Saturday Night Serenade–Comfort Food

That Thing You Do! is a 1996 film written and directed by actor Tom Hanks. It’s the story of a fictional 60s pop band that became a one-hit wonder. Oh, but that one hit!

The movie is available to rent on YouTube, and it’s probably a few other places as well. While you’re stuck at home, it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours. I think of it as comfort food viewing.

The title song is a catchy tune I defy you not to keep singing all day long once you hear it. It’s happy and fun, and it was written by Fountains of Wayne founder Adam Schlesinger, who we lost to Covid-19 at the age of 52 on April 1. Lest we forget we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic.

Stay safe. Stay home. Hug your loved ones virtually. Our family has taken to having weekly get-togethers via Zoom. Maybe you can do the same. Because you never know.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Disjointed

We’re living in weird times. If this post is disjointed, it’s because I am, too. I don’t know about you, but everything just seems upside down. Which doesn’t make sense–my work schedule is unchanged. I work from home every day. Everything should be the same. Only it’s not.

Here at Chez R, we’ve started keeping weird hours, staying up until one or two in the morning, sleeping until one o’clock in the afternoon. I still teach online classes beginning at 5am, so I get up around 4, do my thing, and go back to bed.

While Mr. R walks the land shark on a regular basis, there are days when I don’t venture even as far as the front porch. Other days, we go for a ride just to get out, or to make a Publix run.

As far as the grocery store, we’ve decided that it makes sense for only one of us to go in, minimize the risk of exposure and all that, so I find myself sitting in the car people-watching and listening to the radio while Mr. R gathers what we need. Tonight’s serenade is Victorious by Panic at the Disco and it’s my new favorite ear worm. I heard it in the car the other day.

Mostly, we sit and worry about how we’re going to stay financially afloat. I know, stimulus money is supposed to be on the way. I guess we’ll see, but I’m not holding my breath.

Between book royalties and my tutoring pay, I still bring in a little money but since his work completely dried up a month ago, Mr. R has not earned anything. So our bills are calling, including the rent. For the last few weeks, he has been trying to apply for unemployment pay, and while he’s been assured he’s entitled to such relief, he, like tens of thousands of people, have been unable to complete the application, let alone get approved.

Turns out, that’s no accident. Florida’s former governor and current Republican senator Rick Scott saw to that before he headed to Washington. He figured out that you can keep your state’s unemployment numbers nice and low if you confound people trying to apply. You can read all about that here.

Which is why I’m not counting on any stimulus check. They’re all a bunch of crooks who don’t care anything about real people. But maybe I’m just jaded.

In other news, in our free time, we have lots of entertainment options as we hunker down at home. I’m excited about watching the National Theatre’s performance of Jane Eyre, which is free to stream. Here it is, if you’re interested.

Last week, I watched Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and just loved it. Several of his works are streaming free on YouTube, including Jesus Christ Superstar, all with the original Broadway cast. The only thing is that they’re available for a limited time, so you have to watch before they go away. Will Cats be next? We’ll see…

Last night, I watched the 2019 Academy Award Winning Best Picture, Parasite. It’s in Korean with English subtitles, and it’s available to stream on Hulu, It’s an odd film, but I enjoyed it. Here’s the trailer.

It’s Easter weekend. We will watch our church’s Easter service live on YouTube tonight. There are services all weekend, and you’re invited if you have a mind to attend. On Sunday, I’ve scheduled a Zoom meeting with the family, all of us spread out in Florida and Pennsylvania and Missouri. That will be our Easter get-together. Life in a global pandemic.

I hope you’re staying safe and healthy. Be sure to at least virtually hug those you love. Have a blessed Easter.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Old is New

I’m getting super-excited about the Season 3 Premiere of HBO’s Westworld on March 15. I’ve been watching since the beginning, and when they recently released the new trailer, I was immediately hooked.

In the story, it looks like everything is finally coming together and they’ve added at least one new character played by Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad‘s Jessie Pinkman.

But what really drew me into the new trailer is this piano version of Guns N Roses’ Sweet Child O’Mine. The acoustic vibe really takes the song to the next level, and I hope you enjoy it.

Westworld was originally a 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton (yes, that Michael Crichton of Jurassic Park fame). Incidentally, he wrote a number of terrific contemporary sci-fi suspense novels, and I recommend them all! I was always a huge fan of the old Westworld movie, which was great for its time. When HBO came out with this updated version, I had to check it out.

While the television version is vastly different, the main plot is the same. Lifelike robots imbued with artificial intelligence decide they’d like to have some say over their lives. Violent chaos ensues. But there’s a smart undercurrent, a moral quandry: What constitutes humanity? And who is entitled to it? Something to ponder in 2020.

I’m including the Season 3 trailer, but you absolutely have to start at the beginning to appreciate the story arc. In the meantime, enjoy the great music.

Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–There’s a Point, I Promise

My friend Susan loves the movie Misery, the screen adaptation of the Stephen King novel by the same name. Given the opportunity, she’ll tell you all about why, in her opinion, it’s the best movie ever made. And she’ll give you the chance to watch it, because she carries the DVD in her car at all times, just in case she runs across someone who never saw it.

So when I started watching the second season of Hulu Original Castle Rock, I had to message her right away. If you’re a Stephen King fan, Castle Rock is exactly your speed. It’s an amalgam of many of his works woven into a creepy new storyline. And Season 2 ups the ante by giving us a little backstory on Annie Wilkes, the main character from Misery.

As the first episode opens, the soundtrack is Carly Simon’s Let the River Run, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. It’s such a beautiful, empowering song, and the first time I ever heard it was in the classic 80s movie, Working Girl which is where this video is from.

That brings us around to date night. Odds are, the weather where you are sucks right now. We’re here at the end of January and many of us are practically snowbound. So why not pop some popcorn and curl up with Hulu and Castle Rock? Or, if you’re in the mood for lighter fare, Working Girl is currently available on HBO. Either way, you can let the river run.

I hope you’re staying warm and enjoying time with those you love. Be sure to give them a hug.

Happy Saturday night!

Interesting factoid…
In Working Girl, Kevin Spacey had a brief scene as a sexually harrassing slimeball. Turns out, it was type-casting, except that he prefers underage young men.

Saturday Night Serenade–Perfect

Thanks to a Fandango gift card left from Christmas, Mr. R and I ventured to the movies last weekend to see Yesterday, the romantic comedy that features songs from the Beatles. Despite some less than glowing reviews, we enjoyed the movie. The story is sweet, and obviously the music is great.

In the film, a young aspiring musician wakes up to find that he’s the only person in the world who remembers the Beatles. When he begins playing their songs, he becomes a huge sensation, even being tapped to open for Ed Sheeran in a world tour.

Have I mentioned that I love Ed Sheeran? And I love this song. There’s a hint of a throw-back, if you listen closely. Besides, it’s just a beautiful sentiment.

I’m craving a beautiful, peaceful song right now. Our lives are still in turmoil here at Chez R. The house is on the market and we’ve have several folks come by to look at it. No offers as yet, though. Fingers crossed, we’re under contract soon. Then we’ll have to figure out what’s next.

But for now, I’m going to take a deep breath and just enjoy the moment. We’ll keep you posted.

Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–

Tonight’s serenade is a classic, and it doesn’t get much more classic than the Beatles. This clip of Yesterday is from a live 1965 television performance. It’s funny because the audience is so frantic about seeing the Fab Four, they don’t really appreciate the beauty of the song. I think true classics are like that–it’s only later that we recognize their value.

I’m beyond stoked about the new movie coming out at the end of the week. Yesterday, from the director of Slumdog Millionaire and the writer of Love Actually, is a fantasy musical romantic comedy about a struggling young singer who wakes up one day to discover that he’s the only one in the world who remembers the genius of the Beatles. When he begins to play their songs, everyone assumes they’re his original work, and his career soars.

The premise intrigued me months ago, the first time I saw a few short clips. It looks like a charming story about likeable characters, all punctuated by the music of the Beatles. In one hilarious clip, Ed Sheeran, as himself, advises our hero Jack to change one particular lyric to “Hey, dude.”

I can’t wait to see this movie, and as we have been hoarding a Fandango gift card since Christmas, awaiting a worthy film, I predict a date night in our very near future.

I hope this first official weekend of summer finds you well. Be sure to hug the ones you love. Maybe I’ll see you at the movies!

Happy Saturday night!

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!

Saturday Night Serenade–Christmas Favorites

Everybody has a favorite Christmas song.  Maybe you even have more than one.  I think my favorite is All I Want for Christmas by Mariah Carey.  And the one with Jimmy Fallon and TheRoots playing classroom instruments is my absolute favorite version.  Be sure to watch for the pop-up kids–they crack me up!

The song features prominently in my favorite Christmas movie, Love Actually.  Here at Chez R, we always make sure we watch it some time during the Christmas season.  It’s one of our traditions.

Another tradition is heading to downtown West Palm Beach to see the Sandi Tree, a HUGE Christmas tree built entirely out of sand, down on the waterfront.  Every half-hour or so they do a whole program with music and lights.  It’s lots of fun.

What are your own traditions?  How about the ones in your area?

I hope you’re having a wonderful evening surrounded by those you love.  Be sure to give them a hug.

And just because I love you, I’m leaving you with Billy Mack (actor Bill Nighy in Love Actually) with his holiday hit, Christmas Is All Around.  If you haven’t seen the movie, seriously!  Do.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again

I’m so excited!  Ten years ago, Mamma Mia, the Broadway musical based on the songs of 70s group ABBA, was made into a movie.  It’s not Shakespeare, okay.  But if you ever wanted to see a movie that just makes you feel happy, this is the one.

A decade later, the entire cast is back for a sequel, and with a few additions, most notably Cher, as Donna’s (Meryl Streep) mother.  Mr. R is imminently glad that my best girl Mo and I have plans to go see it this week.  I suppose it’s a chick flick, but don’t say it like it’s a bad thing.   I added a sneak peek from the new movie below.

The world has become a very scary place.  Up is down, right is wrong, and you never know from one day to the next what the hell is going on.  So let me go sit in a cool, dark theatre for a couple of hours with a bucket of popcorn and a vat of Sprite while I may or may not sing along to songs that make me happy.  Feel free to join me on the next recliner–not going to one of those moldie-oldie theatres, no thank you.  I know there are those who are avoiding this movie, angered by something or other Meryl Streep said a while back.  To that, I say, Good!  More room for me and Mo.  😉

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend doing things that make you happy.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Something New

Date night in has a certain appeal to it, don’t you think?
I mean, it’s more economical, for one thing.  And you don’t have to get all dressed up, deal with traffic, fight for parking spaces, or put up with annoying crowds.

It can be nice to curl up on the couch and relax.  With cable television and subscription services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu, you can always find something that appeals.

Mr. R and I have probably watched Breaking Bad, in its entirety, about four times.  We’re slowly working our way through Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale.  Sort of savoring it, really, although it’s intense enough, you really wouldn’t want to binge-watch it.  We finished the first season of Lost in Space on Netflix, and that was lots of fun.  I’ll be up for Season 2 when it comes out.

Last night, we decided to try something new on Netflix, a strange suspenseful series called Safe, created by mystery and thriller author Harlan Coben.  It stars Michael C. Hall (the creepy yet lovable serial killer star of Dexter) as a widower whose teenage daughter goes missing in a British suburban neighborhood where everyone has a shit-ton of secrets.  We’ve seen three episodes so far, and I’m game to see where the story goes.

BUT, it’s the mesmerizing opening theme song, Glitter & Gold by Barns Courtney, that really drew me in.  Gosh, don’t you love when you discover something cool?  I’m also including his song, Fire.  See if you aren’t as impressed as I am.

So for this July weekend, try to stay cool.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!