Saturday, March 29, 2014

Top Ten Worst Hit Songs of 1995

Greetings Pups,

And now for my Worst Hit Songs of 1995. I may be making some people quite annoyed with some of my choices. Remember, though, these are just the worst in my opinion, so if you like any of these songs, that's fine. I'll never deny anyone an ounce of joy they can get from any music. Having said that, here's the ones I think are kind of sucky.

#10. "Scream" Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson - Let me make one thing clear. Despite a few of my choices on this list, I do not have some kind of vendetta against the Jackson family. As a matter of fact, there are a few times in history where I really liked what they were putting out in music. This year was obviously not one of them. I remember when the news got out that Michael and Janet were going to do a duet, and a lot of people got very excited. I wasn't one of them, but I thought it would be, at least, good. Turns out that, to me, it wasn't. Don't get me wrong. The video was cool, and their dancing together was spot on. But if I am judging solely on the music, yeah, this was just a bit much for me.

#9. "You Want This" Janet Jackson - Oh, no! Not again. Yes, this time, I am only picking on Janet. The deal with her, though, is that I really do like a lot of her music. Like, a LOT. This one, however, was just too monotonous for me. It did have this driving dance beat, but it kind of stayed the same throughout. So there was never a moment of "Wow, there it is!" that most of her songs have. Again, I like Janet's songs, but this just wasn't one of my favorites.

#8. "All I Wanna Do" Sheryl Crow - If you read my Best of 1995 list from yesterday, you'll know that one of Sheryl Crow's songs showed up there. It wasn't the massive hit; THIS was the massive hit. I have no idea why. Even Sheryl herself admitted that this thing barely made it onto the album. I can see why. I mean, I get why some people might get a kick out of this, but I just do not. I never have. Maybe it's because I don't drink beer.

#7. "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" U2 - I have had a love/hate relationship with U2 for...well, always. It's mostly for personal reasons, though I try not to judge an artist based on anything other than the music. I often fail, but I still try. Much like with Janet (sorry, Miss Jackson, because this is a Worst list and I am, therefore, contractually obligated to be nasty), I actually really like a lot of their music, but I just could never ever find any appeal to this song. I certainly hope that I'm not judging this based on something other than the music here. Like the fact that it is associated with Batman Forever. Not good.

#6. "You Are Not Alone" Michael Jackson - Okay, I'm sorry that I'm bringing up this song, because it is going to make a lot of people think of the video. You know the video. The one featuring pretty much naked Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie. No, thank you very much. But, alas, I cannot judge the song based on the video. I can judge it based on who wrote it, that person being R. Kelly. Yeah, not a big fan. And not just because of, ya know, reasons. But whether I am or not, I just think this song is pretty weak.

#5. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" Nicki French - In case anyone doesn't know, THIS is not the "Total Eclipse of the Heart" about which you may be thinking. This is not the Bonnie Tyler power ballad of yesteryear. I mean, it is, as a foundation, but then someone took it and remixed it and added lyrics and turned it into some electronica, dance song. I'm not saying that kind of music cannot be well done. On the contrary, it can be very well done, but that's not what the song was. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was epic, and I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. It was big and dramatic and Jim Steinman-y. Which is good, because he wrote it. I guess I believe songs like this should just be left alone.

#4. "Freak Like Me" Adina Howard - I am not a huge fan of the word 'freak'. I'm not sure why, but that's the way it is. And I am certainly not a fan of songs that use this word ad nauseam. This is one of those songs. Also, it really seems like it's trying way too hard to be, I guess, edgy, what with the overt content and all. Funny thing is that the beat and the music isn't all that bad, and the singer, she's very good. I feel like what I might like about the song is so much better than what I don't like that it becomes an unfortunate combination.

#3. "Tootsee Roll" 69 Boyz - Believe it or not, the first time I heard this song was on a Nancy Kerrigan ice skating special. But I am soooo not holding that against it. No, I just really don't like it. I don't like dance songs, and by that, I mean I don't like songs that have a specific dance attached to it that the song tries to get you to do. No! Leave me alone. Plus, I can never really do said dances. Even "The Twist". I just lose my balance, and it's sad. Plus, they spell "boys" wrong in their name and "tootsie" wrong in the title. Although, that second one was probably a copyright infringement thing. Okay, whilst I admire their ingenuity there, I still don't like the song.

#2. "Short D*** Man" 20 Fingers feat. Gillette - Yes, I do find one of the words in the title of this song inappropriate, at least for my blog, so I did the * thing. Sorry, I'm a prude. Anyway, I probably would have put this "song" at number one, except I am not %100 sure that this wasn't meant to be a joke, then nobody GOT it, then it became a hit. Not unlike the whole Naked Came the Stranger thing. I'm not kidding. This thing is so un-song-like, it is unbelievable. And even if it wasn't a case of "Let's make a terrible song and see what happens", I still can't believe that anyone was taking this seriously. But it was still on the Year End Chart, therefore, it is eligible.

#1. "Cotton Eye Joe" Rednex - Hey, what's worse than taking a Jim Steinman song and remixing it as an electronica song? This. Yeah, some Swedish people got together, found an old, OLD country song and did this to it. It's awful. I know some people might qualify this as 'so bad, it's good...or funny' and give it a whirl every now and then, but not me. I can't even listen to this, not even ironically. Look, I get enough headaches on my own, thank you very much. I do not need any help. I just...what is even the heck with this? I can't even talk about it, because it's making the "song" play in my head. Whatever. Worst song of the year.

And there are my Worst of 1995 picks. If you disagree, like I said, that's fine. I'm pretty eclectic, but I just can't like everything. I'm not that cool. And, thankfully, none of these songs discouraged me from wanting to be a writer. So good times.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, March 28, 2014

Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 1995

Greetings Pups,

So last year, I mentioned something about wanting to do Top Ten lists of Best/Worst songs of random years. I actually ended 2013 by making said lists for THAT year as it was coming to a close, alongside all the other people who were doing them as well. When I did so, I said that those would be practice for me, and to see if I'd get any responses. I did, so here we go, officially.

I decided pretty early on that, if I should ever start doing this on a somewhat regular basis, I would begin with a year that meant a lot to me. That year is, of course, 1995. Why is that year so important to me? Well, it was the year when I figured out that I was meant to be a writer. So, yes, it was a very good year. Of course, back then, it was just stories and poetry. I have expanded my line of work. Actually, since I'm covering songs here, it may have made more sense to begin with the year that I started writing songs seriously, which was not this one. Oh, well, too late. Maybe I'll do that one some other time. For now, though, I give you my personal list of the Best Hit Songs of 1995, again, taken from Billboard's Year End chart. Off we go.

#10. "Here Comes the Hotstepper" Ini Kamoze - Yeah, I don't know what the heck with this song either. What I do recall is that it came from a movie called Ready To Wear or Pret-a-Porter if you wanna get all French and fancy about it. I don't know. I think it was about fashion or something, and it had a boat load of famous people in it, and it was kind of 'meh'. But who cares? The video for this song, which had movies scenes incorporated into it, as used to be done, got played quite a lot back in the day. And I have to say, I do still like it a lot. I don't know why I like this song, but I do.

#9. "Hold On" Jamie Walters - In case you were not aware of this, let me inform you that the nineties belonged to one man - Aaron Spelling. Okay, maybe not, but he did have a ton of shows around that time. Some lasted long; others were lucky to last a season or less. One of the latter was a show called The Heights. It was about a band. And that's all anyone can remember about it. What do you expect? It only lasted three months. I guess, at that time, everyone had already committed themselves to the genius television that was California Dreams. Anyway, from the rubble of The Heights sprung forth a guy names Jamie Walters, who became especially known for singing the theme song, "How Do You Talk To An Angel?", and then he moved on to Beverly Hills, 90210, as Ray, Donna's boyfriend, who, for some reason, eventually became abusive. But he started out as just a "project" guy with a guitar. One of the songs he sang on the show was "Hold On", and it became a hit in the real world. I really liked it. I know that was a long trip, but clearly, it was well worth it.

#8. "In the House of Stone and Light" Martin Page - So I hadn't heard this song in forever, and whilst compiling this list, I got to hear it again. I had forgotten how much I liked it. Probably because it's one of those songs that was once a hit but then disappeared over the years. I don't know why. It's very good. Although, some people have apparently accused him of sounding like Sting or Peter Gabriel. for him? Yeah, that's not something I'd call an accusation; I'd call it a compliment.

#7. "I Know" Dionne Farris - Remember Arrested Development? The group, not the show. Well, this very talented woman sang with them for awhile. After she had some success there, she moved on with her own solo career and got herself a hit with this song. I have to say, I'm kind of surprised that her major success didn't have more longevity. She has a fantastic voice, and this song managed to stand out a lot. I guess she wasn't the first artist that deserved better, nor the last.

#6. "This Is How We Do It" Montell Jordan - This is my jam. Isn't that a thing that people said? In the nineties? Anywho, I still get a kick out of this song, though, I can never listen to it in public. See, I can't listen to it without dancing, and no one wants to see that. No one!

