shield, I am not attacking the merit of the show. Though I never became a dedicated watcher, I'm sure it was well-done. It was certainly successful and critically acclaimed, including an Emmy for the star. And, by the way, when Chiklis won that Emmy, I was extremely happy for him because I knew he deserved it. I never doubted the talent of that man, and I never will.

So as time has passed and the resume of Mr. Chiklis has lengthened, many more people have gotten to see him in many more ways. They can all decide how they like him best. But for me, I still have a soft spot for Tony Scali and his gang. No matter what Michael Chiklis does, that is how I will think of him. I pray he thinks fondly on that time as well, because I am holding out hope for a The Commish reunion someday.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why I Chose To Become a Writer

Greetings Pups,

So, based on the title of this post, you will all probably be thinking that I will be answering the question "Why did I choose to become a writer?" Well, here's the answer - I didn't.

Okay, I know that it has become cliche to say you didn't choose something, but it chose you. Very cliche, in fact. And yet, in a lot of cases, it's the truth. There are some things that we are born to do, and hopefully, it is something we also love to do. Truth be told, though it is very difficult at times, I do love to write, and I feel like I was born to do it. Still, it wasn't until I was a teenager that I knew for sure what my calling was going to be.

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved to read and write, I loved music and all things artistic. It was an escape for me, and, trust, I was certainly the kind of child who was in desperate need of that. Though the majority of people who were around me at those times would deny it, I had a arduous youth. In all fairness, I had become an expert at bottling up my heartache, a talent I still hold sometimes to this day. I can understand why they couldn't figure it out, but since I doubt they would have even bothered to try, I know I was not completely to blame.

As I began to grow into those always easy adolescent years, things just got worse, even to the point where I attempted suicide. Well, to be accurate, it was more like attempted attempted suicide. I would hold a bottle of pills in my hand contemplatively or run knives across my skin without daring to break it. As crazy as it sounds, the reason I never went through with it was because I was afraid of the aftermath had I survived. And it was not just the questions I feared but the condemnations. They were to be expected, especially since I was (and still am) a Christian, surrounded by people who may or may not have been the Christians they said they were. But that is between them and God. Still, I sit here as a woman who was often told that she was weak if she cried. I'm sorry, but crying is something that five year olds do on occasion. I can only imagine how weak they would have thought I was had they found out about this.

These incidents I kept a secret for a very, very long time. Who was I going to tell? Any time I tried to be who I really was or even show a glimmer of what I was feeling, I was shunned as an outcast. I had no person to talk to, so I talked to the only one I could. That's right - God! I bet you saw that one coming. Anyway, I prayed for Him to take away all that pain that was constantly used to attack me. What He did was give me a way to turn that pain into something great. What he gave me was writing.

It was at the age of fifteen that I truly knew I was meant to be a writer. And God certainly has used some surprising people and situations to walk me through this journey. So I suppose because of all this, I don't believe that WRITING chose me. I believe that GOD chose me to be a writer and to use this gift to show how great He is. That is what I always try to do. No matter what subject I write about, whether I'm being serious or funny, all of the credit goes to Him, because I would not even be doing it had it not been for what He did.

If there is one important thing I have learned and that I can share, it is this. We writers and musicians and artists, we are so valuable to the world. I don't even think we know how much. I know that so many of us have been told that doing anything artistic is a dead end for life, but that is a lie. Maybe you won't get rich or famous because of it in the traditional sense, but if you use your gifts to their fullest, you will have an abundant life. Just remember to always give thanks to the One who gave you those gifts. I certainly do.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Country Strong - Music Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I have always loved music, but it took me awhile to get into the country kind. Actually, all it really took was a few cute boys coming into the mix. Now I am a fan of that kind of music completely. Well, maybe not completely. I can name a few people that I try to avoid, adulteresses and whatnot, but let's not get into that today. Anyway, since I became such a fan, I tend to take notice of things if they have something to do with country music, like movies, for example. One of those movies is Country Strong.

Now I am not generally a huge fan of actresses becoming singers and vice versa. It can work, but it mostly seems contrived to me. Or a mess so hot you could toast marshmallows over it. In the case of our star here, Gwyneth Paltrow, I've always enjoyed the way she managed to use her talent for singing by slipping it into her acting jobs. She's never made a full on album or expected a Grammy, I think. Anyway, in this film, she really melded these two talents together better than she ever has. Okay, the story.

Country Strong is about a once praised but recently fallen singer named Kelly Canter played by Paltrow. We start off with her in rehab for her alcoholism, something which led to a very tragic, very public incident in her life. While there, she has met a special friend named Beau Hutton, played by Garrett Hedlund, who is a talented but unknown singer/songwriter. Oh, and by the way, when I say "special friend", it's exactly what you think it means, despite the fact that she is married. Her husband is a man named James who is played by Tim McGraw. So they are really not kidding about her having a drinking problem. I mean, who would cheat on Tim McGraw, for real? And while on the subject, I know I said I'm not always into the career switcheroo thing, but I do enjoy Tim McGraw as an actor. Still, I do hope one day he REALLY steps out of his comfort zone with this. Someone who hasn't always earned their "Good Acting" badge with me is Leighton Meester who plays Chiles Stanton, a young singer, relying more on her looks than her talent for fame, at first. Maybe it's the character she plays on Gossip Girl that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but here, she's not so bad.

The plot follows this three-date tour for which James has pulled Kelly out of rehab. I'm guessing not the best idea. James wants to hire Chiles as the opening act, but Kelly wants Beau to do it. Oh, for crying out loud! It's three dates. What is the whoop? Anyway, they take both youngsters with them and hilarity ensues. By hilarity, I mean one mess after another for Kelly. Hey, you take someone out of rehab early, you pay the price . . . to the concert promoters who are super annoyed at these shenanigans.

As their time on the road continues, Beau, who initially is not at all that crazy about Chiles, begins to develop feelings for her, as does she about him. I kind of think we saw that one coming. Despite this relationship that is blossoming, to say the least, Beau still cares deeply for Kelly and seems to be taking better care of her than her husband sometimes. Now that time, I didn't mean that the way it sounded. Actually, most of the time, Beau comes off as being a very sincere friend to her who is pained as she engages in destructive behavior. It's kind of sweet.

Despite all the bad that occurs, there are a few bright moments. One of my favorite scenes is when Kelly goes to visit a little boy named Travis. She sings a song that she makes up on the spot that is especially for him, and the whole room starts dancing. We get to see a rare, gentle moment of love between Kelly and James that almost makes you forget all the problems, but when you do remember them, this scene could break your heart.

The end of the movie gives us a concert in Dallas, the city where that tragedy I mentioned earlier occurred. After that, a few more things happen and then we're done. Now the end of the film could be considered predictable, but that all depends on whether you are a pessimist or an optimist. I can't really say for which type of person this ending is predictable, because then I would be giving it away. And I don't want to do that, since I will most likely recommend this one. Before I get to officially doing that, we have something else about which to talk - the music.

So was it any good in this film? For the most part, I'll say yes, especially if you like country music (no kidding). It was so good, in fact, they released two CD soundtracks. Of course, if you like Tim McGraw's singing, you are out of luck. He is featured on but one song, and it is a duet. But there are some really strong musical moments here. Some of my favorites are the the title song, another one called "Timing is Everything", and of course, "Coming Home". The last of those was actually nominated for some big awards, and I get that. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking song.

Okay, do I recommend this movie? Yes, I do. While I can admit there is a lot of predictability in it, the performances are very strong and the music is good, something one may look for in a music movie. And, to combine those two things, the performances of the music are also very well done. I think it fulfilled what it set out to do. So check it out, especially if you like that country music.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, September 21, 2012

Glitter - Music Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I bet you thought you were safe this week. No, we are going to go there. Back in time, to one of the worst movies of ALL time. But it's a music movie, so it qualifies to be reviewed by me. Take my hand, little Pups. We are going to talk about Glitter.

I know that it's practically cliche to talk about how bad this movie is, and every reviewer has had the pleasure of bashing the daylights out of this thing. But I didn't have this blog way back then, so please indulge me on this.

For those of you who may not know, Glitter is a 2001 film (?) starring Mariah Carey. This was her first attempt at acting, aside from a very small part in a movie called The Bachelor. And up until this point, she had never been anything but successful. I am speaking, of course, professionally. When it came to her personal life, she didn't exactly succeed at marriage, but that is a whole other issue. Needless to say, this movie was not a success at all. I'm sure it didn't help that Mariah was also having some kind of breakdown at the same time. I sympathize with her on that, but I really don't know what she was thinking with this movie. Hang on, is it even legally a movie if there is no legitimate plot involved? Technically, I say no. It's what I call a PBFWTTAMA. Translation: People Being Filmed While They Talk And Move Around. Yes, I know. I am a genius. But, to make things easier for all of us, I'll just call it a movie. Let us begin. Oh, mercy.

Okay, if I was forced to extract some kind of plot from this movie, I guess I could say that it is the story of a little girl with a troubled home life who becomes a big star. Yes, it is a little unoriginal, but it could have been a good foundation. You start with that, then you add in a couple of conflicts that can mature and be resolved. A COUPLE of conflicts, not a thousand. See, that was one of the major problems here. There were a ton of things getting thrown at the main character. Oh, whose name, by the way, is Billie. I can't believe I didn't even think to mention that. As I was saying, there were a lot of problems thrown at Billie, but like 99.9% of them were resolved in about two minutes. So none of these so-called issues got a chance to mature into actual problems where the resolution would be an actual payoff.

And let's talk of the overall generic quality of everything in this movie. We had generic best friends, a generic love interest, a generic competitor for the love interest. We are not given anything to make us care about any of these characters. We certainly were not given any actors who could properly portray the characters and make them in any way dynamic. Well, we do get a pre-legitimized Terrence Howard, but with him, I think was just a case of a good actor trying to make the best of some really bad material. Speaking of which, what the heck with Dorian Harewood showing up in this thing? He was in Full Metal Jacket, for crying out loud. I weep, say a prayer and recall when I saw Hugh Laurie in Spice World. Now you know why House was always in a mood.

Now this post would be a mile long if I tried to get into all those plot threads that never led to anything. So I think I will choose to stop with talk of the movie on that level and get on to the music. This will be slightly less painful. Slightly.

The soundtrack is really nothing about which to brag. I think what made this so unsuccessful can be attributed to two things. First, being tied to this movie doesn't help. Second, when you compare it to all of Mariah's previous music, there is no comparison. Maybe if this album had been released by some new unknown artist it would have been given some props, but it did not live up to the quality we had come to expect from Mariah Carey. Now she did have a very minor hit from this called "Loverboy" and to be honest, I don't hate the song "Never Too Far", which reminded me of one of her classic ballads. Still, it wasn't enough to give this album a pass.

So am I recommending this? Not really. But I will choose to end on a high note, so to speak. As we all know, in 2005, Mariah made a huge musical comeback with The Emancipation of Mimi, but let us not forget about the strides she has made as an actress. Many people, myself included, were quite impressed by her performance in the movie Precious. But it was there that she did the right thing. She was not carrying the entire film, and she was not playing herself but a woman who was a not all glammed up, regular person. Therefore, Mariah proved that she does, indeed, have some acting chops. It's just all about presentation.

So, yes, we will always have Glitter whether we like it or not. We can be critical of dear Mariah, which I think I was, but let's remember that we all make mistakes in life. Some of us are just blessed enough to not have to make them in front of the whole world.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Music and Lyrics - Music Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Yesterday, I reviewed a little movie called Once, which, in its simplest form, is about a guy and a girl who meet and write songs together. I loved it, but it is an indie film. That is not everyone's cup of tea. Some people want a movie that is more mainstream, so I thought the best way to follow up that one would be with Music and Lyrics. It had a bigger budget and bigger stars. Literally. This thing has Brad Garrett, and he's like 8 feet tall. But our "Guy" and "Girl" here are played by Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. Well, I like one of them. Anyway, this is a comedy, so these two were cast because of their track record in that area and their names as actors and not at all because of their musical talent or lack thereof. But we'll get to that later. Let's get to the actual movie.

The film starts with the sound of some dated 80's pop music accompanied by a music video ("A what?" says the youngsters), which is just as cheesy as we would expect. It features a band called PoP!(actual spelling), a group of five guys which are clearly led by two of them, namely Alex Fletcher and Colin Thompson. The first of those two is played by Hugh Grant. This video leads to some present day exposition about the history of the band. Look, let me just break it down for you. Colin is the George Michael and Alex is the Andrew Ridgeley. Yeah, they're Wham! I don't even think the film makers try to hide this fact, as if they could, but apparently, this thing is also inspired by Duran Duran. Fine. Moving on.

Obviously, Alex is not the more famous of the two, but he hopes to get back some success. How? Well, enter his manager, Chris Riley, played by Brad Garrett, very well I might add. Chris tells Alex that he is in the running to write a song for a very popular young singer named Cora Corman played by newcomer Hayley Bennett, who I think did great as this character. And who is this character exactly? Well, she is clearly a Britney Spears copy, but since Cora is completely into the religion of Buddhism, which she is trying to make trendy, we obviously have a little Madonna thrown in there, too. Oh, and her manager is played by Matthew Morrison. Yeah, Mr. Schuster from Glee is in a movie about music and he doesn't even sing. I guess he wanted to be taken seriously as an actor. Keep trying, buddy.

Anyway, Cora wants a song called "Way Back Into Love" and she wants it by the end of the week. She also wants Alex to perform it with her at a big concert, which should definitely help to put him back on top. Should be no problem for a professional songwriter like Alex? Right? Wrong! Alex excelled at music writing, not lyric writing. So, Chris gets him someone to work with named Gregg, who is really only in one scene, but Chris Antoon, the actor who plays him, makes the most of it. By sheer coincidence, or because it's in the script, Alex's new "plant girl" shows up at his apartment during the writing session. It just so happens to be Drew Barrymore as Sophie Fisher, and Alex just so happens to discover that she has an unexpected talent for lyric writing. So he loses the pro and tries to get her to write with him. After a lot of pressure and forcing her to pity his sad existence, she agrees.

Before I go on, a little Sophie Fisher back story. She took writing classes at The New School, where she had a little trouble with a teacher. That is touched upon in the film. But now she works for her parents diet food company with her sister, Rhonda played by Kristen Johnston. And Kristen Johnston is why I have this separate paragraph. She is hilarious in this film and absolutely steals the show in every scene she is in. That being said, let us continue.

As Alex and Sophie work on the song, their relationship deepens. What a surprise. They learn a lot about each other's pasts and even have the creative differences that are usually set aside for partners that have been writing together for years. Aren't they lucky? But they do eventually finish the song and get the job. Not to worry, though. This is not a spoiler, because this is not where the movie ends.

No, the movie ends at the big concert, but, between finishing the song and this event, there is quite a bit of hoopla. Oh, yes, Pups. All the hoopla one would expect from the RomCom world. So don't choke on your popcorn in shock if we are treated to a predictable happy ending. Don't you dare! But, as the credits roll, we do get a special treat, which I refuse to spoil. Oh, wait. Did I say concert a few beats back? It looks like it's time to discuss the music.

Okay, the music in this movie is mostly songs written specifically for it. So don't expect a load of masterpieces, but it's not total crap either. I mean, even though Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore could barely carry a tune, it didn't do that much damage. Actually, I think some of the music is pretty good, and it certainly fits with what it is supposed to be. The old PoP! songs that Alex performs do sound like something Wham! might have done, and all the songs for Cora are what you would expect from a current pop princess. But what about THE song? The song that the entire movie is based on, "Way Back Into Love"? Well, to be honest, I think it's kind of cute. Again, not a masterpiece, but a decent pop song with pretty good music and lyrics. There you go! Music and lyrics! I'm not saying you'll want to run out and buy or download the soundtrack, but you won't be spending the whole movie groaning at the music either.

So, despite the fact that I may have issues with some of the actors, I find this movie quite enjoyable. It's just one of those fun films that is not meant to take itself too seriously, which is nice to have every now and then. But I have to be honest with you all. The main accomplishment of this movie, much like Once, is to make me very jealous. I am a songwriter, but I can admit that I certainly excel more at the lyrics rather than the music. So why can't I find some adorable boy with an accent to write songs with me? Oh, sigh. I guess it's just one more thing to add to the prayer list.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Once - Music Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I love things that are simple. Not simplistic, but simple. This is probably why I like a good indie film. Sometimes I just like to watch a good story that is true to life without a lot of bells and whistles and special effects, and if you can throw in a little music, that just makes it even better. Put all of this together and you get the movie Once.

Once is a seriously stripped down film. So much so that they don't even name the main characters. For real. In the credits, they are called Guy and Girl, which means that is what I will have to call them. If you ask me, though, I think this is to emphasize the fact of how well they got to know each other on levels that are different from the ones of which we normally think. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's get to the story. I won't be saying too much, because when I said this was simple, I was not kidding.

