Friday, August 29, 2014

Top Ten Community Episodes, the Traditional Years

Greetings Pups,

If you are a fan of the show Community, then you were most likely saddened by the news that, after a five year run on NBC, the series would be coming to an end. But you would most likely be quite happy at the news that it was going to be brought back to life by way of Yahoo! This way, we will hopefully be getting our "six seasons and a movie", at the very least. Honestly, the only thing that made me smile, where the initial cancellation was concerned, was the fact that I would get to do a top ten episodes list. And, though the show is continuing, I thought I'd get around it by calling this a top ten from the traditional years, a.k.a. the years spent on that old timey thing called television. I don't call that cheating; I just call it being creative. Wouldn't Jeff Winger be proud of me?

So, as of late, I have decided to forego giving long descriptions about shows and characters when I do these lists, the way I used to do. I figure, unless you're a fan or you know enough about the show, you might not stop to read this. Although, as always, I may be giving spoilers and talking about things that only those who watch Community know, so check it out first, then come back. It will get more views for me and this cool, cool, cool show. Yeah, that's one of the things you need to watch the show to understand. Anyway, let's get started with my personal favorite episodes of Community.

Honorable Mention: "Regional Holiday Music"(Season 3) - Not only do we get to hear the musical stylings of the cast, for better or worse, this episode could have been called, "Hey, Glee! You guys suck!" Good times. Or am I the only one seeing it that way?

#10. "Heroic Origins"(Season 4) - Okay, 'elephant in the room' time. Also, harsh honesty time. If I had to pick a worst,or least good season of Community, I would go with season 4. Why? Mostly, because this was the year without Dan Harmon, the genius who created the show in the first place. And he got fired, because...I don't know. Maybe the person in charge had the same philosophy as the person who let Edward Norton go from his Hulk role. In other words, "Hey, what's the best thing we've got here? That? Okay...kill it". Look, I'm not saying that this season was 100% horrible. It had its moments, especially considering we still had our amazing cast. And, though Dan had nothing to do with this one, it reminded me of him a bit. Seeing the story of how these friends had always been connected and somehow found their way to Greendale gave me a good feeling of Harmon-y. Yeah, I went there.

#9. "A Fistful of Paintballs"/"For Few Paintballs More"(Season 2) - This is not a tie. This is a two-parter episode, so I had to include both. In Season 1, there was a paintball episode called "Modern Warfare", where the prize was first choice at classes for the next year. Well, the stakes have been raised this time with a prize of $100,000. Not suspicious at all. Anyway, the first half is done in the style of a spaghetti western, hence the title, and the second half switches over to having a Star Wars theme, hence the...well, okay, they kept the joke going with the titles from the first part, but whatever. It works. Also, if you are a fan of Lost, you're gonna get a little surprise.

#8. "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics"(Season 5) - First of all, the middle word in this title got called into question by my Spell Check, so I think someone made it up. Anyway, season 5 was pretty good and interesting, behind the scenes as well. We got back Dan Harmon, but, sadly, Chevy Chase as Pierce left and so did Donald Glover as Troy, eventually. It was sad, because they were both so great. Still, we got Jonathan Banks, and he brought a lot to the show. Okay, this episode. It's another one of those stylized ones, which I love, and they do a take off on all those really dark, crime genre shows. And the criminal they are dealing with is the, ahem, Butt Crack Bandit. Okay, yeah, they use the other word, but I just can't! I'm sorry. Aside from the main plot, the end of this one gives us a very important event in the series. Just watch.

#7. "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"(Season 2) - Oh, Abed. Sometimes I think you're my imagination soul mate. So, as a child of the 80's, I loved this episode, because it was all in stop motion animation. Or, as we always called it, claymation. It was a tribute of sorts to those old Rankin/Bass Christmas specials, which, as the Nostalgia Critic put it, had more stop than motion. He's not exactly wrong, but I still watched them. Anyway, since Abed's imagination is working quite potently this time, his friends are concerned about his mental state, and they get help from Duncan, played by the great John Oliver, to perform Christmas-nosis. Just go with it. And Snowman Chang? I mean, come on. Awesomeness all around, and Ken Jeong makes an adorable little snowman. A tad feisty, but adorable. It's just one of the most creative things they've done, and that is saying a lot for this show. I know it took a lot of time and work to produce, but it was worth it. And, even in this form, Danny Pudi excels at playing the wonderful weirdo. I call him that with love, by the way.

