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

Sunday, May 27, 2012


This will be a new column/feature on The Egypsy Speaks: The Egypsy's Travelogue. Guess what it's about. Yes, The Egypsy's travels. In other words I dig sharing my photos. And the places I've been. No telling when I'll post on the travelogue, but since there are a few of you die-hard Egypsy fans, I feel I owe it to you...or you owe it to me...
In any case in the PAST PERFECT post you will see the first installment of The Egypsy's Travelogue. I hope you enjoy it.
The Egypsy Has Spoken (and traveled)!

Photos: TheEgypsy


"Is that all there is? If that's all there is my friends; then let's keep dancing…" You might remember that song from Peggy Lee. My mother used to tell me as a tween that that was my theme song. Unfortunately, it's followed me to adulthood.
I've just come back from a trip to London, Paris and Brussels and while the trip was both a whirlwind and astounding at times, there was something missing. Some of my longtime dreams were fulfilled on that trip and I got to visit places I'd only dreamed of: the Roman Baths at Bath, England, Stonehenge, and an unexpected joy in seeing Salisbury Cathedral—definitely my favorite so far! And therein lays my Theme Song.

The sites that I've fantasized about seeing for so long were just a wee bit…deficient. Not that they weren't beautiful or historic or simply astonishing—they were to the max. Riding the Euro Star has to be the best way of traveling Europe, at least for us. My only complaint about the Tube in London is that it has so many stairwells to climb it nearly amounted to torture for one who needs a knee replacement and soon. Still, there really isn't anywhere you can't get to in London that's as efficient! But even with all that, I was a tiny bit let down.
"What the hell is my problem?" I asked myself. "I should be fainting from ecstasy." I thought about it as the landscapes changed back to Britain from France and Belgium. It wasn't a bad trip, it wasn't disappointing. So what was is that niggled at the back of my brain? What was it that I yearned for as we emerged from the Chunnel back into the magical land of England? What was it that pulled at me as I stared at the place where I could believe in Merlin and King Arthur, in fairies and Elves, in all manner of Fey along with the stunning real history of this place?

It hit me. The history was what was missing. I'd read about these places, nay, made an obsession of them. I knew much about the Romans coming to Britain and creating the famous baths. I'd grown up with Stonehenge; I'd grown up with Shakespeare's MacBeth, Julius Caesar, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, stories of Fey and everything from Sarum to Salisbury and all in between.
But they weren't there. I'd loved the country, the people, and the sheer history of it all. But those historical people weren't there; I'd been fantasizing backward. I guess somewhere in my obsessive mind I thought they would be; alive and well and doing historical things. I wanted to see those serfs, those knights those kings and queens who wrote history with their words and actions. I wanted to see fairies dancing in waters and Elves teaching Men how to be honorable. I wanted to see those Romans bathing and not just for prurient enjoyment. No, I wanted to see them, hear them watch them make that history in Britain, Rome, and the Western World as we know it.
Maybe it's just me. Maybe I take my history a little too seriously or maybe I just live in a fantasy past. Maybe I've studied too long and too deep. Or maybe I'm just nuts…probably.
In any case the only way I can bring those people to life is to do so in story. Maybe that's why I write fiction. It's that yearning desire to see and connect with those people I've imagined for so long. Maybe that's what all historians and archaeologists yearn for; that connection with the people whose personalities shaped the world we now live in. Perhaps they longed to see us too; to see who and what we've become, what we've learned to do, what we've created that will affect those who live after us. We may not be able to see it, that thread of history that runs through us all: those who've come before, those of us here now, and those of us to come, but we all feel it regardless of the time passed or time yet to come. All in all, I'm still grateful that I got to see what is left of our past connection even if I wasn't able to see the ghosts who walked there.

Photos: The Egypsy

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Time To Get Your Dream On

First of all, since people refuse to stop following this ancient blog, I feel the onus of having to actually create a post for it. So, because people have things they hate to do, as in errands, I thought I'd ask you to fantasize a little with me. Let's pretend we all have pounds and pounds of money and we can afford to hire help to do those annoying, aggravating chores that we'd like to ignore but in no way can.

Now I don't care how you fantasize you obtained all this money; unless you did so illegally but that's another fantasy altogether. Just pretend you have it, okay? Don't make things difficult.

What is it you would love to hire someone to do for you on a regular basis and sexual activities are prohibited—I know you—anyway there has to be something you despise to do.

I'll start.  I loathe and detest grocery shopping. Oddly, I adore cooking. In fact I love cooking for large amounts of people as well as myself and one other. But if I see one more broccoli floret I'll scream. I've been banned from more than a few stores for doing just that. Well, okay I did rant and rave about the horrible inedible produce loudly to anyone near enough to hear and possibly be as disgusted as me.

I don't mind cooking, cleaning, laundry—the whole housewifey thing—at all. I love it at times. But that grocery shopping drudgery I'd give up in a nanosecond. I fantasize (all the time mind you) that I write out a list or lists for breakfasts, lunches, dinners (and hopefully dinner parties) and hand them off to an "assistant" who can both size up an onion and be back in under four hours. Hey, I expect a lot of competence and discernment at the cash register or preferably before.

Okay I've confessed. What about you? What is that one thing you'd love to make someone else do for you? Don't be shy. There's gotta be something—taking out the garbage? Washing the car? Cleaning the windows (I actually enjoy that too), what is it?

If you're going to follow The Egypsy, you'd better be prepared to participate. I don't do this for fun. I do it because you won't leave me alone.

Get your damned dream on and get with the program!

The Egypsy Has Spoken

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sitcoms--What Works and What Doesn't

Since this blog only gets occasional follower adds (it reads 3 but I've got a gazillion notices of followers) I only occasionally post here. I kind of keep it as a sort of dust bin of posts that don't really belong anywhere else but I want to rant or postulate on some random subject. Today I feel like the big P. 
So, we're going to talk. Rather, I'm going to talk and you're going to read. And if you don't I'll find out about that too. That line is from Seinfeld and the correct and much better line is given by J. Peterman to Elaine and it really is about twenty years ahead of it's time:
"Oh, and if you are undead, I'll find out about that too." delivered flawlessly by John O'Hurley.
And of course that got me thinking about sitcoms and what works and what doesn't.
First off what does work: settings in apartments or houses with multiple residents. 
Now I could ramble off unlimited pilots and successfully established television shows over the decades since radio performances morphed into television but let me just list a few:
Golden Girls
and the new and hilarious Raising Hope.
Why do they work?
Because they're a microcosm of real life, shown in all its sanity and insanity. As in, truth is funnier than reality. And skewed truth is the funniest of all. There are so many great lines that stick with people and if they don't they should. 
Simple lines are best: Rose Nyland of Golden Girls being prepped for meeting the President:
Presidential Aide: "Do you support the overthrow of the government by force or violence?"
Rose: "Violence!"
Plus there are the characters who are both constant and have developed personalities. You could rarely mistake Rose Nyland for Blanche Devereaux or Sophia Petrillo and I don't mean height either.
Seinfeld has the same qualities.
Not one of the four characters could possibly be mistaken for the others. 
And yet that is not the main reason why sitcoms fly or fail.
Guess what it is.
Almost all successful, beloved sitcoms are set in homes and or apartments. Think about it:
Golden Girls
Again, Cosby.
You have the continuity and relatability of the same characters that you can grow to love (or hate).
What doesn't work?
With the exception of Fawlty Towers which succeeded by the sheer virtue of the talent and writing, nearly if not all, sitcoms set in a hotel have either failed dismally or fizzled out slowly. And for the reasons listed above.
No real sense of continuity, many of the funniest characters come and go as hotel guests, not residents. Those who are stable characters must deal with a constantly changing cast and plot lines. While it might not be boring, it's not identifiable. People don't live in hotels unless  they're luxury suites in major cities. Most of the time hotel rooms are simply functional. You're squeezed into a small room with one or two beds, a bathroom,  TV with nothing really watchable on it, desk, chest of drawers, and a table and chair by the window. That's how I picture hotels where the lobby is more comfortable than my room. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that's your memory too.
Speaking of lobbies, most of the time, as gorgeous as they can be, they're impersonal unlike a home or apartment. Home is where you live. Hotels are where you stay on occasion. Once more, impersonal and uncomfortable. Think Who's The Boss. People live together in myriad ways either with family, friends, or live-in help. 
In a hotel setting, besides the main 4-6 characters, they have to deal with help: cooks, maids, generally unknown people unless there's a romance or other subplot. Then again, those people have to become regulars or what's the point? Where's the resolution? What happens to that lesser character? They might have great lines but unless they become a regular, who cares really?
It's like a huge unmanageable dirigible. And even then, I think that might have a regular cast of character too that regularly interact with each other as the blimp meanders over nations, oceans, mountains but that's another sitcom plot and I think it's a little Steampunkish as well not to mention a worn out sci-fi plot too. AND DON'T EVEN THINK OF STEALING THIS IDEA. Like J. Peterman said, "If you try, I'll find out about that too."
The Egypsy Has Spoken.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Martin, I knew you could do it!

A few years ago I ragged on Martin Scorsese for making mainly violent and sexually explicit films. With HUGO he has made me eat my words! Well, actually, he finally made me proud! I knew he could do it; I knew if he tried, being the great directorial talent he is, that he could break away from that overused mold and give us something wonderful! And he has. 
See Martin? I knew you had it in ya'! 
What I can't understand is how Brad Pitt got nominated and Leo DiCaprio didn't! What goes on here?!? Perhaps it's just because everyone expects Leo to kick ass in every role he takes on. Who knows? I certainly don't. Well, taking into account campaigning...don't get me started on that...
What's surprising to me is how uninterested I am in this year's Oscars ceremony. Strange considering that some damned great films and performances were given in this class. I think I'm just plain burnt out on Hollywood. When I get more excited about the arrangement of the song "Hooray For Hollywood" than who's winning what, I think that's a safe assumption. Or maybe it's just because everyone's being so damned civil. Oh no, am I going to start demanding graphic sex and violence? Help me Martin, help me!
Okay enough blabbering from The Egypsy.
Hey, I only do it once a year...just like the Academy...
The Egypsy Has Spoken.