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…


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.


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?”


Good Mood Music: Come Back to Me

I love Janet Jackson. Much like Venus Williams, she too became a legend in the same field where she has a sibling who not only also attained legend status, but legitimately is in the discussion of best ever. (For Janet, it was her brother Michael. For Venus, it’s her sister Serena.) She’s also endured (more than) her fair share of ups and downs during a life that has been on display for the world since her youth–and thrived regardless.

In honor of her birthday, and inspired by Stereo Williams’ tweet, here is my favorite ballad of hers.

Come Back to Me” is one of the record seven singles from one album to peak in the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 (Rhythm Nation 1814). The song peaked at #2, and is a beautiful, wistful telling of the feelings still held for a past love with. Janet has a well-noted gentle delivery of lyrics and it plays so well in contrast to the theatrics of the instrumentals used for this song, especially as it builds towards the end.

Bonus: These are two more ballads from Janet I adore.

From her album Janet., “Where Are You Now.”

Again” is technically from the album Janet. as well, but originally it was on the Poetic Justice soundtrack–a movie she also starred in.


The Top 12 Teams of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gym Season

Before we get to the thoughts, perhaps my favorite line from a fluff piece ever (played as the opening before the semifinals): “It does not matter how great of an athlete you are, you cannot play gymnastics. And that’s where the brawn comes in.”

The concern coming into Nationals was their vaulting. Obviously, you can give away a little elsewhere if you have bars and beam like that. I told my sister on Saturday just before the meet started I thought only two teams had a chance to win if Oklahoma had a hit meet: UCLA and LSU, but they’d have to be perfect. I didn’t expect to actually see it. UCLA got two perfect 10s from Peng in the only two events she competes–and they needed every bit of it.

Peng also had my favorite post-meet quote: “I’m so excited and I have no tears in my eyes because I think they’re partying on the inside.”

2. Oklahoma
Like I mentioned before, it was going to take perfection to beat them. OU was a little off at the beginning on beam–and I mean just slightly, but it didn’t seem like it was going to make the difference. Yet, it did by a mere 0.0375. I do wonder if the rotation order got them a bit by having to start on an apparatus that is a noted strength for them when scores tend to be tight early in a meet. However, it’s OU. The separation between their best and fourth best events isn’t as dramatic as it for other teams. This was just a great, and really closely contested meet.

3. Florida
The last rotation was so much fun (and a bit stressful) with the four main contenders competing at the same time. Florida put up a valiant effort on floor–the event that gave them the most difficulty this season–in that final rotation, but had lost a little too much on beam to make up the difference.

4. LSU
LSU had a very similar meet to Florida. Went lights out their last event, vault, like Florida did on floor, but had lost too much ground from their beam rotation. And when I say lost too much ground, I’m only referring to two tenths!

5. Utah
Not a bad effort in Super Six, but noticeably off the pace of the top four with a performance a little below their normal effort on floor and vault.

6. Nebraska
Happy to see them make the final after being so, so close last year. After the first two rotations during the first National semifinal, it was clear Nebraska held its own destiny in getting to the Super Six final. Every year it seems, they start a little slowly but by the end they’re right there. They were out of it from the start with a rough bars rotation in the final, but a great year.

Continue reading “The Top 12 Teams of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gym Season”

Media, Sports

Entertaining NFL Schedule Releases

Apparently a memo to make the typical mundane schedule release for the upcoming season more interesting was sent around the NFL. The teams–for the most part–played their part really well by creating animations in a variety of styles. Below are the ones I personally found the most engaging.

Chicago Bears
Its Monsters of the Midway video game theme was my favorite of the bunch. Not too long, and the one-liners for each opponent were good. Good choice on the background music too.

Houston Texans
The cutest of the animations. I like the Peanuts-esque characters, and how their sayings or objects they were shown with pulled from memorable moments in their careers to this point. It was just a smidge too long for my taste.

New York Jets
You can’t really do wrong with some Mario Kart nostalgia.

Tennessee Titans
Winner of the Chamber of Commerce award. Features a quick hit of a tourist destination for every city on the schedule, including home games. Also, possibly has the best picture quality of all the videos.

Detroit Lions
I’m not a Lions fan, but I suspect this one played really well to its fans specifically because of all the behind the scenes focus on the players and team personnel.

Kansas City Chiefs
Best use of current media watching culture. Using a couple of their star players getting ready for a pseudo-Netflix binge was cute.

Los Angeles Chargers
I’m still not used to that “Los Angeles” in front of the Chargers’ name. Anyway, they decided to be shameless and employ puppies for their schedule reveal. I mean who’s not going to watch a video with cute puppies?


Good Mood Music: Coming to My Senses

I love blending poetry and songwriting, but TCOY is more like a subconscious stream of thoughts.

This month’s selection is a very recent release. “Coming to My Senses” is a track off of Alina Baraz’s EP The Color of You.

As Alina noted in the quote above from a Complex interview, the whole project flows from start to finish, with each song melding into the next. Projects like that are really good chill out and unwind from what’s going on music for me. “Coming to My Senses” is one of the standout songs on TCOY to me because it has a bit more pace than most of the other songs—and the rhythm of the chorus is really catchy.

…All night, tried to paint a picture of you
In my mind, but you…
You’re a color that don’t exist
What are you?
I hear sounds you make with my lips
What are you?
I’m getting so close to
Coming to my senses…