Music

Good Mood Music: Me Hace Feliz

A less heralded singer from the 90s is Veronica. She was kind of in the same club/dance music niche as Deborah Cox (before she attained a little more notoriety with her One Wish album).

“Me Hace Feliz,one of the more R&B oriented songs on her second album Rise, is the one I’m going to spotlight. It translates to “You Make Me Happy,” but the English version of the song on the album is called “Inspired Me.” The song is straightforward–a love letter to a lover telling them all the good things that have come her way since they met.

After the promotion of Rise, Veronica took a break from club music and moved into musical theater, portraying another one of my faves, Selena, in a traveling show named Selena Forever.

Not quite as active in the industry nowadays, she has become an advocate for autism research following her son’s diagnosis.

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Music

Good Mood Music: The Queen of Soul

On the week The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is laid to rest, I offer a very brief post in memoriam. Brief mostly because no amount of words would ever be able to cover what her music–and her being, but we’ll stick to the music here–has meant.

Aretha could sing ANYTHING. It’s what made trying to pick one song to feature so difficult. The question has been a lot in the past couple of weeks, “Which song would be the song you would introduce her catalog to someone with?” My advice? Go to a streaming site and hit random play. It’s all great.

Of course, you could start off with “Respect,” perhaps her most popular song. But that song, while representative, only scratched the surface of her capabilities. As an aside, did you know Aretha’s version of “Respect” is a cover of an Otis Redding song? Also, here’s a great anecdote from her son Teddy on the little hitch you can hear in the opening line of the album version if you’re listening close.

There are others that pop up as songs I’d play: “Think”, “Amazing Grace”, “A Rose is Still a Rose”, “Freeway of Love”, “Chain of Fools”, “Until You Come Back To Me”, “Natural Woman”, “Say A Little Prayer”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” … (you see how hard this is to pick one?)

But if I had to pick an entry point, I’d choose “A Deeper Love.”

This song is at the top of my pick-me-up playlist. When I’m at my lowest, it pulls me up. When I’m up, it keeps the good vibes going.

…People let me tell you–I work hard everyday
I get up out of bed, I put on my clothes
‘Cause I’ve got bills to pay
Now it ain’t easy, but I don’t need no help
I’ve got a strong will to survive
I’ve got a deeper love, deeper love
Deeper love inside
And I call it
Pride (a deeper love)
Pride (a deeper love)
Pride (a deeper love)
Woah woah woah woah
It’s the power that gives you the strength to survive…

I also highly recommend the live Grammy performance of “Nessun Dorma,”  a performance in which she filled in for opera great Luciano Pavarotti at the last minute.

Pavarotti was being honored that night and was scheduled to perform, but his throat wasn’t cooperating. Doctors advised him not to perform, and the Grammy producers all of a sudden needed a plan B. Fortunately, Aretha had performed at an event in her honor earlier that week and agreed to do the performance.

First, how fortuitous can you be to have Aretha Franklin as your plan B? Secondly, how many popular singers have the range for an aria?

The moment had a feeling that really can’t come through full strength unless you heard it that night, but the impact of most events can’t be felt secondhand. However, it comes through OK in the video clips you see from time-to-time, especially when you see the crowd reactions. Unfortunately, the Grammy organization tends to be a stickler, so the actual performance is hard to find. Instead, enjoy her The Late Show performance of the song.

Rest well, Queen Aretha…

Gymnastics, Olympics

How Tokyo 2020 Olympic Spots Will Be Determined for Women’s Artistic Gymnastics

Up until now, gymnastics qualifying for the Olympic Games largely took place at the World Championships the year prior to the Olympics and at the Olympic Test Event held approximately six months after that World Championships.

Starting with qualifications for the 2020 Olympics, the time frame has stretched to the two years prior to the Olympics. Though, the bulk of qualifications will still be in the latter half of 2019 and the first part of 2020.

Below is an overview on how the 98 women (48 as part of teams and 50 as individuals) who will compete at the Olympics in Tokyo will qualify.

VIA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

– 2018 Worlds: The top 3 teams will qualify for Tokyo. This is by country only, not by name for the gymnasts who competed.

– 2019 Worlds: The top 9 teams, other than the already qualified 3, will qualify for Tokyo. Again, this is by country only, not by name for the gymnasts who competed.

– 2019 Worlds: The top 20 individual all-arounders who are NOT on one of the 12 qualifying teams qualify for Tokyo 2020. These spots go to the individual gymnasts and CANNOT be transferred.

– 2019 Worlds: Individual event medalists who are not on one of the qualifying teams –or– one of the additional 20 all-arounders qualify for Tokyo 2020. Like with the all-arounders, these spots go to the individual gymnasts and CANNOT be transferred.

VIA APPARATUS (INDIVIDUAL EVENT) WORLD CUPS

– The overall series winner on each event over the course of the 2018 AND 2019 seasons (November 2018 – March 2020) qualifies for Tokyo 2020.

– The top 3 finishes for each gymnast over the two seasons will be used for the calculation.

– The winner CANNOT have competed at either 2018 Worlds or 2019 Worlds. Doing so would mean that the gymnast would’ve technically qualified twice, even though the spots earned for the team are non-nominative and don’t belong to the gymnast.

– If the series winner has already qualified for Tokyo 2020 via a top-12 World Championships team, the next highest in the ranking who wasn’t on a top-12 team gets the qualifying spot.

– The winner of the qualifying spot CAN be from a country of one the top-12 teams, but just couldn’t have been a member of either one of the 2018 or 2019 Worlds teams.

*Special note: Individual event qualifiers will have the option of competing on all 4 events at the Tokyo Olympics.

VIA ALL-AROUND WORLD CUPS

– Only the top-12 qualifying teams will be invited to all-around World Cups in 2020 (to be held in March and April of that year).

– From those 12 teams, the top 3 countries will earn a Tokyo 2020 qualifying spot. These 3 spots are non-nominative, meaning they don’t belong to a specific gymnast.

– Countries don’t have to send the same gymnast to each of the AA World Cups.

VIA CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

– Per Olympic rule, two gymnasts from each continent, excluding Antarctica, must be represented.

– In 2020, the top 2 all-arounders from the following meets: African Championships, Asian Championships, European Championships, and the Pan-Am(erican) Championships will earn a qualifying spot to Tokyo 2020. The top all-arounder from the 2020 meet to be held in the region of Oceania will also earn a qualifying spot.

– Gymnasts who are a member of a top-12 team and competed at either 2018 Worlds or 2019 Worlds are NOT eligible to earn one of these spots.

– If the top 2 eligible gymnasts (or the 1 from Oceania) are from a top-12 team, the qualifying spot belongs to the country. If the top 2 eligible gymnasts are not from a top-12 team, the qualifying spot belongs to the gymnast.

ADDITIONAL QUALIFIERS

– It’s also a requirement that the Olympic host nation have at least 1 participant. Making the assumption Japan will qualify as a team, this spot will be opened to the next highest all-arounder from 2019 Worlds who is not already qualified.

– The last spot is the tripartite invitation. This qualifying spot is offered to a gymnast from a country that had an average of less than 8 athletes compete at the previous two Olympic Games (in this case, Rio 2016 and London 2012). If unused, this spot will be opened to the next highest all-arounder from 2019 Worlds who is not already qualified.

The official procedure for qualifying from the FIG can be found here.

Gymnastics

Random Thoughts from 2018 Classics

The late summer competition season is here for women’s artistic gymnastics. European Championships start this week (August 2 thru August 12). In the U.S., the season kicks off with the marathon competition day that is Classics, or more formally the 2018 GK U.S. Classic. Held yesterday, here are some random thoughts.

Let’s start with the juniors (per usual)…

This is the perfect way to describe Zoe Gravier‘s floor routine to me. Some didn’t like it. I couldn’t turn away. I need her to end up on a NCAA team with good choreographers. Not everyone can pull off a routine like this–and she sold it.

Overall, the junior gymnasts were quite impressive on beam. All-around winner Leanne Wong definitely was.

If the names didn’t give it away, you would definitely be able to figure out who Aleah Finnegan and eMjae Frazier are related to. Their styles are very reminiscent of their older sisters Sarah and Margzetta, respectively.

On to the seniors… Continue reading “Random Thoughts from 2018 Classics”

Music

Good Mood Music: You Bring Me Joy

Anita Baker is one of my favorite singers of all time. In fact, I’ve already featured her version of “Lately,” one of my early Good Mood Music posts. My list of favorites from her is long.

Last month, BET honored her during its Music Awards. The three main performances were fantastic. Marsha Ambrosius did a great job with “Caught Up in the Rapture,” as did Ledisi with “Sweet Love.”

But it was Yolanda Adams singing “You Bring Me Joy” that stole the show. So I used that to narrow my choices down for this month.

The song is from Anita’s mega hit album Rapture, and became popular despite not being released as a single. (“Sweet Love” and “Caught Up in the Rapture” were the lead two singles of what would be five songs released.) It showcases what Anita does best: soulfully smooth ballads.

…You bring me joy
When I’m down
Oh, so much joy
When I lose my way your love comes smiling on me…

And in case you haven’t heard Yolanda’s version…

Music

Good Mood Music: Love and Happiness

If you’re talking about soul music, it won’t be long before you get to Al Green. The Arkansas-born singer was a staple of the R&B/Soul music scene in the 1970s, recording a number of hits. One of them was “Love and Happiness.” A song that brings a smile to a lot of people’s faces and reminds just as many of family gatherings.

Often times, you’ll know the song is about to play before you hear any instruments because of the count that occurs at the very beginning. Of that well-known beat, Al wrote in his autobiography that “the tempo was the most important thing to Willie (Mitchell, the song’s producer), and, if you listen close, you can hear Teenie (Hodges, the song’s co-writer with Green) counting off with his foot on a cardboard box for the take that nailed it.”

This version is Al’s March 1973 appearance on the long-running music celebration that was Soul Train. The performance actually was one of the driving forces in the song’s U.S. popularity. “Love and Happiness” was released in the U.K. in 1973, but wouldn’t formally be released in the U.S. until 1977.

Media

What If This Book Were a TV Show?

I have read several books that became a feature film or a TV movie not long after I read it e.g. P.S. I Love You, The Secret Life of Bees, Montana Sky, I Do (But I Don’t), Crazy Rich Asians, etc. And sometimes I wonder while reading certain books how it would go if it were developed into another media type, be it a movie or TV show.

Not too long ago, I finished the book The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger of The Devil Wears Prada fame (another book I read that later was transitioned into a movie). In it, a professional tennis player named Charlotte “Charlie” Silver gets swept in the (not so?) “good life” as she ascends the rankings in pursuit of her first major title.

As I read the book, I couldn’t dodge the thoughts of “this could make a good serialized story.” To do it, however, you would have to shift the spotlight away from Charlie somewhat to make it more of an ensemble-driven show. If or when you read the book, you’ll find there might be a limit to Charlie’s presence in the long-term—unless a major plot twist is changed. Fortunately, the book has more than enough supporting characters that, with the development of more backstory, can drive the story forward when Charlie isn’t the main focus if need be.

I imagine the TV show would work best as a Netflix or Hulu-type program, one that is released all at once for the binge-watchers or can be watched one episode at a time, whichever way the consumer prefers. Also, the 13-episode season is still in vogue on the streaming services (like it was once upon a time for broadcast TV), and that feels like the correct length for a TV show with this kind of story. Plus, when shows get 18 or 22-episode seasons show runners often have to create filler episodes which can drag the story down.

The timeline of the book takes you through about 14 months, from Wimbledon, which occurs in early July, through the U.S. Open of the following year (the U.S. Open ends in early September). I only covered the first two-thirds of the book (about 11 months of time) for the first season of my imagined series for the purposes of creating a good cliffhanger for the season finale.

Now, without further ado, my creative thought exercise on how I imagine the first season of a show based off of The Singles Game would play out. Warning: spoilers ahead (I tried not give too much of the story away, but some details were unavoidable).
Continue reading “What If This Book Were a TV Show?”