Sunday, June 28, 2015

Taking a Break

Greetings Pups,

I've decided to take a break from blogging for a while. I know I don't have a ton of followers or people who read this blog on a regular basis, but, for those of you who do, I thought I'd let you know. Mostly because I really do appreciate everyone who takes the time to read the things I've written. It means a lot, and I do love entertaining (hopefully) my readers this way. But due to some personal and not so personal reasons, I've chosen to step back for some time. How much time? I don't know. It may be as short as a week; it may be longer. I just have little to say at the moment, I suppose. It's odd, because I write down all the things I want to blog about, a lot of things, but I can't seem to push myself do it right now. Maybe it's because I'm so busy with other work. Maybe it's because so much upsets me when I look around. I like to write from a perspective of hope and joy as much as I can, but there's a bit of sadness in me currently. It actually kind of hurts to observe, I guess, and I would never really want to spread that around. However, as usual, just because things are difficult, in no way have I lost an ounce of that hope about which I spoke. No good comes from doing that. More good news is that I believe that this kind of sadness and hurt that I'm dealing with will give me a better foundation on which to build.

While I'm away, I won't stop writing. So, no need to worry about that. I will continue to write my books and sell my books. But as of now, I'll be staying away from most of the internet, even this lovely place, and I'll be hidden away with my pen in the blank pages of my notebooks. Yes, I still write like I'm from 1892! You can deal with that! In the meantime, feel free to browse into my past posts on this blog. I might even do that myself to see if I've grown at all. Let's pray that I have, and that when I do come back, it will be with something grand for you all. It's the least I can do. Anyway, God bless, and I hope you'll hear from me soon.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Straight From the Theater Review - Jurassic World

Greetings Pups,

Hey, remember in Jaws 3-D when a shark snuck into Sea World and created havoc amongst the visitors and employees? Well, what kind of movie would we have if said employees let the dangerous animals into the park to be really close to the people? Jurassic World, everyone.

Okay, I know I'm a little late to the party in reviewing this, but I had to wait before seeing it because of reasons. So, since that happened, I got the opportunity to hear about what some other reviewers were saying. Quite a mixed bag of opinions, but pretty much everyone agrees that, of all for Jurassic movies, this is the second best. The best, of course, being the first. And I have to say, I certainly agree.

Jurassic World basically answered that lingering question that I, and probably a lot of people, had after seeing Jurassic Park. That question is "Wow, what would have happened if this intended park had actually been able to open?" It seems that, for better or worse, we got our answer. It also seems that this is more of a straight sequel to the first movie, not really acknowledging The Lost World or Jurassic Park 3. That's fine with me. I mean, this movie really does pay a lot of homage to Jurassic Park. There are several callbacks to it in some subtle and not so subtle ways. The thing is, they did that kind of thing in the other two sequels as well, but I think it works better here. Maybe because of the 22 year gap we have, which makes all those things more nostalgic. I liked that aspect.

Okay, basic plot. In the midst of some family turmoil, two young boys Zach and Gray, played by Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins, are sent off by their parents, played by Judy Greer and Andy Buckley, to visit their Aunt Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, who is the operation's manager at Jurassic World. And breathe. That would be one story line. The other revolves around Owen Grady, played by Chris Pratt, who is a Velociraptor trainer. Oh, yeah, you heard me right on that one. I really liked this character. In fact, despite what I'm going to tell you later about the reason I went to see this movie, I'd say that Owen Grady ended up being my most favorite person in this thing. That's a feat, because he would have been easy to screw up as a character. You'd think he would be nothing but the token tough guy, but he was more than that. And he was also more than the "raptor whisperer". In fact, he didn't seem to be trying to CONTROL them at all. The reason why he has a rapport with the dinosaurs is because he respects their power and does not see them merely as a commodity. He will have much to do with expressing the "message" of this movie, but with less "uh"s as it was in our Goldblum-y past.

Besides those guys, we've got some more characters. Yay. There's a guy who also works with the raptors names Barry, played by Omar Sy. I don't think I've ever seen him in anything, but I like him. Irrfan Khan plays Simon Masrani, the CEO of Jurassic World, who I think is kind of like the John Hammond of the cast, struggling with what exactly is the right thing to do in some treacherous situations. We've got Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus as Lowery and Vivian, two workers in the control room who serve as some pretty decent comic relief. B.D. Wong shows up again as Dr. Wu, in a substantially bigger role, because...first movie? But let's get the reason why I really wanted to see this - Vincent D'Onofrio! He plays Vic Hoskins, a security guy who I didn't figure out was that until a while in. But is he only a security guy? Hmmm... Look, no spoilers here, but his role becomes obvious, in some capacity, after about two minutes. The good news is that it does build each time he's there, and he will make you think about some things.

So, all in all, pretty strong cast, I'd say. But I'd like to address some other things.

First, when the trailer came out and we started to get some more info about the film, one of my favorite internet reviewers, Confused Matthew, did a video about it, and it turned out we had a lot of the same hopes and concerns. So, I'll talk about that a bit. One thing that could have been a pro or a con was this huge bunch of people that were obviously going to be in this. It could have been a downside because when I think "cast of thousands" I think Roland Emerich and...yeah. But it worked here. Mostly because they wisely split up the time where we mostly were with smaller groups of main characters. So, we could keep track and get invested in fewer people, but we were, every so often, reminded that there were thousands of people in danger. Good job. Another great thing was the "down time" of everyone just enjoying the wonder of these long thought extinct creatures. Just like Movie #1. A not so great thing was the ethical questions raised by said Movie #1 being changed to a question where the answer is probably going to be a collective "No. That's a bad idea". I speak of the questions about us bringing back dinosaurs period versus making hybrids of animals we can barely understand. However, as things progressed, I could see that they were trying to raise a different ethical question concerning what those dinosaurs can be used for, which was a good replacement for what came before. And finally, CGI. Less is more, people. LESS IS MORE!

Also, whoever was trying to say this movie is sexist is an idiot. Oh, no! Claire is an organized Type-A person and Owen is a bit more carefree. Clearly, that means whoever made this film hates women. WHAT! It's called having different characters with different personalities who work off each other so we won't be bored. Remember THAT thing that used to happen in movies? If you ask me, having her start out this way made it so she had a better arc and more development than any other character. And sorry that she's wearing heels, another thing that a certain group was apparently up in arms about, but what did you expect? Claire basically had a job that was akin to working in an office, and she did not know she would be trudging through the jungle, running for her life. If she had known, I'm sure she would have dressed appropriately. Just relax and be concerned about things that actually matter in the world. Alright, I'm done with this nonsense. Let's go back to happy thoughts.

Okay, that was a lot writing from me. I will finish by highly recommending that you see this. In the theater if you can. If you're like me who got to see Jurassic Park on the big screen, it will bring back some great memories. If not, see it anyway, because this is the sequel that we have been waiting for and the one that I think Jurassic Park really deserved.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Wrecking Crew - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

Okay, I don't know what has been going on the last few years, but someone decided that a boat load of under-appreciated people need to get some recognition. We got Muscle Shoals, 20 Feet From Stardom and now a tribute to the people who played on just about every record many, MANY years, The Wrecking Crew. And since I live in such a crappy place that refuses to show that apparently brilliant film about Brian Wilson, someone who regularly used said people, I'll have to talk about this.

The Wrecking Crew is a 2008 documentary that was not released in the U.S. until 2015. What makes you think I know why? Anyway, it is the project of a man named Denny Tedesco. His father was Tommy Tedesco, one of the greatest session guitarists of all time and a member of the titular Wrecking Crew. Okay, for those of you who don't know about that, shame on you, but I will tell you about it.

As I hinted at earlier, the Wrecking Crew was a group of musicians who played on albums for pretty much every artist in the sixties and into the seventies. Maybe even the fifties, I don't know. You see, because before The Beatles, bands usually didn't play their own music on their albums. They called in what are known as session musicians, because they played during a recording session. Get it! And they were used mostly by Phil Spector as his "Wall of Sound". Point is, if you've heard any music from that era, then you have heard the musical stylings of those amazing players.

And who exactly are those players? Well, there are too many to even name, but some notable ones are the aforementioned Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, Leon Russell, Carol Kane, and even Glen Campbell was a member for awhile, before he hit it big on his own. Just to name a few. If you're wondering why it is you've never heard of these people, even if you or your parents or possibly grandparents may have owned the records, it's because they were pretty much never listed on the credits. Like EVER! Because we couldn't have the public at large knowing that they were playing on every hit song that was on the radio. Which they were. Um...ignorance is bliss and all that? Frankly, even I didn't know about them in detail until I saw that Beach Boys miniseries that John Stamos produced back in 2000, which prompted me to do some research of my own. Basically, a lot of these players got the shaft in so many areas. Keeping it classy as always, music industry. Say what you will about Beyonce using 397 (approx.) people are her album. At least, she probably had the decency to name them all in the liner notes. Or whatever the digital download equivalent to liner notes is. Moving on.

So, what exactly prompted Denny Tedesco to start making this documentary? Well, after his dad was diagnosed with cancer, he decided that he needed to get a record of the story of all these unsung heroes in music. About time, I'd say. And he does a great job of doing so. We get some telling interviews from a ton of Wrecking Crew members and a lot of the artists who worked with them. Honestly, all those artists that have been getting the acclaim and respect throughout the years are the ones who are holding all of those unknown musicians with the highest regard. As well they should, because the fact that all of THEIR names aren't just as familiar to the masses is kind of a crime. Thankfully, we have this documentary to fill us in.

If you are a music lover, and if you like to know the stories that are rarely told, I suggest that you see The Wrecking Crew. It gives a well-informed account of the goings on of those days, and of course, we get some timeless and stunning music. What can be better than that?

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wild - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I've always been on the fence about the movie Into the Wild. I've never been sure if I liked it or not. I mean, it has its moments, mostly thanks to Vince Vaughn and Hal Holbrook, but then, it has some problems for me. There's the Sean Penn factor for one thing, which always knocks off points in my book. Sorry. Not a fan. And I'm also not a fan of some of the cast. Again, even the lead, I'm not sure about all the time. Worst of all, I hate the way that the guy who was the subject of this film has become a folk hero of sorts, to the point where people have emulated him, nearly to a fault. Look, you wanna live off the land, go for it. But doing it exactly as he did is evidently not the best idea. So, where can I get a movie similar to that with a lead character who I can get behind a bit more? Oh, hello, Wild.

That's right. The 2014 film Wild is basically a looking-glass land reflection of Into the Wild, in my opinion anyway. And I really like this better than that. Maybe it's because I'm a girl.

Anyway, Wild is based on the 2012 memoir of Cheryl Strayed, played by Reese Witherspoon, and her life-changing journey. That journey, by the way, is both metaphorical and quite literal since it is about her quest to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, which is, I kid you not, nearly 2700 miles long. Whaaaa...? I mean, I've walked to the store. I've walked around the mall. I've even walked around Disney World and New York City. But...WOW! Okay, yeah, she didn't walk it all in one day. In fact, it took her over three months, but still. And this is apparently a thing that many people have done. They even have these little stops along the trail where people can write things down, which is an ongoing part of the film. One of my favorites actually.

So, is that it? Just a woman walking around outside? Of course not! On her journey, she meets many interesting people who help her or maybe harm her, and much of the story is told in flashback. I know, I know. But it's done well here. We get scenes of Cheryl's life with her ex-husband, as well as her struggles with drug addiction. But some of the most powerful stuff has to do with her mother, played by Laura Dern, who is dealing with her own harsh experience in those times. And, before you ask, no, they did not get a younger actress to play teenage Cheryl. Why would they when Reese still looks like she's about ready to get her learner's permit? That's a compliment, by the way. But, as much as I admittedly do not trust the Oscars, these scenes will make you realize why those two ladies got nominations. They were fantastic together.

Like I said, the structure of this story, with the "present day" scenes and the flashbacks, is done masterfully. They did it in a way so that, as soon as you needed a break from whatever intense thing was happening, you got a change of pace. All the juxtaposition work was great, and it really let it sink in what this woman had been through, how this journey was affecting here, where she had been and where she was going.

Okay, spoiler time...a little. I have to talk about the end, I mean and how it differs from the aforementioned Into the Wild. Oh, I guess spoilers for that movie, too. Everyone gone who wants to be gone? Okay. So, the end of Into the Wild, to me, was a total downer. I mean, for crying out loud, this guy who you've spent two hours with is just gone. It's kind of depressing. Again, just my opinion, but I personally didn't feel very uplifted or inspired by that ending. I'm not saying you always have to be, but it seems like they wanted me to be. Wild, on the hand, ended on such a note of hope, which is what I love. Cheryl had gone through the lowest of lows, but came out on top, again, metaphorically and literally. You just feel so good when this film draws to a close. Like I said, not all movies have to do that, but when it's being sold as something of an inspirational story, it's probably a good idea to do that.

So, to wrap up, I am definitely recommending Wild to everyone. It's just a great story with some fantastic people telling it. It's tough to watch at times, especially if you can relate to some of the things that Cheryl Strayed went through, but overall, it's a wonderful experience. And that's what a movie should be - an experience. So thanks, people who made this. You get a thumbs up from me. Aren't you thrilled?

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Coffitivity: The Greatest Gift For the Distracted Mind That Also Hates Silence

Greetings Pups,

I don't know if I've ever done this before, but today, I am going to talk about a product of sorts. A product that, technically, has nothing to do with my usual topics of arts and/or entertainment. Although, it can be helpful in the pursuit of creating such things. I'm talking about Coffitivity.

Coffitivity is an app you can get that makes noise. Yep, that's what it does. It makes noise. But the "noise" is a sound with which many of us are familiar. In a way, it is the sound of life and everything that it has to offer. Too pretentious? Okay, what it does is produce the noise that one would hear in places like coffee shops, cafeterias, all sorts of places with hustle and bustle. What's the point you may ask? There's a good one.

If you're like me, you get easily distracted and hate silence. See title of post above. I usually do something like play music or leave the TV on when I do my writing, but that can obviously divert my attention a bit. That's bad, and I'm not even getting graded for what I do. As far as I know. But I imagine that being distracted by those things can be even worse for the youngsters in school. And since I do most of my writing in the nighttime, quiet is not good either. Because said quiet is usually interrupted by some unknown, scary noise outside and I just assume to not know about those at all. Otherwise, I'll just think it's one of those things i read about in a CreepyPasta. I can't be alone in this. So, there must be something to drown that out and leave me to my blissful ignorance.

This is where Coffitivity enters. I can enjoy the sounds of a coffee shop that I wish I was in at the moment, but there's no specific thing that might tempt me to turn away from my work. It's like white noise but better. Because, the truth is, sometimes total silence is not that great when you're trying to either retain information for a test or come up with some great twist for a story you're writing. Your mind often benefits from some audible stimulation. And that makes this invention rather brilliant, in my opinion.

So, I don't know who invented this thing, but to that person, I say thank you. I certainly get more work done when I use it, and that is never a bad thing. Plus, now that I listen less to music as I write, I am also less likely to steal lyrics from songs that everyone knows. I'll stick with stealing from obscure music, thank you very much. I mean...never mind.

Anyway, just go get yourself some Coffitivity. Google it. You'll find it. It's a good thing.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Last Five Years - Movie Musical Review

Greetings Pups,

You could call me a big fan of musicals. Good ones, mostly, but I'm really open to anything that has music involved. So, when I saw a trailer for this movie, I was quite interested. I had never heard of it, and despite my being a big fan of musicals, I didn't know it was a stage musical before. I actually thought it was something made to be a movie. But what with the unique setup and all, I should have known that this was not born in Hollywood. Still, when it comes to stage to screen adaptations, it tends to be hit or miss with me. So, where does this one fall? Let's find out.

The Last Five Years is a movie based on a 2002 Off-Broadway show that was filmed over only 21 days on a budget of a mere $2 million. That sounds good. I like me some low-budget action. The bad news? It was filmed in 2013, but did not find its way to theaters until February of 2015. THREE theaters, from what I've heard. Is that even possible? Actually, I'm kind of surprised at this. Unless "Anna Kendrick Singing" as a plot point isn't working in cinema anymore. Okay, moving on. Let's get to the plot.

It's about a relationship from beginning to end. Sound too overdone? Well, it is. That's why it's also about a relationship from end to beginning. Let me explain. It tells, in song, the story of Jamie and Cathy. Cathy tells her perspective of their life together starting at the end and working her way backwards, while Jamie tells the same story from his perspective starting at the beginning and working forward. And they meet in the middle when they get engaged. Does this sound confusing? Well, that's what I thought. And the first time I watched it, I still thought that. Even now, I think there were things they could have done to help us follow along more easily. But after I watched it again, I got it and it wasn't that tricky. Honestly, if you don't look at the big picture, and take each seen as its own entity, it's done quite well and entertaining. All the musical numbers are well written and the performances are pretty good. Oh, yeah, the performers.

This movie basically has two actors in it, along with a bunch of extras. As I mentioned, it stars Anna Kendrick as Cathy, an aspiring actress who seems to be remaining aspiring despite all her efforts, and Jeremy Jordan as Jamie, a writer who reaches great success at the expense of his personal life. Of course, everyone knows Anna, but Jeremy is best known for being in Newsies on Broadway and, where I know him from, as Jimmy in Smash, season 2. I hated - HATED!! - his character on that show. He was like male Rachel Berry from Glee. Okay, wow, that was a bit much. No one is that bad. But he was very obnoxious, at the same time being portrayed as someone we should root for, occasionally. At least, people called him out on his crap more than one time. But I digress. That character may have been awful, but I actually think Jeremy is abundantly talented and he also seems like a nice guy in real life. Honestly, these two, who had to carry the movie themselves for the most part, did a fantastic job. I felt something for these characters and, even though you know that end from the beginning, there still something that makes you want things to work out for them. That is not easy to do.

So, good music, good acting. Anything wrong besides the initially, slightly confusing premise? Yeah, but they're mostly technical issues. Like the lighting and the way a lot of the scenes are shot. It's hard to explain. Okay, the lighting thing is self-explanatory when you see it, but I feel like whoever did the blocking was a prankster. I'm not kidding. But I guess those are small things. Important, but you can try to block it out. Also, this thing allegedly takes place, mostly, in New York City. If they say so, but wherever they are, it looks awfully clean. Too clean. Very Nora Ephron-y if you will. I'm not saying New York isn't a great and exciting city, but I haven't seen it look this adorable since You've Got Mail. Again, though, look passed it.

Overall, I'd say that, if you are a fan of the musical, you should give it a watch. I mean, the music is good, particularly the lyrics and the way they tell the story, and the acting is powerful, and even though it has problems, those really are the important things in a movie like this. I just hope that through word of mouth and the true fans The Last Five Years will get some of the recognition it deserves.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, June 5, 2015

Little Things

Greetings Pups,

The other day, someone did something for me that meant a whole lot. It wasn't a huge thing, and it most likely took little to no effort for them to do it. They didn't have to do it. Yet, they still did. Why? Because those little things actually do add up and they do matter. I know we constantly think of life in the big picture sense, often giving precedence to things that have major effects on us. It's easy to forget every small step we take to get to wherever it is we end up. On the bad side of that, we see the end of a problem, the tragic results, and only then do we realize how many nearly invisible or forgettable incidents that pile up to give us those results. On the good side, when we are able to feel loved, appreciated and valued, we can look back and see all those actions that seem so typical, like a smile or a thank you or a shoulder to cry on or a listening session, and realize that they play a huge part in us being able to feel good about ourselves. Now, as someone who has often let others control how I feel about myself, I would never say go that far. But we should use everything, the good and the bad, as tools to build ourselves. When people pile hatred on you, you can either ignore them, or better still, turn their attacks into triumphs of your own strength. When people send love your way, take it in as a gift, as long as you are also taking in love from yourself for yourself. And always remember that no one loves you more than God. Trust, He's the only one who has never let me down. And one of the ways I know that is because He has put all of these people in my life, the good and the seemingly bad, for a reason. So, be "crazy" and thank Him for the ones that are tough to deal with, but also thank Him for the ones who help to build you up. And don't ever forget to thank them either, because, like I said, all of those little things count.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer