Friday, December 31, 2010

"I said goodbye December, I'm leaving you behind." ~kid lightning

I was going to post Counting Crows' "A Long December," but it just seemed too obvious. And then AD shared this one, and it's a good one.

Check out this playlist for the new year. I contributed to it. Are you surprised by my submission? :D That'll be my song on tomorrow's blog post. I submitted more, but that's the one that got chosen.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"How you are my hero, how you're never here, though. Remember times when you put me on your shoulders, how I wish it was forever you would hold us." ~glasvegas

We're back to a Chuck song tonight. I thought this Glasvegas song was used in such a beautiful way on the show.

I have a new list today. It's not as detailed as the last one, mostly because I've already posted reviews and trailers of these films.

Claire's Favorite Films of 2010

2010 was a really good year for new movies. I'm glad the Oscars now have 10 nominees for best picture, because there are just so many deserving films this year. These are my favorites.

I can only judge movies that I've seen. There may be some great movies I haven't seen yet that I obviously can't put on my list now (Toy Story 3, Rabbit Hole, Blue Valentine, and Somewhere all come to mind as ones that could potentially be added once I see them).

These are in order of my current preference. I change my mind a lot, so who knows what order I'd place them in tomorrow (or what I'm forgetting).

The link attached to each one will take you to the trailer (control click and select 'open in a new window'):

1. True Grit
2. The Kids Are All Right
3. 127 Hours
4. Black Swan
5. The King's Speech
6. The Social Network
7. The Fighter
8. Inception
9. The Town
10. Never Let Me Go

I know the nominees haven't been announced and it's months away, but right now I'm betting on The Social Network winning the Oscar for Best Picture. Of course that can easily change. Hollywood is fickle. We'll see. You can see it's not my first choice, but I did enjoy it. Seriously, it's a crazy-good year for movies.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Maybe this Christmas will mean something more. Maybe this year love will appear, deeper than ever before." ~ron sexsmith

"Like Christmas stays with you, walk through the darkened streets as we lay true, lights from your heart lead me to you." ~leona naess

I couldn't decide which song to use today, so I used both. They weren't on Chuck, but they were both on The O.C., another Josh Schwartz show. Merry Christmas, everyone! Watch this amazing video based on a poem by the brilliant Neil Gaiman:

39 Degrees North: Christmas Card 2010 from 39 Degrees North on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Heaven is whenever we can get together, sit down on your floor and listen to your records. Heaven is whenever we can get together, lock your bedroom door and listen to your records." ~the hold steady

2010 is just about over, which means it's time for my Favorite .... of 2010 lists. Today it's my favorite albums of 2010. Please note that this is NOT a "Best Of" list. I think it's impossible for anyone to decide what's "best." These are just my favorites. This year was nearly impossible. Usually I have a hard time coming up with 10 stellar albums, but this year I had way too many favorites from which to choose. Many of my favorite artists released new albums this year, and I was introduced to some new great bands. I have more to say about the ones I love most, and of course I have positive things to say about them all (which makes me afraid of sounding redundant by the end). This is a countdown leading up to my absolute favorite. Anyway, without further ado, here we go (click on the album artwork for a link to the album on amazon):

Claire's Favorite Albums of 2010

Honorable Mentions: Deerhunter (Halcyon Digest), Broken Social Scene (Forgiveness Rock Record), She & Him (Volume 2), LCD Soundsystem (This Is Happening), The Black Keys (Brothers)

10. Beach House - Teen Dream

You'll see this one on a LOT of "Year's Best" lists. It's great songwriting.

Song sample: Silver Soul

9. MGMT - Congratulations

They're just so much fun. I don't mind the lack of singles, and I think this album is even better than Oracular Spectacular. I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Song sample: Congratulations

8. Broken Bells - Broken Bells

These two musicians (Danger Mouse and The Shins' James Mercer) are incredibly talented, so hearing them together is really special. I hope they continue to collaborate.

Song sample: The High Road

7. Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks

Not as good as Midnight Organ Fight in my mind (not as unified or emotional), but it's still absolutely beautiful. Go listen to it; it'll have you hooked immediately.

Song sample: The Loneliness and the Scream

6. Bruce Springsteen - The Promise

Oh, Bruce. You're constantly making me so, so proud to be from New Jersey. Seriously. What a gorgeous album.

Song sample: The Promise

5. - Band of Horses - Infinite Arms

I love their album Cease to Begin so much that I figured it would be nearly impossible for them to top it in my mind. I'm still deciding which album of theirs I like best now (Cease to Begin might still have the edge), but this one certainly is wonderful and magical.

Song sample: Blue Beard

4. The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever

What a rich celebration of rock. I'm echoing what I said about Band of Horses; I wasn't sure how this record could possibly top their previous record (Stay Positive). Again, I'm not sure that it does, but it comes pretty darn close. I love how the album celebrates music (the chorus of "We Can Get Together," in which Craig sings, "Heaven is whenever we can get together, sit down on your floor and listen to your records" is just perfect). There's quite a bit of variety. "Hurricane J" is one of my favorite songs and it's the band's classic guitar rock, but there are also some gorgeous, softer songs like "The Sweet Part of the City" and "Soft in the Center." Check out the whole album and see how fabulous it is.

Song sample: The Sweet Part of the City

3. - The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

This album is another fabulous example of range. It's got a classic rock feel, but it's infused with punk and soul and pop and I can't stop listening to it. It's one of the few albums that I always listen to straight through without skipping a single song. I love all of it. It starts with a bang with "American Slang," "Stay Lucky," and "Bring It On" and doesn't really slow down until the end. It makes me want to dance around. Seriously, it's so, so good.

Song sample: The Diamond Church Street Choir

2. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

This doesn't top Funeral, but it's definitely better than Neon Bible. What is there to say about it? What positive adjectives are left? Can I say it's majestic? It's complicated and emotional and a solid album. These songs are even better live.

Song sample: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

1. The National - High Violet

Was there ever any doubt in your mind that The National would have my favorite album of the year once again? I can't get enough of The National. I've seen them live nine times and I'm in love. Do I love this album more than Boxer? I don't know. I can't choose. It's like choosing a favorite child (I imagine). I do know that this album is absolutely brilliant. Matt's baritone somehow manages to reach deep inside me and wring my heart. Seriously, how does he do that? Thisis another album that I can listen to straight through without skipping any songs. I could start naming the ones I love and why, but I'd end up listing every song. I think the lyrics are revelatory. The melancholy of the music simultaneously haunts and comforts me. Folks, it doesn't get any better than this.

Song sample: Lemonworld

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Out with a whimper, it's not a blaze of glory. You look down from your temple as people endeavor to make it a story and chisel a marble word. But all is lost if it's never heard." ~mgmt

This was a really busy weekend, but I'm completely finished with my Christmas shopping (I only had my brother left and I got him done today) and I feel like I don't have that much left to do before I leave for Colorado on Thursday.

Today, exactly as I was walking up the steps at the Washington Square subway station, the Counting Crows' song "Washington Square" came up on my iPod (I had it on shuffle). What are the odds that, out of the approximately 10,000 songs I have, that one would pop up at that moment? It was fate. And it was cool. It's fun to listen to that song in Washington Square. Washington Square looks beautiful, by the way. I love all the city's decorations around the holidays.

Check out my friend Roseann's Christmas gift to me:
She definitely knows me well. This is a dangerous one; I'll have to use my willpower ration it well.

So I have a couple movie reviews for you. Both of these are serious Oscar contenders and I loved them both.

Black Swan
This year's race for Best Actress is between Natalie Portman and Annette Bening (in The Kids Are All Right). Both have been nominated before but have never won (poor Annette Bening has lost twice to Hilary Swank). I'll be happy for either one. I feel like Ms. Bening is overdue, but Ms. Portman is just so, so good in Black Swan. She's absolutely devastating (in a good way). She broke my heart. Darren Aronofsky has directed a beautiful, emotionally intense thriller. Go see it. It's definitely not your feel-good holiday movie, but it's a great film.

The Fighter
Right now, my money's on Christian Bale to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He's that good. Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, and Melissa Leo (who will most likely get her second Oscar nom) are also wonderful. I didn't care much about the boxing part of it (although those scenes, particularly the final match, were very well shot), but I still loved the movie. It's the relationships that make it interesting. So it's another one to go see.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"I used to see the night so anxious, but now I know the only thing it ever taught me was a grand illusion that comes and goes, the city blanketed of snow." ~band of horses

Now that the music player is actually working (thanks for letting me know it wasn't, Gege), you can go back and listen to the Chuck music posted this month. There are some great songs. So go listen to them.

Today I got to hang out with Kim during her annual Christmas visit. We went to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, exchanged gifts, went to lunch, was fun. I can't believe Christmas is in a week.

Now go listen to music.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"And we're sitting in the rain, and we're feeling like the weather. You could say that we're alone, but we're lonely together. We're all in it together now as we all fall apart. And we're swapping little pieces of our broken little hearts." ~dr. dog

Kim and I went ice skating on Saturday. I love ice skating and I'm not bad at it, but I'm certainly no expert. I tried skating backwards and looked like a baby bird trying to fly for the first time.

Kim certainly didn't fare any better.

We had fun.

I got to help Kim's family decorate their Christmas tree, which I enjoyed because it was my only opportunity to decorate a tree this year. This is how it looked after we put up one box of decorations; there were still two boxes left.

Some random, unrelated stuff:

The Golden Globe nominees. Oh, the Golden Globes. I had to laugh at the movie noms. Burlesque?!?! The Tourist?!?! Seriously?!?! Johnny Depp nominated twice (and undeserving both times, even though I love him)? Oh my goodness. There are a bunch of other crazy noms that I can't even believe. But the one thing that made me really, really happy was Piper Perabo. Seriously, I'm over the moon about her nomination for Best Actress in a TV Drama. I love Covert Affairs and I love her performance as Annie, and I am SO glad she was recognized.

Next random topic: tonight I went to a screening of True Grit. It was surprisingly hilarious, but it's also one that I probably won't watch again soon because it hit me pretty hard. That's not a bad thing, it's just not something I need to experience again right away. I cried. I love the Coen Brothers, I really do. And I love Jeff Bridges (who is incredibly entertaining in this). And Matt Damon (also entertaining). But the stand-out is Hailee Steinfeld. Please give this girl an Oscar. Really.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"They're playing our song, they're playing our song. Can you see the lights? Can you hear the hum?" ~blind pilot

I'm back from a weekend spent in NJ for a lovely wedding. I've known the bride since we were six years old, so it's bizarre to think that she's now married. I was there when she got engaged (after a Christmas Eve church service), and I was so glad to be at her wedding. It was absolutely beautiful. It was intimate and Christmasy and joyful. Here are just a couple of photos (because my camera battery was dying and because none of the ones I got turned out all that great).
Cutting the cake (made by the bride's dad):

Bridesmaids' dance:
I might post more at some later date when I've found some better ones.

I spent the rest of the weekend at my friend Kim's house. I'll post some photos tomorrow. It was a good weekend. I'm happy to be home, though. I was worried about the kitties. They're fine, though. They're happy to see me and are being very clingy. People who say cats aren't affectionate couldn't be more wrong. Casey won't stop licking my face and Jasper won't leave my lap.

Highlight of my night tonight: THE AMAZING RACE finale! I've been on Team Brook & Claire the whole time (seriously, I want to be them, or at least be friends with them; I need a Brook in my life), but I'll be happy if Nat & Kat win. If it's an all-female team, I'm satisfied. I think it's about time (in all 16 seasons, no all-female team has ever won). I think Nat & Kat might win. Go girls!

Friday, December 10, 2010

"When we are out in the market and out on the streets, I've got a pocket full of problems and a pocket full of seeds. Hoping something might grow out of this mistletoe, and I won't have to erase your memory." ~slow club

Back to Chuck songs today!

I saw Slow Club play at South Street Seaport, and a highlight of the concert was when they came out into the crowd to sing this song. I filmed it. It was lovely. Watch this video. Really. Gorgeous.

I'm heading out tomorrow morning to spend the weekend in NJ at a friend's wedding. I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully I'll come back with some good photos!

Monday, December 06, 2010

"I have no fear of heights, no fear of the deep blue sea, although it could drown me, I know it could drown me." ~kate melua

"Starlight, I will be chasing the starlight, until the end of my life. I don't know if it's worth it anymore." ~muse

I know I was on a Chuck music kick, and I have a bunch of files ready, but I'm putting that on hold for just one day to share some other music with you. Tonight I went to the world premiere of the movie The Tourist. It was at the Ziegfeld Theatre, which I always love visiting. Of course Brad and Angelina were there, as well as Johnny Depp, looking delightfully dapper (I was most excited about him). Before the movie, when I was heading to the bathroom, I ran into a woman and she smiled at me. I smiled back. After I had passed her (I'm ashamed of how long it took me to place her), I realized that it was Jennifer Connelly. She looked shorter than I expected, but of course she was gorgeous.

Now for the movie. First of all, the songs posted above are the two songs in the film with vocals (well, the Muse song is used in the credits, but that still counts). I thought they were very well-chosen. Johnny Depp is absolutely charming (isn't he always?). I could watch him read the phone book. Angelina Jolie is, well, Angelina Jolie. I'm generally not a huge fan of hers, but she was fine. I predicted the "twist" very early on in the film, but I still enjoyed seeing it play out. It was an entertaining movie with some great comic moments (mostly due to Depp), some action, and a story that was engaging enough to keep me interested.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

"I was lost in the nighttime. How am I a stranger to you when we're friends? I'm young and I made awful mistakes. You're older and you do the same." ~sam isaac

I woke up this morning lying on my back. Jasper was lying on my chest and Casey was lying on my stomach. I felt their weight sinking into me, but I felt so light.

Yesterday I saw The Break of Noon, an off-Broadway play. I wasn't crazy about the play; I was waiting to be surprised, and I just wasn't. The actors worked very well with what they were given, though. David Duchnovy did an admirable job of portraying the completely unlikable protagonist, Amanda Peet (I love her; I'm a huge Studio 60 fan) was good in her two roles, and Tracee Chimo was brilliant as always. I just wish they had better material.

Is it weird that I find David Duchnovy completely gorgeous?

Today I went to see The Great Game: Afghanistan. It was a marathon show; it was three plays all in one day, for a total of 7.5 hours. It's about Afghanistan's history from 1842 to the present. You might think 7.5 hours of Afghan history portrayed on stage would be boring, but you'd be wrong. It was fascinating. I loved every minute of it. Ben Brantley was there, so it was obviously a press day. I can't wait to read his review when it comes out Tuesday night. I want to post snippets of reviews from the London production (it's a transfer) just to convince you that I'm not alone in finding it brilliant:
“If anything drags, it’s the intervals. An inspirational highlight of the year so far.” Independent

“Mind blowing plays ride high. Something remarkable is happening at the Tricycle, where Afghan history and culture are being made manifest in a uniquely challenging, theatrically exciting way.” The Guardian

“Its scope is unparalleled. It’s a fine achievement.” The Times

“There is a deep thrill in hearing an audience fall silent, rapt in the drama….more impressive…the silence of an audience completely gripped by reality.” Financial Times

“High on my list of the best theatrical experiences of 2009. The quality of the writing and the painstaking nature of the research are palpable throughout…Directed with precision and clarity by Nicolas Kent and Indhu Rubasingham and superbly acted… this is a challenging theatrical marathon of notable intelligence, insight, ambition and achievement.” The Daily Telegraph

“For sheer scale and ambition alone it deserves the highest praise.” Sunday Times

“The cast of 15 is universally excellent. Sharp and entertaining and, as the best political theatre should, refuses to draw simplistic conclusions.” Sunday Telegraph

“No former undertaking has boasted anything like the scope or ambition of ‘The Great Game’….immense. The terrific acting ensemble never flags, directors Nicolas Kent and Indhu Rubasingham continue to imbue each piece with fierce, coherent life.” The Evening Standard

“The Great Game is the year’s most ambitious theatrical event.” Metro

“Nicolas Kent’s most ambitious project is a triumph.” Jewish Chronicle

“An utterly enthralling and informative experience with terrific new pieces… don’t miss.” Whatsonstage

Yeah. Before each performance, they handed out an essay about the history of Afghanistan during the time period of the show you were about to see. It's also available online, and I enjoyed reading it. I was woefully ignorant about Afghan history, and although I'm certainly no expert now, I'm glad I know a little bit more.

Tomorrow I'm experiencing a different kind of entertainment; I'm going to the premiere of The Tourist. That's right, I get to knock elbows with Johnny Depp and Brangelina (I don't care a bit about Brangelina, but Johnny Depp is pretty cool). Actually, I'm sure I'll be sequestered in a part of the theatre designated for "normal" people and won't be anywhere near the stars, but still, it'll be fun.

Friday, December 03, 2010

"Finally, we have seen some things. But bells in your hallways don't move you in the right place. So we will sing, cast our hopes out to sea. Though our hearts break, through violent winds our ship will sail. And I don't understand how this world would work. 'Cause time will tell us nothing, I'll take a chance on something." ~the temper trap

I've decided I'm going to devote this month to songs from Chuck. Trust me, they're amazing songs that I'll be posting. I can't get over how good the music on this show is. So keep checking back to listen to the brilliance. I've already uploaded over ten songs and they're ready to post throughout the month. I figured this is a good one to start with. I love this song. I love the moment in which it was used in the show.

This is a crazy busy weekend for me. Tomorrow I'm going to try and see The Break of Noon, and at night I'm going to a movie screening. Then on Sunday I'm seeing The Great Game: Afghanistan. It's a three-show series, and I'm going to a marathon (all three in one day). It's an all-day event and I'm really excited about it. Just check out these review snippets to get an idea of how fabulous it's supposed to be. I'll report back. I also have to squeeze a lot of work somewhere into that schedule. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

"Sometimes it fills you up, most times it lets you down. Right when we woke up, there was nothing much on around. Do you remember the sound?" ~miles benjamin anthony robinson

I should write a Perestroika review (part 2 of Angels in America). I saw it yesterday. The show was three hours and 45 minutes long (keep in mind that it was only part 2; I saw part 1 awhile ago), and it was followed by a really entertaining talk-back with the cast. I didn't get home until well after midnight and I had to get up at 6am this morning for a full day (10 hours including after-school) of teaching. So I'm exhausted. I'll try to write about it later this week. I'll say now that I love this show. It was a groundbreaking play when it was first introduced, and it's still relevant and important and brilliant and moving. Today is World AIDS Day, so it was a good time to see the show and reflect on the AIDS epidemic and the role it has played in our history as well as its role in our society today.

On a lighter note, here's my favorite recent video. Can I just talk about how cute they are? The grins, the dancing...yeah, I love them.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Well, I have been searching all of my days, all of my days. Many a road, you know, I've been walking on, all of my days. And I've been trying to find what's been in my mind as the days keep turning into night." ~alexi murdoch

I've been having audio problems, so hopefully it plays.

I promised movie reviews today, so here we go.


This is my new favorite Disney movie. It's absolutely wonderful. It's an original, fresh take on an old classic, it's fun, the 3D animation is very well done, it's funny, it features the charming and expressive voices of Zachary Levi and Mandy's just a really entertaining trip to the movies. It's seriously a lovely film that I highly recommend, no matter what age you are. I went to a sold-out screening and I'm pretty sure I was the oldest person there without a kid, but I still had a blast. It was fun listening to the reactions of the little girls sitting next to me.

The King's Speech
Here's another one that I highly recommend. Can we talk about Colin Firth for a minute? I love him. And I think he deserves an Oscar. He was nominated last year for his fabulous performance in A Single Man and he will undoubtedly be nominated again this year. I hope he wins (although I know I should wait until I see all the contenders' performances before I say that). Becoming George VI (Bertie) could not have been easy, but Mr. Firth manages to avoid caricature and gives a layered, realistic performance. Geoffrey Rush (who already has an Oscar) is also wonderful. I love him, too. Seeing these two actors work together is such a treat. This movie is a character piece and a historical piece, and it's a very good film.

Just because I love this photo, here I am with Geoffrey Rush. He really is a class act.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"You made this world, you made this world, you made this world. Thank you, thank you. You gave me life, you gave me life, you gave me life. Thank you, thank you." ~glen phillips

I have a lot to write about, but I'll spread it out over a couple of days. Tomorrow I'll post movie reviews for Tangled and The King's Speech (all I'll say now is Tangled is so freakin' sweet and give Colin Firth an Oscar already), but today I'll do a Thanksgiving picspam.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Every year Thanksgiving dinner is held at my aunt and uncle's apartment and a whole bunch of us (like, dozens of us) cram into said apartment to enjoy the day together. This year's celebration was just as wonderful as ever.

I started the day with my lovely kitties, for whom I'm so thankful.

Every year we take a picture of the grandchildren on my mom's side of the family. There are seven of us. I am the oldest. I am also the shortest. I felt it was fair for me to commandeer a high spot this year.

It always takes us more than a few tries to get a good one.

Bess is a goofball.

I got to see my brother.

The game of Spoons always reminds my cousins of the time I lunged across the circle and wrestled a spoon out of my terrified youngest cousin's hand. I'm quite competitive. They won't let me forget the incident. But they're still always willing to play with me. I've gotten much calmer.

I think Sarah would be more justified in being scared of Bess now.

Like I said, Bess is a goofball.

On Friday we went to the Morgan Museum (they have a great Mark Twain exhibit right now) and had lunch there to celebrate my grandmother's 80th birthday together.

That day I took my immediate family to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson on Broadway (it's one of my favorite shows) and they got to meet my kitties. It was a great couple of days spent with family. I'm still digesting everything that I ate, and I'm thankful for the company I had.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Wake wake up, get out o' your head. You gotta wake wake up, get out o' your head. You got a lot to live, you got a lot to live for. So bye bye bye misery. I'm gonna cut you into three and I'm gonna stay, I'm gonna stay." ~nico stai

Acoustic version:

Original version:

This is all I have in me right now. This song. It was used in last night's episode of Chuck, which is now my favorite episode of the show (in the three-and-a-half seasons it's had so far). I can't even tell you how brilliant Yvonne Strahovski was last night. She deserves an Emmy for this episode. If you're not watching Chuck, start now. Trust me. It's in it's fourth season right now and it's better than ever. I've been raving about it since the pilot aired (I was a fan from the beginning), and it's my favorite show ever. Yes, ever.

The acoustic version of this song is the one that was used in the episode, but the original version is also gorgeous. Seriously, Josh Schwartz is so unbelievably talented at using the best music in his TV shows. I watch/have watched all of his shows, and I still can't get over the use of music.

Now go and listen to this song over and over (both versions).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"If this is redemption, why do I bother at all? There's nothing to mention, and nothing has changed. Still, I'd rather be working for something than praying for the rain. So I wander on, 'til someone else is saved." ~james vincent mcmorrow

Oh, Bruce. Bruce, Bruce, Bruce. You make me so proud to be from New Jersey. You really, really do. And Jimmy Fallon? Pretty freakin' cool. I love this. I posted the video for "Whip My Hair" awhile ago (scroll down), and this is the best cover ever. Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young, joined by The Boss. Hopefully this video isn't deleted too quickly. I can't get over Bruce's "I whip my hairrr...." I will be watching this video over and over and over.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"I can say it, but you won't you believe me. You say you do, but you don't deceive me. It's hard to know they're out there, it's hard to know that you still care. I can say it, but you won't you believe me. You say you do, but you don't deceive me. Dead hearts are everywhere. Dead hearts are everywhere." ~stars

I have a new favorite word: pfod. Thanks, Chuck.

I haven't posted kitten pictures lately, so here are two that I just uploaded. I can't tell you how much I love coming home to these little guys. They're just so wonderful. Click for larger versions.

That's all for now. They're just too cute for words.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Now the world can be an unfair place at times. But your lows will have their compliment of highs. And if anyone should cheat you, take advantage of or beat you, raise your head and wear your wounds with pride." ~yeasayer

I first saw Yeasayer perform live a few years ago, when they opened for The National in Central Park and not many people knew who they were. I could tell they were something special.

I'm quite behind on movie reviews. I don't think I've written about The Social Network (and that was ages ago), Unstoppable (I also saw that a long time ago, at a screening), Red, Conviction, Morning Glory, and now 127 Hours. Oh, and Love and Other Drugs, but I signed a waiver so I don't think I'm allowed to write about that one yet. These are going to be short reactions because I don't have a whole lot of time. I'm skipping The Social Network because all I need to say is that it's amazing and most people have already seen it, anyway.

Unstoppable: This is really good for what it is. It's an action movie and it's a suspenseful, well-paced one with some cool stunts and good acting from Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. This is classic Tony Scott.

Red: A whole lotta fun. It's hilarious, action-packed, and features a great ensemble (made up of Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and Morgan Freeman).

Conviction: The performances made this for me. Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell are great as always, but it was the supporting cast that really stood out to me. Juliette Lewis is riveting in her very small amount of screen time. Clea DuVall, Mini Driver, Peter Gallagher, Melissa Leo, and Ari Graynor are also solid. The screenplay is really weak, but the performances really saved it for me. I need to say one more time that Juliette Lewis is brilliant. Seriously.

Morning Glory: Rachel McAdams is charming, and Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton are also quite good, but this wasn't anything special.

127 Hours: I think this one will get an Oscar nod for best picture. Danny Boyle is on a roll. Seriously, he is one talented director. He manages to keep you interested, even though practically the whole movie takes place in one tiny space. It's really fascinating. It's beautifully shot; I love the way that light is used. I love the soundtrack. And I love, love, love James Franco. Go see this.
(Click the full screen button on the bottom right corner of the trailer so you can avoid the stuff covering it here.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"No longer, no longer what you ask. Strange steps, heels turned black. The cinders, the cinders, they light the path and these strange steps take us back, take us back." ~yeah yeah yeahs

Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal are currently promoting "Love and Other Drugs" (I love both of them but I've seen the movie and it's not very good), and I love this interview snippet. First of all, great song choice, Anne. I love that song, too. I'm making it the song of the day. From now on I'm going to try and post a song at the beginning of every post, and it'll be the song from the post's opening lyrics.
And Jake is too funny.

I have to admit that his song choice is kind of addicting. It makes you want to, well, whip your hair back and forth.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Pray to the simple machines that do not rely on belief, the softness of steam and of gears, their energy is surely pure. The kindness of engines is not in you. Claire, you do it perfectly." ~matt pond pa

I love that song. I love that it's called "Claire." I love songs with my name in the title. Another favorite is "The Thrilling of Claire" by The National. Neither of these songs paints a very positive picture of a girl named Claire, but that's okay. I kind of like that.

I'm trying something new to share music. If it works correctly, you should be able to listen to "I See the Light" sung by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi right now. Just press play.

It's from the upcoming animated movie Tangled. I'm so, so excited for this movie. First of all, I love the Rapunzel story, and a new take on it is really intriguing to me. Second of all, Zachary Levi and Mandy Moore are the main voices. If you're not already aware, I'm in love with Zac Levi. And I think Mandy Moore is great. One of the best things about the movie is hearing them sing together. Zac Levi has a really, really good voice (of course Mandy Moore does as well, but Zac's vocal ability is more surprising to people because it's not what he's known for). I really want him to do Broadway. For now, though, this is enough. I love this song, and I can't wait for the movie.

Here's the trailer:
And a nice interview with Mandy and Zac:

Saturday, November 06, 2010

"And I don't know whose baby you are. No, I don't know whose baby you are. No, I don't know whose baby you are. If we didn't have to worry about money we'd be all right. If we didn't have to worry about money we'd be all right. If we didn't have to worry about money we'd be all right." ~roadside graves

That's from a song released earlier this year called "Liv Tyler." I love it.

On Thursday Nic and I saw Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (part 1) at the Signature Theatre. We subscribed to the theatre's season just so we could ensure that we got tickets for this show, because it's just such a brilliant play. I have the HBO miniseries and I love it, but I was too young to catch the play when it originated on Broadway. It's a seven-hour play so it's split into two parts, and we're seeing part 2 (Perestroika) later this month, so these comments are just related to part 1. I really enjoyed this production. It's a very small space, so it feels intimate, but the production elements are still impressive. Even though I knew the angel was coming at the end, I was still taken aback by her appearance. Acting-wise, I thought Zachary Quinto gave the most impressive performance. Who knew the villain from the TV show Heroes (he was the villain, right?) could turn into such a complex, sensitive, heartbroken, angry gay man? Well, I actually wasn't surprised at how wonderful he was (I've been a fan for awhile), but some people might be. Christian Borle was fine, Zoe Kazan was fine, Billy Porter was fine, Frank Wood and Bill Heck were very's just such a thrill to see this groundbreaking play performed onstage.

Angels In America - Signature Theatre Trailer from Signature Theatre Company on Vimeo.

Tomorrow Nic and I are seeing The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway, starring Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) himself. I've never actually seen any of his shows (at least not that I remember). It should be interesting, though.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

"You twist and whisper the wrong name, I don't care nor do my ears. Twist yourself around me, I need company I need human heat. I need human heat." ~frightened rabbit

I had a great weekend. On Saturday afternoon my brother arrived and we went out to dinner at Vynl, one of my favorite restaurants. Then we met up with my friend Leah for the Frightened Rabbit concert. I've seen them live before and I'm always impressed with what a good live show they put on. I just love their music so much, and seeing them play it live and singing along is just so much fun. We were in the center of the front row, so we had a perfect view. I filmed the whole show, and you can watch it here. I want to post a few songs here, but it's impossible to choose just a few. I'll give it a shot, anyway. I apologize for my singing. I couldn't help myself. Sometimes it's me you're hearing, and sometimes it's the girl next to me.

Good Arms vs. Bad Arms: What can I say? This song is heartbreaking and gorgeous.

The Twist: This one was really cool because Scott invited people wearing Halloween costumes to come dance on the stage during the song. It's also a fabulous song.

Don't Go Breaking my Heart feat. Craig Finn of The Hold Steady: Yeah, Craig Finn showed up. I was stoked. I love him (I just saw The Hold Steady in concert a few weeks ago). I love his dancing. What an amazing combination of talent in this performance.

Keep Yourself Warm: I love this song. I can't help but think of a certain Chuck episode when I hear it. What was cool, though, was that Scott sung a snippet of The National's "Bloodbuzz Ohio" at the end. You know how much I love The National.

Poke: And finally, a video that I didn't film but that I have to include. I told Leah and Brett before the concert that the only song I cared about hearing was "Poke." I've heard all my other favorites live before. I wanted "Poke." And Craig played it. By himself, with his acoustic guitar. And it was indescribably amazing to me. But for some reason that was the one song that I didn't film; I don't know what happened, my recorded screwed up. I was a bit devastated. Luckily someone else got it, though. My brother is the guy with the bald head, and I'm in front of him.

Really, though, go watch all the videos when you have time. It was such a good concert.

I extracted audio from my videos, so here it is:
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I'm devoting this post to Frightened Rabbit, so I'll try to post about the play I saw on Sunday tomorrow.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"I might never catch a mouse and present it in my mouth, and make you feel you're with someone who deserves to be with you. But there's one thing we've got going and it's the only thing worth knowing. It's got lots to do with magnets and the pull of the moon." ~frightened rabbit

This is kind of a family week. Which I love. On Thursday I celebrated Bess's birthday with some family members. It was good to spend time with them. Here I am with my cousins; Maureen and I are lamenting the fact that we are midgets compared to Bess (who is much younger than we are):

Today my brother is coming to visit. I'm excited because I don't see him much, even though he lives pretty nearby. For my birthday he got us tickets to see Frightened Rabbit together. I've seen them in concert twice before and they put on a good live show. The concert is at Terminal 5 and I love that venue. I know it'll be a good night. My friend Leah is joining us for the concert, which just adds to the coolness factor of the evening. If they play "Poke," it'll be even better. That's the one song I haven't heard them play live that I really want to hear. But I'll try not to get my hopes up.

Now I have to finish cleaning. My brother is allergic to cats. And I have two kittens. I'm worried.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"My life, you electrify my life. Let's conspire to ignite all the souls that would die just to feel alive. But I'll never let you go, if you promised not to fade away. Never fade away. Our hopes and expectations, black holes and revelations. Our hopes and expectations, black holes and revelations." ~muse

I love weekends like the most recent one. I started out with no real plan and ended up having a great time. I hung out with my friend Bill, who has taken me to quite a few concerts (because he's just incredibly cool and generous like that). On Saturday we went to see Cheech & Chong perform. They're a pair of comedians I'm not really familiar with, and the humor wasn't really my style, but I didn't mind. I got to hang out with my friend and that made me happy. Sunday was the best day, though. We went to see Muse. We both saw Muse for the first time when they opened for U2. It's amazing that they even opened for U2 because they're an incredibly popular band who headlines their own stadium tours in Europe. They're HUGE in Europe, but America has taken awhile to catch on. After seeing them open for U2, I got all their albums (and Bill did the same). Last night we saw them at the Newark Prudential Center. Seeing them headline their own show was such a cool experience. They're one of those bands that you have to see live; they put on an amazing show. They're really talented musicians, they have crazy energy, the lighting and set design was so impressive, and their music is really meant to be blasted at a high volume with a ton of people singing along.

I didn't record the show, but I wish I did. I filmed a few songs. It's awful quality, but whatever. Here are my two favorites. They played "Starlight," which I absolutely love. It's my favorite song of theirs. They also played "Feeling Good," a Nina Simone cover (as a Chuck fan I was thrilled).


Feeling Good:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees. I never married, but Ohio don't remember me." ~the national

Okay, I just went back and watched the "Bloodbuzz Ohio" music video, and I think I love it just as much as "Terrible Love" video I posted yesterday. It's absolutely hilarious. I love how Matt loves making fun of himself. I could watch this over and over and over and still love it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"It's a terrible love and I'm walking with spiders. It's a terrible love and I'm walking in it's quiet company. It's quiet company." the national

I know I've already posted once tonight (scroll down for my Avett Brothers post), but I forgot that I needed to share this. Immediately. Best video ever. I love this even more than the music video for "Bloodbuzz Ohio." I love them so, so, so much.
"From where I stand, I can see they've got the upper hand of me. Reminds me of this world at last, simply changes much too fast for me. And when they call out, will I hear them? And when they fall out, will I see them? This yellow light on the crowd and colors way too loud to see reveal their drive, we could change it, try to rearrange it. They call me a Tom Boy and I let them.'Cause only a Tom Boy could forget them and simply change it. They call me a Tom Boy and I love it.'Cause only a Tom Boy could stand above it by simply changing." ~bettie serveert

I love how AD is always introducing me to amazing new music. Of course that song's not new (it's from 1992), but it's new to me.

I know I'm late on my Avett Brothers post. I've just been too lazy to go through the tedious process of getting the music up here (trust me, it's a LONG process). I've finally got it ready, though. But I'm not posting videos now, partly because they're not very good and partly because it's too much work.

For me, the highlights of the show were "Murder in the City" sung by the two brothers (it's a song about being brothers, so it was fitting for the two of them to sing it alone, and it was touching) and "I and Love and You." I also loved hearing "January Wedding" and "Laundry Room." "Laundry Room" is screwed up on my audio because my battery died in the middle of the song. I didn't expect them to play for over two hours. I missed almost 45 seconds in the middle of the song while changing my battery, so when I worked on the audio, I spliced in part of the song from another live show. It was impossible to get right so it sounds awful, but it's such a gorgeous song that I still wanted to include it. I also loved Paleface's "New York, New York" (Paleface was one of a few guests who joined them), and "Kick Drum Heart" was great. The concert was a lot of fun, and it was a great birthday present.
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

"I wanna have friends that will let me be all alone when being alone is all that I need. I wanna fit in to the perfect space, feel natural and safe in a volatile place. And I wanna grow old without the pain, give my body back to the earth and not complain." ~the avett brothers

I don't have my concert post ready yet. They played for a LONG time (over 2 hours), and that's a lot of music to track and edit and upload. It'll be up by tomorrow, though.

For now, I'm sharing a commercial for The Scottsboro Boys, a new Broadway musical. It's based on a true story. I saw it last weekend and was very moved by it. The acting, choreography, and design are all very strong, and the story stays with you long after you leave the theater. It's Kander & Ebb's last musical, and it's a special one.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"The big sky that you see when you travel way out west, I admit that can impress. I love the space, man, it's insane, and the sage at the roadside, how it smells after the rain. But even though there's lots to see, the mountains and deserts are free, I still cannot escape the fact that I'll always be looking back at New York, New York. Now that's something to see. Yeah, it's special to me. New York, New York. It's where I came to be, where I came to be. The Bronx is up, Brooklyn's down, Brooklyn's down. There ain't any other town like this town. Some will always put it down, but they don't see that it's a crown, and they should count themselves lucky enough to have a place to see like New York, New York. Remember that you're free as a statue in the sea. New York, New York. They say it never sleeps; you should check that just to see." ~paleface

Well said, sir. Well said. Last night I went to see The Avett Brothers at Radio City Music Hall. It was Nic's birthday present to me, and it was a great show. Paleface was there and sang with them for a few songs (he also sang the beautiful song posted above). I'll have a concert post up within the next couple of days.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. In 1493, he came home across the deep blue sea. In 1494, he did it with the girl next door. In 1495, he barely made it out alive. In 1964, these sailors left me the door. In 1970, some people got their hands on me." ~counting crows

I liked Adam's tweets yesterday. Here are just a few:
There's justifiable dissing of Columbus but, mistakes aside, I admire a guy who defied accepted wisdom & sailed off the end of the world

Sure, he "knew" that there was no "end of the world" but his sailors didn't. Surprising they didn't pitch him over the side after awhile.

Columbus was a weird mixture of scientist and adventurer. He was smart enough to see the truth & brave enough to take the risks to prove it.

That said, he totally fucked up once he got there. That was not so good. But it's almost never good, is it? Sad thing is it always happens.

History's mostly about people's ignorance/abuse of each other. I still admire the part that's brave enough to sail off the end of the world.

I should point out that, in writing "1492", I was talking about the total degradation of a human being. I took a jaded view of his adventure

I'm just saying we ALWAYS look at the world as black or white & get it wrong. People live in the grey.

It's just so popular these days to dish Columbus. But we are a nation built on both idealism and genocide. The world is a complicated place.
He's a smart guy.

I want to honor another smart guy today. Yesterday might have been Bobby Cox's last game managing the Braves. They made it to the postseason but lost their series against the Giants last night, ending their season. Bobby had announced that this would be his last season. He spent 25 years managing the Braves, leading them to a record 14 consecutive division titles. He's the best manager in the game and I love him. I'm crying now just writing about this. After last night's game, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and chanted his name. The Giants even stopped their celebration to acknowledge him. He tearfully addressed the crowd and was lost for words for what seemed like the first time in his life. I really, really hope he changes his mind and returns next season, because the Braves will not be the same without him. His importance cannot be overstated. I can't imagine anyone else filling those shoes.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

"I'm pretty sure I wasn't your first choice. I think I was the last one remaining. I wish we hadn't gone and destroyed it, 'cause I was thinking we could pull another weekender. You've still got a bit of clairvoyance." ~the hold steady

On Thursday I saw The Hold Steady in concert at the Beacon Theater. It was a great show. First of all, I love that venue; it's probably my favorite seated concert venue in the city. They're touring to promote their newest album, Heaven is Whenever, and they played all my favorite songs from that record ("Hurricane J," "We Can Get Together," "The Sweet Part of the City," "The Weekenders"). My favorite album of theirs, though, is Stay Positive, so I was hoping to hear a lot of songs from it, and I wasn't disappointed. They played "Sequestered in Memphis," "Magazines," and "Slapped Actress," which are three of my favorite songs from that album. The only thing I wanted to hear but didn't was "Lord, I'm Discouraged." It's omission wasn't surprising but was still disappointing.

Craig Finn is such an engaging entertainer. He uses his whole body to draw the crowd in; he never stops moving onstage, and he uses the whole stage. You can't help but move along with him. I filmed some songs, but I skipped some because I wanted to move around. I wanted to film "Hurricane J" and "Sequestered in Memphis" because I love those, but I just had to dance instead. And I should have filmed "We Can Get Together," but I'm not sure why I didn't think of it at the time. I guess I was just so excited to hear the song. I did catch some of my favorites, though. There are more on my youtube page, but these are the songs I love the most:

Slapped Actress (I was SO psyched when they launched into this; it was the song I wanted to hear most):

The Sweet Part of the City (my favorite song from Heaven is Whenever):

Magazines (oh, how I love this song):

The Weekenders (the girl has clairvoyance; is this song for me?):

I also taped the show, and it sounds pretty good.

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