#6. "Pilot"(Season 1) - As far as character introduction goes, I'd say this is one of the best pilot episodes I've ever seen. Sure, they eventually build on the characters, but, on a show that's very driven by the world around them, they got the foundation out, right off the bat. Jeff's a manipulator, Abed is strange, Annie is a sometimes psychotic overachiever, so on and so forth. Got it. And now let's get this party started. Isn't that what a pilot supposed to do anyway? Well done. And hats off to Joel McHale. I think a lot of the pressure to get this series off the ground was resting on his shoulders, since he was kind of the central character in this first episode. No worries. He did a fantastic job.

#5. "Home Economics"(Season 2) - There's a lot going on in this one. First, Jeff is revealed to be living in his car after some condo fee issues and ends up living with Abed, adapting all too well to his carefree lifestyle. Britta tries to convince Jeff to get his life together, all the while she's dealing with her ex, a hippie guy named Vaughn, played hilariously by Eric Christian Olsen. He's bitter about their breakup and goes all Alanis Morrisette/Adele/Taylor Swift by writing songs about her with his band. Pierce tries to "help" and ends up in that band. And then, there's Annie trying to "help" Troy impress a girl. Weird, because she was kind of in love with him. But it's Annie, so, of course. Amazingly enough, though this episode is quite full, it does not feel bloated. See, it is possible.

#4. "Digital Estate Planning"(Season 3) - After the death of his father, Pierce must go to a warehouse with his closest friends and ends up having to play a special video game in order to, literally, win his inheritance. Much like the claymation episode, we are going nostalgic for this one, with a tribute to old school video games. Why the old school kind? Probably because it's cheaper graphics. I don't fault them for that. Anyway, there are a ton of comedy gems in this episode, including our guest actor, Giancarlo Eposito. I personally know him best due to his role on Homicide: Life on the Street. I've rarely, if ever, seen him do comedy, but he should do it more often.

#3. "Remedial Chaos Theory"(Season 3) - Hmmm, chaos theory. Insert Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park joke here. As a writer, I am overwhelmingly impressed with this episode. The plot is that, while at Abed's and Troy's housewarming party, a die is cast to decide who will go to the pizza delivery guy. A die with six sides, creating, as who else but Abed tells us, six different timelines. And it does! We get to see what happens depending on what number is rolled. Every one has obviously different events, but they manage to give us some running gags, which are funny every time. The whole thing is just genius. And God bless Gillian Jacobs and her "Me so hungry!" dance. Wait, me so...hungry? I feel like that could have gone in a less appropriate direction. Keeping it classy, Community.

#2. "Cooperative Calligraphy"(Season 2) - So, remember how I said that Annie can be a little psychotic? Um, yeah. After a study session where the group works on yet another diorama, they are all looking forward to the puppy parade. How could they not be with all the sporadic announcements from Dean Pelton? God bless you, too, Jim Rash. But, alas, Annie cannot find her pen, and she subsequently accuses and interrogates every member of the study group, determined to find it. So, therefore, they are all stuck in the study room, missing the puppy parade. Why? Because this is a "bottle episode". And one of the best ever. Oh, and speaking of best ever, Alison Brie is THE BEST SCREAMER EVER!!!

#1. "Basic Lupine Urology"(Season 3) - So, I sure do love me some Law & Order, as I may have mentioned. And I clearly love Community. I wonder how I would feel if someone combined these two. Oh, look at that! Someone did, and I feel amazing about it. I was so excited when I heard about this one, and I was not disappointed. This is a full on tribute to the long-running series, Law & Order, complete with a thanks to Dick Wolf at the end. The plot is that the yam being used by the study group for a biology project has been murdered...or whatever, and they must find the guilty party. And do they EVER get into this? We've got Abed and Troy playing the detectives, dressed just as they should be, and Jeff and Annie as the male and female prosecutors. It probably takes a hardcore L&O fan to notice this, but they paid a lot of attention to detail here, as they always do. But, I have to say, everything and everyone kind of got blown away by Yvette Nicole Brown's performance. She became Lt. Van Buren. The way she talked, her mannerisms, even the way she moved her hands. It was perfect. By this time, two years after cancellation, I had really been missing my Law & Order. What a nice little present for me. Oh, and Michael Ironside. I don't think I have to say anymore about that.

And so, those are my favorite episodes from Community's time on traditional television. You know, some people have referred to this show as being "too weird". If that means that it's creative and unique and like nothing else you'll be seeing on TV, then I will take it. I do love it when people are willing to take risks in order to be artistically innovative. That is about the rarest thing these days in the entertainment industry. I'm happy that someone chose to be a little different, so that those of us who appreciate creativity can have something to watch. And I wish them much success in the future.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, August 25, 2014

The One Seasoner's Club - Defying Gravity

Greetings Pups,

I suppose I would consider myself a fan of the science fiction genre. However, with me, it tends to be hit or miss more than any other. So, when something good and unique pops up, I tend to take notice. That brings us to today's subject of The One Seasoner's Cub, Defying Gravity. And, no, it has absolutely nothing to do with Wicked. Thank God.

In 2009, ABC began airing Defying Gravity, a series that was inspired by a BBC fictional documentary (What?) called Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets, released in the U.S. as Voyage to the Planets and Beyond. That was all about how a mission to visit other planets might play out in reality. I haven't seen it yet, but, after watching this series, it definitely has a place on my Netflix queue.

So, as you may have guessed from that and if you saw any of the promos, Defying Gravity is about a team of astronauts in 2052 on a six year mission to Venus for...reasons. Yeah, the reason as to why they are going there gets revealed as the show continues on. Until it stops abruptly. We'll get to that. Anyway, this is not shot in a documentary form, though there is a subplot of one of the team members shooting a documentary intended to be shown to children. But the children cannot see everything, and we have much else going on here.

Okay, there are a lot of characters in this show, the central one being Maddux Donner. First of all, what's up with that awesome name? Second, I call him central because, as I recall, he did most, if not all, of the voice-over narrations. Also, he was played by Ron Livingston, probably the best known actor in this series. Anyway, this is a bit of a timeline jumping show, though it's not at all confusing. See, ten years earlier, on a trip to Mars, Donner was put in a situation where he was forced to leave two colleagues behind. It has haunted him ever since, and he has become well-known as a "tragic American here". We don't see a ton of the Mars stuff, as we mostly jump between "present" day and the events of only five years earlier. Those events centered around would be astronauts trying to get into the program and eventually make the team for the Venus mission.

But, as astronauts are people, they have much human drama by way of their personal relationships and life decisions. I could go into specifics, but, as I said, there are many characters and, thus, many plots going on. Everything from the two points in time are connected, though, so it makes it much easier to follow. Also, no shock here, we begin to realize that their may be some shady goings on within the hierarchy of the space program, and they are intent on sending specific people for the mission. As I said, we learn more as time progresses, as do the previously uninformed astronauts. By the end, such as it is, we can see that everyone, audience included, is just scratching the surface of the mystery. Sadly, it is a mystery for which we will never get an explanation. Thanks a pantload, network.

I suppose I should make mention of the cast, since, whilst largely unknown, it was very good. Besides Ron Livingston, some of the others you may recognize are Malik Yoba, Christina Cox and Laura Harris. Oh, yeah, one of the reasons why it's so easy to tell the two points in time apart is much thanks to the hairstyle of Miss Laura here. Long hair = past, short hair = present. The rest of the cast is full of a ton of lesser known actors. At least, I personally did not recognize any of them. But if you get a chance, I say look them up, because there was a lot of talent on this show.

So, we had a unique story line, good writing, great actors and stunning visuals. Why was it cancelled? Perhaps, it was because it had all those things I just mentioned, and television often has no use for quality shows. Seen the lineup lately? I suppose it was because of ratings. Why else? Actually, I have no concrete proof of this, but I've heard that ABC had poised this to be something of a replacement for Lost, which was on its way out. Unfortunately, Defying Gravity did not have a pilot that was a massive hit. And, of course, shows like this can never get big thanks to word of mouth and develop a loyal following. Nope! That never happens. It's not like there was a show that premiered in 1963 about a time traveling alien that had a fairly slow start and then ended up lasing fifty+ years with a rabid fan base. And before said fan base has a meltdown, I am not comparing Defying Gravity to you beloved Doctor Who. I'm just saying the principle is the same. Also, the eighth series just began, and it's on my mind. Point is, some shows deserve a chance to build an audience. You never know what might become of them.

Okay, let's just get to the question that I've pretty much already answered. Did this show deserve a second season? Yes, without a doubt. Actually, of all the shows I've covered in this little series of mine, I'd say this is in the top three of ones that most deserved to go on. And not just because I and many others wanted to know what the heck was happening, but because it was a well-made, interesting and entertaining show. We do not have many of those these days. Why take any away? I don't know. Still, with the phenomenon of Netflix choosing some past series to resurrect, I certainly hope Defying Gravity gets a nomination.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Top Ten Worst Hit Songs of 1989

Greetings Pups,

Remember yesterday, what I said about the not-so-great music of this year? How I could barely handle talking about it? Yeah, well, I say we don't do a lot of small talk today. Let's just get down to the task at hand and deal with the especially awful awfulness of this year in music with the Top Ten Worst Hit Songs of 1989. Sigh. Let's get this over with.

#10. "Shower Me With Your Love" Surface - Okay, this one is placing quite low on the list, because I am being a bit nitpicky here. I have little issue with the verses of the song. They're not that bad, actually, and the singing is fine. But the chorus? That phrase, 'shower me with your love'? I don't know. It just sounds wrong, so wrong. At worst. At best, it's just cringeworthy.

#9. "After All" Cher and Peter Cetera - As I previously mentioned, I like Chicago, so I don't really have a major problem with Peter Cetera. I even like a little of his solo work. A little. And I like Cher. Even saw her in concert one time. But this song is one I never, ever liked. It just doesn't do anything. It's...there, and that's about it. I need more, especially from these two.

#8. "Rock Wit'cha" Bobby Brown - First of all, what is up with that spelling? Yes, I am not a fan of this so-called phonetic spelling with song titles. I can tolerate a 'wanna' or a 'gonna', even a 'kinda', but that's about it. Don't ask me why? Also, if you want to make a song about romancing...well, 'romancing' the ladies, try not to make references to Marvin Gaye. I mean, I don't remind people of Wolfgang Puck when I make smoked salmon. It's, thank you.

#7. "I Wanna Have Some Fun" Samantha Fox - Speaking of a 'wanna' song, there's this. So apparently, in the 80's, a lot of people wanted to be Madonna. Her fans doing this was bad enough, but it seems that a few musical acts were going in this direction as well. Whether it was on purpose or not, I get a feeling that Samantha Fox was attempting to follow in her footsteps. Why, I have no idea, but this song and its accompanying video kind of proved that, though I never considered Madonna a paradigm of fine music, this girl was not even close. At least, not with this song.

#6. "Rock On" Michael Damian - You know how we all kind of roll our eyes at the thought of actors doing the music thing? Well, if you are a soap opera actor doing it, you've got even more strikes against you. Not everyone can be Jack Wagner. No lie, I love him. But this guy, I just don't know. I have no idea what he was like as an actor, save a brief stint on The Facts of Life, and to be fair, he doesn't have a bad voice. He sounds very 80's, actually. And this song sounds 80's...times a hundred. I get how some people might like that, but I just don't in this case. And don't get me started on the lyrics.

#5. "Girl, I'm Gonna Miss You" Milli Vanilli - You didn't think I was going to forget these guys, did you? Well, there's more to come, but let's just deal with this now. They had four -FOUR!- songs that ranked in, not only the Top 100 of the year, but the Top 30. What the heck, 1989? This was, apparently, their love ballad. Oh, it had some slow, slow rapping...ish, because why not? Forget the pantomime scandal. I have no idea how they got successful with this stuff.

#4. "I Like It" Dino - Ever look at a new act in music and know that they are going to be a one-hit-wonder? And barely so. Yeah, I think this was something of a hello/goodbye situation here. I actually don't even think I've ever heard this thing on the radio. Even Rick Astley gets played on legit radio these days, but not this guy. How sad is that?

#3. "Batdance" Prince - What in the heck is this? Look, I am not exactly a fan of Prince, but I can, at least, appreciate that he has done some good stuff. He certainly is a talented musician and songwriter. So why? Why does this exist? It does not need to exist.

#2. "Baby, I Love Your Way/Free Bird" Will to Power - This is not a tie of two songs. This is a mash-up...Glee style! You know what, no. I take that back. At least Glee, doing its best to ruin good music since 2009, can do a proper mash-up where the two or more songs are somehow related, either lyrically or melodically...sometimes. But what do these to songs have in common? The 70's? For crying out loud, "Staying Alive" and "Disco Duck" would be a better combo. The only reason that this is only Number 2 is because, whoever the girl is in this act, she's actually got some vocal chops. Otherwise, I've got nothing. Did I mention this song made it to Number 9 on the Year End Chart? Number 9! For the entire year! Confused face, for real.

#1. "Baby, Don't Forget My Number" Milli Vanilli - Welcome back, boys. Don't forget your number, you say? Oh, I will forget, but I will not forgive. Not for this. I mean, come on! There is nothing, NOTHING right with this song. Pretty much everything I detest about 80's music can be found right here. So, if you're looking to torture someone, I just made it way easier for you.

And there you have the worst of the year, again, in my opinion. I will, for sure, be doing lists like this in the future, but I think it will be a long while before I venture into the 80's again. If I ever go back at all.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 1989

Greetings Pups,

So, I think this is the fourth time I've done one of these lists, ranking songs of whatever year. And, yet again, I have chosen a year because of someone specific. I'm pretty much doing this as a gift to someone who was born in 1989, because it's cheaper than buying an actual gift. I'm not sure I would have picked this year, otherwise.

Even though I was born in the 80's, I have never been a huge fan of the music what came from it, generally speaking. Of course, there was some good stuff, but I don't really think that 1989 had much of it. It has a few gems, some was meh, and the rest...I can't even...just wait for tomorrow. Anyway, let's take care of the good stuff today. We'll tackle what's left later. As always, I get these from Billboard's Year End chart of said year. Gotta have some focus. And oh my, if this isn't going to expose my love of easy listening. Off we go.

#10. "Stand" R.E.M. - I've promised to always be completely honest with you guys. So, when it comes to R.E.M., let me be honest and say...I loathe this band. I have my reasons. Unfortunately, I have the rare gift of being able to separate artist and art, occasionally, and I do like some of their songs. It's weird, I know. Point is, I have an odd infatuation with this particular song. Maybe because it's not as, let's say, mopey and possibly pretentious as some of their other stuff. Thumbs up?

#9. "All This Time" Tiffany / "Lost in Your Eyes" Debbie Gibson - Yeah, I'm throwing in a tie again. Look, I had to do it. I wanted to include both of these songs, but I didn't want to cause another rivalry between these two ladies. Not that I'm certain there was one to begin with. Okay, I really like these songs, and they certainly let the girls show off some of their strengths. I'd like to think these made people notice their skills a bit more than usual, Tiffany with her voice and Debbie with her songwriting. I think these girls had more to offer than they were ever given proper credit for.

#8. "Look Away" Chicago - If one of my music review mentors ever sees this, he may hate me. But I cannot help it. I love Chicago. By this time, their former leader of sorts, Peter Cetera, had been gone for quite a while, and they had been trying to keep up with the success they had gained. It might not have been as prominent, but it was certainly still there.

#7. "How Can I Fall?" Breathe - Yeah, I know utterly nothing about this band. I think most people might know them better by way of another song, "Hands to Heaven", but that's about it. I have no fun facts, at all. But this song is awesome, in its own special way.

#6. "Toy Soldiers" Martika - If anyone knows this song today, it may most likely be because it was sampled by Eminem. Whatever. Those of who can remember the original, in its purest form, know that nothing can touch it. Also, I heard it was about drug addiction, and the lyrics used are quite creative and unique. I guess that can happen occasionally with hit songs.

#5. "Eternal Flame" The Bangles - Life has many great questions, and one of the greatest is this - Bangles or Go-Go's? Well, with me, I am always going to choose The Bangles. Save "Walk Like an Egyptian", I think this may be their most well-known song. And it's great. Sadly, though, according to Behind the Music, this was when things really started going downhill for the band personally. At least, they went out on something this good.

#4. "Listen to Your Heart" Roxette - Sweden has given us some great groups. We've got ABBA, Ace of Base(Shut up!) and these guys, Roxette. I don't know how well they may be remembered these days, but I guarantee their songs are still being played on the radio, as well they should. They had a few pretty good hits, but I consider this song to be their best. It's got all the things that a good, epic, power ballad of the 80's needs.

#3. "I'll Be Loving You(Forever) New Kids on the Block - Have I mentioned that I love New Kids on the Block? Because I do. This year was a good year for the Boston boys. They were everywhere. Therefore, if you did not like them, it was a bad year for you. Good for me, I liked them, still do. This was one of the biggest hits of their career, and it's a well-deserved honor. Oh, but if you have issues with a little thing called falsetto, run away. Run far, far away.

#2. "What I Am" Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians - So, when I watched the I Love the 80's specials on VH-1, they told me that in that decade there was a resurgence of hippies. Not just 'I have a tie-dye shirt, so I'm a hippie', but full-on hippies. I either was not aware of this or I forgot about it. Either way, I think this song may have been a reflection of that. At least, it didn't sound like anything else we were getting on the radio during that time. How nice that an artist can go against the flow ad still have some success.

#1. "Right Here Waiting" Richard Marx - I know, I know, but I can't help it. I just can't help it. I love this song SO MUCH! Some men just know what the ladies want to here, and he always did. Kidding aside, I have always thought that Richard Marx was an immensely talented musician. As I said, in amongst all the...whatever, there were a few gems this year. And this gem was the sparkliest.

And there are the best of 1989, according to me. I must say, finding ten(or eleven) good songs was not as hard of a challenge as I thought it would be. Of course, narrowing down the bad ones? Yeah, that took some effort. Join me tomorrow for that one.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Goodbye to Robin Williams

Greetings Pups,

Yes, I am doing what everyone else is doing, and no, I don't have any idea what to say either. But I thought I should say something, so short and as sweet as I can be today.

Not much out of Hollywood surprises me anymore, and I think most people would agree with me on that. The death of Robin Williams, however, seemed to shock everyone. Having been born in the 80's, I have never not known about him, and I have never not liked him. He never failed to make me laugh when he was being interviewed, and though I rarely stay awake for late night TV, if he was going to be on, I had to check it out. Since he started in comedy, that's what he was most known for. No problem with that. But as someone who is madly in love with Dead Poets Society, of course, I can't forget what a gifted dramatic actor that Robin Williams was. It's what I'll remember most about him and missed most about him.

Professional accomplishments aside, he was never quiet about his personal problems. I don't think anybody didn't know about that aspect of his life. Ironically, though he was vocal about all this, he still managed to hide it well with his upbeat and hilarious persona. Or he just managed to make us forget about the bad stuff. But we never really know how much hurt someone can be trapped by. He must have been trapped by a lot. And I understand why people feel like this came out of nowhere, but I'm not sure how totally stunned I am. There's a reason for that, though.

I can't speak for him or anyone who knew him, but I can speak as someone who has gone through severe depression. We are quite good at faking it, especially when we don't think anyone can help. I have been there. I have been suicidal and made my own attempts. Thankfully, I got through it. There are still scars, and there always will be. Maybe that's a good thing, since they remind me of what I don't want to go back to.

Some people are asking how could and why would Robin Williams take his own life. He had everything. Yeah, sometimes we forget that the world's definition of 'everything' is not what 'everything' means in reality. I don't know what would have helped him or stopped him, because I don't know exactly what kind of help he would have accepted. I credit my faith with getting me out of those dark places and keeping me from falling too deeply into them again, though I was the one who had to decide to take the help. I know a lot of people don't want to hear about faith being an answer to these kind of problems, but sorry, it worked for me, and I won't lie about that.

I'm going to end this by saying that, whatever he was going through, I wish he hadn't have done what he did. I don't want to condemn him or anything, like some have been doing. I just feel sad for him, because I understand what it's like to be looking at the choices of life and death and having to pick one. I wish he would have made a different choice. I wish it for him and all those who knew and loved him. I will certainly have them in my prayers. But I don't want to dwell on his death passed this post, and I truly hope that nothing I said offended or hurt anyone further. I'd rather remember his gift. There's one thing that won't go away.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, August 9, 2014

True Whit by Whitney Port - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

So the way that most people approach shopping is the way that I approach a trip to the library. Sometimes, I know what I'm going there to get; other times, I go to browse. On a recent visit to said library, I came across a book, and I checked it out, as you do. I don't believe it's a book that many people would think I would go near, but I'm pretty open when it comes to these things. The book in question is True Whit by Whitney Port. Don't know who that is? Well, the world was introduced to her on a little show called The Hills.

Sit back down!

Okay, I know that not everyone is a fan of this show. I know some people downright hated it. I know, because I was once one of those people. But then, I watched it and realized that it might be one of the greatest shows ever! That may or may not have been slightly scripted. Depends on who you ask. Who cares though? It was certainly entertaining, and, while some characters on it confirmed my prejudices about them being shallow and spoiled, I ended up really liking, and dare I say it, even respecting a couple of them. One of those who gets high praise from me is Miss Whitney. She went to college, she worked hard and she built her own little fashion empire. And, yes, I do know that being on The Hills and eventually The City probably helped with her success. But I won't say she didn't work at all just because she caught a few breaks. I'm pretty sure that most hard-working people who get very successful get some breaks here and there. Anyway, I'm getting away from topic here. Let's talk about the book.

True Whit, which has a tagline(?) of Designing a Life of Style, Beauty and Fun was released in 2011 and is, what I like to call, a lifestyle book. And not just because the words 'life' and 'style' are in said tagline. It's basically 220 pages or so of Whitney giving chapter by chapter advice on everything from fashion to dating to fitness and many things in between and beyond. To be fair, I did a quick, non-reading scan of this book, and it worried me. I just couldn't see the point, initially. I mean, not everyone who picks up this thing is going to be a 25-year-old, tall, thin, gorgeous blonde who already has a successful and fast-paced career in the heart of New York City. I am certainly not that person, because - hello! - I have brown hair. And yet, once I actually took the time to read it, I saw that it was not that bad. In fact, I'd say that it is a very well put together book.

I really like how it is structured, and I like all the pictures that are used for it, both professional and personal. Yeah, I gotta love a girl who has no problem reminding everyone of some fashion faux pas she may have committed. There are some instructions on simple but effective exercises, which is good, because there are also recipes. Yay! Tried some, like them, good times. And, as someone who has done well in the professional world, Whitney gives tips about dealing with workplace issues that can apply to you no matter where you work. That kind of brings me to what I like most about this book.

This easily could have been a very nauseating and infuriating attempt for this young woman to make a book saying, "If you are exactly like me, in every way, your life will be as enchanted and perfect as mine!" Yes, VERY easily it could have been that.
Thankfully, it's really not. As I said, we are not all what Whitney is, physically, professionally or personally, and I don't think she wants us to be. I really don't think Whitney Port was or is looking for minions. Hey, I could be totally wrong, but there seems to be a level of genuine sincerity here. I think that Whitney just wanted to help people out by giving advice about what she's been through and what she knows. I certainly don't get the feeling that she's telling young woman to "Be me!". More like "Be yourself, and if these little tips can help you be a better you, then go for it!" And there certainly is nothing wrong with taking advice, here and there, from other people to improve yourself, even if that other person is a celebrity.

Look, the bottom line is that this book has an audience. It might not exactly be me or you, as a whole, but, if your 22-year-old, recent graduate daughter picks it up, don't be worried. There are much worse books and much, much worse people that she could be getting a few tips from. Honestly, I like Whitney Port. She's always seemed quite nice and sincere, and she certainly doesn't seem to be damaged by her success. So, if you come across this book, I say give it a look. If for no other reason than that Mom's Chili Cheese Bite recipe!

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Top Ten Breakfast Cereals

Greetings Pups,

Remember how in my last post I mentioned that I have been and will be rather busy with working on my books and how I still wanted to put stuff on the blog, but it might not be stuff that takes up a boatload of time or effort? Well, here's a list of my favorite breakfast cereals. Oh, yeah! We're going there. So, let's go.

#10. Cracklin' Oat Bran - I'm going to be perfectly honest here. I really, REALLY like this cereal, and it might have gotten even higher on the list except there's a problem. It NEVER goes on sale! I'm not kidding. It might be the most expensive cereal I see in the store, factor in price against size of box, and all, and I swear it never goes on sale. Is this just a thing in my area? Look, as I said, I really like this stuff, but I'm on a budget here.

#9. Cocoa Pebbles - So, I do not like any fruity cereals and that includes Fruity Pebbles. However, their wonderful brother cereal Cocoa Pebbles? Oh, yeah, I'll take some of that, please and thank you. And you gotta love those commercials.

#8. Honey Bunches of Oats - Now I'm not a huge fan of the flake cereals. I don't care what anyone says, they are the first to turn to mush when you pour milk on them. Still, if you can add some sweet, nutty pieces of crunchy deliciousness, I can figure anything.

#7. Golden Grahams - I've always enjoyed myself a good box of graham crackers. I couldn't imagine them being any better than how they were. Then, someone turned them into cereal. Nuff said.

#6. Frosted Mini Wheats - Gotta love a trickster cereal, am I right? You know, the kind that gets you to eat it by coating it in frosty, sugary goodness, but then, you eat it and think, "Hmm, I have a snaking suspicion that this might be healthy for me". Enter Frosted Mini Wheats. Now I know they added a bunch of variations on the original, but I don't mess with that. Just give me the stuff straight up.

#5. Special K Red Berries - Again, not into the flakies, so I was never much into Special K. But someone had the genius idea to add berries to it, little, dried, astronaut food berries that you's think wouldn't be good, but totally are. Again, I have to be honest, on its own, Special K is kind of boring. Why do you think they created a diet around it? But throw in the bite of those berries and I'll take it.

#4. Count Chocula - As I have mentioned before, I do not do the Halloween things. I do, however, look forward to it every year, because it means the return of my beloved Count Chocula. Look, if you like the other monsters cereals more, good for you. But I can't think that any of them are better than this. Also, it always serves to distract me from the annual return of the evil candy corn.

#3. Cheerios - Yep, just straight up, plain, original Cheerios. I know this brand has also thrown in some new flavors and all that, best known being the Honey Nut version, but there is something so pure and delicious about Cheerios. Just regular Cheerios. Sometimes cereal unplugged is the best way to have it.

#2. Lucky Charms - When it comes to marshmallows in their white, fluffy, well-known form, I am kind of on the fence. I'll take them in hot cocoa occasionally, but that's about it. However, if you shrink them down, dry them out, color them, put them into fun shapes and make them practically unrecognizable, more please! They even make the "healthy" half of the cereal taste kind of good.

#1. Life - This is another one of those trickster cereals. You look at it and think it's all healthy and ewww, but then, you eat it and it's all sweetness. Amazing. And I can even eat this one without milk. Not something I can do with the others, at least, not as enjoyably. What can I say? Life is good.

So there you have it, my top ten favorite cereals. I hope it tides you over until my next post. Now, go and eat, children.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer