Monday, December 29, 2014

Top Ten Worst Hit Songs of 2014

Greetings Pups,

And now for my Worst Of list. As I said yesterday, I do think that, as a whole, music was better than 2013. Slightly. Not that it could get much worse. But I'm happy to report that of all my crappy song picks for this year, only one of them was in Billboards Hot 100 for 2014. Yay. Again, that is where I take all my picks from, and also again, no repeats from last year. Be prepared. I am probably going to be a tad vicious, but it's only because I want better music to listen to. I think I deserve it. I think we all deserve it. So, let's get this over with.

#10. "Shake It Off" Taylor Swift - I can't believe I have to do this. I love Taylor Swift. But this is just wrong. Haters?! You're talking about haters!? No, Taylor! You're better than this. You are devolving lyrically. At least, you are in THIS song. Look, you can have a mature outlook on life and it doesn't have to be overtly sexually, as so many past female singers have assumed. I mean, if that's what you're worried about. Like I said, Taylor. Love you, but do better.

#9. "Loyal" Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne & French Montana or Too Short or Tyga - I don't know what all of this "or" business is, but that's how it showed up on the Billboard site. Anyway, can you guys please stop calling women hoes? Even if they are, don't, because I think you're all in surplus for it right now. Just stop it.

#8. "Partition" Beyonce - Seriously, what is this? It's not good. It's just not. I can scarcely even call it a song, but that is what I can say about most of what I heard on this out-of-nowhere album that Beyonce put out. I don't get it. Maybe it's just me. Beyonce, you are not untalented. Please use your power for good.

#7. "23" Mike Well Made It feat. Miley Cyrus, Wiz Khalifa & Juicy J - Hey, guys who are a part of this song, step aside. You are not the problem here. I mean, WOW! I did not think that Miley could get more annoying than she was in 2013. Little did I know. Seriously, what is she doing? I, for real, just want her to go away for a while, grow up and then she can come back and we'll see if she has anything substantial to say. My hopes are dim, but they do exist.

#6. "Animals" Maroon 5 - If you read my review of the movie Begin Again, you'll know that I gave Adam Levine much praise for his acting. I still think he deserves it, but I may have been subconcsiously hoping that if he got enough praise for his acting that he would get away from music. Because I really do not like Maroon 5. Oh, sure, I liked them in the beginning when they had a unique and good sound. Now, if they are being unique it's also not that great. I'm not kidding. This song terrifies me, and the video makes it worse. Try harder or just stop.

#5. "Burnin' It Down" Jason Aldean - So, what the heck happened to country music? When did it stop being good and when did it stop being...country? No lie. I can't believe that some of the best and most authentic country music I've been getting in the past few years is stuff that is written for a TV show. (What's up, cast of Nashville? God bless!) There were so many terrible country songs this year that I could have put on here, but when it came to songs from the guys, I had to pick this one. It's just terrible. And it is not country at all. It just sounds like awful, club music. Honestly, I used to go to country for the good stuff, the good stories and the good lyrics. Well, those days are pretty much over. But they can come back. Please.

#4. "Something Bad" Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood - Oh, look. More "country". Okay, I never bought this whole "rebel" act from Miranda Lambert. It always felt like a gimmick to me. I'm not saying it is; I'm just saying it feels that way to me. And I sure as heck don't buy it from Carrie Underwood. I wish she could just pick what kind of an artist she wants to be, what kind of woman she wants to portray herself as and go with it. I mean, was this a joke song or something? I just..no. No, thank you.

#3. "Dark Horse" Katy Perry feat. Juicy J - Ya know, when I do my writing, if I happen to put in some well-known phrase, I make darn sure that I am getting the meaning of it right before I commit it to paper. Apparently, Katy Perry does not. Does she even know what "dark horse" means? I feel like her handlers just stuck her in a room somewhere and told her to be edgy, and this is what happened. Sweet Moses, I didn't think she could get any worse than her vapid music, but this fake depth is even worse. I am clearly not a fan of Katy Perry's, but even I know that she can do better than this. You wanna be edgy these days, Katy? Go back to your Christian roots.

#2. "Anaconda" Nicki Minaj - I had a really hard time deciding between what would be Number One and what would be Number Two. Clearly, I made a choice. Yeah, this song is ear-bleedingly terrible. And the video is even worse. Yeah, we get it, Nicki Minaj. You have a butt. Congratulations. Oh, and could you have picked a more obvious sample for this...song? So, here's the question. Since I have nothing but disdain for this thing, why is it only Number Two? Well, though I am not, never have been and probably never will be a big fan of Nicki Minaj, I don't think she is untalented. I actually think she is better than a lot of the stuff she puts out there. I've heard her sing and she is good. Because of that, I'm not mad that she is famous. I just hope she starts doing music that is worthy of her talent.

#1. "Wiggle" Jason Derulo feat. Snoop Dogg - Hey, remember how I said I wasn't mad because Nicki Minaj is famous? Well, let's move on to someone else about whom I feel very, very differently - Jason Derulo. I am not a fan of this person to an alarming degree. I really have zero clue as to how he has a career. I mean, for me personally, his songs have ranged from nondescript to unbearable. That is, when I even know they ARE his songs. What I'm trying to say is that I don't find him terribly memorable. But then this "Wiggle" thing happened, and I wish so much that I could forget it. Again, with the butts! Yes, WE ALL HAVE BUTTS! MOVING ON!!! And not to go all "feminist" on you guys because, God forbid, but this is very disrespectful to women. I guess that's money in the bank these days, though. It's just weak, and I have nothing else to say.

There. Finally, I am done with my personal Worst Of list for the music of 2014. Whilst I think this year was a little better than last year, we have so far to go until we can get back to being able to say a whole year was great for music. At least, when it comes to the stuff that gets popular. I am praying and working on my own music. I hope I am good enough to help. Yeah, we'll see about that.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2014

Greetings Pups,

And so another year of music has come and gone. Now it's time for me to make my lists of what I thought stood out, for better or worse. Actually, for better AND worse. I did this last year for the first time, and it worked out pretty good, so I think this is going to be an annual thing.

Okay, here is the criteria for these lists. I limit myself to whatever showed up on the Billboard Year End Hot 100 Singles Chart. That's why I call it "Hit Songs". Also, even though some songs overlap years, there will be no repeats of what made it onto my 2013 lists. I mean, some of them certainly would have qualified, but you can go back and read those posts to find out which ones.

Anyway, we're going to start with what I consider the best hit songs of 2014, just my opinion, of course, because I like to give the good news first. So, let's get started.

#10. "Problem" Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea - I have become less enthusiastic about Ariana Grande in the past year. For many reasons. And I have yet to get into the whole Iggy Azalea. And Big Sean, who is also a part of this, but uncredited for some reason, I only know because of who he's been dating. And yet, I really like this song. Though I do tend to pay more attention to lyrics, it is certainly the music that caught my attention here. It sounds kind of old school, and, boy, do I love that saxophone? Good times.

#9. "Say Something" A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera - I know. I'm shocked, too. Me, putting Christina Aguilera on the BEST list? Crazy! Truth is, this is actually a very, simple and lovely song. And, holy crap! I think Ms. Aguilera finally learned how to hold back a little with the singing, which makes her sound a hundred times better than when she does that obnoxious yelling thing. Good girl. Yes, that is the best I can do when complimenting her. And, of course, her collaborators, who I've never heard of, were very impressive, as well. Pleasant surprises all around.

#8. "Boom Clap" Charli XCX - Okay, so a couple of things made me think I was going to hate this song. Not that I prejudge or anything. First of all, its association with The Fault in Our Stars. I mean, that still doesn't help, but I won't hold that against it either. Second, it's called "Boom Clap" for crying out loud. I did not have high hopes. And yet, we get a really good, unadulterated pop song. We do not get a lot of those anymore.

#7. "Pompeii" Bastille - So, this is a weird one. I mean, it came out around the same time as the movie Pompeii, but the song was good. The movie was not. I don't know. I just like the sound of it, the structure and all that, and it doesn't really sound like anything else on the radio, which is very good these days. Something not derivative? What a twist!

#6. "Classic" MKTO - Who are these guys? I have no idea. Apparently, they are from some Nickolodeon show, and...is that Walt from Lost? Seriously, what is happening here? Okay, so I never heard this song until I was making this list, and it just put a smile on my face. A rare thing to happen when I listen to current music. I guess I just like how it's all about the guys being gentlemen, and treating a woman like a lady, and - you're not gonna believe this - NOT calling her a ho! MIRACLES! Yeah, I don't even know what to do with a song like this, except like it enough to put it on this list. Good song, guys.

#5. "Happy" Pharrell Williams - Considering that last year, the Hot 100 #1 song was #1 on my Worst Of list, it's nice that this year's #1 is on my Best Of list. Very nice, Pharrell. This song is so much more respectable than that one. And what an appropriate title. It legit does make me feel happy. And it makes me think of the Despicable Me Minions. I don't think I could ask for much more.

#4. "Sing" Ed Sheeran - Ya know, "guy with acoustic guitar" performers are kind of like sugar cookies. They have the potential to be quite boring and, well, cookie cutter. But in the right hands, they can be very special. Ed Sheeran is not a boring sugar cookie. He has proven to have a great sound and a unique voice. I love that. Oh, and I think Pharrell had something with this one, too. You are on a role here, my friend. Also, I love that Ed Muppeted himself for the video. I thank you for that, sir

#3. "Team" Lorde - So, apparently, Lorde hates the music industry despite being a part of it. And I love her for that. I love that she is not scared to call people out on all their bull crap. And she's barely 18. How is she more mature than people who have been around for a very long time? I don't know, but keep it up, girl. She's another one that I hope stays around for a while, and I am actually excited to see what she does once she gets older and has even more to say. My hopes are high.

#2. "Chandelier" Sia - So, Sia kind of has the career I long to have myself, which consists mostly of writing for other people. But then every couple of years reminding the world that she sings, too, and she is amazing. Not that I'm saying I am amazing. I just wish I was. Anyway, "Chandelier" certainly has reminded everyone that Sia is not only gifted as a writer but as a singer, as well. Keep doing that, Sia. We need people like you. A LOT!

#1. "Burn" Ellie Goulding - I'm not a huge fan of EDM, but when someone can take it and, through lyrics and production, make it something deeper than what is expected, I have to give credit for that. Over the past couple of years, Ellie Goulding has done that very well. She did it with "Lights", now she did it with "Burn". She tries hard to make things as excellent as possible. The fact that she tries at all to make good music puts her leaps and bounds over most "artists" these days. I look forward to what the future holds for her and what her music holds for us.

So those are my favorites for 2014. We got some pretty good stuff this year, as a whole maybe better than last year. Let's hope it starts a trend. However, considering that we still have to get to the worst stuff, I'm not sure if it is. Anyway, tune in tomorrow for the bads,

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Thursday, December 25, 2014

White Christmas - Music Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Sure, why not? Let's talk about this movie today. It does have "Christmas" in the title after all, though it has about as much to do with Christmas as the movie I reviewed at this time last year, Reindeer Games. In other words, not very much. But that's probably why I picked it. Also, it's the 60th anniversary of the film, so good timing. To be honest, this is actually one of my favorite movies for so many reasons. And here are the reasons...also the plot. Let's get started.

We begin on Christmas Eve in 1944 with a group of soldiers in the midst of war and also in the midst of some kind of grown-up Christmas pageant starring their fellow soldiers. That's right, guys. No Bob Hope for you. You have to be entertained by what is, basically, a talent show performed by guys you already know. But it's okay. The guys you know are being played by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, a.k.a. one of my favorite actors of this cinematic era and Bing Crosby. Okay, nothing against Bing. I do like him as a performer, but Danny Kaye does not get anywhere near as much credit as he deserves for how amazing he was. Anyway, they play Captain Bob Harris (Crosby) and Private Phil Davis (Kaye) and they are giving the guys a good show. Well, the guys think so, but in the background, we see some hierarchy of the army look on disapprovingly. No kidding. One guy actually says "There's no Christmas in the army". I'll assume that statement was followed by "And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go deal with some crying baseball players!" So, then, we hear our first rendition of the titular song, as well as tribute to their retiring General Waverly played by Dean Jagger. Don't know who he is? Well, he won an Academy Award in 1949, before they were a joke, and I counted 64 films on his Wikipedia Filmography. Sorry, PARTIAL filmography! See, celebrities of today, this is why we can't stand your whining about how hard you have to work. Moving on.

Once the music ends, the sirens go off and bombs start dropping. We are in a war, remember. During the attack, Phil saves Bob from getting crushed by a falling wall and injures his arm in the process. Keep that in mind, because he uses it to get whatever he wants several times in the movie. Afterwards, they decide that, when the war ends, they should get together and make some music. Then, the war ends and they make some music together. And so we get a musical montage that follows how their act becomes more and more famous. Cut to, I don't know, ten years later maybe? I guess. I mean, it started in 1944 and the film is made in 1954, so I took a shot. But, whatever. It seems that after all this time, Phil is tired of Bob working him so hard and he wants Bob to find a woman so he can get some time off. I've heard of worse reasons for someone to get married. Unfortunately, they aren't surrounded by women who are the type Bob would want to settle down with. You know, bimbos. Modern day translation for the kids: Skanks.

Fortunately, they end up having to see an act called the Haynes Sisters, Judy and Betty, played by Vera-Ellen and Rosemary "This Is Who I Want To Be When I Grow Up" Clooney. No, seriously, I still want to be her when I grow up. Except I would have disowned my nephew if he starred in Batman and Robin. Anyway, the two guys meet the two girls and start talking about business and other things. Yeah, I have no idea where this might be going. Actually, whilst Phil and Judy go off to tell us that "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" which I think might be Tom Hiddleston's theme song, Bob and Betty don't seem to be getting along all too well...at first. Yeah, I REALLY have no idea where this might be going.

Anyway, after some shenanigans, which involve cross-dressing-ish and running from the cops (no, I'm not kidding!), the boys and the girls end up on a train on their way to the Columbia Inn in Vermont, where they girls are booked to perform. But two surprises are gotten when they arrive. Number One: There's no snow...in Vermont...in December. Number Two: The inn is owned by General Waverly. He is there with his granddaughter, Susan, played by Anne Whitfield, and the housekeeper, Emma, played by Mary Wickes, serving brilliantly as some extra comic relief. Anyway, no snow means no residents at the inn, but the girls still sing. Then, the guys get an idea (I can't believe this is the plot) to put on a show to save the Inn. Don't worry, though. I know you've seen this type of plot in things like Chipmunks: The Squeakquel where they have to save the school's music program, Sunday School Musical where they have to save the church and, of course, the Hannah Montana Movie where they have to save an empty field. No, really. But in the case of White Christmas, you will actually be entertained by some very good music. What a twist!

And I am not kidding about the musical numbers. Yeah, let me pause from the plot for a moment to discuss them. They are fantastic throughout the entire film. Whether it's the hugeness of the Minstrel Number, the gentle lullaby of "Count Your Blessings(Instead of Sheep), the lovable quirk of "Choreography" or the quiet yet powerful longing of "Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me", every song is a brilliant production in and of itself.
But that's how they did things back then. They cared. Anyway, all the songs were written by Irving Berlin, including the aforementioned "White Christmas" but he wrote that for another movie called Holiday Inn, also starring Bing Crosby. So, the most Christmas-y thing in this barely Christmas-y Christmas movie wasn't even made for the movie. Go figure. Nonetheless, the music and dancing aspects of this film are easily the best parts of it. Oh, and pay attention to see George Chakaris of West Side Story fame as one of Rosemary Clooney's backup dancers. For real! Okay, back to the story.

So, as the whole "let's put on a show" plot is going on, there's other stuff happening as well. One thing is that Bob and Phil are trying to assemble as many former soldiers as they can who served under General Waverly, as he seems to be taking his retirement hard. The other thing is that Phil and Judy are plotting to get Bob and Betty together. However, Betty won't settle down with a man until Judy does because Betty feels like the "Mother Hen" and can't leave Judy alone, because she can't possibly take care of herself, having the disadvantage of lady parts and whatnot. So, Phil and Judy fake their engagement, so Betty will feel okay about getting together with Bob. I have problems with this, twofold. First of all, I get that this is not meant to be taken too seriously, but there is a fine line between fun hijinks and totally contrived. I really don't know how far over the line they've gone here. Second...WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T GET MARRIED BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR SISTER? Ladies, you are clearly in your thirties! I know that this was before Women's Lib and all, but come on. Life does not begin at man, so stop being such Bellas. And despite these slight oopsies, every time I start to think about them too much, they just start singing another song and I forget about it all. Genius!

Anyway, all the fake engagement does is drive Betty away, especially after she mis-eavesdrops, thinking that Bob's intentions are less than pure concerning the General. Okay, that came out sounding worse than I meant it. I'm talking about money. She thinks he's in it for the money and publicity. So, she runs of to get a singing job at some place called The Carousel Club, which is so obviously a front for something else...I assume, and she must decide on whether or not to return to her family, the show and Bob. Will she? What do you think?

And so, everyone comes together, many former soldiers included, to perform the show and pay tribute to the General. We also get another rendition of "White Christmas" which serves as the other bookend with the first performance. The end.

In conclusion, I love this movie. Always have, always will. It's just so joyful and colorful and musical. It's like textbook Feel Good Film, but it's also unique. I know I mentioned some slight issues I have with the story, but they really aren't that big of a deal. I mean, it was 60 years ago. These things happened in films. But who cares? It's still a superb production in my opinion. Watch it during the holidays, watch it in August. Whenever. Just watch it.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer




Monday, December 22, 2014

Top Ten Ralph Fiennes Movies

Greetings Pups,

So, it's Ralph Fiennes' birthday, apparently. Might as well talk about his movies today. Well, not all of them. Just my favorites. My Top Ten favorites! WHAT?!?!? Okay, moving on.

Yes, that's right. On December 22, 1962, the world welcomed in Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes. I didn't make that up. That is his full given name...according to Wikipedia. Which means that someone else could have made it up, but I did not. Anyway, I have been an admirer of Ralph Fiennes for quite a long time. He's actually one of my favorite actors, mostly because he's one of the few that are less "movie star" and more "artist". Those people are rare, but he is definitely one of them. So, what better to do as a gift to him on his birthday than to celebrate what I consider to be the best of his work? Because he is totally going to read this! Right?

Well, as usual, my picks probably aren't what everyone would consider the best. In fact, you might notice a few glaring omissions that you'd think would be included. But just because I can say a film is good, even a masterpiece, does not mean I want to watch it numerous times. These films are the ones that I can watch over and over again, for whatever reason. In short, they are my personal favorites. So, here we go.


#10. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - I've always been a fan of the subtle wit of Wallace and Gromit, starting in the short films that they did, all the way to this feature. So, who is Ralph Fiennes in this? Well, he voices the "villain" in the story, a guy named Lord Victor Quartermaine. He looks hilarious. He sounds hilarious. And for someone who rarely does comedy, he was one of the best parts of this clever tale.

#9. The White Countess - To be fair, this movie is, as a whole, a bit flawed. However, the performances of Ralph, as Todd Jackson, and his co-star, the late Natasha Richardson, as the titular Countess, are so engaging that it basically elevates the entire picture to another level. They have such a great chemistry together, as they were good friends in real life, and it is a testament to the artistry of both of them and what we lost when Natasha passed away.

#8. Coriolanus - Of course, he's done Shakespeare. You can't be shocked at that. Anyway, when it came to Ralph making his directorial debut, he chose this modernized version of Coriolanus. I think some people may think that modernizing Shakespeare or any period writer is merely being used as a gimmick, but if it is done well, it just makes it compelling in a new way. And this is a very well-made film. Clearly, Ralph paid attention to the great directors he had worked with himself. He learned a lot and it shows. Also, this movie has Gerard Butler. Just throwing that out there.

#7. Red Dragon - So, he's playing a villain again. Not a funny one this time, though. Darn it. He plays Francis Dolarhyde in this prequel to Silence of the Lambs, and it is a very, very complex character. Part terrifying, part almost sympathetic, if you can believe that, Ralph plays this disturbed man quite brilliantly. And it doesn't hurt that he has a practically perfect cast of actors alongside him.

#6. Oscar and Lucinda - I love a film that can portray a relationship between a man and a woman that has the foundation of a strong and loving friendship. This movie does that. Ralph and an early career Cate Blanchett play our titular characters, two people who became friends as children and stayed that way into adulthood. Of course, as they grow up, so many feelings come and go and stay, but they are often apart as life sends them in different directions. But this is a beautiful story that, at its core, is about friendship and the love that comes from that. Oh, and he goes full on ginger for this. What a twist!

#5. Grand Budapest Hotel - Yay! Funny Ralph Fiennes is back! And considering that the director of this film, Wes Anderson, is known for very intelligently written comedy, this was a perfect fit for him. I don't know how he manages to go from over the top to subtle to laugh out loud hilarious with such ease, but he does it here. And, again, he has some fantastic company in the cast.

#4. The Prince of Egypt - As many of you know, my favorite movie is The Ten Commandments, so, unlike the Nostalgia Critic, I don't think that this is a better version of the story. Obviously, I still love this, though, and I do agree with the NC when it comes to one thing - Ralph Fiennes character, actually. Whilst I loved Yul Brynner as Ramses, he played him as a full-on bad guy. Love to hate him and all that, but not so complex. Ralph's portrayal was a bit more complicated. You could see and hear the legitimate, brotherly love between him and Moses, and the conflict he suffered as he was forced into an antagonistic role. It makes that aspect of the story more compelling, and it's done flawlessly.

#3. Spider - 2002 was a bizarre year in the cinematic life of Ralph Fiennes. It was Red Dragon came out, one of his best, but also, Maid in Manhattan. Yeah, no. Look, I love him and I love Jennifer Lopez, but if they were looking to get a good grade in Chemistry with this? No, denied. Still, I assume he got a substantial paycheck for this, which made it easier for him to take part in Spider. Why? Well, neither Ralph, nor his co-star, Miranda Richardson, nor the director, David Cronenberg, nor the producers took any salary for this movie. Yes, they gave it up so the money could go toward the underfunded film. Because that's what real artists do when they believe in a project, and I am glad they did. Spider is about a man named Dennis "Spider" Cleg, who is mentally disturbed. I can't even begin to get into the story, but, for real, pay attention while you watch. Actually, even if you do, you may have to watch it again. It's just very layered and complex, but once you get it, it is amazing. And this is about as against type as Ralph has ever played, I think. And so brilliant.

#2. Sunshine - So, when you think of a Ralph Fiennes film about WWII and the Holocaust, I assume everyone will think Schindler's List. That's fine, but there is another one. And I happen to think that it is even better. It's a 1999 film called Sunshine, wherein Ralph plays three characters, a father, a son and a grandson. Yes, he plays three generations of the same family, dealing with the struggles of his own identity. I know that format may seem complicated, but as you watch, it really isn't. It is structured extremely well to accommodate this unique casting. As far as the story goes, what can I say? It's intriguing, heartbreaking, disturbing, triumphant, and so many other things. It's an emotional roller coaster, one I am so glad I took a ride on.

#1. Quiz Show - Well, if you read my review of this movie, this should come as no surprise to you. If you haven't read it, then go do that, since I am not going into too much detail here. Basically, Ralph plays Charles Van Doren, a man who was involved in the Twenty-One game show scandal of the 1950's. I love every minute of this movie. I'm not kidding. It is so entertaining that I watch it very, very often. It's just a story that manages to be simple and complicated all at once, and Ralph turns a character that could have been one dimensional into a full and complete person. He's fantastic, just like John Tuturro and Rob Morrow and Paul Scoffield and literally, every single actor in this film. It is one of my favorite, all-time movies, and obviously, my favorite one from Ralph Fiennes.

And there you have it. The best of Ralph Fiennes according to me. You know, what with very little of Hollywood being able to be taken seriously from an artistic standpoint, in my opinion, it is comforting to know that we still have people like him creating legitimate art. Thanks, Ralph. Keep it up, and happy birthday. Because you are SO reading this. Right?

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

From Boy to Girl Meets World

Greetings Pups,

If there is one thing I try to avoid, like most women...okay, most people...but usually women, it is anything that makes me feel old. It's just unpleasant. Go figure that one of my favorite things to happen in 2014 was something that tends to do just that. And this grand event was the beginning of a little show called Girl Meets World. So, I thought I would discuss the show and my thoughts about it, thus far, since we seem to be in the midst of a hiatus. Now why did I choose to start watching a series that is intended for people much younger than myself? Well, I've got history with this franchise. Let me tell you the story.

Even though, I was quite precocious when it came to my television watching, always leaning towards shows with a slightly older cast, that does not mean I was against being a fan of something with people in the vicinity of my own age. Enter Boy Meets World. This was one of my regulars as I was growing up. I think it was one of the few shows where I liked everyone on it. And how could I not? Who couldn't love Corey, Topanga, Shawn, Minkus, Eric, Alan and Amy (aka Mom and Dad) and company, to say nothing of the greatest TV teacher of all time, Mr. Feeney. Even looking back now, though it does overflow in nineties-ness, I have to say, this was a great and almost timeless family show. Okay, it wasn't Shakespeare and I was far more forgiving of things at that age, but it was funny and smart and yes, even threw in a few lessons here and there. What did you expect? It was pretty much a school show. And since 2000, we've been living with just the reruns, and whilst that was plenty, someone decided that we needed to continue the story.

And now we have Girl Meets World, where we follow Riley played by Rowan Blanchard, the daughter of Corey and Topanga. That's right. Corey and Topanga have a daughter in the seventh grade. You see why this makes me feel old. Anywho, she is our titular girl, of course, and she is pretty much the female counterpart of her father, not just because that's what the premise of the show dictates. Riley is sweet, adorable, smart, and, most importantly, a really good friend, just the way her father was in his youth. Actually, most of the kid characters on this show are equivalents to characters on the original show. Not carbon copes, mind you, but more like homages.

Like I said, Riley is our modern day Corey. Her best friend is Maya, played by Sabrina Carpenter, and Maya is a bit troubled. She comes from a broken home, has a mother who tends to be absent, and often acts a bit rebellious. But at heart, she is a good kid, and she loves her best friend. So Maya is our Shawn. Then, there is Farkle, played by Corey Fogelmanis. Yes, Farkle. Son of Stuart Minkus. So, I will assume that he is our Minkus. The interesting thing is that he is not nearly as much as a nerd as they made his father. But, then again, Minkus had to be a "90's nerd", which could be quite obvious. Farkle is not that stereotypical. He's just really smart, a little weird, and he has a Beiber haircut. Is that good or bad? Kids, tell me. Finally, we have Lucas, played by Peyton Meyer. He's the cute boy from Texas, and Riley has a very obvious crush on him. Though they have yet to get together, I see some potential for him to be the Topanga to her Corey. But we'll see. And you know what? These young actors are really great. I was worried, not being much of a kid person, that they were going to annoy the crap out of me, but they don't. At all. As matter of fact, I think they are really funny, and they are genuinely good kid actors. Those are not common. (See: The Last Airbender. Actually, don't.) Let us embrace these gifted youngsters.

But the awesomeness is not only in school here. Speaking of talented and funny kids, Riley has a younger brother named Auggie, played by August Maturo. He's about five-years-old, and this kid is hilarious. I was pleasantly surprised. I mean, despite my early concerns about the older kids, I knew I would be able to deal with them, no matter what. But a kid that little? Yeah, I was worried I wouldn't like him. No worries. This kid is fantastic.

And I would be remiss if I did not talk about the couple that carried themselves over from Boy Meets World to Girl Meets World, right alongside us, Corey and Topanga, played be Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel. And they look exactly that same! Not fair. I'm kidding. I love these two. So, in this "world", Corey is the teacher, having followed in the footsteps of Mr. Feeney, and Topanga is a lawyer. She has to be, because no way could they afford that apartment on a teacher's salary. And that is wrong how little we pay teachers, even in NYC. Moving on. Like I said, Corey and Topanga ended up just as we always wanted them to. Happily married, lovely family, successful. It's like going to a high school reunion and finding out that you're best friends from that time are doing very well. And with them around, we manage to get a few inside jokes and references for the longtime fans.

My final thoughts on Girl Meets World are that is a job well done, as far as I am concerned. I've said this before, but I cannot take it when shows meant for kids talk down to those kids. It's annoying. Well, this show does not do that. In fact, I admire it for respecting its young audience enough to deal with some harsher issues, like Maya's relationship with her mom, and not always having everything wrapped up in a nice little bow. Don't get me wrong. They're not traumatizing the kids or anything, but they are giving them a touch of realism. I think that is something that every show for young people needs to do.

So, if you've got kids around this age, I say let them watch Girl Meets World for sure. And if you're like me, who grew up on Boy Meets World, it might give you some good feelings of nostalgia. It has certainly does that for me. But, darn it, why does it have to make me feel so old?

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, December 12, 2014

Top Ten Dr. Phil Quotes

Greetings Pups,

Alright, I'm just gonna throw this out there - I like Dr. Phil. Yeah, I really do. I find him amusing and helpful, which is something that not many people are, believe it or not. So, since this is the time when we are all deciding what our New Year's resolutions are going to be, the ones will absolutely not fail to keep, I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes from Dr. Phil McGraw, a guy who tires to help people better the lives of others. And it's not his fault if people don't listen. Take that! By the way, I do know that not everyone is a fan of the doctor, for whatever reason. That's fine with me, and I don't think it bothers him all that much either. But I personally enjoy him and think he does want to help. That's good enough for me.

Anyway, I should probably give a disclaimer. Whilst I have heard Dr. Phil actually say some of these things, I did get some of them from places like Brainy Quotes and some internet memes. So, if any of these are inaccurate, I certainly do apologize. But they are all pretty good, and I would certainly claim them if I could. I even added my two cents in there, as I tend to do. So, let's get started.

Honorable Mention: "I just am not good at math." - This only gets a mention because it's actually not that great of a quote in and of itself. However, it' nice to see someone who is not good at math be very successful. There is hope for me yet.

#10. "Unless you know who you are, you will always be vulnerable to what people say." And that is why I was such a mess before I realized I was a writer. All I had to figure out who I was were the things that people were telling me. And they weren't saying very many good things. But I know how awesome I am now.

#9. "No dog ever peed on a moving car." - Did I mention that Dr. Phil is from the South? Because, really, where else are you going to get something like that? Anyway, I think he just means that you have to keep going forward or the 'not good' will catch up with you. In the case of this specific quote, the 'VERY not good'. Plus, I love dogs.

#8. "We teach people how to treat us." - So, either I was a terrible teacher, or I had terrible students, or both, because most people in my life have treated me like crap. Yeah, I said most. But, aside from a few delusional people, I think I have subsequently taught them to give up on their aspirations of trying to break me. Because it just won't work.

#7. "Parents need to dial in and know what their kids are doing." - Excuse me? How dare you ask parents to be...parents to their children! Yeah, this might be one of those truths that he speaks that a lot of people do not want to hear. As someone who has worked in retail in the past, I can guarantee that a lot of parents are not interested in knowing what their kids are doing. Ignorance is bliss? I guess it is to them. For now.

#6. "Somewhere there is a village missing their idiot." - Um...just one? I think this might be one of Dr. Phil's most famous quotes. And, you know, it's funny, because it's true.

#5. "Sometimes you just got to give yourself what you wish someone else would give you." - Hmmm. I see what you're saying there, Dr. Phil, but I can't possibly give myself Tom Hiddleston. He must choose to give himself to me, his one true love. Right? But, SERIOUSLY, I agree with this quote %100. It's fine to rely on others, sometimes, but I've learned to never make it too much of a habit. You're going to have to rely on yourself at some point. May as well get in all the practice you can.

#4. "Awareness without actions is worthless." - Or, as the Bible says, 'Faith without works is dead'. Keeping good company there, Doctor.

#3. "A lot of people have tragic childhoods. But you know what? Get over it." - Your past can be a reason, but not an excuse. Sure, everything we go through, good and bad, plays a part in shaping who we are. And yet, at some point, we have to take responsibility for our lives and what we do with them. In other words, you don't exactly have to run from your past, but you cannot let your past run you.

#2. "When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences." - I guess this quote kind of ties in to the previous one. I've known a lot of people, myself included on occasion, where they look at their current situation and say 'How did this happen?' Then, you look at what they've been doing and reply, 'Seriously?'

#1. "Let the haters be motivators." - There are moments when I almost feel bad for all of those people who have tried and continue to try to destroy me. It's like that hamster wheel scenario. I just want to say to them, 'Okay, you know you're not getting anywhere, right?' In fact, having multitudes of people tell me that I was a failure, whether with actions or words, has certainly driven me to succeed. I even thanked them all in my first book. It certainly hasn't been the only thing to push me forward, but we can all use extra fuel in our tanks.

And there it is. My Top Ten most favorite quotes from Dr. Phil. I don't even care if you like him or not, I think these quotes are full of some pretty good advice. And that tends to be not so bad. Plus, he has a wife who is gorgeous, inside and out, so he must be doing something right.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, December 8, 2014

Checking Out The Librarians

Greetings Pups,

Get it? Checking out? Librarians? GET IT?! Okay, moving on.

So, a new series premiered last night on TNT called The Librarians, a spin-off of the popular TV movie series of the same name. Well, sort of the same name. It had been a very long while since I had seen any of those movies, but I seem to remember enjoying them. But let's be honest. Even if I hadn't watched them, even if I did and hated them, I probably still would have at least given this series a chance. Why? Well, we'll get to that later. Anyway, The Librarian, the movies, were about a guy named Flynn Carsen, played by Noah Wyle, the titular character. He goes on all these adventures that have to do with historical and sometimes magical artifacts. So, guess what the shows about? Yeah, pretty much the same things.

Okay, of course, there are some differences. We can already see that in the title. We have gone from one Librarian to, well, more than one. We are actually getting a team on this show, consisting of four main characters. First, we get Eve Baird played by Rebecca Romijn. As far as I can tell, she is not actually one of The Librarians, but rather their protector, as she has worked as a counter-terrorism agent. Next, we get Ezekiel Jones played by John Kim. He's the tech expert and he has a thing about classic crimes. Don't we all. Then, there's Cassandra Cillian played by Lindy Booth. She's the math person. Boo! I'm not booing her, by the way; I'm booing math. But she does have an interesting way of retrieving info from her mind. I won't say what it is, but it's cool. And finally, we have Jacob Stone played by - wait for it! - Christian Kane. Yeah, I wonder what made me want to watch this show. Anyway, he plays a cowboy from Oklahoma who is a legit genius and knows a crap load about art history and whatnot. Fascinating. Just make sure we get to see him beat some people up, because THAT is what we came for. So, this is our main cast of characters, but there's more.

Obviously, we get some Noah Wyle, and I think he will be coming back on occasion, which is good. We get some awesome John Larroquette, who plays Jenkins. He's kind of the guy who keeps tabs on the group, which he is not overly ecstatic about. But he is certainly at his John Larroquette-y best. The main bad guy, the head of something called The Serpent Brotherhood (yikes!), is named Dulaque and he is played by Matt Frewer. Yay! And rolling over from the movie franchise as well, we get Jane Curtin as Charlene, who works at the Library, and Bob Newhart, as Judson, who was Flynn Carsen's mentor. Yay, again! I'm not sure how much those last two are going to be on the show, but I hope it's at the very least sometimes.

So, The Librarians is basically about a team of people, each with their own special skills, going around and solving mysteries and such. And one of them is Christian Kane. Sound familiar? Maybe a little like Leverage? Well, no surprise there, since it comes from Dean Devlin and John Rogers, who were behind THAT show. Relax, though. Whilst the structure is somewhat similar, the premise is rather different. Different enough anyway. Leverage had more of an A-Team feel to it, but this is more...not that. I almost want to call it Buffy-ish, maybe because of the library aspect (What's Up, Giles?), but I'm not sure. Actually, I'd say it's pretty original on its own.

Okay, in closing, I really enjoyed this show on its first episode. It was interesting and had a good story and good acting. It was fun, for sure, which is great. Looks like this is another technical drama show from Devlin and Rogers that will be funnier than most of the technical comedies on TV these days. What a surprise. I think the best thing is that this is a show that a family can sit down and watch together and not be concerned too much about anything. Nothing I noticed anyway. It's just a cool adventure show that might just make all of its audience a tad bit smarter.

So, I will definitely keep watching The Librarians, and if any of this sounds good to you, I say check it out as well.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Monday, December 1, 2014

November is Over...And I Won NaNoWriMo!

Greetings Pups,

Well, as you can tell from the title if this post, November is, indeed, over and, yes, I did win NaNoWriMo. I wrote all of my 50,000 words, plus a few extra, just to be safe, all in the confines of 30 days. And what did I end up with? I'd say it's a pretty decent first draft, because, let's be honest, that is really what people do during this month.

I know that the "No" stands for novel, but it is pretty much impossible for anyone to write a novel in that time. What you do is create a foundation for one, and that is what everyone going into this for the first time needs to know. If you start the month, thinking that this is some kind of final draft, you will never finish. How can you? A lot of work goes into the final product of a book, and so does a lot of deleting. I know this for a fact because I've written other books. Yeah, in order to make something officially done, there will be much deleting and fixing and polishing and driving yourself crazy. And even I, with my mild case of hypergraphia, could not write a 50,000 word novel AND make it publication ready in a month. But what I could do, what a lot of people could do, is create the first step of a story that may or may not grow into something great and complete.

Like I've said before, I have for sure written that many words in a month, but I am constantly moving around between projects, so I'm not dealing with just one thing. I also have never been put on a timetable, other than some arbitrary one I give myself. But having to do a certain amount of work on each day on one particular project kind of gives me an inkling of what it may be like to work for someone else. So, if I should ever use my writing skills to do that, at least, I will be somewhat prepared. Also, doing things like Word Sprints made me see just how much I can accomplish in a certain amount of time. And it's a lot more than I thought it was. I should start doing those, just because.

At the end of the day, I suppose the question is this: Am I glad I participated in NaNoWriMo? Well, obviously, had I not finished, I may be giving a different answer, but yes, I am very glad. I know that we writer's like to think of ourselves as free spirits and all that, not following anyone else's schedule and just being rules by our hearts and emotions. But, let's not kid ourselves. You can be sure that a lot of writers, actual ones and otherwise, might use that as an excuse to be lazy and not do the work. I know, because I've been through those phases a couple of times and I am sure not proud of myself for having done that. So, if anything, the one thing you can achieve from doing NaNoWriMo, other than that first draft, is a sense of discipline. And whether you as a writer or an artist believe that or not, discipline is something you need. Even if it is subconscious, it has to exist. You won't accomplish anything otherwise.

So, now it is time to move on with my writing, into December and then the new year and I am really looking forward to it all. Because, you know what, I love writing. Is it a lot of work? Definitely. A lot more than some people in my life want to admit, that's for sure. But I know how much I put into it. It is my work, it is my job, but it is also my passion. And being able to say that is a great accomplishment.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Give Thanks, No Matter What

Greetings Pups,

Well, happy Thanksgiving and whatnot to you all!

I am going to be brief today, because as some of you may know, I am right in the middle of trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days in the confines of a single project. Yes, I am insane, but I can remember what is important. And whilst I believe in giving thanks every day, we do single out this one, so let me talk about that.

This year is nearly over and it has been quite a trying one for me. Yes, I have said that about may of my years. Still, if there is one thing I have tried to remember to do, it is to say Thank You. I may not have everything I want or everything I think I need yet, but I have more than most people. I have my words, the ones I've written and the ones I will one day write. I have my passion for that writing as well, which drives me every day. But most importantly, I have hope and I have faith.

I realize that having hope and faith may seem like a difficult thing to come by these days, but it's better to have them than to not have them. And if you end up with some surplus of either, may I suggest you share it with someone else. Because there is usually someone you know doing worse than you are. But you know what? Even if there isn't, it will make you feel better to make them feel better. For lack of a less cliche phrase, spread the love.

So, again, Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Be safe, especially if shopping is in your very near future and God bless!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Every Little Step - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

I assume everyone has heard about that whole art imitating life imitating life or whatever order you want to put them in. Well, I found a pretty good example of that in the documentary Every Little Step.

Now I will not assume that everyone knows the plot to the Broadway musical, A Chorus Line. Basically, it tells the tale of a line (WHAT!) of people in an audition, where they tell stories from their own lives. To music, of course. And all of those stories that are in the play come from the real life stories of a group of dancers. In Every Little Step, we see the lives of people being documented as they audition for a revival of A Chorus Line on Broadway. Got all that? If not, we are watching real life performers auditioning for a play about auditioning based on the stories of real life performers. Take a moment and unswirl your mind.

As someone who likes musicals, as well as being a behind the scenes voyeur, I enjoy this documentary very much. Not only do we get to witness the stress and excitement and struggles and triumphs of the auditioning process, we also get to hear about how the show was originally put together. There are quite a few past interviews with the late Michael Bennett, as well as newer ones with original cast members like Donna McKechnie and Baayork Lee, the composer Marvin Hamlisch and Bob Avian, who did choreography for the original show and directed the revival. And we also got to hear some of the original recordings of those initial interviews, which was interesting to hear them telling the stories and have them bleed into the songs they inspired.

I have to say some of the most compelling things about this documentary came from the current dancers and singers who were auditioning. A lot of them are so open about their experiences in the theater, big time and small time, and they become so endearing to the audience watching this movie. We want to root for these people. You see the passion of people like Jessica Lee Goldyn, Chryssie Whitehead, J. Elaine Marcos, Natascia Diaz and so many others and you want them to succeed, if not here, then elsewhere. If not in this show, then another one. You just want them to make it.

One of the things I really love is that you get to see this whole process from people who are in so many different stages of it. We get to see the newer people, the people who have been doing it professionally for years, know the roller coaster ride of it and want to stay on, and the people who have moved on from that life but still know and feel the passion of it. One of the most beautiful moments in the film is when Charlotte d'Amboise, who is auditioning for Cassie, visits her father, Jacques, who was once a dancer himself. He talks so poignantly about what it's worth to anyone to do what they love, what they are willing to endure and sacrifice to be able to live a dream. Of course, he was talking about dancing for himself, but he was addressing anyone who has ever had a drive to do anything.

One of the auditionees, Rachelle Rak, also said something that everyone should take to heart. She talked about how you have to look at yourself everyday and like yourself, because they're not always going to like you. Like yourself, work hard and be passionate. And, at its heart, I think that this is exactly what this documentary is about is just that. Being passionate about something, anything, and working toward achieving a dream. I would definitely recommend this for anyone wanting to get into the theater, one way or another, but it's pretty good for everyone else, too. Even if you're not a hardcore fan of A Chorus Line, which I don't know if I would call myself even, you can still really enjoy this. Of course, if you hate A Chorus Line, you might have some issues, because there's a lot of it here. A LOT!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nostalgia Critic Old Vs New Wishlist - Top Eleven

Greetings Pups,

I've said it before; I'll say it again. I don't like to tell anyone how to do their job, certainly not someone who I think is already doing a stellar job on their own. If you recall, a while back, I did a Top Eleven list of my favorite Nostalgia Critic episodes from his previous wave. Well, I'm visiting this subject again. You see, Nostalgia Critic does an occasional Old Vs New episode, wherein he compares older movies and their remakes. Some he covered were True Grit, King Kong and The Nutty Professor. He doesn't do these as nearly as I and probably other fans wish. Maybe it's because he can't think of any to do. I'm kidding. I'm sure he has his own list. But as I am always one to help, I thought I would share a list of suggestions that I hope will one day be covered by the Nostalgia Critic. And yes, I am doing a Top Eleven again, because that's what he does. And I will be calling him NC in the list to save me some typing. I'm not lazy. I just hate typing. Let's get started.

#11. 12 Angry Men (1957 & 1997) - This only makes Number 11 because I'm kind of cheating. Everyone knows the great 1957 film, 12 Angry Men, but I'm not sure if everyone knows about the TV movie from 1997. I have to say, I like both of them. Both had very strong casts, which is what the story relies heavily on. This also might be a challenge for the NC, because there is little to compare, other than those casts. Still, I wonder which one he would pick.

#10. Endless Love (1981 & 2014) - Yes, I know that the Cinema Snob already talked about the 1981 version of this film, and it was awful. The movie, not the review. And if anyone has seen the 2014 remake, you'll know that one was awful as well. But which was more awful? I guess instead of deciding which was the more superior film, NC will have to decide which is the more sucky film.

#9. Alfie (1966 & 2004) - Some people might say that this is an obvious choice. I mean, the original has Michael Caine. But you know what else had Michael Caine? Jaws the Revenge. And as penance, he must sit in anxious suspense as someone decides if maybe, just maybe, that remake is better than his original. Be careful what you say yes to, Mr. Caine.

#8. House on Haunted Hill (1959 & 1999) 1999 was not a good year for remakes of horror films. I refer you to NC's review of The Haunting remake. Yikes. But that wasn't the only one that was made that year. We also had a remake of the 1959 Vincent Price movie, House on Haunted Hill. I can't imagine NC thinking that it could be worse than that The Haunting remake, but we'll see. If I get my way.

#7. Ransom (1956 & 1996) - Raise your hand if you didn't know that Ransom of 1996 was a remake of a 1956 movie starring Glenn Ford, Donna Reed and Leslie Nielson. I'm raising my hand right now, by the way. Yes, despite the fact that Ransom is one of my favorite movies with my absolute favorite actor, Gary Sinise, I had no idea it was a remake. I've obviously never seen the 1956 one, so it should be interesting to see NC's take on both of them. And no fair giving the 1996 version more points because they were allowed to say the F word.

#6. The Poseidon Adventure (1972) & Poseidon (2006) - Believe it or not, I'm not sure which one I personally would choose as the better film. I mean, with one, you can make fun of Fergie's acting, but with the other, you have an excuse to use that South Park clip of the "A Morning After" song being sung by Cartman. It's anyone's game here.

#5. The Bishop's Wife (1947) & The Preacher's Wife (1996) - Well, Christmas is coming and NC always does something Christmas-y around that time. Why not pay tribute to Whitney Houston with this one? Unless he thinks The Bishop's Wife was better. Then, it's kind of a slap in the face to her. Okay, forget the Whitney angle. At least, we can also decide who is a better angel - Cary Grant or Denzel Washington. Might be a tie on that.

#4. Fame (1980 & 2009) - I want another Nostalgia Critic and Paw crossover. This might be a good contender for that. Plus, I'm hoping for some dancing. Aren't I always?

#3. Miracle on 34th Street (1947 & 1994) - Again, Christmas is coming, but I think we all know why this would be a good choice for an episode. That's right. More Mara Wilson. We really can't get enough of her, can we?

#2. The Fog (1980 & 2005) - This is another couple of films that I kind of like equally. By that, I mean I am not a huge fan of either of them. But if they happen to be on TV, I usually stop and start watching. It's that car wreck thing, I guess. And of course, the remake has Maggie Grace and Tom Welling. I want to see if NC can resist the urge to make any Lost or Smallville jokes. I know I wouldn't be able to do that.

#1. Clash of the Titans (1981 & 2010) - There is someone in my family who disagrees with me on which one of these films is better. What is even the heck? So, in order to prove how right I am, I will need some confirmation from an expert, like the Nostalgia Critic. Wow, I really hope he agrees with me. I think I'll keep my choice quiet just in case. Wouldn't want to embarrass myself...any more than I already have.

So, there you have it. Those are my choices for some great Old Vs New episodes for the Nostalgia Critic. Like I said, these are suggestions, certainly not demands, which means he does not have to do any of them. But, hopefully, if he gets the urge to do another Old Vs New, perhaps he will find this list somewhere deep in the internet, point to one of my selections and say, "Hey, that might be a good idea!"

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, November 14, 2014

Begin Again - Music Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Have you ever seen a trailer for a movie that makes you really excited to see it? That's how I felt about a movie called Begin Again. Saw the trailer and, despite an obvious and glaring flaw in my opinion, which we'll get into later, I was still very psyched to see the film. Of course, I had to wait for DVD because it wasn't showing in my area. So, was it worth the wait? Well, let's see.

Okay, the plot. The basic story of Begin Again is about two people. One of them is a guy named Dan Mulligan. He's this washed up record executive, whose life is pretty much falling apart. His family is breaking up and he loses his job, which leads him to do some serious drinking. The other person is a girl named Greta James. She is a young singer-songwriter, who isn't exactly confident about her talent but she thrives on being an authentic artist. One night, in a bar, whilst he is drunk, Dan sees Greta performing and immediately wants to record an album with her. It's actually kind of a cool sequence. She's up on stage with just a guitar, but he starts to hear more instruments. We even see the instruments behind her come to life and start playing themselves. Yeah, did I mention he was drunk? Anyway, Greta is hesitant and suspicious, and she's dealing with own crap having been dumped by her cheating boyfriend, Dave, who has gone on to be a successful musician. Eventually, they come together to try and make music in some unusual but effective ways. All the while, we see the goings on in their personal lives and what path they will choose to follow.

Alright, THAT was the plot BASICALLY. Now I must warn you that the structure is not nearly as simple. I didn't know this when I first watched it, but this movie kind of jumps back and forth in time without really telling the audience blatantly. You just have to figure it out for yourselves. With my first viewing, I didn't even notice this. With my second viewing, I started to get confused. I was thinking "Wait, are they together or not?" or "Is the boyfriend famous yet or not?" or "What the heck is going on?" Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad, but I was wondering about things. Then, I found out about the jumping around, and I felt better. It's actually not that confusing, once you realize what's going on, so you're welcome.

I guess it's time to talk about the cast. I will be very nice, but not the entire time. The good news is that the ladies in this are fantastic. Greta is played by Keira Knightley, and I have to say, whilst I usually enjoy her in movies, this might be my favorite performance of hers. See, honey, you can totes act in present day stuff! We also got Catherine Keener and Hailee Steinfeld as Dan's wife, Miriam, and daughter, Violet, respectively. Good times. Of course, we've come to expect greatness from Catherine Keener, but it's nice to see Hailee Steinfeld still going strong after her epic turn in True Grit.

And now for the boys. James Corden played Steve, Greta's best friend. I don't know much about this guy, but he certainly did well in this role as the lovable and supportive sidekick of sorts. I mean, it's usually a woman playing the...not-so-skinny best friend, right? Another thing is that they cast a lot of musicians in this to act. CeeLo Green plays a rapper named Troublegum (totally his real name!) who was discovered by Dan, and Mos Def plays, Saul, Dan's business partner. They both did well, but the big surprise was Adam Levine as Dave. I'm not exactly what you would call a fan of Adam Levine or his music, but, holy smokes, he was really good in this. I was worried it might seem like he was trying too hard to keep up with hi co-stars. That didn't happen, thankfully. He came off as a natural with some real potential. Frankly, if he decided to do some more movies, I wouldn't object.

And now for the bad news. I'm not sure if a film can be totally ruined if it has an actor in it that you do not like, but it can certainly knock a few points off. For example, I would have given this movie something of an 8.7 rating. But thanks to one major defect, it's a 6.3 at best. And that defect is Mark Ruffalo. Look, I'm sorry if you like him, but I am just SO not a fan of his. I've never really gotten him as an actor. Then, I heard some things he said in the real world and, whilst I try not to let that affect how I feel about someone's work, I just have to keep him at arm's length. So, yeah, to me, and this is just my opinion, it would have been a much better movie had they cast someone else. Sorry, but I'm allowed to not like some stuff.

Anyway, let's move on to the music. It was actually pretty good. Of course, we got to hear Adam Levine sing, since he was playing a singer, but we also got to hear Keira Knightley sing. Much like how I was surprised by Adam's acting, I was just as surprised by Keira's singing. She was great. Okay, she's not Celine or Mariah as far as range goes, but I didn't expect that. And she flat out admits that she's not a singer. But she has this nice, sweet voice and it fit the music perfectly. The music, by the way, was mostly written by Gregg Alexander, who people remember for his 90's hit "You Only Get What You Give", as well as, Danielle Brisebois, former child actress and clearly, amazing adult musician. These two have been working together for awhile and have not lost their touch over the years. The music was great and also appropriate. It just fit so well with the story. Not surprising, considering who the director is.

The director is John Carney, the guy who gave us the charming beyond reason movie Once back in 2008. Admittedly, I do like Once better than this, but Begin Again is kind of like that movie with more money, bigger names and slightly less of that charm. Not to say it has none, but there was something so sweet and innocent about those non-actors trying to act while clearly appearing more comfortable when allowed to do the music thing. Begin Again is far more polished. They've got four Oscar nominees, for crying out loud, so there can only be so much simplicity. Still, you can feel what John Carney wants you to feel through his work.

So, in closing, I am actually going to recommend this movie. Yes, I have my issues with it, but the good things about it outweigh the bad ones. I especially recommend this if you are a music lover or someone who writes music or both. I am both and I enjoyed this.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, November 8, 2014

My First Week of My First NaNoWriMo

Greetings Pups,

It's November, as you may know. And if you're a writer, you may also know that November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It's basically this thing where you try to write 50,000 words in a month. I have never officially participated in NaNoWriMo, but have I ever written 50,000 words in a month? Heck to the yeah, I have. I've just never done it like this before.

First of all, I've never had to update a word count and be expected to write a certain number of words in a day. Second, I am usually working on several different projects at once, which is probably why I hardly ever finish anything. But with this, I do have a daily word count goal and my words will be contained in one project. That's not to say that I'm not still working on other things outside of my NaNoWriMo project, because I am. I've actually got about three other books that need some sort of finishing to be done on them. So, if you factor all that in, I will definitely be writing enough words this month. But whether or not I do it within this particular novel that I am trying to write, we'll see.

To be honest, I've never written a book like this before. I mean, I have never EVER not written anything longhand first, but this time, it's all going straight to my laptop. Another thing is that I tend to have a pretty good idea of how the story will go, if not from beginning to end then from beginning to...somewhere after the beginning. In this case, I had the seed of an idea, and everyday I'm just watching it grow, letting it take me wherever it wants to go. It's actually kind of liberating, when you just move forward and not look back for a whole month. Yeah, that's a thing with NaNoWriMo, to just keep going but don't go back and delete. You deal with all that in the aftermath. I kind of like it this way, considering I tend to think way too much. How freeing this all is.

Anyway, who knows how much I'll be writing on this blog for the next few weeks, probably not much. But considering what I gave you all in October, I think I deserve a break. Not a break from writing in general, though. I never get a break from that.

So, if any of you out there are doing NaNoWriMo, I wish you the best. I hope you're all stocked up on coffee and candy and whatnot, and if you need some advice or pep talks, may I suggest you head on over to the YouTube and watch the videos of Katytastic. She is, quite frankly, the NaNoWriMo guru of myself and probably many others. I hope that you are all very successful this month, but even if you don't reach that 50,000 word goal, whatever you do write is something that would not have been there had you not even tried. And believe it or not, just trying is quite an accomplishment all on its own.

Again, I will try to throw some posts up here in the next month, and I will certainly report on my progress when this whole thing is over. Hopefully, I will be celebrating.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Top 10 of the Top 100 Law & Order Episodes, The Genius of Dick Wolf and the Legacy

Greetings Pups,

At long last, we have come to the end of Law & Order Month. And now for the final installment of my own personal Top 100 episodes if Law & Order. We have finally reached the Top 10. So, no hesitations. Let's get started...and finished.

#10. "By Perjury" (Season 19) - We have had a few screwed up criminals on this show and also some screwed up lawyers. Well, how about we combine the two. The story here is that an airline is being sued by several people. One of the plaintiffs ends up getting murdered. We learn that there is some dissention in the ranks, as some of the plaintiffs want to settle and some want to continue on. Of course, some of them become suspects, but it ends up leading to their attorney and another case he worked on. What he ends up getting charged with is rather interesting and the outcome, even more so. Although, there is one very memorable line in this. Just pay attention to Cutter when he goes to the guys office and tries to trick him by being friendly. Just listen to what he says concerning his "punishment" for acting up in court. I can't even repeat it, because I will start laughing and not be able to finish this list. Also, I will give a pat on the back to Dallas Roberts who played the attorney. You are good at playing obnoxious, my friend

#9. "Aftershock" (Season 6) - This was the final episode of Season 6, and the final episode for Claire Kincaid. Teardrop. It's also the only episode without a case. Several of the characters attend an execution (sounds like fun), and then they all go off and do their own thing. It's basically a chance for us to get more up close and personal than we ever have with them. Groundbreaking for the series. And, as someone who loves a good character study, this one was a standout.

#8. "Suicide Box" (Season 13) - A cop gets shot and a young black man is charged with the attempted murder. Sadly, we learn that he is motivated by the death of his older brother. The entire situation is terrible, especially when some shady police work comes to light. The good news is we get some Gregory Hines, acting as a defense attorney. No singing or dancing from him, of course, because they don't let you do that on this show. Yes, he is just another reminder that we never got our musical episode. This makes me turn to Broadway and say "Your move".

#7. "Myth of Fingerprints" (Season 12) - I am all for law enforcement doing whatever it takes to catch a bad guy. Unless, of course, what it takes is lying. Whilst investigating the opening scene murder, we end up in a case where a fingerprint technician, played wonderfully by Diana Scarwid, is called into question for testifying to evidence that was pretty much non-existent. The specific case that is being brought to light is the one that started Van Buren's road to her position of lieutenant. It's tough for her because, first of all, this woman was her friend, and second, she was always having to defend herself and her abilities when she got the job. This did not make things easier. And we do get another stellar performance from S. Epatha Merkerson. I know. Shocking.

#6. "Burn, Baby, Burn" (Season 11) - This episode features Mod Squad member himself, Clarence Williams III. I love this guy so much, mostly thanks to his subsequent work on Mystery Woman. But I digress. Here, he plays a guy who shoots a cop, and he also has a past that some consider questionable. It is part of his defense, though. Now, because the victim is a cop, there is a ton of tension in this episode. You can see the struggle between trying to get justice for one of their own and trying to do things the right way. It can't be easy.

#5. "Submission" (Season 18) - So what do we have here? Well, we've got some dogfighting, some winemaking, some betrayal, some crooked journalism, and, of course, some murder. Do you ever feel like ideas for episodes get added by way of Mad Libs? It's okay, though. It all worked out, because those are some interesting ingredients for a fantastic show. Sprinkle some David Harbour and Lara Flynn Boyle on top, and we are good to go.

#4. "True Crime" (Season 13) - So, a female rock singer is found dead with a ton of drugs in her system, though, it is not a suicide. She was, at one time, married to another rock singer, who also died years earlier. He was the leader of a band whose members were not fond of her. One of the former members of the band was actually an ex-boyfriend, who she talked her husband into firing. Got all that? Okay. Turns out, the cops get info from a former police officer who became a true crime author whose book was about the death of the victim's husband and whether it was suicide or murder. A lot of the episode focuses on his questionable tactics. He thinks that, now that he is no longer a cop, that pesky Constitution does apply to him when it comes to searching an apartment for evidence. I guess if you're a writer you can just straight up break the law and call it, I don't know, artistic license. Well, this is going to make my job as a writer so much more interesting.

#3. "Endurance" (Season 11) - After a suspicious fire breaks out in an apartment building claims the life of a disabled boy, his estranged parents are looked at as suspects. It is his mother, however, who turns out being guilty of a mercy killing. This whole episode is so incredibly heartbreaking, and even though it would be no matter what, I give a ton of credit to the performance of Meghan Follows. She does an amazing job of portraying this mother who loves her child so much but who is frustrated to the point of near insanity because she had no idea how to make his life better. She knows she can't, so she chooses to end his suffering. I can sit here and say I don't approve, but I don't know what it's like to be in that situation and what it can drive a person to do. And, if that's not bad enough, we get a reveal near the end, which might make you cry, if you weren't already.

#2. "Competence" (Season 5) - If I had to pick the best performance by S. Epatha Merkeson as Lt. Van Buren, it would be this one. Of course, I loved her work in Season 20 as a whole, but it was this one episode that gave us everything she had to offer. She was straight up amazing. The plot is that she gets held up at an ATM and must defend herself, which results in the death of a young kid. She gets put through the ringer, as it happens, but I was constantly wanting to come to her defense and shout "LEAVE VAN BUREN ALONE!: Yes, I did. But she had to go through it to come out stronger on the other side.

#1. "Smoke" (Season 13) - A famous person holds his baby out of a window and then we find out he is a child molester. I'll give you a minute to figure out what inspired this one. This episode is my favorite for so many reasons. Let's get the shallow thing out of the way first. The way that the detectives get info on this celebrity is through a website kind of like the Smoking Gun, but it's called - wait for it - Up Your Butt.net. I just... I can't even...who thought of that?! And everyone had to say it, except I think for Orbach, who I guess won the raffle that week. But, yeah, everyone else had to say it. And you sort of say to yourself as this episode goes on, "Wow, did I just hear a former U.S. Senator and the guy from The Killing Fields say 'Up Your Butt'? Mind blown!" That aside, there was some great guest acting in this episode as well. We get Adam Ferrara, Larry Miller, Lisa Valez a.k.a Lisa Lisa, a very good performance by a young actor named Jon Budinoff who plays the victim, and also David Zayas who has shown up a lot in the Law & Order universe and is one of the best character actors I've ever seen. Yeah, there are so many reasons why this is my favorite, and in a sea of about a millions or so episodes, I'd say that is an honor.

And there you have it. My Top Ten favorite episodes of Law & Order, preceded by the rest of the Top 100. Wow.

So, as this month draws to a close, a month I have worked on very hard but have also enjoyed immensely, I though I should take a moment to discuss one more thing. I can't let this time pass without mentioning the genius behind it all, Dick Wolf. I mean, I have such a major amount of respect for this guy. He has, essentially, created something of an empire, and it is his masterpiece. It is something so well put together that I doubt it will ever be matched. He made such a complex universe, full of every kind of character you can imagine, getting every kind of actor you can imagine to portray them. It was all inclusive, and, as I've said several times, it had the perfect balance so that everyone could enjoy it. All of these unique characters, who were so different from one another, all had their moments to shine. Everyone had an opportunity to be right and an opportunity to be wrong. No person, or group, or political party was seen as all right or all wrong. Looking back, you can see how difficult that was to do, especially in the entertainment industry. But Dick Wolf did it. I know I said it already, and I really don't use this word lightly, but the man is a genius.

When I decided to do this, I didn't realize how much thought I would be putting into this. I already knew a ton of stuff about the show, but really making myself think about the little things that build this huge thing made me realize what a legacy there is in this series. This is truly the perfect example of what a show should be. Build on a foundation of good writing, good acting, good stories and a good team behind it all, and there's no telling what may come of it. What came of this was my favorite show of all time.

So, I will finish this long, work filled but also joy filled month by simply saying thank you. Thank you to Dick Wolf and all the amazing people who worked so hard to give us twenty years of Law & Order. I will always be grateful.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Law & Order Character Profile: Kevin Bernard

Greetings Pups,

Even though getting new characters on Law & Order was something we were more than used to, I still looked forward to when someone new was coming to the show. So, when it came to the last new character we were going to get, I'd think they would get someone really fantastic upon whom to bestow that honor. Well, I thought correctly. Join me now as I discuss the final Law & Order main character, Kevin Bernard.

Kevin Bernard was portrayed by Anthony Anderson from the middle of Season 18 to the end of Season 20. I don't think they ever did this, but he actually came in for the last episode of Detective Green, the man he would replace. In fact, at the time, he was working IAB. For those playing the home game, that stands for the Internal Affairs Bureau. They investigate crimes that may or may not have been committed by their fellow police officers. Hmm. That can't make them very popular. In fact, the first time see him, he's there to investigate Green. Yeah, we got off to a rocky start there. Who would have guessed that this would have led him to working in Homicide and being quite a likable character?

Bernard seemed to be a bit more "by the book" than his partner, but that's expected. It gives a good balance and probably makes it easier for some good cop/bad cop shenanigans. Eventually, Bernard and Lupo develop a good friendship, but they do disagree on quite a few issues. I mean, they obvious weren't seeing eye to eye in that first episode, which was before they were even partners. Not because Lupo was trying to help out Green, whilst Bernard was investigating him, but because Lupo brought up that he wanted to get a dog, and Bernard said he didn't like dogs. Oh, no. We're going to have a problem. But he apparently has a good excuse. When he was in Catholic school, the kids gave him the nickname of "St. Bernard". Okay, I guess I understand. But wouldn't that make you hate kids? And if you must hate dogs, why not just the St. Bernard? Why blame all breeds for this? Alright, I'm getting off track. Moving on.

As I just said, Bernard went to Catholic school, and he continued to practice the religion into his adulthood. This most likely plays a part in his personal beliefs and politics. He appears to be Conservative on most issues. In Season 20, we learn that he is pro-life, and, when the subject of illegal immigration comes up, he says he understands why it bothers people so much. Growing up in Compton, he witnessed many jobs being lost to those immigrants because businesses wanted cheap labor, and he saw the effects of that on where he lived. We actually get a lot of references to his youth over the years. In one case, when the DA's office wants to charge a very large group of men fighting in the park as terrorists, he has few problems with it. As those men caused harm to innocent parties and were technically a gang, Bernard was reminded of how he thought gangs terrorized many innocent people and should be held responsible for it.

When it comes to Bernard's personal life, we do not learn much. However, when he was called on to testify during the trial, it was revealed that he had a son, but he does not have a relationship with him. The reason is because the mother was involved with someone else when the child was conceived, so the paternity was called into question. But, even though it was proved to be Bernard's son, they all agreed to let him be raised by the mother and her husband. They thought it was what was best for the kid. I'm not sure I agree with that, but I guess I respect Bernard's decision to not want to disrupt his son's life.

I really like this character, and I really like Anthony Anderson as an actor. He just seems like so much fun in real life. And I have to admire him for taking on this role. The situation seems similar to when Dennis Farina had to replace Jerry Orbach after an eleven year run. Anthony Anderson was following Jesse L Martin, who had been on the show for nine years. Not easy, I'm sure, but he did an amazing job. And as the last new character we got on Law & Order, everyone certainly got the privilege of going out on a very high note.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Law & Order Character Profile: Michael Cutter

Greetings Pups,

So, what does one do when they get a promotion and they are tasked with replacing themselves in their former job? Well, I bet that, either consciously or subconsciously, one may hire a "Mini-Me". Or, at least, a "Mini-Me" that more resembles them in their youth. Time for you to move on up Jack McCoy and let Michael Cutter take your place.

Michael Cutter was portrayed by Linus Roache from Season 18 to Season 20. And this actor is British, something I don't think we've ever had on Law & Order. I mean, they had them on Law & Order:UK, but that was the point. Of course, he hid that accent well, and you'd swear he was a native New Yorker. Now, I was just kidding about the "Mini-Me" thing...sort of. Cutter does actually remind me of a younger Jack McCoy, certainly in the way that he tends to look at the rules sometimes. By that, I mean he looks at the rules and pretty much says, "Yeah, maybe. Maybe not. I guess we'll just see".

I must say, though, it was rather entertaining to see him try and get away with some of this stuff, which he did occasionally. And it wasn't always small stuff either. There was the time he told Green and Lupo they had a search warrant when they didn't. And in the "Not at all about Scientology" episode, he convinced a suspect that he was a member of the religion, just to get the guy to confess. Then, there was the time that he kind of, sort of, in her words "pimped out" Connie Rubirosa when he saw that a juror was crushing on her. And can we ever forget that time he slipped into a Russian accent to convince a witness that he was a spy? Why would he do that? Well, he wanted to provoke the witness into threatening him so that Dr. Olivet would have to order the guy to take his medication...BECAUSE HE WAS SCHIZOPHRENIC! Yeah, no! That is just not right. At least, the guy got the help he needed. And Cutter got headbutted. It was fantastic.

You may be wondering to yourself "What kind of behavior is that? This guy is, after all, a lawyer in the District Attorney's office". Or is he? Yeah, that's another thing. We find out in Season 20 that he never got his Undergraduate Degree, because a few of his credits weren't recorded, but he still went through law school. In short, his entire legal career was called into question. But since he did do the work, the New York State Bar was just like "Whatever. He can be a lawyer".

Now, aside from that little incident, we don't learn much about Cutter's personal life. At least, not in present times. We do know that his parents are divorced, and his father, who he has had little contact with, left when he was ten. As far as politics go, I don't think he ever said what side he was on, straight out. Still, since he was pro-life, I always just assumed he leaned more towards the Conservative side. But who knows? And, speaking of personal lives, it is hinted at that he may have a thing for Connie Rubirosa, but nothing ever comes of it. That's sad. They would have been so cute together.

Oh, and I would be remiss to not mention the one time that he came within an inch of being murdered...in the courthouse bathroom. Use your own imaginations, but I believe it would have made for some embarrassing crime scene photos. Thankfully, Lupo and Bernard came to his rescue. By the way, I don't care if someone LIVES in the courthouse, this should teach us that even they should be subject to the metal detectors.

Look, as I said, I was kidding about Michael Cutter being a clone of Jack McCoy. Of course, because he was taking his job, there were bound to be some comparisons, even similarities. Still, he managed to stand out as his own character, and he was a fantastic one. It didn't hurt that I enjoy Linus Roache as an actor so much. I'm sure he could have just gone in there and been the new Jack McCoy, but he put forth an effort to be, despite the similarities, his own person. He had some big shoes to fill, but I can't think of anyone who could have done it better.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Law & Order Character Profile: Cyrus Lupo

Greetings Pups,

I am going to say something that applies to all the shows in the Law & Order franchise. I love when I see a familiar face show up in those opening credits. And after having to wait an extra long time to get to Season 18, I was so overjoyed to get one in that first episode. Looks like it's time to talk about Cyrus Lupo.

Cyrus Lupo was portrayed by Jeremy Sisto from Season 18 to Season 20. Yes, I was quite excited about this, because I am from the era of Clueless. And he was in that, in case you didn't know. I actually had been a fan of Jeremy Sisto's and his entire body of work for quite a while, so I was looking forward to seeing him and Jesse L. Martin together. That's right. For the first time, we were getting two, young, male cops partnered together. Thank you, Casting Director. Of course, that did only last for about fourteen episodes, but I'll take what I can get. Moving on.

When Cyrus Lupo first showed up, he was not just thrown into working in Homicide at the 27th precinct. Actually, he had been working overseas investigating terrorists groups and was called back when his brother, Thomas, died of an apparent suicide, which was brought on because he was dying of cancer. When it was discovered that his brother had some Kevorkian-style help, Lupo wanted to assist in the investigation, though considering the circumstances it was a conflict of interest or something. Eventually, due to more assisted suicides, he was able to get involved. By the end of that first episode, Lupo was partnered with Green and working Homicide. Goodie.

I said this before, but I really liked the chemistry that Lupo and Green had. They sort of reminded me of frat brothers, but the responsible kind who aren't obnoxious. Do those even exist? Then, once Green left and he was partnered with Kevin Bernard, that same comradery continued on with that relationship. Even though, I think, on certain issues, it was clear that Lupo and Bernard were not on the same page. Still good partners though. And obviously, good friends.

Actually, this stint working Homicide was not the first time Lupo had worked in the 27th. Early in his police career, he was a patrolman, which I think is like a beat cop. It was during that time that he had the misfortune of walking into a devastating brutal murder scene. He ended up having PTSD, which led to a drinking problem. In fact, he even was drinking when he testified in court. On another occasion, he fell asleep due to a hangover whilst on patrol, which led to the death of his partner, as he was not there to back him up. Yeah, don't drink, kids. But Lupo was so affected by this he stopped drinking and got himself some much needed help.

Much like with more than a few of his law enforcement brethren, Lupo sometimes thinks that it is A-okay to bend the rules a bit. Like emailing himself the contents of someone's phone without their consent. Um, yeah, no. I'm pretty sure that is not admissible in court. And there was that one time when he and Green entered a building without a warrant. Though I think that was Cutter's fault. Still, never trust a lawyer, boys. Also, his judgement wasn't always the best around. There was one time where he got involved, if you know what I mean, with a female victim who ended up being the guilty party. So, you're a detective, right? Shouldn't you just get one of those gut feelings? Who am I kidding? Guys don't always lead with their brains. As long as he learned his lesson. And since Lupo was never involved with that kind of situation again, I'd like to think he did.

One more thing about Detective Lupo is that he was taking law school night classes so he can become a lawyer. I did not even know they had night classes for that, but then I remembered, it's New York. They have everything. So, since he knows more stuff about the law than maybe your average detective, he sometimes lets that creep into his dealings with the DA's office. It is not always met well. There were a few cases of "You do your job; I'll do mine", and I suppose I can understand that. But he's just trying to help. Of course, when the last episode rolled around, he was still doing police work, but I like to think that Lupo became a very good lawyer one day. Because I have hope.

In closing, I have to say that I really enjoyed my time with Cyrus Lupo, and that was probably because I tend to enjoy Jeremy Sisto. It's kind of nice to follow someone from early on in their career right up until he gets cast on the best show ever. I'm happy to report that he fit in perfectly. He upheld the standard of great acting and gave us a memorable character.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Law & Order Character Profile: Connie Rubirosa

Greetings Pups,

It is difficult to be tasked with taking us back to the Golden Age of any long-running series. After several years with an ADA that many people were not fond of and a small stint with a timid but lovable one, we needed to bring back the more aggressive but admirable type of woman we grew to love in years past. This is why, at the start of Season 17, we clasped our hands together, looked to the Heavens and said "Thank You, Lord, for Connie Rubirosa".

Connie Rubirosa was portrayed by Alana De La Garza from Season 17 through Season 20. I don't even know where to start on what a joy this woman was to have around. Well, let me start with some basic info about the character. Connie Rubirosa has one of the most interesting character back stories of this series. Apparently, she was a kindergarten teacher, and, as someone who is not a kid person, I certainly understand how one can find dealing with criminals and whatnot less stressful than dealing with children. She joined the DA's office in 2004, pre-show, and served under Jack McCoy, who was still Executive ADA in Season 17. Then, when McCoy got promoted to actual DA, she got promoted to Executive ADA. Oh, wait. You'd THINK that's what would have happened, but she just got handed off to the person who actually got that job - a boy! Okay, to be fair, I like Michael Cutter and he probably had seniority over her, but still. Why not one extra moment of glory for the ladies?

Anyway, as a Hispanic woman, she is the first minority ADA we have had on this show since Paul Robinette. And, like with him, this was not even an issue on most days. Of course, certain cases would come up where ethnicity or race was a factor, and it couldn't help but come into play. That's something that Law & Order always handled quite well, and with Connie, it was no exception. Oh, also, the occasional jerk racist may have made comments about her ethnicity, as they do, but she always knew how to handle them. Not in a way that would have required the actor to use a stunt double, as I would have preferred, but she did fine, nonetheless.

As far as her politics go, she seemed to lean towards the Liberal side, and she was an advocate for women's right. On one occasion, though, (spoilers) an abortion doctor had been murdered and his procedural methods were being called into question. By "procedural methods" I mean he killed a newborn baby who had birth defects that were most likely life-threatening, at the request of the mother. McCoy did not want this information to be known by the defense, as they were prosecuting the killer. He expected Cutter, who leaned more towards pro-life, to possibly let the information out, but it was Connie who did it. I bring this story up because they used her character in this situation to exhibit what a perfect balance the show was politically. Despite her personal beliefs, you could see the inner struggle that Connie went through in this case. I give credit for how great this was to both the writer and Alana's acting.

Of course, even with all her good qualities, Connie made her share of faux pas over the years. Don't we all. I'd say the most glaring error was getting involved with former DA office worker, Marcus Woll. I already talked about him when I talked about an episode he was in. To refresh, he was pretty much the worst. Just an awful person. Not even close to being good enough for our sweet Connie. And she paid for her mistake. One payment might have been when she got duped - Yeah, I said duped! - into defending this really obnoxious guy who was clearly guilty. This put her at odds with the people she normally worked alongside, making them opponents. It was vicious. But, despite, the occasional oopsy, Connie Rubirosa was a shining example of what a lawyer can and should be. No wonder they let her move out to California for Law & Order:LA.

I will wrap this up by saying, once again, I love this character and I love the woman who played. For real, she is getting the slow clap. You know what I mean. The 80's and 90's sports movie slow clap? Oh, yeah. She is totally getting that. I, honestly, never failed to be entertained by her. She was a strong, intelligent, funny, beautiful woman, and she brought a special light to Law & Order that it needed.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Law & Order Character Profile: Nina Cassady

Greetings Pups,

For a show that has done so much for female characters, it's rather surprising that they only had one actual female detective on the original series. (Van Buren doesn't count because she was a lieutenant) So, when Season 17 rolled around, they decided to break from the tradition of the old dude/young dude partnerships and get a girl in there. For a little while. Welcome, Nina Cassady.

Nina Cassady was portrayed by Milena Govich for only one season. She was brought in to replace Fontana, against the wishes of Lt. Van Buren, who had someone all picked out for the job. Someone with much more experience. Cassady had just been put in Homicide after she was involved in a shootout in a beauty parlor, causing many to dub her "Detective Beauty Queen". Because for what other reason are we on this Earth than to sell newspaper for others. Well, Cassady was not a fan of the nickname, nor the shades of condescension lingering over it. She felt as though she had a tough enough time as a female cop, and she didn't want anyone undermining her abilities. You'd think that Van Buren would be more understanding of this, and she is. But her problem with Cassady is not because she's a woman; it's because she was very quick tempered and, dare I say it, a loose cannon.

Yes, that is a title given to several cops on this show, and Cassady certainly earns it. Even in her short time on the show, she does lose her cool more than a few times, sometimes causing major problems with investigations. Okay, that's not good, but each time she reacted this way, I kind of understood. Although, I guess I did so more from the perspective of a woman wanting to be respected, but one must realize that keeping yourself in check for the good of putting away the bad guys and helping victims might be something for which we want to aim. I suppose I can see how some of her colleagues had issues with her, but Green seemed to be rather patient with her. As best he could, anyway. I, personally, am not qualified to stand in judgement of someone being quick tempered. Not at all.

All of this behavior continues off and on, right up until her last episode. She kind of provokes a suspect into losing his temper and throwing a chair at the window. And he broke it! Well, there you go, New Yorkers. Your tax dollars just paid for some criminal's temper tantrum. Moving on. Whilst Cassady does make a major faux pas that really ticked off her superiors, she kind of redeemed herself on the stand in court. She kept her composure and did very well. I admired the performance, both from the character and the actress.

Once Season 18 rolled around, Nina Cassady was nowhere to be found. She seriously just fell off the show, because they really never mentioned her again. Like, nothing at all, which is a little mean. But whatever, I guess. I'm also not sure that a lot of people had time to warm up to her, and I'm not sure why. Maybe they didn't like her being so sassy, maybe they didn't like the idea of her as a woman, which is lame. I don't know. Personally, I did like her. It took a few episodes for me to get used to her, but I eventually did. I'm sure that, had she been given more time, I would have liked her even more. Actually, she really endeared herself to me in her first episode, when she told Not Britney Spears to stop smoking around her baby. Because I think bad parenting needs to be called out...always. Anyway, I also really enjoyed the actress. It can't be easy coming onto an established show and stepping into a role that is usually filled by a man, but I think Milena Govich did a fine job. I found both her and her character very refreshing. Gotta love a character who has an attitude of "Yeah, I'm a girl. Whaddya gonna do about it?!" Girl power, indeed.

So, in closing, hats off to Nina Cassady and Milena Govich. In my opinion, this character brought something new to the series, and it helped that she was played very well. And no matter what any critic says, she's still the first and only lady detective, so they can't take that status away from her, and they never should.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer