First of all – Happy Friday everyone! Second of all – I apologize for the lack of frequent posts recently. Things have been a little crazy over here, but I have a few things in mind I’d like to share with you. One of them being Kesha’s “Praying.” The whole Rainbow album is hands down – fantastic. But there is something extremely special about this song in particular. “Praying” was released in July, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it for a bit. The first time I heard it, I got chills and started crying. I’ve yet to listen to it, without tears coming to my eyes.My top adjective to describe this song? Powerful. Kesha is a powerful force, as a human, with her art, with her strength. I keep thinking about the metaphor of a Phoenix rising from the ashes. But really…Here we have this woman who has been through the ringer, and a lot of it in the public eye. I read an interview the other day where she talked about her time in in-patient rehab for her eating disorder, and how her time with the piano when she worked on Rainbow, she kept singing it to herself to get her through. I know music has an entertainment value, but it’s also an extremely influential tool in spreading your message. It’s amazing that someone who could’ve let her first single in years be fueled with rage and hate – yet…I think this is a song of grace. This woman has found peace. Can you hear the honesty in her voice? Do you hear the vulnerability? Because I think it’s all there. But I also think this is someone who has been through hell (as the lyrics referenced,) and has come out on the other side…though all of our experiences shape us as people, she seems to have evolved and come out on top despite the ultimate attempts to drag her to to the bottom. “We both know all the truth I could tell” Kesha sings. Light has been shed on parts of her battle, but I’m sure there are countless details we will never know. I just really believe in the raw authenticity of this song. It’s like an anthem – an anthem for those who have struggled with all kinds of traumatic experiences. Abusive relationships, mental illness, assault, the crappy cards we get dealt in life sometimes. I just think the message here can really resonate with listeners, and I have so much respect for Kesha for using her voice, her unmistakable talent to create this. In a time when others create “revenge” songs. Here we have this woman speaking her truth, and she’s doing it with poise. This song in itself shows such an evolution from the artist who brought us “Tik Tok.” When I think of Kesha, and I think of her art, her strength, her courage, her ability to be so real I just feel so proud of her. That probably sounds weird coming from someone who doesn’t personally know her, but she’s shared enough of her story with us to know that she’s come out on the other side of a very dark time, and she is glowing.
Driving home from work on Monday, I heard this song on the radio, and I was immediately intrigued. The lyrics are so vulnerable, and raw. Musically it’s beautiful, and of course I’m a sucker for an accent (no shame in admitting that.) I sent the song to a friend that night, and they sent me a YouTube video from the X-Factor in which James Arthur won in 2012. I can’t believe I’m just hearing him now, and I’ve missed out on a few years of getting to hear such a great voice. Upon a Google search you can see that there was much controversy surrounding his lyrics and musical choices in the years following the X-Factor win, but hopefully this fabulous single from his album Back From the Edge shows a different direction he’s taking with his music. I mean, I’m well aware I’m a sap and I’m all for a beautiful declaration of love, but how can you not melt at these words?
You made me feel as though I was enough
We danced the night away, we drank too much
I held your hair back when
You were throwing up
For a minute, I was stone-cold sober
I pulled you closer to my chest
And you asked me to stay over
I said, I already told ya
I think that you should get some rest
So more about what Extraordinary Means is actually about. Seventeen year old Lane has been sent to special school, kind of like a boarding school, kind of like a summer camp – except here there is one link that bonds all the students together, and it’s not s’mores and kumbaya. All the kids at Latham have TB, albeit different strains so different levels of the way this diagnosis takes its toll on their bodies. On their good days the students might seem like normal teenagers, but whether it’s a fitful night of coughing that results in bloody pillowcases, or just the lack of energy and dark circles around their eyes – these kids are no longer able to lead something similar to their pre-TB lives. Away from their family and friends, sports and activities with no cure in sight their futures are uncertain.
Although what they considered “normal” lives are disrupted, and they can’t even continue a regular study path of school work – Lane and his new found friends have found a way to make the most of their time, and add some fun to their days. Who would have thought he’d find a familiar face at Latham? But why does this person seem to be so cold towards him? Even with a rocky start Lane will soon have new relationships develop, friendships evolve, and a spark of romance. The scary thing is no one ever knows how much time they have left – but Lane and his friends are cramming a lot of life in their days. Extraordinary Means is a heartwarming story that’s a reminder of the frailty of life, and the power of friendships in any circumstance in life. Schneider has shown us once again what a gift she has to leave such an impressionable story on the hearts of her readers.
(Image from Goodreads.)
OK. Listen up! I’ve mentioned this multiple times, and if this is the only post you pay attention to all year long – I’m telling you: don’t deprive yourselves. When I say, WATCH THIS, just do it. Orange Is The New Black is one of the best things to happen to entertainment and creative storytelling in a long, long time. Jenji Kohan (the creator of Weeds) brought us this firecracker of a show, a Netflix original series. (Yeah. Seriously.) The story is based off of the memoirs of Piper, played by Taylor Schilling, (Kerman in real life Chapman on the show,) your normal waspy girl leading a normal-ish life. Engaged to her writer boyfriend Larry, making fancy soaps with her pregnant best friend Polly, – then bam! Going to prison to serve time for fifteen months. She got busted for being an accomplice to an international drug ring ten years prior with her then girlfriend Alex. That’s enough background info, just watch it for yourself. The series takes you through her life behind bars in a women’s prison in upstate New York. You’ll recognize some of the actors (Jason Biggs (American Pie,) Laura Prepon (That 70s Show,) Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, etc.) but the new comers are just incredible as well. I’m telling you, Kohan is one of the most genius story tellers of our generation, and I am just constantly amazed by her craft – she out did herself this time. There are thirteen episodes in season one. We’ve got a year until season two comes out. I don’t know how I didn’t watch all the episodes in 48 hours. (This is a seriously addicting show.) I tried to be mature about it, show some self restraint and spread them out a little. I got through a few weeks, and I just couldn’t do it anymore, impatience got the best of me. I had to know how the season ended so I watched the last few all in a row. Of course, not without some tears. You’re gonna get sucked into these stories. One of the coolest things about OITNB is that throughout each episode, we get a flashback into a different woman’s life. You get to see what they were like before they wound up in prison – what they were passionate about, what they struggled with, the people they left behind. It’s impossible not to feel a tug on your heartstrings. As intense, raw, and emotional as the show can be, it’s also laugh-out-loud slide splitting hilarious. Sometimes, I’d have to pause or rewind because I’d miss some great dialogue while my eyes were watering from laughing so hard. You’ll cringe at the slimy guards, and you’ll root for these women as they band together to help each other get through the days. I’m cutting myself short because I don’t want to spoil any of it, I would way rather you just go ahead and check it out NOW!
If you don’t have Netflix, annoy the heck out of a friend who does. Show up at their house and demand to have a marathon together. (Make sure it’s a close friend because that’s one side note, OITNB is definitely for mature audiences. It can get a little graphic at times. To be expected with the content, but still.) So yeah, you guys – this is basically my public service announcement, my plea, for you to please check out this incredible show. My parents, my little sister, my best friend, I’m working on getting everyone hooked because it is just that good. Don’t miss out! Here’s a little teaser to the season:
PS: Another perk, of course the music is awesome and the opening track is a Regina Spektor song. Convinced already?!
Beginners was released back in 2010, and I have wanted to see it since then! Unfortunately, I missed it in theatres, and since then I have been on a search for it – whether it was Red Box or what, I was always checking racks for this film. To my surprise I found a copy at the library (the library I have the architecture crush on that looks like inspired by Spanish pueblos and is next to a lake!) If I were fifteen or sixteen at the time of its release, there’s no question Tree would have found a way to get her hands on this because she had quite the loyalty to follwoing McGregor’s career. My friend Laura had gushed about it in a letter way back, and I’d been anticipating our chance to discuss! And of course there’s the fact Christopher Plummer won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in his role as Hal Fields.
You know how sometimes you mentally hype up a movie, and then you experience a vague letdown when you finally watch it because you built your expectations too high? That didn’t happen here. I was immediately drawn in and intrigued. The soundtrack is absolutely beautiful, the acting is superb, the actors themselves are beautiful in these unique, raw ways (umm, hello! Can I please be Mélanie Laurent for a day?!), the lighting is GORGEOUS, and the story is just great.
IMDB will tell you that Beginners is about: A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer, and that he has a young male lover. But really, I’d say it’s so much more than that. Ewan McGregor plays Hal’s son, Oliver. The story is told in real time, and in flashbacks as he deals with the grief of his father’s death, but also as he navigates life in general. He watched his father find love, really soak up days, and he in turn has his own exploration of the heart. The characters are ultimately endearing, I didn’t cry but I laughed a lot, and I ached with them. I won’t lie: after watching this film, I had that airy feeling of delight (possibly whimsical?) and I just wanted to hop on a plane and gallivant around Paris.
Sure this film has its sad moments (I mean, look at the subject matter!) but all in all I felt uplifted watching it, and I definitely recommend you checking it out if you haven’t seen it yet. Here’s a trailer, so you can get a glimpse!