Ever hear a song you haven’t even thought about in years, and you think, OMG, this song is AWESOME?
That’s tonight’s serenade. I’ve made no secret that boy bands are my guilty pleasure. I heard this Backstreet Boys classic the other day and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. Because it’s amazing, that’s why. Okay, granted, the video is cheesy as hell, but if you just close your eyes…
Speaking of cheesy videos (and because you groaned when you realized I was posting boy bands this week–you know you did, LOL), I decided to include a second 90s gem from BSB rivals NSYNC.
Hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. Regardless of whether your area is reopened yet, I hope you’re staying in and safe. Be sure to hug those you love.
Covid-19. Global pandemic. How are you faring during these unprecedented times?
If I’m sitting back and observing, and I am, because as a writer, it’s what I do, it seems to me that crisis brings out both the best and the worst in people.
At our best, we’re pitching in and helping people, both materially and emotionally. We’re donating to worthy causes, sharing what we have with those who don’t have, and appreciating those who are going above and beyond. We’re staying home to stem the spread of disease, and we’re creating new ways to remain connected.
Case in point, tonight’s first song, a very worthy cover of the Talking Heads’ Burning Down the House, this time performed by The Cringe. According to their Wikipedia page, “The Cringe is an independent rock band based in New York City.”
In this song, the banjo player is John Cusimano, lawyer in his day job, also known as Mr. Rachel Ray. I don’t normally watch Rachel’s cooking show because A, I don’t cook, and B, I find her annoyingly cheerful. But they played this song at the end of a recent at-home show, and my hand froze on the remote. See what you think.
I was planning on talking about us at our crisis worst, but I think I’ll save that for another post. I’m liking the positive vibes we have going tonight. Instead, I’ll end with this gem from one of my all-time favorites, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, who, along with his sons, knocked out this fantastic cover of I Think We’re Alone Now.
So be safe and know the stats in your area. If they’re not meeting the basic requirements for safe reopening (like here in Palm Beach County, where they’re decidedly not meeting that threshold), stay home if it’s possible. Let everyone else be the ‘canaries in the coal mine’. (Tired of that expression yet?) Be sure to hug those you love, especially all the mothers out there, even if it’s just virtually.
I’ve had this song running through my head all day. That’s because last night, we started watching Season 2 of the Netflix show, Afterlife. The second season of this bittersweet Ricky Gervais comedy opens with the Carpenters’ Top of the World. I had forgotten how great this song is, and the Carpenters in general are.
You can’t help but look at Karen’s face, though, and feel sad for her tragic life. I have a good friend who has struggled with eating disorders for decades, and I know it’s a terrible thing. But her legacy is a treasure trove of really wonderful music.
If you’re looking for your next quarantine-binge-worthy show, I highly recommend Afterlife on Netflix. Gervais plays a recent widower struggling for a reason to be alive anymore. He’s surrounded by a cast of quirky characters who each, in his or her own way, help him make it through another day. It’s smart and funny and heartbreaking, all at the same time.
I hope you are well this evening. Be safe and hug those you love, even if it’s only virtually.
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.
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.
Seems we all have a lot of extra time on our hands these days. When you’re stuck in the house, you get creative to occupy yourself.
Lucky for us, Green Day has a new album out and they released this song not long ago. If it sounds familiar, it should. Oh Yeah! samples the Joan Jett classic, Do You Wanna Touch.
Which doesn’t make it any less cool. They’ve put their own spin on it and made it something of a tribute to my punk idol. I’ve always said that when I grow up, I want to be Joan Jett.
I’m including the original because how can I not?
And before I go, I’ll drop this little trailer here. If you haven’t yet discovered Tiger King, you’re missing out on Netflix’s absolute trainwreck documentary obsession. I just can’t look away. If you were feeling badly about your life, worry no more. You can’t even make this stuff up. You’re welcome, LOL.
Stay home this weekend. Keep yourself and everyone else safe. HUGE shout-out to those on the front lines of this thing. You are our heroes. Be sure to at least virtually hug those you love.
Wow. 2020 has turned into something I don’t think any of us saw coming. Sure, we expected that an election year would be bumpy, right? They always are, and this cycle has been beyond contentious.
But a global pandemic? I never imagined in my wildest dreams that the Vegas strip would be shut down, that entire states, nay countries, would be locked down, that average families would be quarantined for weeks on end. That beloved public figures would be diagnosed with the scariest disease since ebola.
It’s crazy. Every couple of hours, there’s a new regulation, a new restriction, a new closure. From professional sports to entertainment events to ‘non-essential’ businesses… The govenor of Florida closed the beaches yesterday. The BEACHES. The best place I can think of for fresh air and sunshine. It’s hard to wrap my head around it.
Not helping things at all, and I’m going to say it here, like it or not, is the contradictory, and often inaccurate, information coming to us from the White House. First it was a hoax, and the next thing you know, he saw it coming long before anyone else.
I have a certain perspective on the epidemic–I teach Chinese kids online every morning. I’ve watched as families have been quarantines formonths. Months, y’all. Which is necessary to prevent mass casualties. It’s not a hoax, it never was. It’s very, very serious.
And the other day, when the President was given an opportunity to say a few reassuring words to the nation, instead he chose to attack the journalist who asked the question. That’s the world we live in right now. (And before you go off on me about ‘fake news’, I watched the exchange live, with my own eyes and ears.)
On the other hand… There are many people who are going above and beyond to help make this time a little more pleasant. Some entertainers are taking their roles to heart by reaching out from their ‘shelter in place’ places to try to lift up the rest of us.
Tonight’s song is Norah Jones’s brand new cover of Guns N Roses’s Patience. It’s just a subtle little gift from her home to ours. And it’s amazing!
Also from home, Jimmy Fallon has been putting out an abbreviated version of his late night talk show, with the assistance of his wife doing camera work and his daughters as comic relief. I look forward to his new show every day. Here’s the first episode.
And on St. Patrick’s Day, Dropkick Murphys streamed an entire concert live because they could. It’s the best no-audience show you ever saw, and I’m dropping the entire thing right here. It was so much fun, and just an example of people doing what they can, when they can, to make things better for everybody else. And it’s appreciated.
I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. I know things are very weird right now. But if we take the proper steps, we can keep ourselves and everybody else safe. Stay on the lookout for great things other people are doing to help. And maybe do what you can, too.
But stay safe. Hug those you love, even if it’s over video.
Okay, sure. He’s a reality television talent show winner. And a boy-band graduate. But Harry Styles has an undeniably cool vibe, and if anyone can move on from insane pop culture royalty (like Justin Timberlake, maybe) to a real adult music career, my money’s on him.
I’m digging Watermelon Sugar. It’s quirky and weird, but resistance is futile. You know you love it, too.
I’m also including this snippet from his recent appearance on Howard Stern where he pays homage to Peter Gabriel’s 80s classic MTV anthem, Sledgehammer. I think you’ll like it.
And just because I love you, don’t miss Harry’s performance with Stevie Nicks at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where he stepped in for the late, great Tom Petty on Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.
Not mentioning the ‘C’ word tonight. It’s everywhere, and there should be at least one place where you can just chill and forget about the world for a while. That being said, stay safe, be healthy, and at the very least, tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.
I’m still hugging Mr. R because, well, that’s just how I roll. 😉
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.
It’s Super Bowl Weekend. I’m no football fan and I picked the Saints to go all the way, so I know you’re wondering why I even bring it up.
In my side gig (teaching English online to children in China), they define culture as food, art, and celebrations. Well, that about covers it, don’t you think?
I think that, like Thanksgiving and the 4th of July, the Super Bowl is a quintessential American cultural phenomenon, and even if you’re not a sportsfan, there’s something in it for everyone–sports, food, music, entertainment, fireworks… It’s all there.
I love that this year, the half-time show will be Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. For tonight’s song, I’ve chosen Shakira’s Whenever, Wherever, but I had a hard time deciding. Both women are gorgeous and talented, but there’s something so down-and-dirty sexy about Shakira. Call it the erotic romance novelist in me, but that’s where my decision went.
The best thing about the Super Bowl, in my opinion, are the commercials. Several have been ‘leaked’ and I’m showing you my favorite so far. On SNL back in the days of Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch, they had a running bit featuring characters who were Southies, and this ad from Hyundai brings it all back with a cherry on top. Okay, the cherry is Big Papi, but how can you resist Smaht Pahk?
We’re spending tonight getting everything ready for loaded nachos and hot wings. Tomorrow, we’ll relax in front of the television with about 100 million other people and enjoy the spectacle. Hope we bought enough wings…
Enjoy your weekend, and be sure to hug those you love.