Category Archives: Music

Happy Father’s Day-Star Wars Rap Battle Edition

Happy Fathers Day to all of the amazing fathers out there, especially my own.

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Flashback Friday-Labyrinth (1986)

Babysitting from the outside looking in, appears to be simple. But it is not so simple, especially when the baby one is baby sitting will not stop crying.

In the 1986 movie, Labyrinth, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is not happy about being forced to babysit her baby brother. When the baby is unable to stop crying, she makes a wish to the Goblin King, Jareth (the late David Bowie) to take away her brother, her wish is granted. Sarah quickly regrets her decision and asks Jareth to return her brother. But Jareth refuses and Sarah has until midnight to rescue her brother. If she does not, he will become a goblin. Teaming up with fantastical creatures, can Sarah rescue her brother?

What makes this movie stand out for me is not just the fact that it is Jim Henson film, but that David Bowie, as both an actor and a musician has a unique take on his role. If he was just an actor and not a musician, the role would have come across differently on-screen. I also appreciate that the female lead is not the typical female lead who follows the typical narrative.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Feminism, Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies, Music

Flashback Friday-Radio Days (1987)

When a writer mines for ideas, sometimes the best ideas come from their childhood.

The 1987 movie, Radio Days, is based on the childhood memories of writer/director Woody Allen. Growing up in Rockaway Beach, NY during World War II, Joe (played by Seth Green as a child and voiced over by Woody Allen as an adult) associates the various aspects of his life with the radio programs of the era. Told through the memories of the adult Joe, the film is a love letter to not just childhood, but also a time when radio was the medium that the world relied on for news and entertainment.

The best films are timeless because there is a universal quality to them. Despite the physical location and the time period that the film is set in, anyone from anywhere will find an aspect of the film that they can relate to. This movie is universal because it is about childhood, family and the memories we have long after we have become adults.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, History, Movie Review, Movies, Music, New York City

Bandstand Review

War is never as simple or clear-cut as it appears to be. Those lucky enough to return home in one piece may appear to be fine, but the reality is often quite different.

In the new Broadway musical, Bandstand, Donny Novitski (Corey Cott) has just returned from World War II. A musician before the war, music is the only thing that quiets the dark memories of his war-time experience. When he hears that NBC is holding a contest to discover unknown bands, he jumps at the chance to enter. But while he is putting his band together, Donny has another task to strike off his to do list: checking on Julia Trojan (Laura Osnes) the widow of one of his friends who was killed in the war. Julia is a singer, but only sings in church. Donny convinces her to consider the idea of joining his band. Music maybe the one thing that heals their broken hearts, but do they have the drive and the talent to actually win the contest?

I saw the show the other night and I walked out singing the songs. It’s one of the best new musicals that I’ve seen in a long time. My original impetus to see the show was that I love swing and big band music. I enjoyed it because there was a level of realism, especially when it comes to the agony of war and the PTSD that many soldiers have to deal with then they return home. The show is funny, charming and very entertaining. I also find it impressive that the actors are playing their own instruments instead of pretending to play prerecorded music.

I absolutely recommend it.

Bandstand is at the Bernard B. Jacobs theater at 242 W. 45th Street in New York City.

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Filed under Broadway Musical Review, History, Music

Throwback Thursday- 54 (1998)

Studio 54 is one of the most notorious and infamous nightclubs in New York City’s history.

In 1998, the movie 54, told the story of Shane O’Shea (Ryan Phillippe), a young man who was employed at the nightclub during’s its heyday in the late 1970’s. Parallel to Shane’s downward spiral is the club’s downward spiral.

This movie is interesting. It is interesting because from outside of the velvet rope, Studio 54 was the hottest nightclub in town that most people could only dream of seeing with their own eyes. Inside, it is another story, especially from the point of view of a young man who is still growing into himself and unaware of the temptation that exists once he walked in the door.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Music, New York City, Throwback Thursday

Donald Trump’s Mango Tour

Randy Rainbow has done it again. Using a song from the musical, Evita, he continues to point why Donald Trump is not fit for the office of the President Of The United States.

Thank you, Randy, for your genius, for your talent and for continually making us laugh.

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Filed under Music, Politics, Randy Rainbow

Memorial Day

It’s easy to forget the sacrifices of past generations. We go about our daily routines as if it has always been that way.

But the reality is that generations of Americans have fought and died for the daily routines that many of us think as commonplace.

Today is not just a day off from work and school. It is also a solemn reminder of the soldiers across the generations who have fought and died for the freedoms that we take for granted.

To the men and women fighting for not just our freedom, but for the freedom of those who don’t know what freedom feels like, thank you from the bottom of my heart. To those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, you will never be forgotten.

G-d bless the USA and those who put their lives on the line so we could live another day.

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Filed under History, Music

Dirty Dancing TV Movie Review

*Warning-This review contains minor spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen it.

Dirty Dancing is one of those movies. It became an instant classic when it hit theaters in 1987. Everything about that movie is iconic. The music, the story, the characters, etc, are instantly recognizable.

It’s therefore no wonder that ABC rebooted the movie last night into a television movie musical with Abigail Breslin and Colt Prattes stepping into the very large shoes of Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze.

It’s still the summer of 1963. Frances “Baby” Houseman is on vacation with her doctor father, Jake (Bruce Greenwood), homemaker mother, Marjorie (Debra Messing) and elder sister Lisa (Sarah Hyland) at a resort in the Catskills. About to go to college and enter the real world, Baby is full of hopes and dreams, but also sheltered from the world by her parents.

She becomes infatuated with Johnny Castle, one of the resort’s dance teachers and steps up to become his dance partner when his regular dance partner, Penny (Nicole Scherzinger) gets pregnant and goes to a less than reputable doctor to have an abortion. While their relationship starts off as merely dance partners, they soon become more than dance partners, but their differences may tear them apart.

I very much appreciated that certain narratives and characters were expanded from the original movie. In the original movie, Lisa is a stereotype and Mrs. Houseman is a background player. In this version, Lisa is a deeper character (i.e. she is convinced by Baby to read The Feminine Mystique and see her herself as more than a girl who just wants to get married). Like many women of her generation, Mrs. Houseman was told that they should get married and have families. While they have done this, there is an aching need for something more. I also appreciated that Abigail Breslin is not a size 2.

For the most part, the creative team stuck to the story and characters that the audience anticipated. But there was something missing, something that the movie has that the television version does not.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Movie Review, Music, Television, TV Review

My Heart Broke In Manchester

This morning, the world woke up to the horrific news from Manchester, England. A bomb went off at the close of an Ariana Grande concert. 22 are dead and numerous more are injured. Many of those killed were young fans who spent their last moments on earth having the time of their lives.

My heart broke when I heard the news. These kids were only beginning to live when their lives were needlessly snatched away. The youngest victim, Saffie-Rose Roussos was only eight years old.

I would go on, but I think James Corden is much better than I am in expressing our collective grief and outrage.

I’ve come to the realization that as we go about our lives, we forget that not only can our lives end in an instant, but that we often forget to tell our loved ones how we feel until it is too late.

May G-d have mercy on the innocent souls murdered, but also punish those responsible. No parent should go through what the parents of these kids are going through.

Wherever you are in this world of ours, take a moment to enjoy life and tell your loved ones how you feel. You never know when you the chance for both will be gone forever.

Z”l

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Filed under Music, Television, World News

Movies With Birthdays-Forbidden Romance Edition- Titanic (1997) & Dirty Dancing (1987)

There nothing as exciting as a forbidden romance, especially on the big screen. For a film where the basic narrative is a forbidden romance to not only initially succeed at the box office, but to last long after it has left theaters, well, it has to be pretty special.

While some films within this narrowly defined narrative have failed and have been forgotten, both Titanic (1997) and Dirty Dancing (1987) have gone on to not only become classics, but also generational markers. In honor of the 20th anniversary of Titanic and the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing, I’d thought it was time to celebrate these remarkable films that have stood the test of time.

Titanic

Loosely based on the sinking of the actual Titanic, the film combines real events with real people who were on the ship with the fictional romance of upper class girl Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and lower class boy Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio). Told in past tense by Rose in her twilight years (Gloria Stuart), Rose is traveling on the Titanic back to America with her mother, Ruth Dewitt Bukater (Frances Fisher) and her unwanted fiance, Cal Hockley (Billy Zane).

Rose and Jack have a near immediate connection, but the difference in their class nearly keeps them apart. Then Titanic hits the iceberg and everything changes.

I think many writers (including myself) will agree that James Cameron is not the best at writing dialogue and the plot is predictable, but that is the fun of this movie. It is also to progenitor of the fictional story within a real historical event genre. And who could forget the film’s theme song, which no one could get away from in the late 1990’s.

Dirty Dancing

Set in the early 1960’s, Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) is a young woman going up to the Catskills with her family for summer vacation. Lacking in confidence, Baby is young, idealistic and naive. She falls for Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), the hotel’s lead male dance instructor who is technically off limits to her. When Penny Johnson (Cynthia Rhodes) is no longer able to join Johnny on the dance floor, Baby steps up the plate. But she is not a dancer and is aware that both she and Johnny are breaking the rules by not only dancing together, but falling in love.

What can one say about Dirty Dancing? The music is danceable (and singeable), Baby is an every woman and Patrick Swayze was not too bad on the eyes either. It’s basically a coming of age story combined with a forbidden romance, which elevates the movie to a higher plane of character and story development.

And course, Dirty Dancing has it’s own iconic theme song.

The fact that both of these films have lasted as long as they have is a testament to the power of love, the dangerous excitement of forbidden romance and the fact that both films are incredible.

P.S. The inspiration for this post came from the reboot of Dirty Dancing, which will be airing on ABC on Wednesday. Look for my review later in the week.

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Filed under History, Movies, Music, Uncategorized