Sunday, April 26, 2015

The One Seasoner's Club - Manhattan Love Story

Greetings Pups,

I don't think I've ever done one of these so soon after the show in question has been cancelled. I mean, it's barely been six months, but I do have my reasons for doing this. More on that later. Let's take a look at the short-lived, very recently plug having been pulled, Manhattan Love Story.

Manhattan Love Story was a half-hour comedy that aired on ABC from September 30, 2014 to December 4, 2014. Yeah, it's another one of those shows that technically has a season under its belt, but just barely. It was actually cancelled after four episodes, only half of which I watched at the time, but, since ABC had them, all eleven episodes that had been taped were available OnDemand up until a couple of days ago. Hence, the reason why I decided to write about this series. Eleven 20 minute episodes? That's less than four hours of "research". I figured, why not? So, what exactly was this show about?

Well, as the title predicts, it was about a man and a woman in Manhattan who may or may not fall in love. The woman is Dana, played by AnaLeigh Tipton, a hopeless romantic who comes from a small town and has just come to the big city of New York trying to make it. As you do. As many characters have done. The man is Peter, played by Jake McDorman, a guy who has always lived in New York and has dated many women in it. The two are set up on a blind date, which results in many shenanigans that carry on throughout the short run of the series, as does this gimmick that we can hear what they're thinking to themselves as well as what they are saying out loud. Yeah, that happened. Actually, it was kind of interesting to hear what they SHOULD have said as opposed to what they actually DID say. It was a lesson that sometimes telling the truth can save a lot of trouble. Anyway, I liked these two together. They had potential.

Of course, Dana and Peter weren't the only people on this show. We also have Peter's brother, David, played by Nicolas Wright. He was kind of an enjoyable character. I found him to be the funniest actually, playing the older brother, but the sometimes seemingly less accomplished in a lot of areas. There was also Chloe, the half sister of the boys, played by Chloe Wepper and their dad, William, played by Kurt Fuller, who both, along with Peter and David work at the family trophy making business. Sure, why not? And I liked these characters just fine, which is a good thing. But then, we have David's wife, Amy, played by Jade Catta-Preta. I would like to make it clear that I have nothing against this actress. She's not bad, and I'm sure she's nice in real life. But this character? Holy smokes, she was annoying! I mean, there's always that one friend we have who can get on your nerves, but we let it go, because we love them. But there is a fine line between a friend that makes us say "Oh, you!' and a friend that makes others ask "Why in the heck are you friends with that person?!" This character crossed it. And I hate to say this, but sometimes one bad character can affect an entire show. Again, I do not believe this was the fault of the actress. She was just doing her job. Yet, I think things could have been fixed, if given a chance. It was NOT given a chance, because...well, we'll get to my opinion on that in a moment.

So, the question. Did it deserve a second season? If I consider the state it was in at the time of its cancellation, I can give it a solid maybe. If it had been tweeked a bit, I'd say, sure. Let it have another year. Or at least let it finish the first season in its entirety. But, no. Four episodes that weren't watched by tens of millions of people and good bye. You know, I've probably said this before, not every show has a cinematic pilot like Lost and not every show has a big name in the cast. I mean, I did watch it for two reasons: I love NYC and I think AnaLeigh Tipton is quite adorable. I guess that wasn't enough for other people. It certainly wasn't enough for the studio. I mean, for crying out loud, you didn't really expect them to let this little show build an audience and spread through word of mouth and then listen to the fans, what they liked and what they didn't and adjust the show accordingly so it could end up being something successful and long-lasting. Please! That would require work and patience, and THIS is Hollywood. Don't let's be silly!

Look, I'm not saying this thing was going to be the next I Love Lucy, but they could have given it a bit more of a chance. It had potential, and from what I've read, mostly in comment sections, the show did have fans. I just hope that someday someone gets into power in these studios who cares enough to...well, care. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hans Christian Andersen - Movie Musical Review

Greetings Pups,

I realized something as I was sifting through my previous posts. I totally have not reviewed enough classic movies. I've done a few, but nowhere near enough. So, I decided to pick one of my favorites from my childhood that I still enjoy to this day. And not just because it's about a writer. Let's talk about Hans Christian Andersen.

Hans Christian Andersen is a 1952 musical about Hans Christian Andersen. I know, right? What are the odds? If you don't already know, he was a poet and also the author of several famous fairy tales, such as The Emperor's New Clothes, Thumbelina, and The Snow Queen, just to name a few. Yeah, The Snow Queen. So you can blame this guy for Frozen. Anyway, this film is not one I would consider a biopic, necessarily. It's not some kind of birth to death scenario, and it's not as rooted in the real world. More on that later. Although, that might be a good idea for someone to do someday. I recall, in the credits of the film, it is referred to as "a fairy tale about the spinner of fairy tales". That is quite accurate.

The film stars one of my favorite actors, Danny Kaye, as the titular character, and I think we can all agree that he is the best thing about this movie. His charm, not to mention, his beautiful, timeless singing voice, always take productions to another level. Anyway, he begins as Hans the Cobbler in a small Danish town assisted by Peter, played by Joseph Walsh, who is his apprentice/foster son/Dick Grayson. Yeah, I really don't what the deal is with those two. I think he just took in an orphan kid to teach him how to, I guess, cobble. And besides being the shoe man in town, Hans is also the story man. He spends a lot of time telling tales to the children and they love it. Who does not love it is the schoolmaster who is more interested in the math than any creative endeavors. He is everyone who we, as artists, are supposed to hate! Okay, to be fair, he is not completely wrong. Hans is keeping the kids out of school. Now it would be nice to find a balance between learning and storytelling, but the schoolmaster goes to the town's Burgomaster, which is like a mayor of sorts, and gets Hans kicked out of town. I guess that's legal? Fine, people. Fix you own shoes. This is what really gets the plot going as Hans and Peter head off to Copenhagan, which is apparently the awesomest place ever! At least, according to the song they sing about it.

Okay, they actually do show Copenhagen as being quite a beautiful place, which it is. But as soon as he gets there, Hans gets arrested for a crime involving a statue. No, really. This all leads to Peter landing them a job making shoes for the local ballet. It is there that Hans meets Doro, played by Zizi JeanMarie, (credited as just JeanMarie, because of...reasons) a beautiful yet feisty ballerina who is in need of the perfect shoe. It is clear that Hans falls in love with her at first sight. Of course, he does. Problem, though. Doro is married to the choreographer named Niels, played by Farley Granger. In public, they appear to have quite a tumultuous relationship, but in private, they seem to really love each other. So what if he slaps her around a bit? This movie was made in 1952 and takes place in the 1830's. Somehow, I think it could have been worse. Oh, Movies. You have a past that requires much explaining.

The rest of the film somewhat chronicles the origin of The Little Mermaid. How the story came to be and how it is turned into a ballet, with the sad ending intact, mind you. Yeah, if you show this to your kids who only know the Disney version, give them a heads up. We see how the goings on of Hans' life have an effect on his writing, as we had been seeing on a smaller scale throughout the film. It also shows how he begins to become appreciated by many more people than he ever expected and ends up becoming a legend.

Again, I love this movie, It was one of the first films about a writer that I ever saw, and it left quite an impression on me. I loved seeing how Andersen got struck with inspiration out of nowhere for his stories. Although, somehow I think he may have had to try a bit harder. It's portrayed kind of like that scene in Jersey Boys where Bob Gaudio comes up with "Big Girls Don't Cry". In other words, "Yep, it's that easy!" Yeah, no. Still, considering the way this film is made, I can let it slide. As many musicals are, Hans Christian Andersen lives on the edge of reality, in a more dreamy world where anything is possible. Even music coming out of nowhere. But it is very beautiful, to listen to, because the music is lovely, and to look at, because it is amazingly colorful, as so many movies from this time are. Boy, did they ever grab onto that Technicolor thing and run like mad.

So, if you enjoy movies that are musical and colorful and classic and just plain good, I say give this one a whirl. But, remember! Warn the children about the fate of The Little Mermaid!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Closing the Book...FINALLY!

Greetings Pups,

For those of you who maybe read this blog regularly, you might remember that I've been working on my third book of poetry, getting it all ready for publication. Well, I'm happy to report that it is finally done. I simply need to give it another quick read-through, then do some computer whatnots, which I'm not exactly great at, then get my proofs and it goes from there until it's available to the masses. Thank God, because this has been a trying journey. But that's always how it is when I write my books. It's just nice to finally be done, and yet, in a way, this can be the most difficult part of the process.

As long as I'm still working on something, it's still mine and I can fix whatever's wrong. Once it's out there, it's out there, and there is not a thing I can change. Perhaps, that's why I don't really read the books I've already published. Too nerve wracking. But then again, still being able to adjust the project isn't always a plus either. I try not to be someone so obsessed with perfection that it drives me insane and never lets me be able to release anything. So, as hard as this part is, I'm always glad when it comes. Being finished with this means I have accomplished one more thing. That is a pretty good feeling.

So, for those of you who aspire to do what I do, know that this is a long and emotional and difficult process. But it is also a rewarding one. Remember, no matter what anyone tells you, writing is work, but it can also be very enjoyable. Those two things need not be exclusive. Lots of things are hard work, but if you love doing it, it's worth it. Trust me. I've been doing this for a very long time, and in my world, where very few things make me happy, writing is somethingthat does. It's tough, a lot, and yet I wake up every single day and do it, because it's what I am supposed to do. It's who I am.

Anyway, like I said, I am glad to be done with this new book, and I kind of think it's not bad. That's saying a lot for me. I'm not always so self congratulatory. Hopefully, now I can devote more time than I have been to this blog, because I love doing this, too. Well, it is writing, after all.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Tales From the Script - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

So, over my lifetime as a writer, I have written many things. Poems, songs, novels, short stories, this blog, obviously. But there is one thing I have never written - a script. Well, as far as I can remember anyway. Now I'm someone who, no matter how good I am at something, is always impressed by those who can do things I can't. Or haven't yet done. So, you can imagine how much I enjoyed Tales From the Script.

Tales From the Script is 2009 documentary which is, ultimately, storytelling about storytelling. It's chock full of interviews with some of the best and hardest working screenwriters in the business. People like John Carpenter, Shane Black, Frank Darbont and Paul Schrader, among countless others. And while we get to hear from some very famous writers, who are often known for other jobs like directing, I was pleased to see people like Billy Ray and Allison Anders, who wrote and directed two of my favorite movies, Shattered Glass and Grace of my Heart, respectively. Honestly, there are far to many people in this thing to mention them all by name. But whether or not you know the names or not, the stories they all tell are priceless, not to mention that great advice is given for any aspiring screenwriters.

While we do get to hear about the incredible thrill of having what you wrote turned into a film, they also don't sugarcoat things. They make it quite clear that this is a hard job, and one that you might not always get appreciation for. Yeah, no kidding. And a few point out that, not only will you work hard on the things that get picked up to actually become films, you will also work even harder on things that will never see the light of day. No lie, one guy wrote down all the scripts he had written in three lists. The first was of scripts that became movies, the second was scripts optioned but never made, the third was scripts that are still merely shelf space fillers. Guess which list was the longest? Exactly. Now, of course, that may not be the case for everyone, but I do like how this movie does not give anyone, particularly young and hopeful writers, any fairy tale stories about the life of a screenwriter. Yes, this might deter some of them from pursuing it, but it will also prepare others who are willing to walk through the fire.

Don't get me wrong, of course, they do share some stories that will inspire and remind people that hard work and taking advantage of opportunities can lead you to success. We hear about how David Hayter pretty much fell into the chance to write the first X-Men movie by having Bryan Singer respect his opinion, and how Antwone Fisher, while working as a security guard at Sony, starting writing about his life and sharing his story enough that it got noticed by the high up people. And speaking of tales that put a smile on my face, albeit don't exactly give me faith in the business, pay close attention to screenwriter Guinevere Turner's little anecdote about Uwe Boll. Whoa, boy! It is, let's say, confirmation for everyone who does not think that man deserves to be involved in film making at all. It's gold, I tell you. You know what? I take back what I said about that story and faith. In fact, her reaction and how she dealt with it is kind of a good lesson on what to do when one is screwed over in the business. Just laugh and move on, because sometimes that's all you can do.

I suppose that's all I can say about Tales From the Script. It's just interviews and stories from people who are very good at telling them, as I said before. I'm sure anyone who comes across this and gives it a chance will find it entertaining, but I think it would be suited best for people who are very much interested in the goings on of film making, especially writing, obviously. It's no secret that I love movies about writers, because I am one, but as someone who, even with all the writing I've already done, has always aspired to go into the world of the script, this especially effective for me. And thanks to these people, my fellow artists, I have a really good idea of what to expect.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Bone To Pick - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Well, it looks like the good people at Hallmark have done it again. They have given us another good mystery movie. You may not believe this if you shun everything with which they are involved, due to high greeting card prices and the fact that I think they might have had something to do with The Christmas Shoes, which I am not exactly a fan of. Sorry. That would be enough for me. But, in all honesty, if there is one thing I enjoy about them, it is the mystery series and/or movies that they have produced, not to mention all the reruns of Murder, She Wrote and Matlock. And now they are embarking on bringing to life the Aurora Teagarden series with a movie based on what is actually the second book, A Bone to Pick. I don't why they did that, but it worked.

Okay, a little back story. I have personally never read any of the Aurora Teagarden series, which consist of eight titles published from 1990 to 2003, though I might do so now. Also, they were written by Charlaine Harris, the women who was also behind the True Blood series. Think about that. A book series which gave way to one of the most gratuitously violent and sexual TV shows of all time was written by the same woman who has now had one of her books become a part of the Hallmark oeuvre. Go figure. I suppose I can credit her for having range. But I digress. Let's get to the actual movie and the parts of it therein. And I only saw this once, a couple of nights ago, so I will do my best with this summary. Forgive any technical mistakes.

A Bone To Pick is about a young woman named Aurora Teagarden, played by the amazing Candace Cameron Bure. She is a professional librarian and is also a member of the Real Murders Club, which consists of people examining and hoping to maybe solve some unsolved crimes. In this first installment, an elderly woman, Jane, with whom she is merely acquainted, passes away and leaves the entire estate, house, money, everything, to Aurora. And not just the estate, but also a mystery. So, in other words, if you take all of what I just said into account, Aurora Teagarden is yet another person with whom I would gladly switch lives. Moving on.

The mystery solving begins when Aurora finds a skull in the house she had just inherited, and she wants to figure out just who it belongs to. Or used to belong, more accurately. She has plenty of suspects, like all of her new neighbors, for instance. That's going to make resale value drop a bit. But she also has plenty of help, mostly from her best friend, Sally, played by Lexa Doig. I actually think she and Candace have great chemistry playing friends, which is important in something like this. There's also a few cops she's working with, whether they want it or not. Of course, they sometimes see her as being in the way, especially the police captain, and her cop ex-boyfriend's new wife. Yeah, tings get complicated, to say the least. And all the while, Aurora is also dealing with her mother, Aida, played by Marilu Henner, who is hardcore wanting to marry off her daughter. Good thing for her, Aurora is also beginning a relationship with a minister named, Scott Aubrey. What a life, am I right?

Anyway, as the plot continues, the typical tropes of a story like this happen. False leads, our heroine in danger, all that good stuff. And that's fine to use tropes if it is done well, and I think it is here. Actually, I have to say this. This reminds me a lot - A LOT!- of the Mystery Woman series starring Kellie Martin, which ran on Hallmark from 2003 to 2007. Now, some people may think that it's this channel being redundant, but there are enough differences that, while it has a very similar essence, it also has its own identity. And I LOVED the Mystery Woman series, to say nothing of how much I miss it, so it's all fine with me.

So, yes, I thoroughly enjoyed A Bone To Pick. I know it's hard to believe, but I do, that we can have a good mystery, a good grown up story, that's NOT laced with profanity and overly sexualized whatnots. I feel like one of those weirdos who thinks you can make ice cream with just cream and eggs and sugar, and NO artificial stuff. WHAT? But, seriously, I think this is a pretty good TV movie. It's what we've come to expect from this channel, which I happen to think can be very good things. It's especially good if you want some family entertainment that's not watered down to a point where it's for three-year-olds, but that has a bit of an edge to it. That's something that these Hallmark Mysteries have been doing well for quite a while. So, check out A Bone To Pick. I'm sure they will repeat it. Also, they are set to release another installment based on the first book of the Teagarden series, Real Murders, this summer. I, personally, am looking forward to that, because I am giving this one a thumbs up.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Reality of Poetry

Greetings Pups,

So it's April now, and that, to me and several others, means National Poetry Month. And since I am currently about to publish my third collection of poetry, I thought it might be a good time to talk about the subject once again here on this blog. This time, I'm going to talk about those of us who write it and those people who just don't get it. And I'm going to be fairly brief today.

Don't think I am naive. I know things are different than they were a long time ago, back when the majority of people looked at poetry as something to be valued. I know most people don't feel that way anymore. Or they won't admit that they do, since most people also don't generally listen to a ton of instrumental music either. Hey, you know those lyric things? Those are poems. Actually, I bet the people who appreciate instrumental music are the same ones who appreciate poetry. Go figure. I guess they can make up for others all around. But as far as most of the world, when it comes to just straight up poetry, written for books or to be read aloud, it doesn't seem to hold as much weight as it once did. In fact, though I am about to publish my third book of poetry, as I stated before, I actually have more than one person asking me, "When are you going to write a real book?" Let that one sink in, fellow poets. I tell that I have written a lot of "real" books, but I haven't published them yet. Take that. Their main complaint is that they don't understand poetry. Well, first of all,I don't understand that. Second, if I only wrote things that everyone could understand, I probably would never write at all. Third, what I write, yes, even the poems, are very, VERY real.

And yet, I continue creating my poems, just like lot of people. But what else can we do? Some of us are born to write, all sorts of things, and what the outside world thinks or how it feels has little effect on us fulfilling our purpose in life. I am sometimes asked how I can do this, write the way I do and what I do. My response is "How can I not?". It was an answered prayer, and I am not about to turn away such a gift. I suppose I can take some joy out of the fact that, thanks to certain people, poetry is actually being appreciated once again. In other words, thank God for Tom Hiddleston. Am I right? Moving on.

In conclusion, as we take part in this month long celebration of writing, this special form of writing, remember that words, no matter how they come to be, how they are presented, are extremely powerful. They should be respected and valued, because they can change lives for the better. They have certainly done that for me.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer