Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

My Christmas is definitely going to be a white one; there's tons of snow here, and it's been snowing all day today (I'm visiting my parents in Colorado).

I'm going to see Les Mis on Christmas day (tomorrow), which I'm really looking forward to, and a bunch of my parents' friends are coming here for Christmas dinner. I think it'll be a good day. I hope everyone else has a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Do you know—well, of course you do—what it’s like to be afraid? That nothing will become of all the plans that you have made?" ~hartmere and intrabartolo (bare: a pop opera)

I like this article/blog post. It's true. We're in it for the kids.
One of my former students died on Monday. She was one of those kids who make teaching worth all the crap we have to deal with. It's hard to wrap my head around it. 

I don't have much to say today. I'm ready for Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Portrait of a girl, painted illusion. She plays her part, she sees that she's a work of art. Paint her in, watching one color end and one begin. Brush away what's stray, there's disguise in her eyes. Add shadows that dance across her skin, hide the doubt that cries out within her. Stripped bare beneath all the layers would you recognize the girl?" ~hartmere and intrabartolo (bare: a pop opera)

I had a lovely weekend hanging out with one of my favorite families. I stayed with my friends Amy and Bill upstate. They're surrounded by wilderness; there are no other houses visible from theirs. They live off of the Appalachian Trail. It's nice to get out of the city every once in a while and be in a completely different environment. I love their kids, so I was happy to spend time with them. Here's Claire and I (yes, we're both named Claire, which sometimes gets very confusing) hanging out at JFK (I was there sending her off to France). We had fun entertaining ourselves for a few hours, and we enjoyed the giant, festive Christmas tree in the terminal.

 Random TV musings: 

Survivor Finale! I've had crazy good luck in the last three seasons; in each of the last three seasons, the person I was rooting for at the beginning of the season ended up winning. Seriously. In this blog post at the beginning of this season, I said that I wanted to see Denise win. Guess who won? I'm pretty darn happy.

How on earth can I wait almost a year for the next season of Homeland to start? (It returns in the fall of 2013). The finale? Oh. My. Gosh. There are no words. It was heartbreaking and thrilling and I loved every moment of it. Here are some of my favorite lines from the finale (don't worry, no spoilers). I loved Saul saying to Estes, "Well, if it isn't Javert." That Les Mis reference is made even cooler by the fact that it was delivered by Mandy Patinkin, a Tony Award winner best known for his musical theatre career (I want to hear him sing on the show). And Quinn's line to Estes, "I'm a guy that kills bad guys," was amazing. I wanted to hug him. Finally, the last line (last word, actually), that final moment, broke my heart. Claire Danes and Damian Lewis have already won Emmys for their role in this show (and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they win more), but Mandy Patinkin really deserves one for supporting actor. In the last scene, he didn't have to say anything; his expression was so full of emotion that it said so much more than words ever could. I felt like I could see inside his head and could feel every conflicting emotion with with he was struggling as he tried to put together his thoughts.

And finally, some Les Mis/Flash Mob Love (just because).
Oh, how I wish I had been at this wedding:

Zach Braff is awesome. And so is Lauren Molina. I met her after a performance of Sweeney Todd and she is so, so sweet. (And I got to stand next to Zach Braff while watching his play, which was pretty cool.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

 "I'd like to start with just a....If we could take a moment....If maybe we were silent....Or we had spoken....I tried to find the words to....Just the right quotation....But I must confess I came up empty." ~hartmere and intrabartolo (bare: a pop opera)

I managed to (mostly) hold it together during Bare (an off-Broadway play) last night, but I started crying as soon as I got out of the theater on the walk to the subway. There were two guys walking next to me who had also seen the show, and they were both sobbing. We must have been an interesting sight to anyone walking past us.

They've made a lot of changes to the current production, and I liked the original version much better. They cut some of my favorite songs, changed some of my other favorites, and added dialogue. I don't think any of the changes are for the better. Either way, though, it's an incredibly moving musical, and I also think it's a very important one. And I love the music, so I'll be posting some of the songs this week (songs from the original recording).

I'm going upstate today to visit my friends Bill and Amy for the weekend; I'll be babysitting the girls for some of the time, and I'm excited!

The Survivor finale is on Sunday (yes, I still watch Survivor). Go Denise!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Oh, catfish bells, catfish bells, catfish all the way."

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Men like me can never change, men like you can never change. No, 24601. My duty's to the law - you have no rights, come with me 24601. Now the wheel has turned around, Jean Valjean is nothing now. Dare you talk to me of crime, and the price you had to pay? Every man is born in sin, every man must choose his way. You know nothing of Javert, I was born inside a jail. I was born with scum like you. I am from the gutter, too." ~~les miserables (kretzmer, boublil, & natel)
AAAAAHHHHHHH. There are no words for how much I love this. It's from Russell Crowe's recent concert at Joe's Pub (with special guest Hugh Jackman). This is one of my favorite songs from Les Mis. I'm so sad I wasn't there, but thanks so much to the uploader. Fun fact: Javert (played by Russell Crowe in the upcoming movie) is my favorite character in Les Mis. I love Javert. I get him.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

 "It says a lot about one where you choose to spend the cold months; do you go or do you stay?"~the last town chorus

This post is a weird assortment of things on my mind/radar right now. Mostly movie thoughts/Oscar predictions. Stay tuned for a theater post coming up.

1. Time Magazine named Parks & Recreation the Top TV show of 1012. All I have to say about that is YES. Now Give Amy Poehler an Emmy aready. Please. By the way, I love this. I've learned a lot from Amy Poehler.

2.  Anna Kendrick as Elphaba? I approve. I love this girl. She's been nominated for an Oscar (for Up in the Air) and a Tony (for High Society), which is impressive. She can act and she can certainly sing. She and Kristin Chenoweth sang "For Good" (from Wicked) at Trevor Live on Sunday, and it's a gorgeous performance (it's not my video, and the fans are distracting, but it's still lovely to listen to). I'm now campaigning for Anna Kendrick as Elphaba in the Wicked movie if it ever gets made.

 3. I've read a lot of good books lately, and right now I want to mention just one. The final book of the Matched trilogy, Reached, was released last month. The trilogy is a young adult dystopian series. It's similar to The Hunger Games in that it's a young adult dystopian trilogy with a central love triangle, but the two series present very different views of the future. I love the Matched trilogy. While reading Reached I didn't want it to end, but at the same time I couldn't put it down. It's a satisfying end to the series. If you're a teacher of reluctant readers, this is something that will engage them, and I think adults will enjoy it as well (I did). I particularly love the value Ally Condie (the author) places on the written word; writing is an important part of the book (Cassia, the protagonist, is a poet).

4. Funny video.

5. It's awards season. I try to see most movies that come out as they're released in theaters (at least the good ones), and I love the Oscars. Right now is the time to start reflecting on the year's best movies and thinking about what will be honored in February, so here are my thoughts:

Best Picture: 
I haven't seen Les Miserables yet, so it's probably wrong for me to want it to win already, but I feel like I will love it and I'd love to see it win. I think it's biggest competition is Argo, which I loved. Other favorites of mine are Silver Linings Playbook (so, so, so good), Life of Pi (visually stunning and very moving), Moonrise Kingdom (I love Wes Anderson, and this might be his best yet; it's charming), and Beasts of the Southern Wild (creative, heartbreaking, and imaginative with a central performance that will knock you over). I also enjoyed The Master, Anna Karenina, Lincoln, The Sessions, and Flight, but not as much as the others already listed. Zero Dark Thirty will most likely be nominated and I am really really excited to see it, and I also can't wait to see The Impossible, which also has a good shot.

Best Actor: 
This is an incredibly competitive category. A handful of these men could have won this award in another less competitive year. Daniel Day Lewis will probably win for Lincoln, and he was fantastic, so I won't be disappointed. I'd love to see Hugh Jackman win for Les Miserables, though. I think he has a shot (he has the best shot at beating Daniel Day Lewis). Denzel Washington gives one of his best performances in Flight and will most likely be nominated. John Hawkes should be nominated; he's wonderful in The Sessions. The fifth actor to be nominated is tricky. It could be Joaquin Phoenix for The Master, but his recent anti-awards tirade could hurt his chances. It could also go to Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook. I loved both performances, so I'm torn.

Best Actress: 
Jennifer Lawrence. Silver Linings Playbook. She's fabulous, and right now I give her the edge to win. Jessica Chastain is a contender for Zero Dark Thirty, but I haven't seen the movie so I can't comment. I do love her, though (look for my posts on The Heiress and her Times Talk). I really, really want to see Quvenzhane Wallis nominated for Beasts of the Southern Wild. I am in awe of this tiny force of nature. She was six years old when this movie was filmed. Six! She blows me away; she's filled with this quiet strength. Naomi Watts will probably be nominated for The Impossible, and the fifth slot could go to Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina), Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), or Helen Mirren (Hitchcock).

Best Supporting Actor: 
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) will get a nomination. Philip Seymour Hoffman will be nominated for The Master, and Leonardo DiCaprio will be nominated for Django Unchained. I think Robert DeNiro will get a nomination for Silver Linings Playbook, and Eddie Redmayne has a good chance for Les Miserables. That's five, right? I think those will be the five. Alan Arkin (Argo) or John Goodman (Argo or Flight) could sneak in and replace one of my guesses. I have no idea who will win this category.

Best Supporting Actress:
This is the easiest race to call. The nominees haven't even been announced and I can still say that Anne Hathaway should start writing her acceptance speech. Based on everything I've heard about and seen of her performance in Les Miserables, she's the one to beat. Helen Hunt in The Sessions and Sally Field in Lincoln both give complex, nuanced performances, but I don't think it's their year to win (they will be nominated, though). Amy Adams should be nominated for The Master. The fifth slot could go to Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook), Kerry Washington (Django Unchained), Maggie Smith (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Samantha Barks (Les Mis), or Helena Bonham Carter (Les Mis).

That's all for now. Here are the trailers for some of my favorite movies of the year.

Silver Linings Playbook:

Moonrise Kingdom:
Beasts of the Southern Wild:


Life of Pi:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Annabelle, the dying leaves are dancing off of the trees. They got an easy way. Let's you and me go dancing, too, wreck our dancing shoes. Hey, hey, hey." ~the felice brothers

This is just a quick theater post. Today I saw Golden Boy, a play by Clifford Odets about a violinist who decides to become a professional boxer. It was wonderful. It's three hours long, but it doesn't drag. It really is a stellar production; Bartlett Sher, Lincoln Center's go-to director, is doing a fabulous job. The cast is superb; I'm really impressed with the strong group of actors they put together. I'm not usually a big Tony Shalhoub fan (he's best known for Monk), but I enjoyed him in this. He nails every last detail of the character, from the Italian accent to the walk. Danny Burstein is as solid as ever, Seth Numrich throws himself into the role of Joe, and Yvonne Strahovski is lovely in her Broadway debut. She nails the Newark accent (you'd never guess she's Australian), and she delivers some hilarious lines.
Yvonne was incredibly nice after the performance; no one else was waiting at the stage door, so I was able to chat with her a bit, and she was very friendly.

(Photo evidence below to demonstrate that I'm working my way through meeting the cast of Chuck. I'm bummed that I took a photo with Mark Christopher Lawrence a couple years ago, aka Big Mike, but I don't have the photo; someone else does. Anyway, I'm so, so glad I met Yvonne today!)

I recently saw the Broadway show The Performers, and I'm so sad that it closed today. I loved it, and I'm disappointed that a hilarious show with such a big heart couldn't hold on longer. And what an amazing cast! Ari Graynor (love her), Cheyenne Jackson, Alicia Silverstone, Henry Winkler (the Fonz!)....
I also saw Scandalous on Broadway, and the least I say about that, the better. How can a show like that stay open and a show like The Performers have such a short run?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Don't mess with Matt Damon.

I love Matt Damon. So, so much. "Holy dictionary, Mattman" is right. (I love Anderson Cooper, too.) This video is awesome. I've seen the interview already, but I love the addition of Anderson Cooper's comments and a snippet of the awesome Sarah Silverman video.

More soon. (ETA: Sorry if you read this and didn't see a video; I didn't realize it disappeared. It should be back!)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"One day more! Another day, another destiny. This never-ending road to Calvary; these men who seem to know my crime will surely come a second time. One day more!" ~les mis (kretzmer, boublil, & natel)

I'm crazy about Les Mis. I read the novel in eighth grade (not exactly typical eighth grade reading material) and fell in love with it. I think the musical is absolutely lovely; I love the score, I love the story, I love everything about it. I can't wait for Christmas Day largely because that's when the new movie version of the musical opens. Anne Hathaway plays Fantine, and her opening monologue of SNL last night was awesome. Check it out.

I also have a Les Mis rant to share with you, because my blog seems as good a place as any to let it out. I'm a literature dork and a theater dork and I care about stuff like this. You get it, right? If not, feel free to stop reading. It's a rant about Eponine, whom I think is misinterpreted way too often. So here goes.

Many people see Eponine as a heroine and feel sorry her because of the whole unrequited love thing, which they think is the most important thing about her. This bothers me. So here are some of my thoughts on the character.
1. To really understand Eponine (and I'm not sure that I do, or that anyone but Mr. Hugo does), you need to read Victor Hugo's novel. The musical version cuts out most of the details about Eponine because it's just too hard to fit them all in. She's a complicated character, and her most defining characteristics are not easy to portray or to reconcile with each other. For example, she's incredibly bitter and filled with anger (and this isn't sufficiently shown in the musical), but deep down, she's also very vulnerable.
2. Eponine is not beautiful. She is a "pale, puny, meagre creature," with a hoarse voice like "a drunken galley slave’s "due to it being "roughened by brandy and by liquors." She is missing teeth. She's dirty. Seriously, she's not supposed to be attractive.
3. Eponine is not a saint. She torments her adopted sister, Cosette, until Cosette is rescued by Valjean. Eponine is part of her father's street gang, which robs people and also plots murder against Valjean. She's not exactly a nice person.
4. It would have been completely unrealistic if Marius had ended up with Eponine. He fell in love with Cosette before he met her, and he shows absolutely no sign that he has feelings for Eponine. No sign whatsoever.
5. Eponine is a complex character, moreso than most of the other females in Hugo's novel. She is a product of her environment, immersed in poverty, squalor, immorality, violence, and corruption. Yet she struggles to rise above these circumstances. I think that's why she worships Marius; he represents a way out of that corrupted life. It's her struggle that makes her interesting, because it would be so easy for her to simply give in to her circumstances. She doesn't necessarily go about it the right way because she doesn't know how to escape the life into which she was born, but she fights. She tries. She's drowning, but she doesn't just let herself sink, even though she doesn't know which direction is up.
6. It may not seem like she's successful in her struggles, but Eponine achieves redemption in her death. She sacrifices herself for Marius, and in doing so she finally rises above the degradation and immorality of her life.

 I love the character, and I think she deserves to be viewed as the complex girl that she is rather than simply a poor victim of unrequited love (which is how a lot of people seem to view her).
/End rant.

One more thing to leave you with. Anne Hathaway was also part of a Homeland sketch on SNL. If you don't watch Homeland it'll probably go over your head (and if you don't watch Homeland you need to start watching), but if you do, this is awesome, mostly because of Bill Hader as Saul (Mandy Patinkin holla).

Saturday, November 03, 2012

"Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck. Some nights, I call it a draw. Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle. Some nights, I wish they'd just fall off." ~fun.

Today, to celebrate the return of their power, the Public Theater (which is downtown) gave out free tickets to their shows. Nic went this morning to line up for tickets, and we went to the matinee of Giant. It's Michael John LaChiusa's newest musical. I think he's one of the best American composers writing shows today, so I was thrilled to see Giant. The show has a fabulous cast; it features Brian d'Arcy James (he's one of my favorites; I love him), Kate Baldwin, and Bobby Steggert, among others. The show tells the story of a family in Texas (1925-1952). It's a story about a marriage and a family, and a story about Texas, and it addresses the issues of racism and drilling for oil. I loved the score; it's more accessible than most of LaChiusa's work and incorporates different styles of music. I'd love to see it transfer to Broadway.

I went to a Jimmy Fallon taping on Thursday, and Louis C.K. was the main guest. He's hilarious. Here's the show:
And here I am:

Watch SNL tonight. Louis C.K. is hosting and Fun. is the musical guest, so it should be an awesome show.
Louis C.K. wrote this email before the show, and he describes the strange feeling that I believe all New Yorkers must be feeling. Yeah, you want to laugh and enjoy yourself and have fun, and then you get a glimpse of the destruction that's affected the city that you call home and that you love so dearly, and it's like being punched in the gut. But we've got to move on, right?

Thursday, November 01, 2012

"I love the rain the most when it stops." ~joe purdy

I've been meaning to do a massive theater post for awhile, and a show that I saw yesterday has finally inspired me to actually do it.

Because I didn't have school yesterday and was sick of staying inside, I decided to walk down to Times Square and see a Broadway show. I chose The Heiress (and got a great seat because the theater was nearly empty), and it was a fabulous choice. Oh my goodness, I loved it so, so much. First of all, Jessica Chastain is amazing. She's been in a ton of great movies lately (she was nominated for an Oscar for The Help, she was in Tree of Life, Give Me Shelter, The Debt, and next she'll be in Kathryn Bigelow's highly anticipated movie Zero Dark Thirty). She deserves all the hype she's gotten over the past year. I went to see her in a TimesTalk recently and was very impressed with her, and what she said made me eager to see The Heiress. She's right;  Catherine is one of the best female roles ever written. I love her character arc. In the TimesTalk someone asked Ms. Chastain about Catherine's choice at the end of the play, and I think she gave the perfect answer in defending Catherine's decision. Her performance beautifully demonstrates Catherine's growth. The whole cast is superb; David Strathairn and Judith Ivey are particularly good, as is Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey).

I've seen a lot of Broadway and off-Broadway shows recently because my friend and I signed up for a ticketing service for which we pay an annual fee and get to see shows they offer for a small processing fee per show. It's allowed me to see some great theater. Some shows I've seen recently are The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Don't Go Gentle, Falling, Modern Terrorism (or They Who Want to Kill Us and How We Learn to Love Them), The Exonerated, Through the Yellow Hour, and Bring It On. I now realize I don't have time to write about them all, but I did enjoy all of them.

Today I went to a taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. If you watch it, look for me in the front row. It's a good one to watch. Louis C.K. is the main guest, and I think he might be the funniest man alive. I absolutely adore him. It was also cool to see David Chang. It was hard to watch his cooking demo and smell the food but not get to eat it, but Chef Chang was kind enough to bring cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar for the audience! (I'm obsessed with Momofuku Milk Bar; their candy bar pie is my favorite, but I'm also a sucker for the compost cookies and the cereal milk).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I'm in love with this video. Happy Halloween, folks. More coming tomorrow.

This is almost as good as Jimmy's Neil Young impersonation videos. If you haven't seen them, go look up his version of the theme song to "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" or his duet with Bruce Springsteen of Willow Smith's "I Whip My Hair Back and Forth," both with Jimmy as Neil Young.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"And Sandy, the aurora is rising behind us. This pier lights our carnival life forever. Oh, love me tonight, for I may never see you again. Hey, Sandy girl, my, my, baby." ~bruce springsteen

I have another day off tomorrow thanks to Sandy. Today I ventured outside to look around and to meet a friend for dinner, and luckily my neighborhood wasn't hit too hard. I saw one store awning that had fallen and a handful of fallen trees, but it seems like we got pretty lucky compared to what others in NY and NJ are facing. And I never lost power, which is a blessing. I've seen tons of pictures and videos of what's happening elsewhere, and I'm in awe of the devastation. I feel for everyone hit hard by the storm and am thinking of and praying for them.
"Hurricane Jessie's gonna crash into the harbor this summer. She don't wanna wait till she gets older. Hurricane Jessie's gonna crash into the harbor this summer. She don't want to wait, she said it only gets harder." ~the hold steady

Folks, thanks to Sandy Frankenstorm you get to see what happens when I'm really bored. I've had a whole lotta time stuck in my apartment with nothing to do and nowhere to go, so I've been playing around on my computer. Scroll down to check out my recent posts (music-related), because I've been posting a lot lately. Here's another project I did. I watched last week's Parks and Recreation a whole bunch of times, and I made some gifs of my favorite scene. The gifs are after the jump; don't click if you don't want to know what happened in the last episode. Stay tuned for more evidence of my boredom.

Monday, October 29, 2012

 "'Cause I belong to the hurricane, it's going to blow this all away." ~florence + the machine

Scroll down to my last post to see/hear my favorite hurricane-themed song. 

Because I didn't have school today (or tomorrow) thanks to Hurricane Sandy, I had time to put together another Counting Crows concert post!
Counting Crows is my favorite band, so seeing them once last week just wasn't enough (scroll down for my previous CC concert post from earlier in the week). I also saw them at Roseland Ballroom on Thursday. I've seen CC so many times that at this point I'm always thrilled to hear them play a song I haven't heard live before (I'll be perfectly happy to never hear them play Mr. Jones again because I've heard it so many times). This time, I was happy to hear Monkey, St. Robinson In His Cadillac Dream, Richard Manuel Is Dead, Time and Time Again, and a bunch of the covers they did (Like Teenage Gravity, Look At Miss Ohio). I will never get sick of Holiday In Spain, no matter how often I hear it. I'm obsessed with that song, and it's their best closer. It was a great concert. Not their best, but still wonderful. I particularly liked the version of Goodnight Elisabeth they played, and Omaha and Hanginaround were fun because the crowd got involved.
Tender Mercies and Mean Creek opened for CC, and I was so, so excited to see Tender Mercies live. I love them. Half of Counting Crows is actually in Tender Mercies, which is kind of funny. They played some of my favorites; I was particularly thrilled to hear them play Wiseblood.

I recorded Counting Crows, so here's my recording. I'm surprised at how well it turned out considering where I was standing. Being in front of the stage right next to a speaker isn't a great place from which to record, but it actually sounds okay. You can download all the tracks here if you want.

I filmed Holiday in Spain because I love it so much.
The video doesn't include his intro speech, which I love, but it's on the audio version.
I also love how he adds something about this city not being a drag whenever he sings this song in NYC. 


Sunday, October 28, 2012

"Well you can only pray, when you're waitin' out the hurricane. Waitin' out the hurricane." ~augustana

I love, love, love this song, and this seems like an appropriate time to post it. Here's the video I filmed of Augustana playing this song at Rockwood Music Hall awhile ago. It was a fabulous, intimate, concert, and this song was one of the highlights. Be ready for a new post tomorrow, and if you're in Sandy's path, stay safe.

Monday, October 22, 2012

"So cover this warm night in a blanket of starlight. I will follow this freeway, out into the air. In case you should wonder and wanted to find me, I'm traveling homeward to Washington Square. In case you should wonder, I'm in Washington Square, Washington Square, Washington Square." ~counting crows

I think I said my next post would be about theater, but that'll have to come later. Right now my favorite band is on my mind! Look who I got to see perform today!
 If you read this blog at all or know anything about me, you know I'm obsessed with Counting Crows. My tattoo is CC-inspired (by the song "A Murder of One"). I've seen them more times than I can count. I have a huge crush on AD. Yes, I am being completely serious when I say that. Most people find it hard to believe. I love the dreadlocks, the puppy eyes, the goofy grin...anyway, I'm a big fan. At tonight's concert, I ended up with a setlist AND a guitar pick! (I collect both.) This guitar pick is from Immy, which is perfect, because I already have one from Dan (from a concert about five years ago).

They played a short setlist (it was a free concert), but it was still wonderful.

The past few days have been filled with AD. On Saturday I stood next to him for about half an hour, watching a concert. He stepped on my foot when he tried to get around me on his way out, and we did that awkward little dance when each person is trying to get out of the other's way and ends up being more in the way. AD can step on my foot anytime.

Audio (I had a few minor audio issues in the first couple of songs, but it gets better. Please excuse my singing during certain songs; at some points I forgot to just mouth the words rather than sing.):


Start Again:

Rain King:


Meet on the Ledge:

Washington Square:

I love that AD is a New Yorker, and I love how much he loves being a New Yorker.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"The first cut is the deepest, baby I know the first cut is the deepest. 'Cause when it comes to being lucky he's cursed, when it comes to lovin' me he's worse. But when it comes to being loved he's first, that's how I know the first cut is the deepest, baby I know the first cut is the deepest." ~cat stevens (performed by p.p. arnold)

I've seen a handful of movies lately (The Master, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Sessions, Argo, Seven Psychopaths) and the song above is in Seven Psychopaths. The movie has a good soundtrack, and I think the music is an integral part of a movie. I had to see it because I'm kind of obsessed with Martin McDonagh. He's best known as a playwright (windowcards from many of his plays are hanging on my living room wall), and this is his second movie (he wrote and directed it). I enjoyed it; it's better than McDonagh's first movie (In Bruges) but not as good as most of his plays. My favorite recent film is Argo. I think Ben Affleck is an incredibly talented director (I'm pretty sure I wrote a gushing post around the time The Town came out).

Funny observation on the Emmys: I've met three of this year's female winners (Claire Danes, Julianne Moore, Maggie Smith).

I love this video. I've been following the growth of this adorable panda cub in San Diego, and he's just too cute. He's starting to walk!

Next post will probably be a huge theater post; I've seen a TON of shows lately.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

 "I'm not here looking for absolution, because I found myself an old solution. I'm not here looking for absolution, because I found myself an old solution." ~florence + the machine

This is my fall TV post. Here's my initial take on the season's new shows as well as my returning faves.

New Shows:

The new show I'm most excited about is Nashville, which premieres this Wednesday. Based on everything I've read, it seems like it'll be the new biggest hit. It'll be weird to see Connie Britton as someone other than Tami Taylor/Mrs. Coach (oh, how I miss Friday Night Lights), but I love her and am sure she'll be amazing. And I generally love anything in which T Bone Burnett is involved. This show looks like it's right up my alley, and I'm super excited to see it.

Elementary: I'm surprised at how much I like this one. The chemistry between Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller makes this modern day Sherlock Holmes tale (set in NYC) worth watching.

Ben and Kate: I wish this show were on during a different timeslot, because I think it's a cute show and would like to stick with it. Right now, though, I already watch Hart of Dixie at that time and probably won't be able to keep up with Ben and Kate. But I like the relationship between this pair of adult siblings, and Maggie Elizabeth Jones is absolutely adorable as Kate's daughter (and she's not too precocious, which I appreciate).

The Mindy Project: This is another sitcom about which I'm cautiously optimistic. Mindy Kaling is a smart, hilarious writer who has created a flawed lead character you can't help but root for. The supporting cast is really strong, too (I love Anna Camp and Chris Messina).

The New Normal: Meh. I wanted to like this show because it stars so many people I've seen onstage (Andrew Rannells, Justin Bartha, Ellen Barkin), but most of the characters seem like two-dimensional stereotypes. Although I do have to give the show props for honoring Grey Gardens in one episode! I loved that.

Go On: Here's another one I want to like because of the cast (I like Matthew Perry, and I love theater vets Julie White and Laura Benanti). I'll stick with it for awhile, but it hasn't really grabbed me yet.

Revolution: It's hard to tell now where this will go, but I like it so far. Billy Burke is the standout for me, and it's an interesting premise. I'm really curious to see where Elizabeth Mitchell's storyline is going, and curiosity is a good thing.

666 Park Avenue: Another "meh." I like the cast, we'll see where it goes.

Returning Shows (no spoilers included):

Homeland, Homeland, Homeland. This is my favorite show ever. I seriously think it might be the best TV show ever made. Have I talked about the Emmys yet? I watched them with Nicole and I think I scared her with my insane excitement at all of Homeland's wins. I mean, the show won best drama series in it's first year of eligibility (stealing the crown from Mad Men, which had won four years in a row). Of course Claire Danes won for best actress (that was a given). I didn't think I could love her more than I already did, but her acceptance speech managed to convince me otherwise. "Mandy Patinkin, holla!" Oh, Claire. I wish I could work that phrase into all of my conversations. "Mandy Patinkin, holla!" indeed. But I really lost it when Damian Lewis won best actor in a drama series; that was an upset I never could have predicted (everyone thought the race was between Bryan Cranston, who was three for three in that category, and Jon Hamm, who has never won for Mad Men but whom many considered deserving). I literally jumped up from the couch and screamed in joy. So anyway, Homeland won big at the Emmys and I believe the show was 100% deserving. This season is already off to a riveting start (and I've heard the third episode brings the show to new heights, if that's even possible).

Revenge: I have the season 1 DVD and rewatched the entire first season before this season began in preparation. It was great to be reminded of everything I love about this show. My favorite thing about it is the relationship between Emily and Nolan, and I can't wait to see more of their scheming in season 2. I'm especially excited about Jennifer Jason Leigh joining the show.

Parenthood: I'm surprised that the storyline I'm enjoying the most so far this season is Julia and Joel's. I want to see more of how Victor is fitting into their family. I like Ray Romano's character, although I'm wary of his growing relationship with Sarah.

Grey's Anatomy: I'm not sure why I still watch this show; I guess it's just a habit that I can't break. It seems silly to give up at this point. I'm just sick of all the disasters and deaths and catastrophes.

Scandal: I'm liking this season so far. They manage to dole out information at a good pace; they give you just enough and still manage to keep you interested and curious.

Hart of Dixie: I really liked Lemon in this season's premiere, and I think (hope) she'll have a good arc this season. I'm a bit annoyed at how the love triangle (square?) from last season's finale was "resolved," but I still am eager to see what happens.

The Amazing Race: The twins! I love the twins! They're hilarious!

Survivor: I like this season so far! I'm on Team Denise; I'd love to see her win. She reminds me of my mom (I realize in some ways they're very different, but I see similarities).

Chuck has left a gaping hole in my TV life, but I'm managing.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Thank you for 19 wonderful years, Chipper.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"I'm looking to the sky to save me, looking for a sign of life, looking for something help me burn out bright. I'm looking for a complication, looking 'cause I'm tired of trying. Make my way back home when I learn to fly." ~foo fighters

Again, I have so much to write about and not enough time/energy! Here are highlights; I'll revisit some topics in more detail later (like the Global Festival).

On Monday I got to hear the Avett Brothers in Central Park. I saw them in Radio City Music Hall two years ago, and this was a different but also entertaining experience. They played all three of my favorite songs of theirs. I didn't bring my recording gear, but I recorded two songs with my Google Nexus tablet, and it worked surprisingly well. Here they are:

Laundry Room:

January Wedding:

On Wednesday we didn't have school because of Yom Kippur, so I spent the day at the theatre. I went to the matinee of Cyrano De Bergerac, which I found to be a pointless revival. The show was done less than five years ago (with Kevin Kline giving a great performance). This current production doesn't present anything new or exciting; it's a different translation of the play, but it's not a fabulous one. Douglas Hodge plays Cyrano, and he's great, but I still don't think this show needs to be on Broadway right now.
In the evening I went to see Enemy of the People, which was much more enjoyable. I remember reading Ibsen's play in college and was excited to see it onstage. Boyd Gaines is a four-time Tony winner, so I was eager to see his Dr. Stockmann. His portrayal was passionate, even though it wasn't exactly what I pictured when I read the play. I thought the character would be quieter and a bit less self-aggrandizing. Anyway, I was very glad to see this production.

Tonight I went to the Global Citizen Festival on Central Park's Great Lawn. The Great Lawn is a crazy place to see a concert (and it's very rare for concerts to occur there; the only other one I've been to is Bon Jovi). The line-up was a great collection of artists. We got to see K'Naan, Band of Horses, Foo Fighters, the Black Keys, and Neil Young with Crazy Horse.

I'm going to be a jerk and start with the complaining. I promise I'll get over it and get to the good stuff; I just need to vent first. First of all, I was supposed to go with my brother; I invited him a month ago and he said he'd love to come. I emailed him this Thursday so we could plan ahead and I asked him when he was coming into the city. I never heard back. I texted him this morning (the morning of the concert) to see what was up. He finally called me, the day of the concert, and said he couldn't come. And the excuse he gave was something he had to have known about for at least a couple of weeks. Thanks for the notice. I wanted to go into the concert at a decent time to get a decent spot, so I didn't have enough time to find someone else to take the ticket (there wasn't enough time for any of my friends in NJ or upstate NY to make it into the city, and the people I asked who live in the city already had plans). My friend Kim had wanted to come visit me this weekend, and she could have actually come and gone to the concert with me if I had known in advance (even the night before) that I would have an extra ticket. Anyway, I went by myself. I was fine by myself; it made it easier to sneak through the crowd and get a good spot. But I'm never inviting my brother to anything ever again; I just think it was really rude and inconsiderate of him. When I won the tickets I was torn over whom to invite, and I obviously chose the wrong person.

Okay, complaint number two. I promise I'll stop whining soon. They really needed to organize some things better. The website said you could bring in food and empty water bottles to fill up inside. Despite what the website said, they made us throw away all food and water bottles (even empty ones) at the gate. First of all, at a concert that's trying to end poverty, it seems incredibly wasteful to make everyone throw out their food (even sealed stuff, like granola bars). Anyway, since they made people throw out food and drinks, they must have known that everyone going into the concert (all 60,000 of us) would need to buy food and drinks inside, considering we'd be there for about 8 hours (doors opened at 2pm, concert ended close to 10pm). I waited in line at the concession stand for over an hour. They really should have been better prepared to handle all the people more efficiently. Luckily I was there early and got my food and water before the concert started.

We were divided into pens (yes, they really called them pens; there were signs everywhere), and I was in Pen 1. I realize this makes us sound like livestock, but it actually worked well because each pen had its own concession stand, porta-potties, and merchandise table. Once a pen was filled, they started filling the next pen. This was nice because even though I waited in the concession line for over an hour, I wasn't stuck with a terrible spot because I was already in my pen and people who came in after me were sent into other pens, where they had to stay.

I'm sorry for the whining; I realize I sound like a complete jerk. Because of everything I just complained about, I wasn't in the best mood when the concert started. But by the end of K'Naan's set, my mood had completely turned around. He was a great choice to open the concert because of his upbeat music. He closed with a beautiful performance of "Wavin' Flag," and after that it was impossible to feel down.

Band of Horses were next. I love, love, love Band of Horses. If I hadn't seen them live before (at MSG), they would have been the band I was most excited about seeing tonight. Their set was too short, but it was really good. They played some of my favorites, including "No One's Gonna Love You."

The Black Keys followed. They really are very impressive live. Every one of their songs sounds like it was meant to rock a crowd of 60,000. They got the crowd up and moving.

Foo Fighters were my favorite. It seems like most people were there to see them; everyone was singing along and moving with the music. Dave let the crowd sing a few lines of "My Hero," and it really is amazing to hear 60,000 people singing together. Dave talked about this being their last show in awhile. He said, "Without making a big deal out of it, we don't have any shows after this. This is it, man. This is the show where we come out and we play as many songs as we can in a short period of time, because honestly I don't know when we're going to do it again." I hope they do keep making music together and tour again, but I'm really glad I was at this concert because I don't know if I'll have another shot at seeing them again.

Neil Young with Crazy Horse was last. A lot of people left right before his set, so I was able to move from the back of Pen 1 up to the second row of the pen (so only the VIP section was in front of me). It was cool to see such a legend perform.

There are already some videos online from the live stream, and I'm sure a bunch more will pop up soon, so I'll continue to share my favorites. For now I'll just share this one, Foo Fighters' "Learn to Fly". And below are some of my bad pictures.
ETA: More videos added!
(BTW, anyone who finds me in any of videos from this event gets a prize. :D )

K'Naan (Wavin' Flag): 

Foo Fighters (Best of You):

Band of Horses (The Funeral) (I was one of the three people who knew the song):

Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse, The Black Keys, Foo Fighters (Keep on Rockin' in the Free World):
Foo Fighters (Learn to Fly):

 Band of Horses:
 John Legend (he sang "Imagine"):
 Olivia Wilde:
 The Black Keys:
 Foo Fighters:
 Neil Young with Crazy Horse:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone. You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone. Racing shadows in the moonlight, taking chances on a hot night. And for a second there we'd won, yeah we were innocent and young." ~the killers

I've been super lucky lately and have attended some awesome events in the city (scroll down for a few, and I still have more to write about, like improv with Justin Long and Ben Schwartz!). Today, though, I have a short post about my most recent awesome event. Last night I went to see The Killers tape an episode of Live On Letterman. It's filmed in Letterman's studio, but it's not an episode of the talk show; it's an actual concert. I love The Killers. I first saw them live more than seven years ago, when they were touring their first album. I've followed them closely and have been impressed with what they've done since then.

The band released their new album, Battle Born, on Tuesday, so they're currently promoting it (the song posted above, "Miss Atomic Bomb," is from the album). I went with my friend Bill, and we got really lucky; we ended up in the front row on the side. It's a long story about how we got those seats, but all that matters is we ended up with a perfect view. The concert will be streamed online soon, so I'll post a link when it's up. They played a bunch of older songs, which made me happy. I was lucky enough to end up with a setlist from the show, and I got Ronnie to sign it! I love "When You Were Young" as a closer (it's such a good song), and I was so glad to hear songs I haven't heard them play live before, like "Spaceman," "Reasons Unknown," Human," and "Read My Mind." So it was a great night.
My view: 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"A falling star fell from your heart and landed in my eyes. I screamed aloud as it tore through them, and now it's left me blind. The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out. You left me in the dark. No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight. In the shadow of your heart. And in the dark, I can hear your heartbeat, I tried to find the sound. But then it stopped and I was in the darkness. So darkness I became." ~florence + the machine

Look at the first few words again. "A falling star...." Last night at Florence + the Machine's concert at Jones Beach, during this song ("Cosmic Love"), there was a shooting star. I'm completely serious. How crazy is that?! An actual falling star during "Cosmic Love!" My audio recording is posted below, and you can hear when it happens. I still can't believe it. The version posted above is obviously the album version of the song.

Jones Beach is an awesome venue; it's literally on the water, and when you look out beyond the stage you see the ocean. Last night was a perfect night for an outdoor concert. It was beautiful. The music was beautiful as well. Flo is one of my favorite artists (she's definitely my favorite female artist). Jones Beach is such a big venue, but Flo filled it with her energy. She has such a commanding presence, even when you're watching her from the cheap seats in the balcony. She's dramatic and theatrical and she manages to get the whole audience involved and excited. She was barefoot and wore a long, flowing black dress that billowed behind her as she ran around the stage.

The setlist was okay. She played some of my faves ("Cosmic Love," "No Light, No Light," "Shake It Out," "Dog Days Are Over," "Only If For A Night") but also skipped a bunch of my faves ("Seven Devils," "Never Let Me Go," "Bedroom Hymns," "All This And Heaven Too"). I wish she had played a longer set. I enjoyed every minute of the concert, though; it really was captivating.

Here's my audio. It's a great listen, I promise. Flo is very entertaining between songs. Listen to "Cosmic Love" to hear chatter about the falling star.

Videos - "Dog Days Are Over"
"Shake It Out"

Monday, September 10, 2012

 "Regrets collect like old friends, here to relive your darkest moments. I can see no way, I can see no way. And all of the ghouls come out to play, and every demon wants his pound of flesh. But I like to keep some things to myself, I like to keep my issues drawn. It's always darkest before the dawn." ~florence + the machine

I have tons of updates to write about, and I will get back into blogging regularly in the next couple of weeks. I've been thrown off by my prolonged lack of internet and then summer vacation, but now that I'm on my normal school schedule and have internet, I'll start writing more. I have concerts to write about (Train, Mat Kearney & Train, Florence + the Machine on Saturday!), along with other fun stuff (Jessica Chastain! Ben Schwartz!), and that'll come soon. For now, I'll just share these photos:

I made Chris Gorham laugh. You can guess how awesome that makes me feel. 
 Isn't he dreamy? Oh my goodness, I adore him. He was super nice, too.

If you don't know who he is, start watching Covert Affairs. Now. It's an awesome show (even though the last episode, which aired on my birthday, had me completely bawling).

That's all for now. More to come. Listen to some Flo. I'm very excited to see her at Jones Beach this weekend! (By the way, the Flo song posted above aired at the very end of the season 2 Covert Affairs finale, and it was such a beautiful use of music in a TV show. That show has consistently good music. In the last episode it was a heartbreaking cover of "The Blower's Daughter" that got to me.)

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Saturday, August 04, 2012

"Let the moment go...don't forget it for a moment, though. Just remembering you've had an "and" when you're back to "or" makes the "or" mean more than it did before. Now I understand - and it's time to leave the woods." ~stephen sondheim (into the woods)

I'll write about my trip to Italy and Greece soon. I have a lot to say, but it will take me awhile to put it all into words. I'll say that I had a fabulous time. It was the best vacation ever. More to come on that.  "Moments in the Woods" (posted above, from the show I'm about to discuss) strangely describes my feelings about the vacation, so it's a good intro to the post and a segue into theater.

The Delacorte Theater might just be my favorite place in the world. It's the home of Shakespeare in the Park, and I've spent many summer nights there enjoying fabulous Shakespeare productions. Last week I was able to enjoy a night of Sondheim in the Park at the Delacorte. Into the Woods is one of my all-time favorite musicals (it's in my top three), and seeing it in Central Park (literally in the woods) was indescribable. I loved it. Sondheim is an absolute genius.

The performances in this production were particularly strong. My favorites were Amy Adams, Donna Murphy, and Sarah Stiles. Amy Adams is lovely as the Baker's Wife. Her "Moments in the Woods" is beautiful, and she's very funny. Donna Murphy is a freakin' superstar (Ben Brantley called her a superstar and I completely agree). She really is a living legend and I am so, so glad I was able to see her perform this role. She kills it. I think I like her performance as the witch even better than Bernadette Peters', although I know that's a pretty crazy statement for a musical theatre fan to make. Sarah Stiles plays Little Red, my favorite character in the show, and she's amazing. She offers a new take on the role, and I love it. She's precocious and strong and her comedic timing is perfect; she's hilarious. "I Know Things Now" is my favorite song in the show, and Sarah Stiles' version did not disappoint me at all. Gideon Glick is also very good as Jack. I love Denis O'Hare (sidenote: I'm so glad he's back on True Blood this season), but I think he's miscast as the Baker. Both Cinderella's Prince and Rapunzel's Prince are forgettable. The women really seem to stand out in this production.

The creative elements were a bit off in my mind. Poor Amy Adams is sporting the most awful, awful wig. I think Denis O'Hare is sweating buckets every night because of his cap and tweed jacket. Donna Murphy's appearance after the witch's transformation is perfect, but before the transformation, the dreadlocks and claws really don't work for me. All the costumes don't really work together; everyone looks like they're from a completely different story/time period, and I don't understand the point of that. I did like the way they did the Giant.

People are talking about a transfer to Broadway, and although it wouldn't be the same as in Central Park, I'd love to see it transfer. I definitely foresee some Tony noms if that happens.

Here's a nice interview with Amy Adams and Donna Murphy in the New York Times (you can see Ms. Adams' awful wig and Ms. Murphy's awful hair/costume in the photos).

ETA: Video preview

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"And knowing ahead, there comes a fork in the road. Pants have got to go, we're on an island on the Fourth of July, it looks like the tide is going home. In time, I'd find a little way to your heart, down to the general store for nothing specific, gonna wash my bones in the Atlantic shore, only for you and me." ~band of horses

I was so thrilled they played that song when I saw them at MSG in December; it's one of my favorites. I think it's a great summer song.

The school year is over! Here are a couple of highlights since school let out.

I'm not a Maroon 5 fan, but I got to spend about six hours in the same room as the lead singer yesterday (am I allowed to say his name? I'm not sure, so I won't, but I'm sure you all know it), and I have to say I was really impressed with him. He was incredibly fun, good-natured, and friendly. I signed nondisclosure forms so there's not much I can say about the experience right now, but once a certain movie comes out I'll say more. During downtime (of which there was a lot), he impersonated Johnny Cash, the Beatles, Kings of Leon, Creed, Al Green, Elvis, Sting, Prince, Cee Lo Green, and more (he took requests). He was entertaining and made the experience (that I can't discuss now) very enjoyable.

Every year I love attending Random House's Author Event for Educators, and this year's event was wonderful as always. They had a great collection of authors. Susan Cain was a highlight for me; her bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking has been on my radar for awhile, and I loved hearing her speak about introverts, focusing on how teachers can support introverts in the classroom. Julie Otsuka has won many writing awards for her novel When the Emperor Was Divine, and her long awaited follow-up, The Buddha in the Attic. I can't wait to read both books after hearing about them. Darin Strauss is another writer whom I was excited to hear from; his memoir Half a Life has been on my must-read list since it was released and critically lauded. Matt De La Pena (an author my students enjoy), Said Sayrafiezadeh, and Sam Bracken also spoke very well about their books and their experiences. It was a great day.

I've been to the movies a LOT since school ended. I enjoyed Savages, The Amazing Spider-Man, People Like Us, Magic Mike (so much eye candy it was overwhelming), and Ted, although I still think my favorite movie of the summer is Moonrise Kingdom.

I'm super excited to see my friend Denise, who's visiting this weekend along with her friend Alicia, whom I really liked meeting last year. Then on Tuesday I leave for Italy and Greece! My grandmother and I are flying to Rome and spending a couple of days there, then we head to Venice for a couple of days, and from Venice we'll embark on a cruise of the Greek islands. I cannot wait. Hopefully internet will be available when I get back. I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures and stories to share.

I'm sad that I can't be at Comic-Con and NerdHQ this week because I had a blast last year; it was one of the best weeks ever. I hope everyone going has fun. I will be looking at pictures and videos and will be jealous.

Some of my newly signed books: