The Best Ex I’ve Ever Had (Television Thoughts: Ex On The Beach Season 2, MTV)

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Apparently, this second season of MTV’s ‘Ex On The Beach’ is a who’s who of reality stars. I guess this just goes to show how out of touch I am with reality TV because I really did not know most of the people in the cast. I was lured into the show by Murray Swanby, who was in the E! show ‘What Happens At The Abbey,’ and I only know that show because one of my best friends practically lives at that bar and goes thee multiple times a week. And Murray is cute, so why not? I had never seen an episode of this show, which I gather has been imported from the UK. Basically, a bunch of people live in a house, by the beach so we could see maximum skin, and their exes start to infiltrate the house, and well, drama.

This cast is hot mess personified. They are all reality show staple – troublemakers, pot stirrers, drama queens. It is led by Farrah Abraham, who I know is from Teen Mom (another show I have also never seen) and here we see her as Queen Bee Diva. Everyone else has big personalities, and not even the first day is through that there are already fighting.

I hate them all. But surely, as drama unfolded, I got caught in it. Some exes come in, and romances get rekindled, only to have wrenches thrown in, and well more drama. I don’t really think all is authentic – I bet a lot of the drama is manufactured, or the situations set up for maximum drama.  But yes, a lot of it is pretty engrossing, and I binged the first three episodes with no problem at all. Does that make me shallow? Yes! I am not even calling this a guilty pleasure, it’s just pure television pleasure. I hope it continues that way.

In Martel’s Holiday (Music Thoughts: Christmastime Is Here, Marc Martel)

51-nq6UeJyL._SS500I have no idea who Marc Martel is, but Spotify ‘recommended’ his Christmas EP to me, so I listened.  And it was okay – very live and bright. I found out that Martel provided some of the Freddie Mercury vocals in the film ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’  I had the impression that Rami Malik did those vocals, but apparently they also used Martel’s voice and they made everything sound seamless.  I am by no means a Mercury expert but apparently Martel has a voice that is very similar. And then I found out that Martel is a Christian, and writes and sings religious music. But I guess if he consented to singing Freddie Mercury songs, then he probably isn’t the very preachy kind.

The EP is okay, and as I said, it has a lot of rhythm and the songs and arrangements are nice enough to make an impression on me. And it;s not as overtly religious as I thought – he even covers Mariah’s ‘All I Want For Christmas.’  It’s all nice and good very alive, and could be good pick=up music for the Holidays. You can listen to it in the car on the way to seeing relatives you don;t want to see.

The Smell Of Christmas (Perfume Thoughts: Ecstasy, Tiziana Terenzi)

375x500.16524With the holidays coming up, I was searching for a scent that was Christmas-y. And then I realized I had Tiziana Terenzi’s ‘Ecstasy.’ For some reason, this perfume was one of the ones I brought with me when I moved, and was not packed for storage, and I remember wearing this earlier during the warmer weather and thought, well, this is not really working.

Ecstasy is pine on top. It smells like a Christmas tree. But it is a very warm scent – it is smoky, and woodsy, like the pine tree that’s next to a fire place. In its heart, on my skin, is incense. And it is the smoky kind. I like this a lot, and in this colder weather it’s nice, soothing, and comforting. It is also very Christmassy. I can see wearing this at church and feeling the mood of the Holidays instantly. This is Christmas in a bottle, my style.

Falling In Love Isn’t Enough (Film Thoughts: If Beale Street Could Talk)

1ef684eabd08f5bed5401ddf233bdeafI always say that my favorite movies stems not from me thinking they are good, but is derived from which ones I have most connected to emotionally. Last year, my favorite was ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ and this year I think it will be ‘If Beale Street Could Talk.’ Why? Because it touched the hopeful romantic in me – it is one of the lushest, richest love stories I have seen in a while, and one of the only real love stories in film this year.  Directed by Barry Jenkins (whose ‘Moonlight’ was my favorite movie that year, too)  from the 1974 James Baldwin novel of the same name, the film centers around Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fony (Stephan James)  teenagers who fall in love. Most of the time, in love stories, there are internal obstacles that keep the lovers from being together. Here, though, it’s the world outside that is keeping them apart, as Fony is accused of a crime he did not commit. So, we our hearts are ripped apart as we root for them to be together. Jenkins films the couple with such a beautiful lens, using colors and music to set such a romantic mood you cannot help but fall in love as you are falling in love with them. (The film is bathed with beautiful Instagram-like filters that give it an amber vintage feel )This has the best soundtrack of any film this year, and you can feel the power and intensity of their passion as an saxophone version of ‘I Wish I Knew’ as they make love for the first time.

if-beale-street-could-talk-french-movie-posterAnd the performances are all first rate, making Layne and James two actors to watch out for, as both have glorious screen presence and exude the just the right amount of pathos and warmth. I know that out there there is a very dedicated faction rooting for a nomination for Regina King who plays Tish’s mom, and while I do agree she is fine (she always is) I am not sure if the performance is enough.

Beneath the romantic sentimentality, though, is a message. Jenkins frames the film with black and white pictures of numerous black men falsely accused of crimes. The times then was still unforgiving, and at times you wonder if we have advanced in these Trumpian times.  What I loved most is the romance, of course. This is a film that will make you want to fall in love, and for me, that’s what resonated most.

 

Feliz David-ad (Music Thoughts: Baby It’s Christmas, David Campbell)

220px-Baby_It's_Christmas_by_David_CampbellI remember David Campbell from his New York City Cabaret days, and I remember he was one of the first people to sing the wonderful song ‘Grateful,’ composed by John Buccino. But then he kind of disappeared and I know he has enjoyed more success in his native Australia, and if I am not mistaken, he is now some kind of television presenter there.  And now he has released a new Holiday album, ‘Baby It’s Christmas,’ and it’s a nice pleasant album. I wish I could describe it better, but really, that’s all it is. It has a nice solid Holiday repertoire – your ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ mixed in with a ‘Jingle Bells.’ The arrangements will please everyone, and I like that he covers Harry Connick Jr’s ‘When My Heart Finds Christmas.’ Australian Rick Price has an original for him, the title track, and yes, it’s all really easy to listen to. But it’s also kind of generic, and does not take any risk at all. It would be a hit for department stores. I guess when you hear these songs over and over, you kind of look for a little edge. There’s none here.

Good Girl Gone Bland (Perfume Thoughts: Good Girl, Carolina Herrera)

73755wFirst impression (even before sniffing) on Carolina Herrera’s ‘Good Girl’: look at that bottle. Apparently, people either love or hate this bottle, and count me in among the LOVE crowd. I think it’s cute, and fun, and kitschy, and would go great next to my Moschino Windex-inspired ones. Apparently, it’s one of the year’s best selling perfumes, and I bet women are buying it because of the bottle.

But it is still a perfume, and how does it smell? Promised a jasmine/tuberose combo, we do get that, with a great fruity note (it is a peach?) So basically, a fruity floral, and one we have all smelled before. It’s safe and good for office wear, and I will bet it will get some complements. But let’s be honest, not as exciting as the stiletto where it is poured from.

I still want to own it, though. This looks to be the kind of fragrance that will last a long time, and I bet later versions will have a different, more generic bottle. So, first edition goals!

Pop Goes Natalie (Film Thoughts: Vox Lux)

large_vox-lux-posterI described ‘Vox Lux’ to someoone as one of those movies that is so bad it’s good. Well, I don’t really know if people will agree with me on that, as I see that it is getting some love from critics. This is a film that baffled me, left me scratching my head, and Natalie Performance’s was definitely bold and big and aggressive. I didn’t quite like it, but I did understand it, if that makes any sense. I bet that this will be one of those movies that will connect with a lot of people and will garner a huge cult following. I guess to put it simply: I just did not like it.

I liked small parts of it. The first half, for example, was more interesting for me. Raffey Cassidy stars as a teenage Celeste, who becomes an overnight pop sensation from a song her sister composed after they both survived a school shooting. They quickly get caught up with the pop music scene, aided by their manager, played by Jude Law. When Hatalie Portman takes over Celeste aged 31, Brady Corbett’s film veered more towards self-indulgence, I thought, and the storytelling stopped, and we get a more character study of what Celeste has become, what the business has done to her. At that point, I got exasperated with the film, and it totally lost me. So I gave it a chance, but sometimes, you just don’t gel with a film.