As the film opens, we see Guy, played by Glen Hansard. He is partaking in his hobby/job of being a Dublin busker. Love him already. A "busker", for those of you who don't know, is a street performer, a street musician in this case. As he plays, he is approached by Girl, played by Marketa Irglova. She is a Czech immigrant who is drawn to his music. She begins a conversation, bombarding him with questions about his songs, and, in the process, finds out that his "day job" is repairing vacuum cleaners. And she has a broken one. What a coincidence.

The next day, Girl brings her cleaner, and she and Guy end up having lunch together. This is where things really take off, because the conversation again turns to music. Guy finds out that she is a musician herself, and they find a piano store in which they can play together. Immediately, they discover that they are kindred musical spirits and start to write songs.

As the time passes, they learn more about each other's lives. Girl learns of Guy's relationship with his dad and his ex-girlfriend who has served as quite a powerful inspiration. Guy learns of Girl's family, which includes her mother and baby daughter with whom she lives and a husband who is nowhere to be found.

They begin to take the idea of their new musical partnership seriously, going so far as to hire some other musicians and rent out some time in a studio to make a demo. And while all of this is taking place, the relationship of Guy and Girl continues to deepen. And that is about all I can really say without ruining anything. I will say, though, that each scene of the film is easily passed off to the next just in order to get us to the end where we are not necessarily given some jaw dropping reveal. And yet, you do feel like the whole trip was worth it to get to that end. It is definitely an investment that pays off. Having said that, let me discuss the music.

Much like the film, the music here is simple but moving and even powerful at times. All of it was written by either Hansard or Irglova or both of them. Of course, I must discuss the most famous song, "Falling Slowly", which went on to win an Academy Award. The moment I heard this song, I fell in love with it, and I have heard a lot of other people say the same. It is absolutely beautiful, and as you listen, you can really feel the two writers coming together to create it, as though what happened in the film was infused right into the notes. But even though this one is most well known, there are other great songs as well. Some of my favorites are "Lies" and "When Your Mind's Made Up", as well as the Irglova only penned "If You Want Me" and "The Hill".

Now I really do have to speak about the artists themselves and their performances. Marketa Irglova seems to be quite a soft spoken woman, and it carries over into her singing. It is gentle but just strong enough to make you feel something, and she has a quiet maturity in her voice, which was amplified for me when I found out just how young she was when she made this film. Glen Hansard, on the other hand, is a singer that I find to be very outwardly dynamic. He can do the quiet thing, too, but when he truly digs deeps, you will be blown away by what he can do as a performer. To sum it up, I absolutely love these two people.

Whether you like indie films or not, I would certainly recommend this. Of course, it is more suited to a viewer who just likes to watch ordinary people live their lives with an extraordinary story bubbling beneath their everyday actions. It is definitely a film for songwriters like myself because we get to see our people doing their thing. And as a side note, if you do see this, or have seen it, and like it, here is another recommendation. In 2011, a documentary called The Swell Season was released, and it explores the musical and personal lives of Hansard and Irglova as they experience their newly found fame. It is actually very good, as I said, especially if you like Once.

So, in conclusion, if simple and beautiful films and music are what you find appealing, then this one is definitely for you. I just wish, as always, that there wasn't so much swearing. But still, fantastic movie, amazing music, and very wonderful people.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Burlesque - Music Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I have mentioned this before, but let me do it again. I am not a big fan of one Miss Christina Aguilera. Don't get me wrong. I do like some of her songs, but it's more her as a person for which I do not care much. I know. I don't know her, but I have known people who have known her from way back when, and, trust, nothing good was ever said. So, though it may seem cruel, the main reason why I watched the movie Burlesque was to see if she would fall on her face as an actress. Yeah, she really didn't disappoint me much on that. You know, just because Mariah Carey allegedly said some nasty things about you, doesn't mean you have to try and one up her on the bad acting.

Okay, before I get into the story, let me warn you. I may be giving some spoilers. Not a ton, since there is little story to spoil, but I always give a heads up when I do that. Let's start this thing.

Burlesque is about a girl named Ali who moves from a small town to a big city in hopes of becoming famous. Yep, Christina Aguilera is playing herself. Again, that worked out so well for Mariah. I guess the big difference between Ali and Christina is that Ali has a dead mother and a father she doesn't mention, while Christina has a living mother and a father she says was abusive, an accusation, by the way, that I am not exactly first in line to believe. I'm not saying he was or not, but that's just how I feel and another subject altogether. Anyway, Ali gets to L.A. and wanders into a burlesque club. If you don't know, a burlesque club is basically a glorified strip club, the only difference being that they don't get completely naked and I don't think I saw any poles. Still, it's the same principle or lack thereof. The first thing she sees, besides Alan Cumming as the doorman (there's a bouncer to fear) is Tess, the owner of the club, singing and being surrounded by her "dancers". Tess is played by Cher, and I don't think anyone else could have played this part. Good or bad, it's the truth. So Ali wants to be on stage, but the best she can do is con herself a waitress job with the help of bartender Jack played by Cam Gigandet, who some of you may know as one of the unconvincingly evil vamps from Twilight. We also get to meet Stanley Tucci as Sean, the longtime gay friend and employee of Tess. Wait! Stanley Tucci is playing a gay guy who works for an aging business woman? Okay, someone had a little trouble parting with his character from The Devil Wears Prada. But I do like Stanley Tucci, so I guess I can let it slide.

So Ali does her waitressing gig while still dreaming of being one of the performers. And when I say dreaming, I mean they blatantly stole the Renee Zelwegger bit from the "All That Jazz" scene of Chicago. So already this movie has made me think of two better movies that I wish I was watching instead. Through some cinematic upheaval, namely an apartment robbery and one of the "dancers" getting pregnant, Ali moves in with Jack and gets a chance to get on stage. What? She's moving in with the cute, single guy that she works with? I wonder what might happen! Insert eye roll. More upheaval causes Ali to be able to sing live as opposed to the lipsynching the girls normally do, except for Tess. So, surprise, she becomes the star and, eventually and, according to Jack, a total "B" (yeah, I still don't say that word!). Anyway, Tess hopes that this (the singing)will bring in enough money so that she can save her club. Oh, yeah, that is another plot of this movie, which includes some guy who wants to get his hands on the club. That guy is played by one of those Mc. . .whatever doctors from Grey's Anatomy. And Ali just happens to get involved with him, too. What is all the heck? This IS The Devil Wears Prada!

Anyway, things continue on just as predictably as one would expect, including the ending. I mean, every single aspect of the conclusion could be seen coming from the Earth to the moon. But whatever, let's get to the music.

About 90% of the songs in the film are ones you would expect to hear in one of these clubs, which is fine, since there are some good ones here. But believe me, I would much rather hear Etta James singing "Tough Lover" than Christina Aguilera. Now I am not one to deny any goodness I can find, so I will point out a couple of songs that aren't so bad. There is one called "Bound to You", which, despite the 'too much as usual' performance by Christina, is actually a lovely ballad. If only it hadn't been interspersed with scenes of fornication! Heh, heh! Then we have the Diane Warren penned "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" performed by Cher. Again, say what you will about her, the woman can sing, and she certainly has a presence about her. And this song, certainly lyrically, fits her very well. So hats off for that one.

So, besides that, is there anything else good I can say about this movie? Actually, yes. Like I said, love me some Stanley Tucci and good Cher, but a couple of other performances are pretty good, too. Though I have never considered myself a fan of hers, I thought Kristen Bell did a good job playing, Nikki, the often drunk antagonist of . . . well, pretty much everybody. She was actually kind of fun. And let me give a little shout out to Julianne Hough in this thing. She plays Georgia, the one that gets pregnant, therefore letting Ali take her place. So her part is pivotal, but not huge, and for what little screen time she has, she's not bad. See, Julianne did the thing that every "famous for something else" person should do when it comes to their first movie role. She got a small part in an ensemble cast where she could utilize her talents and see if she can handle the acting thing. Now, the Footloose remake debacle aside, I do think that if she keeps honing her acting skills, she will become very good at it. And she's just so sweet!

Films like this do serve a purpose in the world. We can't have bad movie night without bad movies! And this one qualifies. Of course, it does have a few bright moments, but just not enough for me. I have heard people say it wasn't as bad as they were expecting, which I guess is a little true. Still, that is not exactly a glowing recommendation, especially since the bar was set so low to begin with. Look, watch it if you want to, but don't say I told you to do it. I just can't be responsible for that many people smashing things into their plasmas.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, September 17, 2012

Grace of my Heart - Music Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I love a good biopic. I love knowing the stories of the lives of great, and sometimes not so great people. Come to think of it, I even love a biopic when it's not one. At least, not technically. Enter the words "loosely based on". That is the case with the movie Grace of My Heart.

Released in 1996, Grace of My Heart is a film about a young female singer/songwriter in the fifties, sixties and seventies as she starts her career and builds a name for herself. Yeah, it's Carole King. It's Carole King with straight hair. Let's just admit it. Like I said, it is "loosely based on" her life, though not all that loosely, and I'll get into that later as I will try to point out the parallels to real life. This one might get wordy and detailed, and there will be spoilers. I can't help it; there's just a lot of stuff here. Let's begin.

This is the story of Edna Buxton, a young woman from a very wealthy family who wants to be a singer and a songwriter. She is played by Illeanna Douglas, an actress who I absolutely love. She is cute but not obnoxiously gorgeous, and she has an awkwardness mixed with an inner strength. All of this made her perfect for the role.

We begin with Edna preparing for a singing contest. Her mother, who is not crazy about her aspirations, wants her to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" and wear a white princessy dress, contrasting the black one Edna wants. She goes along with this plan until she meets a fellow competitor and fantastic singer Doris, played by Jennifer Leigh Warren. I don't think I've seen her in anything else, but she was great here. Anyway, Doris convinces Edna to sing "Hey, There" by Rosemary Clooney instead, because you can't get more rebellious than a Clooney. Look, it was a simpler time. Also, the girls switch dresses so now Edna gets to wear a black dress. Yay! As we see some of the competition, it is clear, at least to Edna, that Doris should win. Of course, she doesn't, and I always thought it implied that is has to do with the fact that she's black. Edna is named the winner, and she moves to New York to pursue the music. At first, things don't work out so well, but they begin to look up. For all of us. Prepare yourselves for some awesomeness.

Enter, the man himself, John Turturro. I love him, and he is unbelievable in this film. As great as I thought he was in Quiz Show, he is just as amazing here. Anyway, he plays a record producer named Joel Milner, who contacts Edna after hearing a recording of a song she wrote, "In Another World". But alas, girl singers are out, and what he wants is to buy the song to give to a group of guy singers. Once she hears the guys sing, she agrees to it. Something else she agrees to, albeit reluctantly, is Joel changing her name to Denise Waverly (which is what I will be calling her from now on) and also, let's say, amending her background. No longer is she a steel heiress but a woman from a blue collar, working class family. Hey, whatever sells. All of this leads to Denise getting a job as a professional songwriter at the Brill Building. Now this is one thing they did not alter, because the Brill Building did exist back in the day, It was where all the songs for the popular artists came from. And guess who worked there - Carole King!

Despite the fact that Joel says girl singers can't be sold, Denise brings in her old pal Doris and two of her friends, who form The Luminaries, to perform a song that they inspired, "Born To Love That Boy". It becomes a surprise hit, which makes Denise and her songs even more sought after. She meets a very eccentric fellow songwriter named Howard Caszett played by Eric Stoltz in a role that I would not have expected from him, especially the way he behaves in the initial introduction, but he pulls it off very well in the long run.

Despite a critical first meeting, Howard and Denise decide to start writing together and, you know, other things together. I guess he's the Gerry Goffin here. Their first song is called "Unwanted Number" about a twelve (yes, twelve) year old girl who gets pregnant by her sixteen (yes, sixteen) year old boyfriend. It is completely taken from what is happening to Annie, the niece of one of the Luminaries. And she does become an important character in the film later. Obviously, this song is very controversial and banned by several radio stations. Ironically soon after this, Denise discovers that she is pregnant, so she and Howard get married.

Also in the midst of all this, we are introduced to Cheryl played by Patsy Kensit, a new songwriter partnered with her husband Matthew, briefly played by Chris Isaak. Though Denise sees her as a possible threat, she and Cheryl begin to write together, at the insistence of Joel, but they do become very good friends. It is a friendship that is solidified by the end of Denise's relationship with Howard. I won't go into detail about that, because a lot of touchy things are involved and it will cause a whole other topic to begin. So, onward.

A few years later, things have changed a lot. Annie and her son have become close with Denise and her daughter, and Denise is beginning a relationship with John Murray, a radio DJ played by Bruce Davison. Oh, that's good. She's finally moving on with her life and finding love. Well, it would be good if he wasn't married. Oh, snap. This can't end well, and it doesn't. Actually, I was not crazy about this thing, because for me, it briefly makes the character unlikable, especially concerning what caused the demise of her marriage to Howard. But, when it's over, her following depression leads her to take a stab at recording one of her songs herself, with the help of a producer named Jay Phillips played by Matt Dillon. I'm not a huge Matt Dillon fan, but he really captured the ups and downs of this complex character. Anyway, Jay is a member of a band that plays "beach music", but he is considered a musical genius who has done some innovative things as a producer. Sound familiar? Oh, you just wait.

So Denise records her song, which I will discuss later. It is not a huge hit, and that, along with bands like the Beatles who write their own songs, puts an end to the Brill Building. Still, it leads to her marriage to Jay and a move to California. It is here that she begins to see some problems with her husband, erratic behavior and whatnot, and it is clear that he has some mental problems. In case you haven't guessed it, he is the Brian Wilson. Of course, there are some differences. First, Carole King was never involved with him, but I have heard that Gerry Goffin had some mental instabilities later in life. This may have played a part in the development of the character. Oh, and (major spoiler!) Brian Wilson did not die, but this guy does. And he dies in a suicide by drowning, which may have been a nod to Brian's brother Dennis, who died in a drowning accident. Denise is completely broken by this and ends up moving her little family to a commune led by a man named Guru Dave. So, yeah, it's one of those late 60's communes you would expect. But that character only appears in voice over. Peter Fonda's voice to be exact.

After an extended stay, one day Joel shows up! Hooray! I think Annie put it best when she lifts her arms and says, "Thank you, Lord, for New Yorkers!" Well said. Anyway, he arrives to get them the heck out of there and take them to a hotel. And here is where we get, I think, the best scene in the movie. Denise sits by the pool, wallowing in self pity as she has been doing since Jay died. Joel confronts her about this, basically telling her to snap out of it,and they begin a fantastic shouting match. But the rage that Denise is spitting at Joel is quickly turned to overwhelming grief for the man she loved and lost as she collapses, weeping, into Joel's arms. This whole scene is absolutely breathtaking and both of these actors should be commended for their performances.

We then move on and finish with Denise finally recording her solo album, her Tapestry, if you will, which is called Grace of My Heart. To help her with it, she has brought in her longtime friends, Cheryl and Doris, as well as some of Jay's old band members. Denise tells Joel about the songs she has written for all the men that have passed through her life. He feels left out, until she sits at the piano and proceeds to play a song meant for him. It is called "A Boat on the Sea", but it does feature the line "grace of my heart". The song and the ending are beautiful. And speaking of songs, let me discuss the music.

This entire soundtrack is fantastic. Since so many of the main and secondary characters were based on real acts from that era, we do get a lot of songs that are, not copies, but homages to originals. One great song, which was actually that first single for Denise, was called "God Give Me Strength", and it was written by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach. It is their performance of the song which is featured on the CD soundtrack, and it is an extremely powerful song. Nothing short of what you would expect from them. Now I must mention someone else about whom you all may not know, but you should. Though I do praise Illeanna Douglas for her acting in this film, the woman, it seems, cannot sing. So for all those songs her character must perform, she is dubbed by a wonderful singer named Kristen Vigard, who is also an actress with a pretty good resume and part of the "Annie Club" as I call it. By that, I mean she played Annie. She really did an amazing job with this, of course, because of what a talented singer she is, but I also thought her singing voice was a near perfect match for Douglas's talking voice. It seemed almost destined to be.

Okay, I am obviously recommending this movie. I know I basically told the whole story here, but I could have typed up the script and still told you to see it. That's because you have to SEE it. You have to see these performances. They are incredible, and whatever I tell you can't capture that. Plus, the music here is just phenomenal and goes so well with the film that it must be heard. It's just an overall great movie and a must see.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bandslam - Music Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I recently did a post about my favorite episodes of Drake and Josh, where I stated that, though I am no longer in the teen demographic, I have no shame in liking something meant for the young as long as it's good. The movie I will be talking about today reminds me of that. It's very young, but very good. And it is called Bandslam.

This film came out in 2009 and, surprising to some people, it got a lot of great reviews. Unfortunately, it didn't do so well at the box office, but that has never had an effect on me. I gave this one a chance because, as you all know, I love music and things related to it. So what is it about this movie that caught my attention and still manages to keep it? Let's find out. I will try to take you through the movie's events while commenting on the cast as well. I hope it works out.

Bandslam is about a high school kid named Will Burton played by Gaellan Connell. Yeah, I never heard of this kid before this movie, but he does do a good job. I guess if you want to make a comparison, this role that he fits into so well is something you would have expected to come from Jesse Eisenberg or Michael Cera in years earlier. He's that kind of an actor, which I find endearing. Anyway, Will is definitely not a popular kid at school, but he is very knowledgeable about music. He is such a fan of David Bowie, in fact, that he regularly writes him emails, which serve as sort of a diary. One day, Will is told by his mom that they are moving to a new town, which means a new school. Yay. His mom, Karen, is played by Lisa Kudrow, and let me take this opportunity to say something. I know that Jennifer Anniston is considered the biggest star to come out of Friends, but in my opinion, Lisa Kudrow was the most talented one of that whole group, bar none. Just saying.

Anyway, on his first day, Will is told about something called Bandslam, after a performance by Ben Wheatley and the Glory Dogs, the school's most celebrated band. It's a contest where the winner gets a recording contract. Enter Vanessa Hudgens who plays Sa5m, pronounced Sam. The 5 is silent. Yeah, that bit is mentioned a few more times, but not so much that it gets annoying. It even actually has a good payoff in the end. The only thing that annoys me about this is that I did not think of it myself at age 16. Anyway, Sa5m is an outsider with a dead pan voice and a dry sense of humor. In short, she is the total opposite of the character Miss Hudgens played in High School Musical. I guess. I mean, I haven't seen that one, but I've heard the stories. Now one might think it was contrived to have her play an opposite of that, and maybe that was the plan, but her performance doesn't feel forced at all, and she pulls it off quite well

Besides Sa5m, Will also meets Charlotte, played by Aly Michalka. I must stop again and say something else. Over the past few years, I have become a big fan of this girl. I think she is extremely talented at both acting and singing. She's only in her early twenties, and I think she has the potential to be even greater one day than she already is. Hey, she even got to be on CSI:NY, and you know they don't let just anyone around the Gary Sinise. Moving on. At first glance, Charlotte looks like your typical blond-haired, cheerleader, popular girl, and that is exactly what she used to be. She was also once a member of the Glory Dogs, not to mention the girlfriend of its current and quite arrogant leader, Ben. Those days are over, and she wants to start a band of her own. After meeting Will and seeing how much he knows about music, she invites him to help her with that task. Will also tells her that his dad is a sideman for a lot of famous bands, which makes his help even more appealing. So he officially becomes their manager.

Will sits in on a performance by Charlotte and two other former members of the Glory Dogs named Bug and Omar, who hilariously insist on keeping that name. He tells them they need a fuller sound, which he gets by recruiting new members. These members include a very quiet classical pianist named Kim, a spazzy cellist named Irene, an unnamed (I think) 3-man brass section, and a guy named Basher who is a fantastic and, let's say, eccentric drummer. Will also tells them that they do, in fact, need a new name (sorry, guys), so he dubs them I Can't Go On, I'll Go On. Perfect.

In the meantime, we get deeper with the personal lives of the characters. Will and Sa5m begin to get closer, especially after they get paired up for a school project, though she still does keep up a wall. No surprise since Will keeps letting her down in favor of Charlotte. We also find out exactly why Charlotte decided to turn her life around and become a different person from the shallow one she once was. And some secrets from Will's past are discovered as well.

After a lot of emotional ups and downs for the characters, they finally all make it to Bandslam, where we get even more upheaval. Never a dull moment. So does I Can't Go On, I'll Go On go on to win the contest? Well, I am certainly not going to tell you. How silly! But I will say, I do love how they put the ending together. Still, since we are talking about the concert, let's also talk about the music in this movie.

The soundtrack is a nice mix of songs we know by artists we know and songs performed by our featured movie band. We get some stuff by Nick Drake, Wilco, The Velvet Underground and Nico, and of course, David Bowie. We get two great cover songs by I Can't Go On, I'll Go On, "I Want You To Want Me" and a ska-ish version of "Everything I Own". But hands down, my favorite song is one performed by the band with Aly Michalka singing lead, called "Someone to Fall Back On". In the film, it is meant to be a song that Charlotte wrote for her father, and it is really beautiful.

Though this film was obviously not targeting my age bracket, it managed to entertain me just the same. It is presented intelligently enough so that we grown ups can like it as well. Sure, it may use a couple of teen movie cliches, but nowhere near as many as you would expect. It has a great cast who portray well developed characters within a story that can be funny without being silly and sentimental without being sappy. So I am heartily recommending this to one and all.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I Got the Music (Movie) In Me!

Greetings Pups,

Please forgive me. I know I recently did a Documentary Week, then a tribute to Shark Week . . . Week, and not long ago, I did a Bee Gees Celebration Weekend. But I just feel the need to do yet another theme. I can't help it.

Starting tomorrow, I will be doing a week's worth of reviews of music movies. Now let me clarify something. I am talking about music movies, not movie musicals. There is a difference, I believe. A movie musical is something like Oklahoma! or West Side Story or Chicago, where people sing out of nowhere to music that comes out of nowhere. Music movies, on the other hand, are just reality (sort of) based movies that have a plot that is somehow centered around music. Get it?

Now that you know my definition, prepare yourselves for my take on some of the greatest and not so greatest music filled cinema. Tune in.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Top Ten My Boys Episodes

Greetings Pups,

Sometimes I like shows that fly under the radar for the duration of their time. This does not mean they aren't good. On the contrary, I think some of them are very good, but they just never hit the masses like other shows, for whatever reason. One of these was a TBS program called My Boys, and it is an enigma that I like it.

This is a show that talks about the sports quite a bit, and I hate sports. What are you gonna do? The lead gal, P.J. (Jordana Spiro)is a sports writer, so I guess we have to mention it. Still, more than anything, the show has more to do with the relationship she has with "her boys". By that, we mean the group of guys that are her best friends. Yes, that is the concept. She is a tomboy with a boatload of guy friends. Hey, why not? And who are these boys of hers? Well, let me tell you about them.

We have Brendan (Reid Scott), a roommate of P.J.'s who was a rock DJ and was once in a rollercoaster-y relationship with a girl that P.J. though was annoying as all heck; Kenny (Michael Bunin), the owner of a sports memorabilia store and a man who is not exactly a master of dating; Mike (Jamie Kaler), who worked for the Chicago Cubs and is a bit commitment-phobic; Bobby (Kyle Howard), another sportswriter and the new guy in the group who comes from a wealthy family and eventually becomes P.J.'s love interest; and finally, Andy (Jim Gaffigan), P.J.'s brother and the most settled down of everyone, having a wife and kids. Those are the boys, but I would be remiss to not mention Stephanie (Kellee Stewart), who is pretty much P.J.'s only female friend. One might think that, because this show is supposed to be about a woman and her male friends, this may have been forced, but I really liked the friendship of P.J. and Stephanie. It was a very sincere and enriching relationship for the two women. And we all know there are some things you just cannot discuss with your guy friends.

So there are the characters, who are obviously portrayed by a stellar cast. Now that you know a little about them, I'm going to share my top ten episodes of this hilarious, but underrated show.

#10. "110% Solution" (Season 1) - While P.J. invites her boyfriend to poker night with not a good result, everyone thinks that Andy is going through a midlife crisis because he buys a boat and refuses to tell his wife. Yeah, I'd say a midlife crisis is pretty accurate.

#9. "My Men" (Season 4) - This is the final episode of the show and I don't think they could have picked a better title for it. Everyone has finally grown up, which is good considering their ages. P.J.'s boys are now men. It was a good way to finish.

#8. "The Shirt Contest" (Season 2) - After a mention of Project Runway, the boys are convinced that they could all make shirts of their own and have a contest to see who can do it best. Loser buys booze for the winner for a month. Why not? And, yes, the outcome of the shirts are exactly what you would predict, only better. By better, of course, I mean worse.

#7. "Facebook the Past" (Season 3) - A lot of good things have come from Facebook, but so have some not so good things. This episode deals with some of those not so good things, such as the reappearance of exes and whatnot. Not to mention people like Kenny who constantly utter words like, "Join my mob!" Whatever that means.

#6. "Take One for the Team" (Season 1) - Here we are introduced to Kenny's friend, Trouty, played fantastically by Johnny Galecki. He is a very . . . interesting person who always, and I mean always, wears his hands free phone piece in his ear. The gang uses him here to get into a club called "The Streisand". Yes, "The Streisand", and you have to say those two words in a dramatic whisper or it won't work.

#5. "Pilot" (Season 1) - Obviously, this is where it all began. We meet the group that has been together for years, but we are also introduced to Bobby, the new guy, as they are as well. So we get to go through the whole thing together. It was a very solid start for the show.

#4. "Hanger Management" (Season 4) - While Bobby is deciding what direction in which to take his life, Kenny thinks he already has a plan with his new closet organizing business. P.J. becomes his guinea pig for the project, and he nearly becomes her first victim when he throws out her Crocs. The horror!

#3. "The Transitioning" (Season 2) - P.J. and Stephanie have planned a trip to Italy. Stephanie will be bringing her boyfriend and P.J. will be bringing . . . well, we don't know at first. At the end of the first season, she has boarded the plane, upset that who she asked has not shown up. But he actually does come, and in this, the first episode of the second season, we see that it is Bobby. I really loved seeing them go around Italy, whether those shots were authentic or not, I don't know. But it was fun to watch. And of course, the boys have their own fun back in Chicago, including a scene with Mike "busting out the McConaughey" That could not have been said better, Brendan.

#2. "Free Agent" (Season 1)/ "Decathlon: Part Deux" (Season 3) - I had to make this a tie. It is for a good reason. Though each of these episodes has its own independent plot, there is something that hooks them together. That thing is "The Decathlon". Now on this show, "The Decathlon" is a contest where the group divides into two teams and spends several nights playing board games. Losers buy winners booze for a month. Yeah, they are not very creative when it comes to the prizes for these friendly competitions. But still, there is nothing funnier than watching grown ups play Candlyland and Ker-Plunk. Classic. I just wish I could find a group of nice boys do to this with me.

#1. "Second Chances" (Season 1) - In this episode, we are visited by Thorn, an ex-boyfriend of P.J.'s, whose return basically turns her into a giggly fourteen year old. What? No, that's not P.J.'s style at all. How could she be so . . . Oh, wait, the guy's played by Jeremy Sisto. That explains it. Yeah, if you know anything about me, you'll know why I really don't need any other reason than that to call this my favorite episode. I do love the Sisto. He does make one other appearance on the show, but this is the introduction, and it is a great episode.

Well, there it is. If you have never seen this show or never heard of it, I would recommend you to look into it (Hello, Netflix Instant Streaming!). It's pretty funny, and if I, someone who does not like the sports, can give a show like this a chance, anyone can. I certainly was not disappointed.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The House Rules / Christian Kane - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post centered on one of my most favorite people in all the land, Christian Kane. It got A LOT of hits. I was actually pleasantly surprised and quite happy about that. And, always willing to give the people what they want, I have decided to talk about something that I mentioned in that post. That thing would be Christian's album The House Rules.

Okay, as I mentioned before, most people know Christian Kane as an actor. From Angel to Leverage and all that came in between, that is how he has gotten the majority of his exposure. But he is also a great musician, something that has been given its greatest amount of attention with the 2010 release of his album, The House Rules. Though Christian has been pulled into the world of Hollywood, he is a country boy at heart. The good kind of country boy, FYI. So, needless to say, this is basically a country album, but, like with most things that have come out of that genre in the last twenty years or so, it is also infused with rock and even a little bit of (gasp!) pop. Again, the good kind. So, let's start getting specific.

The album starts off very strongly with the title track. It is your classic country, party song, which means it celebrates the two things that these songs always celebrate when coming from the boys - loose women and booze! Just kidding! Well, a little. I mean, if you want to go deeper, it's just about having fun after a hard day at work. And believe or not, yes, there are still some people in this country who work hard for the money they make. I must say, though, it is one of those songs that would be perfect to listen to while you're getting ready for your night out on the town. Not that I know much about that, but I do love those kinds of songs. Added plus: the video was directed by Timothy Hutton. Holla! Or Yee-haw! Whatever. I've actually mentioned this befoere, but it bears repeating. It's that good.

Speaking of Mr. Hutton and what connects him to our featured artist, let's move on to the song that has probably had the most exposure. It's called "Thinking of You", and it is a beautiful love song. Christian actually performed this on the Leverage episode "The Studio Job", and as a special treat, we also got to hear Mr. John Schneider sing it as well. This was a big deal for Christian because I have heard him refer to John Schneider as one of his idols. Okay, I think he actually said "Bo Duke" but I see what he was grabbing for. So he got to fight his idol and have him sing a song he wrote. I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I'd wager this was Christian's favorite episode to make. Moving on.

There is a very interesting song on here called "Let's Take a Drive" If my interpretation is correct, it's about a guy who wants to take a girl on a road trip to make her remember the person who she used to be. And who she used to be, before some other man came along and made her life boring, was someone who lived to the fullest and beyond. Far beyond, judging by some of the lyrics. Yeah, look, songwriters. I'm all for this guy wanting to help this girl to feel alive again by reminding her of all the things they once did together, but when this list of past experiences was being made, we could have skipped the "I lit your hair on fire" memory. I really hope that's a metaphor for something else, because if it's not . . . Well, let's just say, if reminding your ex of how great your life was together involves violating a restraining order, it may not be the best of ideas. Still, I am not one to insult anyone for having creative lyrics, since I usually praise them for that. I'll just say, good song, and leave it at that. So, yeah. Good song!

Let's get to my favorite song on the album, "Let Me Go" Okay, now I have mentioned before that we ladies love a "project". This is what attracts us to the "bad boys with (hopefully) good hearts" That's right. We do not want the guy with a degree and money and a future. How boring! We want the brooding, hot guy with a crappy job, the car that's older than he is, and an apartment where his only roommates are small and have between four and eight legs, depending on what time of year it is. The guy who, if we marry him, we can use to torture our parents for all eternity. This song is from the perspective of that dude. He's trying to convince his girlfriend to let him go so she can find something better for herself. Of course, she's not having it, and we girls always get our way. This song actually reminds me of the classic by Trisha Yearwood "She's in Love with the Boy", since the subject matter is quite similar. But even if it didn't, it is so beautiful that it easily has been dubbed my favorite. Did I say easily? Okay, maybe it had a bit of competition, and a part of me wishes the other song would have won out since, unlike this one, it was written by Christian. I wasn't crazy about the fact that my favorite is one he did not write, but sometimes one little thing can cause points to be lost. Let me explain.

There is a song here called "Making Circles" and it is gorgeous. The melody is fantastic and the lyrics . . . well, they're good, too, except for that aforementioned 'one little thing'. Someone thought it prudent to drop an 'F bomb' right smack dab in the middle of the chorus. Why? I mean, I never really understand the logic of using that word, but I especially don't in this song. If it was something hard and driving and angry, I guess I could see why it would be used, but this is a slow, gentle, ballad type song. So, I don't see the necessity. It is a wonderful song, though, and it's his song and his album, so I'll let him do what he wants. But, to quote Winnie the Pooh and his own brand of swearing...oh, bother!

Now let me end with the ending song. It is a cover, and it proves that if you put something I hate into the hands of someone I love, they can turn it into something that I don't hate that much anymore. Okay, I have always hated the song "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman. Don't know why; that's just the way it is. But here it is covered by Christian, and it's not so bad anymore. I don't know if I can full on say I like the song, but you know how it is. He could sing the phone book to me, etc., etc. I guess I just wished he would have picked a different song to cover. Again, though, his album, his decision, and he made it better.

Besides the songs I highlighted, there is a lot of good music here. I know I may have sounded a bit critical, but it was all in fun and possibly even constructive. Yes, I'm certain he'll take all my notes for his next project, as I am a genius. Right. Look, in all seriousness, the album has barely any weak spots, which is always good, and if you like the type of manly country music that gets around these days, you'll probably like this. If you're a fan of Christian's, I would say definitely check this out if you haven't already. Personally, I loved this because I liked having him share a different passion of his with his fans than the one he normally does. He's not pretending to be someone else here, as actors tend to do, because it's their job, but, here, we just get Christian Kane and a little peak into his heart and soul. Couldn't really ask for more.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, September 10, 2012

Our Gary, the Hero

Greetings Pups,

A few months ago, on Memorial Day to be exact, I did a list of my favorite Gary Sinise movies. I was happy to honor my favorite actor this way, but I thought I should do more. While I did mention some things about him other than his film life in that post, I wanted to really expand on his entire life and why it is that I, and so many others, really love and admire him. So let's begin at the beginning.

Gary Sinise was born on March 17, 1955, which means that, at present time, he is 57 years old. I know, I know. He looks way younger than that, but that's because being awesome is a fountain of youth. I think. Anyway, he was born in a place called Blue Island, Illinois, a place about which I've never heard, but I think it's around the Chicago area. Even though I've known this for quite awhile, I still find it hard to believe that he is from this part of the country. Mostly because, for some reason, I always feel like I hear the hint of a Southern accent went he speaks. Maybe it goes back to the movie The Stand where I first saw him, and his character was from East Texas. I know this because that one guy kept calling him "East Texas". But who knows? Moving on.

Gary got into acting early in life, and, at the very young age of 19, he and two friends founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. This place has spawned some amazing actors, like Joan Allen, John Malkovich, Kathryn Erbe, William Peterson, just to name a few. So I suppose the best advice that one can give a young actor is to go to this place and do something, because their chances of having a very successful career will probably go up dramatically. Obviously, the place is still there to this day, and not only did Gary act there, it is also where he first tried his hand at directing. He even won a Joseph Jefferson Award for it at one point. Yeah, I don't even know what that is, but I'm going to say it is important and prestigious. Because I can.

Once we hit the 80's, Gary stepped away from the theater, just a smidge, to do some movies. Granted, they were TV movies of which I have never heard, but Wikipedia says that they exist, so I'll agree. Now he didn't do that many, but it still counts. And I guess this prepared him for what would happen in the 90's and beyond.

It was in 1992 that we got our first feature film with Gary Sinise, an adaptation of Of Mice and Men, which also starred Steppenwolf alum, John Malkovich. Not only did Gary star in this, but he also directed, and he did both wonderfully. Now this was not exactly a blockbuster film, making barely over five million bucks, but everyone who has seen it seems to look favorably on it. I know I certainly do.

After a few more appearances in feature films, ironically, it was another TV movie that initially introduced him to a large audience. In May of 1994, ABC began to run a miniseries called The Stand, based on Stephen King's masterpiece novel. I remember it being considered a major television event, and it was a huge ensemble piece with a phenomenal cast. A lot of people made a huge deal about this being something of a comeback for Rob Lowe, but it was Gary, I think, who made the biggest impact. Maybe it was because he had this huge part in it, yet not a lot people knew who he was. My response, not unlike a lot of others I'm sure, was, "I love this guy. Who the heck is he?" But alas, not two months later, he was unleashed on the world on the big screen in his biggest and most famous role ever.

The summer of 1994 brought a little movie called Forrest Gump. Oh, sure, everyone made a big deal about Tom Hanks, giving him every award you could think of and having everyone just go nuts over his character. As if anyone couldn't like someone like Forrest Gump. It's practically against the law to not do so. But you try to play a guy who is pretty much a total jerk for the majority of the film, and still have everyone love you? Now that is a gift, and it is exactly what Gary Sinise did. Now, nearly twenty years later, he is still Lt. Dan Taylor. And he has embraced it heartily, which is more than I can say for other celebrities who cannot accomplish this due to their overwhelming arrogance. But, no, Gary loves the Lt. Dan thing, so much that he even named his band after him. We'll talk more about that later.

Now what came with the whole Forrest Gump thing was a lot of movie roles. It's like Hollywood said, "Hey, look what we found!" Of course, all those subsequent roles proved that his part in The Stand was a bit of a false start. In that, he played someone who was a good guy, one of the heroes, a full-on super-nice dude. Yeah, that didn't stick too well. I mean, he did, on occasion play nice guys, but he really developed a knack for playing people who were, at their best, always in a bad mood, and, at their worst, just good old, plain psychopaths. From Ransom to Snake Eyes to Reindeer Games (Ho, ho, ho, indeed!), Gary certainly has a talent for playing bad guys. But it's okay, we still love him. How is that possible? Well, it is obviously because what a great man he is in the real life. This brings us to something for which he has become known, maybe even more than his acting.

In 2004, something very interesting happened. The world of reality and not reality seemed to intersect in the life of Gary Sinise. Number one, he began to portray his second most famous role, that of Detective Mac Taylor on CSI: NY, and Mac Taylor is a very good cop. This means that Gary was playing the hero again. But, not only was he playing a hero on this show, we all began to see what a hero he was in real life.

You see, also that year, he started the Lt. Dan Band. In this case, I don't mind an actor doing the music thing, for a few reasons. First of all, it's Gary doing it, so that makes it all right. Second, I'm pretty sure he was a musician before he got super famous as an actor, though, I could be wrong, but let's just say I'm not. And lastly and most importantly, he has used this band to help out our troops to the extreme. I have seriously never in my lifetime seen a celebrity be so supportive of our men and women in uniform. After seeing everything that Gary has done, it has become even more clear to me that, when it comes to supporting the troops, talk is cheap, and I mostly mean this in the case of celebrities. I'm not saying they don't, but when about 90% of them say they do, especially those of a certain political party of which Gary is vocally not a member, it really always sounds very insincere to me. But enough about those people. Let me talk more about the man who deserves to be commended.

One of the most important things that Gary had done concerning the Iraq war was to co-found something called Operation Iraqi Children, which has over time expanded to helping children from many countries and for many reasons. But this organization initially began by sending school supplies to children in Iraq, and attempting to rebuild their dilapidated schools. He has been to Iraq. He has seen these grateful little children hugging our soldiers and trying to tell them "I love you" in English. He has given these men and women the opportunity to come back and tell these beautiful stories. It is an opportunity that the majority of the media has denied them. Look, no one is denying that there are major negatives to any war. It is a war, after all. But why must we deny the good we have done over there? We mustn't. Gary knows that and refuses to let it happen. Of course, all of this has led to something about which a humble man like Gary might not feel comfortable or of which he may not feel deserving. That is the fact that he has become a hero.

We all know that the people who have fought in this war and every war are the heroes of our country. But sometimes, when they come back, they are not treated as such. So they become the ones who are in need of a hero. Well, Gary Sinise has become that to them. All you have to do is look at him as he does this work or listen to him speak about it. You will not find an ounce of insincerity or him looking for praise for himself by doing any of this. No, he does all of this because it is what we are supposed to do. We are supposed to help these people who have risked their lives for us all, and Gary has used his fame and notoriety to bring attention to this. Now I can admit, he has been honored quite a bit for all the work he does, but that is clearly just icing on the cake. His true reward comes from seeing how the results of all that work have changed people's lives for the better.

It is obvious that Gary has been extremely blessed in his life. He has a beautiful wife to whom he has been married for over thirty years, he has three great kids, he's talented beyond reason and he has been honored numerous times. And what he has done with all these things is pay them forward so that others could be blessed as well. I have chosen Gary Sinise as my favorite actor because he is a great one, but all of these other things have factored in immensely. I admire him greatly and always will. I pray that God continues to bless him for all he has done, and I hope that, by some miracle, Gary will read this one day and know how appreciated he is. Or you know, that he'll read this and let me sing with the band some time. I'm just saying.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Top Part / John Mulaney - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

I am going to do something today that I have not done before, and let's just hope that it works out. I will be reviewing an album that has no music. Why does it have no music? Well, after all the comedy got put on it, there was no room left. That's right. Today, I will be talking about a comedy album, The Top Part by John Mulaney.

If you don't already know, John Mulaney is a comedian from Chicago who, at the young age of 30, is already quite accomplished. He has been a writer on Saturday Night Live for a while and has shown up on "Weekend Update" and has made appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Okay, so he is clearly not a morning person. I first heard his hilarity as I was going through a button pushing fit on my satellite radio. I'll get that first bit I experienced later, but let's get to the album.

From the very start, John Mulaney showed that he was going to be more than willing to do what the best comedians do, and that is using his personal problems to make us laugh. In the first track "Blacking Out and Making Money", he addresses the fact that he used to have a little problem with the drinking. His talking about that is even funnier when you know how incredibly young he looks for his age. He probably still gets carded now, so I have no idea how on God's green he ever was able to get alcohol when he was younger. The fact that he looks so young is kind of an ongoing joke. Hey, if you've got it, flaunt it. I guess not everyone sees him as non-threatening, though, like the woman with whom he engaged in a "Chase Through the Subway".

If there is one thing I like it's comedians, or famous people in general, pointing out their own shortcomings and magnifying them into jokes. In "I Just Got My License", John tells us that, at the age of 26, he just got his license. Surprises around every corner. Actually, I know someone who did not get her license until she was 22, so not only did this make her laugh, it made her feel much better and less embarrassed for herself. So if John wants to consider this bit an act of charity, so be it.

Now if you're curious as to where the title of this album came from, look no further than the track entitled "Math and King Solomon". Well, actually, you should look further than the "Math" part and get to "King Solomon", because here is where you'll find it. In John's mind, the kidnapper in the King Solomon Cut the Baby story says something like,"Good idea. I'll take what I can get. She can have the top part!" I'm paraphrasing, but get it? The Top Part. Short and sweet.

There is one particular part of this album that endeared me to this funny man, most likely, forever. It was his great love and appreciation for something called Law and Order. If any of you have read my blog before, you will know that I have an overwhelming amount of love for this show as well. So I was pleased to hear him devote some time to it. And since I've always loved it when comedians say something that I've been saying myself for years, I really liked it when he discussed the recurring characters that Law and Order often chose to feature. But not only did he discuss the show as a whole, he gave special attention to Mr. Jerry Orbach. Now sometimes I don't like it when jokes are made regarding someone who has passed away, especially someone who I loved as much as the man who gave us Detective Lenny Briscoe, but this was actually full of a lot of fondness and respect. It was clearly a personal tribute by someone who admired Jerry Orbach greatly, and I have no problem with that.

Okay, on to the final track of the album and the first one I ever heard. It is called "The Salt and Pepper Diner". It is very special to me, being my first, and it is absolutely hilarious. If I break it down to its simplest form, two young boys use the classic music of Tom Jones to torture the patrons of a local diner. Wow, that kind of sounds like the summary for a Stephen King short story, but fear not. There is no bloodshed here, unless laughing too hard can give you a nosebleed or something. It would be well worth it though.

Now I only mentioned some of the bits on this album, but rest assured, there is really not a single unfunny moment here. Believe it or not, that is not an easy thing to achieve. Another thing that is hard to achieve these days if one wants to be a successful comic is to have a CD that is not littered with "F bombs" and other expletives. Okay, admittedly, he does swear a few times, but it's nowhere near as many as you'd expect. I find this kind of refreshing, and John proves the point that it's not necessary to use them constantly to be funny. Even though he does use them a little. Maybe a lot outside of this, but whatever. I am very forgiving.

So, in conclusion, for my first comedy album review, I think I chose a very good one. The Top Part is consistently funny, which is what we all want from our comedy, and we get to learn a few things about the comedian himself. Like I said, John Mulaney is already very accomplished, but if he keeps up with things like this, he will, no doubt, have a long and wonderful career.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, September 7, 2012

Top Ten Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes

Greetings Pups,

For the most part, I think that movies should just be the movies that they are and nothing more. Unfortunately, if money could possibly be made, certain people like to take movies and . . . do stuff with them. Stuff like sequels and remakes and the popular turning them into a TV show. Actually, in recent years, there has been more turning old TV shows into movies, and that doesn't really go well either. But let's go back to a time, quite possibly the only time, when someone took an okay movie and turned it into a great TV show. That would be Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

In case you don't know, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer was a comedy/horror film released in 1992. I don't think it did terribly well, but it did develop a cult following. Don't things like this always. Anyway, in 1997, it became a TV series. The show had a darker feel, but it was not short on laughs either. It was just more dramatic than the film. It starred my girl, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and now she will always be known as Buffy whether she likes it or not. I suppose it could be worse.

So, though I do find many problems with this show, mostly due to my Christian upbringing, I did like it a lot. Well, I liked it enough to devote one of my top ten lists to it. Since I don't feel like giving some long drawn out explanation of the plot and the characters, and since I will be giving spoilers, I suggest you only read this if you have watched Buffy . . . a lot. So here we go. Top ten Buffy, the Vampire Slayer episodes.

#10. "Helpless"(Season 3) - We're coming up on Buffy's 18th birthday, but she feels sick. Really sick. Too bad, because she has to fight a very strong, very mad vamp. That's short for vampire. Turns out, there is a calculated reason as to why she is sick. This is one of the episodes where we really get to see that she and Giles have a relationship that goes beyond that of just slayer and watcher, and it is touching yet heartbreaking to see.

#9. "Welcome to the Hellmouth" (Season 1) - Here we have the first episode. Now in the Buffy movie, the plot is that she finds out she is the slayer and begins to do her work as such. In this pilot, she is already the slayer and has just arrived in a new town, Sunnydale. So it does not do what a lot of pilots for movie based TV shows have done in the past, which is to simply recreate the film only shorter. If for no other reason, that is why this one made the list. But it was also a great start for the show.

#8. "Chosen" (Season 7) - From the first to the last, here we have the finale. Of course, I was sad to see Buffy go, but this final episode was done very well. They did have some good closure, some of which was opened back up again when the new season of Angel started (Hey, Spike! What is up?)), but they also left the appropriate amount of question mark for the characters and their futures. And I love the final look we get from Sarah Michelle here. Perfect.

#7. "The Dark Age" (Season 2) - Up until this point, we have seen Giles as a very straight-laced, 'by the book' man. Turns out, though, that he has quite a dark past involving some of his old friends, and it comes back to haunt both him and those about whom he cares. It was another rough fight for Buffy, but I think this is when she began to realize how much Giles is an actual person, flaws and all, and not just her watcher. Also, the thought of Giles being a bit of a bad boy in the past sounds pretty good to me.

#6. "The Body" (Season 5) - This season was pretty dramatic concerning Buffy's mom, Joyce, and her health. All of this culminates with her death in this episode. It's very different from the rest. There is no music, and this was one of the few times when Buffy literally could not stop something from hurting someone she loves. It also really showed off the acting abilities of all the cast members, Sarah Michelle especially. Love her or not, this episode proves that she is a truly gifted actress.

#5. "A New Man" (Season 4) - Okay, here we have another episode surrounding Giles. This time he is revisited by one of those aforementioned old friends, Ethan Rayne. This dude is pretty bad, but he was always very entertaining. Anyway, he convinces Giles to have a drink with him where he slips a little something into that drink. Don't worry. It's not what you think. Nope, Giles just wakes up the next morning feeling and looking very . . . different. The whole thing is pretty funny, but nothing more than the interactions between Giles and Spike, acted out brilliantly by Anthony Stewart Head and James Marsters. Hilarious!

#4. "Once More, With Feeling" (Season 6) - I discussed this episode in another post about TV musical episodes. Yes, this would be Buffy, the Musical. I think this is one of the "love it or hate it" episodes. Personally, I really like it, some moments more than others. I do have to say how good the songs were, thanks to Joss Whedon, who it appears is also a great songwriter. He is gifted. And some, SOME, of the cast members actually do have very good singing voices. So it all worked out pretty well. I don't know why they never did a musical episode of Angel. You know Christian Kane was probably begging for it.

#3. "Who Are You?" (Season 4) - Being an actor or actress means embodying someone who is not you. After all those years of playing Buffy, we knew how Sarah Michelle did it. We knew how she spoke, her mannerisms, all of it. And when Miss Eliza Dushku came along to play Faith, we learned her ways pretty quickly as well. But we weren't the only ones. Apparently, those girls were paying attention to each other as well, because, in this episode, they had to switch characters. I must say, I thought they both did a great job. And it was a lot of little things you could catch if you had been watching closely. I had been, so I got it.

#2 "Passion" (Season 2) - After turning evil again, Angel starts to kill people. Boo! One person he kills is Jenny Calendar, school computer teacher and girlfriend of Giles. Yay! Okay, let me explain that one. I have always had a little crush on Giles, so you can only imagine why I enjoy this episode. I am horrible. Kidding aside, I must say that David Boreanaz was fantastic in this one. Yep, definitely like him better evil. He's a lot less boring that way. A lot. (P.S. I actually love Robia LaMorte, the actress who played Jenny. She's awesome!)

#1. "Pangs" (Season 4) - My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, so naturally, my favorite episode of Buffy would be the Thanksgiving episode. Everyone is gathered at Giles' house for dinner, even Spike, all nice and tied up. That's right, ladies! Unfortunately, we must also fight the spirit of an angry Native American. What a coincidence. Seriously, though, this situation leads to some hilarious exposition from Spike. As a partial Native American, I probably should not have sided with him on the argument, but he actually was making a lot of sense. But, all in all, this episode had everything we loved about Buffy all there for the taking. Oh, so it was like a good Thanksgiving dinner. Genius!

So there you have it. It has been nearly ten years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air, but these episodes do hold up and are entertaining to this day. There have been rumors flying around about a movie, but I don't know. If they can do it and do it right, I say go for it. If not, please back away from the franchise slowly.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer