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 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 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 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, 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 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 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