Roadies :: Episode 2 :: “What Would Phil Do?”

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Roadies (2016)
Episode 2 :: “What would Phil do?”

What would Phil do, and how do you replace a “legend” like Phil? Poor Bill, his name might rhyme with Phil, but he isn’t Phil, and the harder he tries the more it seems to not work at all for him. His anxiety is palpable, and makes it all the more difficult, and yet he doesn’t seem to be able to ask for help. This plays out so believable to me, at reflects even more on the family dynamic that goes on within the Staton-House Band crew.

Meanwhile, shenanigans are afoot with games of hide and go seek with equipment, and Dirty Sanchez-ing Mr. Potato Head. Is this really the work of The Head And The Heart? With the openers possibly villains, and leaving the tour, who will come to take their place?

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Hurrah for Reignwolf (who oh my stars I never knew before and BLEW ME AWAY) who come to the rescue, but oh no, for one night only!

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So, the opening bands will be like Murphy Brown’s assistants then? Ever changing? I’m digging that, especially since it means more musical guests every week! With that, and the “Song of the Day” to look forward to, I’m even MORE in love with this show.

Speaking of the “Song of the Day”, this week’s was “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ on but the Rent” by Gwen Guthrie.

Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ on but the Rent :: Gwen Guthrie

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Kelly Ann still doesn’t have a nickname, but Reg does (Double D, as in Douchebag Dawson). Kelly Ann does have some significant moments though. One is a bit of a “meet-cute” with Reg (yes, I see what’s going on here…what’s to come) over grits, and the other is a unexpected moment of enlightenment with Christopher from Staton-House Band when they have a conversation about raisins (yes, raisins).

“The grape was already perfect and shouldn’t be changed…raisins are not always the answer.” ~ Kelly Ann

It was great to see more of Christopher, and to glimpse a bit of his relationship with Bill (not the best, if being sent to clean the bathroom is any indication). I hope we get to see more of the band in upcoming episodes.

Speaking of Christopher, he’s taking to doing this finger-kiss thing that the crew finds unsavory. Bill is to speak to him about it, but can’t seem to do it (cue again the moment between Christopher and Bill), but in the end the finger-kiss wins it seems, as the fans have adopted it, and are using it to show their Staton-House love.

Long live the finger-kiss!

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Reg has a moment of redemption when its revealed that the WWPD (What Would Phil Do) tee shirts were his doing, though they do meet an untimely end when Shelli uses them to sop up the overflowing toilet.

Oh, and the music in the episode? Brilliant, as usual. My favorites being Reignwolf “Are You Satisfied?” and The Replacements “Talent Show”.

Are You Satisfied? :: Reignwolf

Talent Show :: The Replacements

Yay for Winnie Holzman who wrote this episode.

My wishes for next episodes? More of Christopher and the rest of the Staton House band, more of Donna, more of Wes and Kelly Ann’s past (and can I please have a Wes-presso?) and just more of this show that I’ve fallen so in love with.

If you aren’t watching yet, what the hell are you waiting for? Go now go, there’s time to catch up before Sunday!

Roadies (2016)

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Roadies (2016)

…but the music is good, and you meet some great people.” ~ Shelli

Created by Cameron Crowe (his first foray into TV), withe the help of Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life) and J. J. Abrams, comes a show about the unsung heroes of live music – the roadies and the production team behind every show and every tour. It is about family, about relationships, about passion, about obsession and fandom, about life in all its ups and downs, and about music. I have been looking forward to this series since I first saw the trailer, and have been anxiously counting the days. The pilot is available to stream and/or watch via on demand – but I’d recommend watching it on Cameron Crowe’s website – here.

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Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE music in a passionate, obsessive, like blood and oxygen kind of way. I also LOVE live music, as there is really nothing like the experience of standing in a venue, whether big or small, whether indoor or outdoor, whether no opener or festival, and being there in the music, experiencing it in-person. There is nothing quite like it in this life, at all, to me.

Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to see multiple shows by favorites artists/bands of mine and one of the things I’ve discovered through the experience is the people who make it happen – the tour managers, the roadies, the merch booth crew, the everyone that make the actual show happen. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk to some of these people, and they are incredible, and they love music like I do. They remind me of my years working in record stores and make me miss being that immersed in music in a working capacity (though it is what fuels me writing about music and keeping this blog going).

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But, I digress, “Roadie” – it is all that live music experience, all that passion and heart and blood and sweat and oxygen – that I love about music and concerts. And yes, there is drama, and characters, and family, and problems, and MUSIC. It is pretty much everything I love rolled up in a show, and I am already so in love.

There are shades of “Almost Famous” here, as well as Crowe’s other film, “Jerry Maguire”. I see pieces of “My So-Called Life” in some of the characters, as well as that behind-the-scenes meets fast-paced dialogue of Aaron Sorkin’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”. The writing is stellar, the characters already complex and interesting and layered. There are strong female roles – hurrah for Carla Gugino and Imogen Poots. There are interesting (relative) newcomers like Machine Gun Kelly, Christopher Backus and Tanc Sade, and some recognizable actors that I’m glad to see in something like this – like Luke Wilson (who I’ve always loved) and Luis Guzman.

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There are actual bands and musicians making appearances, too (The Head And The Heart in the pilot) and the show features a “song of the day” (see why I LOVE it?). The pilot’s song of the day was Frightened Rabbit’s “I Wish I Was Sober”, which made its way on to today’s 5 Music Obsessions list.

Kelly Ann summed it up, more than once, in the pilot when she talked about loving the music. She reminds me of some wonderful mix of Penny Lane and William Miller, which reflects more of the way I love music, that kind of combination. I’m already wanting to go back, watch it again, and write out all my favorite quotes (and yes, I may just do that later).

Episode 101 (Pilot)

I don’t want to spoil too much of the pilot, but I encourage you to go watch it and find out why I’ve just fallen head over heels over heart for “Roadies”. I hope you will, too.

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My Weekly Top 10 :: Week of July 20, 2015

My Weekly Top 10 :: Week of July 20, 2015

1. Book pages

14Though I do read books via my iPad, and “read” via my ears on my daily commute via Audible.com, there is something so intimate and sensory fulfilling in reading a book with paper pages and ink text. I’ve taken to snapping pictures of pages I’m on while reading, and I would love if more people did the same. I’d love to see what everyone is reading right now from books bought at a local bookstore, borrowed from a friend, or checked-out at the library (the photos are from a borrowed copy of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton).

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2. Rent 

16This week I had the chance to catch Plan-B Entertainment’s great production of a favorite musical of mine, Rent, at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. The cast was brilliant, especially the actors playing Mark (Andrew Wade) and Roger (Jonah Ho ‘Okano). The theater was relatively small, our seats were great, and the tickets were no more than a movie ticket would be, which made spending a Wednesday evening with live theater even better (I’d love to see more from this production team).

173. Eurythmics

Who’s That Girl? :: Eurythmics

I’ve been on an Eurythmics kick this weekend, playing a few of their albums while I read my current book and one of my magazine subscriptions. I took a break to watch some of their classic videos, too, like the one above (can you name some of the cameos from some of the 80’s musical celebrities in the video? I spy Bananarama and Marilyn), and below (why the creepy ventriloquist dummy?). Oh my stars, Annie Lennox is so stunning.

Love is a Stranger :: Eurythmics

4. Scream (the TV series)

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I was apprehensive as it is an MTV show (though I did enjoy the first season of Awkward), and sometimes TV versions of movies/movie franchises are lackluster, but this one is a fun ride. Full of satire and Meta moments, as the movies were, and clever in its writing and pacing, this one was a happy surprise. Fits perfect in that hot Summer nights when horror (especially of the campy variety) just feels like the great choice, reminiscent of Summer vacation sleepovers or trips to the drive-in.

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5. LOST Re-watch 

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Tuesdays and Thursdays are Podcast days during my commute back-and-forth from work, and I have quite a variety that I choose from, some weekly favorites, and others ones I will check-in with monthly. A new discovery coincides with my own TV re-watch – the LOST Re-watch Podcast. I’m enjoying the banter and the differing views, especially when someone on their panel is watching for the first time; the whole experience is like doing a re-watch with other people, something that a re-watch generally doesn’t provide.

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6. The Killing

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The Killing has been my weekly show for months and months now, something I look forward to every Thursday afternoon on my lunch hour. It is coming to a close as I find myself in the midst of the significantly shorter Season 1. I’m going to be so sad when it finishes, and I am going to miss Holder and Linden so much.

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7. Vnyl

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I signed-up for vnyl, a monthly vinyl record subscription, after a co-worker of mine tried it out and loved it. It is awesome, and so much fun, getting three hand curated albums in the mail every month. You sign up and give them links to some of your social media (including discogs, where you can catalog your entire vinyl collection), answer some questions about your music taste, and each month your three albums are chosen with your taste and collection in mind (oh, and you get to pick a new theme, called a “vibe”, every month, too).

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8. Pines by Blake Crouch (Audio Book)

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I was enjoying the Summer event series, Wayward Pines (that is until the finale – ugh) and thought I’d start listening to the audio books. So far, I’m enjoying the first book and will probably listen to the other three. Although there is no mystery now that I’ve seen the show, I’m enjoying the writing style and the pacing, and the way they are unfolding the reveals.

Part 1 of the audio book

9. Born on the FM Waves of the Heart :: Against Me! featuring Tegan Quin

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This is my most played song this week, by far. It’s been a favorite for a long time, but I hadn’t listened to it, or the New Wave album in awhile, but after listening to a Nerdist Podcast interview with Laura Jane Grace I got in the mood. I love Tegan (from Tegan and Sara) in this song, too – such a fantastic duet.

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Living With Jigsaw by HandleBarMustacheLand

Because this made me laugh!

My Top 30 Albums of 2014 :: 10-6

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My Top 30 Albums of 2014 :: 10-6

10. Pop Psychology :: Neon Trees

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My thoughts (from my review in April):
I first saw/heard Neon Trees as an opening act right before their big hit, Animal, was released. I had never heard of them, and had no idea what to expect, but by the time their short set was over I was a fan. They were engaging, entertaining, and their songs had this delicious blend of 80’s pop-sensibility, Killers showmanship, pop-punk style, and catchy as hell songs. I have been listening ever since. This new album has all the things I loved from that first encounter, catchy songs, clever lyrics, very 80’s New Wave feels, and a pop with an edge appeal that reaches through the speakers and grabs hold. I want to drive around Los Angeles today with a good friend, coffee in hand, this album turned up on high, hitting repeat over and again until we know the words enough to sing-a-long.

Favorite song: Voices in the Hall

Voices in the Hall :: Neon Trees

9. Goddess :: Banks

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My thoughts (from my review in September):
So much amazing dance/pop/alt-pop music from female artists lately – I’m loving it. Sensual, sharp, tough, with a downtempo sultriness that works perfect with her honey-dripped with an edge voice. Banks strong and stunning voice is the real star here – this album deserves to be a big hit.

Favorite song: Beggin’ for Thread

Beggin’ for Thread :: Banks

8. Sonic Highways :: Foo Fighters

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My thoughts (from my review in November):
I love the power of this album, the occasional surprise of seventies funk meets rock sensibilities (especially on the track Something From Nothing), the emotional delivery of lyrics and feeling, all-together creating an album that I can already tell is going to be one of my favorites of the year – especially to drive to. This album is epic, and yes, I am sick of that word, too, but it fits this one completely. The last song, I am the River, just takes me completely into it, and I feel myself getting lost in the 7:09 minutes of musical escape and wonder and release – I want to hear it performed live.

Favorite song: Subterranean

Subterranean :: Foo Fighters

7. Somewhere Under Neverland :: Counting Crows

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My thoughts (from my review in September):
The album starts with the epic song Palisades Park that I have been loving since the single was released, if you have ever seen Counting Crows play live the song is like experiencing the amazing improv versions the band often does to songs like Round Here, where they go off into a different musical place, and then make their way back to the song itself, that is what Palisades Park feels like. The storytelling on this album is amazing, the kind that gets under my skin and effects me deeply, I am a sucker for good storytelling, the kind that makes me escape myself in the contents of a song, yet in that escape I’m connecting, and finding myself within it (Counting Crows have always been some of my favorite musical storytellers). I love the perspective of Los Angeles on this album, and the geographics of the music, how you can feel the influences and the overall feeling of the different parts of the U.S. that are sung about, the way place is a character in the songs, almost as much as the people and plot are.

Favorite song: Palisades Park

Palisades Park :: Counting Crows

6. Stay Gold :: First Aid Kit

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My thoughts (from my review in June – an excerpt from a longer review):
There is a wanderlust to this album, the songs all sounding like odes to gypsy souls, and I feel myself taking them all in, blissfully, imagining my next chance to hit the road in my head while I listen. The Bell is so full of longing that it makes me want to throw a few things in a backpack, fill the tank of my car, and drive until I cannot go any further. Waitress Song is another leaving home song, about leaving “home” and making a new one, somewhere new, with a recreated name, job, and life.

Favorite song: My Silver Lining

My Silver Lining :: First Aid Kit

As Seen On TV :: American Horror Story: Freakshow :: “Massacres and Matinees”

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As Seen On T.V. :: American Horror Story: Freakshow – “Monsters Among Us” :: Wednesday, October 15, 2014

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This photo is so full of foreshadowing, and shadows, from the second episode of American Horror Story: Freakshow “Massacres and Matinees

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My thoughts in three sentences (There be Spoilers):

Just like with the first episode I ended up watching this one twice, the second time ending the episode in tears because the Meep storyline just breaks me. There are moments when the heartbreak of society and people with differences is so hard on me, causing me to feel this mash-up of anger and sadness, and there are so many moments in this where I was overwhelmed with that crossroads of feelings, at the diner, with Meep, and with Jimmy in all his failed heroic attempts (Evan Peters plays the dark and doomed hero so well). The scene with the Fiona Apple cover version, with Dot singing, was such a send-off to Baz Luhrmann, who I know Ryan Murphy credits as inspiration for how he is using music this season, for me, a fan of both Baz and Ryan, I wholeheartedly approve.

Dot (with Bette as back-up) sings about being a “Criminal

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The Killing :: The Binge Watch Report :: “A Soundless Echo”

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The Binge-Watch Report :: The Killing, Season 1
Episode 4 :: “A Soundless Echo

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If you keep watching reading you will be spoiled :: SPOILERS AHEAD

About the Show: The first season of The Killing is set in Seattle, Washington, and follows the investigation into the murder of local teenager Rosie Larsen, with each episode covering approximately 24 hours. The first season covers the first two weeks of the investigation and has three main story-lines: the police investigation into Rosie’s murder, the attempts of her family to deal with their grief, and the fluctuating electoral fortunes of a political campaign that becomes embroiled in the case.

Episode Synopsis: The episode’s title is a quote from West with the Night by Beryl Markham, and the quote is found in a letter to Rosie that is revealed in this episode.

Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) watch Kris Echols (Gharrett Patrick Paon) while he fidgets in an interrogation room. Linden enters to question him, but Echols denies killing Rosie. She shows him a video of Rosie at the Halloween dance, but he is unwavering in his denial. Holder ponders to Lieutenant Oakes (Gary Chalk) that Kris, desperate for meth, will soon crack. Oakes tells Holder that Holder looks worse than the suspect and to clean himself up.

Linden sets up Kris so he sees Jasper (Richard Harmon) and his lawyer (Fred Henderson) entering an interrogation room across the hall. Holder hints to Kris that Jasper’s lawyer is cutting a deal. Linden plays the cell-phone footage from The Cage for Jasper, who claims it’s not what it appears to be. Across the hall, Kris explains that he would never hurt Rosie because she was nice to him. When shown the same cell-phone footage, Kris scoffs that the police don’t know anything.

Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) is told that Mayor Adams has opened an eight-point lead. Gwen Eaton (Kristin Lehman) suggests that he asks Tom Drexler, a wealthy entrepreneur who loathes Adams, to finance a media package. Richmond declines. Mayor Adams (Tom Butler) meets Jamie Wright (Eric Ladin) at a bar and invites him to join his “winning team.” When longtime donors spurn Richmond, Gwen Eaton secretly calls her father, Senator Eaton (Alan Dale), asking him to arrange a meeting between Richmond and Drexler. He admires her creativity, but criticizes her for having sex with Richmond.

At the high school, Sterling (Kacey Rohl) confesses that she’s the girl in the cell-phone video. She explains that she was tired of never being noticed when Rosie was around and went to the Cage with Jasper, because she was drunk and he was nice to her, adding that she was wearing Rosie’s costume because Rosie had left the dance. She also claims the blood found there was from one of her nosebleeds.

Noting that Rosie sometimes boarded a bus after school, Sterling thinks that Rosie was secretly meeting someone. Holder says that he will follow up with the Larsens, but Linden says she will handle it, eliciting grumbles from Holder. Later, at the police station, she questions the Larsens about Rosie’s possible affair. Mitch (Michelle Forbes) doesn’t believe that has occurred. The Larsens then visit a priest (David Abbott) at a church to make arrangements for Rosie’s funeral. Mitch fixates on the tortured Christ on the crucifix at the church. Mitch asks the priest where God was when her daughter needed Him.

Stan Larsen (Brent Sexton) drives his employee and friend, Belko Royce (Brendan Sexton III), to a suburban home. It was to be a surprise purchase for Mitch, but now he cannot afford it. Belko offers to take care of Richmond, referring to a contract killing. Stan replies that he doesn’t do that anymore. He later enters a Polish restaurant to see Janek Kovarsky (Don Thompson), who scolds Stan about ignoring him for the past 17 years. After Stan explains his financial situation, Janek offers several thousand dollars, saying that family always comes first. Stan responds that they were never family, before taking the money. He later stashes the money in a drawer at his moving-company office.

Mitch arrives at the high school and sees Sterling in the hallway. She hugs Sterling, telling her that she’s not to blame for Rosie’s death. Sterling tells Mitch that Rosie was happy on Friday night and that she doesn’t know whom Rosie may have been seeing. Later, teacher Bennet Ahmed (Brandon Jay McLaren) discovers Mitch on a bench in the hallway. He tells her that her daughter was a smart and eager girl. He shows her a copy of Rosie’s favorite book.

Following Linden’s orders, Holder rides the bus that Sterling had mentioned. He shows a picture of Rosie to the driver, but he doesn’t remember every passenger’s face. Holder is about to give up, when a new driver takes over. He shows this driver the picture and is told that she was an occasional passenger who rode to the end of the line. At the end of the bus line, Holder follows a student wearing a high school varsity jacket to the headquarters of the Seattle All-Stars after-school basketball program.

He begins showing Rosie’s photo around. He is directed to a photo of one of the teams, along with their coach, Bennet Ahmed. Meanwhile, Linden discovers several handwritten letters hidden in Rosie’s room. She reads a lengthy one, which is signed “Bennet.” At the high school, Bennet offers Rosie’s book as a keepsake to Mitch.

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And now you are a suspect, Bennet 

My thoughts in three sentences: I was not surprised that the boys, Jasper and Echol’s, were not the killers, and I suspected that the girl in the video was someone else (I didn’t Sterling, but that connects, too), what I was surprised at was Bennet. He did not come across as a teacher who was involved with a student, a “trope” that is usually played out more obviously, though I’m not convinced that he killed her. I was also surprised by Rosie’s Father’s ties to a criminal family (even if he says they were never family).

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Best: The style of storytelling is brilliant in this show, the slow reveal, the unexpected surprises that catch me off-guard, but are not outlandish the portrayal of so many human flaws and complexities. The way they portray grief in Rosie’s parents is so raw and real and complicated in the way that loss and grief are. And, of course, I continue to be fascinated with Holder and Linden. I want to know more about Holder himself, his addiction, his past, what goes on in his head. And Linden, she is so shut off of anything in her life beyond her job. I see her relationships falling apart already and wonder what has made her this way.

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Worst: Still no worst, honestly.

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My predictions: Bennet has a lot of explaining to do, but I don’t think he’s our killer. I think Sterling knows more than she’s letting on. I also think the Seattle All-Stars after-school basketball program has ties to the Richmond campaign, as well as the criminal family that Rosie’s Dad was avoiding connection to, I think they have some political tie here, too.

Rating (out of 5): 5+

Buffy the Vampire Slayer :: “Halloween” :: Thursday’s TV Halloween

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Which costume would you pick?

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Our next installment of Thursday’s TV Halloween here at lyriquediscorde is a peek at the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Halloween episode entitled “Halloween“. This was one of two Halloween episodes that aired during the run of the series, and though each are great fun, this earlier episode is my favorite. Keep reading to discover my picks for the best moments, music, costumes and any other tricks or treats that can be found in this episode of one of my favorite TV series. “Halloween”, Episode 6 of Season 2, airing originally on October 27, 1997.

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For most people Halloween is a time of year where you get to dress up as someone that you are not in your regular, day-to-day life. Perhaps it is an aspirational costume, a character or trait of some kind that you wish you could be (at least for a day, or night), maybe it’s something silly, or someone completely opposite of yourself, or it could be a character so fictional that it gives you the chance to disappear completely, shedding (or in this case covering) your skin in order to be someone else for an annual celebration of “disguise“. But what if you became the costume? Would it still be an enjoyable experience? Would you be able to deal with your life as someone else?

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Alright, let’s-let’s-let’s review. Um, so everybody became whatever they were masquerading as.” ~ Giles

Right. Xander was a soldier and Buffy was an eighteenth-century girl.” ~ Willow

[staring at her rocker babe outfit] “And-and your-your costume?” ~ Giles

I’m a ghost.” ~ Willow

Yes. Um, a-a – the ghost of what, exactly?” ~ Giles

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Favorite moments:

I’m not sure I could pick a moment exactly, its more the entire concept, at least the one applied to our main “Scooby Gang” circa Season 2. My heart goes out more to Willow, but that could be because she was always the character I related to. Her struggle to be something she perceives as wild and daring, hiding “that side” of herself instead in a ghost sheet, becoming so invisible that she is not there at all, was something the adolescent part of me could completely understand.

In the end though, once the “trickster’s” trick is revealed, and everyone is returned to their “normal” selves, and for Willow, she is corporeal again, she is changed some. She’s gained a bit more confidence, shedding her ghost sheet and heading home in the original “wild and daring” costume she’d originally wanted to wear. That confidence is the what Oz finally sees when he drives by, saying out loud, “who is that girl?” It wasn’t the costume though, it was the confidence, that helped her be “seen”, and all of that, in the story, I really enjoyed.

Buffy and Xander’s storyline is great, too – Xander wanting to be the hero, and Buffy wanting a break, but it is Willow’s that I love the most.

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Favorite Music:

There are two songs in this episode, and this one is my favorite:

Shy :: Epperley

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Favorite Costume

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I think I’d pick Buffy’s this year as my favorite, especially since my life has been very stressed lately and I could use being a little “helpless noble woman” right about now.

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Do you have a favorite moment from this episode? A favorite costume? A favorite character, or story arc? Who would you have wanted to have spent Halloween, in 1997, with, from this episode?

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Freaks and Geeks :: “Tricks and Treats” :: Thursday’s TV Halloween

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Which costume would you pick?

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In continuing with the Spooky October theme here at lyriquediscorde, this Thursday’s Halloween on TV feature is the Freaks and Geeks Halloween special entitled “Tricks and Treats”. Keep reading to discover my picks for the best moments, music, costumes and any other tricks or treats that can be found in this episode of one of my favorite “short-lived” shows. “Tricks and Treats”, Episode 3, airing originally on October 30, 1999.

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There comes an awkward time in most people’s lives, that typically hits during adolescent, when the childhood joys of Halloween become questionable, and many “not kids/not adults” teeter on that razor’s edge of whether they should dress-up and “trick or treat”, or dress down and terrorize said “trick or treaters“. This is the age, too, when most teens have not yet graduated to the Halloween parties because, well, most teens are still living at home and a cool party and a chaperoned party are never the same thing. Lindsay and Sam are at that crossroads and choose different sides of the edge, neither enjoying their Halloween choices in the end.

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We’re not adults. We’re kids until we turn 18.” ~ Sam

Maybe you are, but when I hit 13, I became a man.” ~ Neal 

That’s only in your temple, Neil, not in the real world.” ~ Bill

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Favorite moments:

If I were the Bionic Woman, what would I wear?”

Without any doubt or question, it is Bill as the Bionic Woman who just makes this episode for me. His conviction to his costume and character, even if honestly he is just wearing his Mother’s clothes, is perfect. I adore Bill and his sincerity and naivete, the one character that really seems unaffected by the confusion and conflictions of being a teenager on Halloween, no, on the contrary, he just seems in it to have fun.

Elsewhere, it is a more painful experience. Sam and Lindsay’s Mother feeling the inevitable rejection of your kids not wanting to be with you for Halloween, especially Lindsay. Re-watching it now it reminded me of the last Halloween when my younger daughter chose to take off with her friends instead of the routine and traditions we had. In the end I was happy to see her enjoying her friends and her small sense of freedom (I remember that first time trick-or-treating with just my friends, it was so exhilarating and “grown-up” feeling), but I also had a notable pang of sadness and hurt that I recognize in this episode.

Lindsay chooses to not dress-up, to hang with her friends, and to take on all the tricks of smashing pumpkins and egging costumed kids, including her brother and his friends. She always frustrates me in this episode. Though I get her pull and her motivations, and her inner conflict, I just can’t stand the choices she makes. Maybe this comes from growing up in a neighborhood where Halloween pranks were unheard of, and then also being the Mom of a young son who had his pumpkin smashed, and how devastated he was from it.

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Favorite Music:

There are four songs used in the episode, and I’d credit two as my favorites.

Sam and Lindsay’s Mom singing Monster Mash, and the cringing that is conveyed so well as your Mother sings at the table, it is palpable, you can feel it watching it, that second-hand embarrassment. It sets up the disappointment that she will inevitably feel when her plans with Lindsay are squelched.

Good thing my kids still know that it’s my favorite Halloween song, and don’t seem to mind me singing, or at least they humor me into believing.

Gonna Raise Hell :: Cheap Trick

The best part is that Gonna Raise Hell plays over Sam and his friends costuming-up, and not over Lindsay and Daniel and Kim and the gang driving off to actually raise Hell.

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Favorite Costume

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Have I mentioned Bill’s epic Bionic Woman costume? I wish I could hangout with Bionic Bill for a Halloween. I wouldn’t mind borrowing his lipstick.

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Do you have a favorite moment from this episode? A favorite costume? A favorite character, or story arc? Who would you have wanted to have spent Halloween, in 1999 (or in this case, 1980), with, in this episode?

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As Seen On TV :: American Horror Story: Freakshow :: “Monsters Among Us”

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As Seen On T.V. :: American Horror Story: Freakshow – “Monsters Among Us” :: Wednesday, October 8, 2014

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Bring on the “gates of Hell” on this season of American Horror Story: Freakshow

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My thoughts in three sentences (Spoiler Free):

I am a horror fan, an anthology/short story fan, and a fan of Ryan Murphy (yes, even Glee, despite it falling so far out of favor). Each season has had different effects on me, some I loved more than others, but all of them had moments and performances that were amazing, all that said, I think this season may be my favorite. Every note was hit in this episode, terror (that clown!), heartbreak (Jimmy and Elsa especially), mystery, suspense, sex (oh Evan Peters!), societal commentary, and complex characterization. Elsa singing Bowie’s Life On Mars dressed like The Thin Duke, and in her character’s German accent (I fucking love Jessica Lange), was beyond fantastic, and yes, I realize that Life On Mars was not around in the early 50’s, but the impact of the song, the theatrics of it, and the lyrical relevance, was perfect, and not unlike what Baz Luhrmann has done in many of his films.

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Amy Dunne and how I felt about Gone Girl (the movie)

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Amy Dunne, and why Gone Girl (the movie) made me so uncomfortable
More a Reaction than a Review

Warning: If you have not seen the film and read the book by Gillian Flynn you may want to skip reading this post. This will be full of spoilers, lots of spoilers, but I have a lot to say about the movie, the book, and Amy Dunne. This is not as much a review than a reaction. After the picture below the spoilers will start to fly, so you may want to leave now. If not, well, read at your own risk.

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I came upon the book, Gone Girl, many, many times before I finally decided to read it. I will admit to thinking it would be a stereotypical, “destined to paperback copies sold at the check-out line at the grocery store” kind of book, and though it’s success has found the book winding up at said counters and nearly everyone’s “I’ve read it” list, the book was never a stereotype to me. Instead, it was a story that started as a he said/she said recollections of a failed marriage and possible murder that led me along one path, a path where I found myself often siding more with Nick rather than Amy. I felt sure of many things, but then that twist came along in the middle of the book and yes, I was surprised (understatement).

It was an Audio Book version I first “read“, and when the twist came I had to pull over and hit rewind to listen again, and breathe through the shock experienced. Though I did suspect that Amy was alive, I did not see the complete, magnificent mind fuck that she was pulling off. From that point on I was even more riveted, and yet even though I knew that Amy was written as the “villain” in the plot, I still went back-and-forth on who I felt the most for. Though admittedly, Nick was usually the one I went back to, excusing my internal pull to root for Amy (especially in terms of surviving Jeff and Shawna, and escaping Desi) as a desire to ultimately see Nick’s name cleared.

If Amy survived and returned, Nick would be exonerated.

But, maybe that wasn’t all of it. No, the way I felt for Amy was far more complicated than that. There were moments in the book when Amy ranted about “the cool girl” myth (reminiscent of the “Mary Jane” or the “Magic Pixie Girl” tropes found in so much fiction) that hit a chord with me, as well as her chameleon like qualities and the way no one seemed to ever really know her, only knowing what she brought to them, and out in them – that hit a little too deep and personal to me. There were moments when Amy’s “evil” behavior went more than a few beats too far, and for that I kept siding with Nick – but then, I recently re-read the book, and the movie happened, and I have to say my loyalties shifted.

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It is a disturbing thing to realize you are similar to a mentally unstable, psychotic, villain of a character that everyone deems “Queen Bitch”. How does one come to terms in recognizing unattractive qualities in oneself when reading or watching a character you are supposed to despise? What happens when you start to feel sympathy for said character, and actually start rooting for her? What if it makes you feel really, deeply sad and alone when that all finally hits you?

No, I could not plot my own murder to frame someone for it, knowing they could either spend their life in jail, or be sentenced to lethal injection. No, I could not slash someone’s throat. No, I wouldn’t use a pregnancy to manipulate a life, or person, I wanted to keep. But, I do understand human behavior and people around me enough to probably pull some of that off, more than I care to readily admit.

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I grew up never knowing who I was. Some of that had to do with growing up in an abusive home, some of it had to do with having to live in a constant state of duplicity in order to keep said abusive home a secret, some of it had to do with learning to go numb and become a different person in order to survive. And, some of it had to do with being a lonely and shy young girl who never felt comfortable in her skin, or in her own sense of self.

Becoming a chameleon became second nature to me, and when I started to date and enter into relationships I could masterfully become the other person’s “dream girl”. I was that repulsive “cool girl” again and again, living my life to be exactly what the other wanted, often being called a “soul mate” after only one or two dates, getting them in ways that “no one ever did“, and ultimately supporting all of their dreams and desires. I became a fantastic lover (at least to the person on the receiving end, or so I’ve been told) and the coolest girlfriend, and later wife, who never revealed her jealousy or anger or any tangible wants or needs, well, not until it all went to shit.

And it ALWAYS all went to shit.

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I invariably felt lonely and not understood. All the efforts I put in to know the other person, to mold myself for that other person, well, that other person never reciprocated, mostly because they never saw that it was work to do so, they just thought I’d bloomed off some fucking tree as the perfect girl for them. But it was a lot of work, a lot of meticulous work, and in the midst of all of the work I’d somehow convince myself that it wasn’t work after all, that maybe I had found “my perfect match”, or at least my perfect self with that match, and then I’d start to relax and let myself open up, actually allow myself to want something back, only to be met by an endless slew of disappointment, and the realization that they did not know me at all. Not that it was any of their faults necessarily, because how could they know me? I didn’t know me. I only knew the “me” at that moment that I perceived they wanted me to be (usually perceiving right, unfortunately).

In the film, when Nick knows so little about Amy, not even enough to know how she spent her days, if she had friends, or even her blood type, it hurt deeply to watch. I felt this sharp pain somewhere deep inside and it made it a little hard for me to breathe. I think it was right then that I started to root for Amy.

But, what exactly was I rooting for?

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I think that I wanted her to have one of two “endings” (or futures). I wanted her to either be completely exposed for all that she’d done and have to face it, finally being seen truthfully and having to deal with the consequences, OR, I wanted her to leave her life with Nick. I wanted the rumored “new ending” of the film to be Nick waking up and finding her gone, because honestly I felt like she deserved a different ending. She and Nick were terrible together, they were not soul mates, not even in a “fucked up couple” kind of way, and honestly, raising kids together? Really?

For me personally, age has helped solve some of my “Amy-ness“. I do not turn myself inside out in order to become perfect for people anymore, though I still know others a little too quickly, and well below their surfaces. And, I am still rarely really known.

People will swear they know me so well, and deem themselves my best friend, and not know anything about me. I’m constantly told “I have never told anyone this” before a confession arrives in my lap, or a “we have so much in common” when really it is just one or two things I’ve picked up about a person that I then use to ease my shyness in conversations. Very few people know me well, nor do they try to know me well, and yeah, that feels really fucking lonely a lot of the time. A lot of times, too, it feels like they just don’t want to put the effort in, especially as it seems they are too busy enjoying how perfectly I seem to know, and fit, with them and their needs.

But, I have let some key people in closer than I have ever in my life previously. Just a few though. Trust is hard, and disappointment is usually what I get back in full.

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That said, I will be the first to say that I think I’m great at being a Mom, but other relationships I am not good at. Maybe I still haven’t found myself, maybe I still know too well how to be the chameleon, or maybe there is something deeply wrong with me inside. I don’t know. But, I know that for me all of that makes it very hard to watch Amy on-screen and not want her to make it in the end. It is hard not to root for her.

Back to the film though, there were very few people I felt for, or felt engaged with. Amy was definitely one of them. She was vivid and complex, warm one moment, ice-cold the next, and so fucking smart. She was cruel, too, cutting and manipulative. But, she had absolutely no chemistry with Nick, not even in the beginning, and that felt flat to me. In the book you feel the chemistry between them in the beginning, and even in the end in a disturbing way, but on film it was never there.

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Also, where were the women in this film? I will say Margo was incredible. Every time she was on-screen she stole the scene, and I felt the most for her relationship with Nick than I did for any of his other relationships. Carrie Coon is quickly becoming a favorite actor of mine, especially after this Summer’s The Leftovers. But, I felt cheated by the blink and you’ll miss her portrayal of Nick and Margo’s Mother. as well as there one-note, barely there scene with their Father. Their parents were pinnacle in shaping who Nick and Margo are, Nick especially in the way he holds all his emotion inside, how he reacts and acts with women, and how insecure he is.

Where was Hilary Handy and her past history with Amy? Complicated friendships needed to be explored in the understanding (or the not understanding) of Amy. It helps to establish her manipulations of all relationships, not just sexual or romantic ones.

Also, where was Jacqueline, Desi’s Mother? Her creepiness and off-kilter relationship with her son Desi is intriguing, as well as disturbing, in the book. Also, her hatred of Amy is a vital detail, especially when she tries to seek justice for her son’s murder, who she rightfully accuses Amy of. Also, the fact that Amy resembles Jacqueline is important to understanding Desi.

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Next up is Andie in the film. Where was the tough side of Andie, the side that bit Nick’s face when he broke up with her? Where was her characterization? She was relegated to just one-step up from her role in the Robin Thicke/Pharrell Summer “hit turned disaster” Blurred Lines video. This isn’t even a casting slag off, or commentary on Emily Ratajkowski acting abilities, but more to the writing of her character for the film.

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I will say that Kim Dickens’ Rhonda Boney was well-represented, despite her being too “Hollywood” in appearances. I do think the film captured the part of her that doubts Amy and the whole “set-up“, and her persistence in finding the truth. I do think they missed some of the cues of her belief in Nick and the companionship they have throughout. In the book it is that companionship and connection they have that makes the discovery of the diary, and the mallet from the Punch doll, that more heartbreaking to read because you feel Rhonda hurt by it. That was completely absent from the film.

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I also missed Tanner’s wife who was so well-written, and the young blogger who gets the unorthodox interview with Nick at the bar that shakes up Amy, and manages to fool her in thinking that Nick is finally seeing her, and which leads to Nick’s daily online messages to Amy. On my second reading, Nick’s deception is painful because you feel how desperately Amy wants to be seen and loved for her, even when her ego and need to be right overshadows that need.

Amy doesn’t want to be mistaken as Amazing Amy, or the “cool girl” anymore. She is so fucking sick of all that she’ll kill to destroy it, and those who keep fabricating her.

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Visually the film is on point. Details like the Amazing Amy book covers and posters are painfully accurate, “The Bar” is how I pictured, the abandoned mall is even spookier than I imagined, and the scenes where Nick is alone look and feel desolate and lost, which is perfect. I just did not believe in his scenes with Amy at all.

Now, there is one more character I haven’t mentioned, except in reference to Amy or Jacqueline, and that’s Desi. When I first heard that Neil Patrick Harris was cast I was excited. I love when actors take risks, and I was hopeful that he would do the part justice.

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I’m not sure if it was lack of full characterization, or if he was just not right for the part, but he was not Desi to me. This Desi was laughable at times, weak, desperate and not threatening at all. In the book Desi is cold, colder even than Amy, calculating, seemingly sociopathic, beyond creepy, and downright terrifying at times.

His controlling nature is barely touched on in this portrayal, nor is his misfired understanding of Amy. He remembers all the details of an adolescent Amy that is long gone, and tries to smother her in those misrepresented memories, keeping her a prisoner at the lake house, and hiding her away from his Mother’s judgement. In this film version, he is too sympathetic. It makes Amy seem even crueler, which is not necessary (we get that she’s cruel). To me, Desi was supposed to bring sympathy to Amy’s character, make you see her as a wild animal in a trap, to get the reader to start rooting for her.

There are other details that are missing too, some inconsequential, others that I truly missed (where was the “just one olive” inside joke between Nick and Amy?), and the first act felt flat to me, only really coming to life when either a) Margo was on-screen, or b) Amy and the big reveal happened.

Overall, I don’t think that I liked the movie. I do know that it left me feeling uneasy and sad, and that the longer I think about it the more I feel driven to reread the book and possibly write Amy a different ending. Maybe I will do both.

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