Writing 101: My Three Songs

It is so very difficult to choose the three most important songs in my life.  Surely you’ve had the experience of hearing a song on the radio or on TV and it brings you right back to a time or moment that you can almost see again, and certainly feel?  As I ran through the collection of music I have, I got flashes of various times, just little peeks, skipping across my thoughts as I skipped through the song titles.  But I’ve narrowed it down.  I can’t say that these are THE three most important songs in my life, but they stand out to me for some reason (at least today).

To be honest, I wrote about a very important song to me on the first day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge back in April.  It is Anya Marina’s “Vertigo”, which reminds me so much of the year that Chris and I were dating.  2010 was a fantastic year, and at the end of it, Chris proposed to me to this song playing in the background.  You can read my post about it and listen to the song HERE.

But HA!  I’m going to pull a fast one on you!  Since I’ve already written about the most important song in my life I get to pick three entirely new ones for today!  I make the rules here, yes I do!  So here we go, in no particular order of importance:

First, there’s “Barcarolle“, by Jacques Offenbach from ‘The Tales of Hoffmann’.  You might not have expected an operatic piece from me, but this song almost brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.  It’s a prominent song in one of my very favorite moves, “Life is Beautiful”, about a family (mom, dad and young son) who are taken away to a Nazi concentration camp.  The father is able to hide the little boy even after they are separated from the mom.  His father makes their time at the concentration camp into a game for the boy, even as atrocious events take place around them.  At one point, the father is required to act as a servant for a fancy Nazi dinner and he finds a Victrola with a collection of records.  He is able to broadcast Barcarolle across the concentration camp, a sign to his wife that he is still alive and that his love for her will endure no matter what.  It’s such an amazing movie, and I can barely write about it without my eyes getting moist (ok, they are most.  Dammit!).  Below are two scenes from the movie (all in one youtube video); first is an earlier scene when the father first sees his future wife at the opera (when Barcarolle is being performed) and knows he is in love with her (and gets her to look at him!), and second, the scene I described above.

Next up on the jukebox in the Fuzzy Undertones Lounge, is a little something from Prince.  I love Prince, and have been a huge fan since I was fairly young.  While his musical style has changed throughout the years, there’s always something unique about his music that says Prince.  I thought about choosing “Kiss”, which I love, but then decided to take it one step further and go with “Sexy M.F.”  You figure out what the M.F. stands for.  While Prince has since sworn off swearing in his music (can you do that?) this is an earlier song and I love it because, like “Kiss”, it’s not about what you look like, it’s how you carry yourself, how your attitude makes you sexy.  Yeah.  And you know that I can be one sexy beast when I’m listening to Prince!

Lastly, I’ll go with a classic, a song that describes my daily life and could, in fact, be my theme song between the hours of 7:30 – 5.  If this were the case, however, the song would have to change its title, but I have a feeling that Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five” wouldn’t quite be the same if you substituted seven-thirty for nine.  It just doesn’t have the same ring to it, you know?  When I enter the doors at work first thing in the morning, this music runs through my mind.  I recently watched the movie “Nine to five” and it was still quite hilarious even though a lot of it is somewhat outdated.  But still, I feel like I sell myself during those prime hours of the day…it’s all taking and no giving (well, except for the paycheck.  That, I get).

I had some runner-ups, too.  If I could add a few more songs to the list I might have included Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” or George Clinton’s “Do Fries Go With That Shake”, or maybe even “If I Didn’t Have You” from the Monster’s Inc. soundtrack (bloopers included in that one!).  Oh, so many to choose from!  And so hard to pick only three!  But for today, there they are.  What are the three most important songs in your life?  Tell me in the comments!


This is Day 3 of Writing 101.  Today’s assignment was to answer this question: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?  And the twist:  You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

Ha!  Well, for the twist, I’ve already decided that I will write 20 minutes a day, as I’ve been setting my timer to 20 minutes for each of these daily exercises.  Take that, Writing 101!  I’ll see your minimum and raise you 5 whole minutes!  And, as long as we’re establishing practices here, those 20 minutes are reserved for writing…going back to edit, add hyperlinks, insert pictures or videos, that’s all extra.  Not allowed in my 20 minutes!

Fine Art Felines Friday: Woman with Cat by Pablo Picasso

Today’s Fine Art Felines artwork is “Woman with Cat” by Pablo Picasso.  This impressionist pastel sketch was completed in 1900, which is considered Picasso’s early years (Picasso lived from 1881 – 1973).  What I really like about this work is that it is not typically what I picture when I think about Picasso, with whom I associate abstract, cubist art.  There’s a lot of subtle movement in this sketch (e.g., the woman’s hand petting the cat), with muted emotion connecting these two naptime snugglers.  My favorite thing about this sketch, however, is not really the subject, but the picture of the person in the background.  I can just hear an art instructor telling Picasso how to shape and shadow the woman, but then I can also hear Picasso whispering to himself, “screw that, I’m gonna draw this funky little cartoon person right back here just to bring a little bit of myself to this piece”.  It almost looks like a woman with a mustache drawn her…was Picasso a cartoonist or comedian at heart?  I don’t know.

This is a sketch that uses my favorite colors, and I love the layering, the softness, and of course the cat in this piece.  I hope you like it too!  Muah!

Woman with Cat by Pablo Picasso

Woman with Cat by Pablo Picasso

Fine Art Felines Funday: Slim Woman with a Cat by Geza Farago

Slim Woman with a Cat by Geza FaragoI’ll admit I’ve been slacking.  I’m supposed to post Fine Art Felines on Fridays, but since I was being lazy (owning it!), I didn’t get around to writing this post until today.  However, today’s painting is one that I really love.

“Slim Woman with a Cat” was painted by Hungarian artist Geza Farago (1877 – 1928) in 1913.  Farago worked in Budapest as a theatrical costume designer, poster artist, and (my favorite) a cartoonist.  What I love about this painting is the art-deco style of the lines (especially with the cat – it reminds me of Le Chat Noir), and the combination of flat colors used on the cat, dress and sandy background in conjunction with the shaded areas of the woman’s neck, face and hands.  The combination makes a 2-dimensional painting pop, turning geometric shapes into a 3-D illusion full of depth and texture.  I also really like the colors that were used, with the blue and green details on the dress echoed in the night sky and water.  I hope you like it, too!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Ladies I Love: Z is for Zombie Apocalypse Survivors!

Oh my goodness – this is the LAST DAY OF THE A TO Z CHALLENGE!!!  I can’t believe it…no, wait, I CAN believe it!  This challenge was about to kick my butt, however, looks like I’m writing the Z post for Ladies I Love, so who’s kicking butt now, huh?  Speaking of kicking butt, that brings me to the subject of today’s post, my favorite female zombie apocalypse survivors (or as I like to think of them, zombie slayers).  But first, a little business:

WARNING: This post contains violence in the context of zombies being killed by badass ladies.  You might not want to watch the video clip at the end of this post if you have a problem with blood, gore, or violence against zombies.  Although I also feel obligated to tell you that it’s not real zombie blood or gore, and not real violence towards zombies.  No actual zombies were harmed in the making of any of these movies or shows.

zombie killer

Whew!  Now that that’s off my chest, let’s get started.  I don’t know if any of you know this, but I really like zombies.  Like, I like them a lot.  I read zombie novels, and I get a kick out of zombie humor.  To me, there’s something utterly fascinating about the whole “world falls apart and you have to learn how to survive in the face of horror and also other human beings who can also be horrible” scenario.  I’ve seen a bunch of zombie movies, of course, so I thought I’d write about my top five favorite female zombie heroines…but, damn, this was a difficult post!  Sure, I had my top 2 or 3, but I really had to dig to find a few others.  Most of the zombie movies out there star guys who go in to save the girls, or the girls end up taking off their tops and showing their boobs, or the whole thing is just a bad, lame joke.  Ugh.  Anyway, let’s get this list started!

28-days-later-selenaFifth on my list is Selena from 28 Days Later.  You could argue that 28 Days Later isn’t really a zombie film, but dang, all those people with the “rage virus” sure do act like they’ve lost their minds in a zombie kind of way.  Selena, played by Naomie Harris, comes to the rescue of several people in her survivor’s group of four, although she does not hesitate to kill anyone who has been infected (a drop of blood can contaminate and incite rage within 30 seconds of exposure…yikes!).  The rage virus continues to spread despite quarantines and Selena and her group continue to evade the infected, although they meet up with a not-so-nice military contingent and things get really messy from there.  Great movie and fantastic acting!

Shaun_of_the_Dead - LizI think my favorite zombie movie of all time has to be Shaun of the Dead.  Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are so hilarious that I couldn’t NOT include this in my list.  But who is the leading lady?  Easy – Shaun’s on-off-on again girlfriend, Liz, played by Kate Ashfield.  First, she can hold her own using a field hockey stick.  Second, she does a mean zombie impression which helps the gang get into the Winchester pub for the final standoff with all the zombies.  The humor in this movie almost makes me pee my pants every time I see it, and the cast is Ah Maze Zing (Bill Nighy even plays Shaun’s detested stepfather).  I always find something new to laugh at, no matter how many times I watch it!

AliceThird on my list is Alice from the Resident Evil movies.  This is a long series of movies and the overall plot is a bit complicated, but basically, the world is run by the Umbrella Corporation and has unleashed the T-Virus upon the earth’s populace, creating zombies all over the place. There are pockets of survivors here and there, and Alice, who is kind of a clone of herself in the movies, is there to rebel against the Umbrella Corporation and ultimately take them down.  Alice is played by ass-kicking Milla Jovovich, who is captured by Umbrella and experimented upon, and develops superhuman fighting skills and strength due to exposure to the T-Virus.  She uses her skills to escape from Umbrella, fight zombies, and destroy the head bad guy (or the Red Queen, shall I say).  I love these movies because of the complex story line, the twists and turns it takes, and of course, Milla Jovovich’s portrayal of Alice!

MaggieChopMy first and second favorite zombie survivors / slayers both come from The Walking Dead TV series.  My second favorite is Maggie Greene, played by Lauren Cohan.  The main group of survivors meets up with Hershal and his family (including Maggie) on his farm, and Glenn and Maggie hit it off and have a romance that survives longer than all of the zombies that Maggie and Glenn come into contact with.  Whether it’s clearing zombies from the prison compound’s perimeter or killing attacking zombies in riot gear, Maggie gets the hard (and dangerous, and gross) jobs done.  Maggie plays it tough but I think she’s a romantic on the inside, and will stop at nothing to get back to Glenn in season 4 when she doesn’t even know if Glenn is still alive.  Ahhh…a true apocalyptic love story!

michonneFinally, my favorite zombie slayer of all time has got to be Michonne from The Walking Dead.  I’ve kept up with the graphic novels as well as the show, and she’s my favorite in both.  Like Maggie, she plays it tough, but as we’ve gotten to know Michonne, we see more of her background and why she has had to toughen up so much.  She’s a very complex character, and is portrayed most excellently by Danai Gurira (really, I can’t imagine anyone else doing better – Danai IS Michonne!).  Also, Michonne carries a katana sword with her at all times, her signature weapon that allows her to kill zombies from a safe-ish distance quickly and quietly.  Check out this video that compiled all of her zombie kills, through season 3 (I think – the video was published July 26, 2013).  Pretty amazing, huh?

So what do you think?  Are you a fan of zombies or zombie films, comics, books, shows, etc.?  If so, who are your favorite survivalists?  Any recommendations for me, or additions to this list?

It has been a pleasure blogging the A to Z Challenge with all of you this past April – I hope to see you participating again next year!  I definitely will be, but feel free to stop by Fuzzy Undertones in the mean time to say hello! ❤

Ladies I Love: W is for the Side-Splitting Women of Saturday Night Live!

I can’t believe that April is coming to an end, and we’re rounding the final corner of the A to Z Challenge.  We’ve still got a few letters to go though, so I thought that for W, I would write about some of my most favorite Ladies I Love, the hilarious Women of Saturday Night Live (SNL)!  As I went through the entire cast history of SNL, I began to get a little overwhelmed at the thought of writing this post.  There have been a lot of female SNL cast members, and I love almost all of them.  So I decided that I would pick my top five (all pictures are from NBC) and go from there…and that was incredibly difficult in itself!

Gilda Radner - Roseanne RoseannadannaAs a member of the original cast, Gilda Radner is first on my list.  She was with SNL from 1975 – 1980, and won an Emmy for her performances in 1977.  Her most iconic characters were Roseanne Roseannadanna (a loudmouthed and crude consumer-affairs reporter) and Baba Wawa (a parody of Barbara Walters), but she also had other amazing characters up her sleeve.  Gilda Radner suffered from bulimia during her stint on the show, and eventually succumbed to ovarian cancer in 1989, with her husband (Gene Wilder) at her side.

Molly Shannon - Mary Katherine GallagherMolly Shannon appeared on SNL from 1995 to 2001.  I LOVE Molly Shannon because she was absolutely fearless when it came to throwing herself into her humor (quite literally).  She had several characters that performed physical comedy, such as Catholic school girl Mary Katherine Gallagher, who would trip over folding chairs during her talent show auditions, and 50-year-0ld Sally O’Malley who wore extremely tight and high-riding red pants and liked to kick, stretch, and kick!

Kristen Wiig - Fake Tanning MomOne of my more recent favorite SNL actors is Kristen Wiig.  She was with the show from 2005 – 2012, and also used physical humor in her sketches, doing a lot of dancing and singing in awkward ways.  My favorite characters of hers were the Target Lady, Dooneese Maharelle (the deformed singer with tiny hands on the Lawrence Welk Show), and Triangle Sally (who, uh, played the triangle).  Kristen Wiig is a very versatile actor and had many other recurring characters on SNL and there were so many to love!  I was sad to see her leave the show, but she’s had a rather successful career in movies since then.

Amy Poehler Rap with Sarah PalinI’ll bet you can guess who my next two favorite SNL actors are…and you’re right!  First is Amy Poehler, who worked on SNL from 2001 through 2008.  She was promoted from “featured player” to full cast member mid-way through her first season, an accomplishment shared by only her and Eddie Murphy!  She had a recurring role as Hillary Clinton, but also did several hysterical impressions of people like Michael Jackson and Kim Jong Il.  She, along with Tina Fey (more in a sec!) made up the first women-only pair to host Weekend Update.  Amy Poehler went on to star in several movies as well as her own show, Parks and Recreation (which I love dearly).  Also close to my heart is her project “Smart Girls at the Party“, which is a social-media based program that aims to encourage girls to be themselves, think for themselves and be confident.  Amy Poehler is not only funny as hell, but she’s a great role model for our girls!

Tina Fey as Sarah PalinFinally, it’s my very favorite SNL actor (just by a hair!), Tina Fey.  Tina Fey was on SNL from 1997 – 2006.  Aside from her doppelganger depiction of Sarah Palin, Tina Fey hosted Weekend Update (first with Jimmy Fallon, and then with Amy Poehler).  And, oh yeah, did I mention that she was the FIRST FEMALE HEAD WRITER AT SNL???  Well, I just did.  Bam.  Tina Fey also went on to make movies and write and star in her own show, 30 Rock (which I also loved very much).  AND, in 2013 and 2014, she and Amy Poehler also co-hosted the 70th and 71st Golden Globe Awards and totally rocked it.  She even wrote her memoirs in a best-selling book called Bossy Pants, and jeez – is there anything this woman can’t do???

We Killed by Yael KohenCan you believe that people have said that women aren’t funny?  Yes, and these people are even other comedians who have even worked with funny women (btw, I’m giving John Belushi, Jerry Lewis and Chevy Chase the stink-eye right now).  I know a lot of people who would disagree with these opinions…and in fact, there’s a GREAT podcast about the subject on Stuff Mom Never Told You that you can listen to here.  And, you can read the book “We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy” by Yael Kohen.  I’m sad that there are too many fantastically funny women who have performed on SNL to write about, but this post has already gone too long.  If you’ve made it to the end, congratulations and thank you!  To make it worth your while, share with me your favorite funny women – who makes you laugh your head off, from SNL or elsewhere?

Ladies I Love: V-Day is for Villainesses (who Almost got Away With It)!

I’ve been looking forward to this A to Z Challenge post for a while now, because let’s face it – being good can be soooooo boring!  Therefore, I declare that V-Day (today) is to be dedicated to a prestigious group of Ladies I Love, my favorite Disney Villainesses – muah ha ha haaaaaaa!!!

These are not ALL of the Disney villains, you might notice…I run with the classics.  These are my favorites – the most cunning, devious, manipulative and deceitful of the ones we love to hate.   Well, I don’t really love to hate them…I just love them!!!  Disney princesses can be so boring and predictable…always doing the right thing, beautiful, innocent, in need of rescue, blah blah blah.  Well, these ladies don’t need any of it, and they don’t care what other people think of them (well, ok, the Wicked Queen from Snow White wants to be the most beautiful one of them all, but whatever).  They are all unique in their abilities to seek out and craft an evil plan, and dang, they usually almost get away with it!  Here are my favorite villainesses (in order from just favorite to most favorite), and the reasons why I love them so:

  • The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland):  She’s got style and is a wee bit off her rocker.  I admire her propensity for dishing out death sentences with every other breath, but she’s honestly not THAT smart and can’t really formulate a long-term plan for eliminating potential threats to her queendom (a.k.a., Alice).
  • The Evil Stepmother and Stepsisters (Cinderella):  Oooohhhh…to treat a poor wretched orphan in such a horrific manner…these ladies must have lumps of coal where their hearts used to be!  The stepmother is cunning and cruel, and the stepsisters are mean, but in the end their obvious greed brings their quest for personal gain to a halt.  If they could’ve just been a little more subtle about things…ah, well.  Better luck next time!
  • The Wicked Queen (Snow White):  Beautiful AND clever, the Wicked Queen almost succeeded in killing off Snow White.  Shape-shifting is an amazing power to have, but her plan just needed a little more follow-through.  She let those dwarfs get in the way…and then that meddling prince shows up!  Argh!  You’d think an evil plan would hatch (and grow to maturity) much more easily!
  • Madame Medusa (The Rescuers):  This dame has it all – a decrepit river boat in a swamp, two pet alligators (although they look more like crocodiles), and the confidence to never wear a bra.  She even has a sniveling little sidekick of a man who submits to her every whim, including sending a little girl into a tidal cave to look for a jewel hidden by pirates long ago!  And if it wasn’t for two mice named Bernard and Bianca, her plan might have succeeded.  Curses!
  • Malifecent (Sleeping Beauty):  Ok, AWESOME HEADWEAR AND THE ABILITY TO TURN INTO A BLACK RAGING DRAGON???  Do I need to go into any further detail about why this is one of the best villains EVER???  No?  Good.
  • Cruella Deville (101 Dalmations):  Ah, my favorite villainess at last.  Her obvious disdain for live dogs indicates that clearly this woman is a cat-person, which I can completely relate to.  And her fashion sense?  TOP-NOTCH.  I totally want to start smoking just so that I can wear elbow-length gloves and use one of those long cigarette holders!  Her only mistake was relying on a pair of bumbling henchmen to do a job that she should’ve done herself, but I guess stylish ladies like Cruella can’t be bothered to get their own be-gloved hands dirty.  Oh, the humanity!!!
All images from Disney.

HowToBeAVillainIt goes without saying that these villainesses, while amazing in their unique approaches to evil plans, could use a little help.  In my own research in becoming an evil genius I stumbled upon a book they might be able to use:  How to Be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans, and More!!! by Neil Zawacki and James Dignan.  It’s a bit basic, but they could probably use a little brushing up on the fundamentals.

What about you?  Who is your favorite villain, and why?

Ladies I Love: U is for Lieutenant Uhura, a True Star!

a_burning_trekkie__silver_by_schematization-d4rydciCan you guess what the most challenging letter for me in the A to Z Challenge has been?  Not X, not Q, not V, not even Z…but U.  However, when I thought about all the Ladies I Love and Lieutenant Uhura crossed my mind, I knew she was just the right woman for this tough letter!  That is because Lieutenant Uhura of Star Trek, played by Nichelle Nichols, was one tough lady!

Lieutenant Uhura served as a communications officer under Captain Kirk on the USS Enterprise during the original Star Trek series, which ran from 1966 – 1969.  Uhura moved up the Starfleet ranks throughout the movie franchise, making the rank of commander in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  Nichelle Nichols portrayed Uhura throughout the series, as well as in all the Star Trek movies except for the last two, in which Zoë Saldana played a younger Uhura.  Uhura never took a back seat in the adventures of the Enterprise, and was often a key character in story lines, very much an equal among her Star Trek peers.

Uhura_and_Kirk_kissOne of the most remarkable things about Uhura’s character was that she was one of the FIRST African American women on TV to play a role that didn’t have anything to do with being a servant.  This was a ground-breaking character, and having an African American woman in a position of equality definitely stirred the pot on occasion.  For example, in the episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”, Uhura famously kissed Captain Kirk (ok, it was a forced kiss because she was under the influence of alien telekinesis…but still…) in a scene that is largely cited as one of the first inter-racial kisses aired on US television.

Apparently, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a fan of the show, and even let his children watch it, in part because of Nichelle Nichols’ portrayal of Uhura’s character.  Nichelle actually wanted to quit the show after the first year to pursue a career on broadway, but was told by Dr. King that she “could not give up because she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country, as well as for other children who would see blacks appearing as equals.”  It’s a good thing she didn’t quit, because she DID inspire many to achieve success, including former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison, who said she was encouraged by Nichelle’s Uhura character.

MLK convo

Yes, Uhura was one smokin’ hot lady.  But she was also a star.  In Swahili, her character’s first name, Nyota, means “star”, and Uhuru means “freedom”.  With a name like that, how could Uhura achieve anything but success?  Set your phasers to “stunning”!