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

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Gaslight - Move Review

Greetings Pups,

You know what's fun? Making people think that they're going crazy! Okay, it's not fun, and it's not nice. However, when done in cinematic form, it has the potential to be mesmerizing. Such is the case with what I will be discussing today, Gaslight. Now, cards on the table, the first time I ever heard of this movie was on an episode of Designing Women, wherein Suzanne Sugarbaker referred to it as "Gas Stove". Look, I just wanna always be honest with you, my beloved readers. Now let's get on with this.

Gaslight is a 1944 film directed by George Cukor and starring Ingrid Bergman as Paula, a woman who, as a child, witnessed a terrible crime committed against her aunt, a famous opera singer. As she gets older, she is sent to Italy to also train as an opera singer, trying to put her past behind her. Soon, she meets a man (don't they always!) named Gregory Anton played by Charles Boyer. They fall in love, get married and, at her new husband's request, they move into the London townhouse that her aunt left to her.

Though the move was meant to make her feel better, Paula begins to discover some unsettling things in her aunt's belongings, and her husband's demeanor toward her changes drastically. After a while, things begin to move and disappear, and sounds are heard from the attic, according to Paula. Oh, really? She heard something? You and Josh Gates, honey. Anyway, she also sees the gaslights dimming and brightening on their own. And, hence, our title. All the while, Gregory begins to keep her isolated from other people, for her own good, he tells her. Now, as someone who is so not a people person, this would kind of make Gregory my dream man. But, alas, Paula does not feel the same way. In fact, she begins to feel trapped in her own home and like she just might be losing her mind, and there are some people in her life who are more than happy to confirm that for her, whether it's true or not. All the while, we, the audience, are wondering who or what is tormenting this poor woman and what, if anything, can lead to her reprieve.

Oh, and there's also this obnoxious maid named Nancy, played by 18-year-old Angela Lansbury in her first role. I'm sure we will grow to love in later years. What's up, Jessica Fletcher?

Now, though I have told quite a few details about the plot, I haven't given too much away. However, I don't want to go any further, because I don't want to give away the ending. I mean, let's be honest, when it comes to films like this the endings are the best part. And in the case of Gaslight, it is one of the best of all time, in my humble opinion. It's also a movie that leads you on a journey with the characters, and the trip here is one worth taking.

What I love most about this film is the atmosphere, the mood that it sets. There are elements that one might find in a great scary movie, but it remains a psychological thriller and an intriguing mystery, through and through. I often wonder if it inspired another of my favorite movies from some time later, The Haunting. (No, not the remake! If anyone thought that, get out! Get out now and never come back!) Anyway...

But even with all these wonderful elements, I think we can all agree that what really makes this film sing is the performance of Ingrid Bergman. She was flat out brilliant, making us feel the weight every emotion that her character was experiencing. And it was a heavy weight, indeed, but in the hands of such a skilled actress, we were taken on this tumultuous ride with her. Ms. Bergman even won the Best Actress Academy Award for this...ya know, back when those things actually mattered.

So, if you're into films that are less horror and more, as I mentioned, psychological thrillers, I definitely suggest that you give Gaslight a watch. It's also great for mystery lovers, since it is one of those as well. And it's just a superb classic film for anyone who appreciates that.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sunset Boulevard - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Hey, remember yesterday when I talked about a movie wherein a young woman had dreams of gaining stardom? Well, today, we're going to talk about the flip side, with a film wherein a...not so young woman has dreams of regaining stardom. But will those dreams become nightmares? WOW! That even sounds pretentious coming from a genius writer like myself. Anywho, let's get to talking about Sunset Boulevard.

Sunset Boulevard is a 1950 film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, the aforementioned, desperate to get her fame back actress, and William Holden as Joe Gillis, a screenwriter who is not exactly having a successful career. Gee, I wonder which one I'll be relating to. When Joe happens upon a huge, seemingly abandoned house, he discovers that it is occupied by Norma. She shares a script she wrote with him, because the whole "actors want to be things other than actors" is nothing new apparently. Anyway, Joe reads it, and he is not crazy about. Oh, like he's one to judge. I don't see Louis B. Mayer knocking down his door. Still, she hires him to help fix it up and make it worthy of the comeback she wants so badly. Plus, Norma believes that she is not the only one who wants her to be back in the spotlight, providing fan letters as evidence of that. She believes that this young writer could play an important part in her return, even insisting that he move in to her house. Because that's normal. Though, as a writer, I wait patiently for the day when Ralph Fiennes will need someone like me to help usher in a comeback for him. Name it and claim it, I say.

Soon, Norma begins to spend a crap ton of money on Joe and giving him every moment of her attention. Look, I don't want to call him the "G" word, but it might be somewhat accurate. Point is, this is where things start getting a bit odd between them. Norma becomes more obsessed with Joe and with getting her stardom back, and Joe begins to build a life away from her. They are heading in opposite directions, though only one of them truly wants that. What we wait to see is who will get what they desire out of their life and career, if anyone.

Throughout this film, we see Norma going to great and even disturbing lengths to get something back that she lost. And yet, somehow, I wonder if she was so consumed with this quest that she never bothered to contemplate on how important it really was. Or was there any value in what she once had at all? I've always thought that was the moral of the story here. Wanting something so badly can often distort our vision of it, making it impossible for us to see that, perhaps, it's not as grand a thing as we believe it to be.

Now that I have finished waxing poetic, let's talk about these actors. It's interesting how, when people talk about two actors having chemistry in a film, they often refer to more pleasant stories about love and friendship. Though this story is obviously darker than those, I still feel as though Swanson and Holden had tremendous chemistry. It's one of the most memorable things, and, like with most movies, if that had not been there, it would not have worked as well. Lucky for us, everything fell into place. Including the rest of the cast. We had Erich von Stroheim as Max, Norma's longtime butler, Nancy Olson as Betty Schaefer, a script reader and the "other woman" of sorts for Joe, and finally, Jack Webb as Artie Green, another friend of Joe's who is also close to some other people in his life. Again, a good cast is one of the foundation blocks, and we're solid here.

And much like a good Muppet movie, this thing has a decent amount of celebrity cameos. None of them, though, more important than the director of my all-time favorite movie, Cecil B. DeMille. I mean, hello! He is, after all, mentioned in this film's most famous quote. I will not repeat. If you don't already know it, you may leave now. Come back after you've done some research.

Now, I must make a comment about the writing of this film. It's really good. No surprise there. But, of course, I especially like the way it begins. I love a cinematic starting line that makes me look forward to the finish line. Few films do it better than this one, and it's just one more thing that it has in common with yesterday's film, All About Eve.

In closing, I am recommending Sunset Boulevard. If you're someone who is currently fascinated with the goings on of Hollywood types, perhaps, by way of a tabloid or two, let me give you some advice. Put down the rags for a minute and pick up a copy of this movie. Trust me, you'll get a better thrill and, certainly, a much deeper one.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, October 3, 2016

All About Eve - Movie Reveiw

Greetings Pups,

If there's one thing we know about stardom and celebrity, it's that some people will do anything to have it. Even something as crazy as making an enemy out of Bette Davis. What! No, ma'am. That is not a wise thing to do, especially for something as pointless as a career in the entertainment industry. But, apparently, no one told that to Anne Baxter, because this is exactly what she did in the superb film, All About Eve. I may be giving some loose spoilers about the plot, but nothing too detailed.

All About Eve is a 1950 film by director Joseph Mankiewicz and based on the short story "The Wisdom of Eve" by Mary Orr, who did NOT get an onscreen credit. What's up with that? As a writer, I am personally offended by this, but let's move on. It stars, as I mentioned, Bette Davis, as Margo Channing, a Broadway star who is greatly respected but also not so young anymore. It happens. One evening, she meets Eve Harrington, played by Anne Baxter, who is a very big fan of Margo's. Almost...suspiciously big. Yes, she is also a wannabe starlet, but she keeps this under wraps as she strategically works her way into the lives of Margo and her friends.

And who are her friends? Well, we have Karen Richards, played by Celeste Holm. She's married to the writer of Margo's current play, Lloyd Richards. It is, in fact, Karen who sees poor, little Eve, who is constantly at the playhouse, and brings her in to meet everyone. I'm sure she won't regret that at all. Spoilers: she does. Among the others that we meet are Birdie, Margo's maid, played by Thelma Ritter, and Bill Sampson, played by Gary Merrill. Bill is Margo's boyfriend, who is - wait for it - EIGHT YEARS her junior! Oh, snap! I just heard a bunch of monocles pop out all over the world.

Anywho, they all meet Eve, who gives them a story about growing up poor and losing her husband in the war. Really? Yeah, that sounds super true. Well, okay, it's plausible, but knowing what I know about Eve, it's not so much. But they fall for it and embrace her. Soon, it becomes clear, firstly and mostly to Margo, that Eve is not there to help her but to replace her, both in her professional life and her personal life. Whilst Eve does have some success accomplishing the former, Margo's friends begin to realize that perhaps Eve is not what or who she claims to be, and she may be, to reference something Thelma Harper once said on Mama's Family, "not paddling with both oars in the water". For real, though, if you're gonna do the whole Eve thing, leave out the part where you try to steal someone's S.O. It makes what you're doing a bit obvious. The more you know and whatnot.

Still, the journey that the characters go on is a tumultuous one, indeed. Friendships and relationships are tested, so are some of the feelings that these people have about themselves. But this whole things has to have a bit of turbulence. Otherwise, the classic "bumpy night" line would be pointless. See, I'm always thinking.

Now I suppose we can call this film a cautionary tale about who you choose to let into your life, and that being a star may be fun, but it's not worth your soul. No, I'm being serious, Hollywood people. It's not. Sorry if you already made that mistake. Also, whatever you do to other people might just come back around to you. Not that I'm giving anything away about the ending. Or am I? Guess you'll have to watch the movie.

Okay, now I have to talk about something that some people may deem controversial. I guess. So, I've heard that there are people who have issues with this film, because, though it does have two female leads, which is something that many strive to have in cinema, it pits them against each other. Because that never happens in real life? Yeah, no. Look, if that's your complaint, it's clear that what you want are movies with 'Mary Sue's, not real, complex female characters with depth and complexity. If Margo and Eve were perfect, they would be boring. They're not. They are riveting. So, there.

In case it wasn't obvious, I am 100% recommending All About Eve. It is utterly brilliant and a must-see for anyone who loves great cinema. It's also a staple for those who are fascinated by the not-so-nice side of fame. It's a far more prominent side than many people are willing to admit. But at least, at some point in time, Hollywood was willing to show us its multitude of flaws. We need that back. A lot.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Classic Movies Week

Greetings Pups,

Does anyone remember when I wrote about the awesomeness of the TCM Party thing several weeks ago? Well, writing about how much I and so many others love classic movies inspired me to dedicate a whole week to their greatness. I have reviewed a few of them in the past, but not nearly enough. And if there's any time for all of us to look back, admire and, let's be honest, take some advice from the films and film makers of many decades ago, it is right now. Seriously, have you been to the theater recently? Slim pickings, indeed. Of course, let's all just pray that anyone who chooses to look back, admire and take advice does not parlay that into wanting to do more remakes. It's just getting wrong, man! Moving on.

The point is that, even though a ton of these movies are thought of in high regard, it is not enough. Those of us who still see the wonder, the beauty and the pure artistry of these films must take on the mission of spreading the word about them, especially to the younger generation. It's not enough that they've just heard of these films, and even that is becoming a rarity. They need to be exposed to what great cinema can be, and what it can be if the ones who create it truly care about their craft. Yes, I am aware that even yesteryear had some clunkers, but for the most part, film appreciation, I believe, comes mostly from the far past, and if we have any hope of expanding it into the future, we have to see the potential of what can be when we put heart and soul into it.

Hopefully, this week, as I share my thoughts of these films from long before I was born, many people, who rarely give them a chance, will stop and take a look. And even more hopefully, they will open themselves up to fantastic worlds of which they weren't even aware. It's the least I can do.

So, starting tomorrow, tune in each day to hear me talk about a different movie from this wonderful cinematic time. Feel free to leave comments and feedback, even - GASP! - negative ones. I can take it, and I actually appreciate it. I like improving. But, more than anything, I hope that any of you who come back to read my reviews enjoy them and are entertained by them, as the films I will discuss have entertained me. Okay, I probaby won't entertain you that much. I'm not Bette Davis. I think.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer