Music, Movies, TV – An Insider’s Perspective

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Could you be in a cult and not know it?

Can watching movies with friends or groups of people that seem similar to you lead to being in a cult?

WHAT IS A CULT MOVIE?

There are many CLASSIC FILMS that are considered to be a masterpiece like Harry Potter, Star Wars or The Titanic. But there is also a plethora of movies called “CULT FILMS.” These films have a low budget, low box office numbers and a low following compared to the most “popular” movies with extremely devoted followers.

“When they go low, a specific cult film audience sometimes goes high.” I consider cult films to be high art, especially the classic Cheech & Chong films.

This comedic duo were OG’s in the cult movie game! Use this link to Browse all Cheech and Chong titles

And if you love Cheech and Chong I know you will love this profoundly serious 1936 film that has become known as one of the most hilarious films that helped to start the cult movie craze….

This golden age classic “REEFER MADNESS” is always a “HIT” at every cult film get together. Use this link to get it.

If you have never seen Reefer Madness I highly suggest seeing it with a group of friends and “unique snacks”

Cult films can be hilarious, horrific, bloody, gory, sexy, strange, evil, weird, naughty, scary and something the popular kids and their parents just don’t understand.

While the mass majority of movie goers shy away from films with questionable content, there are legions of “cool misfits” that just can’t get enough of cult films. In fact, they often see these films over and over again. They are passionate and dedicated to their favorite “off-beat” films. They shout-out dialogue and quote lines from their favorite films. You are highly likely to see people dressing up as characters or actively participating at a local midnight showing of some of the films that made it to “CULT CLASSIC” status .

The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a cult-classic and the “KING of CULT FILMS.”

“The Rocky Horror Show” started in 1973 as a play in London. The play became a movie and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” premiered on September 25, 1975. For 47 years there have been audiences all over the world dressing up like Frank N. Furter, Riff Raff, Rocky, Columbia, Magenta, Brad, Janet and the other 49 characters. They bring their own props to the midnight shows, they sing, shout out replies to lines in the movie and they famously do the “Time Warp.”

Let’s see if YOU remember how to do the “Time Warp”…no worries, no one is looking

“Time Warp” from the 1975 “Rocky Horror Picture Show”

Although I have seen the movie many times I am proud to say that I was one of the original members of the audience at The Roxy Theater on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood that attended the live production over a nine-month run in 1974. For the movie premiere myself and my Road Dawg Sheila, went on a bus with cast members from The Roxy theater in Hollywood to the United Artists Theatre in Westwood, California.

The Roxy live audience was much like the midnight movie audience, we dressed up, sang loudly and everyone did the time warp. This was definitely one of the “BEST” times of my life. Shout out to “Sheila” who joined me for many “Rocky” nights at The Roxy. I know she is reading this “cult movie” feature because she is still a cool, unique, weirdo, misfit.

Cult films are NOT to be watched alone.

You must share the “dark beauty” of your favorite cult films with your wackiest, most unique, weird, nerdy, and strange, mis-fit friends. These are typically the friends who are most likely to have ALL their badges from ALL their years attending Comic-Con. And they are always ready to tell you how each year was better than the rest…(these same friends may also be the ones most likely to have body parts in their freezer)….just kidding about the freezer but they WILL have those Comic-Con badges and wristbands.

Do you have what it takes to be a Cult Leader or are you more of a follower?

If you are considering having a CULT MOVIE party or a CULT MOVIE marathon, at your house or a venue, you should take on the role as the “CULT LEADER” for the day.

  • The CULT LEADER chooses the CULT FILM or films to bring to the party.
  • The followers usually bring the party favors, the junk food and the “brewskis”

It is not easy to recommend Cult Films because they are usually tailored to the specific taste of the viewers. For instance, there are cult groups that are enthusiastic about women’s prison films, naughty nurses, or nuns, while others love zombies, cannibals, and gory horror films.

I will offer some suggestions for a party with a mixture for those who like the popular, big budget cult films and for those that like to dig-deep into the freaky cult film vault.

HERE ARE THE MOST POPULAR CULT FILMS THAT MOST PEOPLE CAN ENJOY.

The Rocky Horror Picture ShowGet your Rocky fix with this link

The Big Lebowski…DUDE, you need to OWN this one! Get the 20th Anniversary edition here

Harold & Maude (a personal favorite) I recommend the Blu-ray, get it here

Friday…Warning: you may need extra snacks for these films. Get all 3 films…1-3 here

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (If you love British humor, this is for you) Get it here

Fight Club…(Another personal favorite) DeepDiscount.com has the Anniversary Edition here

Labyrinth…Get this dark film, directed by Jim Henson, but this one is NO MUPPET MOVIE. It stars David Bowie and you can get it here

American Psycho…not sure what this says about me, but I LOVE this movie. Get it here

Clerks…This classic Kevin Smith film is available here

Showgirls…This erotic, campy, cult drama centers around strippers and showgirls. Need I say more? Here’s the link

Donnie Darko…Jake Gyllenhaal and Drew Barrymore are incredible in this dark, sci-fi cult film. Get it here

Dazed and Confused…Star studded cast and A MUST SEE for all cult film enthusiasts. Get it here

The Room…loved this weirdly amazing movie! DeepDiscount.com has it here

There are far too many popular Cult Films to name them all, but now you have a few choices to get your party started.

For those of you who like to dig deep for the hard-core cult films there are a ton more to choose from. Just read the titles because they often give you clues to the content of the films

Look for key words like Zombies, Sex, Evil, Girls, Women’s Prison, Naughty Nurses, Terror, Horror, Blood, Gore, Hell and all your favorite guilty pleasures. You will find the perfect films for those misfit friends I spoke about earlier in this feature.

Find all your off-beat, hard-core cult treasures HERE

ENJOY THESE CULT FILMS. When you find one you love, write back, and tell me how it warped your mind…or made you laugh your ass off.

WORTH RE-VISITING

You can’t talk about ROCK LEGENDS without mentioning “THE BEATLES” and “THE ROLLING STONES”

Well, it appears that I have mentioned and featured “The ROLLING STONES” on October 19, 2021…(it includes one of my “fave” photos with Keith Richards)

“The Beatles” were also featured on October 22, 2021. You can visit this feature by clicking the link…..(it includes photos of me, with 2 Beatles….can you find “Violet” in the pic with Paul?

Did I really have that “hair” in the pic with Ringo?

Which ROCK LEGEND……is NEXT?

I am writing about my “personal favorites” through April so check back soon, for more of VIOLET’S FAVORITE ROCK LEGENDS!

Was Prince a Rock Legend?

Or was he a FUNK….R&B…..POP….or SOUL LEGEND?

Most music fans would agree that “PRINCE WAS A LEGEND

When Prince Rogers Nelson was born, did his mother have a premonition that her baby boy would grow into his ROYAL NAME and RULE MANY GENRES of MUSIC?

PRINCE was PERFECTION…he was a MUSICAL GENIUS…he MASTERED 27 INSTRUMENTS…he was a PROLIFIC songwriter and composer…he had AMAZING GUITAR SKILLS…Some call Prince a GUITAR GOD (some say GUITAR HERO)

Prince was a Singer, Songwriter, Composer, Producer, Actor, Innovator, Game-changer, Music Mogul, GENIUS…ICON and a LEGEND!

Today, on April 21, 2022, it has been 6 years since PRINCE left us.

Prince fans will NEVER forget where they were and what they were doing on the morning of April 21, 2016, when they were hit over-the-head with the news of the passing of PRINCE. For me it was unbelievable and 6 years later it is still UN-REAL.

I had the rare opportunity to visit Prince at his private estate and production complex…PAISLEY PARK.

I was there on October 26, 1996, for a private listening party with Prince and 12 other fortunate music execs to hear his new album. The album was “Emancipation.” It was a triple album, so we were alone with Prince for more than 4 hours as he played and discussed all 36 songs on the album. After hearing the entire album Prince asked us if we wanted to stick around for a “demonstration.” We were not exactly sure what his demonstration would be but the invitation to stick around longer with Prince was “music” to our ears.

His demonstration turned out to be the MOST AMAZING and INTIMATE PRINCE SHOW we would EVER see!

The 13 of us….stood in his massive sound stage room where Prince usually rehearsed for all his major tours including his famous super-bowl performance.

Prince left us alone in the room and told us to have some snacks. The beverage of the night was delicious juices…NO ALCOHOL WAS ALLOWED AT EVENTS IN PAISLEY PARK. Prince was never much of a drinker – he only enjoyed a little red wine on special occasions.

After about an hour wait, all lights went out and we were standing in total darkness. Then a purple spotlight hit the middle of his giant “all-white” stage. Purple smoke started to spew out of fog machines that were on each side of the stage.

Prince stepped into the spotlight with his guitar. We could vaguely see the other band members through the purple fog/smoke.

Prince proceeded to give us a private show with a full band. I stood right in front of the stage, looking up at him as he played 10 songs. Song #2 was Purple Rain and he stood right at the edge of the stage. I could have touched his feet. He played Purple Rain for 13 people as though he was playing it for the Super Bowl….I felt as though I could faint…it was over-whelming.

We later found out that we had seen a rehearsal for a live show he was recording at Paisley Park. The special show would have an audience full of hardcore Prince fans. The show aired on MTV, BET & VH1 in November of 1996. The show was to promote and celebrate the release of his (triple) “Emancipation” album (released on Nov. 19, 1996)

Our special Prince show is “The most memorable show of my lengthy career in music” I have witnessed so many amazing and special shows, but this PRIVATE, INTIMATE PRINCE show for 13 people tops my list of the MOST MEMORABLE SHOWS OF ALL-TIME!

I am not going to get into specific albums by Prince, but I will invite you to use the link below to check out my feature on…PURPLE RAIN (written on 6/18/21).

Prince: Purple Rain-Violet Brown Told Me

I will end with my most treasured item and moment with Prince……….

“The Item”

On November 20, 2001, Prince released his 24th album on NPG Records along with Redline Entertainment.

The album was “The Rainbow Children” and I was a buyer for Wherehouse Music.

I was told that my sales rep was bringing something special to me from Prince. I had been given a few things from Prince over the years but this time my sales rep walked in with a CD. He asked me to play track 12, called “Family Name”. I listened closely for several minutes but nothing was standing out until I reached about 6:09 of the 8:17 minute song. It was at that moment in the song where Prince was jammin’ on his guitar and he said, “make a sound”

then all music ceased and he very clearly said, “Violet Brown.”

Then he went back to jammin.’ I could not believe my ears and it made me very emotional.

ALBUM: Rainbow Children

SONG: “Family Name”  (Track #12…Verse 6)

(Found at 5:50-6:10 of the song)

People, people what’s your name?
Maybe, we should start all over
Let everybody get in the game
Put up a one gloved fist
Make a sound, Violet Brown

“The Rainbow Children” is not easily found but my blog sponsor deepdiscount.com carries an extensive catalog on all artists.

Click here to find it and OWN…”The Rainbow Children”

“My Magical Moment with Prince”

It was at a Goapele show in Hollywood where I had the rare opportunity to see Prince again. I was seated upstairs in a V.I.P area at a great table with 3 of my friends. A waiter came over and asked if he could seat 2 more people at my table. I said

“yes” and I noticed he was bringing Raphael Saadiq and another man to my table. Raphael sat down next to me which was fine because I know him well. When I looked at the other man I was shocked to see it was Prince. I whispered to Raphael that after the show I needed to speak to Prince. With so many eyes on Prince, he never seemed to make eye contact with anyone. He just sat and watched Goapele as she gave an outstanding performance. At the end of the show Raphael tapped my arm and then he said to Prince “This is Violet Brown, she is the…” and before he could finish Prince stood up and took my hand and said “I know exactly who she is. She is the buyer at The Wherehouse.” I then looked right into the eyes of Prince and told him how much the mention of my name in his song meant to me. As I was telling him how much his gesture touched my heart, I got emotional and started to cry. Raphael found this to be funny which made me a little embarrassed, but it did lighten the moment and helped me to calm down. This is one of my most memorable times with Prince.

Just in case you may be wondering who Goapele is and why Prince went to see her that night, just check out her video for “Closer.”

You can also sample and purchase her music here (Goapele music on DeepDiscount.com)

If you would like to add any of the 39 Prince studio albums…or the 5 live albums…or perhaps some of his 17 video releases to your personal collection….check out the full selection of Prince music and movies available from my blog sponsor DeepDiscount.com here (Prince on DeepDiscount.com)

Come back to see which ROCK LEGEND I feature next…..DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE???

HAROLD and MAUDE

Do you have a favorite film that you could watch over and over and……..over again?

This is the film that I could watch daily. In fact, I can just play it in the background as I work or drift off to sleep. The soundtrack is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. This amazing soundtrack features the music of Cat Stevens who also happens to be one of my favorite singer songwriters.

A few years ago, a dear friend sent me a limited and numbered edition of the soundtrack on vinyl. It was a collectors’ copy so I did not play it and I chose to listen to the soundtrack in other ways.

Today as I was browsing through Deepdiscount.com, I noticed that a 50th Anniversary Edition on vinyl and CD was just released on 2/11/2022. The price is FANTASTIC, so I am picking up the 50th Anniversary edition on both vinyl and CD so I can play it at any time without the worry of scratching my collector’s edition. And by the way, my numbered, collectors’ vinyl copy was selling for nearly $1000 online.

HAVE YOU SEEN HAROLD and MAUDE,
or has it been years since you have seen it?

I was just 17 years old when the film Harold and Maude was released. The trailer for the film had me from the first note of Cat Steven’s “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out.” Then came the dark humor of the trailer and I was sold on seeing this film. When it was first released in 1971 it was not successful at the box office. I suppose the trailer was a little too dark for most people, but my twisted mind LOVED this film.

The stars of the film, Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort were magical together. They were loveable, funny, and carefree together. Maude at age 79, believed in living each day to the fullest and trying something new, every day. Harold was a 19-year-old boy, obsessed with death. He drove a hearse and attended the funerals, daily, of people he did not know. It was at one of these funerals where he first noticed Maude, who also was obsessed with attending funerals. These two finally get together and become friends and even lovers that learn to enjoy and experience life together in a whole new way. Harold comes alive and experiences joy with Maude that he had never felt before.

As their relationship grows we are taken through some of the funniest and most touching moments I have ever felt from a film. And as the story of Harold and Maude unfolds, we hear the beautiful music of Cat Stevens.

After 50 years, HAROLD and MAUDE still thrills new viewers. As word of mouth spreads it has become a CULT CLASSIC!

In the 80’s I was able to share this film with my own sons and they got the same feeling as I did when I first saw the film.

In 1997, Harold and Maude was preserved in the National Film Registry. The American Film Institute ranked the film at #45 of the 100 Funniest Films of all-time.

If you have not seen Harold and Maude, I hope my feature has sparked your interest in this film. If you have seen it, I hope you will see it again after reading this. Share the beauty of Harold and Maude with your loved ones.

Get the film….Get the 50th Anniversary Soundtrack while it is in stock and on sale……

And….IF YOU WANT to SING OUT, SING OUT!!!!!!

Harold And Maude (Original Soundtrack) on CD available here.

Harold And Maude (Original Soundtrack) on 180 gram vinyl – This is already sold out but more may become available here.

Harold And Maude on DVD available here.

Harold And Maude on Blu-ray available here.

Janet Jackson is Back in Control

Have you seen the Janet Jackson Documentary on Lifetime TV?

This is one of the best documentaries that I have seen on a recording artist. Perhaps it is because Janet was the executive producer of her own two-part, four-hour documentary. We have seen other unauthorized biographies and documentaries, but this time Janet controlled the narrative as she told her real-life stories, hardships, and triumphs with raw emotion. We see some never-before-seen footage of the icon and her family.

Janet takes us on a journey of her life from Gary, Indiana to where she is today.

Being the youngest of 9 gifted and talented Jackson children, Janet had a lot to prove before she could emerge on her own. (there were 10 children, but one died shortly after birth)

All the Jackson siblings were successful in music, but it was Michael and Janet that both had enormous solo careers. Michael was one of the most popular and biggest selling recording artists of all time and Janet often stood in his shadow until she took control of her own destiny.

Janet’s documentary on A&E and Lifetime takes us on a journey through some personal and professional aspects of her life. Fans have not seen this inside look into her life and career as told by Janet until now. Janet speaks about her brother Michael and the infamous Super Bowl half-time performance with Justin Timberlake.

In her documentary “Janet Jackson” we see Janet as the child, the sibling, the actor, recording artist, the dancer, performer, singer, songwriter….the proud MOTHER and the SUPERSTAR.

HERE ARE A FEW OF MY PERSONAL INTERACTIONS WITH JANET JACKSON

In 1982, at the age of sixteen, Janet signed her first record deal with A&M Records. This is where I first met Janet. It was at a listening party at A&M Studios for her debut album that was simply titled “Janet Jackson”

Through the years I have been around Janet several times. I was extremely fortunate to have front row seats for her Rhythm Nation tour at the Forum in 1990. Below you will see photos that were taken in the Forum Club at a reception for her.

Every tour and album release always had a spectacular event or party. I had some in-stores with Janet and one Christmas season she did a remote radio interview in my store with the famed DJ, Greg Mack. (see photo below)

My favorite Janet party was for “The Velvet Rope.” It was an outdoor event with a carnival type atmosphere. There were celebrity sightings everywhere but when one caught our eye, we could not resist talking to him. It was Mike Tyson and both myself and my guest Carla were huge boxing fans. This is where I lost Carla for a while as she sat and talked boxing with Mike Tyson. Carla knew her history and stats on boxing so Mike was engaged in the conversation.

After seeing Janet’s documentary, I wanted to listen to some of Janet’s albums. I decided to go back to basics and to break out my old vinyl records. I quickly realized that I was missing a few that used to be a part of my Janet Jackson collection. So today I am going to use my DeepDiscount.com gift card that I got over the holidays. I cannot think of a better way to use it even with thousands of other titles within my clicking fingertips.

In case you have the urge to listen to Janet, or Ms. Jackson, if you’re nasty…HERE ARE SOME OF MY FAVORITES…(Due to the popularity of Janet’s Documentary several titles are currently out of stock, but they are on their way back very soon – click this link to check availability)

  • Control
  • Rhythm Nation
  • Rhythm Nation (the remixes)
  • Janet (2 LP set)
  • The Velvet Rope (CD or LP)
  • Design of a Decade 1986-1996 Greatest Hits
  • All For You (LP)

Super Bowl or Super Bowl HALF-TIME SHOW?

What are you more excited about?

I have never been a huge fan of football games, but I do love the Super Bowl.

And who does not like those decadent, delicious snacks and drinks that only seem to come out for the “special” games?

I love all the excitement leading up to the BIG-GAME. For the last couple of years, it has been tough to gather with friends to watch the game. Due to what we have learned about Covid and all the precautions that are available to us we are now able to have a few friends over to watch the Super Bowl. We are in Los Angeles so we will be cheering for our Los Angeles Rams.

BUT FOR ME…….my cheering will come at half-time.

There have been some extremely exciting and memorable half-time shows but this one is special to me for my own personal reasons.

I met each one of these artists before they were the SUPER-STARS they are today. I met them when they had dreams of making it big in this business. They were hungry and driven to “make-it.” I watched them work hard to become educated about this game called the music industry. Most of us have no idea what it took for these artists to reach the Super Bowl Half-time show.

CONGRATS to DR. DRE, SNOOP DOGG, MARY J BLIGE, EMINEM and KENDRICK LAMAR on the most anticipated Super Bowl half-time shows in many years.

For most of us “LA folks,” the party will continue long after the winning team leaves the beautiful new SoFi Stadium.

Here are a few of my favorite albums from our half-time stars …..They will also be in heavy rotation at our Super Bowl After Party. (To purchase these albums, click the album titles – They are linked to my sponsor DeepDiscount.com)

  • DR. DRE: Since I am a HUGE fan of DR. DRE and NWA, I must have “Straight Outta Compton” in the mix. If you LOVE Dre’s production, this is always a “MUST HAVE”
  • DR. DRE “The Chronic”:  Is an ICONIC and BELOVED piece of Hip Hop history. The Chronic is known worldwide for many things but in my opinion it is Dre’s skilled “G-Funk” production and the introduction of a new artist named “Snoop Doggy Dogg” that made this one of the most important hip hop albums of ALL-TIME!
  • SNOOP DOGG “Doggystyle.” This is the debut album from Snoop Doggy Dogg. After Snoop was introduced on “The Chronic” the world was waiting for his debut album, and he did NOT disappoint on this one. Dr. Dre produced this best-selling and influential album for Snoop. It was released on November 23, 1993, and it became the fastest selling hip hop record of that time. Doggystyle sold 806,858 copies in its first week. This was unheard of for a rap record. “Doggystyle” tops every list of the most important hip-hop albums of all time. Put this on and it is an instant party.
  • EMINEM “The Marshal Mathers Album.” Eminem has released over 10 number one albums. All are multi-platinum. Eminem has sales of over 220 million records worldwide. But there is one of his records that is EXTREMELY near and dear to my heart. “The Marshall Mathers LP” was the first album to break the first week sales record held by Snoop Dogg for “Doggystyle.” “The Marshall Mathers LP” sold 1.78 million records in its debut week. The name of my blog came from this album. Track #6 is a skit titled “Steve Berman” and I am mentioned by name in this skit. My blog is named “VIOLET BROWN TOLD ME” because Steve Berman (Vice Chairman of Interscope Records) told Eminem that he needed to “change his record because people are saying terrible things about it out-there”…In the skit, Steve actually told Eminem “Do you know what’s happening to me out there? Violet Brown told me to go F##k Myself.”And this is how my blog got its name. Of course, this was all for a little comedy. Steve Berman called and asked  if I would mind having my name on an album that would sell over 10 million copies…

I DID NOT MIND, and I still do not mind even with sales now at over 21 million worldwide. This is one of the best-selling albums of all-time and I am honored to be mentioned on it.

  • MARY J BLIGE: It is extremely hard for me to choose just one Mary J Blige favorite, so I have a few. “What’s the 411?”, “My Life”, “Mary”, “No More Drama” and “Breakthrough”. For the ultimate Super Bowl after party, just pick up Mary J Blige “Reflections”…it is packed with Mary’s biggest hits.
  • KENDRICK LAMAR “DAMN.” This is the first non-jazz or classical release to receive the Pulitzer Prize in music. “DAMN” also garnered seven Grammy Award nominations and five wins to include the Grammy for “Best Rap Album.” I am also a huge fan of Kendrick’s “To Pimp A Butterfly

Wishing you all a happy, memorable, and fun Super Bowl Sunday!

How is that “NEW YEARS RESOLUTION” working out for you?

Most of you know me from my career in music but over the last 12 years I have also worked in the fitness industry. I currently manage a Fitness Pro and her Fitness business. Along with her business I also managed a large gym for 8 years.

My first year at the gym taught me a lot about people and their New Year’s resolutions to get fit and lose weight. In October and November, I started to prepare for the hordes of people that would be clamoring to get in the gym on January 1. This is “the day” that most people “SAY” they are ready to buckle-down and get serious about losing weight. I had 30 trainers that were ready and willing to help the crowd of people that would hit the gym on January 1st. We were fully prepared but when I opened the doors on the 1st, it was a ghost town. As I reached out to some of our clients they said that they were still not ready to dive into a fitness program. They knew that they needed the gym, but they would be coming back in a week or two. That week or two could easily turn into a month or two.

Very few people were ready to go from a two-month holiday feeding frenzy into a structured exercise and nutrition program. Since New Year’s Eve is usually the last call for heavy partying, drinking, and eating some find it too “HARD, SERIOUS & REAL” to go cold-turkey…become a hard-core dieter and to get back to the gym within a 24-hour period. Can anyone really go to bed on New Year’s Eve and wake up on the 1st day of a brand-new year ready to face the gym and workout clothing that is now too tight?

Continue reading

How was your holiday weekend?

I thoroughly enjoyed my Thanksgiving and I hope you enjoyed yours too. Thanks to those of you that sent messages about my holiday film suggestions. I was pleased to see that some of my favorites were a hit in several homes over Thanksgiving. Since I have seen my favorite films many times I decided to venture out to see a couple of new films over the holiday weekend. A few were available for streaming at home, and I caught up on some others through DeepDiscount.com.

I will provide links so you can easily find the films, music, or other things I mention.

My weekend was filled with the brilliant artistry and magic of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jonathan Larson. Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett

Lin-Manuel Miranda…

I fell in love with the creativity of Lin-Manuel Miranda after hearing and seeing Hamilton. I loved the music before even seeing the play. I now watch all movies, TV shows and interviews that include Lin-Manuel Miranda.

This weekend I was able to see two of his highly anticipated new films. On Thanksgiving day we watched “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” and “Disney’s Encanto”

Tick. Tick…Boom is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial feature film debut. And Encanto features infectious music that will have kids like my four-year-old granddaughter singing until Lin-Manuel pens the songs for his next BIG Disney Blockbuster.

At age 17, after seeing “Rent” on Broadway Lin-Manuel Miranda, knew exactly what he wanted to do…He wanted to write a musical.

As a sophomore in college Lin, wrote his first musical. It was called “In the Heights.” The musical that was set over the course of three days took eight years before it premiered Off-Broadway. Lin-Manuel had something in common with his hero Jonathan Larson who wrote “Rent.” He had to work hard and remain patient while he waited for his dream to come to fruition. Both Larson and Miranda used current and popular genres of music for their musicals. Larson used pop-rock music for “Rent” and Miranda used hip-hop, salsa and Latin sounds to bring “In the Heights” to life.

During the pandemic I desperately missed going to see a movie on the giant screen. After fourteen months it was a special screening of “In the Heights” that led me back to the theatre.

If you are a fan of musicals or Lin-Manuel Miranda, I recommend adding “In the Heights” to your movie collection. As a musical on Broadway “In the Heights” received thirteen Tony Award nominations. It also won four Tony Awards, to include “Best Musical.” The film adaptation of Lin’s musical is worth adding to your collection of films

IN THE HEIGHTS is available on DVD here

Without the genius of Jonathan Larson and “Rent” would we have Lin-Manuel Miranda and “In the Heights” “Hamilton” “Moana” or “Encanto”?

Before getting into the films that blew me away this past weekend, I must mention and pay homage to the “genius” writer that inspired Lin-Manuel to create, act, write, direct, compose, produce, and perform.

Jonathan Larson

Jonathan Larson shot to fame in 1996 when his hit musical “Rent” became an enormous hit on Broadway. Although it seemed as though “Rent” was an overnight sensation, it was not.

Jonathan worked for fifteen years to bring his works and his hit musical “Rent” to Broadway…and the world.

While writing a series of musicals that he hoped would lead to Broadway he lived in poverty with a meek income from waiting tables at a local diner. He drew from his own life and the lives of his friends who were struggling artists. The issues of poverty, sexual orientation, homophobia, HIV & Aids, homelessness, eviction, and addiction were heavy on Jonathan’s heart and mind while creating his musical masterpiece “Rent”.

After all the years of Jonathan’s arduous work, the Off-Broadway, New York Theatre Workshop gave Jonathan what he felt was his ‘big break.” The theater signed on to be the first to produce Rent. On that very day, Jonathan quit his job at the diner. Three weeks before the opening of “Rent” Jonathan started having unusual chest pains. During a rehearsal he collapsed at the theater. On two occasions he went to the emergency room where he was treated for the flu or exhaustion. The real reason for his chest pain and dizziness was due to his misdiagnosed Marfan Syndrome. Jonathan was suffering from an extremely serious condition which caused an aortic aneurysm. And on the morning of January 25, 1996, Jonathan’s aneurysm burst, and he was found dead in the small apartment he shared with two others in New York. On January 25, 1996, it was supposed to be Jonathan’s proudest moment. The musical that celebrated his best and (now, final work) was scheduled to open for previews on the evening in which Jonathan died.

The cast of Rent decided to do what they felt Jonathan would want. While fighting to hold back tears they went on with the show. Jonathan’s family said, “the show must go on!” In an emotional tribute to Jonathan together they lined up, shoulder-to-shoulder across the stage to perform the songs he had written and composed. If you watch the film “Rent” or listen to the soundtrack you will see how these songs took on a deeper meaning to his own life and his tragic, sudden passing.

At the end of the “Rent” preview there was a short standing ovation, then the entire audience just sat down in their seats. The packed theater sat in complete silence for a long time until one lone voice said, “THANK YOU JONATHAN LARSON.” Many tears were shed as the audience solemnly left the theater.

Jonathan Larson left us far too soon. He did not live to see his fame, fortune, or the profound impact that his creation would have on the world.

He did not live to see it open and run for twelve years as a HIT BROADWAY MUSICAL PHENOMENON.

“Rent” proceeded to have National and International productions. It was a sold-out hit in every city, state, or country where it opened. In 1996 when there were many successful Broadway shows, Rent managed to receive ten Tony award nominations. It also received four wins to include, Best Musical and Best Original Score. The Pulitzer Prize for Drama was posthumously awarded to Jonathan Larson in 1996.

Now that you know a bit about Jonathan Larson and Lin-Manuel Miranda, I will share how they both made my Thanksgiving 2021 memorable.

Most of us including myself are usually busy over the holidays with family obligations, unfinished work, errands, or chores. I decided to do something that I “never” do. I did things that I wanted to do…just for me. If others wanted to join in my plans that was fine, but I was going to enjoy myself to the fullest with what I wanted to eat, drink, listen to, or see. I always put others first but this weekend I was putting “Violet first!” I was determined to catch up on my own enjoyment. Nothing makes me happier than our granddaughter, our dogs, good music, or a great film so all of these items appeared on my Thanksgiving weekend…Violet Brown told me…“what to do list”

The First film on my list was a new one…
Tick, Tick…BOOM!

Tick, Tick…BOOM is based on the true-life story of the late great American composer, lyricist and playwright, Jonathan Larson. Jonathan first introduced Tick, Tick…BOOM, as a one-man show of autobiographical monologues and songs he called Boho Days. It was about the long hours and challenging work that Jonathan put into writing a sci-fi musical called “Superbia” that was never produced. The one-man show was revised by David Auburn and premiered Off-Broadway as a three actor show in 2001.

It was clear that Jonathan was dealing with his thoughts of making the wrong career choice. Jonathan was feeling a lot of pressure from everyone and everything and it all came to a head in “Tick, Tick…BOOM!

When Lin-Manuel Miranda first saw Tick, Tick…BOOM in a small theater in New York he said it changed his life.

After seeing Tick, Tick..BOOM, it was clear to Lin that he wanted to write and compose for a living. But the play also pointed out the hard road he too might face in his twenties and trying to write and produce his musical. WAS IT WORTH IT?….. YES, IT WAS!!!!!!

In 2014, Lin-Manuel performed the role of Jonathan Larson in an encore revival of Tick, Tick…BOOM for New York City Centers Encores.

It has been no secret of the love and respect that Lin Miranda has for Jonathan Larson and his body of work. So, when Netflix chose to bring Larson’s Tick, Tick, BOOM to a bigger screen and audience they called on Lin-Manuel Miranda to direct the musical. Of course, Lin felt that he was the ONLY one that should direct the film. After seeing the exceptional care, passion and love that Lin poured into Tick, Tick…BOOM, I too believe, that Lin-Manuel Miranda was the ONLY one to bring the magic of this film to the masses.

Tick, Tick…BOOM, is filled with amazing and interesting cameos. I suppose it was easy to get celebrities and notable people on board when Lin-Manuel Miranda comes calling for cameos in a Jonathan Larson film.

If you are a Broadway enthusiast, a theater kid, a fan of the theatre or a person who knows their Broadway trivia, you may be able to spot and name all the cameo appearances in Tick, Tick…BOOM!

The cameos in Tick, Tick…BOOM, represent a “who’s-who” of Broadway theater…. But the most significant and thrilling cameo came from “American Theater Royalty”

Jonathan Larson and Lin-Manuel Miranda both idolized, Stephen Sondheim. In Tick, Tick…BOOM, we see Stephen Sondheim (played by Bradley Whitford) sneak into a presentation of Larson’s play “Superbia” that was for producers only. After the presentation Jonathan Larson (played by Andrew Garfield) received a voicemail from Stephen Sondheim that told him he enjoyed “Superbia,” and he encouraged Jonathan to follow his dreams of a writing career. When the real Stephen Sondheim was asked to review the voicemail message in the film, he said “I would not say that…I would never say you have a bright future. May I re-write it.” So, of course Lin told Sondheim he could re-write it. Then Sondheim said “if you cannot get Bradley to re-record it, I will record the voicemail. Lin immediately said,

“I can’t get him!”

And that was how the real “Titan of the American Musical,” Stephen Sondheim made his cameo appearance in the film. I was deeply saddened the day after seeing Tick, tick…BOOM when it was announced that the most influential composer and lyricist of American Musicals had died. Sondheim fans worldwide, went into mourning and tributes flooded into all media sources.

Many felt that Stephen Sondheim was the most gifted, revered, and popular composer-lyricist of all-time. Mr. Sondheim left us an amazing body of work that will inspire writers, composers, fans, and actors for eternity. I am excited to see that Sondheim’s “West Side Story” will be coming to theaters on December 10, of this year.

When Tick, Tick…BOOM ended, I immediately wanted to see it again but instead I decided to revisit Jonathan Larson’s masterpiece and Broadway phenomenon, “RENT”

My last Tick, Tick….THOUGHT….

I think Andrew Garfield should receive an Oscar for his portrayal of Jonathan Larson…just putting that thought into the universe.

Rent (film #2)

I am so happy that I chose to watch Rent even though I have seen it many times. I was fortunate enough to see it on Broadway and I have seen the film many times. I adore the entire cast, every song, the story, and messages throughout the production. As I have mentioned, Rent was written and composed by the late great Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Jonathan Larson. Rent was one of the longest running original musicals on Broadway. It won numerous awards and accolades. The play was a hit in every country in which it was performed. Several members of the original Broadway cast went on to become stars of TV and film. Some of the original cast is also in the film. If you want to see why this rock-musical was so important and beloved, I urge you to check it out and add it to your collection of films.

There are many ways to enjoy “Rent”

  • Get RENT: Filmed Live on Broadway on DVD here
  • The film “RENT” is available on DVD here and Blu-Ray here

The third film of my amazing weekend was……

Licorice Pizza (film #3)

We attended a special screening of this coming-of-age film that was set in California’s, San Fernando Valley in 1973. This is a wild story of growing up and finding that “first love.” Licorice Pizza is scheduled for wide release on Christmas day. It has an interesting cast that stars Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and Alana Haim (of the popular vocal group Haim). The film also added Alana Haim’s real family into the film. Her sisters and famed members of Haim and her real-life mom and dad. There are other cool cameos in this film too. The detail of the authentic cars, clothing, furniture, hair, and make-up is on-point.

My favorite scenes were at the “Teenage Fair.” The fair was an annual event “for teenagers only” held at the Palladium Theater in Hollywood, CA. This was like the Worlds Fair for teenagers. I remember seeing so many superstar bands and actors at the Teenage Fair. Some of the biggest acts to perform at the fair were Sonny & Cher, Ten Years After, Jimi Hendrix, Blue Cheer, The Monkees, The Byrds,

Bradley Cooper plays Barbara Streisand’s infamous seventies “hairdresser” boyfriend Jon Peters. Tom Waits and Sean Penn also have prominent roles in Licorice Pizza.

The film features great music of the 70’s. If you are a child of the seventies or someone that loves this era, you can pre-order the “far-out” soundtrack now here.

DeepDiscount.com also carries several CDs that feature the biggest hits of the 70’s. Who needs a DJ for your next 70‘s party when you have deepdiscount.com and some of these “fun” seventies, CD’s?

House of Gucci (film #4)

I have been waiting for “House of Gucci” for a long time. I am a Lady Gaga fan (yes, a little monster). And, I have loved Adam Driver since I first discovered him on Lena Dunham’s popular TV show “Girls.”

I am a sucker for controversial and infamous true stories. Especially when they involve famous and wealthy people or families. I love a great dramatic crime story and “House of Gucci” delivered. The famed Director and Producer, Ridley Scott is no stranger to dysfunctional, wealthy families. He did a fabulous job with the Getty family in 2017 with his direction and production of “All the Money in the World”

“House of Gucci” brought Lady Gaga back to feature films. She gave a stunning performance in her first film, “A Star is Born” and she pulled off another beautiful and convincing performance in House of Gucci.

This true story had it all…greed, glamour, jealousy, deceit, and murder.

We witness the rise and fall of the original family that started the Italian fashion empire, “Gucci.” When Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) met and fell in love with Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) he had no idea he was falling in love with a black widow who would take down the Gucci family, their empire and eventually himself.

Patrizia was a smart, strong, independent, wealthy, Italian socialite who helped run her father’s successful trucking business. Lady Gaga is a smart, strong, independent, wealthy Italian superstar who runs her “Haus of Gaga” creative team and her cosmetic company “Haus Laboratories.” I feel safe in saying that Gaga and Patrizia had some similarities. In “A star is Born” she also had a lot in common with her lead character. Even though the casting is brilliantly perfect in both films there was a lot riding on Gaga’s ability to pull off a leading role in a major motion picture.

Lady Gaga delivered an outstanding performance in both of her films. In her first film, “A Star is Born” she received her first Oscar nomination. (not too shabby for her first film). After seeing “Gucci” I feel another nomination may be coming her way. Personally, I would love to see her win an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Gaga, attributes her believable performances to “method acting.” This means she lived her life in the character of Patrizia Gucci during the filming of House of Gucci, complete with an Italian accent.

Lady Gaga likes to fully immerse herself in everything she does. We also see and hear this in her music as she seamlessly takes us between her pop or jazz journey. There is always a genuine, realness and passion to everything Gaga sets her mind to do.

I also tuned in to watch Lady Gaga in her live and final performance with the legendary jazz great Tony Bennett. In August 2021, “One Last Time: An Evening with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga” was recorded live from Radio City Music Hall for a CBS special presentation.

Until “House of Gucci” is released to purchase, you can visit DeepDiscount.com to pick up Gaga’s debut film performance in “A Star is Born” and all her solo music and her award-winning jazz music with Tony Bennett.

Cheek to Cheek with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett is available on LP here.

A Star is Born is available on DVD here.

FUN FACT:

Frank Sinatra once said,

“For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business. He excites me when I watch him. He moves me. He’s the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more.

Encanto (film #5)

This was my final film of a long weekend of AMAZING ENTERTAINMENT.

Whenever there is a new Disney film released I typically find myself at the theatre with our granddaughter. She loves everything Disney. Of course, I wanted to see this one, since it features original, (new) music written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lin also wrote the music for my granddaughter’s other favorite movie “Moana.” It will be nice to hear her sing some new songs after seeing “Encanto.”

This is another film that is currently not available to purchase but you can still get the perfect gifts and stocking stuffers for those kids in your life that love Disney and are begging for Encanto toys, figures, or collectibles.

Whether your kid tells you or Santa to bring them “Encanto” stuff, Violet-Brown-Told-You to head on over to DeepDiscount.com for all your “Encanto…stuff-ers.”

HOT TIP…Stores will soon be SOLD-OUT of toys and collectibles for the BIG DAY on December 25. Save your gas money and spend it at DeepDiscount.com where you find deals and those items that will be sold-out everywhere else.

If you need “Squid Game” gifts, you can find them now but maybe not for long!

Browse the Fan Shop, Toys & Gifts, Apparel, Books, Electronics and of course our Movies, Music or Vinyl sections for ALL your holiday gifts…There is even a GREAT Disney tab for you to check out. Make sure to visit “Today’s Deals” too.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you and yours!

Violet Brown

I will leave you with 2 more of my favorite film recommendations…

  • A Star is Born” starring Barbara Streisand & Kris Kristofferson from 1976
  •  Disney’s “Coco” from 2018

Joni Mitchell

When I think about “Women in Music” I can’t help but to feature one of my personal favorite artists…

  • Joni Mitchell is a songwriter, musician, performer and a painter.
  • Joni is Canadian…she is in the ROCK & ROLL HALL of FAME…Joni is the WINNER of 9 Grammy Awards…
  • Rolling Stone Magazine called her “One of the greatest songwriters ever”
  • It has been said that “Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century”.
  • Joni Mitchell is the artist that other artists admire, respect and LOVE.
  • Joni Mitchell songs have been covered by other artists 6,967 times. “Both Sides Now” has been covered 1,470 times.

There are Joni Mitchell covers that I adore almost as much as her original. Prince loved Joni Mitchell. He went to many of her shows incognito just so he could fully enjoy her show.

When asked to be on a Joni Mitchell tribute album, Prince covered her song “A Case of You”. This is my all-time favorite Joni Mitchell cover. This cover is a MUST-HEAR and a MUST-HAVE for all Joni Mitchell and Prince fans.

I personally began my obsession with Joni Mitchell after hearing her first album “Song to a Seagull” in 1968. I was only 14 years old, and Joni was not the typical artist that most kids my age were listening to. I was the last of 6 children and the one next to me was17 years older. My older brother turned me on to a lot of the music that he listened to and loved (R&B, Folk and Rock in that order). My brother was obsessed with Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell and The Beatles. He had a massive record collection, so I was able to listen to tons of artists, songs, albums and various genres of music.

I played guitar with my mom who was a country musician, so I also listened to early country artists. But, when I first heard folk music, I was hooked. I learned the songs on my guitar and later I took up other instruments like the dulcimer and mandolin due to my love for Joni Mitchell.

When a new Joni record was released, I had to have it.

Some of her albums I have bought several times due to wearing them out, buying the next format that they were released on, or simply because I gave them away to people I love. Back in the day I could load several albums on my turntable, and the next record would drop as each album ended. My bedtime ritual would be to load up Joni, Dylan, Carole King, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, and Elton John records to drift off to sleep to. When I woke up I would usually play them over again.

If you were to ask most of my friends, who my favorite artist is they would say “Joni Mitchell”. Most of my friends know this even though I am heavily associated with hip-hop music.

For me I have always felt that folk music and hip hop have a lot in common.

Both genres are based in poetry. Folk and rap lyrics both strongly voice opinions about social justice, injustice, environmental, and political issues. Folk and rap music is often considered to be protest music. Folk and rap artists express themselves in a way that speaks directly to their audience. They raise awareness about things going on within communities, mankind, the streets, between race, gender and world issues. Both Rap and Folk tell the stories of what is really going on in the streets throughout the world. Folk and Rap artists report what is going on in the world through their music. Both are raw, honest and can bring positive change when needed.

Joni is a folk artist that incorporates elements of jazz, classical, pop and rock.

When Joni turned 75, there was a concert to celebrate her birthday. There was a recording of that special evening. It is titled, “Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration”.

Many stars came out to pay tribute to Joni by performing their favorite Joni Mitchell songs. The line-up included Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Chaka Khan, Diana Krall, Los Lobos, Kris Kristofferson, Seal and Rufus Wainwright.

It was a magical evening for Joni and everyone in attendance. The video and recording of this once in a lifetime performance is a MUST for all fans of Joni Mitchell and all the artists that performed on the special evening.

I adore Joni and I could write a book about her impact on my life. Instead of hearing more from me I recommend just listening to the music of Joni Mitchell.

I love all of Joni’s 19 albums but here are a few of my favorites.

  • Blue (1971) This entire album is a masterpiece and it is often listed as one of the “The Greatest Albums of All-time”. The album contains my favorite Joni Mitchell song, “A Case of You”. This is also the song that Prince covered on the “Tribute to Joni Mitchell Album”.
    CD available here
  • Court and Spark (1974) This was Joni’s most successful album. The song “Help Me” received a lot of radio airplay. The album has sold millions of copies.
    CD available here
  • Ladies of the Canyon (1970) This album was written about Joni’s life while living in Laurel Canyon in the 60’s. Laurel Canyon was the epicenter of folk and immerging rock artists in the 60’s and early 70’s. The album contains 4 of my favorite Joni songs, “Big Yellow Taxi”, “The Circle Game” “Rainy Night House” and “Woodstock”.
    CD available here
  • Don Juans Reckless Daughter (1977) It is experimental and quite different from Joni’s other work. The album features some prominent jazz legends as well as Chaka Khan, Glen Frey and J.D. Souther. My favorite track is “Dreamland”.
    CD available here
  • Clouds (1969) This is in my top 5 Joni Mitchell albums for all the songs on “Clouds”. But it does contain two of Joni’s most beloved songs, “Chelsea Morning” and “Both Sides Now” are both found on “Clouds”. A large majority of people thinks that Judy Collins wrote “Both Sides Now” but it was written by Joni and first released by Judy Collins. Joni’s song was a hit for Judy Collins, and it established Joni as an important new songwriter. This one is currently unavailable but if I find it I’ll let you know. If you find it, snap it up!

I recently added a new collectible Joni Mitchell release to my massive Joni collection. I highly recommend this release to ALL serous Joni fans. It will also make the perfect gift for the Joni Mitchell fans in your life.

“Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years  (1963-1967)”
The 5-CD Boxed Set with over 100 tracks is available here

The 5 CD collectors box set features over 5 hours of unreleased Joni Mitchell recordings. The live, home and radio recordings were all recorded before her debut album “Songs to a Seagull” in 1968. This collection contains 119 songs. There are 29 original Joni songs that were never released with her vocals but you can own these treasured recordings just by buying this incredible piece of Joni Mitchell history. Many of these songs were unheard before this limited release. You will even hear Joni doing a few covers of other songs like “The House of the Rising Sun”. It also contains a rare 1967 cover of Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain”. The collection features a 40 page booklet that includes unseen photos from Joni’s personal collection. The liner notes feature a conversation between famed music journalist, writer and filmmaker Cameron Crowe and Joni herself. This is the first release from this series, Cameron Crowe has hinted that there will be other volumes of this JONI MITCHELL collectors box set. Joni tells stories before songs, you will hear her unique guitar tuning. This is a historic, rare release that is modestly priced for what you are getting.

“Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967)”  has become my most cherished Joni purchase. I can’t wait to get my hands on additional volumes.

If you are are into vinyl, Joni Mitchell: The Reprise Albums (1968-1971) LP Boxed Set includes 4 albums (Song to a Seagull, Clouds, Ladies of the Canyon, and Blue) all in a beautiful boxed set available here

If you are a more casual Joni fan, here is a GREATEST HITS collection that I also recommend…

Joni Mitchell: Hits on CD available here

I will close by sharing one of my most treasured personal photos.

This was taken at an intimate Joni performance and exhibit of her art at the Gene Autry Museum in California  on January 26, 1995.

Come back soon to hear about my personal experiences with the First Lady and Queen of Neo-Soul…..ERYKAH BADU

Did you miss me for a couple weeks in August?

In August I was one of the unfortunate people that picked up COVID-19. I am not exactly sure where I got it, but I am just happy that my vaccine did it’s job and saved me from hospitalization or possibly worse. I really missed writing, but I needed to fully recover from all the symptoms of COVID-19 , and to test negative. Thankfully I am back and excited to get back into my regular routine of writing about some of my favorite things.

Thanks for checking in to hear my personal industry insider stories and to hear about the amazing catalog of MUSIC, MOVIES & TV SHOWS that YOU and I have access to.

I hope that somewhere within my blog, you will find some MUSIC, MOVIES or TV shows that you will add to your own collection and enjoy for years to come.

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