Saturday Night Serenade–A Song and a Movie

To say Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen is a great song is to be simply redundant. Taken as a whole, their body of work is sublime, with stand-out nuggets like Fat-Bottomed Girls, Under Pressure, and cult-classic Bohemian Rhapsody.

But I really like this one. I can’t get it out of my head. It’s currently featured in several television commercials. And with the success and acclaim of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, all these songs are getting new life. Take that, Millennials, who believe if something didn’t happen in their lifetime, it didn’t happen at all.

As promised, though, this week’s serenade comes with a movie recommendation. While there are countless versions of Don’t Stop Me Now, this is one of my favorites. It comes from a fantastic little horror-comedy from 2004 called Shaun of the Dead. It’s a smart, funny, and yes, okay, gory at times, take on Dawn of the Dead. Just the title cracks me up.

The story follows hapless Shaun and his slacker-pothead wingman Ed (played the the hilarious Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) into what appears to be the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Only we’re not using the zed-word.

Complicating matters is the fact that Shaun’s girlfriend Liz has just broken up with him, and he’s perpetually at odds with his stepfather (the brilliant, if low-key in this role, Bill Nighy).

Once he realizes that the end of the world is here (and it takes him an hysterical amount of time to figure it out–watch him pop out to the shop for a Diet Coke), Shaun cooks up a scheme to save Liz from the undead, and thus win her back. Of course, nothing is ever that easy.

At one point, Shaun’s intrepid band of survivors finds itself holed up in his favorite pub. The fight scene set to this Queen classic is a marvel of choreography and comedic editing.

I’ve checked–you can stream Shaun of the Dead for about $4 from nearly any streaming service. So what are you doing tonight? Saturday Night Live is in reruns until Fall.

By the way, happy Memorial Day! I hope you enjoy your long weekend. Be sure to hug those you love and tell them that you love them.

If you’re remembering someone who paid the ultimate price in service to their country, please accept my deep respect and gratitude. Freedom isn’t free. It never was.

Happy Saturday night!

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Saturday Night Serenade–Winter Is Coming

According to reports, around a billion people are expected to tune into Sunday night’s premiere of the final season of HBO’s blockbuster series, Game of Thrones.  Mr. R and I will be two of those people.  If you’re a fan of the show, you know what I mean.

If you’re one of those who hasn’t seen a single second of the show, I get it.  Normally, I am that person.  The one who bucks the trend and avoids that which everyone else seems to obsess over.  I was that way about Breaking Bad, but I eventually saw the error of my ways.

I was also late to The Sopranos party.  I don’t think I saw a single episode until after the entire series was over.
Fun Fact: Mr. R and I are currently binge-watching The Sopranos for at least the second time, LOL.

When Game of Thrones was first coming out in the spring of 2011, I read a lot about it from a lot of different sources.  It really didn’t sound like my cup of tea.  An epic fantasy filled with kings, queens, knights, wars, dragons, etc?  On the other hand, did I want to miss getting in on the ground floor of the ‘next big thing’?  So I decided to watch the first episode.  Worst-case scenario, I waste an hour of my life.

But then I watched the opening sequence.  In seven minutes and twenty-two seconds, I was totally in.  I had no idea what was happening, but I was hooked.  Eventually after that first season, I went back and read the books.

Game of Thrones is based on A Song of Ice and Fire, an epic fantasy series of books by George R.R. Martin.  And he has worked closely with the creators of the show.  As a writer, I’m fascinated at Martin’s ability to create a whole world–no really, the books include maps, and the locations in the show are based on those maps.  He’s created characters that are rich and diverse and strong and flawed.  Dragons aside, for me it’s the human drama that makes the show the achievement that it is.

Westeros and beyond is populated with strong women, ruthless warriors, noble folk, and monsters of the human variety as well as the supernatural ones.  I was impressed by the fact that dwarf Tyrion Lannister (expertly played by the excellent Peter Dinklage) has a hugely prominent role.

Granted, the show is not for the squeamish–scenes of violence abound.  And there is quite a bit of sex as well.  These are not well-behaved characters, for the most part.  But I wonder if you might see a few things that ring familiar, as well.

Music plays a huge part in Game of Thrones.  In fact, it’s almost a character within itself, setting the mood, identifying the various families and banners.  The opening theme, A Song of Ice and Fire, is iconic, and for tonight’s serenade, I’ve included two versions.  The first one is an acoustic quartet, and the second is an entire orchestra featuring 2Cellos.

And…
If you’re still on the fence about Game of Thrones and haven’t seen a second of it…
Please grant me seven minutes and twenty-two seconds and watch the first sequence of Season 1 Episode 1.
Oh, and rule of thumb for watching GoT–don’t get too attached to anybody.  Just saying…  And be careful online–The internet is dark, and full of spoilers.

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Feeling Bluesy

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling kind of low-key this last weekend of March.  This past couple of weeks have been absolutely gorgeous.  The last half of March is always the most beautiful time of year here in south Florida.   The sky is bright blue, the sun is golden, it’s neither hot nor cold…

It’s not the ideal time to go swimming–between the migrating sharks and the Portuguese man-o-war, the ocean is a little dicey.  But to sit on the sand and watch the turquoise water at Juno Beach or Jupiter Beach?  It’s a little slice of heaven.

As is this bluesy song by Tracy Chapman.  Give Me One Reason is from her 1995  album, New Beginning.  It’s the perfect soundtrack for a low-key evening.  By the way, did you know you can ask Alexa to play this song?  And thousands of others?  You don’t even have to scroll through YouTube or iTunes.  Ain’t technology grand?

I hope you’re enjoying this lovely spring evening.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Oh, and P.S.–Between you and me, don’t tell anybody about Juno and Jupiter.  Let’em all go to Ft. Lauderdale and Daytona.  😉

Saturday Night Serenade–Guilty Pleasures

Okay, y’all.  It’s 2019’s first guilty pleasure.  I shouldn’t like it.  Nobody should like it.  And yet…

Anybody besides me find themselves sucked into FOX’s new music competition show, The Masked Singer?  It’s beyond ridiculous.

Famous people dress up in costumes that cover their entire bodies, drop clues to their identities via short video introductions, then come onstage to sing.  A panel of four judges (Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong, and Nicole Scherzinger tries to guess who the singer might be.

Six singers compete in each episode, and at the end of the hour, the singer with the least number of votes (from the judges and the studio audience) loses, and removes his or her costume head to reveal their identity.

The show is like a cross between American Idol and a fur con (It’s a thing, look it up, LOL.)  It sounds awful, right?  Except I’m loving it, and lots of people agree with me.

In the most recent episode, the losing contestant turned out to be 4:20 icon Tommy Chong.  Which was a little sad, because he wasn’t as terrible as you’d imagine.

Another contestant belted out Ricky Martin’s classic Livin’ La Vida Loca, and I was in heaven.  I’d forgotten how much I love this song!  (Okay, Ricky Martin might be another guilty pleasure, so you can see how layered this thing is.)

At any rate, if you find yourself with nothing special to do on a Wednesday night at 9pm EST, you might just turn to FOX and see what’s up with The Masked Singer.

In the meantime, I hope you’re managing to stay warm this January weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–I Love the 80s

Is it just me?
I love the music of the 80s.

I saw a news report this week that talked about the fact that we all find a certain amount of comfort in nostalgia, in looking back on times when we felt happy and safe.  With the mid-term elections this week, make of that what you want.

In my Facebook group, Pandora’s Passionista Paradise (if you’re not a member yet, why not?  Click to join!) we recently made an 80s ‘Mix Tape’ and someone posted Wild, Wild West by Escape Club.

OMG!  I loved this song back in the day.  I have no idea what it means, and I don’t care.  It’s a fun song from 1988 and it makes me happy.

I’m adding a second gem from 1988.  I love this song by R.E.M.  Again, I don’t know the deep meaning, I just love to sing along.

What would be on your 80s playlist?  Comment below with your favorites.

In the mean time, I hope you’re enjoying this first weekend of November.  We’re on the downhill slide to the holidays now.

Be sure to hug those you love.  Happy Saturday night!

 

Saturday Night Serenade–Ah Ooooh!

I love the odd, quirky, slightly spooky Werewolves of London by the late, great Warren Zevon.  It’s from his 1978 album, Excitable Boy.  The song was produced by Jackson Browne, and  backing vocals on the original recording feature Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood and John McVie.

To me, it’s a fun song, especially for a cool October evening.

I will also say that in my opinion, Kid Rock ripped off the iconic riff of this song in his All Summer Long, which is supposed to be a tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama.  Nope, not buying it, it’s Werewolves of London all the way.  I won’t dignify it by posting it here, but you can look it up on YouTube.

But as long as we’re talking monsters…
How about a little Frankenstein?  It’s Edgar Winter’s instrumental classic from the 1972 album, They Only Come Out at Night.

I hope you’re enjoying this October weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Superstition

Happy October!  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but between our anniversary, my birthday, and Halloween, I LOVE October!

For the first October song, I’m choosing Superstition by the amazing Stevie Wonder.  That funky bass line just draws you in every time.

And it’s perfect for the countdown to Halloween.  I mean, check out the lyrics.  And may I be the first to admit that I’ve been singing it wrong for all these years.

Very superstitious, writings on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders bout’ to fall,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin’ glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your pastWhen you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the wayVery superstitious, wash your face and hands,
Rid me of the problem, do all that you can,
Keep me in a daydream, keep me goin’ strong,
You don’t wanna save me, sad is my song

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way, yeh, yeh

Very superstitious, nothin’ more to say,
Very superstitious, the devil’s on his way,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin’ glass,
Seven years of bad luck, good things in your past

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer, Superstition ain’t the way, no, no, no

It made me wonder…
Are you superstitious?  I don’t consider myself to be.
Once I visited San Antonio with my mother and we went to this glorious Mexican restaurant down by El Mercado.  We were seated outside at a table covered in tile mosaic.  There was a hole in the center of the table where an umbrella might go.  My mother salted her dinner and when she set down the salt shaker, she accidentally dropped it through the hole.  The glass shaker shattered once it hit the ground and salt spilled everywhere.
A Hispanic lady at the next table saw what happened and brought us her salt shaker, miming tossing salt over her shoulder.  When my mother reached for the salt, the woman shook her head vigorously then set it on the table rather than passing it directly.  To appease the woman, my mother went ahead and tossed some salt over her shoulder and life went on.  But I’ve always thought that was a strange experience.
Are there any things you do for good luck?
I just want to be grateful for the good things in my life.
I hope you’re enjoying this fall evening.  Be sure to hug those you love.
Happy Saturday night!
P.S.  I couldn’t resist this version by another Stevie, the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan.