Saturday, May 25, 2013

Snoopy!!! The Musical - Movie Musical Review

Greetings Pups,

Okay, I can admit it. I'm kind of cheating on this one. Snoopy!!! The Musical began as an onstage play, and what I am reviewing today is, not so much a movie as it is a TV special. But, if you've seen it, you'll know that it's certainly good enough to be considered a movie musical. So here we go.

Snoopy!!! The Musical was a 1988 special that aired on CBS and was about an hour long. As I said, it was based on a musical of the same name, which had some runs through the 70's and 80's, and then had a West End revival in 2003. Now I've never seen this thing live on stage, but if it's as good as this special, I think I'd be in for a treat. Now let's talk about the plot of this thing I have officially dubbed a movie.

Well, frankly, there kind of isn't a plot. What it is, actually, is a lot of musical vignettes, as well as short comedy bits, featuring the Peanuts Gang, Snoopy included, obviously. Oh, and speaking of Snoopy, in this, he speaks. Most of us are used to a silent Snoopy, but here, he has things to say. Technically, it's more like an inner voice, since we, as the audience can hear him, what with all the fourth wall breaking, but the kids really cannot hear him. Relax, though, some things haven't changed. Woodstock is still a silent observer, and the teacher still speaks with her (or his) signature "wah-wah" thing. Good times. Alright, let's just talk about what we're really here for, the music.

You may not believe this, but I think I can safely say that this is the only musical where I love every song in it. No lie. This thing has some fantastic music. Hats off the those who wrote it, Larry Grossman and Hal Hackaday, not to mention the musical director, Desiree Goyette. Oh, and the kids who sang it were amazing. I mean, their harmonies were so phenomenal, even chilling at times. So, since I've now said that, I may as well go through this song by song. Nothing too fancy, just some quick synopses.

First, as the credits roll, a song called "The Big Bow-Wow" plays, but the actual song is extended later. I don't know what you call a reprise if it comes before the song. A PRE-prise maybe? Anyway, the first full-on number is called "Don't Be Anything Less Than Everything You can Be". I love the lyrics in this song, very creative, and I can see how kids would get a kick out of them, too. But it also manages to give them a good message for life. Next, we have "Snoopy's Song", a very quick ditty wherein Snoopy tries to convince Charlie Brown to not trade him in for a cat, at the behest of Lucy, who proves, yet again, that she is a terrible, terrible person. Then, we get a tiny little interlude called "Woodstock's Theme", where we just get to see him fly around, albeit badly, but the music fits. Next up, we head off to school for "Edgar Allen Poe". I'd say this is probably the best written song, both lyrically and melodically, and it is, in a way, two songs in one. The part that the girls sing is quite different from that of the boys, but it all manages to mesh itself together into this very intricate composition. It just sounds perfect. Okay, now time for the ladies. "I Know Now" is our diva number, wherein Lucy, Sally and Peppermint Patty sing about all they have learned as they've grown up. Yeah, they are still kids, but we'll let that go, since the song is so well done. Then, this thing gets seasonal on us, as Linus performs "The Vigil", a song about, you guessed it, The Great Pumpkin. Oh, Linus. The blanket, the thumbsucking and this? You got problems, buddy. After that, we get "Clouds". The gang sits in a meadow and looks at the clouds, but they also see a lot more than that. Once that gentle little melody is through, we then go epic for "The Great Writer". Here, we follow Snoopy through a musical writing session as he tries to create his masterpiece. It's kind of all over the place, but somehow, it works. Okay, back to the slow and easy stuff with "Poor Sweet Baby". After Charlie Brown shares about his "dream girl" to Peppermint Patty, she sings this lovely little tune about it. Of course, it's all sweet until she finishes and things go back to status quo. Next, we get the aforementioned "The Big Bow-Wow". When Snoopy gets chosen as Head Beagle, whatever that is, he gets all dressed up, top hat, cane, tails (of course) and all, to go out on the town and celebrate. Finally, we end with "Just One Person", which is probably my personal favorite. The Peanuts Gang gets together to sing this absolutely beautiful song that is about believing in one's self, and how wonderful it is when others believe in you as well. Some people may call it sappy, but I think it was the perfect way to end this classic musical.

