Saturday Night Serenade–Tell Me About It, Stud!

I’m finding it hard to believe that the movie Grease came out FORTY YEARS AGO today.  How is that even possible?

I was in junior high (remember when that was a thing?) and I went to see the movie with my cousin, who was a year older than I.  Before that, my understanding of  movie musicals was based on my parents’ collection of LPs (remember when that was a thing?)–South Pacific, The Sound of Music, The King and I.

All of those are great shows, but I was blown away by the idea that an entire musical could be based on rock and roll.  And I loved it.  I marched right out and spent my allowance on the album, and to this day, I can sing every song by heart.

Now, there’s Rock of Ages, based on 80s music (and simply rocks) and American Idiot, a punk opera from Green Day’s album of the same name (which is outstanding), among others.

Here in the context of the ‘enlightened’ 21st century, I don’t want to delve into the socio-political issues of whether a Good Girl should have to change to keep her Bad Boy boyfriend.  Or vice-versa.  Because that’s crap.

What I know is that Grease is a fun, nostalgic trip to the 50s full of songs that are just enjoyable, both to listen to and sing along with.  A couple of years ago, Fox aired a live production of the show.  At the end of this article, I’ve posted Greased Lightning from that performance.  Just because I can, LOL.  (By the way, NBC is planning a live production of Hair in 2019.  Just saying…)

If you’re curious, here’s a Time article that talks about where the stars of Grease are today.

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

Happy Saturday night!

 

Saturday Night Serenade–Thinking Out Loud

Ready or not, it’s the holiday season.  Seems like as soon as the Trick or Treaters trotted home with their sugar-inducing haul, retailers shifted into holiday mode.  Like aging rocker Billy Mack says, “Christmas is all around us, and so the feeling grows.”

But first, here in the States, we’re gearing up for Thanksgiving this Thursday.  I love Thanksgiving.  I love the way the aroma of turkey roasting in the oven permeates the whole house.  I love to watch the Macy’s parade on television, especially the Broadway performances on the street right in front of the store.  I love the roll-out of classic holiday movies, like Love Actually.

More than that, though, I appreciate having a reminder to be thankful for all the ways I’m blessed.  And I am.  I’m a lucky girl.  I’m healthy, I have a great home, this year I walked away from a job I hated to live the dream of being a full-time writer.

On the domestic front, having survived a season in hell, I’m living my happily-ever-after with a man who loves me more than life itself.  When I first heard Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran, I thought of us, and how thankful I am that we found each other.  Here’s a little snippet of the lyrics.

When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?

And, darling, I will be loving you ’til we’re 70
And, baby, my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Well, me—I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am

So, honey, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are

Our lives aren’t perfect.  We worry about finances.  We have two out of three collective adult children who currently aren’t speaking to us (gotta love millennials).  But we have each other, and we’re a great team.  And so I’m thankful.

Just thinking out loud.  Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Be sure and hug those you love.  Happy Saturday night!

Oh, and as a bonus, here’s your old Uncle Billy.

 

Saturday Night Serenade–Mamma Mia

I’m so excited!  Next Saturday, my best girl Mo and I are headed down to Ft. Lauderdale to see the farewell tour of Mamma Mia at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  Mr. R has graciously offered to drive us down, mainly because the thought of driving further south than West Palm Beach really makes me nervous.  And he has no interest in going to the show.  I can’t understand why, LOL!

I’m old enough to remember ABBA, although admittedly I was not that much of a fan back in the day.  But when they put the songs into the context of a romance, I was hooked.  I’ve seen the movie dozens of times and it just makes me happy.  The songs are catchy and fun, and I’m all about the ‘happily ever after’ ending.

For tonight’s serenade, I’ve chosen one of my favorite sequences from the movie.  It starts out silly, but toward the end, it’s a delightful street ballet that feels feminist and empowering.  I just love it, and I can’t wait to see it live on stage.

And it seems fitting to post a song from Mamma Mia right here at Mother’s Day.  Be sure to hug your loved ones tonight, especially your mom, who loves you more than she can say.  I know, because I’m a mom, too.  To all the moms, I wish you a very happy Mother’s Day.

And happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–All I Want For Christmas

One week from tonight is Christmas Eve!  I’m so excited.  I only have four work days before a two-week holiday.  The last of my out-of-town gifts went out today, guaranteed to arrive before Friday.  I used Amazon Prime to order a little Christmas surprise for Mr. R., to be delivered by Tuesday.

I know, we agreed to say the new Christmas tree, in addition to the new kitchen, bathrooms, and wood flooring happening just after New Years would be our gifts to each other.  But, you know…

All I Want for Christmas by Mariah Carey is one of my favorite holiday songs, and this is my favorite version, featuring Jimmy Fallon and The Roots playing classroom instruments.  I especially love the pop-up kids in the foreground.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

You’re getting a two-fer this week, though.  Christmas at our house comes with some required viewing.  We always have to watch Christmas Vacation at some point, and then Christmas Eve is not the same without A Christmas Story.

But tonight, we’re watching Love Actually.  It’s one of my all-time favorite movies, with all of its random but intersecting story lines.  Your second serenade features brilliant British actor Bill Nighy performing as Billy Mack, aging rocker trying to make a comeback with a holiday song that’s a play on one of his earlier hits.  It’s heartfelt comedy gold and I couldn’t resist it.

So as we get closer to the holiday, I hope you feel it in your fingers.  And in your to-oes. 🙂 Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Rock of Ages

I may or may not have mentioned my enjoyment of musical theatre.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I just posted about it a week or so ago.

The musical Rock of Ages is a cheesy treasure trove of the best of 80s music, and by best, I mean the hair metal rock and power ballads, not that dippy new wave stuff Mr. R. enjoys.  The Broadway show was made into a movie and it’s completely possible that I’ve seen it once or twice, and maybe, potentially I might have sung along.  Loudly.

A couple of years ago, the touring company came to town for one night only.  My girl Mo and I grabbed ourselves a pair of tickets.  Looking back on it, it’s possible that they were still in their rehearsal/soft launch phase, because to tell the truth, it had a bit of a high school production feel to it.  Which was slightly disappointing, seeing as how we paid more than we ever would have paid for a high school show.  But, the music’s the thing, and we had a blast singing along.

So…the Lake Worth Playhouse (where Mr. R. and I saw a stellar production of Spamalot) is doing Rock of Ages starting this weekend.  My love and I have tickets for Thursday night and I’m so excited.  As good as Spamalot was, I have high expectations for the caliber of the performance and I know we’ll have fun, regardless.

This video is from the 2009 Tony performance.  It’s energetic, fun, nostalgic, and features a freaky cameo by Liza Minnelli.  I hope you love it like I do.  So rock out with your…

Ahem, well, anyway…  Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Witchcraft

I’m in a Halloween-y sort of mood.  There are quite a few songs that fit the bill.  But tonight I’m going all retro.

Precious few have ever been as cool as Frank Sinatra.  Even if you’ve heard all the stories about how he was ‘connected’.  Or maybe in spite of them.  I can never look at him and not think about Johnny Fontane from The Godfather.

There was one about the time he paid a guy $50 to punch writer Dominick Dunne, a fact oddly mentioned in Dunne’s obituary.  The man apologized beforehand.  “It’s not the money.  I’m afraid not to.”

Frank Sinatra cool............Happy Friday.:

Another story tells about the time a valet brought his car around.  “What’s the biggest tip you ever got?” he asked the young man.  “$100,” he answered.  Frank gave him $200 and asked who gave him the $100.  “You did, sir.  Last week,” was the reply.

But back to Halloween.  Here’s Frank Sinatra singing Witchcraft, a perfect song for an October Saturday night.  You might even take the one you love and foxtrot to this smooth classic.  Happy Saturday night!

Date Night–A Walk in the Woods

No, we didn’t go hiking for Date Night.  Instead, Saturday night Mr. R. surprised me with tickets to see the Robert Redford/Nick Nolte film at the fancy-pants movie theatre.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I can’t see going to a movie at a regular theatre ever again.  I’ve been spoiled by being able to choose our luxurious leather recliners online when we order the tickets.  I’ve been spoiled by friendly and efficient wait staff greeting us and taking our orders, only to return moments later with glasses of wine and an elegant cheese platter.  It’s the high life, I tell you.

On the downside, there was a woman in front of us who slipped off her sandals and put up her feet.  Shed of their coverings and propped up right there in front of God and everybody were, without question, the ugliest feet you’ve ever seen.  Mr. R. took a photo as proof but since this a classy blog, you won’t see the picture here.

But I was excited to see the movie, A Walk in the Woods.  I read the Bill Bryson book a lifetime ago, way back when I was married to my nightmare, and I loved it.  It’s the true story of Bryson, an American writer who lived in the UK with his family for years, and had recently moved back to New Hampshire.  Determined to reacquaint himself with his home country, he found a willing partner and set out to hike the 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.  The book is at turns humorous and heartfelt and the movie is the same way.  If you’d like a break from movies about robots, superheroes, and shit that blows up, you’ll like A Walk in the Woods.

I also recommend reading the book because like so often is the case, the movie can’t tell the whole story.  While you’re at it, I actually recommend any of Bryson’s books.  He’s sharp and witty with a dry sense of humor and a keen sense of observation.  And by the way, he knows that’s a grizzly bear on the cover of the book.  It’s a joke. Get it?

Another of my favorites is A Short History of Nearly Everything, the very title of which reflects his tongue-in-cheek pomposity.  It’s a terrifically informative and fun read.  So with this Date Night post, you get a two-fer–a movie review and a book review.  Plus a reminder to try out the fancy pants movie theatre in your community.  You’ll never look back.

Has It Already Been A Year?

A year ago today we lost a brilliant soul.  As a performer, Robin Williams could vacillate between frenetic comedy and heart-rending drama.  What we didn’t know was that privately he struggled with depression and mental illness.  I hope that his death encourages us to talk about it and to be understanding of those who also struggle.

My favorite all-time movie is 1991’s The Fisher King.  Williams plays a homeless man whose mission in life is to locate the Holy Grail, which he believes is in a townhouse in Manhattan.  It’s great movie with amazing performances by Williams, Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl (who won a Oscar), and the late Michael Jeter.

I thought Robin Williams deserved an Oscar for his performance in The Fisher King.  He won the award in 1997 for Good Will Hunting, but I maintain it’s because they dropped the ball in ’91.  If you’ve never seen the movie, you should check it out.

Date Night Extraordinaire–Part 1

Last night was one of the best date nights we’ve had in a long time and Mr. R. deserves all the credit.  It was he who said, “Hey, let’s go see that new Judd Apatow movie, Trainwreck,” to which I said, “Okay.”  Movie-wise, it really was his turn to pick since the last movie we went to see was Fifty Shades of Grey, which he hated.

wpid-20150718_162722-1.jpgAnd so it was that he went online to see where it was playing.  Turns out, it was at the new luxury theatre in Jupiter, Cinepolis.  I’m not going to kid you.  Tickets to the luxury side (half of the multiplex is still regular) are not cheap.  Prime time shows will cost you $19.75 while matinees are two dollars cheaper.

But it just so happened that we had a $25 Fandango gift card.  We chose the 4:45 showing and that meant we paid the matinee price.  Ordering our tickets through Fandango, we only paid $13.50 for both of us (includes the online fee).  AND we chose our reserved seats when we ordered them, so we didn’t feel the need to rush to the theatre, worried that we wouldn’t find two seats together.

We found the theatre lobby to be very upscale with lots of small tables and a large full-service bar at the luxury end.  Bypassing the snack bar because , we moved to the right side of the lobby, the luxury side, while the regular theatres were to the left.  Mr. R. showed the ticket girl his phone, having had the tickets texted to him, and we were on our way to Theatre 4.

wpid-20150718_163538.jpgUnfortunately, they were still cleaning and we had to wait for a long while, but when we finally entered we quickly found our large, fully reclining leather seats among the few that are there.  The luxury theatres only seat about 70 guests and the majority of seats are in pairs.

wpid-20150718_164133.jpgMr. R. and I sank into our seats and fiddled with the controls until we figured out how everything worked.  By the time we had our feet up, we knew there was no turning back, no possibility of ever returning to a regular theatre experience.

wpid-20150718_163710-1.jpgOnce we were comfortably ensconced in seats C1 and C2, we checked out the menu to see what we might order.  I immediately went for their Private Label sauvignon blanc, sans the little green fly.  And being a creature of habit, I chose popcorn, which was really fresh and good, not some old, popped-a-hundred-miles-away-and-shipped-in-last-week crap.

wpid-20150718_165517-1.jpgMr. R., being adventurous, chose the cheese and fruit plate.  There were several different kinds of cheeses, grapes, apple slices, dates, spiced walnuts, and a variety of crackers.  All of these were cheerfully delivered to us by the server who was responsible for our row.  And this was before the movie started.  Throughout the movie if we wanted anything at all, we pushed the little button on the armrest and our wishes were granted.  It was awesome.

Now the movie…

If you’re familiar with Judd Apatow’s work, you know what to expect.  The humor tends to be a bit crass so it’s not for the easily offended.  Trainwreck is about a millennial magazine writer, played by Amy Schumer (who incidentally wrote the script), with serious commitment issues.  Her “sort-of” boyfriend is played by pro wrestler John Cena.  Have you even wondered how John Cena looks naked?  Imagine no more; he’s pretty much like the action figure of He-Man, sans the blond pageboy.

Schumer’s character Amy is assigned to write an article about sports medicine specialist Aaron, played by Bill Hader, who becomes her new love interest.  Both Schumer and Hader are likeable as are the cast of supporting players, not the least of whom is the surprisingly funny and heartfelt LeBron James of NBA fame.

One of my favorite scenes has James, flanked by Chris Evert, Matthew Broderick, and Marv Albert in cameo appearances,  performing an intervention on Aaron, who James believes has gotten in too deep and too fast with the hard-partying Amy.  The cherry on top is Albert’s play-by-play narration of the intervention.

Bottom line, we really liked Trainwreck.  It was a funny and sometimes poignant story, punctuated by moments of hilarious (if crass) humor.  If you liked The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and This Is 40, you’ll enjoy this movie.  And I’ve become spoiled; I’ll never go to a regular movie theatre ever again.

Now after the movie…  (to be continued)