Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cliches Don't Grow on Trees or: The Tomboy Terror in Bunk 109

Story Order: #2
Publication Order: #10 (1991)
Time Covered: Three weeks in August, the summer before 5th grade.

Up next, the second prequel in the Linda Berman series, The Tomboy Terror in Bunk 109. This one was published last, after Loving Two is Hard to Do. Again, I give a resounding why? By now, the most important prequel, which I don't like to consider a prequel, is out. 2 Young 2 Go 4 Boys was a perfect segue into Linda's transition from Tomboy to boy crazy teen. So why do we need to see what happened to her for three weeks during camp...unless it's important.

Let's see if it is...

Plot Summary
Tomboy Terror starts where Want to Trade Two Brothers For a Cat? leaves off, with Linda destined for three weeks of summer fun at Camp Winnipeg. Of course, if it weren't for her friend, Matthew Bainbridge (casually referred to as "Matt" from now on), Linda would be miserable at camp. Snotty, prissy Brenda Roman is sure to make her life Hell! Luckily, Matt is happy to see Linda and introduces her to his friends Sam and Brad. At first, they are reluctant to accept a girl, but Matt vouches for her.

Linda decides that she doesn't want to spend her summer with Brenda and her friends Sharon and Melissa, so she concocts at plan to get into the boys cabin. Bravely, she cuts her hair and takes on the alias of Lindon Berman. Next, she accosts Brenda and blackmails her into lying about her true sex. When bunk assignments roll around, Linda, excuse me, Lindon, manages to trick Counselor Greg and is moved into Bunk 9.

She's still not fooling anyone.

Of course, that doesn't last. The boys' first activity is swimming. Linda borrows Sam's extra swim trunks and wears a t-shirt, but her bickering with Brenda gets the best of her. Brenda promptly tattles to Mr. Hawkins, the camp director and Linda is moved to Bunk 109 with the other ten-year-old girls despite her protests.

Linda moves in with the help of Carol, the assistant counselor of Bunk 109. Carol claims to have once been a tomboy too.
"I started growing up. I found some girls I really liked as friends, girls I could talk to about anything. I began to be interested in boys in a different way--as boyfriends, not just as friends. I discovered the good points about being a girl."
"What are those? I can't find any."
Linda is certain everyone in the bunk will judge her because of her short hair and Tomboyish attitude. She has a rough morning and is grouped with wimpy Farah Barton and two other girls, Heather and Rachel for her chore group. At breakfast, Linda expresses her annoyance to the boys. They invite her to be on their team for sports.
"Do you mean it, guys?" I felt unexpected tears burning in my eyes. I pretended to have some dirt in them so the boys wouldn't notice. It made me feel great to be accepted by Matt, Brad, and Sam.
Linda runs the idea by Carol, who insists Linda gives playing with the girls a shot. Of course, all they're interested in are the boys! When swim time comes, the girls spend too much time trying to decide on which suit "do the most for our figures." The only one who has a figure is Aileen, Bunk 109's head counselor. Linda stares at her in lesbianish awe.
I couldn't help staring. And wondering. Would I get to look like that one day? For the first time the thought entered my mind that maybe it might not be so bad to be a girl, at least not a girl who looked like Aileen.
Due to meddling, Linda later convinces Mr. Hawkins to combine boys and girls sports. Neither side is happy with this. The boys are too rough and girls are sissies, but the game goes on. Jed Lalotta is most upset by this and can't stand that Linda is just as good as him. At the end of game, Linda challenges him to tree climbing contest to prove who is better, once and for all. (DUN, DUN, DUN!)

Awww...too bad this fight will never turn into ANYTHING!!!

The next night, the tree climbing contest takes place with Linda as the victor. Although Jed is defeated, Brenda serves as some kind of consolation prize. He even gives her a better position on the baseball field, but Linda takes advantage of the situation and Brenda ends up with a twisted ankle.

The next big event is an over night camp out WITH THE BOYS!!! Everything is going great and then Linda sees Brenda and Jed K-I-S-S-I-N-G and humiliates her in front of everyone. Linda is certain Brenda will take her revenge, but nothing comes of it. In fact, the two call a truce for Parents' Day. Linda means to embarrass Brenda further by announcing her and Jed's woodland activities to everyone during their skit. But she decides not to.

This moment of peace is brief. I'll spare you the details, but soup gets poured on Brenda's head and Linda runs away into the woods. Mr. Hawkins finds her and explains...blah, blah, blah. Anywho, Linda and Brenda make up. They aren't friends by any means, but they live with each other for the rest of session. Besides, Brenda is conveniently moving before school starts!

Camp ends with Linda realizing she wouldn't have made the friends she did if she had gotten away with her scheme of living with the boys. She also decides to start 5th grade as a girl and not cut her hair again.

Well, any romantic hope I had at the end of Want to Trade... has been dashed. I've actually read this book before, too. And I remember being disappointed with it. Trust me, it's not as bad as it's predecessor. Definitely less juvenile, disappointing.

First of all, I'm going to maintain that the Linda Series is a romantically based series. Don't believe me? Four of the titles have the word "boys" in them, three specify "that boy", and one concerns "loving two". I suppose that the titles of the two prequels aren't misleading that way, but it still grinds my beans.

In Want to Trade... we are introduced to Linda, her family, her friends and her supposed "tomboyishness". But, like I said, there's no proof other than she only has guy friends. I'll admit that a camp environment is a good place to show off. You're in the woods, you're starting fires, canoeing, playing sports, not showering, and peeing in an outhouse. It's the perfect chance to show that you are tough in comparison to those Brenda Roman types who do their hair every morning. (OMG!)

In Linda's defense, she does bring out the Tomboy guns at camp. The biggest being her haircut. Now that is brave. I'm way too vain to do something like that. I even was way back in my so-called Tomboy days. Man, Linda really doesn't want to be with the girls. Which makes me think...why does she hate girls so much? She goes to school, so she must know that not all girls are like Brenda Roman. There've got to be other Tomboys in the neighborhood, right?

Silly, Jo! There's only one Tomboy per 
female group of friends!

I was actually pretty excited for some Twelfth Night type antics with Linda cross dressing all summer. Perhaps an unwanted romance? What if Brenda decided Lindon should be her summer boyfriend? You see, now that's entertaining! It's also out of the realm of possibility so Linda is sent back to the girls.

And here is the biggest problem with Tomboy Terror: Linda's goal is to spend all her time with the boys. She doesn't. She hangs out with her bunkmates. This isn't an order. She isn't forbidden to see the boys, she just doesn't hang out with them...and it's never explained!

I understand that Linda needed to learn that female friendships are more/just as important as her male friendships, but it seems to be at the expense of spending time with the boys. They don't even say "Hey, Linda, why don't you hang with us any more?" It just flows along without any any trouble. All of the conflict comes from Linda and Brenda butting heads. By the end, they learn to deal with one another, but it never goes anywhere because Brenda MOVES AWAY FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD! WHAT WAS THE FRIGGIN' POINT OF THIS BOOK?

One more thing! When I was younger, I was very, very into camp. I was a Girl Scout.

Old Mill Day. Oakesdale, WA. June, 1999

In fact, the only reason I was a Girl Scout was to go to camp. Seriously. I loved camp that much. Every summer between 1999 and 2003, I spent at least a one week session at Camp Four Echoes as a carefree camper. In 2004, the summer before my junior year, I became a Counselor-In-Training. The next summer, I worked as an apprentice counselor, meaning I worked for no money, but got free room and board. That was my last summer, mostly because all the fun of it had been sucked out and I couldn't live through another summer surrounded by only women in some kind of cloistered abbey situation...but I digress.

The point is, in preparation for my fun times at camp, I read a lot of books about camp. There are quite a few, and interestingly, they're all set in the late 70's and early 80's (huge generalization!)....okay, my favorites were. Books about camp seem to be non-existent today. I can only assume it's because isn't a huge coming-of-age event anymore. (Honestly, it wasn't for me, not compared to the events during the school year...but I digress again.) Now, kids are too dependent on technology to enjoy it. (And this is coming from someone raised in the "internet generation"!).

One of my favorites!

The Tomboy Terror in Bunk 109 is just a camp book. It can be read separately from the rest of series, because it has no foreshadowing (I think) to later books and all of the characters fall to the wayside. And as a camp book, it's cliche at best. The main character never wants to go to camp, but ends up having a blast. There's a campout, a food fight, and a rivalry with a bunkmate that is always resolved at closing campfire. This one hits every single cliche...appallingly.

At least the worst is over.

Useless Character List for My Enjoyment
  • Linda Berman - Protagonist (1, 2)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Berman - Linda’s parents (1, 2)
  • Brenda Roman - Linda’s prissy rival (1, 2)
  • Sharon Snyder and Melissa Dillon - Brenda's friends. Members of the Glitter Girls. (2)
  • Mrs. Roman - Brenda’s mother (1. 2)
  • Matthew "Matt" Bainbridge - Linda's friend from Want to Trade... (1, 2)
  • Sam and Brad - Matt's friends who accept Linda into their group. (2)
  • Mr. Bruce Hawkins - Camp Director (2)
  • Greg - Counselor of Bunk 9 (2)
  • Jeff - Greg's assistant (2)
  • Aileen - Counselor of Bunk 109 (2)
  • Carol - Aileen's assistant (2)
  • Farah Barton - Girl in bunk below Linda (2)
  • Debbie, Karen, and Cindy - Other bunkmates (2)
  • Heather and Rachel - Other bunkmates in the Bathroom Brigade (2)
  • Jed Lalotta - Cute blonde boy Brenda likes. (2)
  • Scott - Swimming counselor (2)
  • Kevin - Bunk 9 camper (2)
  • Ira and Joey Berman - Linda's brothers. (1. 2)
  • Mrs. Hawkins - Mr. Hawkins' wife (2)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Prequel's Out of the Bag or: Want to Trade Two Brothers For a Cat?

Story Order: #1
Publication Order: #6 (1989)
Time Covered: April of 4th Grade to midsummer

I debated for a long time whether to go in publication or story order. I decided on story because, as you will see, publication order is kind of fucked up. Want to Trade Two Brothers For a Cat? is the first chronological story about Linda Berman. From what I can gather from my super sleuthing, this book was published in between My Heart Belongs to That Boy and All For the Love of That Boy, two high school books.

And why? Seriously, why? Girls who have grown up with Linda are not going to want to back track to 4th grade, especially when the story has little/nothing to do with her love life, which of course, is the driving force behind the rest of the books.

But for the sake of this blog, let’s pretend that I myself just finished 4th grade and I recently learned that this is the first book in a series. This is the natural starting point. This is where I must begin.

Plot Summary
It all starts on a rainy April day when Linda’s younger twin brothers, Ira and Joey, are bothering her. She is nine. They are five. And they stole her comic books! Oh, the horror. I sense they have issues.

To escape her brothers, Linda goes down to spoiled Brenda Roman’s apartment, as per her request. Brenda shows off her brand new, cleverly monikered parrot, Pretty Boy. Due to some French farce, Pretty Boy escapes into the living room and the two girls work to get him back in his cage, but not without prissy Brenda getting bird shit on her shoulder. (Heh, heh, heh.)

Chapter 2 brings us Linda’s first declaration as a Tomboy. She doesn’t care about losing Brenda Roman as a friend as long as she has her boy friends (note that space!)--nerdy Danny Kopler, normal (?) Teddy Pappas, and brutish Billy Upton. But that’s not what’s currently upsetting her. Linda wants a pet. A dog, specifically, for her tenth birthday in June.

She runs this past her “Ma” who notes that a dog in a two bedroom apartment in NYC is ridiculous. Her Dad also says no, but suggests a kitten. Linda (like most pre-pubescent girls) jumps at this idea. After all, kittens are so “cute and cuddly and loveable”.

Oh, Christ. Fuzzy face!

Linda informs Danny, an eleven-year-old genius who taught himself calculus, about getting a cat. He suggests starving the poor thing to teach it tricks and turn it into a “super cat”. Swell kid, this Danny. Naturally, Linda refuses but Danny is surprised.
“Usually I am so glad to be around [Danny] that I go along with whatever he wants to do.”
(Is there a hint romance for this creepy, sadist geek?)

In lieu of torture, Linda and Danny go to the library to learn all things feline and how to care for her new pet. They learn several interesting facts. (Did you know cats see better in the dark? And their ears have thirty muscles! Radical!) Of course, Ira and Joey have to come too (Oh brother!) and Linda is pissed that they get to check out six books and she can only pick out two! Life is so unfair!

By the time Linda’s birthday rolls around, the kittens are born. She picks a grey, splotchy one with a tendency to scratch. She names her Scratchy. Clever girl. (This coming from the girl who named her first two cats Tuffy and Simba).

I won’t bore you with the details. It was hard enough for my adult sensibilities to get through the first time. So let me sum up: Scratchy has a hard time getting home. Scratchy has a rough first night. Scratchy learns to use the litter box. Scratchy learns to roll over with a Cheese Doodle as an incentive. Scratchy almost fights an alley cat.

On the Fourth of July, Linda enters Scratchy in a pet contest which Brenda Roman’s Pretty Boy is also competing. Then there’s Matthew Bainbridge with his dog, Winston. Matthew had been in Linda’s class last year.
“He had dark curly hair and big brown eyes and he played a good game of ball. I had always thought he was pretty nice and pretty cute.” 
(OOOHHH shit!)

But despite Matthew’s obvious cuteness, his dog attacks Linda and Scratchy runs away. She throws dirt in Matthew’s face but then reconciles with him to find her cat up a tree. He offers to give Linda a boost.
“Matthew didn’t look angry anymore. In fact, he was smiling as if he wanted to be friends…This made me madder than ever, so mad I couldn’t help but wonder how I had ever thought Matthew was the slightest bit cute. He certainly didn’t look cute now, with dirt smeared all over his over his face!”
Linda manages to bribe Scratchy out of the tree, but not in time for the pet contest. Both Scratchy and Winston are ineligible, so Linda and Matthew watch the contest. (Pretty Boy wins Best Bird…Grrrr!) The two spend the day together, enjoying the holiday festivities, but Matthew informs Linda that his family just moved to New Jersey so days like this won’t become a regular thing.

Soon, Scratchy begins wreaking havoc by destroying potted plants and jumping on the table. Ma gives an ultimatum: if Scratchy doesn’t start behaving, she has to find another home. (Damn, that was quick!) Also in this chock full Chapter 11, Linda’s dad informs her she will be attending Camp Winnipeg later in the summer. Brenda Roman’s mother has some pull there, you see. If Linda can’t train Scratchy by the time she goes to camp, the cat is out.

Linda turns to Danny for more intensive training. It seems to work, until Ma’s Bridge party. Her finely prepared meal of tuna mousse (Gack!), quiche, and Brie is ruined by Scratchy and that’s it. Linda sadly searches for a new home for Scratchy.

Mmmm...break me off a piece of that!

During a game of stoopball (ha, ha, New York), Scratchy escapes, some shit happens and Ira and Joey end up graciously saving her. It turns out those little twerps actually liked the cat and behaved badly because they were jealous. Linda offers to be “co-owners” with Joey and Ira. (Really nice, since it’s the night before she leaves for camp and Scratchy has to leave!)

Suddenly, deus ex machina, Linda receives a list of all the kids going to Camp Winnipeg with their addresses and phone numbers. Among them is Matthew Bainbridge, newly living in New Jersey with a big yard. An hour later, Matthew and his family come to pick up Scratchy.
“I looked over at Matthew, who was still smiling at me. Now that I knew he was going to be there, the idea of three weeks away at Camp Winnipeg was something I was starting to look forward to!”
Yes, me too!

Ugh…okay. This is technically the second time I read this book. The first time was after I bought if off Amazon in the great Collect the Linda Series Mission of ‘06. It sucked then at age 18, and it sucks now at 22.

I should be fair. I am not the target audience…sort of. As someone who enjoyed Linda as a fifth grader, I should be able to enjoy this simplistic prequel just based on characters. Of course, the only reoccurring characters are Linda’s family. But I’m just too old to fully appreciate this book. I’m past that kitten stage in my life. Even if I was in 4th grade, that would be pushing it. By then, I had moved onto other things.

If you wanna Fanta Fanta, don't you wanna Fanta Fanta?

I’ll try to put that aside for this review. In the beginning, Linda is a self-proclaimed Tomboy mostly because she has three guy friends and plays ball. She also doesn’t like Brenda Roman (pfft, who does?). Knowing (kind of) how everything eventually turns out, it’s comforting to see Linda as a Tomboy again. It’s such a part of her early identity (in the first four books, story wise).

However, her felinaphilia is a contradiction to her Tomboyish persona. Tomboys don’t swoon over kittens. Girly girls like kittens. Tomboys like dogs and reptiles and tarantulas. I don’t think 5th grade Linda would be caught dead wanting a kitten. Still, this is before other girly girls (say, like Brenda Roman) are swooning over boys. Linda doesn’t yet have to prove her differences as aggressively.

On the romance front, Linda’s biggest possibility is Matthew Bainbridge who she admits to being cute. Perhaps, it’s just an empirical observation, but she grows angry with herself for finding him attractive. He lives in New Jersey, so any long term possibilities are out the window, but what about camp???? There’s a chance for romance at camp!! (Oooh, stay tuned for The Tomboy Terror in Bunk 109!)

I’m pretty sure Linda likes Matthew and the author meant for us older readers, aware of Linda’s future of hating everything but boys, to find amusement in her cluelessness. However, romance is probably the farthest thing from the minds of those 4th graders only interested in reading about Linda’s feline trials and tribulations. It will sneak up on the readers just like it does for Linda.

As for the other boys, who are just her friends, I like Teddy Pappas best. Unfortunately, he’s moving to Long Island. I really don’t understand why this detail was put in there, because it really doesn’t go anywhere. I’m sad all the good guys are leaving the neighborhood!

Billy is mostly a character device, a third older guy friend for Linda. And keep an eye on Danny, because I think he comes back later…hopefully less creepy. (Seriously, what’s with all the scientific torture?)

I know where this is going...

Finally, there’s the subplot with Linda’s brothers. You would think that since they are part of the title, they would be more important to the plot, but they’re not. They pop up occasionally to annoy Linda, but never really make a huge impact on the plot, until the end when they save Scratchy from…a ledge? Whatever.

I’m actually not bothered by this because I don’t much care for sibling issues in books. (Being an only child, I will never be able to empathize). However, if it’s in the title…come on! At least change it if you're going to minimize the brothers! The first time through, I expected a lot more bratty, double teaming, little brother shenanigans but much to my happiness, there is very little of that. But where the brothers (and more implied romance) should be, there is cat stuff. So much cat stuff.

Luckily, Scratchy went to live with Matthew Bainbridge and as far as I know, she is not mentioned past 5th grade. It's the natural cycle: cats are replaced by boys...until loneliness replaces boys with cats.

Just ask Eleanor Abernathy.
Overall, Want to Trade Two Brothers for a Cat? isn't a bad book. But it ain't good, either. As stand alone novel, it is uneven and open ended (adventures at camp await us!). As a prequel, it does nothing but establish that Linda thinks she is a Tomboy. We see nothing to prove this claim...yet. It also establishes Linda's friendships with boys, her rivalry with Brenda Roman, and possible romantic feelings for Matthew Bainbridge. If the novel was made entirely of these elements, I wouldn't be complaining. But that damn cat stuff has no real importance later on and I can't help but feel another plot would have been better.

Useless Character List for My Enjoyment
  • Linda Berman - Protagonist
  • Ira and Joey Berman - Linda’s brothers
  • Mr. and Mrs. Berman - Linda’s parents
  • Brenda Roman - Girl who lives a few floors down, bratty and spoiled.
  • Grandma Roman - Brenda’s grandmother
  • Danny Kopler - Boy who lives one floor up. Likes math, science, and animal experimentation.
  • Billy Upton - Boy two years older who is kind of a bully.
  • Teddy Pappas - Friendly boy who moves to Long Island.
  • Fred Pappas - Teddy’s little brother who owns Tabby, Scratchy’s mother.
  • Mrs. Pappas - Teddy and Fred’s mother.
  • Raymond Pappas - Teddy and Fred’s jerkass cousin who takes Tiger.
  • Loretta Pappas - Teddy and Fred’s cousin who takes Smokey.
  • Matthew Bainbridge - Friend of Linda’s who owns Winston and later attends camp with her.

I Hated Everything But Boys: The Fiction Consumed by Jordyn the Youngling

I'll let you in on a HUGE secret. (Okay, HUGE is a rather unnecessary assessment of the situation.) In the second draft of my book (yeah, I'm writing a book. Did you not know?), my main character is reading a book I myself once read at a pubescent child: Logan Likes Mary Anne!

Yes, it was one of the Baby-Sitters Club books. Number 10, officially. I read those, just like every other woman born between 1978 and 1993 (I'm guessing on those dates). Anyway, it had actually been a very long time since I read LLMA!, so I cheated and looked on the internet for a plot summary and the important details I couldn't recall.

What I found were several blogs dedicated to going through the BSC canon. Others just revolved around YA Fiction in general. Since I'm a copy cat cunt, I'm going to go through what I read in my youth and perhaps discover where some of my tendencies as a [wannabe] writer of YAF come from.

Let's begin with my reading history, because it's so damn fascinating! The first chapter book I remember reading was Little House on the Prairie. I must have been in the second grade or something. I loved the TV show and the books. Therefore, my love of Girl Living During Important Period of American History books began.

Portraits of Little Women. Dear America. American Girl.
This is mostly what I read from second to fourth grade. Sure, there were Nancy Drews and Bobbsey Twins's in there, but it was mostly this kind of thing. I got into the Baby-Sitters Club in a really backwards way. The summer we got Primestar was also the summer I saw the lame BSC TV series reruns on the Disney Channel. Yes, I had seen the movie, but there was something about the TV show that hooked me. Then the second phase began: The Never Ending Series About 4 to 8 Adolescent Female Friends and Their Kooky Adventures.

The Baby-Sitters Club. Sleepover Friends. Camp Sunnyside Friends.
This continued on for awhile. However, before I moved to Oakesdale, I ended up borrowing a few books from the 5th grade library at Quilcene Elementary that never got returned. (Sorry, Mrs. Nelson!) Among them was Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, the YAF Holy Grail for unknowing girls. Suddenly, I graduated to more mature themes and began buying up her entire collection.

This is the cover I own.

But more important than Judy Blume (Yes, even more important than Judy Blume) was another book I found in February of 1999. It was called We Hate Everything But Boys. Because I'm going to do a later blog on it, I won't tell you too much other than it was romantically driven.

That was what was lacking from the YAF I read. I liked romance! And usually, there was only a mention of a crush here or there. The biggest part of all these stories were friendships. Don't get me wrong, friendships are incredibly important to me. But my love life was too and until I found WHEBB, there was no book that understood how important. Of course, I stole it and never returned it. (Sorry, Mr. Volland!)
I tried to find other books like it, but my search was in vain. Thus, my career as a YAF author began. If I could not find books I wanted to read, then I would write them. I kept reading YAF for awhile. But after I got to Judy Blume's Forever... all bets were off. I needed sex and there just wasn't enough in books aimed at adolescents. In the summer before 9th grade, I turned to historical romance novels and almost never looked back.

 Worst romance novel to start with. EVER.

But that's a story for another day.

To kick off this grand series, I am going to skip the adventures in Stoneybrook and Judy Blume (just for now!) so I can dissect the Linda Series, the series that is responsible for my current career of choice. Plus, there's a very, very good chance you've never heard of them.

Here is a little background: The Linda Series (also known as The Linda Stories) is a series of 10 (11 if you count one spin off) books about Linda Berman, a girl growing up in New York City. The novels cover her from age 9 to 18 and her romantic development along the way. The books are based on the diaries of author Linda Lewis, so there is some truth here! The first book to be published was We Hate Everything But Boys, but along the way, several sequels (and three prequels) followed.

I'll be honest. I've only read the first half of the series, despite owning them all for well over four years. Part of it is procrastination and the other part will be explained later, so a lot of this is a mystery to me too. I won't lie, I peaked ahead, so I know how it all ends, but I'll keep it a secret until that blog post. Get excited!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Best Original Song - 1961

"Bachelor in Paradise" from Bachelor in Paradise

Movie Synopsis: The author of a series of 'Bachelor Books' moves to the suburbs to write his next book. 

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? N/A. 
Is it important to the plot? N/A. 
Is it pleasing to the ear? C.

"Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's sung by Audrey Hepburn 

Movie Synopsis: A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building. 

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes. 
Is it important to the plot? Uh... 
Is it pleasing to the ear? A.

"The Falcon and the Dove" from El Cid sung by Chorus 

Movie Synopsis: The legendary Spanish hero, without compromising his strict sense of honour, still succeeds in taking the initiative and driving the Moors from Spain. 

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes. 
Is it important to the plot? I think this song is the plot.
Is it pleasing to the ear? C.

"Pocketful of Miracles" from Pocketful of Miracles sung by Chorus 

Movie Synopsis: New Yorkers attempt to fit into society. 

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes. 
Is it important to the plot? Tarzan and his mother bond. 
Is it pleasing to the ear? C .

"Town Without Pity" from Town Without Pity sung by Gene Pity 

Movie Synopsis: Four American soldiers stationed near a German village face death in the rape of a local girl and are defended by outside counsel. 

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? N/A.
Is it important to the plot? N/A. 
Is it pleasing to the ear? A.

So what won?
"Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's

What would I have voted for? 
"Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's
The clear winner. 

Everything pretty much pales in "Moon River"'s light. I love "Town Without Pity" but the right song won this year.

Best Original Song - 1999

"Save Me" from Magnolia sung by Aimee Man

Movie Synopsis: An epic mosaic of several interrelated characters in search of happiness, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? N/A.
Is it important to the plot? N/A.
Is it pleasing to the ear? D-.

"Music of My Heart" from Music of the Heart sung by Gloria Estefan and N*SYNC

Movie Synopsis: A schoolteacher struggles to teach violin to inner-city Harlem kids.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? N/A. 
Is it important to the plot? N/A.
Is it pleasing to the ear? B-.

"Blame Canada" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut sung by Sheila Broflovski, Sharon Marsh, Liane Cartman and Ms. McCormick

Movie Synopsis: When the four boys see an R-rated movie featuring Canadians Terrance & Phillip, they are pronounced "corrupted", and their parents pressure the United States to wage war against Canada.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? I think this song is the plot.
Is it pleasing to the ear? B+.

"You'll Be in My Heart" from Tarzan sung by Glenn Close and Phil Collins 

Movie Synopsis: A man who was raised among gorillas has his life interrupted when human explorers come to his area.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? Tarzan and his mother bond.
Is it pleasing to the ear? A- .

"When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2 sung by Sarah McLachlan 

Movie Synopsis: When Woody is stolen by a toy collector, Buzz and his friends vow to rescue him, but Woody finds the idea of immortality in a museum tempting. 

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? Jessie's back story. 
Is it pleasing to the ear? B.

So what won?
"You'll Be in My Heart" from Tarzan

What would I have voted for? 
"When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2
Wow, it's Randy Newman's lucky day. This is truly a beautiful song and one of the most heartbreaking scenes in cinema history. 

For the first time ever, three songs from three different animated features were nominated for BOS. Props to the Academy for "Blame Canada" but fail for "Save Me". Seriously, the first few notes had me cringing. I knew what kind of song it was.

Best Original Song - 2009

"The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart sung by Ryan Bingham 

Movie Synopsis: A faded country music musician is forced to reassess his dysfunctional life during a doomed romance that also inspires him.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? N/A.
Is it pleasing to the ear?  C+.

"Take it All" from Nine sung by Marion Cotillard 

Movie Synopsis: Famous film director Guido Contini struggles to find harmony in his professional and personal lives, as he engages in dramatic relationships with his wife, his mistress, his muse, his agent, and his mother.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes. 
Is it important to the plot? Daniel Day-Lewis's wife expresses her dissatisfaction.
Is it pleasing to the ear? B.

"Loin de Paname" from Paris 36 

Movie Synopsis: When a neighborhood music hall closes down, a trio of unemployed friends vow to bring the business back from the dead by staging a musical they hope will be a hit. If their gamble pays off, they'll have the money to buy the theater for themselves and the power to control their own destinies.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? They're falling in love... 
Is it pleasing to the ear? B+.

"Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog sung by Anika Noni Rose 

Movie Synopsis: A young waitress is transformed into a frog after an ill-fated kiss.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? Tiana's hopes of owning a restaurant. 
Is it pleasing to the ear? A- .

"Down in New Orleans" from The Princess and the Frog sung by Dr. John 

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes. 
Is it important to the plot? Introductions. 
Is it pleasing to the ear? B.

So what won?
"The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart

What would I have voted for? 
"Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog
I know, the day I vote for a Randy Newman song! It's the princess "I Want" song. How could I not? 

This year at the Academy Awards, they didn't perform the BOS nominees. Instead they showed some quit clips. So this was the first time I heard them all the way through in one sitting. In one way, I'm glad a country song could take the prize, but this one is so...ugh. (I'm one of those chumps that likes popular country and not "drown your sorrows" Merle Haggard type country.) Also, why was "Take it All" the one song from Nine to be nominated? Everyone prefers "Be Italian".

Best Original Song - 1951

"Never" from Golden Girl sung by Dennis Day

Movie Synopsis: Against the background of the Civil War, sixteen-year-old song-and-dance artiste Lotta Crabtree works her way across America, becoming ever more popular.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? N/A. 
Is it important to the plot? N/A.
Is it pleasing to the ear?  N/A.

"In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening" from Here Comes the Groom sung by Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman

Movie Synopsis: A foreign correspondent has 5 days to win back his former fiancée, or he'll lose the orphans he adopted.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes. 
Is it important to the plot? Somehow...
Is it pleasing to the ear? B-.

"Wonder Why" from Rich, Young, and Pretty sung by Jane Powell and Vic Damone

Movie Synopsis: A wealthy Texas rancher's daughter accompanies her father on a visit to Paris, where she meets  an eager young Frenchman.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? They're falling in love...
Is it pleasing to the ear? B+.

"Too Late Now" from Royal Wedding sung by Jane Powell

Movie Synopsis: A brother and sister dancing duo  embark to open their show in England and romantic interests threaten to break them up.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? N/A.
Is it important to the plot? N/A.
Is it pleasing to the ear? A- .

"A Kiss to Build a Dream On" from The Strip 

Movie Synopsis: N/A. 

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? N/A. 
Is it important to the plot? N/A. 
Is it pleasing to the ear? C.

So what won?
"In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening" from Here Comes the Groom

What would I have voted for? 
"Too Late Now" from Royal Wedding
I liked this one best.

1951 was a pretty good year. I pretty much liked all the songs. I'm disappointed I couldn't find the original clip for Royal Wedding because I really enjoy Jane Powell.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Best Original Song -1983

"Flashdance...What a Feeling" from Flashdance sung by Irene Cara

Movie Synopsis: A welder by day and an exotic dancer by night longs to be a serious ballerina.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? Yes, it's during Alex's final audition.
Is it pleasing to the ear? B+.

"Maniac" from Flashdance sung by Michael Sembello

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? Not really, it's a work out song.
Is it pleasing to the ear? C+.

"Over You" from Tender Mercies sung by Betty Buckley

Movie Synopsis: A broken-down, middle-aged country singer gets a new wife, reaches out to his long-lost daughter, and tries to put his troubled life back together.

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? A song sung on stage.
Is it pleasing to the ear? A.

"Papa, Can You Here Me?" from Yentl sung Barbra Streisand 

Movie Synopsis: A Jewish girl disguises herself as a boy to enter religious training

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? Yes...but I don't know why.
Is it pleasing to the ear? B+.

"The Way He Makes Me Feel" from Yentl sung by Barbra Streisand

Does it appear in the movie (i.e. other than the end credits)? Yes.
Is it important to the plot? Developing romance.
Is it pleasing to the ear? C.

So what won?
"Flashdance...What a Feeling" from Flashdance
What would I have voted for?
"Over You" from Tender Mercies

Another hidden gem! I'm so excited to find this song!

The right song won, definitely. "Over You" is just a stage song and hasn't had the impact that "Flashdance" had. Not a bad year over all, though.