Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Hills Are Alive...with the Sound of Bitching

If you didn't watch it, shut up. If you did watch it, shut up. There has been such a negative response to poor Carrie Underwood's attempt at interpreting Julie Andrews' impeccable Maria in The Sound of Music that I feel the need (okay egotistical desire) to weigh in (no poundage jokes people) on the subject.
Yes, I watched it. Yes it was uneven and awkward at times. And yes, I read the vitriol of certain, sometimes envious (& usually anonymous) actors, on the web griping about it. Pretty much no one could reproduce Andrews' classic performance in the film  or anywhere else. But the role requires clear soaring vocals that nail the vocalises in this story. But hey, Carrie never said she was better than Andrews, Carrie (as far as I know) never said she was better than anyone else and she never claimed to be an actress or a dancer. For those who complain that that was the problem, I doubt Katy Perry or even Madonna (who went to GREAT trouble to secure the Evita film role) let alone any other pop princess could have handled them, good vocalists that they are.
Actors who are eating their sour grapes should be gracious enough to realize that hitting your marks while singing your ass off isn't the same as singing/doing The Hokey Pokey even when you ARE trained to do so. I think those actors (the aforementioned "anonymous" ones) who complained owe an apology to someone who was freakin' brave enough to take it on--namely Carrie. She gave it her best shot and personally I think perhaps the direction might have been a little shaky or perhaps awkwardness inducing at the least.
If you want to complain, you might point out the Captain's housekeeper (checked IMDB couldn't find her credit) who spoke to Maria with an odd, hesitating response to questions and then repeated the lines in the same way. 
I'd have probably re-cast Audra McDonald as the Mother Abbess only because her vocals took the songs to operatic levels, a lovely ability but a bit out of orbit for a Broadway type performance.
When I read those "anonymous" actors whining I wanted to scream out "Hey, get an agent if you're so damned talented and professional, THEN you might have enough standing to criticize someone else!" (It's always the cowardly "anonymous" ones who complain the most bitterly and loudly.)
Now I realize that any creative careers for lack of a better term this late at night, are to say the least FRUSTRATING. Not to mention COMPETITIVE. But that's the nature of these beasts and I might be naive in thinking we can dredge up some type of graciousness but I still think Carrie Underwood deserves an E for effort. Like I said, live performance is hard even if you've been classically trained since you could gurgle out "mama" as a ten-month-old.
Everybody step back and think about your scariest live performance (or imagine one if you don't actually sing/act/dance) and give Miss Underwood a little credit. 

The Egypsy Has Spoken.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Vacancy/No Vacancy

Now that I won't be dragged screaming and kicking from California, I think I've finally figured something out. I feel so strongly about this that I'm going to blog about it.
For time untold people from other places have denigrated Los Angeles and in fact pretty much everyone who lives here in the Golden State. They say we're shallow. They say we're stupid. An estranged relative of mine even snapped that "You're all phonies out there! You're all a bunch of actors!"
Well, okay, that pretty much hits the mark. But in defense of our "vacancy" let me put forth this:
Yes, we may be blond. Yes, we may actors. And yes, we may have so much plastic in our bodies we barely qualify as human beings any longer, but I still love us and our blank positivity. Why?
Because as actors/entertainers, we're under constant stress to perform, to attain and amass huge quantities of fame, money, and more fame and money and in order to do that we sacrifice, we struggle uphill with that vacant smile on our faces, refusing to acknowledge that we're down or desperate and that underneath it all, that gnawing fear of the possibility of getting it all, losing it all, getting it all again and then losing it permanently (some of us are personally acquainted with this) hangs over our souls like vampire glitter. And we do this as we drive on our freeways as thick and twisted and stressful as Medusa's head. (No, NOT MEDEA, MEDUSA. Look it up in Greek mythology ya' little Freakles! And DON'T steal my nicknames. I will find and out you!)

It pisses me off to no end when I hear people (still!) bitch "Don't tell ME to have a good day! I'll have whatever day I want!" in response to our "Have a nice day!" rejoinders.
Don't you foolish people understand?
We're DE-Stressing.
When we ask you "How are you?" as we take your order or ring up your grocery receipt, we're not really asking. And when we respond, "Fine!" we're not really telling. And when we tell you to have a nice day, we're saying "I have no idea who you are and I really don't care."
Shallow? Cruel? Inconsiderate?
Bite your tongue (those who don't have pierced ones)!
Not at all!
We know that if we ask each other how we are, we really don't want to open up that can of snakes (Medusa, get it yet?). Just like we know that giving a truthful answer isn't what we want to know either. Most times we don't want to open up either's can of snakes--it's all we can do to deal with it alone.
So we level it out. We shallow it. ALL of us have drama going on in our lives; some of it horrific, some of it silly. The value of our vacancy is our knowledge of where the drama really belongs and where we put it: in front of the camera.
Have a nice day!

The Egypsy Has Spoken.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Haven't been here for a while but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy! Dealing first and foremost with health issues both mine and my family's and then travelling. Now I'm back and I have an actual moment or two to--yes, you know it--rant about minutiae. 
I hate it when this happens.  Dreaded intellectualism rears its ugly self up into my brain and makes me watch smarty pants television.  Yes, I know television and smart? Damn near impossible. (If you want to argue with me on this point, all I can say is "Honey Boo Boo")
What is this smarty pants show I refer to? Well, it certainly isn't the SyFy channel. No no no, it's the divinely produced directed and acted series, The Borgias. And I hate that I love it so much. Hell, I'm not even a true fan of The Renaissance. But that's me. While everyone is soaking up Game of Throbs, er, throats, er tes--oops, I mean Game of Thrones, there I am watching what is aptly billed The Original Crime Family, eyes sucked out and glued to the hi def screen. How did this happen? I was flipping through channels, desperate as usual for something of substance to watch (heel evil intellect, heel I say!) I stopped at The Borgias and that was it. Hooked from the opening credits, I've been running away as fast and hard as I can but it always manages to sink its wicked nails into my brain. And it has nothing to do with my obsession with history. From Jeremy Irons' Rodrigo Borgia to Mark Phelan's drunk, this is a brilliant piece of work by anyone's standards. It's one of the few shows I can watch as a total fan without noticing details like lighting, props, etc., and etc., that's how perfected this series is. Besides, Irons is MADE for those Papal robes. If I had to use one word to describe it: delicious.
That was a nice rant I guess.
Oh, here's something that pisses me off: when people friend me or connect with me somewhere and immediately pitch their product to me. I know because I used to do it too. Now I realize how annoying it is, and I hate people doing it to me. If you want to sales pitch me, say so. That way I can ignore you.
Hey I wouldn't be me if I didn't bitch about something!

Latest favorite song/video: SAIL by AWOLNATION. Check out the video:

LOVE his screaming voice.

The Egypsy Has Spoken.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hobbit or Hobbled?

Dare I say it? I haven't seen The Hobbit yet, even after I promised to review it.  Scarier is the admission that I probably won't in the near future, even on pay per view. Why? The nearest I can figure is that I'm just plain uninterested. Here's a horrid confession from a sci-fi/fantasy/etc., novelist: I'm burnt the hell out.  I've completely overdosed on CG/live action film and that's a confession that horrifies even me. I never thought I'd live to say it but there it is hanging out for the world to see. To quote Jerry Seinfeld, "That's one big Matzo ball."
You know this is all Hollywood politics' fault. If this film had been done fairly soon after the LOTR I'd have been right there first in line like I was for Fellowship, Two Towers and Return of the King. But no. The execs had to wrangle each other for years to get Peter Jackson to come back and film the damned thing the way only he can!  I finally gave up reading the trades and figured when they realized they wanted even more money, the film would go into production.
And it did.
However, Hollywood greed as it often does, reared its tentacled head and they did the unthinkable: padded the story. I guess the heads figured they could exploit the fan's love of the original characters in the LOTR films such as Legolas (shoulda' seen that coming!) by shoving them into the Hobbit story even though they never appeared in the book. Not only did they stick in people who don't belong there, apparently they've added subplots or plot points that never existed in the original either. The most insulting thing of all is that they stretched out the Hobbit story into THREE (3) films!
I may be wrong here but nowhere did there seem to be the hoopla and anticipation of the beloved LOTR releases over The Hobbit's debut. It seemed to have a bit of fanfare, premiered and released and then dove right into the pay-per-view netherworld where it may or may not belong. As I said I have not seen the film.
But in  a way it serves Hollywood right. They insult the audience by messing with the story line and character changes as if the audience is too stupid to realize what the hell they're trying to do. I mean come on, dragging the story out to three books? I might have actually accepted that had it been released say, what, five years ago? 
I think I'd still be enthusiastic and still excited had I not had to wait an insulting amount of time between all of these books.
But the problem here is that in the meantime between warring Hollywood factions there has been a glut of other, more CG capable movies released in that time causing my OD of visuals.
And no amount of hot hot hot dwarves is going to assuage my fury.  Of course that may be the only reason I DO see the film. 

~~The Egypsy Has Spoken~~

Saturday, July 21, 2012

By Hook or By...

Okay gang. It's time for another music rant exposition. Oh come on, you knew this was coming and waaaayy overdue.

Once again we're going to talk hooks in music. Most of you know or should know what the "hook" is and for those of you who don't: it's the chorus or melody that is CATCHY.  In other words, it's the part you always sing along to and sometimes the only part you know the words to.

Now, every year there's usually one song that grabs you by the throat with it's hook and never lets go. It's the song that burns itself into the auditory section of your brain permanently and can't be removed without a brain wipe. Think Bee Gees...any song.
Now also usually the hook song is generally a commercial hit, the biggest of the year too.
(I'm not including other genre'/style--I'm talking big commercial stations, not alternative or rock. Keep reading and you'll see why.)

This year the award goes to...dah dah dah DAH: Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye! As with most smash hits, this song doesn't have ONE hook; every line is a hook. This is the song that you may not even like or that you've heard a bazillion times and yet you HAVE to listen to it when it comes on. It's mandatory even if you don't WANT to hear it on the radio. That's why it's called the "Hook." And you're the little fish dangling at the end of it. 

With hooks this good, this type of song runs through your brain incessantly at times, even when you don't realize it, like when you're humming it walking down the street scaring the hell out of people or singing the second verse while you're perusing the grocery store for dinner("Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over...") or when you suddenly break into the chorus in the Friends of the Library book store. Unlike other human musical connections, people don't smile at you when you do this. Why? Is your voice that atonal or off-key? No. Are you too  loud and distracting? No. They're giving you hard looks because now they're going to have it running through their heads for hours or days. "Thanks  loads," that's what they're thinking.

And with a song like Somebody, the hooks are so damned good that it crosses over radio programming! 

I've heard this song on alternative radio (where it started as far as I know) to Soft Rock stations to Power Pop stations to Love Song stations to soft jazz stations. Now that's a damned hook for you.

Don't even tell me that you don't like this style of music. I was never a fan of the Bee Gees disco era and yet I can still sing the line "You should be dancing, yeah!" unwillingly at the oddest times. Like now when I mentioned them above and now when I have it screeching through my head right now. 

Don't believe me? Unless you never listen to anything but rock or alternative or jazz or soft jazz and never change the radio station when you drive (MP3'ers go without saying) you'll slap your hand over your forehead at the list below, going "Oh yeah I should have known that!" 

Ready? Here we go.

"Hey There Delilah" -- Plain White T's
"It's Not Over" Chris Daughtry (my personal pick for best "man voice" in recent years even overshadowing Ronny Dunn of Brooks & Dunn)
"Since You've Been Gone", "Break Away", "Behind These Hazel Eyes" and pretty much every release by Kelly Clarkson
Any song by Pink
Any rap song that has Rhianna singing the chorus
Viva La Vida and Clocks by Coldplay

And that's just a handful of them. I'm sure you can reel off a bazillion more. But then again, those killer hooks are what makes it a hit in the first place. I've said this before a trillion times and I'll say it again and KEEP saying it: commercial success DOES NOT mean musical selling out. Examples: Sting. Nirvana, Goo Goo Dolls, U2, on and on and on.

Say what you like, I can virtually assure you that five, ten, fifteen, even twenty years from now, you're going to be humming, singing, or bashing your fist against your temple trying to get Somebody out of your brain. Don't believe that either?

"There's nothing I can say,
A total eclipse of the heart..."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Something odd happened today. Perhaps I should say something rare happened. The overwhelming desire to write prose—descriptive prose no less—clutched at my heart and made me pick up a pen and scribble this as homage to my lost art and creativity.
While this may not impress those authors who never abandoned the classic cursive urges, it surprised and shocked me somewhat since my mantra for the last few years has been write it tight and concise. What caused this rare obsession to let the cursive juices flow? I can only surmise that it has to do with the fact that I've been having problems with the actual mechanics of writing in longhand. Guess what caused that? Yep, the dreaded keyboard addiction. Lately I've put myself on yet another Internet fast. I barely open my social media and have written nary a word of fiction in weeks. I've been outside soaking up the sun and fooling with the garden and I'm a little embarrassed to admit I have an actual relationship with a pair of hummingbirds who dive bomb me when they don't get their showers.
With all the technology left in the dark recesses of my desk, my cursive skills are improving and therein lays the surprise—or maybe not.  Maybe you've come to the same revelation and conclusion I have: the physical act of writing longhand has triggered a release of my creative writing urges, something I'd thought long lost with the advent of my novel writing duties and deadlines. Their return has proved sweeter than bitter, opening up my soul to that beautiful yearning to place words on paper and create an image that evokes emotion and response. Can art be far behind? I pray not.
But a concern is raised in my mind and heart when I hear that teachers are lobbying to stop teaching children cursive entirely. It's a frightening possibility to me that if my lifelong creative abilities have been affected and stifled by writing on keyboard, what will cessation of cursive do to those lovely tiny forming minds? We evolved because we have opposable thumbs; we've communicated because we taught ourselves—rather developed—our ability to write out our thoughts, actions, emotions, and calculations. From pictographs to calligraphy we've released and cultivated our creativity over our existence and stopping our children from manipulating their hands just might stop them and us existing as sentient beings, slaves to our technology rather than freed by our creativity. That image terrifies me. Not so much the fear of technology it's a great help to us, but fear of the retardation of our ability to think, to create, to philosophize and to solve. What is true existence without beauty? What is life without music or art or writing? My great fear is that we'll trade beauty and love for convenience and sterility. That we'll drown in our problems because we can no longer reason out solutions. Perhaps I'm reaching but I don't think so. I vote for being safer than sorrier in this case. It's not going to hurt the teachers and it may help if not save our future great minds from utter creative deprivation if cursive is continued and it just might keep us moving forward as a species. Much of music is mathematical, much of art is geometrical, and much of philosophy and writing is mechanical and all began with the movements of the human hand in tandem with the human mind; our technology began with human hands. Without flexible manipulation of those, our minds cannot expand and twist and grow. Those very creative urges that have returned in me might very likely never even develop in those who have never picked up a pen or pencil or brush. And that terrifies me completely.
So the return of the creative muses to my side brings both elation and sorrow. I hope and pray that the very "social" media we worship isn't the same "social" media that isolates us from real emotion, real humanity, and finally, real love. 
The Egypsy Has Spoken.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Egypsy's Travelogue: Roads Less Traveled

Sitting at this keyboard, in my warm pajamas (hey, it's 9 p.m. on The Left Coast) and drinking coffee with sweet cream out of my cup from the Roman Baths (Gorgon's head insignia), I feel the need to expound a little more on my recent travels. Last time I told you about my reverse fantasy or foolishness of wanting to see the history in the form of those who made it—literally, those who made it. Since then I've had a little time to recover and think about the trip a little more and I thought I'd maybe I'd talk about the current history—nay, the current culture and what impressions got pressed into the creases in my brain.

It's funny but my family and I have always taken the roads less traveled along with the ones everybody's traveled. The last time we were in Great Britain, we got to see things the majority of visitors don’t get the chance to do so. We went through the indescribably gorgeous Yorkshire Dales, up through the Scottish Border country (flowers the size of prehistory blooms!) the Scottish Highlands, and stopped for petrol at the North Sea! How many people think about the North Sea, let alone think about visiting it?
Then the requisite stops at Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, and mom desperately trying to get a shot of Nessie…unsuccessfully. Unfortunately, those photos were taken before the advent of the digital camera so will have to wait in the murky future to be posted online.

This time was a little different as well. Based in London, Marble Arch to be specific, it was a shocking concept of walking everywhere or rushing to squeeze onto the Tube to ride three stops to where you wanted to be, especially for an Angeleno like me. You've heard the song "Nobody Walks In LA" by Missing Persons? Well, it's true. A comedian here once said the truism that in Hollywood you just keep making right turns until you get where you want to be. Again, sadly, true. But then most humor is based on truth, like it or not.
We did the palaces, Hyde Park (my sister tripping out on her own), Kensington, and shopping in both Covent Gardens (interesting and it rained—loved it) and an amazing shopping spree in a place my (shoulda' been a travel agent) sister found called Portobello Road! We were so busy buying up everything we could find, I don't think we even stopped for photos! I'll check just to be sure…
Then again requisite: Paris. Bread and cheese at the base of the Eiffel Tower (too long of a wait to ride to the top so we took pics looking up into it, LOL! Lots of intricate and gilded architecture though we barely had an afternoon to enjoy it.

And then, fun! Bruxelles (Brussels to you Americanos) in Belgium—major requisite WAFFLES and astounding ones too—as well as the shot I'd been waiting for a lifetime: Mannequin Pis. Oh yeah, there ARE photos of THAT. Only photos can show you how beautiful and charming Brussels is. We even took photos of the waffles just to make you jealous, LOL! I'm surprised none of us passed out from the sheer astonishment of them!
Most of the time, heading off the beaten path makes the best traveling experience though I'd suggest you get a guide the first time if you're non-adventurous.

 I've already posted Salisbury Cathedral (*sigh* those cloisters!), Bath, and Stonehenge but tonight I'm going to post other photos we had a blast taking! (Another suggestion, take extra camera chips—you're going to be shooting everything!)
Let's see what I can find for you:

Munching on bread and cheese looking up the Eiffel Tower. (Photos courtesy The Egypsy)

Mannequin Pis and...
Waffles with Mannequin Pis...

One of the most wonderful things we did was actually GO inside the British Supreme Court and watch to the session LIVE! Virtually NOBODY does that! It's indescribable to hear the court that ours sprang from and to see them wearing YES, those white wigs! It nearly brought tears to our eyes, such an unexpected treasure that we just happened upon while walking in London!

I guess I DID get to see some history made!

All Photos Courtesy of The Egypsy