Killer Queen 

I used to think I had a pretty diverse taste in music. I used to think I had my own favorite songs. That was until my 9 year old and 7 year olds started teaching me about music. Yes, these little boys are teaching me about music!

Let me first say that there are lots of great classic rock songs in kid’s movies and superhero movies in case you haven’t watched them lately. Iron Man, of course, got my guys started on AC/DC, which I now have quite a few AC/DC songs on my iPhone now. MegaMind helped introduce them to Guns&Roses “Welcome to the Jungle”, Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”. You gotta love when your 7 year old starts yelling out “Don’t turn the station mom!” when “Crazy Train” comes on. LOL

There’s also the greatness that is Jimmy Fallon and his Lip Sync Battles that you can watch on YouTube. One of my 7 year old twins impressed the lady who cut his hair when she asked if he had any favorite songs and he listed “Take On Me” because he saw Jimmy Fallon do a lip sync battle with it once. 

It’s thanks to the Jimmy Fallon Lip Sync Battle that my sons are now currently teaching me all about Queen. Jimmy and Paul Rudd do one of the best battles – one of Rudd’s being Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. It’s hilarious and I cannot hear the song now without seeing Rudd’s ridiculous and addictive performance in my head. And let me tell you we hear the song a lot.

I downloaded the Queen’s Greatest Hits to my iPhone and they are frequently the choice my boys will queue up when it’s their turn to play a song in the car. Each has their own favorite, but I have been surprised that I really enjoy them all. There are even a few I don’t have on the album that I’m probably gonna have to download as well. 

In addition to the songs on my phone, we frequently will watch the videos on YouTube on the television in the living room. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is such a classic, even if I always feel a twinge of guilt when the “Mama…just killed a man…” lyrics come on. Still, it’s classic. “We Will Rock You” gets them dancing everytime. And “Under Pressure” is my husband’s favorite Queen song, which instantly cemented it as one of my oldest’ favorites as well – because hey, anything Dad loves must be great, right? Right! 

What I love is how much I never realized I liked Queen until my kids got me on this kick. And watching videos and behind the scenes I have learned a lot about a history I never knew. I’ve also had the opportunity to have some great conversations with the kids about being different, about AIDS, and about suicide. Pretty intense huh, don’t worry I keep it as age appropriate as possible. The younger ones aren’t as inquisitive or as tuned in as the older one is most of the time. But there are always great opportunities to throw in a word or two here and there. And while I am always trying to teach my guys, I absolutely love it how they are teaching me, too! 

Do you like Queen? What is your favorite? I’m really torn but right now, “Somebody to Love” is one I have to sing along with, though Bohemian Rhapsody is just such a classic! Feel free to share your favorite in the comments! 
(PS – Sorry I missed last week’s post – I was suffering from blog fatigue after posting daily, but have also had some sick kiddos. Plus, you know, just …life! ūüėÄ) 

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week! 
~CJS

Begin Again

Do you ever find a movie, or a book, or a TV show, something that catches you in just the right moment?  Speaks to your current mood?  Makes you smile?  Makes you happy?

The movie, Begin Again was that movie for me this weekend.

I went to see it without knowing much about it except that it had Keira Knightley (who is Elizabeth Bennet in one of my favorites, Pride&Prejudice) and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner in the Avengers, but also lovable Matt in 13 Going on 30).  I knew it was about music, but that was about it.  I went in with no real expectations.

I really enjoyed the movie.  I had a friend post on Facebook a brief review that said it started out kinda angsty Рand I would agree.  It starts out establishing where the characters are at in their lives when they meet. Neither is in a good place.  The story really gets going when they meet and begin to work together.

I’ve seen the movie billed as a romantic comedy. I wouldn’t say it’s a romantic comedy.¬† This is not a story of two characters coming together to fall in love with each other.¬† No, these characters come together¬†for a different partnership.¬† It’s really about discovering themselves again and changing the¬†direction of their lives.

Ruffalo’s Dan is¬†floundering professionally and in his family life.¬† He has lost control of his music development and production company and is¬†estranged from his wife and daughter, living in a sad little apartment alone.

Knightley’s Gretta is a singer/songwriter who came to New¬†York, “tagging along” with her emerging artist boyfriend and¬†is essentially lost in the shuffle as he takes off into his new rock star life.

Dan has previously shown talent for finding new artists and helping to develop, nurture and market them.¬† He sees Gretta’s potential and wants to work with her.¬† The movie centers on that partnership.

What is so fun, so joyful about this movie is that they both are at a point where they can have a ‘Well Why The Hell Not?’ attitude and can take chances.¬†

Why not try this crazy idea of recording this album together?¬† Why not challenge what’s conventionally done?¬†Why not bring in artists that might not otherwise be used?¬† Why not take¬†a chance on ourselves and others?

The heart of the movie, where it really sings, is where they are recording the demo all around New York.¬† Everyone seems to be having fun with it.¬† Dan comes to life again during the process and the joy is infectious. I don’t know about the others in the audience but I was having fun along the way, too.

I also enjoyed the interactions between the characters, especially our main characters, but also all of the many in the great cast of characters.

Dan’s relationship with his daughter, Violet, played by Hailee Steinfield, starts out awkwardly, but then builds as the movie goes on and you find yourself cheering for him to mend that relationship and really be a dad for her.¬† His wife, played by Catherine Keener, doesn’t get nearly enough screen time because she’s fantastic.

Gretta’s boyfriend, Dave, played by Adam Levine is believable, if a little unlikeable. You can see the star quality, the performer on the stage, but despite his real life wattage,¬†I
mainly just hated his beard.¬† ūüôā

The character I absolutely love in this movie is Gretta’s friend, Steve (James Corden) from back home that she finds in the city. He seemed like the kind of friend we all would love to have.¬†¬†He sees her in a moment of heartbreak and literally drops what he is doing to hold her.¬† He comforts her, but he¬†laughs with her, too.¬† He pushes her when she needs it and supports her through it all. I just loved him.

What really spoke to me in this sweet little movie was the theme of beginning again.

It’s never too lateto begin again. It’s never too late – with your career, with love, with your family, with your friendships, with your life. It’s never too late to find joy.¬† It’s never too late to dare to try something different.¬† It’s never too late to imagine that your life can be different.

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Cameron Crowe

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C is for Cameron Crowe.

I love movies.

I love movie quotes. I love good characters, great lines and well crafted scenes. Cameron Crowe’s movies are chock full of all of them.

He has written and directed a number of movies that are well known and loved, but I am going to limit my Cameron Crowe love to my top 3.

3. Say Anything with John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney and Lili Taylor

There is a scene where Lili Taylor’s Corey Flood asks her collection of friends, “If you were Diane Court, would you honestly fall for Lloyd Dobler?” The girls sit there and think and then smile shyly. Corey says “Yeah” and both friends agree…”Yeah”
Many a girl agreed – we wanted a Lloyd Dobler, standing outside the window with the jambox, blasting ‘In Your Eyes’ by Peter Gabriel. I know I did. That movie had so many great quotes, but here is just one favorite –

“I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.” Say Anything.

2. Singles with Campbell Scott, Bridget Fonda, Kyra Sedgwick and Matt Dillon

“Janet Livermore – So, I’m not an Amazon woman?
Steve Dunn – You’re from the high plains Janet.” Singles.

I was still I high school when this movie came out but I loved it all through my early twenties. I remember seeing it from that perspective – when 25 seemed so far ahead, instead of now where I wonder how it is possible for 25 to be so long ago. Maybe that is why I love this movie so much. Maybe it is Cameron Crowe’s signature ability to capture so much with the music. The whole Seattle sound that dominated those years for me is prominent in this movie. Pearl Jam band members actually had small roles. Soundgarden and Alice in Chains both are playing in clubs the characters visit. But also the characters are just good and it’s full of great lines.

1. Almost Famous with Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup and really great small roles by Frances McDormand and Philip Seymour Hoffman

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we are being uncool.” Almost Famous.

I love so much about this movie. It won a Best Writing Oscar for a good reason. There are so many perfect lines and beautiful moments in this movie that is also just a lot of fun. It’s fun to watch William Miller leave on this adventure going on your with a band, falling in love with Penny Lane and finding his place in the whole Rock and Roll life. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lester Bangs (who is quoted above) is a gem of a character full of advice and wisdom for William. It was my favorite role of Hoffman’s.

But the real gem for me, was how Crowe took this character that we could have disliked, Elaine Miller, William’s mother, and makes her quirky and surely embarrassing to William but ultimately likable and sympathetic. And I felt that before becoming a mom so it’s not just as a mother of son’s that I relate to her. There is a really fantastic scene where she is talking to William and Billy Crudup’s rock star Russell Hammond walks up and takes the phone, thinking it would just be some star stuck person on the other end of the line. Instead he gets Elaine. The text is below.

Russell Hammond: [Russell grabs phone away from William] Hey, mom! It’s Russell Hammond. I play guitar in Stillwater. Hey, how does it feel to be the mother of the greatest rock journalist we’ve met? Hello? Hello…? Look, you’ve got a really great kid here. There’s nothing to worry about. We’re taking good care of him, and you should come to the show sometime – join the circus…
Elaine Miller: Hey, hey, listen to me, mister. You’re charm doen’t work on me – I’m on to you. Of course you like him…
Russell Hammond: Well, yeah…
Elaine Miller: He worships you people. And that’s fine by you as long as he helps make you rich.
Russell Hammond: Rich? I don’t think so…
Elaine Miller: Listen to me. He’s a smart, good-hearted fifteen year old kid with infinite potential.
[Russell is stunned]
Elaine Miller: This is not some apron-wearing mother you’re speaking with – I know all about your valhalla of decadence and I shouldn’t have let him go. He’s not ready for your world of compromised values and diminished brain cells that you throw away like confetti. Am I speaking to you clearly?
Russell Hammond: Yes – yes, ma’am…
Elaine Miller: If you break his spirit, harm him in any way, keep him from his chosen profession which is law – something you may not value, but I do – you will meet the voice on the other end of this telephone and it will not be pretty. Do we understand each other?
Russell Hammond: Uh, yes, ma’am…
Elaine Miller: I didn’t ask for this role, but I’ll play it. Now go do your best. Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid. Goethe said that. It’s not too late for you to become a person of substance, Russell. Please get my son home safely. You know, I’m glad we spoke.
[Elaine hangs up]
[Russell stands holding phone in stunned silence]

Alibi

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Welcome to my new followers and all the visitors from the A to Z blogging challenge who are stopping in to say ‘hello’. I appreciate it!

For those of you new to my blog, I post in the late evenings US Central time. This is in part due to my crazy, busy & wonderful life as a full-time working, married, mother of three boys. But it is also partially due to my being an English major who always managed to do my best work in college under a deadline. It’s been a long time since I got my degree, but old habits die hard, I suppose. ūüôā

A is for “Alibi”, which is an incredibly beautiful song by one of my favorite bands, 30 Seconds to Mars. Their songs are in heavy rotation on my work playlist, which keeps me sane during the long and sometimes stressful days. I frequently find myself just closing my eyes while listening to the end of that song. Toward the end, the lyric repeats ‘I fell apart’ over and over and then, ‘But got back up again’.

The music is so beautiful, but I also really respond to the idea that even if you’ve fallen apart, you get back up again.

30 Seconds to Mars makes my work day better, but also is really spectacular for my writing playlist. ‘Alibi’ and ‘Hurricane’ from their This is War cd are especially good for writing times. ‘City of Angels’ is another favorite from their newer Love Lust Faith + Dreams cd. As a writer, I love how their songs tell a story, and there are some achingly beautiful ones.

On a final note, as we go through this month, you’ll see that I find a lot of inspiration in music, movies and books, so a lot of my posts will be a collection of my favorites. Hopefully some will be your favorites, too. Feel free to post a comment and share how you love whatever has inspired me, too. I love to hear from you and I will do my best to reply.

See you tomorrow (hopefully) for “B” which will be:

Bookstores