#5. "No More I Love You's" Annie Lennox - I'm a bit undecided on whether or not I'm a fan of Annie Lennox, be it her solo work or what she did as one half of The Eurhythmics. I do, however, love this particular song. If I have to give Annie credit for anything, it is that she has always been an original, very unique. There really is no one else like her. That's a good way to describe this song as well. While a lot of new artists try to jump on a bandwagon of what is popular at the moment, I think some seasoned artists do that as well. Not the case here. There was nothing on the radio like this song in 1995. There still isn't.

#4. "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?" Bryan Adams - Who likes a pop song with some Flamenco guitar thrown into it? This girl does. Okay, I haven't heard it happen that often. Okay, maybe it was only in this song, but that makes it all the more special, am I right? So this is another song from a soundtrack where the video got a ton of airplay. Seems like soundtrack music videos were very much like trailers back in the day. Hey, why not? This came from the movie Don Juan DeMarco, starring Johnny Depp. I never saw it, but I listened to this song...a lot. And it's actually kind of beautiful.

#3. "Strong Enough" Sheryl Crow - Oh, Sheryl Crow. I loved her so much back in the nineties, and, no matter how I may feel about her or her music now, I still love this song. Whist people were really taking notice of her at that time thanks to another song, this was the one that made me believe that she had some serious chops as a writer.

#2. "Good" Better Than Ezra - I think some artists, no matter how long they last, can tend to be stuck in a particular decade. Better Than Ezra, for example, are a band that have always been one of the nineties for me. They were one of the groups that had some success, but I seem to remember them kind of flying under the radar a bit. That doesn't mean at all that they weren't as good as some of their peers, quite the opposite actually. And this song was one of my favorites from them. It's just fun and weird and awesome. Just like me.

#1. "Back For Good" Take That - That's right. I picked a song from a boy band as my number one. What of it? But they were a British boy band, so it's...different. For awhile there, Take That was merely remembered as that group that Robbie Williams used to be in. Fair enough, I suppose, but they did stand out for me. Whilst I believe they were extremely famous in their own country, they were just kind of hanging around in the U.S. for awhile and then they went away. WHY? Artistically speaking, I always thought they were far more sophisticated than your average boy band. Oh, maybe that's why. Also, they had Gary Barlow. Who's that, you ask? Well, he is an overwhelmingly talented songwriter, and if that group had any legitimacy, it started with Gary Barlow. And he wrote this song. A song that I still listen to on a regular basis to this day.

And there are my best hit songs of 1995, the year that Becky the Writer was born. Sort of. Good memories. But GOOD memories are no fun when it comes to things like this. Tomorrow, prepare for the Worst!

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, March 24, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo - April 2014

Greetings Pups,

So, in about a week or so, when the month of April starts, something will be going on. Now we all know that April is National Poetry Month, and I don't want you to forget that, but also it is the month of something called Camp NaNoWriMo. Don't know what that is? Well, allow me to explain as best I can.

During the month of November every year, a ton of writers participate in something called NaNoWriMo. That is National Novel Writing Month all scrunched up. Everyone tries to reach a goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, which can be an entire novel, or at least, the start of one. Some well-known books have apparently came from what was written during this time, like The Night Circus and Water for Elephants. I personally have never participated in NaNoWriMo, not officially anyway. I have, however, written 50,000 words in a month, or more, but I am usually working on multiple projects. With this, you are working on only one thing, as far as I know. Also, I just write because it's what I do, and I'm not setting or trying to reach any particular goal, which makes things flow more easily for me. I worry that, if I tell myself that I MUST reach 50,000 words in 30 days, I won't be able to do it because of the pressure. But now I have something to see if I can.

A few years ago something began called Camp NaNoWriMo. It takes place in the months of April and July, officially now, though it had jumped around and been a couple other months in the past. Basically, this is just like regular November NaNoWriMo, but on a smaller scale. I suppose you could say that these two months serve as warm-ups for the big event in the fall. Also, the whole 50,000 word goal is your own choice. You can actually set whatever goal you want, from 10,000 words on up. I think it's just a way for people to see if they can set a personal goal and then reach it, and if they can, then they might feel more at ease to take part in the big NaNoWriMo. From the info I have, it's just a lot looser than what it is later in the year.

As I said, I've never officially taken part in one of these, but this year I believe I will, especially if I can set a particular goal for a particular project. Then, by November, I can pick one of the many novel ideas I have and devote the month to that. Actually, this makes me think that, perhaps, the reason why I am constantly working but don't finish things as often as I'd like to is because I jump around between projects too much. Maybe with this I can learn to focus in on just one thing.

Oh, also, if you want to have some fun, there are a ton of videos that people have posted on YouTube about the NaNoWriMo in November, which might also be helpful for Camp NaNoWriMo. A lot are about either how to prep for it (a.k.a. the survival kit), how to get through it with some writing advice or about their personal experiences. Some of the best and my favorites come from Kristina Horner, Little Book Owl and Katytastic. They remind me that I need a USB drive, a small notebook to carry around for ideas on the run, coffee and candy. Actually, if you're a writer of any kind, you should always have these things. Also, the aforementioned Katytastic did a great tutorial video for this writing software called Scrivener, which is inexpensive and great for helping you organize what you're working on. It's a fantastic software, and she does a wonderful job explaining it. So, yeah, check out the videos by these awesome ladies. You will be entertained as you are informed.

So I think I may give this Camp NaNoWriMo thing a go. Now there is a NaNoWriMo website and also one for the Camp which can explain all of this enormously better than I can, so if this interests you, check them out in case I got any of my info wrong here. I'm not sure if I am going to it by way of the website, at least, not for this month or July. I may just see if I can set a word goal, try and reach it, and then, if I am successful, I will officially be a participant in the next big NaNoWriMo. Let's see what happens.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jem...the Movie? Yay? Maybe.

Greetings Pups,

I have made it no secret that I love the 80's cartoon Jem, and yesterday, I got some news about it. It seems that someone is finally going to make a live action Jem movie. I am so...apprehensive.

Okay, here's the thing. For quite a while now, I have been hoping that a movie based on Jem and the Holograms would happen. Still, even in those times, a part of me always held worries in my mind that, whomever did it, would not do it the way I wanted. When I say "I", I am referring to myself as part of the fan base. And I think that WE have certain ideas, which are probably similar, when it comes to what we want this movie to be. As of now, I have very little info about exactly what is going to happen, but, judging from what I do know and what I've thought in the past, I have some concerns, which I'd like to voice at this time. In no particular order...

Number One: The People Behind The Project - As I said, I have long hoped for a Jem movie, but I never really thought in depth about things like producers and directors and whatnot. Apparently, I have to do that now. Okay, a video was released by the three guys (yes, guys) who are spearheading this thing. The director will be a Jon M. Chu, best known for directing two of the Step Up movies, which I haven't seen, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which I also haven't seen, but I heard it was a little better than the first. A little. I guess I don't know enough about his skills as a director to judge. However, he did direct the Justin Bieber documentaries, which brings us to our next contestant, Scooter Braun. If you don't already know, this is the manager of the aforementioned Justin Bieber. Yeah, okay. Ya know, in one of those Bieber documentaries, and I only know this thanks to Cinemasins, he says something like his job was to make sure that Justin becomes a good man. As of late, I don't think he has been succeeding at that job, so I worry about his ability to succeed at this one. We'll see, though. Finally, Jason Blum will be producing, in conjunction with his Blumhouse Productions. Now, though I don't know much about him, I'd say I trust him the most. He has a fairly long resume. The highest point on it appears to be The Reader, a movie I thought was very good, and it won Kate Winslet her long-deserved Oscar. He was involved on all the Paranormal Activity movies, which go either way for me, and also Sinister. I have not seen that one yet, mostly because I am still a bit scaredy cat about it at the moment, but I heard very good things about it. Yeah, this guy has a lot of horror movies under his belt, so, again, we'll see. Bottom line, I don't know these guys, so I don't know if we can trust them. However, they are doing something that could be good. They are crowd sourcing with this project. Not for funds, but for ideas, which means, hopefully, that the fans will have a say, at least. That's not a bad idea.

Number Two: The Music - One of the things that we all loved about Jem was the music. On the show, we got a lot of short, but pretty good songs in every episode. Some of them were VERY good, actually. Fun Fact: I recall the guy who wrote them saying that he refused to do any near rhymes, because the kids needed to know what rhymes with what, for real. Love that. I don't always do that myself, but good for him. Anyway, because there was so much music, I always thought they could take some of that old stuff, use it as a base of sorts, then update it a little or expand it, even. That way, the songs can be longer and appealing to this new generation, but still give us original fans our nostalgia. I fear, though, that they may just get some random songwriter in there to crank out some tunes that might make them a buck with downloading. I'm not saying they can't have any new music, but it should be kept to a bare minimum.

Number Three: The Cast - This has always been one of my biggest concerns when it came to a Jem movie. I always worried that they would fill the cast with people I am not exactly fond of. Bad enough, we're probably not going to get Gary Sinise to play Eric Raymond. Think about it. If this would have been twenty years ago, he would have been perfect in that part. Seriously, think about it. Anywho, I just hope they don't run out and get every person who has been on Glee to fill the roles. NO! In fact, that's my deal breaker! No one who has ever been on Glee is allowed to be in this movie. They aren't even allowed to see it. Except maybe John Stamos. This might not be a problem, since, as I mentioned crowd sourcing for ideas, they are also asking for audition tapes. You know, I think it might be the best way to go getting some very talented unknowns in there. So thumbs up on that. Although, they probably should get, at least, one big name for to be in it. I vote Catherine Zeta-Jones as Synergy. Just because.

Number Four: The Plot - Okay, this is my biggest problem, thus far. Apparently, they already have a script, and it is set in the modern day, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But the plot is something like Jem is an orphan teenager, she starts a group with her sisters and they get big releasing songs online. Also, there was mention about a secret from her father. Or something. I just...WHAT? What does this have to do with the Jem canon? I mean, are we not getting Jerrica and the dual identity thing? Are we not getting The Misfits or The Stingers? Is anything, at all, going to resemble the original show? Look, I understand, especially as a novelist, that when adaptations happen, changes are inevitable, even necessary. But you cannot make the source material practically unrecognizable. Did we learn nothing from the Last Airbender debacle. You cannot just make up a story about music and slap the Jem name on it. That is not going to sit well with the longtime fans. Now I don't know how locked in this script is, but since they are doing the idea crowd sourcing thing, perhaps the fans can make enough noise that this all won't get off track. Personally, I always had an idea for how I wanted the plot of a film to go. If you're a fan of Jem, you know that the first five episodes were pretty much five parts of what was, ultimately, a TV movie type thing, and it was a perfect origin story to set up the series. I always wanted someone to take that story, and, like the music, use it as a base, tweek it a little to make it new, but still retain the basic story that we all know and love. Not exactly the same, but not exactly overwhelmingly different. It's an idea.

So there are my thoughts on this the new Jem movie. You know, I am really hoping for this best with this. I want, so much, for this to be good. Not just for me and the older fans, but also for a new generation who can come to love what a great show Jem and the Holograms was. So let's all pray.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Girl in the Song / The Boy in the Song by Michael Heatley and Frank Hopkinson - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

As you all know, I am a person who loves hearing about the stories behind the music. It is one of the main reasons why I love the show Behind the Music. Also, I love hearing the voice of Jim Forbes. So, it's no wonder that, when I was doing a little browsing in a local library, a couple of books caught my eye. One was called The Girl in the Song, the other, The Boy in the Song. I picked them up to see that they were two, I guess you could call them, companion books, both written by Michael Heatley and Frank Hopkinson. I don't exactly know who these guys are, but God bless them, because they've done something very good here. Anyway, I decided to review these two works together, since I'd be saying pretty much the same things if I'd done them separately.

In case it isn't obvious, The Girl/Boy in the Song books tell the stories of several classic songs, fifty each, to be exact. These stories are about specifically the people who inspired the music. Yes, you can see why I would be drawn to this. And it isn't just a list of songs next to a list of names, and that's it. That would be kind of boring, and not enough to fill a pamphlet, much less a entire book. No, they actually give some good accounts of the songs as well as the artists, and also we get some great pictures. Because sometimes, you just need a picture.

Now I don't want to act like every single thing they put in these books is going to be some "WHAT! I had no idea THAT song was about THAT person!" moment. There are some classic stories that most people already know, albeit a little more in depth than some have gone. Of course, we all know that "Hey, Jude" was about Julian Lennon and "Rosanna" was about Rosanna Arquette. But even I, a person who would like to think I am quite informed about these things, was very surprised by some of what I found out here. And again, it was nice to see the song and the person's name and then, be able to go on and find out the entire story, as well as some extra, related, fun facts that are strewn throughout. Also, good news for those of you who have trouble finding boat loads of time to read, or those who just don't like to read. These books are fairly short. Each one is about 144 pages, and yet they still have a lot of interesting info. A book does not have to be long to be effective.

That's about all I can say about these books. I mean, the premise is very straight forward and needs little explanation. Still, I thought I would share it with you all, especially any nosy, music lovers, like myself. It is ironic that, though, whilst I am quite eager to know all of these things about other songwriters, I am somewhat reluctant to reveal who has inspired the songs I personally have written. I hope that doesn't make me hypocritical, since I'm happy to share some things when it comes to what I've written. Yeah, so what that I wrote a song that was inspired by a speech Rocky Balboa made? What are you gonna do about it?

Anywho, I would recommend these books to anyone. It would, most likely, appeal to music lovers, but I also think you'd like them if you just like some interesting stories. Either way, I say these books were a fantastic idea, and I am very glad they exist.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Titanic and Far & Away: Wow, Are They Similar!

Greetings Pups,

The other day I posted on Twitter about my plans to, perhaps, indulge in the viewing of a film that I rather enjoy, albeit as something of a guilty pleasure, Far and Away. I finished up said Tweet by mentioning how similar I thought it was to another movie, Titanic, specifically that Far and Away is that movie if Jack and Rose had made it to America together. Apparently, I'm not the only one to notice that. So why not discuss it here?

I will assume that most of you know that story of the movie Titanic, and if you don't, I guess go watch it and then come back. Simply put, the film is Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic. From the info I have, this is exactly, word for word, the way that James Cameron pitched the idea. I suppose he pitched Avatar by calling it Pocahontas...IN SPAAAACE! Because it is. Look, I'm not knocking Cameron for taking a story from Shakespeare. Other people have done it, none more, probably, than Romeo and Juliet. Actually, there are several aspects of that play put into the other film about which I'm talking.

Far and Away is way lesser known and loved (for some reason) than Titanic. It is a 1992 film, directed by Ron Howard, wherein still universally loved Tom Cruise stars as a poor Irish worker named Joseph whose family is abused by the rich people who own their land, culminating in the death of his father and the burning of their house. In order to seek revenge for all this, he goes to the house of head rich man, Daniel Christie, to kill him. But it turns out that Christie has a beautiful, headstrong daughter named Shannon. Of course, he does. She is played by Nicole Kidman. And wouldn't you know it, Shannon has a mother very set in her ways, who wants her daughter to be a proper, high class lady and marry this other rich guy, who is kind of a jerk, but Shannon wants to be modern and is okay with not being so girly and sophisticated. Also, red hair. Sound familiar? Oh, and jerk fiance is played by Thomas Gibson, who I happen to think is better looking than Tom Cruise. Now ask me to compare Billy Zane and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Anyway, after some shenanigans, Joseph and Shannon end up going to America in order to participate in the Land Run of 1893, wherein people would race on horses so that they could claim their own plot of land in a new country. Tons of land owned by no one. Yeah, I should also point out that this was also called the Cherokee Strip Land Run, but then I'll stop. Seeing as how I'm part Cherokee, and that I'm guessing this might not have been the greatest thing for my ancestors, I'll refrain from making too many comments.

More shenanigans also take place whilst they are in America as Irish immigrants, like both of them posing as brother and sister and living in a whorehouse and Joseph becoming a boxer. After that, I suppose I should mention that this was not a comedy. But why talk about that either? Just go watch the movie. Besides, the comparisons that I'm making pretty much all take place at the beginning and the end. Mostly, because that's when the fiance and the parents are around, therefore, that's when things are bitingly similar.

Yeah, the only real differences are that DiCaprio doesn't have a laughably bad, Irish accent and Shannon has a mother AND a father. By the way, shout out to Barbra Babcock as her mother, Nora, who was great in this, as well as Robert Prosky, who played her father and was hilarious. Just standing there, all oblivious to what his henchman were doing. So, if you take the bookends of Far and Away, expand it by two and a half hours, and add a boat that did NOT make it to America, you've pretty much got Titanic.

Now I could go on and on about how my like of Titanic has diminished greatly over the years, mostly due to the inaccuracies. To say the very least. Good for you, making the boat look just how it did for real, but how about the actual people? My eternal apologies to the family of William Murdoch. Yes, that's William Murdoch, the man who, according to actual witnesses, helped get people off the ship safely and then went down with it, as a hero, not the man who took bribes, shot people and committed suicide. Sorry, if that still bugs me. And I'm not saying that Far and Away was totally accurate when it came to what it was dealing with any better, but that's because I don't know much about it. Still, I can't imagine it handling things any worse. It was just really ambitious, what with trying to be very epic-y, though, I think it fell short with some people. Not me.

You know, all things considered, I'd say I like Far and Away a lot more than I do Titanic. I mean, if they were both on TV at the same time, I'd pick old school Tom and Nicole, what can I say? Maybe it's because now we can all see that, though it was praised in its time, Titanic was kind of over-hyped, which might cause people to be over it. Far and Away, on the other hand, seems to be a forgotten gem of sorts. Is it perfect? Um, no. But it's entertaining as heck in its own way.

So, in closing, yeah, this isn't something I'm exactly passionate about, but it came up, so I thought I'd write about it, as I do. Still, I say give Far and Away at least one watch if you get the chance. It may end up being added to your list of movies that you always HAVE to watch when they're on. It is for me. Go figure.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Who Is Harry Nilsson? (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

Wow, that is a long title for a documentary. The good news is that it manages to answer both of these questions. Although, if you don't know who Harry Nilsson is or why everybody is talkin' about him, then you have been deprived, and you definitely need to watch this. Or just watch it because it's good.

Who Is Harry Nilsson? etc., is a basic birth to death bio documentary, structurally speaking anyway, but this is not one of those 'unauthorized' messes. You know what I mean. The ones with interviews with people who barely seem to know who the subject is and features none of the actual music. No, this is very legit, even starting with the words "Authorized Films Presents". Good sign, though, that might seem like a proclamation of trickery. It's not. This movie is extremely well put together, with all the great music and a ton of info about our titular subject.

The film begins with some of that music and an image of Harry Nilsson turning on his TV, only for us to focus in on the screen where we see Dustin Hoffman in front of a huge audience. The star of Midnight Cowboy had the unfortunate task of informing the crowd of the passing of Harry Nilsson, which, apparently, had happened that day. It was a very interesting way to start, I think, but immediately and thankfully, we go right into the song that comes from that aforementioned film and the one for which this documentary is named, as well as the boat load of interviews we will be getting.

We learn of Harry's childhood, having been abandoned by his father and forced to grow up in poverty and how he developed a love and a gift for his music. Actually, what we get a taste of is a lot of the stories that inspired the songs he would eventually write, and I'm the type of person who absolutely loves knowing about where artists get their ideas from. And with a musician as unique as Harry was, it is quite an experience to find this out. Also, we can easily see what a fun guy he was, and I'm not referring to his rep as kind of a partier, though he did have that. No, I mean that, in all these interviews and whatnot, he just appeared to have such a good sense of humor, something that was clearly evident in his music.

Now, about those interviews of which I spoke, there are some really great ones here. We get to hear from a lot of Harry's family, his wife and children, as well as his friends, like Micky Dolenz, Jimmy Webb, Eric Idle, Brian Wilson, the Smothers Brothers and even Robin Williams, interestingly enough. Interesting, I say, because Robin Williams was in the movie musical Popeye, a film for which Harry Nilsson wrote all the music. Yeah, I'm one of those people who is surprised this isn't more swept under the rug, but I guess it has its fans, so whatever.

Actually, something that is brought up a few times is how volatile he could be. The great Paul Williams summed it up quite fittingly by saying that "He was a big bunny with really sharp teeth". Yes, we artists can be moody at times, to say the least, and Harry was no different. And he had his share of struggles, some that were imposed upon him, some he created himself. Still, you can sense that he truly did try to get all he could out of his, unfortunately, short life, for better or worse. And he was well-loved and is greatly missed by so many people, whether they knew him or not. Come to think of it, one interviewee that would be expected but is missing is Ringo Starr. He was a great friend of Harry's, but therein lies the issue. Apparently, there are three people about whom Ringo is reluctant to speak on - John Lennon, George Harrison, and Harry Nilsson, three of his closest friends who have all passed away. I can understand that.

So, in closing, I will say that I definitely recommend this documentary. Fans of Harry Nilsson have probably already seen it, but if you're one of them and are trying to recruit others, this is a good tool to use. This film really does give a full picture of the artist and the person. We see how he was able to be himself and develop his own style, writing all this beautifully quirky melodies with lyrics that were about more than only the expected subject of romantic love. As I said, we get a ton of stories, as well as so much of the amazing and extraordinary music that made Harry Nilsson such a legend. Frankly, I think you don't even have to be a fan of his to like this; you merely have to be a fan of music.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Oscar Winning Songs

Greetings Pups,

Fine! I'm doing an Oscar thing! Everybody happy now?

So here's the deal. I don't like the Oscars too much anymore. In my younger, naive days, I actually trusted that those people were , in fact, awarding the best of the best, because they were the experts. Not so much anymore. I'm old enough to know better now, and I think maybe so is the rest of the world. It seems that the Academy Awards and the winning of one barely holds any weight at all. I mean, if you win, deserved or otherwise, good for you, but don't think it's going to guarantee you work or staying power. I think that has proven time and again. Still...whatever.

Let's be honest with ourselves here. There is but one reason to watch this or any award show anymore. Because those are the nights when being on Twitter is FANTASTIC! Oh, yeah, we had a lot of fun conversations the other night, and I had a good time. THAT was actually more entertaining than the awards show itself, as per usual. Except I didn't get to see Benedict Cumberbatch on Twitter, but I did on the Oscars. So they can have a point for that.

Now I didn't want to do a full on rant and seem bitter, though I feel I have failed at that. So I thought I'd do a top ten Oscar-related list. Again, I could have been mean and done the "top ten times the Academy got it wrong" list, but, first, where would I start? And, second, I feel like being nice for the moment. Actually, I should do this in honor of the win last night for Robert Lopez and his lovely wife, Kristen, who wrote "Let It Go" from Frozen. Why is this important? Well, now Mr.Lopez has gotten himself an EGOT. That means his is the recipient of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. That is very impressive, and there are only a precious few are in this group. This song did not make my list, but it is still good, and congrats, you two. You're are an adorbs couple, and you made a great speech. Anywho, let's begin.

#10. "Mona Lisa" from Captain Carey, USA (1950) - I like a song wherein a man realizes that, yeah, women are tough to figure out sometimes, and yet, he sees this as almost a positive thing and doesn't just call her a "B". You know, like so many guys do these days. Also, Nat King Cole. I don't need too much more than that.

#9. "Last Dance" from Thank God It's Friday (1978) - I think the reason that a lot of people hate music from the disco era is because a lot of it seemed over-produced and thrown together too quickly, like they were just capitalizing on a fad. Those people are not completely wrong. However, some musicians did care when it came to the music, and, as this great song shows, they even got rewarded for it sometimes.

#8. "Up Where We Belong" from An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) - Oh, Eighties. You and your many attempts to make us believe that Adult Contemporary/Easy Listening was the greatest genre ever. Well, if they all sounded like this song, I might agree with that.

#7. "Streets of Philadelphia" from Philadelphia (1993) - Okay, don't get mad, but I am not exactly a fan of Bruce Springsteen. I don't know why. He just never appealed to me, and in the last several years, he has become something of America's Bono. Not necessarily a good thing, in my mind. Still, I can't deny that this song is pretty powerful. On the surface, it shouldn't have been so appealing, but, somehow, it was.

#6. "The Way You Look Tonight" from Swing Time (1936) - I shudder to think, sometimes, what a lot of people of a younger generation would define as a love song. THIS, kids, is a love song. It's simple and beautiful and respectable. There is so little music, especially these days, that can make you feel legitimately good and warm and fuzzy in your soul. Good thing we have songs like this.

#5. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing (1987) - Oh, hello there again, Jennifer Warnes. My goodness, weren't you a good luck charm for so many in this decade. Anyway, I think some songs that are hits and popular at one point can sometimes have little staying power. Just get some back copies of the charts, and you'll probably question why some of these songs were liked at all. This one, however, I still listen to today, and somehow, it is just as good as the first time I heard it.

#4. "Things Have Changed" from Wonder Boys (2000) - I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that some of you might not know this song. Or saw the movie from where it came. That's cool. I understand. But Wonder Boys was a great movie (shot in my area, BTW)and this is a great song. Wait, let me amend that. It's a great song, if you like Bob Dylan. If you DON'T like Bob Dylan, you are NOT going to like this. I mean, it feels like classic Dylan but for a new generation. And, no, I don't know how he did that. I would like to learn, though.

#3. "When You Believe" from The Prince of Egypt (1998) - As I have mentioned, my favorite movie is The Ten Commandments. Also, I love cartoons. And The Prince of Egypt is a combo, so I have to like it. Seriously, though, it is a legit great movie with a very good interpretation of the story. And, then, we get this beautiful song that teamed up Whitney and Mariah, and I don't think I have to say anymore.

#2. "Let the River Run" from Working Girl (1988) - I love Carly Simon, and this is one of my favorite songs of hers. There's something about it that feels so epic, for lack of a better word, and yet, so relatable. I know there are a lot of songs that people play to get themselves motivated to work out, but this song is one that can make a person get motivated to live life. Love it.

#1. "Falling Slowly" from Once (2007) - I won't say a ton about this one, because it already showed up on my "Songs From Movies" Top Ten list. It just feels so pure, like a real songwriter's song, if that makes any sense. It fit the movie and the characters perfectly. So, congratulations, Glen and Marketa. You may have won an Oscar, but, more importantly, you have earned the top spot on my list here. You must be so proud.

So, there is my list of my favorite Oscar winning songs. Good times. I have nothing else to say about the Academy Awards, until nest year, on Twitter. Only that I am so looking forward to seeing what all of this year's winners do as their post-Oscar win crap movie. They all do it. They ALL do it.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer