Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Top Ten Worst Hit Songs of 2016

Greetings Pups,

I apologize yet again, but I really have nothing to say as an introduction. I am just...exhausted of this year. Let's just get this over with.

#10. "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" Meghan Trainor featuring John Legend - As much as I like a good, soothing love song, one must remember the difference between soothing and boring. Sadly, whether these two people were trying to do so or not, they went with the latter.

#9. "Just Like Fire" Pink - BOR-ING! Again! What is up with Pink lately? I mean, I've never been an actual fan of hers, but at least I would give her credit when she put out a decent song. Can't do that this time.

#8. "On My Mind" Ellie Goulding - Remember that excellent song, "Don't" by Ed Sheeran? Well, it's counterpart, which this song most assuredly is, has nothing in common with it. "Don't" was unique; this song is generic. Oh, and she tried to complain about a double standard, where only women get defined by who they date because they write songs about them. She even talked to Taylor about it. Of course, she did. First of all...What? No. It happens to guys, too. It happened with "Don't". Second, if you are a songwriter who only writes about who you date, it's hard to know how else to define you. Funny thing, Ellie doesn't do that. It was one time and one song. She'll live and so will Ed. Moving on.

#7. "Sit Still, Look Pretty" Daya - I heard a review of this song wherein someone said that it picks up where Daya's song "Hideaway" left off. OR the messages of these two songs completely contradict each other. Whatever! Seriously, the first song is lamenting about where all the good guys have gone, and this song is putting forth an "I don't need a man" attitude by insulting guys in general. Listen, there's nothing wrong with saying that you don't need a man, but do so because you're strong in yourself and you don't need to be defined by a relationship. Yeah, maybe those good guys are just hiding away from you, Daya. Also, don't EVER call her pretty, whilst NEVER forgetting that she is. Eye roll.

#6. "Gold" Kiiara - In 1983, the group Spandau Ballet released a song called "Gold"? It was and still is...incredible! This travesty is not and never will be. In fact, I hesitate to even call it a song. To me, it's just noise. I mean, to the Grinch it would be the worst thing ever. But maybe I just don't get it. And I don't think I want to get it. So...good times?

#5. "Me Too" Meghan Trainor - Oh, look, her again. So, Ms. Trainor, do me a favor? Go out and ask 50 random people what they hate most about celebrities. I bet most if not all of them would say that what they hate most is the self-absorption and arrogance. So, why did you have to perform a song proving those people right? And I don't even care if this was supposed to be "tongue in cheek", which is a usual excuse. You are not better than me or anyone, Meghan Trainor, simply because you are famous.

#4. "One Call Away" Charlie Puth - Weak, weak, weak. Oh, Charlie Puth. I do not want you to be "one call away". I want you to go away. But credit where it's due, this wasn't as bad as what you put out last year. Not by much, though. Try harder.

#3. "Treat You Better" Shawn Mendes - So, what do I hate a lot? Oh, yeah. Fake nice guys. You know what I mean by that. The guys who whine and moan because they're (allegedly) such nice guys, but girls never want to be with them, when in actuality, they're just as bad as the bad boys. Maybe even worse, since they seem more manipulative. Look, I'm not saying that there aren't legit nice guys out there. There are. But the lyrics in this song do not describe one of them.

#2. "Work From Home" Fifth Harmony featuring Ty Dolla Sign - I do not understand the appeal of this group. And the appeal of this song, I understand even less. First of all, I'm pretty the music rips of Daniel Bedingfield of all people, because...reasons. Second, the lyrics are atrocious. Oh, and here's a question. Do you know how many times they say the word "Work" in this song? 94!!! Dang! At least when Rihanna repeated that word in her song, she changed her inflection a little. In this song, it is so monotonous. For real, the sound of a drill would be more lively. I just can't with this anymore.

#1. "No" Meghan Trainor - Congratulations, Meghan Trainor! You have hit the trifecta of suck this year! You know what? I don't even have the energy to talk about the awful message in this song. Or the fact that the music is yet another rip off, this time from an old Justin Timberlake song. So, I am just going to say two things. Yes, some guys are awful and should be avoided at all costs, but not ALL of them are, nor do they all have the same intentions when they say "Hi" to you. Also, ladies, YOU can empower YOURSELVES, and you don't need crap songs like this to tell you the wrong way to do so. And this song is just...NO!

Well, that's that for 2016.

So, can I say something about the music industry? I know that things are different these days. I know that labels aren't necessarily as powerful as they once were, as many people can get super famous from You Tube and by controlling their own careers. But if you're someone who works at a label, or maybe you own your own small one, and you have to sift through tons of music from unknown artists who may or may not be the next big thing, for the love of God, SIFT!!! For real. Sift through and listen to every last note until you find something new and original. We need that so much right now. I know it's easy to put out more of the same, but we need someone who will take a risk on an artist who has something new to say. It will be worth it. I don't want 2017 to be more of the same. I don't think anyone does.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2016

Greetings Pups,

I would like to apologize in advance for this blog post. It will be one of the most phoned in things I've ever done. Seriously, I will not be writing much about these. But it's not exactly my fault. It's that I had to pick songs to be the best in a year that, musically, left me feeling...whatever. Don't get me a wrong. A couple of the songs on this list, I do legit like, but a lot of them are just ones I don't hate. That is depressing.

So, the rules once again for these lists of mine are that the song must appear on Billboard's Hot 100 Year End chart and it cannot have been on any other of my lists. Okay, let's do this.

#10. "Into the Night" The Weeknd - So, I'm not exactly a fan of this Weeknd guy, but there's something kind of nostalgic feeling about this song. It's a fun one to listen to, and sometimes that is all you need.

#9. "What Do You Mean?" Justin Beiber - Yeah, this is how desperate I am. I am putting a Beiber song on the Best list. Okay, to be fair, some of his stuff has gotten better lately. He's kind of like an actual artist now. And this song isn't too bad. Now if he can just stay out of trouble, perhaps, he will evolve even more.

#8."Ex's and Oh's" Elle King - I think technically this song came out last year, but it was still on this year's chart, so I'm including it. I think I get a kick out of this because it sounds different from most things we're hearing these days. And, all things considered, that's a good thing.

#7. "Roses" The Chainsmokers featuring Rozes- Not much of a fan of the whole club music genre, if that's even what it's really called, but I do like the sound of this one. And I can't believe the "Selfie" guys are progressing a bit. Didn't see that coming.

#6. "This is What You Came For" Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna - Again, this whole EDM thing is not really my scene. But I do like Rihanna sometimes, and Calvin Harris is pretty good at what he does. Despite it being a bit repetitive in places, I'll still give this one a thumbs up for everything else.

#5. "Can't Stop the Feeling" Justin Timberlake - This is fun song. Nothing too heavy. Certainly nothing groundbreaking. Just a cute, little pop song...from the Troll movie. I think I can handle that.

#4. "Heathens" Twenty-One Pilots - I don't know who these guys are, but I got a kick out of their style and this song. And whilst I wasn't exactly a fan of the Suicide Squad movie, this was a good match for the soundtrack. Fit the tone of it quite well.

#3. "When We Were Young" Adele - Nothing like some Adele giving us a song about reminiscing where she sings the crap out of it. Yeah, she's pretty much always good, and this latest album of hers proves that she's probably not planning to change that.

#2. "Lost Boy" Ruth B - I love a good literary reference in a song, and this one covers that. But when I read a little into this song, I heard it was about a very serious subject. So, I'm giving it and the writer credit for having the guts to go deeper when it comes to lyrical content. And this young lady has a lovely voice, as well, so I hope she sticks around for a while.

#1. "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)" Adele - Well, this might be a first. I'm pretty sure Miss Adele was the artist behind my Number One song last year as well. I suppose that just proves that she is still one of our most treasured people in the music industry, as she continues to put out good songs. Anyway, this was an interesting tune coming from Adele, a bit different, but still very catchy. I like this one a lot, and I wouldn't mind if she kept going in this direction.

Well, those are the "Best" of the year, in my opinion. Again, sorry I wasn't jumping up and down over too many of these, but I just couldn't be. Anyway, here's hoping that my "Worst Of" list tomorrow will be more entertaining.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Magnificent Seven (2016) - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

So, I've never been super into Westerns, and I tend to be super NOT into remakes. Therefore, you may already be making guesses when it comes to how I feel about this. Now my biggest complaint with remakes is that most of them are completely unnecessary. I usually don't see the point, which is why when I first heard of this film, I was hesitant. But maybe something made me change my mind. Let's find out as we discuss The Magnificent Seven.

This 2016 film. directed by Antoine Fuqua, is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name. As I said, I was not sure about this, but after I got word on the cast, I started to think that, perhaps, there might be something to this venture. And all things considered, knowing what the original was about, I figured they might be able to update some things properly. I'll get into all that later, but first, let's talk plot. And I guess, a few spoilers will be there, but probably nothing you don't know already, or nothing that didn't happen in the first ten minutes or so.

Honestly, the plot is rather simple when you think about it. There's a bad guy villain named Bartholomew Bogue, played by Peter Sarsgaard, who wants to take over this mining town where a lot of good people live. And he will have it by any means necessary, even the worst you can think of. After losing her husband in an attack, Emma Cullen, played by Haley Bennett, seeks out anyone who can help the town defend themselves, alongside her friend, Teddy Q, played by Luke Grimes.

Eventually, a group of men is assembled to assist the town. You'll never guess how many! And these fine men are as follows: Sam Chisolm, played by Denzel Washington, a warrant officer from Kansas and also the leader; Josh Faraday, played by Chris Pratt, a gambler who likes to blow stuff up; Billy Rocks, played by Lee Byung-hun, the man with the knife moves, a lot of them; Vasquez, played by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, an outlaw on the run, as they tend to be; Red Harvest, played by Martin Sensmeier, a Comanche warrior; Goodnight Robicheaux (LOVE that name, BTW!) played by Ethan Hawke, a Civil War vet who is a fantastic shot; and my personal favorite, Jack Horne, played Vincent D'Onofrio, an excellent tracker who also happens to be religious. You can tell by the way he quotes scriptures whilst going into battle. It's a thing we do. Good times. Oh, and yes, you read that correctly. Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio have teamed up again for their 47th film together! Okay, it hasn't been that many, but I won't be happy until they hit 50!

So, as you can see, we have an amazing cast here, and like I said, it was why I decided to give this remake a chance. When it came to our "Seven", I was not disappointed at all, mostly because they had incredible chemistry with each other. I think it was wise on the part of whomever did this casting to get actors who have got some history with each other, as well as being great actors in their own right. It added to the onscreen comradery. And while chemistry matters in any film, it is certainly important in a film like this. So is a good villain and Sarsgaard did not disappoint there either. I totes wanted to punch him, so thumbs up where that's concerned.

Now let's talk about our female lead and how she and her character were probably the best update for this film. See, when it comes to writing updated female characters, there is a right way to do it and a wrong way. The wrong way pertains to when I hear people say that we need more women in film, but when they describe what they want, some (not all!) respond with attributes befitting to what we call a "Mary Sue". You know, some woman who is good at everything and loved by everyone, whose flaws aren't even really flaws, and who is ultimately some kind of unrealistic superwoman. No thank you! Fortunately, though, this film did it the right way. Emma Cullen is an active player in the story, as much as anyone else. She is a strong woman, but she is also a real woman. A real person. You can see what she is feeling all the time and what she is feeling is grief, fear, uncertainty, even weakness, and that is okay. It is okay, because, even though she feels all these things, she knows how to put them aside when it comes time for her to fight. Or if need be, to use them in that moment. She is a balanced and well-rounded character. She represents what everyone should be. Vulnerable when necessary and courageous when necessary. All of us can be all of these things, so long as we know when to be them. Excellent job with this character.

Okay, I've rambled enough. Do I recommend this film? Yeah, I do. I admit that, aside from a darker tone and the aforementioned character development, there aren't a ton of changes from the 1960 version. Still, maybe that was what was so appealing about it. It hearkened back to those old timey Westerns. And what with the great acting and the fact, overall, this movie is very entertaining, I say give it a shot. Get it? Shot! Anywho, I would say if you're into those enjoyable Westerns of yesteryear, with a tad more violence, this might be one for your movie night.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Author: The JT LeRoy Story - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

If there is one thing I value in the work of an artist, it is their authenticity. No matter what they are creating, it has to be rooted in some kind of truth. If it isn't, the fraud can be easily detected. The problem is that few people are concerned with authenticity anymore, or they choose to see it coming from the wrong angle. I thought about this a lot as I watched the documentary I will be reviewing today, Author: The JT LeRoy Story.

This 2016 film tells the story of - surprise - JT LeRoy. But the real story is who exactly is JT LeRoy? I suppose, despite what is revealed in the trailer and what has been revealed in real life, I should say "Spoiler Alert", but most people already know what happened with this situation. Still, if you don't and you want to find out by way of this film, there is your warning.

So, a while back, a writer by the name of JT LeRoy burst on to the literary scene with his debut novel, Sarah, which told the brutally detailed story of a prostitute and her son. People were praising the book all over the place, as they did with all the subsequent work from this author. But there was such a level of secrecy from him, until finally he revealed himself, albeit reluctantly, to the world. All of this led to his having quite a prominent fan base full of celebrities and his becoming a celebrity in his own right. In fact, one might venture to say that the fame aspect of JT LeRoy slowly but surely became more important than the writing. And as a writer, this did not set well with me.

Now as we all know, the more famous someone becomes, the more the public wants and, in come cases, demands to know about them. But if someone in the spotlight tries to hide things, they usually are found out. Well, as it happens, this famous person had kind of a big secret. Again, spoilers, I guess. Turns out, the person who everyone knew as JT LeRoy in the flesh was not JT LeRoy. Technically speaking, he never even existed, though to say that seems a bit cruel and untrue once you know the whole story. The true author is a woman named Laura Albert, who was part of JT LeRoy's entourage and adopted family of sorts, while her sister-in-law was acting as the writer in public. Albert had taken on the persona years earlier whilst seeking help from a doctor, because being herself was far too difficult as she talked about the horrible things she had been through. The doctor encouraged her to write, something she credits with saving her life. I can relate. Then, one thing led to another and we got a phenomenon. And one very fascinating story.

I really found this documentary very compelling, even though I knew most of the things about the incident already. And since I did, the film maker would have to find a way to keep me interested. That happened through the way it was shot. First, there was quite a bit of voice over, done by Laura Albert (I assume) in the voice she used when she posed as JT, and it was heard over some cool visual artwork. Second, since several of the phone conversations that JT had with people were recorded, they added those in with the sounds of an old tape recorder, making it seem as though we were getting some underground info that we weren't supposed to be hearing. Lastly, I liked the way they filmed Laura Albert's interview. Normally, when you watch a "talking head" in a documentary, they're looking off to the side, at the interviewer, but here, she is looking straight at the camera, at the audience, at us. Ultimately, what this is being presented as is something of a full on confession. She is here to tell the story and she is telling it directly to us.

If there is any fault I find in this thing, it's one that others have noticed as well. I kind of wish they delved deeper into the reactions from people who were in the JT LeRoy circle and who felt very deceived and betrayed after everything was revealed. They did tackle it a bit, but they could have done more, if for no other reason than to more seriously show the consequences of doing something like this. On the other hand, while I am hardcore not a fan of lying, I don't see Laura Albert as someone like Stephen Glass or James Frey, who intentionally set out to deceive the public for personal gain. She was just trying to recover from her past by any means necessary, and those means got out of her control. And to be fair, as she says, the books always said fiction, and she's not the first person to use a pseudonym. While I don't want to call why she did what she did an excuse, it is certainly a reason, and a pretty valid one. In the end, it's a tough situation to figure out.

Also, this film truly does give a fascinating look at how we see fame and how enamored we are with it. Seriously, why was it not enough that these books were good? Why did there have to be a celebrity figure attached to them to give them credibility? I'd like to think that artists, especially writers, share enough about themselves through their work. Why do we have to know so much more? I don't know, but this film can certainly make us think about that.

So, as a person who like films about writers and documentary, I found this to be a very well made film. It was great to hear, not only the story of the author, but how the idea of fame tied in to the whole thing. Perhaps, it will teach us all that, when we find a good book to read, the writer has done their job, and we should demand no more from them. Not even themselves.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, December 12, 2016

Peace, Love & Misunderstanding - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Is it considered a coming of age story if members of three generations of a family are kinda doing that at the same time? Because I think that's what happens in this movie. And all things considered, I guess it can be called a family film. So, let's talk about Peace, Love & Misunderstanding.

Peace, Love & Misunderstanding is a 2012 film about a lawyer, Diane, played by Catherine Keener, who is divorced from her husband, Mark, played by Kyle MacLachlan. She must have heard about that Showgirls thing. Anyway, she decides to leave Manhattan with her two kids, Zoe and Jake, played by Elizabeth Olsen and Nat Wolff, respectively. They go upstate to Woodstock, where Diane's mother, Grace, lives. Grace is played by Jane Fonda and she is a total hippie. Yes, a postmodern hippie living in Woodstock, where, according to this film, 90% of the town hasn't changed since 1969. I'll let you calm down from that shock. Good? Okay, let's move on.

As Diane is a woman who is a bit uptight and Grace can be easily called a free spirit, they tend to clash a bit and always have, and so much of the plot centers around the tension between them. But it's okay though, because we have quite a bit of romance going on in this film as well. Pretty much every family member gets close to a potential S.O. here. Zoe hesitantly finds herself attracted to a young butcher, Cole, played by Chace Crawford, despite the fact that they don't always get along. Cole is enamored with a young girl who works at a local coffee shop, Tara, played by Marissa O'Donnell. And even stuffy Diane catches the eye of a handsome local named Jude, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and maybe starts to think that loosening up might not be so bad. But with all these feelings and emotions running rampant, the real question is will the decades long estrangement of the family come to an end and allow them to move forward with each other.

So, the best word I can use to describe this film is "easy". You can just sit back and relax and watch it, and nothing is really going to get your heart rate up too high. Now, whether that's good or bad is going to depend on the viewer and their taste or mood. Personally, I kind of enjoyed this movie. It's full of people who I like and it's so laid back that it is something I can watch when I am also wanting to feel laid back. And a lot of that feeling comes from the lovely atmosphere created by the surroundings of Woodstock. The film makers really captured something there, and I give that aspect a thumbs up. Again, I suppose that whatever can be called positives and negatives exist only based on the audience. If you want something mellow with a decent script and some good acting, especially from the "always a delight" Elizabeth Olsen, then this might be one to add to your list.

Thus, do I recommend this movie? Well, I liked it and I'm never wrong, so yeah. Seriously, though, it's not breaking any cinematic ground here, but who says that every film has to do that? Some movies are just there when you need them for whatever you happen to need them for. If you want a relaxing night of watching something that might be labeled a "chick flick" but actually goes a bit deeper, I say give this one a chance.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Top Ten Amy Grant Songs

Greetings Pups,

It is amazing that it has taken me this long to make this particular list. I mean, you may not know this, but I would consider Amy Grant to be my favorite female singer. She has been there for my entire life and was one of the few good memories I have where my childhood is concerned. So, I have always seen her as a source of comfort for me, and she was one of the reasons why I fell in love with music. Well, it was really her and Jem and the Holograms, but that's a discussion for another day. To be honest, Amy Grant has had an immense effect on my life.

So, I have, on a few occasions, used my writing as a way of thanking her for all she has done to make my life a bit better, and thus, I thought I could do that today by sharing my favorite songs by her. Trust, this was a difficult list to make. I love so much of her music, but quite a few songs hold a very special place in my heart for many reasons. Here are the ones that I hold the closest.

#10. "That's What Love Is For" - I once had a friend who thought that Heart In Motion was Amy's first album. I suggested we see other people after that. Anyway, quite a few songs from this album did very well and pushed Amy right into the mainstream, even more than she already had been. But being a hopeless romantic, I guess, of course, I had to pick the power ballad love song as my favorite. I am so predictable.

#9. "El Shaddai" - I know that when people say that a song sounds beautiful, they tend to be talking about the music half. But this song has some exquisitely sounding words in it, and most of them are in another language, as you can tell from the title. Yes, all those names that we can call God certainly have a lovely ring to them.

#8. "Saved By Love" - Is it just me, or do we not have nearly enough songs about the love that one feels for their family? Of course, we have a million songs about romantic love, which is easily the most fleeting. But when it comes to the more, hopefully, strong and lasting love between family members, we are lacking. Thank God for songs like this. Also, I may have named one of my books after a lyric in this song. Just like I did with a lyric from my Number One song. I am not a thief. I hope.

#7. "Lead Me On" - I hate to use the word "epic" as it has been so overused in recent years, but I just have to do it in this case. This song is rather epic. From the bigness of the music production to the strength of the message, this might be considered something of a masterpiece for Amy. Well, considering how long her career has lasted, it was bound to happen some time.

#6. "Everywhere I Go" - The synth sound can really go either way with me, to be honest. And as this song comes from an album released smack dab in the middle of the 80's, I am not surprised to find it here. But there is just something about this song that always makes me smile. Maybe it is just the joyful sound of it all. Or maybe it's because my mother was never the biggest fan of it. Oh, I am so bad.

#5. "Thy Word" - Every now and then, a song from the Contemporary Christian Music genre trickles down into the songs that people sing during worship services at church, or even school, as it happened in my case. This is one of those songs. Now, whilst I think it is beautiful, I also think it should be sung by one person at a time. Maybe because of my own personal "group sing" experiences, where everyone always messes up the note on the "to the end" line. Just saying. But whatever. This song is still brilliant.

#4. "Doubly Good To You" - Time for me to get a little sad here. This wonderful song was written by one of Amy's good friends, Rich Mullins. He is kind of a legend in the world of Christian music, and he is responsible for my favorite album of all time. Sadly, for us anyway, he passed away nearly twenty years ago. But he did leave a vast legacy of great music, including this incredible love song.

#3. "The Prodigal" - Spoilers, this may have been inspired by a certain parable. However, due to the lyrical content, I think it can be used to express the longing for anyone you love to return. There's something so bittersweet about it, yet there is some hope lying in there. As always.

#2. "All I Ever Have To Be" - So for a very long time, this was actually my favorite song by Amy. Obviously, that changed, but I still love it dearly. Something in those lyrics about doubting yourself and what have to give the world, but being reminded that you are made by God and that He has a plan in mind. It is such a comfort. Always has been and always will be.

#1. "After the Fire" - I remember seeing Amy on the Oprah show singing this song to her mother and her sisters a long time ago. It was rather emotional, in the best way. One thing I have always said about Amy is that she puts intricate beauty into simple things, and this song is, in fact, a simple one. At least, it seems that way. But in the ease of the notes and the words, she tells a story that can travel far and last a lifetime. It will for me, of that I am sure.

And there are my favorite songs by my favorite singer. I could go on and on about what an impact that Amy Grant has made on my life, even more than I already have, but even for a writer like myself, there will never be enough words. So, the most I can ever really say to her that could sum it all up is "Thank You".

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Final NaNoWriMo 2016 Update!

Greetings Pups,

Well, it is the last day of NaNoWriMo and just after midnight last night...or this morning...whatever, I won! Yay, me! And YAY for anyone who has also won!

I must say that this has been an interesting experience once again. Like last year, I did hit my 50K goal, but I did not actually finish the whole book. And I do not just mean that I haven't done the proofing and the editing yet. I mean that I have not even finished the whole story. I have a feeling that a lot of people deal with this situation. But at least we have the start of what could be a great and complete book eventually. The truth is, I wrote this "Road Trip" book of mine so nonlinear that it's not even funny. It will be like putting a puzzle together, something I may have already mentioned about it. Although, I may have said that just on Twitter. But I like what I've done with it. It has some decent dialogue and I have really enjoyed getting to know my characters. Of course, if I do fully complete this thing, there is a chance it could massively long. I'm okay with that. And who knows? Maybe I will get to do a road trip of my own to visit some of the amazing places I tried to write about.

So, now that the month is over for me, I must say I am exhausted, as I am sure many of you are as well. However, if you are one of the people who will be scrambling to get to that 50K goal right up until midnight, keep going. It will be tough, but you can do it. Just get the words down and worry about everything else later. Trust me, you will feel great when you can finally and officially declare yourself a winner of NaNoWriMo 2016!

Godspeed and thank you for joining me for these updates!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Top 50 Beatles Songs: 10 - 1

Greetings Pups,

This is it. We have finally reached the last leg in the race to find out what the greatest Beatles song of all time is...according to me. I know, I know, but try and keep calm. If you read my other installments, you won't be surprised to find some obvious choices mixed in with a few obscure ones. In fact, I don't doubt that my #1 choice will be very unexpected. Don't you dare look yet! You have to read the whole list first. That's the rule. Well, enough rambling from me. Let's get to the Top Ten of my Top Fifty favorite songs by The Beatles.

#10. "Yer Blues" - This awesome! I just love how gritty it is and how, for lack of a better word, bluesy it is. Funny thing though, it was written to be almost an exaggeration of British blues, being a bit satirical, but honest, nonetheless. Now that takes some serious talent.

#9. "Paperback Writer" - No, I did not put his on the list just because I am also a paperback writer. Although, that fact did give it a few extra points. And apparently, this song came to be after someone asked Paul if all he could write were love songs. I guess not. Also, those vocals at the beginning are excellent.

#8. "Hey, Jude" - Here's an obvious choice. I don't think anyone can deny that it's one of their best. And it also contained one of the best lines that Paul ever wrote: "The movement you need is on your shoulder." Can you believe he almost cut it out? Good thing John told him to keep it.

#7. "It's Only Love" - I heard the working title of this song was "That's a Nice Hat". I guess that could have worked. They've had weirder titles. Also, it seemed that John Lennon himself was not a fan of this one. Well, too bad. I think it's fantastic, and I sound great singing it. So there.

#6. "Free As a Bird" - I bet a lot of people didn't expect to see this one at all, much less so high on the list. But there's just something about it that makes me feel, you know? Maybe because this, along with "Real Love", gave us new Beatles music that we never thought we would get. Also, the video for this song is my favorite music video of all time.

#5. "Dear Prudence" - That bass line. Do I even have to say anything more about this song to justify its position on this list? NO! So, I'm not gonna!

#4. "If I Fell" - Whilst I do find myself far more attracted overall to the second half of the Beatles career, I must say this is one of the most perfect love songs I have ever heard. I love how its simple and complex all at the same time, creating this rather magical piece of music.

#3. "Across the Universe" - As I've said before, I am a lyric snob. I have no idea what the lyrics in this song mean. I don't think John did either. And yet, I find it something of a masterpiece. Sometimes just stringing a bunch of beautiful words together, whether it all makes sense or not, is enough to make something very special.

#2. "In My Life" - Some people consider this the greatest song by The Beatles. Darn close. I do love how the melody and the lyrics fit each other so perfectly. Not all songs can do that. And I heard that John said it was really the first time he got very personal about his own life with his lyrics. Any time a writer can do that, they are already ahead.

#1. "Cry, Baby, Cry" - SURPRISE!! Yeah, I bet a lot of you did not see this one coming. In fact, I doubt that this is anyone's favorite Beatles song, besides me. But I cannot help it. I am a person who loves songs that I can see. By that, I mean that the lyrics here paint such a vivid picture, and it is a picture that has always reminded me of some kind of fantasy world in the vein of Alice in Wonderland. That kind of makes sense, actually, since it was apparently inspired by a nursery rhyme. Sounds like it. I don't know. I just hear something new every time I hear this song. And that is something I love and always want in the music to which I listen.

And there you have it. It has been a long trip, but now you know the FIFTY Beatles songs that I consider their best, my personal favorites. I hope you enjoyed all these lists and if you haven't gone through your Beatles collection in a while, I hope I inspired you to go back and listen to some of this amazing music.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

NaNoWriMo Update - Week Three

Greetings Pups,

Just one more week and some change left for the most epic writing event of the year! Or something like that. Yes, it is true. We have gotten through three weeks of NaNoWriMo. Well, I have anyway, and I certainly hope you have as well. For me, this has always been the roughest time, since the new of the excitement has worn off for real, and at this point in your story, you can get blocked more easily. But I made it, so we're good.

Okay, technicals first, yet again. We are good on word count, but I want to stay ahead as much as I can. Which means, since I am posting this on a Tuesday, I might, I just might, participate in that thing I told you about called a "10K Tuesday". I mean, thankfully, I have little else to do today, and speaking of which, it is Thanksgiving week! And I would like to be able to rest and enjoy my favorite holiday. Of course the only way I can do that is by getting a little, or a lot, ahead before then. Here's hoping.

So, the story. Well, I'm still doing what I told you all about last week, which is jumping around in the plot. I have written done all the places I want her to go on this road trip, and I have an idea of what will happen while she is there, so I'm writing the certain events whenever the spirit moves me, as they say. But there is good news for her. She has been joined on the trip by someone special. Okay, spoilers! Just in case anyone of you ever reads this. Her special guest is her best friend, Gerry. Hooray! To be fair, I'm guessing that anyone who reads this thing will be able to predict that will happen. Not that it's predictable, per se, but come on. It is kind of obvious. Still, everything that happens to them will be what's important. I guess. I haven't written it all yet.

And that is my week three wrap up for NaNoWriMo. At this point, though I often hit a lull, I can also be cautiously optimistic about finishing my 50K by the end of November. I hope you all are doing just as well. We can see the finish line, so let's get to it.

Godspeed in the final week...and also a couple more days...because weeks are seven days...and four times seven is twenty eight...and November adds up to thirty! See, I can do math stuff!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, November 21, 2016

Top 50 Beatles Songs: 20 -11

Greetings Pups,

Oh, look at that! We are getting closer and closer to revealing the Number One spot and the best Beatles song of all time, according to me! But not today, so you're gonna have to be little more patient. Off we go!

#20. "I Am the Walrus" - So...I'm weird. It's a thing I have, my weirdness. And I have accepted it fully. It is songs like this that helped me do that, because it is WEIRD! But it's also cool. So, I figured if it can be weird and cool, then so can I. Throw in a bit of creepiness at the end there, and you've got yourself a bizarro classic.

#19. "Here, There and Everywhere" - And now for the other end of the spectrum. This a pretty normal song, but it's also quite beautiful. Sometimes all you need is a simple love song to get the point across. And Paul does quite a fine job with the vocals here, very different from his work on "Oh, Darlin'" that I mentioned, but still effective. Well, done.

#18. "This Boy" - The first time I heard this song was, once again, on that show Just the Ten of Us, where the four daughters were singing it. And they were singing it as "This Girl". And all I can remember was my mom saying that they were singing it wrong. Technically, she was correct, but if you get a chance to sing this song, even altered, take it!

#17. "Misery" - For me, this was the high point of the first album by The Beatles, and I heard they actually wrote it for a young singer, but her manager or something thought it was too much of a downer. No, not that kind of downer. Those came later. I cannot pinpoint any detailed reason as to why I love this song so much, but I do. Oh, wait. It's because "the world is treating me bad". #Misery

#16. "Tomorrow Never Knows" - So...I'm still weird. But this time, I'm also existential...apparently. Yeah, I assume that there is some deep meaning to the lyrics here, but heck, if I know what it is. I just know that it sounds different. And different can be very good.

#15. "Rain" - I love rain! It is my favorite kind of weather. And wasn't it so nice of the guys to write this song about it for me...many years before I was born, but still. Actually, I heard they wrote it after visiting Australia and running into some inclement weather there. And John also called it their first great psychedelic song. Sure, why not?

#14. "Yes, It Is" - For some reason, I always think this is one of the more lesser known Beatles songs. It shouldn't be, but it might be. Fun Fact, which is totally true, because Wikipedia: This song was John's attempt to rewrite the aforementioned "This Boy". Well, that didn't work out. Or did it?

#13. "All My Loving" - Another "letter" song. What do you know? Hey, I'm not complaining. I love handwritten letters! This better be about a handwritten letter. But even if it isn't, I can be forgiving. Because listen to that guitar work. Excellent!

#12. "The Long and Winding Road" - Okay, apparently, there is some controversy around the recording of this song. Something about overdubs and Phil Spector and Paul getting mad about something. But let's put that aside, because who cares? Whatever happened, we got this amazing song out of it.

#11. "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" - So, this song is about an affair. Totes not cool, man. However, I cannot help but love this song from a purely musical standpoint. It's got a great rhythm, and the use of that sitar is done quite perfectly. Not too much, not too little, just right. And it helped to make it stand out on what is one of the best albums The Beatles ever made.

Well, thank you for joining me for the penultimate list. Soon, I will reveal my top picks for the best Beatles songs ever in the history of life. Not that I would ever want to build it up too much.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Top 50 Beatles Songs: 30 - 21

Greetings Pups,

Welcome back! Time for the third installment in out Top 50 Beatles countdown. You know the drill. Let's just get started.

#30. "And I Love Her" - And this is when we all began disobeying the rule about conjunctions at the start of a sentence. And I just did it...twice. For real, though, is there a better way to lead us into this world of grammar misbehaving than with a beautiful love song? No. The answer is no. Also, LOVE that acoustic guitar riff thing.

#29. "Oh, Darling" - Some of us may enjoying gettin' down with this song by way of our own personal karaoke machine. Not me. But some people. I'm sure of it. Anyway, I consider this one of Paul's best vocal performances, because he really went for it, and I'm like 90% sure he had a soar throat after that recording session. Or possibly before.

#28. "Penny Lane" - No, I'm not talking about the character in Almost Famous. Ha! Moving on. It is written about an actual road, though, one near where John lived when he was a little boy. See, inspiration is everywhere. Good thing he didn't live near, I don't know, a Fourth Street or something, because that would not be a very good title. No offense to people who live on a Fourth Street.

#27. "I Will" - This was one of those songs that they wrote over in India. It's just a nice, simple love song. Or maybe not, because I heard it took 67 takes to record. That seems like a bit much. Although, I always felt like Paul may have been a perfectionist. No judgment. It's just an observation.

#26. "Nowhere Man" - I so enjoy when a writer can lay there emotions out for the whole world to see. Whether it's about love or love gone wrong or trying to figure out where you're meant to go in life, which is what this about, it's so nice. It takes a gift...and some courage.

#25. "Real Love" - Here's something I bet you didn't think you'd see. A Beatles song from the 90's! Well...ish. This was a song that John was working on around '79 and '80, but it was revived for The Beatles Anthology in 1995. Paul, George and Ringo got together to make it happen, giving us the closest thing we ever got to a reunion, along with another song, which we may or may not get to later.

#24. "I've Just Seen a Face" - I dare you to listen to this song without bouncing back and forth and keeping with that awesome rhythm. You won't be able to do it. It's just too jovial. Seriously, I still can't believe that this was on the Help! album, but not in the movie. It would have been good for a chase scene or something.

#23. "From Me To You" - Not as good as From Justin To Kelly, but what are you gonna do? Wow, my jokes are on fire today, am I right? Anywho...this is some early music from the guys, and they got the idea/title from the letters section from something called New Musical Express. It was called "From You To Us". See what they did there?

#22. "Fool on the Hill" - This is was definitely one of the more calm and...let's say, normal moments from the Magical Mystery Tour album. But that makes it very necessary. Sometimes, you need a quiet moment within all the craziness. It served its purpose well.

#21. "No Reply" - She's cheating on you! I'm telling you right now, person in this song. She's cheating on you. Once again, this was a time before call waiting and voice mail, so getting in touch with someone wasn't as easy back then. So, perhaps, I can give this young lady in the song the benefit of the doubt, but..yeah, no. She's cheating.

And there is yet another group of fantastic songs that I love. More on the way! Stay tuned.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

NaNoWriMo Update - Week Two

Greetings Pups,

Well, last week was interesting. Due to...let's say...reasons. But we are not here to talk about nothing except writing. Specifically, writing our NaNoWriMo projects. So, let's talk about how things are going for me.

On the technically side, I have managed to never get behind on my word count. I don't think I could say that about any of my previous NaNo's at this point in the process. To be fair, though, that first burst of "right out of the gate" energy I had on the first day has dissipated, as it tends to do. So, right now, I am on schedule, but only barely. Hopefully, that will change in the next week.

On the artistic side, my lead character, Natasha, has met a couple of interesting people on her U.S.A. road trip and visited some well known national landmarks, including the most important one of all, the Rocky Balboa statue in Philadelphia. I guess it's all downhill from here. Now, due to the very detailed things I will have to write about, should I ever actually make this book suitable for publication, I decided to do some bouncing around in the narrative. I wrote down a lot of scenes that need to take place, so I'm writing them in whatever order they come to be. It's a bit odd for me, since I usually write things quite linearly. But we'll see how it works out.

And there is my brief, but oh so important, update for Week Two of NaNoWriMo. I hope you all are doing well. If you are, keep up the good work. If you're struggling, remember that this is for fun. If you let it be fun and don't worry yourself too much about what you have to get done, you will enjoy it far more which will make it easier to get things done.

Godspeed in Week Three, everyone!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Farewell and Many Thanks, Mr. Leonard Cohen

Greetings Pups,

As you all know, I had may plans for this blog in November, ones that I still promise to carry out. I even had something fun planned to share for this weekend. Sadly, though, I have to forego that one in particular, due to some very heartbreaking news that we got. The incomparable Leonard Cohen has passed away at the age of 82.

I have mentioned before how much I admire this man as an artist. He is what I strive to be as a writer, what many of us strive to be as writers, someone who can effect people deeply through words, someone who can create unimaginable beauty by stringing the right letters together, someone who can make music from the silence. Strangely enough, while I can honor and thank this man who inspired me as a writer, I am finding it difficult to come up with the right words in this moment. Some grief is beyond what can be spoken, but the same can be said for gratitude. So, I'm just going to leave you with something that I wrote years ago about Leonard Cohen, something that expresses how I felt and still feel about what he gave the world.

Thank you, dear sir, for your legacy. You will be missed forever.

They are strung together like priceless pearls
That make us gaze and sigh
Wanting to possess them all
Trying to reach that high
You release them like a melody
Though it doesn't always exist
You shape them well and hit the target
While all the others have missed
I could listen to you talk for days
And, with each turn, I find something new
And all the posers with their futile attempts
None could ever share like you
There is a truth that lies within your air
That makes us able to trust
When the rest pour out hollow phrases
You speak like a song to us

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Top 50 Beatles Songs: 40- 31

Greetings Pups,

Welcome back to my Top 50 Beatles countdown. Now let's continue on with Numbers 40 to 31. I can barely contain my excitement. I'm ure you feel the same. Onward!

#40. "Octopus's Garden" - There you go, Ringo. I gave you a spot. To be fair, I do find this song enjoyable. It sounds like a children's book. It should be a children's book. Is it already a children's book? I don't know.

#39. "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da - I still say that this song sounds better sung by the cast of Life Goes On. What? They had Patti LuPone! I don't know what this title means. I don't know who these people are in the lyrics. But that is a seriously catchy melody they got there.

#38. "I'll Follow the Sun" - Now, if I knew that it was going to rain tomorrow, I would not follow the sun. I would stay put, as I am a person who loves rain. And funny enough, I find this to be a great song to listen to on a rainy day. Go figure.

#37. "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You" - Would you judge me if I said the first time I heard this song was on a show called Just the Ten of Us whilst it was being sung by the four girls playing the teenage daughters? I hope not. Because it's not my fault that I saw that show before I saw A Hard Day's Night. But wasn't that nice of John and Paul to give George one of their songs to sing?

#36. "I Need You" - And another George song. I could use the excuse that every song sounds better when it's being played in a field with tanks surrounding you, but it actually sounds good on the album, not just in that one scene in Help!

#35. "A Day In the Life" - As a writer, I get inspired by so many things in the world. Music and movies and people and places...and occasionally a newspaper. Nice to see that I'm not the only one. But, as much as I love this song, I'm still not sure about that little insert of a Paul song near the end. You know what I'm talking about. For real, what was up with that? Found my way upstairs and had a smoke, indeed.

#34. "I Should Have Known Better" - I love trains and I love harmonicas. Well, I saw The Beatles sing this on a train and there was, in fact, a harmonica in there somewhere. And they shout "Hey, hey, hey!" awesome.

#33. "Strawberry Fields Forever" - I remember seeing a clip from American Bandstand where they showed a promotional video for this song to the youngsters. It was right after they had been out of sight for a while, and were coming back a changed band. Not all the kids liked it; some did. I would have been in the latter group. And thank God for this song, because if it didn't exist, people would have to come up with some other name to call their strawberry flavored and /or scented whatnots.

#32. "I'm Only Sleeping" - Apparently, sleeping is the best thing ever. It might even be better than the drugs. Or at least, that's what some people's interpretation of these lyrics are. What I do know is that John wrote them on the back of a letter? See, if emails were a thing back then, he couldn't have written it. Thus, actual, paper letters are better than email. Boom.

#31. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - What's this? A THIRD song sung by George in this installment? Well, then. But let's be honest, this is only good because of the Eric Clapton on it. Okay, that's not the ONLY reason, but it's a big reason. Although, as a lyric snob, I must admit, it's got some darn good words there. Credit where it's due.

And that's my second set of favorites. The third is on its way. Remember. Patience is a virtue.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

NaNoWriMo Update - Week One

Greetings Pups,

And so I have gotten through the first seven days of NaNoWriMo. Has it been easy? Well, yes and no, as always. Okay, let's talk about the technical stuff first.

I finished my first day in really good shape, actually ending up a thousand words ahead. I managed to keep that momentum up for the next four days. Then, Saturday happened, and I got sick. Then, Sunday happened, and I was still sick. However, I did manage to power through and not get behind on my over all word count, even being slightly ahead. As of today, I am pretty much right on track, with some change to spare. See, this is why I give the advice to stay ahead while you can and try not to get behind at all during the first weak. It can be difficult, but if you can do it, it's worth it.

And now for the artistic portion of our discussion. As I mentioned before, I'm kind of a half planner, half pantser when it comes to NaNoWriMo. So, I have an idea where I'm going but nothing is set in stone. I managed to introduce my main character, who is a writer, and her best friend, the less main main character, who is also a writer. Yeah, I write about writers a lot. Sue me. Anyway, they are named Natasha and Gerry, for now, anyway, and I got those names by scrolling through who I'm following on Twitter and picking names at random. So, thanks Natasha Bure (Candace Cameron-Bure's daughter) and Gerard Butler (best Phantom of the Opera ever, am I right?)! You will both be a part of my story. Again...for now.

Anyway, the plot has to do with Natasha going on this massive road trip across the country, and because I like to hit the ground running, I am just over 11,000 words in and she has just hit said road. Yeah, either I am going to have to do some serious trimming in this first section of the book or it is going to be a very looooong book. I guess we shall see.

So, that's about all for the first week. Now I am posting this on a Tuesday morning, and some NaNoWriMo people participate in something called a 10K Tuesday, wherein you try to write 10,000 words in one day. Considering how I have other things occupying my time today, that little venture may have to wait. In fact, I've got my fingers crossed that I even hit my normal word count today. But I have hope.

Godspeed to all my fellow NaNo participants. I'll be back next week with another update.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, November 4, 2016

Top 50 Beatles Songs: 50-41

Greetings Pups,

I have done a load of top ten lists during my time on this blog. Some have been easy; some, not so much. This one might be the most difficult one of all. Or maybe second most difficult after my Top 100 Law & Order Episodes series. See, I have decided to not do a Top Ten list but rather a Top Fifty list. I am doing this, because we're talking about what is arguably the most influential band of all time, The Beatles. There are just way too many good songs from this band to narrow it down to just ten. Yes, I could have gone above ten on other artists, but this is the only time when I think going all the way up to fifty would be appropriate. And yet, it was still difficult to narrow it down. Go figure.

So, starting today and continuing throughout the month of November, I will be counting down my Top Fifty favorite Beatles songs. Why November? Well, it was actually this month, several years ago, in which I became a full fledged admirer of this group. Indeed, I remember it that specifically. And if your personal favorites aren't on this list, don't judge me. It's The Beatles! Almost everything is good, but not everything can make it. Anyway, let's kick things off with Numbers 50 to 41. Off we go.

#50. "Something" - I heard someone once say that this was the best love song ever. Obviously, I disagree, but it is a pretty good song. Now, I'm not a huge fan of George's music. Credit where it's due, though, when he was on, he was very on. And you can't not like a song that uses the word "woos".

#49. "P.S. I Love You" - Hey, they stole this title from that Gerard Butler movie. Okay, no, they didn't. The song came first. This is just a sweet little tune with a sweet little premise about letter writing. Which I love, by the way. Oh, and it might be about being in love a little.

#48. "Don't Let Me Down" - I know The Beatles were very much influenced by a lot of different genres. Seems they went a bit bluesy with this one. Maybe. Look, I'm not great with identifying genres that aren't super obvious. All I know is that this is great. Great enough to be played on a rooftop. What does that tell you?

#47. "All I've Got To Do" - This seems like such a simple song, but I happen to think it holds an important message. Something about mutual respect and feelings and being there for your significant other. How nice. It sucks when one person has to do all the work. Trust me. I know.

#46. "Good Day Sunshine" - I first heard this in a Sun Chips commercial. I hate you, Michael Jackson! What? He owned it; he sold it. He sucks. Moving on. Whatever commercialization has been thrust upon this tune, it's still some superb songwriting at work. And the fact that I like it even though I like rainy days says a lot.

#45. "You Won't See Me" - Communication is such an important thing in relationships. Imagine how much more that was true in the days before call waiting and voice mail, when communication was so much more difficult. Or so I've been told. This is a little something to remind us of that.

#44. "Every Little Thing" - Okay, this seems to be a song about a guy who really appreciates his girlfriend...because "every little thing" she does, she does for him. Really? EVERY little thing? I mean, doing things for the one you love is nice and all, but that might be a bit much.

#43. "Only a Northern Song" - I have no idea what this song is about (you might hear that a lot with this countdown), but it's the only one I included from the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. I must have thought it was the best. And it's another George song. Interesting.

#42. "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" - Okay, everyone who thinks this song is about LSD, you get on the left sidewalk. Everyone who thinks it was inspired by a picture that John's son drew, you get on the right sidewalk. And everyone who has no idea what I'm talking about can get off the street entirely and just go home.

#41. "Lovely Rita" - I must say, what I love most about this song is the unique rhythm and beat. It just makes me really happy. And that end part where they sing "Lovely Rita, meter maid"? Sweet! And it's about a career woman, so there you go.

And there you have the first installment of my Top 50 from The Beatles series. Stay tuned. The next one will be posted shortly. So, if you haven't seen your favorite yet, be patient. You never know.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November Blog Plans

Greetings Pups,

I don't usually do this, but I am going to lay out my plans on this blog for the month of November. Mostly because it's one of the only times that I do have a plan. Also, if you want to follow along with what I'll be doing, you'll know to come back. So, here's what I hope to be sharing with you.

As I mentioned before, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo once again this year. You can check out the post where I gave some advice for it. I'll link it below. What I've never done yet is give updates on my progress as I am partaking in this event. So, I'm gonna to try and give a weekly one throughout the month. Just to let everyone know how I'm doing and to cheer on everyone who is attempting to do this as well. And since it's a writing thing, I may do a few posts about - what else? - writing! I don't know what or even if I'll post for that. I mean, I will be rather busy. Those of you who have done NaNo before will know what I mean. But we'll see. Plus, I have something else planned for you all.

I decided to do a five part...series, I guess, counting down my Top 50 favorite Beatles songs. Oh, joy! And it's about time. I'll explain more about why I'm doing it this month and other things in the first post. So, if you're interested in that, keep an eye out for it. I will hopefully entertain you with that, lift your spirits and motivate you if you are doing the NaNo thing.

That's about all. I'll do my best to do all that I am promising. And if I do...I am going to be super-tired come December!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

 "A Little Advice For NaNoWriMo" Post

Friday, October 28, 2016

Saving Talk Shows...One Harry Connick, Jr. At a Time

Greetings Pups,

In my misguided youth, I fancied myself quite a connoisseur of the talk show. I may have been a tad infatuated with them. Yes, even the trashy ones. Perhaps, mostly the trashy ones, but let's not discuss that. Over the years, I've done my best to avoid the genre at all costs, though sometimes, it would reel me in again. Still, none of them ever made me put them on my daily "To Do" list. And then came along a magic man by the name of Harry Connick Jr., and everything changed.

As always, I must be completely honest. Ever since he first showed up, Harry Connick Jr. has just always kind of been there in my life, floating around in my peripheral vision, occasionally drifting over into my line of sight, and each time that happened, I would think, "Hey, I like that guy." And that's all it has ever been between us. I've always liked him, but I realized that I had never fully embraced him. Thankfully, I have decided to finally do that, and it has to do with, of all things, a talk show. Specifically, Harry's new talk show.

The first time I even heard of it was when I was scrolling down on the channel guide and I saw that there was a show called simply Harry. I wondered who is this Harry person. Is it that Harry Smith guy? Maybe Harry Hamlin? Perhaps, even a talk show hosted by Dirty Harry. (Side Note: Somebody needs to put that on the air yesterday!) Alas, no, it was none of those contenders, but rather Harry Connick Jr. And as I have done in the past, I saw him and said, "Hey, I like that guy!" So, I decided to watch. And then, I became very happy. Good times.

Yes, that's the thing about Harry's new talk show. If I had to describe it in one word, it would be "Joyful". I just can't not smile when it's on. There's something special these days about a celebrity who seems to only want to make people happy through entertaining them. And doing that on a talk show makes him even more of a rarity. I mean, he won't belittle you because of your politics, he won't mock you for what you believe in and he probably wouldn't pick a fight with Candace Cameron-Bure...unless it involved some kind of super fun game or something. My point is that his show is there to put smiles on the faces of the people watching, to take their minds off the negative things, if even for just an hour. And that is invaluable right now. What's even more precious is the way he appreciates people. He loves his fans and he honors those everyday folks who have done extraordinary things. It's enough to bring a tear to my eye. The good kind of tear.

As far as I'm concerned, there is but one thing that gives me pause about Harry's show, and that is this: my mother LOVES it! Now my mother and I agree on very, very little, so I became hesitant when she told me how much she likes it. However, I got over it, and now it is the most enjoyable part of our daily phone calls.

Oh, and Harry was one of the only famous people that I follow on the Twitter who acknowledged National Poetry Day. As a poet myself, he gets major, MAJOR points for that one!

Bottom line, there is so much..."UGH!" in the world right now. We need things to make our hearts smile. I know that much about the entertainment industry seems frivolous or worse, but every now and then, something or someone comes along to give us hope for it. I believe that Mr. Harry Connick Jr. and his show are exactly that. There's just something very special about a person who can bless your day with his jubilant presence, and even more, a person who thrives to do it. So, if you're having a crap day and you need something to make you laugh or feel warm and fuzzy inside, I suggest that you, first, say a prayer, because I always have to suggest that, and second, tune in to Harry. You won't be disappointed.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hailey Dean Mystery: Murder, With Love - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Not a lot of things make me giddy in my life, but having one of my favorite actresses returning to television is definitely one of them. And that is exactly what I got a couple of nights ago on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel when I watched Kellie Martin star in Hailey Dean Mystery: Murder, With Love.

I may have mentioned this, but the Mystery Woman series, which also starred Kellie Martin as Samantha Kinsey, is something I thoroughly enjoyed. I still do, actually, as they are repeated quite a bit. Well, they aired about ten years ago, and I've been eager to get her back on the screen. Thankfully, this new movie, which I assume will be a series of such, has given us all that gift. The character she plays is a former prosecutor who is now a therapist, and the story is based on the books of Nancy Grace, who also makes an appearance here. In fact, I'd say that Hailey Dean is pretty much a fictionalized version of Nancy Grace herself. Hey, I'm not judging. If you read any of manuscripts, you will see that I am an expert on self-insert lead characters. Moving on.

The plot of the story is that Hailey's friend has both of her parents die in what may or may not be accidents. Isn't that always the way it is? When it is also discovered that tons of money is missing from her family, the grieving daughter is looked upon as a suspect. Hailey goes on a mission to help prove her friend's innocence. If it even exists. Dun, dun, DUUUNNN! Yeah, that just happened.

Honestly, when it comes to the actual writing of the mystery, I'd say it's one of the best this channel has ever served up. And they serve up a lot. A LOT! I was even quite surprised by what happens in the end. No, I'm not going to spoil it for you, because I think you should watch it for yourself. Actually, it was so good, I might have to read some of these books that Nancy Grace wrote. I didn't even know they existed until I heard about this movie. So, we'll have to see if they're just as good.

If there's one thing I noticed more than anything, it's how much Kellie Martin has grown as an actor. She has, after all, been doing it since she was a kid on Life Goes On, and her performance here is some of her best and most sophisticated work to date. She has always played great characters, as far as I've seen anyway, and this is no different. Kellie seems to be on point the most with these intelligent and strong women that she chooses to play.

So, I know that this review is a tad short, but I've only watched the movie once. Plus, I didn't know I was going to review it at the time, so I didn't take notes, and it's not on IMDB yet, thus, I have little information about the actors in the cast. Perhaps, I will have to update this when that becomes available. But what's important is that I tell you to check this out. I guarantee that it will be repeated, so keep your eyes open for the next airing. Once again, Murder, With Love is much in the vein of the other mystery movies on Hallmark. They deal with some heavy occurrences, like murder for example, but they are written is such a way that you really can watch it with the whole family without having to be cringing through the whole thing. What more could we ask for.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Little Advice For NaNoWriMo

Greetings Pups,

So, we've got about a week and a half left in October, which means that, if you haven't already, it's a great time to start getting yourself together for NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don't know, that stands for National Novel Writing Month, wherein tons of writers try to write 50,000 words in a month. Why? Because we can. Hopefully.

This will be my third year of participation, officially. By that, I mean I usually write more than 50K words a month every month, but that's because I tend to work on multiple projects at once. When I am limited to one and I have set goals for the day, it can be a bit more difficult. But I've been a winner in the two previous years I've done this, so it is possible. Now I don't know if two years of experience constitutes my being an expert, but I think I am at least a little qualified to give some tips and advice to those of you who are embarking on this for the first time, so here we go.

Okay, at this point, if you're someone who plans ahead meticulously for a writing project, you've probably already done an outline. I've never been a person to over plan, and I think everyone works differently. If you don't plan at all, we call it "Pantsing", which I assume refers to "Flying by the seat of your pants", though I could be wrong. Doing that can possibly make things more difficult and cause you to hit more stale periods during the month, so I would say, even if you don't like to plan a lot, it might be a good idea to jot down a very loose plot idea, just so you always have a place to go and do some character sketches, so you know who you're writing

Now when it comes to non-writing preparation, I'd say you should stock up on some easy to cook food that won't take up much time in the kitchen, as well as some small things that you can snack on to keep your energy up as you're working. I suppose I can say to get yourself some healthy things, your carrot sticks and whatnot, but NaNo starts the day after Halloween. You're going to be eating candy. Don't deny it. No shame, though, in having a "healthy/healthy not so much" combo of snacks. You also might want to have some caffeine, usually by way of tea or coffee, especially if you're a night writer like myself. And water! Lots of water! Yes, it will increase your rest stops, but it will help to do all the good things it does during a normal month. And while you're stocking up, get yourself some sweet office supplies, like maybe a little notebook to carry around for when ideas come to you away from you laptop or some Post-Its or highlighters. Yeah, go a bit old school. Good times.

If you're someone who thrives on visuals when you write, if you need to see the places and people you write about, I tell you about something that I do, at least, when it comes to the places. This may seem strange, but I visit real estate sites to see very detailed pictures of houses, so I can have an idea of where my characters' might live. And if you're feeling super creative, or possibly hitting a lull as you're writing, may I suggest the site Homestyler. Technically, it's for people who are remodeling and want to see 3D renderings of a room they're decorating. So, if you don't want to use rooms and houses that someone else built for your characters, you can build your own. Fair warning, though, it's a bit addictive. Oh, and while we are on the subject of helpful websites, check out Coffitivity, something I've mentioned before. I think it's an app for the phone as well, but I go straight to the site. Anyway, what it does is give you the sounds of a coffee shop, the hustle and bustle and what have you. It's less distracting than music or TV or whatever if you find silence less helpful. Again, as I've said before, I hear that some kind of white noise can help with productivity more than the quiet. Don't know why. Probably something about synapses firing.

Okay, let's discuss the actual writing, when you are really creating your story. First, I would say that, while you only need to write 1,667 words a day to hit the 50K goal, if you have the energy and the inspiration to go further, do it. Take advantage of whatever free time you have, and if you can stay ahead of the game, stay ahead of it. As I mentioned, you will hit a dry spell at least once, so if you can have a some literary padding for when you can't get any work done, it's a good thing. And save your work. Get yourself one of those USB things and save your work. You just never know, and you don't want to do all that writing and suddenly have nothing to show for it. Tragic.

Most importantly, keep one thing in mind. Even though this even is called National Novel Writing Month, it's really National First Draft Writing Month. Because that's really what we're all doing here. You can't write a book, tweaking and editing and all in thirty days. Not a good one. So, just write. Don't be too concerned with going back, re-reading and correcting things. It can distract you. There will be time for that once you hit the goal. Just keep going. Hopefully, by the end of the month, you will have the bones of a great novel. One that you can eventually polish and make just right.

Well, I think that's all the advice I can think to give. Trust me, though, if you do a You Tube search you will find tons and tons of videos giving out a lot of tips. If you put everything together and you persevere, you'll have everything you need to be a NaNoWriMo winner.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, October 14, 2016

Top Ten Worst Hit Songs of 1966

Greetings Pups,

It is true that the mid-sixties were a profoundly great time in music. I think I proved that yesterday with my Best Songs of 1966 list. Sadly, in the midst of all the awesomeness...sorry, grooviness, there werassome seriously not good stuff on the charts. The strange thing is that a lot of the not so great songs were by people I, otherwise, like. And a few of them will be featured here. So, let's go down the bad road to the past and talk about what I consider the Worst Hit Songs of 1966. Prepare yourself.

#10. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" B.J. Thomas - Yeah, sorry, but I've never liked this song. Many will disagree with me, but I really do not like this song. It's so...just kinda there, ya know. And it's just a shame that someone with a good voice, which is what I think about B.J. Thomas, had to cover it this year.

#9. "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?" The Lovin' Spoonful - Again, I dig some songs from this band, but just not this one. It feels super weak to me. Although, it may not be their fault. I kind of got sick of this song after this one episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 played it over and over and over again. If you've seen that one, you'll know.

#8. "Secret Agent Man" Johnny Rivers - I've seen a lot of low budget movies where you can tell they couldn't get rights to a song they wanted to use, so they hire someone to write a soundalike. That's what this song sounds like to me. It's like a Poor Man's Bond theme. Turns out, this was the theme to a show called Danger Man, which sounds to me like a Bond knockoff...though it kinda came first. Yeah, timelines are weird, so...forget all that. I just don't like this song.

#7. "Li'l Red Riding Hood" Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs - And here we thought Johnny Depp in Into the Woods was the first one to make the Big Bad Wolf super creepy! No, he wasn't the first...but he was the most. No, this tune has always made me feel a little uncomfortable, and I love wolves. So, shame on whoever wrote this thing. My frilly feels should be more important than the success of that person's career. Am I right?

#6. "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" Nancy Sinatra - Oh, I'm gonna get in trouble for this one, I bet. Once again, I enjoy Nancy Sinatra's voice. I think she's very talented. But this comes on and, almost on command, my eyes roll. I mean, yelling at people on the TV is one thing, but talking to your shoes and telling them what to do? No.

#5. "Somewhere, My Love" The Ray Conniff Singers - 'Zzzz...Zzzz...No, Dr, Phil, stop judging me. I don't wanna get real!..Wh-what? What? I'm..I'm up. I'm awake.' Yeah, the point I'm trying to make here is that this song is extremely boring. It comes from the movie Doctor Zhivago, which I've never seen all the way through. Perhaps, it is boring as well. So...match made it Heaven?

#4. "Elusive Butterfly" Bob Lind - "I chase the bright, elusive butterfly of love." Sigh. I give up. For real, I give up on this year in music. I just...WHAT! Look, as a poet, I can attest to the fact that some of us use words that go beyond conversational. We try to paint a picture. But we also need to learn to reel it in every now and then. I don't think anyone taught that to this writer. When it comes to writing about butterflies, you, sir, are no Mariah Carey.

#3. "Baby, Scratch My Back" Slim Harpo - This is literally a how-to guide on scratching someone's back. Why? I have no idea. I'll give it this though, it had some sweet guitar playing. If only that could have been wrapped around some better lyrics.

#2. "Ballad of the Green Berets" SSgt. Barry Sadler - I want to make this abundantly clear. I cannot express with mere words how much I respect and honor the men and women in uniform who protect us and our country. Having said that, this song is so not good. I know it meant something to people at the time, and maybe it still does, but message aside, it's just not a very well constructed song. Now I know it's supposed to be about a real person who died, and that's tragic. I guess maybe I feel this way because I think he deserved better.

#1. "Born a Woman" Sandy Posey - I've heard a lot of not so great things about women, particularly in the past few years, and believe it or not, most of those things have come from other women. So, let's keep the trend going with this travesty of a song. Okay, quick musical plot synopsis: Apparently, all of us women are inherently weak and victims and we were predisposed to be the world's doormat. But wait, ladies! There's hope! There's a light at the end of the tunnel! If we find ourselves a boyfriend, then we will finally have reason to live. Oh, deep joy! WHAT...the serious crap!?! Listen, if you have found yourself a good, loving, caring man, God bless you and I wish you much happiness. But having a man does not give a woman an identity. We can be strong and independent on our own, or we can be strong and independent within a relationship. Look, I have never seen the timeline of the Women's Movement, but I think this song may pinpoint one of the times that pushed it into overdrive.

So, there you have it. The Worst Of 1966, according to me. Now, I know that some of you may have your curiosity peaked by what I said about these songs, but if you are going to have a listen, don't say I didn't warn you.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 1966

Greetings Pups,

Well, the year will soon be coming to a close, and, before I do my annual Best/Worst Songs of this year list, I figured I should do one about another random year. I haven't in a long time, so it just feels right. And this time, I put it to a vote. On social media and in the real world, I asked what year I should do, giving three choices, and 1966 is the year that won, obviously. It was tough to choose songs for this list, as this was a fantastic time in music, but I did it. And, holy crap, were there some terrible songs to choose from. But that's a conversation for another day. Now, we're going to talk about my favorites from the year 1966

#10. "Cryin' Time" Ray Charles - There's just nothing sadder than being with someone you love and knowing that it's only a matter of time before they leave. Thanks's a lot, Ray Charles. You made me cry. Then again, since this song is called "Cryin' Time"...Mission Accomplished!

#9. "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" Dusty Springfield - Did you know this song was originally written in Italian and in a very operatic fashion? So, naturally, who else could handle it but Ms. Dusty? That woman had so much soul to her voice, and I'm not sure she always gets the proper recognition she deserves. Well, this is me, just trying to do my part to help put that to an end.

#8. "Love is a Hurtin' Thing" Lou Rawls - Is there anything that Lou Rawls can sing that won't sound good? No. The answer is no. And he's so great on this song about how love can break your heart. Gee, that's depressing. But he's so awesome. Oh, and as I am writing this list in October, I should remind everyone to watch the Garfield Halloween special to hear more singing from Lou Rawls. A bit off topic, but necessary.

#7. "I Am a Rock" Simon and Garfunkel - I may have mentioned on this blog before that I am kind of a loner. Sometimes by choice; other times, not so much. But it's always nice to have a song that can describe pretty well how you feel. This is one of those songs.

#6. "Paperback Writer" The Beatles - What a shocker. I put a song by The Beatles on here. And it's the one about a writer. Again, shocking, coming from me. But I have always wondered, did people specifically aim to be paperback writers back in the day? I mean, I was always told that the hardcovers held more prestige. Or am I over-analyzing this. Oh, well. That aside, I do love the harmonies on this one. I love good harmonies in general. More on that later.

#5. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" Jimmy Ruffin - That's a god question, sir. I may have also mentioned in this blog that I've dealt with one or two broken hearts. So, I can't really tell if this song is depressing or uplifting. I suppose it can be neither or both, depending on how you decide to handle said broken heart. Either way, it's sounds so nice.

#4. "Good Vibrations" The Beach Boys - Hey, remember a minute ago when I said I loved good harmonies? Well, here you go. As many people know, this song is one of the best representations of a troubled yet extremely creative time for Brian Wilson. It's still feels groundbreaking, even today, and that is the sign of a legendary song from a legendary artist.

#3. "California Dreamin'" The Mamas & The Papas - Again with the harmonies! Now I know that in the past few years, we've heard some very bad stories about one of the members of this group...which was just added on to the rest, but I'm here to talk about the music, so...Hey, did you know that Mama Michelle Phillips got half of the publishing rights just for writing down this song? Not writing it; writing it down. Fun fact? Okay, talking about this group can make us all a little uncomfortable now, but it's still a great song.

#2. "Reach Out I'll Be There" The Four Tops - There are few groups that can put a smile on my face every single time I listen to them. The Four Tops are certainly one of those groups, and this is one of my favorite songs of theirs. It might even be my most favorite. Well, there's another list I can work on. Point is, they were amazing performers and it all shines through in songs like this.

#1. "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration" The Righteous Brothers - You know, a while back, when I did my Worst of 1961 list, I had to include a song by Barry Mann on it. What? I have to be honest. But I am happy to say that he redeemed himself with this song. I love the way The Righteous Brothers sound and, with a fantastic song like this, everything falls perfectly into place. Thus, making it my favorite of the year.

And there are my Top Ten Best Songs from 1966. I know many were predictable, but tune in tomorrow. It's the not so great songs that people have forgotten. And, frankly, I can't blame them.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Arsenic and Old Lace - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Okay, this week I've been dealing with films with some heavy subject matters. Let's lighten things up a bit by talking about a movie that has - murder! Calm down, it's funny murder. Specifically, it's Arsenic and Old Lace, one of my favorite films of all time and the catalyst for my lifelong crush on Cary Grant. Yes, I can be shallow, too. But let's move on, shall we?

Arsenic and Old Lace is a 1944 film by director Frank Capra and starring the aforementioned Cary Grant. As you may have predicted from my "funny murder" comment, this is a dark comedy. A good one, by the way, which are hard to find. Grant plays Mortimer (really?) Brewster, a writer who specializes in books about how marriage is totes not cool...and old-fashioned. So, naturally, the first time we see him, he is preparing to get married to the woman he loves, Elaine Harper, played by Priscilla Lane, who is just so sweet in this, by the way. Actually, these two, together, are incredibly adorable. Hopefully, their first few days of marriage will be filled with nothing but utter happiness. Yeah.

Meanwhile, we meet Mortimer's two aunts, Abby and Martha, played by Josephine Hull and Jean Adair, respectively. They are nice and generous and much beloved in their community, which happens to be Brooklyn. So enjoyable, before the hipsters took over. Fun fact: Aunt Abby and Aunt Martha were the Two Broke Girls of their day. Anyway, they are known for being extremely kind especially to lonely people who need it the most. They even take care of their other nephew, Teddy, played by John Alexander, who believes that he is Theodore Roosevelt (There are worse presidents to want to be), but they are planning on having him committed to a place where he can be taken care of after these little old ladies have passed on, the Happydale Sanitarium. Please do not try to fool me with that sunshiny name. I mean, I'm sure it's no Arkham, but still.

However, when Mortimer returns home, he discovers that the acts of kindness that his aunts perform are a bit than he thought, which leads him to being ever so slightly conflicted. But as if that's not enough for him to deal with, his long lost brother, Jonathan shows up, accompanied by a man named Dr. Einstein. No, the other one. They are played by Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre, and there is a chance that they are not on the up and up. Like, a pretty good chance. To be honest, they are a little strange...creepy...scary. It depends on what you're into. And when they show up things go from hijinks to shenanigans to...whatever comes after shenanigans. Capers? Antics? Loki-osity? Ugh, no! Not that last one. I hate Marvel! Anyway... Let's just hope that someone in this family gets a happy ending. Or at least, an amusing one.

Look, if nothing else, this movie will make you either really want a house with a window seat or really NOT want a house with a window seat. Again, depends on what you're into.

So, I don't know when the idea of a "dark comedy" was first introduced in film, but I can't think of any, in my opinion, that do it better than Arsenic and Old Lace. I mean, it's easy to throw that label on a movie and then throw in some jokes and maybe a mildly disturbing thing or two and call it a day. But this one marries all of that together beautifully. The laughs you get are genuine and the darker moments are extremely effective. Even I get some chills with the "operating" scene. Don't ask; just watch.

Alright, I guess it's time to praise some actors. I don't say this often, and I use no hyperbole today, but this might be the most perfectly cast movies I've ever seen. No lie, they got the absolute best actors for every single part. But, as a Cary Grant fan girl, I will have to pat him on the back the most. Here's how good he was. This was actually the first thing I ever saw him in, and I was convinced that slapstick was his specialty. It's not, really, but he was so good at it that I was sure he was an expert. That says a lot.

In closing, I highly, highly recommend Arsenic and Old Lace. It's one of my favorites, and it is excellently made. This is what cinema should be. So, grab yourself a glass of elderberry wine...preferably some you've made yourself (You'll get that joke if you've seen the movie) and just sit back and enjoy one of the most entertaining films of all time.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Trip to the Moon - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Today, we're going to focus on the idea of quality over quantity. And yes, that is my way to try and justify reviewing a movie that is less than twenty minutes long. For real. Oh, what? I'm talking about classics this week, and what could be more classic than going back to basics? Going all the way back to 1902 for a look at a silent film that just so happens to be very groundbreaking and influential, A Trip To the Moon. Or as all the 90's kids call it, The Movie That The Smashing Pumpkins Thought Was Cool Enough To Base One Of Their Videos On. Mm-hmm. Also, I will probably just give a rundown of the whole, tiny plot, such as it is, because, let's be honest, this movie is completely about the visuals. So, if you'd like to watch without knowing, skip the next four paragraphs. You've been warned.

A Trip To The Moon, as I mentioned is a silent film from 1902. It was directed by George Melies and stars some French actors, including Melies himself, Bleuette Bernon, Francois Lallement, and Henri Delannoy. Interestingly enough, none of them were credited, and we only found out who they were after the fact.

The movie tells the tale of Professor Barbenfouillis, the president of the Astronomic Club, and his plan to take - you guessed it - a trip to the moon. Some are resistant to the idea, but eventually, it is accepted. They build a ship that looks like a bullet and literally shoot it into space, culminating with the moon getting shot in the eye. Because, in this world, the moon has a face. And that is one of the most plausible things that happens in this story. Of course, this image of the moon getting shot in the eye is probably the most iconic from this film. Go Google it and you'll find out.

Anyway, when the professor and his group land on the moon, they just kinda get out and start walking around, like they were in Times Square or something. Protective space suits are for wimps! Of course, the fact that this shows breathing in space as a thing, clearly, it inspired a few scenes in Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. Amazing! As the astronomers sleep, we see images of comets and planets and stars with people's faces in them, because why not? And then, we see snow and giant mushrooms, and of course, aliens! But what are aliens without a king and what's a king without a palace? And what is a good sci-fi movie without some explosions! Indeed.

After some fascinating mayhem, everyone returns to Earth in a totally realistic way, and they are met with a parade and celebration. Isn't that what every explorer wants? The end.

There are a few reasons why I, not only enjoy this film, but am fascinated by it. Obviously, seeing this early history of cinema is captivating, not to mention how much it has influenced other works. I also love the manner of storytelling. Unlike other silent films that would come later, this is told entirely with visuals. There's no cutting in so the audience can read a placard. You have to experience the story just by watching the images. Now, as a writer, I know the difficulty in trying to create pictures in someone's head by only using words, so I can empathize with those who had to create a narrative story in someone's head by only using pictures. But it is done so well here.

Now if you choose to watch this short movie, you will find quite a few ways to do so. For example, right now you can watch two versions on Netflix. One black and white; one in color. You can find pros and cons to both, like the music being changed in the color one, also its artificiality, and the B&W one having a bizarre voice over narration, which I think defeats the purpose. Either way, you will be able to find ways to watch the film if you want to. And you should want to.

A Trip To The Moon is a must see if you are someone who relishes in the visual art from of cinema. This is where it started and this is why we got to where we went. It's a mere fifteen or so minutes of celluloid that changed history. That is an astounding feat, one that should never be forgotten and always appreciated.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Now, Voyager - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

You know what we all love? A makeover story! And that is exactly what we're going to take about today...sort of. It's Now, Voyager. Okay, it's probably more a story about someone blossoming, rather than...makeover-ing, but still. Also, you may think that my choosing this film makes me a narcissist or something, since I am a poet and a novel writer, and this is based on a novel of the same name, where the title comes from a line in a poem by Walt Whitman. But no, I just really like this movie. So, let's talk about it.

Now, Voyager is a 1944 film directed by Irving Rapper and starring Bette Davis as Charlotte Vale, a woman living under the thumb of her domineering mother, played by Gladys Cooper. Charlotte is basically the textbook definition of a spinster, and her self-confidence is lacking, thanks to the way her mother treats her. But we soon learn why this behavior occurs. It's actually kind of sad. All of this leads to Charlotte needing to spend some time in a sanitarium, mostly at the request of her sister, Lisa, played by Ilka Chase, and a psychiatrist named Dr. Jaquith, played by Claude Rains.

The time away from her mother proves extremely and positively effective for Charlotte, changing her into a whole new woman, both inside and out. Rather than returning home to her mother after her time at the sanitarium, she decides to take a cruise. Sounds good to me. And she meets a man! Sounds even better to me! His name is Jerry Durrance and he is played by Paul Henreid. Let me stop for a moment and say something. I have a list of Classic Movie Actor Crushes. A lot of people do, I'm sure. And, after I first saw this film, Paul Henreid got a coveted spot on that list. I'm sure he would be thrilled. He's probably the most unique, and I mean that in a good way. Plus, I love the way he talks. Dreamy sigh, dreamy sigh...and let's move on.

Anyway, Jerry is traveling with his two friends Deb and Frank McIntyre, played by Lee Patrick and James Rennie, and unfortunately, he has some baggage. Baggage of the matrimonial persuasion...and offspring. Yeah, it's that kind of story. The good news is that his wife is awful and he wants to divorce her, but the bad news is that he loves his daughter and stays in the marriage for her benefit. You know, writing that sentence out made me feel very bad, because it sounds very not right. But, in regards to the plot, it makes a little bit of sense.

Of course, all of this throws things into upheaval for Charlotte, and she ends up going back home. After this, her path takes some turns that she doesn't exactly want, but they are ones she feels she has to take. Her relationships, both new and old, stir up some uncomfortable emotions, and she ends up in places she doesn't want to be. Thus, we must wait to see if this long-suffering woman will ever be truly happy.

No, I'm not gonna tell you the answer to that! I may spoil a couple of plot points, but never an ending! Certainly not the ending to this movie which has one of the greatest quotes of all time.

Now, I must say, I do love this cast. As per usual, Bette Davis is stunningly brilliant, and everyone supporting her is fantastic. Especially my boyfriend. Oh, there I go again. Although...Yeah, I'm gonna have to be a bit overly critical now. So, here's the thing about child actors. I believe they get hired 99% of the time because they just need a kid, usually a cute kid. But a child actor that is legit good at the craft are rare as all heck. Sadly, the child actor in this film is not super great, in my opinion. She was a tad annoying, but maybe that was the way they wrote the character. And maybe that's the problem. Either way, I did not find the character particularly enjoyable. Maybe no one did since, according to IMDB, she didn't even get a credit. That can't be right. Oh, well. Still, everything else is good, so...we're good. Moving on.

This is one of the most interesting stories which I think is about the human condition and wanting to find fulfillment in one's life. Not to mention what people will do to hold on to that fulfillment once they think they've found it. So much of it is heartbreaking and uplifting all at once. Basically, it's life, along with all of its complexities. Therein lies the sign of some great storytelling.

Wrapping things up, Now, Voyager is one of those classics that should be put on everyone's "To Watch" list. It's a perfect example of everything that should be applied in film making, from the most important to the least. It shows us how sharing stories about emotions are the best ones to be told.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer