Category Archives: Music

The United States vs. Billie Holiday Review

There is something about the power of music. A beloved song has a way of making it’s way into the listeners brain, conscious, and perhaps helping to change things for the better.

Billie Holiday is one of the most beloved singers of the 20th century. Though it has been six decades since her physical form left this Earth, her performances and songs continue to leave a mark on fans. The new biopic about her life, The United States vs. Billie Holiday dropped yesterday on Hulu.

The film stars singer/actress Andra Day as Holiday, Garrett Hedlund as Harry J. Anslinger, and Trevante Rhodes as Jimmy Fletcher. The audience follows Holiday as she battles drug addiction, racism, and gets involved with FBI agent Jimmy Fletcher. Woven into the narrative is the iconic and dark song Strange Fruit, which sadly is as potent today as it was during Holiday’s life time.

I really wanted to like this film. Day’s performance is worthy of the accolades she is receiving. Unfortunately, that is where I have to draw the line. Frankly, I was bored. I wanted to be hooked, but I was not. Whatever tension and drama I anticipated was sadly lacking. Especially with Anslinger’s obsession and persecution of Billie Holiday. That should have been more exciting that it was actually was.

Do I recommend it? No.

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Filed under Feminism, History, Hulu, Movie Review, Movies, Music

Don’t Give Up: An uplifting video interview with Erin Walter, lead singer of band, Parker Woodland

Hear; Let's Listen

Album cover art from Parker Woodland’s 2019 EP The World’s On Fire (and We Still Fall in Love).

Earlier this month, I chatted with Erin Walter, lead singer of Austin, Texas punk-rock band Parker Woodland. From our conversation, I learned that virtual performances have made the touring process for musicians more comfortable. However, due to the increased accessibility of putting on remote performances, virtual tours can also quickly increase fatigue. Musicians can tire from balancing work and performance – even when it is all being completed from their home. Thus, Erin encourages self-care and taking breaks when necessary. Erin says, “To all the creative folks out there, take it one step at a time, rest when you need to rest, and don’t give up. Get your art out there when you are able. Whatever your timeline is, that is the right time.”

My conversation with Erin indeed raised my…

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Framing Britney Spears Review

Twenty years ago, Britney Spears was one of the biggest acts not just in music, but in the entertainment industry as a whole. She was everywhere. These days, its a different story.

The new Hulu documentary, Framing Britney Spears, premiered on Friday. The movie follows her life, career, and the #FreeBritney movement. Their claim is that that Spears no longer needs to be under the control of the conservatorship, currently held by her father. After her mental health issues became public in 2008, it was enacted for her safety. The claim of those interviewed is that Spears is perfectly capable of making her own decisions, and that the conservatorship is no longer needed.

I loved this movie. It shines a new light on how disgustingly she was treated both by the press and those who benefited from her time at the top of the pop culture food chain. The issue at the heart of this film is mental health, and how those who suffer (women especially) usually get the short end of the stick. If there was one sticking point, it was that if Spears was male, none of this would have ever been considered. But because she is a woman, she must be taken care of because it would be impossible that she is capable of making her own decisions.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Feminism, Hulu, Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies, Music

New Randy Rainbow Video: MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody

It was not that long ago that fringe groups with out there ideas were just that. They lived in the corners of the internet that most of us didn’t even know about or consider looking at. Then you know who was elected.

Though he is out of office (Thank G-d), his influence still persists and will do so for a long time. The most obvious sign of his still lingering sway is Marjorie Taylor Greene. Randy Rainbow released his latest video today with her as the subject.

The song Rainbow is using is Evergreen from the 1976 adaptation of A Star is Born. If there was a way to insert his picture next the word “genius” in the dictionary, I would happily add it. Taylor Greene is not just your average Republican, her views are dangerous. It says something when Karl Rove, one of the big wigs of the party, called out his colleagues to do the right thing.

The fact is that this woman has to go. If she doesn’t, it will tell me everything about the Republican party that I will ever need to know.

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Filed under Movies, Music, National News, Politics

New Randy Rainbow Video: SEASONS OF TRUMP – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody

Tomorrow is a momentous day in American history. It is the day that we finally say good riddance to you know who.

Randy Rainbow released what maybe his last you know who related video today. Entitled SEASONS OF TRUMP – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody, the song is based on Seasons of Love from the musical Rent.

If there was ever a perfect song to say goodbye to you know who and the chaos he has created, this is it. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am more than ready to see Joe Biden take the Oath of Office and lead us back to some version of normal.

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Filed under Music, National News, Politics, Randy Rainbow

New Randy Rainbow Video-SEDITION! – A Randy Rainbow Parody

The accusation of sedition is a serious one. It is not to be taken lightly or without being unaware of the consequences of what is being said.

Back in 1918, the Sedition act of 1918 was enshrined as law. In a nutshell, it is described as follows:

“Willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of the Government of the United States”

I think most Americans would say that the so-called “protest” (aka riot) that happened on Wednesday afternoon is more than enough to strongly consider the allegation of sedition. Not just for you know who, but for his enablers, and those who stormed into the Capitol building hoping to overturn the results of the election.

Randy Rainbow release his new video this afternoon. Entitled “SEDITION! – A Randy Rainbow Parody“, it is a take-off on the song “Tradition” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.

I have said many times that Rainbow is a genius. This time, I have no choice but to get on my figurative knees and bow down to this man. After the chaos and destruction, it is clear that changes must be made. It is also clear that we cannot just sweep what has happened under the rug. We need to face it head-on, take a good look in the mirror, and learn from our mistakes.

Happy Friday.

P.S. If there is one bright spot, it is that you know who has been permanently banned from Twitter.

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Filed under Music, National News, Politics, Randy Rainbow

World on Fire Character Review: Connie Wright

*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 World on Fire. 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. For most of history, when the men went to war, women stayed home. It is only in the last 150 years or so that women have actively served in one form or another. In World on Fire, Connie Wright (Yrsa Daley-Ward) does not want to sit around while her fellow Brits fight for King and country.

Connie and her bestie/singing partner Lois Bennett (Julia Brown) join ENSA (Entertainment National Service Association). Following the troops, Connie and Lois perform for the boys fighting dying for everything that the British people held dear. Providing a sense of comfort and normalcy, the soldiers are given a brief respite from everything that war brings with it.

While Connie is traveling across Europe, her thoughts are with her musician husband, Eddie (Ansu Kabia). Like anyone with a spouse, partner, or loved one who is on active duty, she is torn. She knows that what he is doing is necessary, but she is keenly aware of the realities of war.

To sum it up: The idea of women being strong and capable is still a relatively new concept. Up until the last few decades, women were thought to be weak, emotional, and only suited to certain tasks and responsibilities. But Connie is not even close to that idea. As not just a woman, but woman of color in England, she is breaking boundaries, reminding the audience that the stereotypes of women are just that.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, History, Music, Television

Best Books of 2020

  1. Hearts, Strings, and other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins: This modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1814 novel Mansfield Park is one of the best professionally published fanfictions I’ve read in a long time.
  2. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump: You Know Who’s only niece, Mary Trump tells her uncle’s story as only a close family member can.
  3. Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, by Evan Osnos: This biography tells the President-elect’s story from a human perspective, giving the reader an insight that the news headlines cannot.
  4. Bronte’s Mistress, by Finola Austin: Austin delves into the myth of the affair between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson, his older and married employer. Giving voice to Branwell, his youngest sister Anne and Mrs. Robinson specifically, she introduces the reader to the woman behind the rumor.
  5. Rage, by Bob Woodward: Legendary journalist Bob Woodward takes the reader into the current Presidential administration and the chaos created by you know who.
  6. The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron: Cameron’s book follows the story of Stefania Podgorska, a Polish-Catholic teenage girl who saved thirteen Jews during World War II.
  7. Jagged Little Pill: The reader is taken into the world of the hit musical, Jagged Little Pill: The Musical.
  8. Pretending: A Novel, by Holly Bourne: April believes that she is damaged goods, romantically speaking. When she creates an alter ego named Gretel, the results are surprising.
  9. A Star is Bored: A Novel, by Byron Lane: Lane, a former assistant to the late actress and writer Carrie Fisher, spins his time working for her into a hilarious and entertaining novel.
  10. Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda, by Jean Guerrero: This insightful and frankly scary book tells the story of Presidential aide Stephen Miller.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Book Review, Books, Broadway Musical Review, Fanfiction, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Mental Health, Movies, Music, National News, Politics, Star Wars, Writing

Soul Movie Review

We all know that at some point, we will exit this life. The question is, will we live to the fullest while we can?

The new Disney Plus movie, Soul, premiered yesterday. Joe Gardiner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) is a junior high school band teacher with a passion for playing music. At this point in his adult life, his dream of being a professional jazz musician has yet to be achieved. Then he gets an opportunity to play at a local jazz club.

But before he can play, he falls into a manhole. Discovering that he is in the Great Beyond, Joe tries everything he can to get back to his body. His ticket back to Earth is 22, (Tina Fey) an infant soul who is disinterested in being born. Together, they will learn about what true passion is and how to live life to the fullest.

What I like about this movie is while it is obviously a kids movie, there are themes that are well over the heads of younger audience members. The message of appreciating being alive and knowing what is truly important radiates through the narratives, reaching the viewer as only a touching and funny film can.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Soul is available for streaming on Disney Plus.

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New Randy Rainbow Video: RUDOLPH THE LEAKY LAWYER – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody

From the outside looking in, the law profession is a noble one. But then I see the commercials for law firms on television and I have to wonder if they are as legit as they promise to be.

One could say the same for former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Once upon a time, he was respected lawyer and politician. These days, the man is a punchline waiting to be written.

Randy Rainbow released his latest video today. Entitled RUDOLPH THE LEAKY LAWYER – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody, the song is based on the beloved Christmas song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

He could have gone down in history as the NYC Mayor who cleaned up Times Square and led us through the darkness of 9/11. But instead, he will be remembered as a bloviated fool who nearly destroyed the American democracy to protect the fragile ego of you know who.

Thank you, Randy, I needed to laugh.

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Filed under Music, National News, New York City, Politics, Randy Rainbow, Television