Category Archives: Music

It’s Time to Break Britney Spear’s Conservatorship

There is no doubt that Britney Spears is an icon. She is one of those few performers whose name and work is instantly recognizable. It doesn’t take much to conjure up her image or one of her songs.

Since 2008, Spears has been under a conservatorship led by her father. At the time, it made sense. Given her the public mental health breakdown, it was obvious that someone needed to step in. To sit back and do nothing would have irresponsible. It was supposed to be temporary, until she was able to function as an adult. But somewhere along the way, it became more about using her a cash cow while treating her as a child incapable of taking care of herself.

In response, the #FreeBritney movement and the Hulu documentary, Framing Britney Spears, fans have been advocating for Spears to have at least some control over her life.

It’s time for the conservatorship to end. If not wholly, reduced down so that she has some say in her personal and professional life. I also have to wonder if she were a man, would the treatment been different? I think so. There have been a quite a few male celebrities who also live with mental illness and have been open about it. They were not legally and personally shackled down as Spears has been.

#FreeBritney

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Filed under Feminism, Hulu, Mental Health, Music

The Nanny Character Review: Yetta Rosenberg

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Nanny. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. The general on screen image of a grandmother is that of a loving, openhearted woman whose focus is her family. On The Nanny, Fran Fine‘s (Fran Drescher) grandmother, Yetta Rosenberg (the late Ann Morgan Guilbert) is not one of these women.

As a young girl, Yetta immigrated to the United States, where she was supposed to marry the man chosen for her. Though she fell in love with another man, she decided to marry her husband when the man her heart was set on disappeared. Later in life, she would travel between Europe and America, experiencing quite a few major historical events of the first half of the 20th century.

When we meet Yetta as a woman in her sunset years, her mind has started to slip. She is known to frequently smoke, in spite of her ailing health. Unaware that Fran is working for Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy), she believes that he is her grandson-in-law and that his children are her great-grandchildren. But if the viewer knows nothing else about Yetta, she loves her granddaughter intensely. When Fran eventually marries Max and brings their children into the world, she is there as a only proud grandmother can be. Yetta also re-marries before Fran walks down the aisle, creating a running joke. Her new husband is Sammy, played by the late Ray Charles.

To sum it up: Though Yetta is far from the grandmotherly character type we expect to see, she feels like she could be anyone’s grandmother. Her love of her grandchildren is obvious, her mind is not what it was, and she still has conflicts with her children.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

This will be my last character review post for the The Nanny. Come back next week to find out which group of characters I will be reviewing next.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Music, New York City, Television

Hebrew School Podcast Review

For people of many faiths, the question of how to educate their children in the doctrines and traditions of said faith is not always easy to answer. While the obvious answer is sending their children to full time religious school, not every parents wants to or is able to do so. The compromise is that the child(ren) will go to secular public school and then attend religious school.

The second season of the Tablet magazine podcast, Hebrew School, premiered this past weekend. Now hosted by Frank Spiro and Sabrina Marielle Friedman, this quiz show brings in young contestants, asking them questions about Jewish history, culture, and holidays. Using games, songs, and sound effects, these kids are challenged on their knowledge of everything Jewish.

This podcast is adorable. I wish it had existed when I was in Hebrew school. It is brilliant, charming, funny, and educational for listeners of any age.

P.S. Shout out to Sabrina for the Destiny’s Child reference. It was good laugh and made this old millennial feel old.

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Filed under Music, Podcast, Podcast Review

Exile Music: A Novel Book Review

Childhood should be a time of love, laughter, friendship, and innocence. But for some children, their early years are far from ideal.

Exile Music: A Novel, by Jennifer Steil, was published this month. Growing up in Vienna in the 1930’s, Orly lives a comfortable life. Her parents are professional musicians and her older brother is well regarded by the neighborhood. When she is not with her family, Orly spends her free time with her best friend, Anneliese. In 1938, her world is shattered by the Nazi invasion and the racial laws that quickly begin to restrict Jewish life.

After her brother flees to Switzerland, Orly and her parents are among the lucky few who find refuge in Bolivia. Settling in La Paz, they are strangers in a strange land. While Orly and her father make due, her mother is not quite ready to give up what they lost. She is also keeping a secret that if got out, could cause trouble. Decades later, when Anneliese comes back into her life, Orly has to make a choice. Does she stay in Bolivia with her family or return to Europe and pick up where she and Anneliese left off?

I really enjoyed reading this book. Orly is relatable character. Her voice and growth throughout the novel felt organic and true to the various stages of life that we go through as we grow up. I also appreciated the undercurrent of the LGBTQ storyline. Instead of feeling forced to make the book stand out, Steil includes in a way that gives her main character a layer and an extra oomph that is not often seen in this genre and this period in history.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Music

New Randy Rainbow Video: Clang, Clang, Clang Went Josh Hawley! – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody

We are all entitled to our opinions and beliefs. We are also entitled to express those opinions and beliefs without fear of being thrown in jail or killed by the government. That being said, there is a line between saying what we believe and encouraging violence.

Randy Rainbow’s latest video is entitled Clang, Clang, Clang Went Josh Hawley! – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody. It is based on The Trolley Song from the 1944 film, Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland.

It is as if these people are playing the game of top that, of who can be the “best” Republican and the biggest brownnoser of you know who. There is no logic or method to the madness, with the exception of grabbing as much power as they can and not letting go it.

I don’t know about you, but I am hoping they get their asses handed to them during the 2022 midterm elections.

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Filed under Movies, Music, National News, Politics, Randy Rainbow

Promising Young Woman Review

We’ve all heard stories about women who after getting drunk, have been raped. When the police start to dig into the facts, the man’s defense is that she was wasted.

Promising Young Woman hit theaters last Christmas. Cassie (Carey Mulligan) was once a medical school student with a bright professional future ahead of her. When her best friend was sexually assaulted, her life turned upside down. Now she works at a coffee shop by day and takes her revenge by night. Hitting different bars, she pretends to have had one too many. Letting the man of the evening take her home, she lets him believe he will be able to take advantage of her. When Cassie reveals that she is sober and questions him, he does not know how to respond. When one of her former classmates, Ryan (Bo Burnham) walks into the coffee shop, he seems to be different. All seems well on the romance track between Cassie and Ryan. I would love to say that there is some version of happily ever after, but alas, there is not.

Written and directed by Emerald Fennell (The Crown), this is one amazing film. This is one of Mulligan’s best roles in years. She is vengeful and angry, but not in an obvious way. Her way of getting revenge is cold, sweet, and thoroughly delicious. The fact that the male characters are unnerved by Cassie’s actions is nothing short of a dream come true. All of this is backed by an amazing soundtrack, led by the Britney Spears song, Toxic.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Promising Young Woman is in theaters and available for streaming on VOD.

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Filed under Feminism, Movie Review, Movies, Music

Genius: Aretha Review

There are two equally important keys to success: talent and hard work.

The 4th season of National Geographic Channel’s Genius series follows the life and career of the late Aretha Franklin. The first three episodes cuts back and forth from the early fifties, when the future superstar is a preteen to the sixties when the adult Aretha (Cynthia Erivo) is on the brink of superstardom. As a young girl, Franklin was a singing wunderkind. Raised by her enigmatic preacher father C.L. Franklin (Courtney B. Vance), she witnesses both his devotion to the church and his less than moral extracurricular activities. In the present, she is not only dealing with work and motherhood, but her sometimes shaky marriage to her husband/manager, Ted White (Malcolm Barrett).

Watching the first three episodes, I feel like I know who Aretha Franklin was, as a whole person. Not just the image presented in the press. Looking back, she represents badly needed change in this country for both women and people of color.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Genius: Aretha is available for streaming Hulu.

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New Randy Rainbow Video: TED and LINDSEY! – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody

The joke about politics and politicians is that the promises that are made on the campaign trail doesn’t always translate into action when the winner takes office. But I would hope that at the very least, he or she tries to turn those promises into reality.

Randy Rainbow released his new video earlier today.

Titled TED and LINDSEY! – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody, Rainbow uses the song Kansas City from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! as the basis for the video. If I were to judge some Republican members of Congress on a scale of 1-10, (1 being somewhat decent and 10 being the worst of the worst), both Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham would score an 11. They are hypocritical bullshitters who are more concerned with saving their own skins and kissing you know who’s ass rather than doing the job the voters hired them to do.

I can only hope, that at some point in the future, their constituents replace them with someone who puts their constituents first.

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Filed under Music, Politics, Randy Rainbow

Throwback Thursday: The Jacksons: An American Dream (1992)

For people of a certain generation, The Jackson 5 were a large part of their early years. Which naturally beckoned Hollywood to tell their story via a television two part miniseries.

The Jacksons: An American Dream aired in 1992. Starring Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs as Joseph Jackson and Angela Bassett as Katherine Jackson, the viewer is introduced to the Jackson family, warts and all.

The problem with some programs of this ilk is that they can be over-dramatic. This can be done by either unnecessarily adding events that did not happen or making a low key piece of the timeline more dramatic than it needs to be. Granted, it is television, but I still found the story to be compelling. If everything that happened in this fictional adaption really happened, it certainly explains the public image of the family.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Music, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Flashback Friday: Fantasia (1940)

When a brand is successful, the easiest thing to do is to create factory line like replicas of the product that created that accomplishment. The harder thing to do is try something new.

In 1940, Disney temporarily broke away from what decades later would be their princess narratives and released a film that was and still is completely novel. Fantasia is a series of short films set to the music of classical composers.

What I like about this film is that it is different. The risk paid off. Though each individual narrative is able to stand on its own, it is the music that ties them all together in a seamless and entertaining fashion.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies, Music