You know, I've seen some pretty lousy musicals in my day, and I find it incredible that this little, barely one hour TV special can get it so right. If you haven't seen it, see it. It is so much fun, and as I said, many times here, the music is just phenomenal. These songs will be stuck in your head for a while, but you won't mind at all. So, if you have kids, show it to them. If you don't, show it to yourself. It's that good.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Welcome Back to My World, Jenks - Part 2

Greetings Pups,

So about two and a half months ago, I wrote a post expressing my anticipation of the return of a show called World of Jenks. I talked a bit about the premise of the show, so I won't do that too much here again. You can always read that post if you haven't, or just look up the show online. Anyway, the other night was the finale, and since the entire season really intrigued and moved me, I wanted to give some thoughts on what happened during it.

In this second installment of World of Jenks, Andrew Jenks followed three people around for an entire year, documenting the struggles, changes and triumphs of their unique lives. So, I'm going to discuss them one by one.

First up is D-Real. He's a guy from Oakland, CA, which is a very dangerous place to live. There is a lot of gang violence and D-Real used to be a part of it. He was so much so that he got his little brother involved as well. Unfortunately, his brother was murdered, and D-Real is dealing with a lot of guilt because he was the one who introduced him to that life. But D-Real has hope for the future of both his family, especially his baby son, and his community. He's constantly promoting peace and is using his gift of dance to help him to do that. Throughout this year, a lot of great things happened for him both personally and professionally, and you can see that no matter what success he gets, he will always return to his home to make it the great place he longs for it to be.

Next is Kaylin. She is a young woman from San Francisco who has had to deal with cancer more than once in her life. She still has to cope with the pain from it as well as the fear of its possible return. But Kaylin does not take her life lying down. She is a very talented artist who created a comic book based on her battle with cancer, and she is also a fashion designer. The show documents her move from San Francisco to New York in order to pursue her dreams, while she still deals with health issues. But none of it really prevents her from living her life the best she can. Sadly, all fans of the show recently heard that her cancer had returned, and our prayers go out to her, but Kaylin is such a strong woman, we know she can beat it again.

Finally, we have Chad. Oh, our awesome Chad. He was actually featured in the first season, as I previously mentioned, but he was even better this time around. We got to follow Chad through some really big changes in his life, like graduating, getting a job and moving. Whilst those things are big life moments for most people, they are especially big and often difficult for Chad because he is autistic. He just needs a lot of order in his life and likes to stick to a certain routine. But he has made it clear that he doesn't want his disability to define him or hold him back. Though we all know things will continue to be hard for him sometimes, you can see such a resilience in him to be more than what his mind and body are allowing him to be. Oh, and if you're having a bad day, just listen to some of the hilarious stuff Chad says. Safe bet, you'll be cracking up in no time.

So that was what happened in the second season of World of Jenks. I must say, I have such admiration for these people. They all really could have given up, but they all have chosen to move forward and fight for the life they want. That's amazing to me. And I would be remiss if I didn't say something about the man who brings this all to us, Andrew Jenks. I love this guy. He is so talented and funny and sensitive and real. He is just a great person. You could see that during the filming of the show that things weren't always easy for him, but he didn't back away from admitting it when he was frustrated or irritated or scared. He puts a lot of himself out there, as well, with this project, and that takes a lot of courage and heart, which Andrew clearly has.

To wrap this up, I just want to send all the best to these people, and here's to season three of World of Jenks!

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hats Off To Good Leaders

Greetings Pups,

Last night, I watched an episode of 20/20 wherein the topic was about the workplace. Good, bad and ugly things were discussed. Mostly, the last two. They gave some Do's and Don'ts for the office and showed some of the, let's say, creative ways that people quite their jobs, one of those people being Doug Walker aka The Nostalgia Critic, which is why I tuned in to begin with. Anyway, they also talked a bit about bosses that are not very good. Hmm? I wonder why I decided to get so involved in this program.

I have made no secret of the fact that I have had some very bad job situations. I've dealt with all sorts of things that, in description, can range from the annoying to the downright inhumane. Of course, I try to look on the bright side of it all. I mean, thirty percent of my first book wouldn't exist if I had only had good jobs. Gotta dig through all that disgusting dirt to get to the treasure.

But why speak of the bad bosses when I can give shout outs to the good ones? Yes, good bosses exist. I know, for sure, that I've heard of them, and I know some people who have been them. It seems that the really good ones are few and between. That may be because a good boss isn't a boss at all. A good boss is a leader, someone who does not stand above their employees with a pointed finger, but who circles them with open arms. A leader supports, guides, encourages and inspires those who work for them to succeed. They find no need to belittle or abuse, because they know that nothing productive is done when things are carried out like that. Workers should not have to do their jobs in an environment of fear or insecurity or shame. They should look forward to coming to their jobs because they are being led by someone who appreciates and praises them for the good work they do and does not tolerate anyone being lazy or disrespectful or worse. A leader will protect and take of those who are working for them, and a leader is not afraid to occasionally, or even more often, be a servant.

So if you are going to be the head of any kind of business, remember what Moses said in the movie The Ten Commandments about the people and what affected how many bricks that they made to build the cities - "The strong make many, the starving make few, the dead make none" Yes, that is a little harsh, but it seems to me that the point he was trying to make is this. Despite what others might say and even believe, workers, of any kind, do not strive when they are beaten down or abused or unappreciated. I mean, what is the point of trying to do your best at a job if you're treated no differently than those who do nothing? If you want to keep good workers around, then treat them like they are, indeed, good workers. I can't see anything wrong with that.

And to those great leaders of which I spoke, thank you and continue to teach, guide and multiply. We need you.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

With a Curse From Friends, Who Needs Enemies?

Greetings Pups,

So it seems that all the television show cancellations and renewals are being announced around this time, and one of the victims is the show Go On, which stars, well, starred Matthew Perry. Now I never actually watched the show despite enjoying Matthew Perry quite a bit, but the one thing that this news has stirred up is talk, yet again, of a curse on the cast of Friends.

Believe it or not, I don't think I ever heard of such a thing until now. And I don't know if they're talking about them being cursed professionally or personally or both. So let's take a look at where they all are and decide for ourselves.

I guess I was a fan of Friends for a few years. I thought they had a lot of funny episodes, and I enjoyed some of the characters. After a while though, pretty much everything on the show started to annoy me, so I stopped watching, only tuning in every now and then. But it was an extremely successful series with a nice, long, ten year run. Not bad at all. And not only that, it's become kind of iconic and a staple of the 90's, even though half the run took place in the 2000's. Hmmm, maybe I was right. Anyway, that's kind of a tough act to follow and an even tougher act to, well, spin off of. Yeah, we're starting there.

Apparently, someone thought that Matt LeBlanc's character of Joey was the most popular one so they gave him his own show called, what else, Joey. It lasted about two seasons, and I think I know why. Friends was a really good ensemble piece, and whilst every character was unique in the group, I don't know if any of them could stand alone. Clearly, that is true. But LeBlanc wasn't the only one with professional woes. Courtney Cox also had a show called Dirt that lasted barely a season, and Lisa Kudrow had a show called The Comeback, also a one seasoner, though I remember it getting quite a bit of acclaim regardless. Let's see. We already mentioned Matthew Perry and Go On, but he did have another show called Mr. Sunshine that didn't last long either. I don't even think I've seen David Schwimmer in the last several years. And then, there's Ms. Aniston. I guess you can call her the most successful of the bunch, what with her film career and all, but she doesn't exactly have the most stellar of track records there, either.

That's the professional bad news. Any good news? Well, yes, there is. LeBlanc is now on a show called Episodes, which as far as I know is still airing, and Cox has Cougartown, which has a pretty good following. I mean, Abed from Community loves it, so what more do you want? Despite having not seen Schwimmer, I think I've heard about him doing some behind the camera stuff, even theater work, and if he's happy with that, then that's good. I gave Matthew Perry rave reviews for his role in The Ron Clark Story, and despite her clunkers, I do think Jennifer Aniston has done some good stuff, and she certainly act. Watch her in The Good Girl. Actually, I happen to think that Lisa Kudrow has done the best since her days on Friends. She's shown up in a lot of movies and has really proven herself as a dramatic actress, especially in the 2011 film The Other Woman.

So their professional careers have had some ups and downs, but isn't that typical of actors and actresses? Doesn't seem like any of them have done that bad. Oh, maybe this curse has to do with their personal lives. Yeah, things have been a bit rocky in that area for some of the former Friends.

I guess we all know about Jennifer Aniston and her boy problems, so let's not even get into that. Courtney Cox went through a divorce from David Arquette, and Matt LeBlanc also has had some marital issues. Matthew Perry, on the other hand, has never been married but has been in a long relationship with Lizzy Caplan. David Schwimmer is now married with a kid, and Lisa Kudrow has been married since 1995 and also has a son. So things are kind of fifty/fifty on the personal level. So what is this curse people speak of?

Well, if you ask me, there isn't a curse. Everything these people have gone through, professionally and personally, just sounds like the goings on of life. Sure, they had hard times, but they also had good ones. And however I may feel about any of them, I certainly wish them well, and I hope they never give up or let any other people or things control the success that they can still achieve. But I'd give that advice to anyone.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Top Ten Songs From Movies

Greetings Pups,

Maybe it's just me, but it seems that movie soundtracks aren't as big of a deal as they once were. Sure, we still have the Best Song category at movie award shows, and soundtracks are still made, but it is not something that people look forward to as much as the film anymore. Maybe it's because of downloading, maybe it's something else. I don't know. I, however, recall a time when movies tended to have a tie-in song, which practically served as a kind of advertisement. And even if a song wasn't a tie-in, it could still be featured on a collection of great songs for a film, and even become a hit. I miss those days. So I thought I should do a list of my favorite songs from movies.

Now, keep in mind, I will not be including any songs from movie musicals, such as Oklahoma! or West Side Story. To me, songs from musical aren't just songs. They are a part of the scripts, the story, so I don't actually think of them so much as stand alones or something that could be heard on the radio. But these songs are.

So enough of that. Let's get down to business. Spoiler alert, I hope you guys really like the 80's . . . and the Stallone family.

#10. "That Thing You Do!" by The Wonders from That Thing You Do! - Okay, so technically, The Wonders are not a real band and the actor who played the lead singer did not do the singing (thanks Mike Viola!), but this is still a catchy tune. When I heard that Tom Hanks was going to do a movie about a sixties band, I wondered if he was just going to breeze by the music aspect of it and just put whatever in there. He didn't. The songs in this film were actually really good, and this was the best of the lot. When something is catchy, almost to the point of annoyance, you know it's got some good to it.

#9. "Gran Torino" (featuring Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski) by Jamie Callum and Clint Eastwood from Gran Torino - Yeah, that's how it appears when you download it. That's actually an accurate way to put it if you've seen the film and heard the way that the song is used in it. It has the feeling of an older man passing something on to a younger one. Well done. Now this was not a song that was ever going to be a so-called hit, not nowadays anyway, and I don't think that was the goal. But whilst it was not what would be considered popular now or at the time of its release, the song is one of the best tie-ins to a film, and I don't just mean where the title is concerned.

#8. "Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from Once - I reviewed this film and made a big deal about the soundtrack, with good reason. It's excellent, and this song is excellent, even in its simplicity. Actually, the fact that it is so simple, I think, lends much to its appeal. It shows that, whilst there is usually nothing wrong with songs with big production, it is absolutely not necessary to make a song really good. And it truly sounded like something that two people who just met could sit down and develop on the spot, so it goes perfectly with the spirit of the film.

#7. "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News from Back To the Future - I think there are few songs that can be so associated with a film, whilst literally having nothing to do with the plot. You cannot hear this song without thinking of Michael J. Fox on his skateboard. I dare you to try it. And this may be a song that has become a cliche of the 80's in some people's minds, but that does not mean it isn't good. It is. Very good. And after nearly thirty years, it has not worn out its welcome.

#6. "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls from City of Angels - So I did not become an official admirer of the Goo Goo Dolls until 1999, which was well into their commercially successful career. And I didn't really like this song at first, either. It took seeing their featured episode of Behind the Music and finding out how John Rzeznik came to write it and all that he was going through up until the time he did so. Turns out, we had some things in common when it comes to our history of writing, so I've loved him and his band ever since. So much so that he has a high ranking spot on my list of people with whom I want to write a song. Here's hoping.

#5. "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor from Rocky III / "Heart's On Fire" by John Cafferty from Rocky IV - Yeah, it's a tie, because I couldn't decide between the two. But it's all in the family of Rocky, so I can get away with it. Anyway, let's tackle these individually. "Eye of the Tiger" is the obvious pick of the two, since it is considered more of a classic. I'd even go so far as to say it's iconic. But strip everything away that surrounds it, and it still is a darn good song. (P.S. Watch the episode of The Cosby Show entitled "The Birthday Party" to hear a little dude named Jonathan give an awesome rendition!) Now, "Heart's On Fire", on the other hand, is bit less known, but, if you've seen Rocky IV, you've definitely heard it. Honestly, there were a lot of good songs on that soundtrack, but this is my favorite. And unless my ears are deceiving me, they replaced the typical guitar solo with a synthesizer, because it was the 80's, and you are not permitted to forget that. But if there is one thing that these songs have in common, it is that they both make you want go and work out. Not actually do it, but certainly think about it. And thinking about it is half the battle.

#4. "Rainbow Connection" by . . . Kermit(?) from The Muppet Movie - Yeah, I guess Kermit would be considered the contributing artist, though it is the voice of Jim Henson. So whoever, I love this song. I grew up a fan of The Muppets, and I still am to this day. For all these years, I have been very impressed by the music that came from the movies and the show. I know when some people make stuff that is technically meant for kids, they might not try so hard to make it good, but that was never the case here. Jim Henson and those with whom he worked always seemed to put so much care into the music, making it very top notch, and it never was shown more than with this song.

#3. "Shooting For the Moon" by Amy Holland from Teen Wolf - Okay, you all may think that you don't know this song, perhaps, due to not recognizing the name of it or the artist, but if you watched Teen Wolf and stuck around until the end, you have heard it. Not saying you remember it, but you've heard it. Now this is not the song that played during the obligatory and predictable basketball game, but during the obligatory and predictable "getting together" of the two characters who should have been together since the beginning. Look, this is a song drenched in full on 80's-ness and it's also kind of girly, to be honest. Either way, I seriously love it. Perhaps, though, it is a case of loving something I can't have. Yeah, I can't find it anywhere to download, and I don't think it prudent to spend $125 for a used copy of the soundtrack on Amazon. I'm not kidding. Oh, well.

#2. "Meet Me Halfway" by Kenny Loggins from Over the Top - Hey, let's play a game called "Find the 80's Soundtrack That Did Not Feature Kenny Loggins" It's a hard game! Yeah, Mr. Loggins was once a major contributor to film soundtracks, and, as a fan, I am certainly glad that he was. Some of his songs are downright synonymous with the films from which they came, and, to me, this one is no different. The song does a great job of conveying the emotional struggles within the shaky relationship between a father and son. BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THE MOVIE IS ABOUT!!! Yeah, it's not an arm wrestling movie. Sure, that's a part of it, and it has to do with their destination, but that's not what the story is all about. And herein lies where the people behind it made a big mistake. The original title, if my info is correct, was Meet Me Halfway, which is a good title for the story of these two people trying to build a relationship. Calling it Over the Top, which was an arm wrestling move that Sylvester Stallone's character used to win matches, makes people think that's the point. It's not. So, anyway, back to the song. In my humble opinion, it was perfect for this film. And if I were to make a list of my favorite Kenny Loggins songs, this would definitely be at the top. It's just really beautiful, and it is truly this artist at his best.

#1. "Peace In Our Life" by Frank Stallone from Rambo: First Blood, Part II - Yeah, that's right. So I could take this opportunity to point out how much I hate talented people being underrated, because I happen to think that Frank Stallone is very talented and very underrated. Did he get help with his career from his famous brother? Probably. But who cares? Does that mean he's not gifted? No, it does not. Look, people get help from other people all the time. Sophia Coppola totally got help from her dad when she was trying to make her first movie, and no one ever questioned her talent. As a writer/director, I mean, not an actress. Yeah, we all know where things stand there. But anyway, I just don't see why we should hold it against anyone else. And, in my opinion, if anyone can write a song as superb as this, they win. Time for back story. When I was growing up, Sylvester Stallone movies were basically playing on a loop in my house. And even before I was old enough to watch Rambo II, I knew this song. I would tell whoever was watching the movie to call me back me back when it was almost over so I could hear this song. Even as a child, I knew it was good. It wasn't until I got older and I really listened to it that I truly got it. It seems to me that what it is saying is very much like what the character in the films was trying to express, but from a different point of view. In case you don't know, Rambo was a guy who fought in the war, and then came back home and was basically treated like crap, to say the least. Now whilst this song was in the second film, and in said film, Rambo does say a lot at the end, like the part about these soldiers wanting their country to love them as much as they love it, I feel like what this song conveys is more connected with what was said at the end of the first movie. You can easily see how that speech was made from frustration and anger over the fact that he had done all these important and courageous things, and yet got treated like he was worth nothing upon his return home. And he speaks so much on behalf of all these brave men and women who fight for us. The song, in a way, takes all that was said there, and then turns to us as a nation and says, "Okay, what are we going to do for these people now? How are we going to treat them?" The lyrics beautifully say how they are fighting to make our nation strong, and they need our support, at home and abroad, so their job won't be that much harder. So the result of their work, and what happens to our country because of it, really depends on all of us. And clearly, though this song was made decades ago, it is not dated, and it is very, very relevant today. And it is just plain amazing.

So there are my favorite movie songs. You may agree or disagree or have no idea what I was talking about in some cases, but here they are. And if there are any here with which you aren't familiar, I invite you to check them out. They are certainly worth it. And who knows? They may end up on a top ten list of your own.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Crowned and Dangerous - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

There are some things in the world that have been given permission to be over the top, even to the point of being campy. Television movies are one of those things. Don't get me wrong. There have been some that were legitimately well made and taken quite seriously. I've seen some of them. I've reviewed some of them. But most could be considered relatives of the soap opera world when it comes to some overacting and ridiculous plots and premises. Not that they aren't entertaining, but you would be remiss to take them too seriously. Such is the case with our review, Crowned and Dangerous.

Crowned and Dangerous is a 1997 made for TV movie about, as you may have deduced from the title, beauty pageants and the wannabe queens that inhabit them. Now you may recall a very tragic incident in 1996, which put beauty pageants and the dangers therein in the forefront of the media. So for good or for bad, they were all the rage around this time, and somewhat remain to this day. The good news is that this has nothing to do with that aforementioned horrible occurrence. No, this is about a very ambitious beauty queen, and in the world of such, ambitious can often be synonymous with crazy. At least, it is in this movie.

The story revolves around a young woman named Danielle Stevens played by Yasmine Bleeth. I know, I know. She was on Baywatch, which will most likely make your expectations drop considerably. But I must say this right off the bat, she actually did a great job here. She really embraced the nutjob of this character, which isn't always easy to do, believe it or not. Anyway, Danielle is pretty obsessed with all things beauty pageant, and she just wants a crown. Any crown will do. And did I mention that in her quest she has an overbearing mother named Cathy played by the late, but still wonderful Jill Clayburgh? Fantastic lady, and she was delicious in this, as usual.

Now what's a pageant without a little competition. Here, it comes by way of Shauna Langley, played by Cassidy Rae. Shauna is the enemy, because she is often the front runner and has the upper hand on Danielle for a lot of reasons. And she's blonde, so, you know, evil. To her brunette nemesis, anyway. Danielle does all she can to undercut her competition any way she can, and I do mean any way. Now to be fair, Shauna is kind of the "good guy" by default, and not necessarily someone we want to root for either. But, really, are these two women so vain and catty that they would fight to the death over a simple beauty pageant? Well, maybe, maybe not. But, here, there's something even better for them to fight over. Enter the boy.

Turns out that Danielle and Shauna have fallen in love, or lust, with the same man, a guy named Riley Baxter, played by - wait for it! - a pre-CSI George Eads. Oh, Crier Nick, what are you doing here? So Riley decides to mess around with both of them, then one thing leads to another and hijinks ensue. Oh, yes, the beautiful hijinks that only a television movie like this can bring into our lives.

So basically that's the premise. I can't go into too much detail about what actually happens because there is so much going on and it's really easy to give things away about the plot and the ending, though it is a tad predictable. It's just one that you have to watch, and you still can because it occasionally is aired on Lifetime or the Lifetime Movie Network. It may even be on DVD. Either way, trust me, this one is worth it. Like I said, it's over the top with the whole premise and what's going on, but that's what makes it fun to watch. I think we've all learned that a movie doesn't have to be a cinematic masterpiece to be entertaining. And this is very entertaining.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Jumping On the Reese Wagon

Greetings Pups,

So it's been about two weeks since the Reese Witherspoon . . . incident, let's say. Everyone has voiced an opinion on what happened with her arrest and subsequent apology, so I figured, what the heck, I may as well do that, too. And it's so rare that I am this topical. Let's see how it works out.

I guess I'll start by saying that I have always been a fan of Reese Witherspoon. I've respected her as an actress since her first film at age fourteen, and I've always been impressed at how she handled herself in the real world. Honestly, the fact that she has been in the business for nearly twenty-five years and this is really her first major mess-up, non-cinematic, is pretty stunning. Of course, it is a doozy, I will admit that. I actually thought it was all a joke when I first heard the news. Not just about the DUI, but what was being reported about what she said to the cop. Yeah, it really didn't sound like the Reese we all know and love. I could call this a lesson that we don't know people, especially famous ones, as well as we think we do, but, where she's concerned, I think it's more of a lesson about how we all do dumb things sometimes. I can admit it, and, apparently, so can Reese.

And this brings us to her recent, and inevitable, apology. I think we've all seen a slew of celebrities apologizing for their screw ups, some sincere, others not so much. Even if I put aside how much of a admirer of hers that I am, I do believe that Reese gave a genuine apology. She really didn't make any excuses for herself or her husband. She just laid out the facts, said they did something stupid and irresponsible, said she was sorry for disrespecting the cops and let everyone know that she learned her lesson. I could especially notice how serious she was being when it came to the question about how she explained it to her kids. Now, believe me, if I would have thought she was being nonchalant about her actions and didn't care to take true responsibility for them, I would definitely say something. I don't think anyone should be let off the hook, and I appreciate the way that she gave explanations and not excuses. But, then again, who knows?

So the burning question for these past weeks has been this: can Reese Witherspoon and her career survive such a scandal? You know what, so long as she stays on the straight and narrow, I think so. I don't believe anyone thinks she's headed for a lifetime of destructive behavior because of this, and I hope we're right about this. Point is, celebrity or not, think about what you do before you do it. It helps . . . A LOT!

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Top Ten Daria Episodes

Greetings Pups,

So, high school. Yeah. It could be good, or bad, or both. I'm not certain where I was during those years, but I do know who I was - Daria. You guys know Daria, right? Daria, from the show Daria? Well, I was a lot like her in high school. Brown hair, glasses (occasionally), kinda snarky, kinda smart, and I had a crazy (but fun) history teacher. I did have more clothes, and possibly more friends, though the jury is still out on that one, but, at my core, I and Ms. Morgendorffer were quite alike. It's no wonder I was such a fan of this show. Of course, it didn't hurt that it was well written, had great characters and was downright hilarious. Still, I bet there are a few of you who don't know much about Daria. Well, let me give you a quick synopsis. If you want more, there is a book about the show you can get. I have it; I love it. Or just be patient for me to write a full on retrospective of my own. It may happen someday.

Daria was a show about Daria Morgendorffer. She was a high school student with a workaholic mother, Helen, an insecure, moody father, Jake, and a vapid, younger sister, Quinn. She did manage to get herself one great, best friend named Jane Lane, who stands by her through the insanity at home and at Lawndale High, with all their apathetic classmates and out of touch teachers. Basically, Daria doesn't really fit in, no matter where she goes, but she's perfectly fine with that. She is an intellectual with a deadpan sense of humor that almost no one understands. Most people peg her as being kind of miserable, but I always got the impression that, despite her surroundings, she was okay with who she was. I think being able to feel that way about yourself should be more than enough for any youngster. It was certainly enough for me, so, therefore, I was a fan of Daria, the character and the show. And that brings us to the task at hand, my top ten list of Daria episodes. This was a hard one, because I don't think there were any episodes that I truly didn't like. Obviously, I liked some more than others, but there were so many great ones. I did my best.

Now I'm pretty sure this is a list that anyone can read and enjoy, but, as usual, fans will get it more. I don't think I'll be giving spoilers, so, if you haven't seen the show, this should give you a good taste of what to expect. For the fans, I say relish in the joy and possible nostalgia of this list. Many good memories here. And let me also give shout outs to the two movies that were made, Is It Fall Yet? and Is It College Yet?. While I don't consider them technical episodes and can't include them on this list, they were very good, as well. Now off we go.

#10. "Write Where It Hurts" (Season 2) - One of Daria's talents is that of writing. Her English teacher, Mr. O'Neil, gives her an assignment to write a story featuring people in her life. After trying to dream up a load of fantasy sequences, she decides to just write how she wishes things could be in reality. It's one of the episodes where she slightly lets her guard down and shows that drop of emotion she is constantly trying to dry up.

#9. "Lane Miserable" (Season 3) - At this point in the show, we had heard much about Jane's family, her brothers and sisters and their idiosyncrasies, though we had only ever met her brother, Trent. In this installment, they all come home for one reason or another, and we find out that everything Jane ever said about them was true. Very true.

#8. "Through a Lens Darkly" (Season 3) - In case it isn't obvious, Daria is not a teenager ruled by the way she looks. At all. So when her mother, Helen, suggests she get contact lenses in order to give her better peripheral vision for her driving, a good suggestion since she almost runs over a dog, Daria is hesitant. She does not see this as a logical suggestion, but as a way for her mother to turn her into something she's not. Specifically, someone who cares too much about outward appearance. This is one episode where Daria contemplates swallowing her pride and realizing that trying too hard to not care may not be a good thing either. And we also get a little cameo from her fantastic Aunt Amy, with a great reason as to why she should just get the lenses.

#7. "The Story of D" (Season 5) - As I mentioned, Daria is a writer. Here, she decides to send one of her stories to a magazine for publication. While waiting for an answer, and after she gets it, we see Daria displaying hints of insecurity that she rarely shows. This, once again, lets us see that she is more than we may think as a character. And I love these ones where we get to see her from different angles and with more dimensions.

#6. "Dye, Dye, My Darling" (Season 4) - I actually don't want to give away too much about this episode. Let's just say it is a very pivotal one in the series. It delves deeply into the friendship of Daria and Jane, showing that, even as solid as it has been, it still can have some cracks. This makes it seem much more realistic, and not just for a cartoon. Very well done.

#5. "Legends of the Mall" (Season 4) - I'd call this one of the most creative episodes. While Quinn and the Fashion Club get lost as they walk home, and Daria, Jane, Trent and Jake go searching for them, some scary stories are told within the groups. Three, to be exact. They actually have a feel of urban legends, so if you like that, and if you like them a little funny, you'll probably get a kick out of this one.

#4. "Road Worrier" (Season 1) - I love a good road trip, and we get one here. There's a big concert happening called Alternapalooza. Why is it called that? Because it was the 90's. What else would you call it? Whilst Quinn, the Fashion Club and assorted popular kids head to it, Daria decides to go as well, with Jane, Trent and Trent's band member, Jesse. A lot of this episode focuses on Daria's crush on Trent, something that was a recurring theme in the show. I think this may be the first one where we really get to see what lies beneath with Daria, again, something that we end up getting to see occasionally throughout the series.

#3. "Monster" (Season 2) - Daria and Jane decide to make a video all about Quinn for a school project, in the hopes, of course, of showing how incredibly shallow she is. They certainly get a boat load of ammunition, but will Daria's conscience, the one she claims not to have, get the better of her? Maybe. All I know is that I love watching Quinn get mad, because they zoomed the camera, therefore, exposing her pores, the ones she claims are cute and tiny. Don't we all want those kind of pores? Don't we all?

#2. "Boxing Daria" (Season 5) - Apart from the aforementioned Is It College Yet? movie, this is the final, official episode of Daria. I found that many shows have difficulty making final episodes for a lot of reasons. This one, however, was very well done. As many hints as we had gotten over the years about what's really going on with Daria, this episode certainly tells a lot, even heading back into her childhood. With doing an episode like this on a show like this, many mistakes could have been made, but I absolutely love the way they handled every aspect of it. I always liked when they could pepper some drama and even real life into the show. And they always did a great job.

#1. "Cafe Disaffecto" (Season 1) - So the cafe in Lawndale has been burglarized, and the students have been tasked with going door to door, selling items to raise money for a new cafe. Even Daria and Jane. Yes, Daria and Jane . . . going door to door . . . Girl Scout style. Well, after some, let's say, interesting things happen, Daria is, then, forced to "perform" at the opening night of the new cafe. And that's it. That's what happens. I know it may not seem like much, but just trust me. Now this is one about which I can't really go into detail, because you must see it. It's that kind of episode, and it's that good.

And so, there you have the best of Daria, in my opinion. You know, I don't watch much TV these days, mostly, because I don't feel like a lot of it is well written or well made. Ironically, Daria, a cartoon, was just that. I really do miss this show, and I'm hoping for some kind of a comeback. Perhaps, we can have a live action version of it, or the movie that's been talked about for years. Either way, I know a lot of us would love more Daria. In the meantime, though, I suppose we will have to enjoy our reruns and DVDs. And we certainly do.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer