Thursday, March 31, 2016

Back For National Poetry Month

Greetings Pups,

I know it has been nearly two weeks since I've posted here, but my sporadicness (if that's even a word) on this blog comes with good reason. Personal reasons, so, you know, don't worry about it. And I'm not certain that this will change any time soon. I suppose we'll see. But don't blame me; blame the insanity of life in general and my life in particular. However, I do have even better reason to bring something up today, considering what tomorrow is.

That's right. Tomorrow is the start of National Poetry Month. And, as I've been known from time to time to write some poetry, it seems only right for me to remind you all of the event. In fact, I decided to share some of my previously published work throughout the month. Nothing fancy, just one poem per day. Of course, I would share more, but, well-known fun fact about me, I hate to type. Long live pens and paper. Plus, if I let people read all of my stuff for free, who would buy the books? Yes, share and share alike, but I still need to make a living. And I'm sure that will start any day now.

All that aside, the point of this post is just to let people know that, if you are someone not normally into poetry or if you've never been into it at all, the month of April is usually the best time of the year to start. I'm not asking you to become a full-fledged fan of it or anything, though that would be fantastic. All I ask is that you give it a chance. That's usually all I ever ask when it comes to my own writing and that of others. The only way we figure out if we will truly enjoy something is if we try it. It may not always be easy, but it can often be worth it. Though, in this case, trying should be pretty easy.

So, if you'd like to read some of my poems, I'll be posting them on the Twitter and on my Facebook page. You can go to my website (beckylstout.com) where you will find the links to "Like" or "Follow" or whatever the social media buzzwords are. Hopefully, you'll be able to enjoy some of my work that way. But I am nothing if not supportive of my fellow poets. Seriously, if you don't care to read my poems, and that's fine, I strongly suggest that you read someone's. You've got nothing to lose, but you might just gain something valuable that you can carry and be inspired by or the rest of you life.

And, as always, here's to my fine works of art possibly being discovered by the current "World's Most Handsome Poetry Lover", Mr. Tom Hiddleston! Oh, what! If I didn't have crazy dreams, I'd have no dreams at all.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, March 21, 2016

Straight From the Theater Review. - The Ten Commandments 60th Anniversary Re-release

Greetings Pups,

There's something very special about getting to see your favorite movie on the big screen for the first time. Well, yesterday, I finally got to do that. In honor of the 60th anniversary of its original release, The Ten Commandments has been re-released just in time for Easter, as always. As soon as I heard about this, I knew I had to be in attendance. Now I won't be talking so much about the actual movie as I normally do in my reviews, mostly because I traditionally reviewed this a few years back. And since that particular post was quite long, like loooooong, I probably will keep things fairly short today. I will be speaking mostly of the experience, and it was a wonderful experience.

The Ten Commandments has been my favorite movie from the time I knew I was allowed to pick one. I've been watching it every year since I was a little girl. I remember always being in awe of it, the way it looked, the way it sounded, all of it. In fact, I would say that the way the script was so beautifully written was what truly made me fall in love with words. Those superb actors saying those sentences and paragraphs sounded like a symphony to me, and it still does. And the vivid pictures that the whole film creates has always been a wonder to me, like a huge painting that has come to life. It's practically perfect to me, cinematically speaking. Though all of this, I've had to enjoy it by way of my television at home. I was curious to see how different it would be for me to see it in the theater.

Of course, with some films, the theater experience can be one that enhances even the greatest works of art, and that was certainly the case here. While nothing could ever lessen the feelings I get when I watch this alone on a small screen, it was a thrill to see all the amazing care that was put into this movie on a much bigger canvas. The massiveness that it always holds just because of the heart and soul contained within was now something I could see physically, and it was unbelievable. I wonder if this is how those people felt back in 1956 seeing this masterpiece for the first time ever. I've always envied them for that.

But now I've had the pleasure of getting something close to that experience. I don't think anything could ever make me love this movie more than I already do, but getting to see it in a different way just adds to the whole lifelong relationship I've had with it and will continue to have with it. Again, if you want me to say something more detailed check out my previous review, which was more like a retrospective, if I'm being honest. I suppose the bottom line to all I have to say today is that, if you haven't already seen The Ten Commandments, see it. It gets shown every Easter on TV, like I said, or you can rent it anytime, or if you have the chance, catch it on the big screen for the Fathom Event. No matter how you feel concerning the religious aspects of it, this is a brilliant piece of film making. It's just plain legendary. On a more personal note, this is a powerful story and it has been told in a powerful way. It has always meant so much to me, as many of the stories from the Bible do, so I hold this work in a special part of my heart where it will live as long as I do.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Thoughts on Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders

Greetings Pups,

So, have I mentioned that Gary Sinise is my favorite actor? I may have once or twice. Well, it's a joy for anyone when they hear that their favorite actor is working on a new project, though the anxiety of waiting to see if it's good or not can be a bit of a headache. No worries for me, currently, because last night, I got to watch the latest endeavor from Mr. Sinise, a spin-off of the very successful Criminal Minds series called Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. Here are some very quick and not too detailed thoughts about the premiere.

As evident by the title, this show takes us to other countries where a special team of FBI agents help out and/or rescue American citizens. The cast consists of the aforementioned Gary Sinise, Alana de la Garza, who I know best from Law & Order, Daniel Henney, who was in the sadly short-lived series Three Rivers that I really liked, Tyler James Williams, who we no longer hate...because he used to play Chris on Everybody Hates Chris, and Annie Funke, who I don't recall having seen in anything, but I thought she was a delight in this first episode. In fact, I'm happy to report that I enjoyed every cast member and character, a rarity for me. Okay, that was obviously the discussion on the "Who"s, now how about the "What", as in "What did I think of this introduction?"

Now, I never actually watched the original Criminal Minds, so I can't really speak on the show in comparison. But if that one is as good as this one, I may have to start catching up. I was quite intrigued by the episode last night. It had a decent story, it kept me interested to the very end and of course, it was acted very well, which is always important. Was it perfect? No, but I didn't expect it to be. Pilots tend to be flawed. Even the first few episodes of a new series can stumble until it finds its footing. The good news is that the potential is certainly there. It has enough great things that should sustain it with the audience until it becomes a well oiled machine, and with good old Gary at the helm as both lead actor and producer, I have no doubts that it will happen quickly.

So, will I be tuning in next week and Beyond for this new show? I think I will. And believe it or not, it's not just because I am ecstatic to see Gary Sinise again on a regular basis. Sure, he pulled me in, but if the show was not good, I would not stay. Therefore, I think I'll be sticking around with the team on this one for a while.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ordinary People - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

So, is it possible for a movie that had high acclaim at one time to also be very underrated? Well, it might be rare, but I say the answer is yes. Especially when certain movies win certain awards and some people think that other certain movies should have won instead. And they still think that over thirty-five years later. Seriously, let it go. But today I will be talking about the first of those two certain movies, an extraordinary film called Ordinary People. See what I did there?

Ordinary People is a 1980 film that was named the Best Picture of said year, and as I mentioned, some people, to this day, feel as though it did not deserve to win. It kind of makes me question if they even saw it, because it is one of my favorite movies. Mostly it is that because it makes me feel...a lot! But more on that later. It stars my beloved Timothy Hutton as Conrad Jarrett, a teenager dealing with PTSD after being involved in a boating accident that killed his older brother, Buck. After a suicide attempt and a stint in a psych hospital, he begins to see Dr. Berger played by Judd Hirsch. His parents, Calvin and Beth, played by Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore respectively, are dealing with all of this, or not dealing with it, in their own ways. Calvin is doing his best to try and understand the feelings of his surviving family members, whilst Beth seems to be in complete denial about everything that has happened, attempting to do the impossible - live in a past that no longer exists. Oh, and by the way, I must give a bit of a warning. You know how there some people who no one can ever hate, like Betty White or Mr. Rodgers or Grimace? And also Mary Tyler Moore. Everyone loves her. Well, prepare yourself. It may seem impossible, but for much of the duration of this film, you will probably not like her very much. You might even hate her. I know I did. Granted, I understand why she is behaving as she is, but still. Again, more on that later.

Basically, the plot is just watching this family trying to figure out what to do in a situation that no one is equipped to handle. I know that may not seem like much, just watching people live through a tragedy, or to be more accurately, its aftermath, but trust me, this is one of those films that carries out a somewhat simple story in a brilliant way. And the brilliance comes mostly from the actors. In addition to those I already mentioned, keep an eye out for some other familiar faces in smaller roles, like Dinah Manoff, Elizabeth McGovern, M. Emmet Walsh and Adam Baldwin. Everyone is fantastic in this. Of course, when it comes to those four main actors I spoke of earlier, they all bring something extraordinary. There's that word. again. I can commend Judd Hirsch, playing a doctor who has seen people's hardships from the outside and tries desperately to help, or Donald Sutherland, portraying a father who is trying to hold together what he has left, or Mary Tyler Moore, as a woman fighting to oppress reality so she does not have to deal with life's most excruciating pain. But if I'm being honest, the sun of this film rises and sets on the performance of Timothy Hutton. Hard to believe he did this when he hadn't even reached the age of twenty. No doubt about it, he is absolutely exquisite, and he breaks my heart every time I watch this. And that really is the sign of serious mastery in film making. When you can watch something or someone over and over again, and the effect never diminishes. And speaking of mastery in film making, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the director here, Robert Redford. Yeah, that's right. He has directed TWO of my all time favorite films. This one included, obviously.

So, are there any other reasons why I love Ordinary People so much? Why, yes, and it kind of lies right there in the title. I've always loved movies and stories that are very character driven. I love seeing how people are and how they live and how they deal with everyday life, even when everyday life changes for them. Look, I'm fine with films that take people away to a fantasy world, but to me, there's nothing more moving than being confronted with a reality that is not your own but that very well could be. What happened to the family in this film could happen to any of us. That's what makes it so compelling, fearful even. And honestly, we need to be reminded of what could be for us, so that we can more appreciate the blessings we have and not get complacent about them. If I may make an analysis on the mother character here, I always felt as though she had such a good life, perhaps one that was near perfect, that her gratitude for it turned into a kind of entitlement. She may have begun to feel that this perfect life was a guarantee, so when it was taken from her, the only reaction could be one of anger, of "How dare anything or anyone ruin what the life that is owed to me!" Trouble is, she had no idea how to deal with that anger or grief, so instead of pulling close what family she had left, she dug a canyon between herself and them. All the while, we sit and watch, wondering if they'll build a bridge to one another so they can heal or all fall over the edge. It's a grim set of thoughts, but I think they are things we all need to think about sometimes. So, yes, I am grateful for films like this that help us do that.

I suppose I should wrap this up. I am absolutely recommending that everyone take a look at Ordinary People. No, it's not always easy to watch. In fact, it's not mostly easy to watch, but as I said, it will make you feel something. It will make you think. And hopefully, it will make you appreciate what and who you have.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What the Heck Happened to Libraries?

Greetings Pups,

So, as you may recall from a previous rant, I have no bookstores in my vicinity. Oh, sure, there are stores that sell books, but no bookstores. Some of you will understand that. Also, I don't count the one in the mall, because - Hello! - it's in the mall. Again, some of you will understand that. Now it was a few years ago that my favorite bookstore, a lovely little used books place, closed down. There is still a teardrop in my heart because of that. Thankfully, though, I have at least five libraries within fifteen minutes of where I live, and they have done well to be a salve on the wound. Still, they have a few flaws, ones that used to be nonexistent, and I was reminded of those today.

I think we can all agree that one of the stereotypes of that great cavern of knowledge known as the library is the "shush". The sound that every librarian is trained to make. I hear that it's part of the final exams to get a Library Science degree. But, seriously, whilst it might be annoying to us as children, we know that it is completely justified, as the library is a place where people go to read or study or get work done or anything that is greatly aided by silence. I personally head there often to work during the colder months so I don't have to turn up my furnace. I mean, my tax dollars are being used to heat the library anyway. May as well take advantage of it. But I digress.

I started noticing something changing about libraries recently, at least the ones that I frequent, and that thing is this: NOBODY SHUTS UP! I am not kidding. Sure, you may get some silence, a half an hour or so, if you get there early, as I do, but pretty soon, people start crowding in with all their noise and it's over. I mean, I shouldn't have to put my earphones in to get peace. There is a Starbucks but a few blocks from one of my libraries. If people want to socialize, they should go there. I got work to do.

And then, there's the big "Oh, No You Did Not" move. On more than one occasion, I have been sitting at a table IN THE LIBRARY, very close to someone who thought it prudent to use...their cell phone. And it's especially fun when someone is calling them so I can hear their obnoxious ringtone for a good long time, because why rush to answer it, right? What is even the crap? Granted, I know this is not the worst place I've seen someone use their phone. At least, you won't get distracted and run someone over in this scenario. But come on! In the library? I just can't.

You may think I'm being too picky or whiny, and perhaps, I am. And I do understand that my stories come from only where I live. You, my dear friends, may live in a wondrous land of quiet libraries, which, if that is true, I am envious. Also, I know there are bigger things about which to complain, yet I like to give some days to these trivial problems. And even in a world where traditional ideas have been thrown out the window, I think some places should remain sacred and as they have always been. Like libraries.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer