Thursday, January 31, 2013

The One Seaoner's Club - My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star

Greetings Pups,

I am certainly stretching things today. One of my criteria for this little "club" of mine was that a show must have at least those thirteen episodes that a lot of shows initially get. Well, I did say they had to have them, but never did I say they had to air them. Such is the case with the 2002 show My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star. Never heard of it? Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised.

My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star was a comedy that aired on the WB in beginning in March of 2002 and pretty much ending in March of 2002 as well. How sad. It was based on a British show entitled The Young Person's Guide to Becoming a Rock Star, and the main difference between the original and this remake is that the originally was successful. I mean, I've never seen it, but it did last for six seasons, which means that the number of seasons THAT show got is one higher than the number of episodes that THIS show got to air. Granted, we have had a few British imported remakes that worked and worked very well, like The Office, American Idol and even as far back as All in the Family. But this remake went by way of shows like Coupling and Skating with Celebrities. So, why I am even bothering? I have my reasons. Let's get to the point of this series.

My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star centered around a guy named Jason Darnell who was played by Oliver Hudson, brother of Kate Hudson, son of Goldie Hawn and Bill Hudson. That's right, Ollie. The world does know that Bill Hudson is your father despite your, and especially, your sister's attempts to convince us otherwise. But if I am being completely honest, I must say his good looks are one of the things that attracted me to the show. Sorry. Anyway, do not get used to calling his character Jason because he liked everyone to call him Jace, because, hey, it was the nineties. Okay, it technically wasn't the nineties, but the feeling I got from this show was that it was supposed to be made in the nineties and somehow got shelved until 2002 without a single change being made to it. Give me another explanation for this guy's band being called Slipdog. Could you have a more nineties name for your pseudo grunge rock band? Oh, yeah, he has a band in case you couldn't figure that out from the show's title.

So Jace is this guy in his twenties who still lives with his parents and is unemployed. And he has a band? Again. In creeps the nineties with this blatant attempt to make a new but not improved version of Ethan Hawke's character from Reality Bites. Why? Oh, and his parents were played by Michael Des Barres and Shannon Tweed. I guess they were there to provide some rock star life cred to the show, since one of them was once married to a groupie and the other was often considered something of a groupie until she finally married Gene Simmons. Interestingly enough, they were kind of the funniest people on the show.

Anyway, let's get to the band, such as it was. They had a guitarist named Doc (Kevin Rankin), because . . . why they heck not? He is apparently Jace's best friend, though he's one of those best friends of the main character that you cannot figure out why he is that. Then, they had a girl bass player named Joe (Lauren Hodges), who was actually the toughest of all of them. Couldn't have seen that one coming. And they had a drummer, of course, named Danny (James Debello), but don't get too attached to him, because he bites it within the first two episodes. It's okay, though. As they tell us here "All the great bands lose a drummer." Yes, short-lived TV show, some great bands have lost a drummer, but what does that have to do with Slipdog?

Okay, the plot, I guess, of the first two introductory episodes is that the band loses their drummer, as I said, but also that Jace meets a girl named Sarah, who works at the unemployment agency to which he goes begging and who is also a popular and skilled club DJ. He soon realizes that it is she who his band truly needs to become great. True enough. She's also helpful because she introduces them to Lucas (Kris Lemche) the guy who will become their new drummer. And I should point out that Sarah is played by Emmanuelle Vaugier, who has since built herself an impressive acting resume, including being part of the Saw franchise, and appearances on CSI:NY and Smallville. Not bad. Finally, the band also got themselves a manager named Dole, (Rick Overton), albeit through a bit of blackmail on his part. Oh, look at that, a skeezy manager. And the cliches just keep piling up.

So all that happens in the first couple of episodes, and then more stuff happens in the next three, and then the show got cancelled. Yep, only five little episodes were given the privilege of airing. Well, it should consider itself fortunate, I guess. Had it been owned by any network besides the WB I wager it would not have made it to air at all.

Okay, did it deserve a second season? That is so hard to make a decision about based on a mere five episodes. I suppose I was slightly entertained by this show, and it did have an original style to it, what with these fun captions and quick flashbacks used to move the stories forward. It would be easier to decide if I had seen all thirteen episodes, but the kindest thing I can say is that it did have a bit of potential. There is a chance that this thing could have become a fairly decent series. We'll never know, though. So, I can't say that it deserved a second season, but it definitely deserved to, at least, have those remaining episodes air. Oh, maybe someday.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, January 28, 2013

Good Monday Mornings . . . I Hope

Greetings Pups,

Back in October, I did two posts to make my predictions of upcoming shows, and then, after the shows aired their first episodes, I gave my thoughts on what happened. Those two shows, Arrow and Beauty and the Beast, I projected that I would enjoy them, and I pretty much have. They're not the best shows on TV, but I find them entertaining. So I thought I would do this again with the upcoming TNT show, Monday Mornings, which is due to air in a week.

Now my relationship with TNT has had its ups and downs, to say the least. It is this network that gives me a constant stream of Law and Order episodes, and it did, of course, give me one of my favorite shows of all-time, Leverage. But in recent time, they have also taken away said show, much to the chagrin of every single fan. Although, since one of the cast members told us that TNT tried to keep the show on the air, I'll let them off the hook. And with this new show, they are doing me a great service with one of the cast members. More on that in a minute.

Okay, from I can tell, Monday Mornings is a medical drama created by the very successful Davis E. Kelley, and it focuses on what happens in confidential hospital meetings on Monday mornings. Apparently, the Morbidity and Mortality Meetings, wherein they discuss the deaths and whatnot that happened during the previous week, holding the doctors accountable for their actions and possibly their mistakes. That's new. Of course, we have had medical dramas where doctors screw up and get in trouble, but I don't think any have had this scrutiny as the main focus. I certainly hope the show stays on that as its plot and does not make the show some glorified soap opera where we need a scorecard to keep up with who is sleeping with whom. Not that I don't think we'll be forced to deal with a little of that. It is David E. Kelley, after all. Okay, so let's take a look at the cast.

If I could trust that having a great cast meant that we'd be getting a great show, I would, for real, have not a thing about which to worry. But, as we all know, that is not always the case. We do, however, get a very superb group of actors here. Let's start with the one I sort of mentioned before. We, first, get Jamie Bamber as Tyler Wilson. If you don't know, Jamie Bamber is best known for two roles. One of them is Lee "Apollo" Adama on Battlestar Galactica, a show that I never really watched. The other is the one I know very well, that being DS Matt Devlin on Law and Order: UK. And since his unfortunate departure from that show, I have longed to have him back. Thanks, TNT. Next, we have Alfed Molina as Harding Hooten. Love the actor, and LOVE that character name. Then, there's Ving Rhames as Jorge "El Gato" Villanueva. El gato, if my three years of high school Spanish comes to my aid, means "the cat" If Ving Rhames is going to be his usual awesome self, I'm going to guess that this cat is not domesticated. Yeah, I said it. We're also going to be treated to Bill Irwin as Buck Tierney. Sweet name again. Now I don't know if he's going to be more like the dad he played in Rachel Getting Married or like the fantastically creepy Nate Haskell from CSI. Since both were so good, I'll take either. Finally, we have Jennifer Finnegan as Tina Ridgeway. Now I did mention in my Crossing Jordan post how much I like her as an actress, so I'm expecting great things from her.

That's all I can really say, since this is all I really know about the show. Now this airs on February 4th, and I will do my best to share my thoughts on this pilot before the second episode airs. Gotta tell you guys, I am really looking forward to this one. I'm owed a good show to, at least a little, replace what I lost.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, January 25, 2013

Madea's Class Reunion - Play Review

Greetings Pups,

So I'm doing another play review and another one by Tyler Perry. This is most likely because, outside of Broadway, I don't think people do the play thing very often anymore. And they don't DVD them either. But Mr. Perry does, so when it comes to reviewing them, he is probably always going to be my go to guy. I have already done a review of The Marriage Counselor, but this one has something which that one did not - Madea, of course. So let's get down to business.

Alright, in case you can't figure this out from the title, Madea's Class Reunion is about Madea's class reunion, her fiftieth to be exact. Actually, though we do see the reunion in the play, it's more of a foundation on which a lot subplots are built. The whole show takes place at a hotel, and Madea doesn't really show up until well into the play. Mostly because Tyler Perry spends this time playing a bartender/bellhop named Willie, who obviously does not keep his job for long. That's not a spoiler, because, even though he can do it in the movies, Tyler Perry cannot play multiple characters on stage. Well, I certainly couldn't, and it makes me feel better to think that other people can't either. Moving on. Of course, the hotel has other employees. First, we get Madea's daughter, Cora, played by the wonderful Tamela Mann, as well as Emma played by Chandra Currelley, also fabulous. And, not to worry. These two great ladies most assuredly do their singing thing. Church, anyone! Then, there's the hotel manager, Ann, played by Chantell Christopher. Here's the thing about Chantell Christopher. She has been in a few of these Tyler Perry productions, and she always plays the . . . well, let's be nice and say the antagonist. And why does she always get these parts even though I am sure she is a lovely person in real life? Well, that's an easy question to answer. Because she's awesome at it! Yeah, she really nails playing the grown up mean girl, and I love her for that.

Next, let's discuss the guests. There's a woman name Stephanie, played by Cheryl "Pepsii" Riley, who just happens to be Emma's daughter and is running from her abusive husband. Then, there's Diana who is visiting the hotel with her husband, and she just happens to be friends with Cora. Also, Diana and her husband just happen to have a connection to Ann. Wow, this thing has coincidences on the level of Les Miserables, but I can let it be, since it is kind of necessary. There's also a side plot involving a couple going through some tough times. It's pretty good and we get some great singing out of it, but it doesn't connect much to the other stories. And, finally, we get, the man himself, Mr. Brown, played by Miss Tamela's real life husband, David Mann. I really can't even put into my own words how much I enjoy Mr. Brown, so I will simply repeat one of his lines, which happens to be what I want to utter each time he comes into view. And that is, "Let the church say, YEAH!!" Or something. And that's all I have to say about that.

Now I can't really get much into the whole plot more than I already have, but that's mostly because, as I said, there are many subplots that create the whole picture. It's not exactly complicated, but there would be too much to say, because telling one thing would just lead to my telling you the next, until I explained that whole story. I don't want to do that, since that would be spoiling it. Still, that's not what's important.

The bottom line question is this. Is it good? Well, of course, I would say yes, because I love Tyler Perry. If you don't like him, they you will probably not be a huge fan of this. However, I have met several people who have only seen his movies, so I guess this review would mostly be for them. Especially since this is one of his plays that has not made it to the big screen - yet. So, if you are a fan of his and have not seen this, I say check it out. It's funny where it should be and serious where it should be, which is something I've always thought Tyler Perry has done well, and it has a good message. Yeah, God bless Mr. Perry for including a reference to one of my favorite Bible verses, Psalms 105:15, especially since it's in regards to a woman dealing with a less than supportive employer. Oh, mercy, can I relate to that? Anyway, I found this production just plain entertaining. For what more can one ask.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This is Why Your Business is Failing

Greetings Pups,

Here's a question. What would you think of a business that tells a young mother that if she calls off again she will be fired, because she called off for two days when her little boy had pneumonia and had to be taken to the doctor, which she verified with notes? Keep in mind that this is a business that regularly lets certain employees get away with calling off and showing up late on an almost weekly basis, breaking rules on a daily basis, saying inappropriate things to children, engaging in overwhelming debaucheries whenever they feel like it and treating fellow employees and customers with such a lack of respect and dignity that it would make any person with a soul vomit. I'd say that means this business sucks - A LOT!

You may be wondering how I know so much about this place. Well, pups, of the many jobs I've had in my lifetime, this was one of them. Before I go on, this is all hearsay, since I only got the story from this young woman, but if I make my assessment based on how I was treated, I'd be inclined to think she was telling the truth. And I bet they're wondering why business hasn't been so great lately. Well, I can tell them in a simple phrase - THIS IS WHY YOUR BUSINESS IS FAILING!!

Yeah, people, if you run a business, you best treat your employees right. You know, things like behaving as though they are human beings and not letting them get abused by customers or the other employees. See, let's say one employee calls another the "C" word (no, I'm not going to say it or write it!). I think that employee should be punished, not promoted. Or if a customer says dirty things to an employee and she says something about it, make sure the guy stays away. Don't act like he's a good old boy every time he comes back in. And, unless you happen to be running a brothel, do not pay people to stand around and flirt all day while others are doing all the work, as usual.

I happen to know for a fact that God blesses those who bless His children. I am a child of God, and these employers chose to not bless me, so now they should not be surprised that they are suffering the consequences of this. As I have, I'm sure, mentioned before, God does not take kindly to anyone treating His children badly. Not kindly at all.

I could go on and on about the horrors I had to witness in this place, but there really is no reason. They know what they do and what they've done and so does God. He deals with everyone is His time, and fulfills every promise He makes. So I guess staying on his good side is just a dandy idea.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

As much as I love the thrill of a good movie, there's really nothing like the thrill of a play. Can't edit around the screw ups there, can we? And, as I've mentioned, I enjoy knowing what goes on behind the scenes, which is one of the reasons why I like documentaries so much. Put all that together and you get ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway.

This movie was released in 2007, and it follows the stories of four Broadway musicals from their very beginning of rehearsals and even inceptions to the granddaddy of nights for the Broadway world, the Tony Awards. The four shows we get to delve into are Avenue Q, Caroline or Change, Taboo and Wicked. Not to say that other shows didn't have compelling stories behind them, but I think choosing these particular ones was perfect. The film goes back and forth between each production, whilst informing us of others and the Broadway business at large, all being led around by Alan Cumming. And as I said, the drama behind these productions was at times more gripping than what was happening on stage. So I suppose the best way to do this is to highlight some of the things we learned about each of them.

The most fun of all these was, without a doubt, Avenue Q. That's the one with the puppets, in case you weren't aware. This play, whilst commenting on social issues, is clearly not a heavy themed work. It's the kind of show you see when you just want to have fun, and after spending some time with the Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, the guys behind its creation, you can see from where all those good times come. They're just, I have to use this word again, fun. And you cannot help but be happy for the success they receive, especially when you remember that they were the underdogs the whole time. And to hear the reaction of Jeff's dad near the end of the film? He says one line about his kid, and it is priceless.

Next up is Caroline or Change. Sadly, I think this is probably the least known of all the four featured here. That is very unfortunate because, though I haven't seen the production, I have heard the music, and it's amazing. Some of the best parts involve seeing how passionate Jeanine Tesori was and still is about this music she wrote. And, of course, the star of the show, Tonya Pinkins, is spotlighted. This woman is an incredible talent, just a powerhouse, and she is an incredible person, as well. She has been put through it by life, but she managed to rise above all of it and come back even stronger. It's a very inspiring story.

Okay, then, we have Taboo, no doubt the most infamous musical here. This is the one penned by Boy George and is basically his life story. Also, it was produced and funded, with ten million bucks, mind you, by Rosie O'Donell. That woman has made some questionable decisions in her life, but this was probably the biggest of all her faux pas. Yeah, this thing was a flop. Now that's not to say it was horrible in every way. This film did feature a bit of the music, and, frankly, some of it was kind of good. It's just that there was so much drama behind the scenes that it was that which got all the attention. Whomever said that bad publicity was better than none at all probably wasn't relying on this production for their livelihood.

Finally, Wicked is featured, and it was obviously the most successful commercially. And, boy, did they beat to death that fact. Interestingly enough, all the hype surrounding this musical ended up making what happened at the Tony's that year all the more amusing. Now whether or not it lived up to all the said hype? Believe it or not, even with all the success, I'd say the jury's still out on that one when it comes to critics.

Speaking of which, this film really gives us an idea of what makes a musical or play succeed or fail. One of those things is the critical reception it receives. We get a lot of scenes here in which we see the discussions amongst these critics about the Broadway season, and I found it intriguing. Funny thing though, one of the critics featured got some criticisms. That being Michael Riedel, who is famously harsh. He got backlash from some of the actors and songwriters. What the heck, man? It's not like it's your job to state your opinion and critique things. Oh, wait.

One of the most fascinating scenes was where they showed a list of all the plays that had opened and how quickly they closed. There were so many. One even opened and closed in one night. A few never opened at all. It is kind of sad to think about that as you watch a film that is basically about how much work goes into these productions. Oh, well. Live and learn, I suppose.

So, in closing, I would certainly recommend this to any Broadway fan, or anyone who really wants some inside info on show business. This film is quite informative and also very entertaining, and that is what a good documentary is.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Liberal Arts - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I discovered something quite interesting lately, an enigma, if you will. We all know that the love that most people once had for things like literature and the written word has decreased significantly over the last several years. I suppose most of the blame has been put on things like the internet, video games, TV and movies. Ironically, though, every now and then, it is a movie that can come along and make people appreciate those things again. Such is the case with Liberal Arts.

Liberal Arts is yet another of those indie films that, despite how good it is, tends to go unnoticed by the public at large because they don't have the budget for distracting things like bad special effects. Nope, all this movie has to rely on is a great script and superb actors. How sad. Speaking of the writing, the acting and also the directing, it is one man who has taken on the task of all three - Josh Radnor. Most people will know him as one of the stars of How I Met Your Mother. I knew him from his great previous film, happythankyoumoreplease. Not a typo, don't worry. Now that one dealt with some heavier issues, while still maintaining a true to life sense of humor. Liberal Arts is all around a lot lighter, but don't think we get no drama. We do. Okay, the story.

This movie centers around a 35-year-old guy named Jesse who is a college admissions officer in New York City. He is very much a lover of literature, hence, my comments from before. Despite living in New York now, he attended college in Ohio and is heading back there because one of his favorite professors is retiring, Professor Peter Hoberg, to be precise, played by Richard Jenkins. You know, despite the fact that this guy has an Oscar nom under his belt, I still think he is incredibly underrated.

Anyway, while he's there, Jesse meets a 19-year-old student, Elizabeth, who is nicknamed Zibby. I have heard many nicknames for Elizabeth, but Zibby has not been one of them. Point for originality. This character is played by Elizabeth Olsen. In case you can't tell by looking at her, she is the sister of the Olsen twins, and she is an incredible actress. She is so charming, and I hope she continues to get better and better as she is now doing. Anyway, Zibby is a very precocious and quite spirited young woman, and these qualities are a big reason as to why she and Jesse hit it off so well.

During their initial visit, the two talk a lot about their equally passionate love of literature, and Zibby tells him about a class she took where she was able to see, or I guess hear, classical music in a new light. Before they part, she gives him a CD of some of that music, and all she asks in return is that he write her a letter. Zibby emphasizes that she wants a REAL letter, handwritten, pen, paper. She even jokes about sealing it with red wax. Yeah, I love this character, if for no other reason than that. That simple exchange leads to one of the best sequences in the film. We hear Jesse and Zibby reading their respective letters whilst the classical music serves the fill the air around them. I just love these scenes.

As the letters are written, you can sense that their emotional bond is growing, albeit a little bit more from Zibby's end. Jesse, on the other hand, is resistant, mainly due to their sixteen year age difference. However, when she asks him to return for a visit, he does. It's here where we get to see even more of the development of their relationship, including their first argument. They disagree about a series of vampire books which Zibby enjoys, in a "so bad it's good" way, but Jesse is almost offended by her choice in reading material. Yeah, even though they don't actually say it, they are obviously talking about Twilight. I mean, for crying out loud, when it came time to cast the role of Ana, a woman also showing interest in Jesse, they got Elizabeth Reaser a.k.a. Esme from the Twilight movies. I refuse to believe that was a coincidence. Still, one of my favorite lines is where Zibby, in defense of the book, says "It's not Tolstoy, but it's not television." I love that, too.

Okay, so due to . . . everything, there is, of course, some conflict between the two of them. I am not going to say exactly what happens, but I personally found the end very satisfying. Now, obviously, my favorite aspect of the film is this relationship between Jesse and Zibby, but I would be remiss to overlook the rest of the goings on.

As I said, I love Richard Jenkins in this, mostly because he really puts across well what his character was going through during this retirement, which he seems to almost immediately regret. And to speak of the professors, we also get Allison Janney as Judith Fairfield, another of Jesse's favorite teachers. Specifically, she taught Romantic Literature, which ends up being a bit ironic. This character comes off as being quite jaded despite her life being immersed in such emotional and epic writings, and Janney pulls it off quite brilliantly. There are also some other subplots that some critics have pretty much called nothing more than filler, and I kind of see from where they're coming. One involves Jesse bonding with another student named Dean and having some encounters with hippie type named Nat. The reason why I don't dismiss these as filler is because I feel as though Jesse sees Dean as a young version of himself, which, of course, ties into the whole theme of age in the film. And Nat is awesome because Zac Efron plays the part so hilariously. Reason enough for me.

Now I am always one to try and look a bit deeper into the themes of a film. Again, there is much talk of age, what with people getting older or looking back on their youth or both. With the emphasis on the age difference between Jesse and Zibby, I actually see something beyond the obvious here. Zibby is the one who points out that how old they are doesn't mean anything, and though she is referring to her wanting to advance their relationship, I think it reveals something else.

We have Jesse, a 35-year-old man who has been through college, has a career, lives in New York, has really lived. And yet, he sees Zibby, a 19-year-old who is bit sheltered and very young, but still, she manages to see the world in an even deeper way. She seems more adept at finding the beauty and intrigue that the world has hidden in all of its corners. And whilst Jesse has technically been living his life, it takes seeing things through the eyes of someone who is more defined by anticipation of the world rather than experience in it for him to really appreciate and embrace things more than he has been doing. That is truly what I love about this film. It kind of teaches us that, even though we think we've been living, maybe we haven't.

So, if you haven't figured it out by now, I am definitely recommending Liberal Arts. I know I talked a lot about the plot, but I didn't give everything away. Plus, even though this film does have a great story, it's a lot about the character development, not to mention the great performances by those portraying the characters. So, it's all good. Now I suppose this film can be called an acquired taste, not unlike most indie films, but if given a chance, I believe most people can enjoy this in a quiet and thoughtful way. And that is a very good thing to do.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Kids Are Alright

Greetings Pups,

Something quite random came into my head as I was driving home at dawn from none of your business. And that random thought was about child stars. Yeah, I don't know why I started thinking about that either, but it kept on going. I was reminded of some opinions I've always had of this exclusive group of people. My opinion seems to not match that of many others, particularly those in the entertainment industry. They seem to think that child stars have two ways of life to go once they hit adulthood - super stardom or any early grave. I believe we may have some middle ground on this.

I am not so naive about this. I know that most child stars do not gain the respect and status as people like Ron Howard or Leonardo DiCaprio or, the greatest one of all time, Shirley Temple, but, believe it or not, most also do not go the way of tragic stories like Dana Plato or Anissa Jones. And the in between I speak of does not consist of Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears or any of those types who have success and are a trainwreck all at the same time. No, I am talking about the ones who acted as children, grew up and are fine and, dare I say it, normal. The ones who got out of the industry.

I've seen a lot of TV specials about these kids and the majority of them are doing wonderfully, albeit whilst not working in Hollywood. Some of them just did not want to be actors anymore. They didn't have any breakdowns because they started to not be able to get acting jobs or because they turned not as cute. They just became teenagers, then young adults, then full on grown-ups. They went to high school and college, got married, had kids, have regular and good jobs. And they are more than fine. A lot of them just treat their brief time in the limelight almost the way someone might feel about having gone to summer camp. They think, "Yeah, I was on TV, it was part of my childhood and now it's done" Because not everyone thinks that the world begins and ends with Hollywood.

I think how child stars and where they are now are viewed really shows the arrogance of Tinsel Town. It's as though so many of the people in that industry cannot even fathom that someone can have fame and then not have it, and actually be happier and better off that way. Not everyone wants fame. Not everyone wants what Hollywood gives. The world is huge and that town is merely a speck in it. Now, of course, I like movies, TV and music. Obviously, I do. I've even been quite inspired by some of the people who create those things. But I also know where to draw the line. I know not to give them control over my life and my decisions. No matter how much Hollywood and its inhabitants want to believe they rule us, if we don't let them, they won't. They can't.

So, parents, if your kid wants to act or sing or whatever, let them give it a try. If they're good at it, if they love it, if they have a passion for it, which is the case with some children, let them keep doing it. If things start getting bad or if they want to stop, then stop. Do not force them to do it. It may be hard to give up what money you may be making, but some things are more valuable than that. A child is more valuable than that.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies

Greetings Pups,

There are good ways and bad ways to start a year. Well, it seems that the Encore Channel has gone for the good by, this month, spotlighting Clint Eastwood. And, therefore, I have become a bit inspired.

If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that we are hard pressed to find anyone in Hollywood who can be defined as humble. We do get one every now and then, and one of them is Clint Eastwood. Anyone who, at the height of his career, would agree to not be paid for doing something is clearly not someone who thinks he is king of the world. More on that little anecdote later. I can agree that Clint Eastwood has had ups and downs, both personally and professionally, but I happen to believe that he has certainly earned every ounce of respect he has gotten. He has even earned the respect that has yet to be paid to him. And he has earned a top ten movies list from a blogger named - me! I will most likely one day write one of my official tributes to him, where I can delve deeper into his life, but for now, we'll stick with a discussion of his greatest accomplishments as an actor, in my opinion. Yeah, there will be surprises here, as some of my choices are not too obvious, and some may say there are glaring omissions. But different things make different people happy. So, if you're feeling lucky, punk, keep reading.

#10. In the Line of Fire - In this film, Clint plays an aging Secret Service Agent named Frank Horrigan. He is still haunted by the fact that he was one of the agents guarding JFK the day of his assassination, and now the new president is being threatened, bringing up those ghosts. Now, Clint was very good in this, but he was very helped by a great supporting cast. We had John Malkovich at his evil best; Mr.Brady the Second, Gary Cole; one of the greatest Law and Order-ers ever, Fred Thompson; a post-Steel Magnolias and pre-The Practice Dylan McDermott; and even the man himself, Tobin Bell. Wow, I'd be pretty cool, too, if I had these guys hanging around. And I should point out that this is actually the last film Clint was in that he didn't direct, until the recent Trouble with the Curve. But how about we don't talk about that thing? Moving on.

#9. Escape From Alcatraz - Okay, it's "based on a true story" time. Clint plays another guy named Frank here, who has escaped from so many prisons that he is now being put into Alcatraz, an inescapable prison. Or not, considering the title. Again, we had a really strong cast, something you need for a movie like this where you are essentially rooting for the bad guys. Gotta loves films that torture us like that.

#8. The Beguiled - Yeah, here's thing about this movie. It's not what you might call traditionally good. It didn't do well when it came out, and it was heavily criticized. I can see why. And, yet, I find this movie extremely entertaining. Clint plays this Civil War soldier who ends up wounded and recovering in this all girls boarding house where pretty much all the women fall in love with him. Well, love, lust, whatever. There's a shock. Of course, this all leads to several, let's say, shenanigans. I mean, we get people falling down stairs, poisonings, turtle murder. That's right. Turtle murder! As a plot point! Now tell me that doesn't sound intriguing. Some critics say that this emasculated Clint. Maybe a little, but I think it was just different for him. Good or bad, though, it's a hoot.

#7. Gran Torino - What is it about Clint Eastwood that, no matter how despicable of a character he portrays, we still like him? Even a crotchety, old racist. Now, I have heard people refer to his character here as "kind of a racist" No. No "kind of", okay? He was a full on bigot. Just because he may have changed over the course of the film does not change what he was in the beginning. That aside, I think this film is quite powerful, and I consider this one of the best acting roles of his career. He proves that just because a person is getting older does not mean they have to lose their skills.

#6. Unforgiven - Could I be more obvious? Of course, this makes the list. A lot of people would be quick to say that this is one of the best, if not the best, of Clint's films. It was nice to see him back into Westerns, something he hadn't touched upon in seven years. And it also marked the first time he was inundated with Oscar nominations, two of which he won. Though it's obviously not my favorite, I'd be fine saying that it was his masterpiece. Oh, and what the heck! Shout out to Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman. You guys rock!

#5. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly - I believe some people would say that it was "The Man with No Name Trilogy", consisting of A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and this one, that really thrust Clint Eastwood into super stardom. Of course, he was known before due to his role on Rawhide, and for better or worse, uncredited or not, he had appeared in about a dozen films before. But, of all three, this is definitely my favorite. Everything seemed to come together with this one, and it is extremely well-made. Even if it is just a "spaghetti Western" Yes, it would appear that these types of movies, while popular, were not very respected in their time. But, over the decades, most critics have come to appreciate the art of these films, particularly this one. It's about time.

#4. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot - I know that Clint has a lot of young fans. They certainly know of his recent work and some of his more notable past successes, but I bet there are a few that may slip through the cracks. Sadly, I think Thunderbolt and Lightfoot may be one of those. That's terrible, because this movie is fantastic. It's kind of a buddy/crime movie in which Clint stars alongside Jeff Bridges (yay!), in a role that garnered him his second Oscar nomination. Many people thought Clint should have gotten one as well for his role, since they really needed each other to be so great. Oh, so I guess Jeff and Clint would be the equivalent of Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano, respectively, in There Will Be Blood. And I will deal with that travesty on this blog one day, but I digress. Point is, this movie is just excellent, so watch it.

#3. Million Dollar Baby - So, in 2005, Clint Eastwood had been a star for about fifty years, thirty-five of those as an acclaimed director. And yet, somehow, I heard stories that he was having trouble getting funding for this new project. I guess they thought he hadn't proven himself yet! Good for us, though, he did get this film made, and if it proves one thing, it is that money really doesn't need to have a huge effect on how good a movie is. What you need is a great cast, director, story, all that can create perfection. And whilst this movie may have a flaw or two, it keeps you engaged and, most importantly, makes you feel.

#2. Play Misty For Me - Remember when I said that I found Clint Eastwood to be a very humble man? Well, this movie, the story of it and the production behind it, is concrete proof of that. A little back story. This is the first film Clint directed. He had a deal with Universal as an actor at this time, and when this film was about to be made, he asked to be the director as well. They agreed, but they were not going to pay him anything outside his actor's salary. And Clint was fine with that. It's as though he felt the chance they were taking on him was payment enough. You see what I mean? Anyway, the plot of this film is that Clint is playing a DJ who hooks up with this chick, played phenomenally by Jessica Walter, but he never calls her back. Oh, come on, dude. She gets a little stalkery, to say the least, but understandably so. And this is where his humility spilled into the story. Does he not get how incredibly hot he was at this point in time? Did he not know that no woman could be with another man after him? Seriously, it's like he's Ralph de Bricassart and every woman in the world is Meggie Cleary. Okay, I should stop on this subject right now. Anyway, it's a superb film that should absolutely be seen.

#1. Dirty Harry - Be honest. I bet a lot of you thought that, because I'm a girl, another certain film would be my favorite. Oh, no, Pups. Nothing better than Dirty Harry. What can I even say about this movie that hasn't already been said? It's amazing, fun, exciting, memorable, quotable, and it even has a psycho nerd villain. For what more could any of us ask. And, not to mention, we get probably the coolest character ever committed to celluloid in one Inspector Harry Callahan, Badge Number 2211. Yeah, that's right. I know it. There is just no way I can think it possible for anyone to not enjoy this movie. Unless you're a criminal, then you'll most likely just be freaked out, hoping and praying that there are no actual cops like this guy. Good luck.

And there you have it. This was difficult to make. Clint has had a long and illustrious career full of many successes. But you know, one day I may go the other way and do a bottom list, if you will. That should be easier. I'm talking to you, 1976 to 1984. Still, as I look at his life as a whole, all the good and the bad and, oh, alright, the ugly, I believe we can learn a lot from Clint Eastwood. Whether it's using the great things he has done as an example of how we should be or being warned through the mistakes he's made, he certainly gives quite a bit to the world. I do love this man, and I am very grateful for him

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Off the Ground / Paul McCartney - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

I am fairly certain that, at some point, I mentioned my love of The Beatles. Not only do I love The Beatles as a group, but I also love them on an individual basis. Some more than others, of course. However, I refuse to name names. Okay, fine, John was my favorite, but when it comes to the other three, they can just fight over their positions. Even George. Still, I must say that one of the best albums from the solo Beatles collection is easily the one I am reviewing today - Off the Ground from Paul McCartney.

As we all know, Paul McCartney has had a darn good career outside of his time with the Fab Four. He started the band, Wings, in 1970, and they had a great run for more than a decade. Once the eighties hit, he went right back to just being Paul McCartney. However, I think it best we skip over that decade, since it was filled with such things as losing his best mate, running into a little trouble in Japan and Barbados, and, of course, his mishap of telling Michael Jackson to get into music publishing, not knowing that the "king of pop" would one day steal his music. Yes, I say "steal" in this case. Just because it was legal does not mean it was ethical. Anyway, let's not get into that, since it will just lead to my getting angry. Let's talk about the album that Mr. McCartney does not have to pay to sing.

While planning for a 1993 world tour, Paul decided to record an album with his touring band. What they did was a "live in the studio" album. This means that they would rehearse the songs in the studio and then record them in one take. And they recorded everything at one time, all the instruments, the vocals, everything. Hence, it was as though they were recording a live album without an audience.

Now this was not what you could call a critic's darling. In fact, they really weren't crazy about it at all, especially when compared to McCartney's previous album, Flowers in the Dirt, which was extremely successful. Most of them complained that the songs were not as complex, and I suppose I can see from where they were coming. But I'm not too affected by what those critics say. For the moment, let's pretend that my opinion is the one that matters, and, in my opinion, I think this album is great. Let me tell you why.

So the album starts off quite strongly with the title track. It's a pretty catchy and upbeat song, which is the kind I always enjoy to get things, well, for lack of a better phrase, off the ground. Later, we get a song called "Hope of Deliverance", which is also quite buoyant and very acoustic sounding. Funny thing about this song, I believe the first time I heard it was when I saw the video . . . on a Christian station of all places. I suppose it is one of those songs that can be left open for interpretation, even when the writer knows exactly what it's about.

The next three songs are some of the most visually stimulating I've ever heard. And I do love songs I can see. The first is "Mistress and Maid", a story about a man dealing with two women in his life. You'll never guess which ones! Oh, and that is one of only two songs on the album where McCartney had a co-writer. The next is "I Owe It All to You" Believe it or not, even amongst all the fantastic love songs Paul has written, this is probably my favorite. Seriously. It's for sure my favorite song on this album. Whilst the lyrics in the chorus are a bit mundane, the imagery used in the verses is just phenomenal, and the music is lovely. Then, we have a song called "Biker Like an Icon", and I find it very engaging. It's your basic good girl falls in love and runs off with a bad boy tale. To tell the truth, though, it's such a good story song that, to this day, I can't even listen to it without imagining what the music video should look like. So, should anyone ever cover this song, I got an idea for you.

Later on the album, we get a full on rock song called "Get Out of My Way", which is all about Paul wanting to get to his woman. And he does not care who he has to mow down with his car to get there. Good times. A calmer version of a song with a similar subject is the very beautiful "Winedark Open Sea" I can't be certain, but I feel like this song is him giving a big "whatever" to the world, because he's too busy being in love. And the idea of not letting anyone stop you from a pure love is amazing.

Now, as much as I love this album, it is not without its flaws. Now, as a Christian, I obviously do not mind people stating their beliefs in their music. Paul does that quite a bit here concerning his thoughts on social issues, such as animal cruelty, no surprise since he has been a very outspoken vegetarian, and environmental issues. Whilst, with songs like "Golden Earth Girl", "C'Mon People" and even the hidden track "Cosmically Conscious", Paul's incredible songwriting ability managed to shine through, the song "Looking For Changes" is, I find, a bit of a disappointment. It's basically about his anger over animal testing, and, whatever anyone's personal opinion may be on the subject matter, even my own, the main problem is not even that. It's just not a song that I found very appealing.

While I'm at it, I may as well mention the other two songs on the album, as well. One is called "Peace in the Neighborhood" and the other is "The Lovers That Never Were" These two sit in the middle, since I don't think they're bad, but I wouldn't call them favorites. They are just kind of there. But, let's be honest, a "just there" song from Paul McCartney is better than an alleged magnum opus from most of today's artists.

So, to wrap things up, Off the Ground is certainly an album that should be checked out. If you're a McCartney fan, I consider is a must have. And if you're one of those people who like to keep John, Paul, George and Ringo in the confines of The Beatles but are looking to expand to their solo work, this is a pretty good place to start, I think. Like I said, it has a few flaws, but overall, it is an extremely well done album. The music is great, and, as a lyric snob, I am very impressed with the words here. So, whilst the professional critics had a lot of problems with this thing, I, as an amateur, choose to side with the fans who give this one major props.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, January 11, 2013

The One Seasoner's Club - The Twilight Zone

Greetings Pups,

I can already tell that there may be some confusion with this post. Why am I including The Twilight Zone in my One Seasoner's Club? It did, after all, run for several glorious years. Well, we are not discussing that today, nor the revival from 1985, which I don't believe I ever saw and, therefore, cannot comment on. Rather, we will be talking about the revamped version of the show from 2002. It does, indeed, exist.

When this show started, I was fair and curious enough to give it a chance. I do, after all, like to work off of the assumption that "You never know" Well, I quickly knew that this was not even in the same, shall we say, zone as the original. Yeah, it was not that great. Thinking back, though, I'm not certain if this show was a fail because of the expected and obvious comparisons or just because it was simply not good. I suppose it could have worked had it been a stand alone series with no connections to its famous predecessor, but I don't know. And I guess we never will know.

Okay, let's get to the actual show. Now there were a few changes from the original. First of all, it was in color, of course, and it was an hour long. That meant that for every episode we got two stories. Also, we obviously got a different host. This time it was Forest Whitaker, and if I had to mention one good thing about this show, it would be him. Not only because he is a fantastic actor and an all-around enjoyable person, but because they didn't just get some convincing clone of Rod Serling for the part. Maybe a pre-Mad Men Jon Hamm or something. Seriously, he does kind of remind me of Serling a bit. Honestly, I do think that Forest Whitaker did a good job really capturing the mood of what the show was supposed to be.

One thing that did not change was the constant barrage of celebrity guest stars. In the 50's and 60's version, we were treated to the likes of such luminaries as Burgess Meredith, Telly Savalas, Julie Newmar, and, the man, William Shatner, and even Robert Redford and Robert Duvall. The list of actors who were guests is unbelievable. But then, we get to 2002 where we have to suffer through such acting train wrecks as Katherine Heigl, Shannon Elizabeth and, I kid you not, Jessica Simpson. Sorry, not a fan. However, if I am being completely honest, they did have some great guests as well, like Jeremy Sisto, Amber Tamblyn, Robin Tunney and Jeremy Piven. Having them, in turn, ended up giving us a few good moments for the series. But even they couldn't save this thing from cancellation.

So did this show deserve a second season? Not really. I'm not even sure it deserved a first. I mean, I appreciate the effort, and I'll assume that some of the reasoning behind making this was to get a younger generation to recognize the original. That is a very good thing. But even if the remake had been absolutely excellent, I still don't think it could have survived all the comparisons. The original was near flawless, and I don't know how they thought they could improve on that. I've said this before. Don't take something good and make it bad; take something bad and make it good.

The bottom line is that some things should be left to stand alone with their own legendary status. The Twilight Zone of 1959 is one of those things. It shouldn't be placed in danger of being forever attached to an inferior remake. Still, since this 2002 version was pretty forgettable, I think we need not worry about that happening.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Crystal Pepsi Persuasion

Greetings Pups,

Believe it or not, I am certainly not one of those people who thinks the whole world is against them. Not always, anyway. I will tell you who I do think is against me perpetually. It is the people who make awesome things, sell awesome things, and then, after I have become slightly to heavily addicted, take the awesome things away. I cannot even tell you how many products have been available to me that I absolutely loved only to have them snatched from my sad, sad hands. And none is more missed or infamous than a little drink called Crystal Pepsi.

In 1992, PepsiCo introduced a new clear cola to the world. They began with test markets, of course, and when it got a positive response, they decided to unleash it on the country, Van Halen commercial to go along with it and all. And I'm so glad they did. Naturally, like with most new products from a great company, people bought it up like crazy. Why not? It was delicious. Now I personally have always been a Pepsi girl. I love their product, and this new addition only made me love them all the more. I remember sitting there as a child, sipping my wonderful Crystal Pepsi, and I just knew that we were going to be together forever. As you all know, I am not above admitting when I am wrong. I was wrong. Very wrong.

Just as I was beginning to build a relationship with my Crystal Pepsi, it was ripped away from me. It was pretty traumatic, I must say. Seriously, though, I get it. A ton of the drink got sold when it first came out, and then sales dropped off. But doesn't that happen often? I mean, when something new arrives on the scene, people buy a lot of it simply because it's new. Once they get used to it and know it's going to be around for awhile, they ease off. They still buy it, but probably not as much all at once. Well, I'm guessing people thought that, since Crystal Pepsi was so initially successful, it would remain available. Therefore, they didn't buy it like they were storing up for a year long winter. Perhaps, they should have. If you ask me, PepsiCo just did not give this thing a chance to settle in. Believe me, I know plenty of people who would still be buying it today.

One thing I never understood was how, in the last twenty years, it never came back. Oh, sure, they tried to trick us with Crystal FROM Pepsi, which was not Crystal Pepsi. Crystal Pepsi was clear cola; Crystal FROM Pepsi was a citrus drink, I'm assuming something of a precursor to Sierra Mist. Nice try, but we weren't fooled. I wasn't anyway. I mean, as infamous as this drink has now become, I really don't know how it never popped up again. Not that I noticed, anyway, and I'm pretty sure I would have. And look, I'm not trying to act like I understand business or anything. I'm not even asking to have it back permanently. Just give it to us for a little while, maybe every couple of years or something. You know, like McDonald's does with the McRib. That's all we ask, and that is what would make us happy.

Now as much of a downer as I am being about this, I think I may have some positive things to say. First, I heard that in 2005, there was a drink for sale for a limited time in Mexico called Pepsi Clear. So far so good. Then, allegedly, I was informed that, in 2008, PepsiCo trademarked the names Pepsi Clear and Diet Pepsi Clear. More good news. You know, even if they don't want to call it Crystal Pepsi, maybe because of some stigma involved, as long as it is the same basic thing, we'll take it. We'll take whatever we can get at this point.

Again, I am not telling anyone how to run their business, especially when they do very well as it is. Still, give the people what they want. And so, on behalf of myself and all the other clear cola fans, including one Mr. Brad Jones a.k.a. The Cinema Snob, the man who I often refer to as our leader where this mission is concerned, let us one day soon walk into our local grocery store or convenience store and see a nice, large, welcome back display of our beloved Crystal Pepsi.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, January 7, 2013

Top Ten Leverage Episodes

Greetings Pups,

I hate this list. I really do. Well, I hate the fact that it exists. For those of you who don't know, I generally don't make top ten episode lists for a show until it is off the air. I have bent that rule a bit, but, for the most part, I've kept it. Hence, I hate this list of top ten episodes of Leverage, because, and I can't stress this enough, LEVERAGE SHOULD NOT BE OFF THE AIR! I'm sorry to shout, but it's just how I feel.

If you haven't seen the show, first of all, I feel bad for you, and I will give you a very brief summary of what it was about. Five former bad guys become the best good guys and help out people who have been afflicted with injustice. I can also sum up the cast and characters very easily as well. We have Beth Riesgraf as Parker, "The Thief", Aldis Hodge as Alec Hardison, "The Hacker", Christian Kane as Elliot Spencer, "The Hitter", Gina Bellman as Sophie Devereaux, "The Grifter", and, of course, Timothy Hutton as Nathan Ford, "The Mastermind". Now I may have mentioned this before, but I love every character on this show, as well as those who portray them. This is easily one of the best assembled casts on one of the best shows of all time. And this is probably the reason for its cancellation.

I think I mentioned this before also, but, judging from much of what I see on TV these days, shows with original concepts, excellent writing, well-developed and complex characters, and superb casts are not generally what become successful. Still, I and all of the fans of Leverage are quite grateful for the five seasons and 77 episodes that we did get. Oh, and speaking of those 77 episodes, there was not one that I didn't enjoy - NOT ONE! As I was making this list, I realized that Leverage never put me at a loss for entertainment, and I was reaffirmed in the fact that this was quite possibly the best comedy show on TV that wasn't actually a comedy. I couldn't find a single episode I disliked. I don't think I can say that about any other program I've ever watched. Maybe if they would have thrown some crap in there they would have had a longer run. But, no, they had far too much respect and appreciation for their audience. Granted, I did like some more than others, evident by the fact that I picked favorites, but the brilliance of this show did make that a daunting task. Oh, well. Here you have it - my top ten episodes of the late, great Leverage.

#10. "The Boost Job" (Season 3) - You know all those jokes about crooked car dealers? Well, looks like they were right. And what makes this episode so great besides the obvious? You've got Bill Engvall playing that crooked car dealer! Sweet! It would seem that Leverage is now up there with the likes of Law and Order when it comes to taking people we've loved for years and turning them into complete lowlifes. Good show.

#9. "The 12-Step Job" (Season 1) - When the team finds out a man has been stealing from a charity, they follow him right into rehab, where Nate poses as an addict and Sophie as a therapist. That little charade certainly brings out a lot of things about their relationship. And speaking of relationships, pay close attention to the scenes with Elliot and Hardison, since this episode contains some of the best exchanges between the two. Forget YOU and YOUR slushy scenes, Glee!

#8. "The Van Gogh" (Season 4) - During a big chunk of the series, there was this constant "will they or won't they" thing going on between Parker and Hardison. In this episode, the team looks for a Van Gogh that was lost decades earlier, and the only people who know where it is are a pair of star-crossed lovers, as they are called. It is Parker and Hardison who we see standing in for them as their story is reenacted. This is actually a very heartfelt episode, something that Leverage has never shied away from doing, but this one I found to be, I guess, the sweetest.

#7. "The Studio Job" (Season 3) - We get to hear Christian Kane sing, see John Schneider be a bad guy and watch as Beth Riesgraf does a hilarious job of imitating someone who is (I probably have to say this due to copyright or something) NOT Lady Gaga at all. Wink, wink. Yeah, do I really have to say anything else about this?

#6. "The Tap-Out Job" (Season 2) - After a man is hospitalized during a fight, the team tracks down a shady promoter. Now since we're talking about fighting, obviously, Elliot plays a major role here. I normally enjoy his fight scenes, but the one near the end is a bit, let's say, much. However, the reason I like this episode is because, as twisty as the show can be, there is actually an exceptionally good twist in this one. It involves a saxophone . . . a little.

#5. "The Fairy Godparents Job" (Season 2) - So the team has to get money from a guy who is hiding it away in his house. Problem is that he is under house arrest, and one of the only ways someone can get out of that, temporarily, is for a family event. So they infiltrate the school of the guy's stepson, Widmark (yes, there is discussion of that name) in order to see if he has any talent that would warrant him performing in . . . something. Hands down, though, the best thing about this episode is Timothy Hutton's performance as a German doctor of education. It's pretty much genius.

#4. "The Miracle Job" (Season 1) - Here, we have a Catholic priest who gets attacked before he can ask the city to save his church. Turns out, the priest is an old friend of Nate's. So, in order to help him, they fake a miracle. Tsk, indeed. Unfortunately, the miracle ends up being far too believable, enough to attract the attention of the Vatican. This episode has plenty of laughs, including Parker continually calling a statue of St. Nicholas Santa Claus and a cold-hearted businessman wanting to buy the church and turn it into something called Bibletopia. Sigh. Did this guy never read that story in the Bible where Jesus got a little upset about people selling things in the temple? This might be a tad worse. But, again, Timothy Hutton steals the show, albeit, not in a humorous way. He has a few quiet but very emotional scenes as his character dwells on the past and memories of his son who died years before. He is amazing here.

#3. "The Wedding Job" (Season 1) - A desperate wife and mother comes to the team in hopes to get money she was promised by a Mafia boss named Nick Moscone after her husband took the fall for a murder that he didn't commit and to hopefully get him out of jail. As it happens, Moscone's daughter is about to be married, so they use this as an opportunity to get the job done. Everyone plays a great part here. We get Sophie as a wedding planner, Nate as a priest, Parker and Hardison as FBI agents, and Elliot as a chef. And if you think the last thing on that list was a one time deal, it's not. Stay tuned. Now one of the best things about this episode is the guest performance of Nicole Sullivan as Moscone's wife, Heather. She is hilarious, as usual, and I wish she would have been on the show more.

#2. "The French Connection Job" (Season 5) - Remember a second ago where I mentioned Elliot was acting as the chef? Well, in this episode, we dive head first into that little talent of his. Wait, not just talent, but his passion for it. He poses as a cooking teacher in order to help a man named Toby who has a culinary school for underprivileged kids, which is being taken over by a corrupt man played by the wonderful Steve Valentine of Crossing Jordan fame. That guy wants to turn the school into one for people who will pay big money for classes. Now Toby is also the person who taught Elliot how to cook, how to use his knife to create instead of destroy, as Elliot puts it. They think there might be some shady drug smuggling in the new school, but it turns out they are smuggling something that is just as, if not more, valuable - French truffles. Ooh, tasty. Again, this is another one that particularly lets everyone stand out with their performances, and yet again, we get some fantastically funny Elliot/Hardison time. Oh, and the way Elliot makes his students always answer him by saying, "Yes, Chef!" Yeah, I really, really liked that. Just watch it.

#1. "The Rashomon Job" (Season 3) - Okay, I don't know what it is about me, but this is the third list I've made where an episode based on the Rashomon Effect is featured. I guess I just like the idea. Anyway, no new case for the team this time, but rather they reminisce on a heist from the past. It is the heist of a valuable dagger that they all think they stole on the same night. Of course, this happened before they all were working together, five years earlier to be exact. So which one of our skilled and stealthy team members did the deed? Well, I certainly won't tell and ruin the enormous amount of fun you'll have watching this episode. This one is absolutely phenomenal. Each time one of the group tells their version of the night's events, it peels back another layer and gets even more entertaining. I particularly love the way they portray each other, especially Sophie, in their individual flashbacks. It's priceless, just priceless. Without a doubt, at least in my own head, this is the best of the best.

This is just awful. As much of a joy that it was to remember all the wonderful times I've had with this show, I can't help but to be sad about its departure. It has been not even two weeks since the final episode aired, so I guess the wound is still fresh. But I'm glad we got these great episodes, and I'm glad for DVDs, which means I can watch them again and again. And don't think I won't.

Godspeed, my sweet Leverage team. May we, by some miracle, one day meet again.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dear Frankie - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Do you remember that span of time from 2004 and 2007? The three years that sat between Gerard Butler making The Phantom of the Opera and 300? Do you ever wonder what he may have been doing whilst going from one of his most famous, or infamous, roles to the next? Well, today, I will tell you about one thing he did. It was a little movie called Dear Frankie.

Dear Frankie came out in 2005 and was most likely unknown until Gerard Butler got uber-famous by making 300. Yeah, at this point, people began to hit IMDB to find out about what movies he had done in the past before subsequently deciding that they had magically turned good. But, unlike films such as the very confusing Timeline and that ridiculous Lara Croft sequel, Dear Frankie is actually very good. Hopefully, I can explain why.

This is a very heartfelt drama set in Scotland. So if you can't handle that accent, may I suggest you wait for the dubbed version to be released. Anyway, the story is about a little deaf boy named Frankie Morrison, who is played by a wonderful young actor named Jack McElhone, and his mother, Lizzie, played by the always adorable Emily Mortimer. They have just moved to a small town along with Lizzie's mother, Nell, where Lizzie gets herself a job at a fish and chip shop. The shop is owned by a woman named Marie who quickly befriends the whole family.

Now the reason that they moved is because Lizzie left her husband and Frankie's father, Davey, years earlier and she's trying to keep one or more steps ahead of him. But all the while Frankie is corresponding through letters with someone who he thinks is his father. The truth is that Lizzie has been writing the letters, posing as a father who is a merchant seamen, because she wants to keep the truth about Davey from her son.

When Frankie learns that the ship his father has allegedly been on is about to arrive, Lizzie desperately searches for a man to impersonate Davey. Marie to the rescue. She sets up Lizzie with a man she knows who can fill the role. Who is that man, you may ask? Seriously? It's Gerard Butler. What did you think? And in the credits, he is merely referred to as The Stranger. I suppose that was necessary. Anyway, he agrees to do the job, and eventually meets Frankie.

As you may have guessed, the majority of the film follows Frankie spending time with his "dad" and the two bonding. And, yes, The Stranger also bonds with Lizzie. She even reveals to him some very personal details as to why she left Frankie's father, and I must say, the performances of both Emily and Gerard in this scene are extremely powerful. After they all spend a few days together, the three of them clearly begin to enjoy playing family, as it were, and you begin to hope that they will indeed be able to become a real family. And here is where you will begin to say to yourself, "Okay, I know what's going to happen", but don't think that. Though a few things about this movie may be slightly predictable, the ending really is not.

Now I refuse to give it away, because, whilst this may not have the twist ending of some psychological thriller film, we do actually find out some surprising things, including the true identity of The Stranger and Frankie's feelings about him. I like the ending because it does give some closure to the story, and, at the same time, it leaves a window to the future of this little family open to possibilities.

So if you like a good family movie with a smidgen of an edge, I would certainly recommend Dear Frankie to you. This is a very good film that relies on a great story and superb acting, something that most don't do these days, and it is quite refreshing. Here's to more simple, low budget but well made films from Gerard Butler. It's where he seems to shine.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Learning From My Own Lessons

Greetings Pups,

I wasn't planning on posting anything today, but then I lived through my day and realized I should. It will be short and sweet, though.

Yesterday, I spoke about forgiving, and today I learned how possible it is to do so. Once again, I was subjected to some harsh words and actions that were clearly an attempt to break me. I have, of course, gotten used to this behavior surrounding me. But I have also gotten used to what to do in these situations. I chose to toss it aside and say, "All is forgiven."

I will not carry the burden that some people are trying to load on my back. Now if I am chosen to go through some times that are difficult in order to make me stronger, I will gladly do that. In those cases, I know it is just God testing me. Tests, by the way, that He trusts me enough to pass. All the other things from other people are not important. They shoot arrows at me, I catch them, break them and throw them to the ground so I can step over them. All the while, I forgive these people for what they do, because I believe that often times they have no idea what they are doing. That sounds familiar.

Anyway, as I said before, let them do what they will, but do what you must. Forgive. They won't even know what hit them.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer