Saturday, December 17, 2011

"You get mistaken for strangers by your own friends when you pass them at night under the silvery, silvery Citibank lights, arm in arm in arm and eyes and eyes glazing under. Oh, you wouldn't want an angel watching over. Surprise, surprise, they wouldn't want to watch another un-innocent, elegant fall into the un-magnificent lives of adults." ~the national
Oh my freakin' goodness. I'm on such a high right now from a week of absolutely brilliant music.
It's been a crazy week. Five concerts in six days (while having to work during the days and get up super early for work) is exhausting. The experience was completely worth the exhaustion, though. I would do this every week if I could; it was one of the best weeks ever. Like I said before, I'm obsessed with The National, so a full week of them was heavenly. They usually don't vary their setlists all that much, but this week they did, and I couldn't have been happier with what they played. Each night I heard at least one new song that I hadn't heard them play live before but was one that I had always wanted to hear. Honestly, I never in a million years could have imagined hearing so many of my favorite songs played live in one single week. It's really unbelievable to me.

Saturday's setlist was seriously amazing. They played so many rarities that I was in constant disbelief and giddiness. It was their last show (out of six in a row) at the Beacon, it was the last show of their High Violet tour (which has been going on for more than a year and a half), and it was streamed live. All those factors meant it would be special, but I didn't realize just how special it would be. There were also some great special guests. Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire played with them on a few songs. There were a lot of other great musicians onstage at various points (Annie Clark of St. Vincent, Sharon Von Etten) but my mind is too tired to think of more of them now. I saw Will Arnett, John Krasinski, and Emily Blunt in the audience (they walked right past me).

I recorded all the shows I attended, so a few highlights (for me) are interspersed throughout the rest of this post. Download links for all the shows (full versions) are posted at the end.
I'm trying a new file hosting site, so let me know if these songs actually play. Some of the songs from Saturday are from the live stream, so the quality is better than my audience recording.

"Lucky You" is tied for my favorite song of theirs, and I had never heard it in concert before. I didn't want to let myself hope to hear it this week. They played it on Monday, though (the first night, so I didn't have to keep waiting for it!). I can't tell you how excited I was. I liked hearing them talk about it, too. An audience member kept yelling "Sexy" at Matt, and then Aaron said that the song they were about to play was a sexy song. Matt disagreed and said it was probably one of their least sexy songs, and he suggested that Aaron learn the lyrics. Matt's right. "Lucky You" is not sexy. It's totally creepy; it's basically about a stalker. But the melody is so beautiful that if you don't listen to the lyrics, you might be deceived. Anyway, it's one my absolute favorites. And they played it. And it was even more beautiful than the album version because of the horn section onstage. It was a few minutes of heaven.

On Tuesday "the song" was "Wasp Nest." Oh my freakin' goodness, I love "Wasp Nest." Again, I couldn't believe I was hearing them play it live.

On Thursday I was thrilled to hear "Driver, Surprise Me." That's another gorgeous song. It's one that took a while to grow on me but that really grabbed a hold of me once I listened to it enough times and let it sink in (I love that kind of song).

And now we get to Saturday. Oh, Saturday. I'd like to post at least half the set here because everything was so wonderful. But I'll stick to the rarities.

"SANTA CLARA." Yeah. "Santa Clara." I couldn't believe it. I LOVE this song. It wasn't even released on an album, so it's rare. They don't play it much. By Saturday I had heard so many songs that I was hoping for that I told myself if I heard "Santa Clara" the week would be complete. And when they launched into it, my heart leaped.

"90 Mile Water Wall!" Gahhh! Another rarity that is beautiful but doesn't get played all that often.

I've heard them play "Karen" before, but it's unusual and it's an awesome song. Tonight Matt said they only play it once a year (so I guess I've gotten lucky).

I've also heard "The Geese of Beverly Road" before, but again, it's a wonderful surprise when it gets thrown into the mix. It's one of my favorites.

"About Today" is my favorite closer. It's one of my favorite songs of theirs (tied for first with "Lucky You" and "Apartment Story").

Okay, those were Saturday's highlights. Here are some random highlights from the rest of the week:

They played some new songs which I've heard recordings of but which I was glad to hear in person. "Think You Can Wait" was a highlight. It was featured in the movie Win Win (which you need to see if you haven't already, by the way).

They closed the show every night with an unplugged sing-along version of "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" (with no mics). It's no "About Today" (that will always be my favorite closer), but it's kind of a cool way to end the show. If you want to listen to it, you have to endure my singing (remember no amplification; my mic picked up my own voice because it was closest).

Here are some other songs I loved hearing:
"Slow Show" (always a favorite, no matter how often they play it)

"Start A War" (a great opener for Tuesday's show)


"Available" with the end of "Cardinal Song" (which I LOVE)

"I Need My Girl" (new song). Particularly gorgeous with the violin. This is from Saturday's show, and the audio is from the stream, so it's good quality.

Here are more photos.
Here's my recording of Monday (12/12)'s show.
Here's my recording of Tuesday (12/13)'s show.
Here's my recording of Thursday (12/15)'s show.
Here's my recording of Saturday (12/17)'s show.

I recorded a few videos and will try to share those later.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Everybody got nowhere to go, everybody wants to be amazing. Rylan you should try to get some sun, you remind me of everyone." ~the national

"Rylan" is a new song that they debuted on Q (a Canadian radio show) last week. I love how Matt spells out 'Rylan' at the beginning of the song. I'm sure he's trying to avoid confusion, because the first time they played "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks," everyone was certain he was singing "geese" instead of "geeks." I liked "geese" better; it was like the geese of Beverly Road had returned! He has a tendency to mumble.

This will be a busy week for me. Here's my concert schedule:

Monday - The National at the Beacon Theatre (w/ The War on Drugs)
Tuesday - The National at the Beacon Theatre
Wednesday - My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses at Madison Square Garden
Thursday - The National at the Beacon Theatre (w/ Wye Oak)
Saturday - The National at the Beacon Theatre (w/ This Is the Kit)

Yes, I am seeing The National FOUR times this week, and I'm still looking for tickets to see them on Friday (they're playing six shows at the Beacon). I made the mistake of looking at recent setlists. They've played some rare songs that I really want to hear (Santa Clara!!!), and I can't bear the thought of missing a rarity that I love. I know, I've already seen them over a dozen times, and I'm aware that I'm obsessed. Luckily my brother got me a ticketmaster gift card for my birthday, so that paid for a good chunk of the ticket costs. And I'm not paying to see My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses; my amazing friend Bill is taking me (he won tickets). Anyway, I will be exhausted by next weekend. It'll be worth it, though. Expect a massive review/sharing post after I've recovered (I'll be recording audio and video at all the shows).

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

"All of these questions, such a mournful sound. Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground. So I like to keep my issues strong, but it's always darkest before the dawn. Shake it up, shake it out, shake it up, shake it out...." ~florence + the machine

I love that entire album, and that song ("Shake It Out") was used beautifully in the last few minutes of last night's season finale of Covert Affairs. The end of the episode was lovely; Auggie, who's usually so perceptive, was blind in more ways than one. Hearing him say "I can literally hear you smiling" as we saw Annie sitting there with heartbreak written all over her face (Piper Perabo played the moment very nicely) and then hearing "Shake It Out" starting to play definitely moved me.

Wow, it's been awhile since I've posted. I guess I've been busy. I never even wrote about Thanksgiving, which was wonderful. The night before Thanksgiving I went to see the inflation of the balloons, which was fun. Here's a familiar face:
Thanksgiving Day was full of family and food. As usual, it was a full house and I loved seeing so many family members gathered together. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. 30+ people always gather in my aunt and uncle's Manhattan apartment, and I look forward to it all year. Here I am with some of my cousins (notice the one whose face has been photoshopped in):

I've seen a few Broadway shows lately. The one I most enjoyed was Bonnie and Clyde, which is unfortunately closing at the end of the month. I'm so glad I was able to see it, though. The music is gorgeous; it's definitely my favorite Frank Wildhorn score. The cast is strong (Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes have great chemistry as the two leads), and I think all the design elements are done well (I'm usually not a fan of projections, but in this show I was impressed at how they enhanced the story). It's really a shame that the show is closing, so if you're in/around NYC, I recommend trying to see it.
Here are two snippets of my two favorite songs from the show:

Okay, I'm out of time. Next post will feature my reviews of the Broadway shows The Mountaintop (starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett) and Lysistrata Jones.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"And if the perfect spring is waiting somewhere, just take me there, just take me there, just take me there..." ~bright eyes

Today I'm sharing some thoughts on a movie and a Broadway play.

The Descendants
This is such a lovely film. I love Alexander Payne, and this movie is a perfect example of what a talented director he is. One second your gut will be wrenched with laughter and the next with pain. You're not slammed in the face with sentiment, though; it's beautifully understated. George Clooney will surely receive an Oscar nomination for his nuanced performance of a clueless husband and father. The whole ensemble is strong, actually. I was really impressed with Shailene Woodley, who plays Clooney's oldest daughter with a nice mix of bitterness and vulnerability. Judy Greer is also wonderful (as usual). Go see this movie. I'm sure it'll be a big Oscar contender, and it really is lovely.

I saw the Broadway production of Seminar yesterday, and I'm very glad I did. It's a good play (not fabulous, but good) featuring a very strong ensemble cast. I love Alan Rickman. Seriously. I could listen to him read the phone book for hours. That voice just kills me. His portrayal of Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies is perfection. He's giving a great performance in this show; he has such good inflection and timing. Lily Rabe further demonstrates how wonderful she is (I loved her in last year's Merchant of Venice opposite Al Pacino, for which she received a Tony nomination). Jerry O'Connell is an old favorite of mine, and it was fun to see him onstage. I'm used to seeing Hamish Linklater do Shakespeare (I've seen him in Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice, and The Winter's Tale), so it was weird to see him in a contemporary play, but he shone. Hettienne Park rounded out the ensemble with a solid performance. The play was an interesting look at the life of a writer, and the cast made it worthwhile.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oh my goodness, I'm obsessed. I cannot wait. This gives me chills. Is it March yet?

By the way, on a completely unrelated note, how freakin' AWESOME is Homeland? It's the best show on television. Seriously. It just keeps getting better. Sunday's episode? Brilliant. It took the season in a completely unexpected direction, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Maybe later this week I'll be able to gather a collection of coherent thoughts. Maybe not, though, because it's a busy week for me. I was able to enjoy the weekend and spend a lot of time with two good friends, so that was nice. Now it's full steam ahead.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

"In the rain, the pavement shines like silver. All the lights are misty in the river. In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight, and all I see is him and me forever and forever." ~les miserables (claude-michel Schönberg & alain boublil)

Fun video time: I'm a huge Sarah Silverman fan, so when I discovered that she loves musical theatre, I got really excited. She's not the best technical singer, but she's so enthusiastic and charismatic that it doesn't seem to matter here. She starts off by singing "On My Own" from Les Miz, the most overdone musical theatre song ever, the song that every girl who knows anything about musicals has memorized (yes, of course I am one of the many who can sing the whole song by heart), but she makes it sound...fresh. It's lovely. I wish she did more of "The Ladies Who Lunch" from Company (I love that song), because it seems perfect for her (both personality-wise and vocally). Anyway, I like this video.

In more Broadway related talk, Venus in Fur opened tonight, and I was glad to see that Isherwood gave it a rave in his New York Times review. Check out this great pull quote from his review about Nina Arianda, whom I also raved about:
"The flickering of those stage lights barely registers beside the incandescent Nina Arianda, the sensational young actress recreating the role that made her a name to watch when she first starred in the play Off Broadway. Portraying an actress giving the audition of a lifetime, Ms. Arianda is giving the first must-see performance of the Broadway season, a bravura turn that burns so brightly you can almost feel the heat on your face...."
I completely agree that she's giving the must-see performance of the Broadway season. It's one of the best performances I've ever seen. All the reviews are raving about her, and it makes me so happy. I don't want to get my hopes up so far away from the Tonys, but I'm feeling good right now about Ms. Arianda's chances.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Tell me everything that happened, tell me everything you saw. They had lights inside their eyes, they had lights inside their eyes." ~stars

I first heard that song on Chuck, and I was reminded of it today because I saw the movie Like Crazy (which I enjoyed, by the way) and this song played during the credits.

I had a busy a Broadway week. I saw a show on Thursday, two on Saturday, and one Sunday. So I've been busy. Here are my reviews.

Venus in Fur
WOW, Nina Arianda is spectacular. Can I just talk about her for a minute? She made her Broadway debut last season in Born Yesterday and stole the show (from some pretty talented veteran actors onstage with her). She was nominated for a Tony and lost to Frances McDormand, but I thought she deserved to win. In her second Broadway performance, she is a complete tour-de-force. Venus in Fur is about two hours long with no intermission and features only two actors (Ms. Arianda and Hugh Dancy, whom I'll get to in a minute), who are both onstage the entire time, and I couldn't take my eyes off her for those two hours. She is currently giving one of the best performances I've ever seen (and I've seen a LOT). Seriously, this is one of those performances that are impossible to forget. She plays an actress, and she switches between her role and the role her character is playing so effortlessly and beautifully that it's a revelation to watch. The play flies by because she just grabs you from her first entrance and doesn't let you go. If she doesn't win the Tony this year I will be disappointed. She carries the show. Hugh Dancy (Mr. Claire Danes) is also giving a strong performace (even though Ms. Arianda overshadows him). He's a talented actor, and he doesn't disappoint here. The two have great chemistry together. The play is interesting and ambiguous, and it has it's imperfections, but it works because of the acting (I can't imagine anyone else playing Vonda). I can't wait to see what Nina Arianda does next, because based on her first two Broadway appearances, she's a true star.

Other Desert Cities
Nicole got me tickets for this show for my birthday, and I was really excited to see it, largely because I'm a big Rachel Griffiths fan (from Six Feet Under, Brothers & Sisters, and Muriel's Wedding). The play was written by Jon Robin Baitz (creator of Brothers & Sisters) and features features a stellar cast made up of Rachel Griffiths, Stockard Channing, Judith Light, Stacy Keach, and Thomas Sadoski. Our seats were in the front row, and because the stage is so low it was the absolute perfect place to sit. This is the best play I've seen this season. It premiered last season off-Broadway (with a highly praised sold-out run) and transferred to Broadway this month (with Ms. Griffiths and Ms. Light joining the cast). Here's the New York Times review of the original production (it's a rave). I'm so glad I was able to see this play. It's a complex, beautifully written portrait of a family. The actors pour their hearts into it; everyone onstage is crying by the end (real crying). Rachel Griffiths has a devestating meltdown onstage and you can see, hear, and feel her pain (and somehow, five minutes later, she's grinning like crazy during the curtain call). This is a lovely play.

Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway
This show is the new hot ticket of the season, and I definitely understand why. It's Hugh Jackman's solo show. There aren't very many multi-talented leading men left, but Hugh Jackman is one of them. He can sing, he can dance, he can charm the pants off of an audience. He's so charismatic that it's a joy to sit and let him entertain you for two hours. The show includes a wide variety of songs, including numbers from the musicals Oklahoma!, Carousel, The Music Man (he sings all eight parts of "Rock Island" at once, even rapping part of it, and it's amazing), Guys and Dolls, Singing in the Rain, and Easter Parade, as well as songs like "Mack the Knife" and my personal favorite, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." There's a New York medley as well. He interacts with the audience and is just wonderful. I hope they film this one (I suspect they might). It's two hours of escapist fun.

We Live Here
Nicole and I saw this because we were interested to see Zoe Kazan's writing skills (she's an actress whom we've seen act in many plays). The play isn't bad. I had a hard time liking the characters, though, which meant I didn't care enough about them to really be invested in what happened to them. The dialogue is realistic and a couple scenes resonated with me, but overall it needs more work. Kazan has promise, though.

Overall it was a fabulous week of theatre.
I should probably write a Duran Duran review as well. Later this week.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Darken the city, night is a wire. Steam in the subway, earth is a afire." ~duran duran

I love fall. I love feeling perfectly comfortable while walking around the city in jeans and a hoodie or a light jacket. I love seeing the leaves in Central Park start to change. But most of all, I love everything pumpkin. I love Dunkin Donuts' pumpkin muffins. And Jamba Juice's Pumpkin Smash (oh my goodness, it's pure deliciousness through a straw). Now that I've just about used up all the money on my Dunkin Donuts' gift card on pumpkin muffins, I made my own. They're almost as good (but not quite). I also made pumpkin pie shooters (basically pumpkin pie in a shotglass; no crust, no baking, super easy to make and super yummy). So yeah, I'm definitely enjoying fall.

And now for a quick picspam.

I don't think you've seen my babies in awhile. They're just as lovey as ever. Here they are cuddling and cleaning:

Jasper has a new funny habit; he climbs on my back and shoulders whenever he can. He has fallen off me, and he still keeps doing it. It's bizarre.

Finally, this is another one of the reasons I love living New York. I looked at my outfit this evening and realized that before I moved to New York, I would probably never have gone out in public wearing what I'm wearing now. Pink cropped sweatpants? Gold glitter TOMS? I probably would have felt ridiculous. But now, I didn't think twice about it. First of all, when walking anywhere in New York, even just down the block, you're sure to run into someone who's wearing a crazier outfit than you are. Second of all, no one cares. It's a wonderful feeling.

Tomorrow my awesome friend Bill is taking me to see Duran Duran at Madison Square Garden. Pretty freakin' amazing, right? I think I'll wear my gold glitter TOMS.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Eyes wide open, naked as we came. One will spread our ashes round the yard." ~iron & wine

Just a quick movie review and another random comment today, as well as some quality Iron & Wine above (I've been listening to them since their concert last week). Scroll down for yesterday's Broadway/TV post.

Martha Marcy May Marlene
This is my kind of movie. It's quiet, authentic, thrilling, ambiguous, complex, and captivating. It reminds me of Winter's Bone (and not just because John Hawkes is in it), and I hope it receives the attention that Winter's Bone received come awards season (you know how I loved Winter's Bone). Elizabeth Olsen at least deserves an Oscar nomination (and based on the other female performances I've seen so far this year, I'd love to see her win). While her older sisters spent their childhoods building an empire, Elizabeth was apparently laying low and just waiting to unleash that talent. She's absolutely fantastic in this movie. She masters her character's transformation from naive and vulnerable to terrified and broken. Sean Durkin (writer/director) does a great job of transitioning seamlessly from the past to the present. This movie will grab you and won't let you go, even after you've left the theater.

Finally, I just have to comment on this piece of TV news. Apparently HBO is adapting the novel Swamplandia! into a half-hour comedy TV show. I discovered this piece of information from a link on the AOL homepage, which read, "Children's Book Gets Its Own TV Show." Really?! Really?! Obviously the person writing the article (or the person writing the title of the link, because I don't know if they're the same person) didn't read the book, because it is most definitely NOT a children's book. It's actually quite disturbing (at least it was to me). The idea of it being turned into a half-hour comedy irks me. I could see it as a movie, but I don't like this comedy TV show idea. I get very protective of books that I love being adapted to the screen, so maybe I'm just being close-minded, but I'm very wary of this idea. I guess we'll see what happens.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"I'm just a little bit caught in the middle, life is a maze and love is a riddle. I don't know where to go, can't do it alone, I've tried and I don't know why." ~lenka

Today I've got some entertainment updates; first Broadway, then TV.

I've seen a few plays recently, but I'm just going to mention one for now. Broadway fans have been going crazy arguing over the new revival of Godspell, and I had to see what all the fuss was about. Going into it, I was familiar with some of the music but I had never seen a production of the show before (and I've never seen the movie). I wish I had some previous version to which I can compare this production, because I'm not sure what to think.

First of all, the show is being performed at Circle in the Square, which is theatre in the round. They do a good job of using the space (theatre in the round is not easy; I've seen other shows at that theatre that were not nearly as successful at adapting to the space). I won a lotto seat, which meant I was sitting on a cushion right next to the stage. The lotto winners work for their seats; we were part of the show. We had to hold up our cushions to help create background scenery at one point. Hunter Parrish gave us high fives (I'm a fan of Weeds and I adore him, so that was exciting). Cast members whispered to us. It was fun to be a part of the action.

As for the show, there are some interesting choices being made. "Day By Day" is sung as they're dancing the Electric Slide, and the chicken dance and the macarena both pop up, as well as jokes about facebook, Steve Jobs, Charlie Sheen, and Occupy Wall Street. I think they're still working out the improv bits and the contemporary references. There are mini-trampolines and a pool of water. It does get a bit ridiculous (veering into "so bad it's good" territory), but I also thought some parts were well done. I think it helped that my lotto section was full of some very enthusiastic people, which I think can really make a difference. I actually enjoyed myself very much. I love Hunter Parrish, and although I think he's still feeling out the role of Jesus, I was impressed with his performance (that may be partly because I'm a huge fan of his). Anyway, I don't think this show is nearly as bad as some people are saying.


We're about a month into the new TV season, so I thought I'd post an update on what I'm watching. These are the new shows I'm sticking with:

If there was ever any doubt in anyone's mind that Claire Danes is a brilliant actress (maybe you haven't seen My So-Called Life or Temple Grandin), Homeland should clear up those doubts. Claire Danes is amazing. She basically won every award she was eligible for last year (the Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG Award) for Temple Grandin (go see it now if you haven't already), and I hope she wins a bunch more for Homeland. Her character (Carrie) is obsessive and not exactly likeable, but Danes throws herself into the role so completely (both physically and emotionally) that I feel like I've known Carrie forever, and I sympathize with her. Damian Lewis is also giving a wonderful performance. Even though the two main characters, Carrie and Brody, have interacted only once in a very short meeting, I feel the connections between the two, and I think that's because of the performances. They're both very physical performances (a lot is conveyed in silence), and both Danes and Lewis manage to make the audience connect to their characters, even though they're both mysterious and untrustworthy and flawed. The writing in this show is very strong so far. The main storyline is slowly building as the audience is kept guessing, and subplots (that may be related) are deftly being weaved into the story. I'm not entirely sure what the truth is, and I want to know more. So, three episodes in, I'm loving this show.

Yes, it's dramatic and soapy and juicy and I love it. Emily VanCamp and Madeleine Stowe are giving great performances, making me love their characters despite their awful actions. I actually really like both Daniel (Joshua Bowman) and Jack (Nick Wechsler), so I'm torn as to whom I want to see Emily in a relationship with (although the first five minutes of the pilot pretty much made my preference moot). I like that triangle. I'm interested to see what happens when the action catches up to the flashback that opened the show. Ooh, and I love Gabriel Mann (Nolan)! He's a perfect (nuisance) sidekick for Emily.

Pan Am
I think this show has really been improving since the pilot. We've learned more about the girls; getting a glimpse at Colette's tragic past (and how it's still haunting her), seeing Maggie's passion for politics, and learning more about Kate and Laura's family history has made it easier to connect to the characters. I've liked seeing Kate's spy career develop, and I'm curious to see where her relationship with Laura goes next (the last scene of this week's episode was heartbreaking). I hope the ratings for this show pick up, because I do want to see it continue.

Okay, that's all for now.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"I was walking far from home, where the names were not burned along the wall. Saw a building high as heaven, but the door was so small, door was so small. I saw rainclouds, little babies, and a bridge that had tumbled to the ground. I saw sinners making music, I've dreamt of that sound, dreamt of that sound." ~iron & wine

Oh, Sam Beam. I love you and your awesome beard. Time for a concert review. Iron & Wine were full of surprises last night, and overall I had a lot of fun. We got a spot in the front row, which was perfect (as you can see from my photo above). Sam is hilarious; he's very good at stage banter and interacting with the crowd. Iron & Wine vary their setlists like crazy, so there's no way to predict what you'll hear when you go to one of their concerts. I was hoping for a few songs but I didn't get my hopes up. Sam played my two favorite songs from Kiss Each Other Clean, his newest album, but he didn't play any of my older favorites. I was okay with that because I got to hear "Walking Far From Home," and that was enough for me.

Iron & Wine is another band whose sound has changed with their newest album (just like The Felice Brothers, whom I wrote about recently). I'm honestly not sure I like the new direction (in fact, I think I don't). There were twelve people onstage at the concert, and if you know Iron & Wine from it's earliest state, you know that's a big change. A few new songs, though, like "Walking Far From Home," remind me of the simplicity and beauty of Sam's earlier music.

I was thrilled to see one of those extra people onstage; Marketa Irglova lent her voice! Marketa is in the band The Swell Season, and she's also the star of one of my absolute favorite movies, Once. She won an Oscar for the song "Falling Slowly" from that film (I loved when Jon Stewart brought her back onstage to give her acceptance speech after she was cut off). Even cooler than hearing Marketa sing last night was the fact that she gave me a setlist after the show! Being handed a setlist by an artist you greatly admire is pretty freakin' awesome. So that definitely made my night.

Here are two videos I took, of my two favorite songs from Kiss Each Other Clean. Watch them. Seriously, you'll enjoy them. Marketa is on the right side of the screen. I recorded audio of the whole show and video of a good portion of it, so I might share more later.

Walking Far From Home

Half Moon:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

There are times that walk from you, like some passing afternoon. Summer warmed the open window of her honeymoon. And she chose a yard to burn, but the ground remembers her. Wooden spoons, her children stir her Bougainvillea blooms. There are things that drift away, like our endless numbered days. Autumn blew the quilt right off the perfect bed she made. And she's chosen to believe in the hymns her mother sings. Sunday pulls its children from their piles of fallen leaves." ~iron & wine

He kills me. Seriously, I think Sam Beam is one of the best lyricists alive. And I'm seeing him tomorrow! I'm going to an Iron & Wine concert at Terminal 5, and I'm really excited about it, even though it means I'll be exhausted at work on Thursday. I'm sure I'll have goodies from the show to post by this weekend.

By the way, listen for Iron & Wine on tonight's Parenthood; "Such Great Heights" plays during the birth scene.

I wanted to write an update about recent movies and plays I've seen, but I don't have much time, so I'll make it short and I'll just focus on a few movies for now.

Moneyball - go see this movie. I'm not a Brad Pitt fan, but I still loved it. This is not just a really good sports movie, it's a really, really good movie. See it even if you're not a huge baseball fan. I do happen to love the game of baseball, which made it even more interesting for me. The film is funny, touching, and beautiful. I love the score; it adds a lovely layer to the film. And it was fun to see Kerris Dorsey (Paige on Brothers & Sisters) as Brad Pitt's daughter. Her version of Lenka's "The Show?" It made me cry. Seriously. It's worth buying the soundtrack just for that.

The Ides of March - this movie is based on a play called Farragut North, which I saw off-Broadway three years ago. I enjoyed the play, which starred John Gallagher, Jr. and Chris Noth in the roles played by Ryan Gosling and George Clooney in the movie version. The movie is a solid adaptation of the play. Because I was already familiar with the plot, I could focus on the stylistic choices, and I think Mr. Clooney is a talented director. I'm a Ryan Gosling fan and I liked his performance very much; he really made this movie for me.

Drive - like I just said, I love Ryan Gosling. He does not disappoint in this movie. It's a stylish, beautifully made thriller. I realize it may sound weird that I'm using the word 'beautiful' to describe a film in which heads are stomped in and blown off, eyes are gouged with forks, and blood flows freely, but really, the cinematography is very impressive. You'll be on the edge of your seat the entire film, and it's a wonderful ride.

50/50 - My favorite actors are in so many movies this fall! In 50/50 it's Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen whom I get to enjoy. The two lead actors have great chemistry, and the film successfully balances comedy and drama to create a moving, realistic look at a difficult subject. I wanted Anna Kendrick to win the Oscar for Up in the Air, and in her supporting role in 50/50 she further demonstrates her talent.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

"Take this bread, if you need it friend, 'cause I'm alright if you're alright. I ain't got a lot, but all I got, you're welcome to it. 'Cause I'm alright if you're alright." ~the felice brothers

The Felice Brothers. What do I say about The Felice Brothers? First of all, I love them, and I'm so glad I got to see them live at Webster Hall. Nic and I got a spot dead center in the front row (I got there pretty early), so we had a perfect view. I'm a huge fan of the band, and I was excited to see what they would play. Their sound has changed a lot recently; their newest album, Celebration, Florida, sounds very different from their previous albums to me. I do like Celebration Florida (it grew on me), and I was happy with the songs from that album that they chose to play. Those songs definitely work well in concert; they're louder and faster and harder than most of the band's previous material ("Fire at the Pageant" was a particular highlight). I was happy that they still played a lot of earlier songs; they did a lot from their self-titled album. I wasn't thrilled with how a few of those earlier songs sounded, though. "The Big Surprise" has been reworked, and I much prefer the album version; that's one of my favorite songs, and the live version disappointed me. I wish they played more from Yonder is the Clock, my favorite album of theirs, but I wasn't expecting them to. Although it did disappoint me to know that they played "Boy From Lawrence County" earlier on this tour but not at the show I went to (I LOVE that song). Oh, well. They were definitely focusing on riling up the crowd and letting loose; in fact, the boys seemed pretty crazy. At one point Christmas actually walked off the stage and returned a couple of minutes later, they crashed into each other multiple times, and I think there were a few forgotten lyrics. But I didn't mind; it just added to the energy in the room.
I did film the show, so here are my favorite moments, and the entire playlist is posted at the bottom.

This was my favorite moment of the show. "Frankie's Gun" is one of my favorite songs. I know it like the back of my hand; I could sing it in my sleep (and who knows, maybe I even do). Being able to see them play it live and to sing along was amazing. The live version is a little more upbeat than the album version, and it works for this song. Yelling along with lines like, "Turn the goddamn radio down!" and "I hurt him so damn bad I had to hide in Jersey!" was cathartic. You can hear me in the video, and I don't care; I was having too much fun to restrain myself.

"Take This Bread" was another great singalong. This is the song that I haven't been able to get out of my head since the concert.

They gave Jersey a shout-out and covered Bruce Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" in the encore and it was beautiful.

"Saint Stephen's End" is a gorgeous song, and seeing Ian and Christmas play it alone onstage together was a wonderful respite from the high-energy chaos that pervaded the show. I'm so glad I got to hear it live.

From "Saint Stephen's End," they launched right into "River Jordan," my favorite track from Celebration Florida. It was a surprisingly smooth transition, and "River Jordan" was a perfect closer to the main set.

Overall it was a fun, rollicking show and I had a blast. Here's the entire playlist (you can watch all the songs in a row, scroll through to find what you want by clicking on that rectangle to the left of the 360p, or open it in youtube where you can play it in HD):

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Let me know where my loved ones go, it's not fair to keep 'em hid. Tell me what I did, take me back to when the world was black before the sun was made, a picnic in the shade." ~the felice brothers

I'm seeing The Felice Brothers tonight! I'm really excited. I'll report back. I probably won't record video, but I might do audio. Oh, and I wanted to write about Ray LaMontagne. Maybe that'll go in my Felice Bros. post.

It's time for a new season of TV! I love the fall because I get to see my favorite shows return and have the chance to fall in love with a whole new crop of shows. I spent the summer looking forward to seeing where Chuck, Parks and Recreation, Parenthood, Grey's Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives would pick up, and now I'm deciding what new shows will be added to my regular viewing list. Here are some of my thoughts regarding the new shows I've seen so far. They're kind of listed in preference order, starting with my favorite (Revenge).

I love Emily VanCamp. I was disappointed when she left Brothers & Sisters, and having her back on my TV makes me so happy. Seeing her as the star of a show makes me even happier, because on B&S obviously it was easy for her to get lost in such a large ensemble cast. In Revenge, the story centers around her. The pilot grabbed me right away; I immediately knew this would be one of my favorite shows of the season. It's deliciously and unapologetically soapy. It's intriguing and mysterious and I love how the story is unfolding. Emily VanCamp really carries the show wonderfully; she makes Emily (yes, her character is named Emily as well, at least in the present time period) sympathetic, which isn't necessarily an easy task considering some of her actions. The show keeps getting better after the pilot, too; the second episode is fabulous. Trust me, go watch this show.

Pan Am
Of course this show is drawing the inevitable comparisons to Mad Men, but I don't watch Mad Men, so I can't comment on those comparisons. I can cautiously say that I like Pan Am. It definitely presents a romanticized view of the 1960's, which isn't necessarily a problem. It's visually beautiful; in fact, it seems to favor style over substance, at least based on the pilot. But I want more character development! I want to know more about Maggie; when you have a talented actress like Christina Ricci in your cast, you need to give her some meaty material to work with. They're bringing the Cold War and espionage into the story, which could be interesting depending on where they go with it. So basically I think this show has potential, and I'm going to keep watching it.

Two Broke Girls
Kat Dennings is awesomely sarcastic, and she and Beth Behrs have good chemistry. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's a funny sitcom that makes me laugh and that's definitely not a bad thing. So it's on my watching list!


Jeremy Sisto is another actor I'm thrilled to have back on my TV (but his character is nothing like Billy, his Six Feet Under character). I like Jane Levy (who cannot escape the Emma Stone comparisons) as Tessa, and the show has a great supporting cast (including Alan Tudyk and Cheryl Hines). The show is edgy and funny, and I'm excited to see more.

Terra Nova

I saw the pilot at Comic-Con, so it's been awhile, but I'll try to remember my thoughts and post them here. I think this is a really interesting concept, but I'm a bit disappointed with the execution. The dialogue doesn't work; it's way too cliche. The characters aren't developed enough. Stephen Lang is awesome, Jason Mara is awesome...please let their awesomeness shine. The CGI dinosaur stuff is cool (with Spielberg attached, that's not a surprise). I don't think I'll be watching this show unless the writers get their act together and I hear it's gotten fabulous.

The New Girl
I know people are falling in love with this show, and I love Zooey Deschanel so I thought I'd be a huge fan, but I'm just not feeling it right now. Jess (Zooey's character) is just too quirky for comfort. I just don't think she's likeable. And her male roommates aren't fleshed out enough; right now they just seem like cookie cutter characters. So I'm not watching The New Girl anymore. I don't feel like I'm missing anything. Sorry, Zooey. I'd rather watch my Almost Famous DVD to see you in action.

I'm excited for some other new shows to start, like Homeland (Claire Danes!), and I'll keep you updated on what I'm watching. If I'm missing something fabulous, let me know!

Oh, by the way, in my last post I wrote about going to an advance screening of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. They finally released a trailer (I can't believe I saw the film before a trailer was even out), so here it is (it's a good trailer; bonus points for the use of U2):

I'm in a surprisingly good mood today considering how frustrated I am that my baseball team suffered the largest collapse in NL Wild Card race history last night. I think it's the prospect of seeing the Felice Brothers tonight that's holding me together.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"I am the one who knows you, I am the one who cares, I am the one who's always been there. I am the one who's helped you, and if you think that I just don't give a damn, then you just don't know who I am." ~brian kitt & tom yorkey (next to normal)

The reprise of "I Am the One" is my favorite song from my favorite musical, Next to Normal. I didn't post the reprise of the song because it would spoil things if you still haven't seen the show, so the regular song will have to do. Aaron Tveit and Bobby Spencer make me cry every time I hear the reprise. They were the original Gabe and Dan on Broadway, and for me, no one else could fill their shoes.
Brian Kitt and Tom Yorkey are workshopping a new musical right now called If with Idina Menzel. Can you imagine how excited I am?

Today was one of my favorite days of the year! The annual BC/EFA Broadway Flea Market is a theatre lover's Christmas. Here's my post from last year (which displays the swag I picked up). This year I was worried because the weather forecast in the days preceding the event predicted rain, but luckily the weather held out. Here's what I got this year:
And then I went back later (in the afternoon prices tend to drop) to pick up even more stuff:
I tried to restrain myself. I don't have more room in my apartment for window cards (see last year's post for evidence), but I just had to buy the large Motherf**ker with the Hat poster (it's hard to tell, but it's not a windowcard, it's a giant foamboard poster) for $5. I love that show. And I did find space for it. I'm really excited about Berger's name plate from Hair; I snapped that up the second they opened their table (I was waiting and knew exactly what I was going for). The Spider-Man bracelet is really cool.

The craziest thing I found is the Chuck season 4 DVD, which isn't released until October 11th. I have NO idea how someone got it already and was selling at the flea market (completely sealed and legit), and I didn't ask; I just snapped it up (and for $20, which is a steal!).

I'm pleased with everything I got. I did have to restrain myself; I wanted to buy a couple of these, but my sanity won out:
They're from the doors outside the theater (Next to Normal), and they're HUGE. I wanted to get half of Jennifer Damiano's face and half of Aaron Tveit's face; how cool would that be? Unfortunately I had no clue how I would even get them home, let alone what I would do with them once I managed to get them here. People did buy them, though. Probably people with cars and houses? I seriously wanted them.

I went to a movie screening today of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I had to sign confidentiality forms so I can't talk about it, but I was very glad for the opportunity to see the film. It doesn't come out until January, which is a very long time from now. I read the book (written by the incredibly talented Jonathan Safran Foer) a long time ago, but I remember it surprisingly well so I was able to compare the film with the book. All I'll say is that you should read the book NOW if you haven't already and then go see the movie when it comes out next year. I wish I could talk more about it because I have a lot to say, but I'm afraid they'll hunt me down. :D The movie stars Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, Max von Sydow, Jeffrey Wright, John Goodman, and most importantly, a very talented young newcomer (this is his first movie) named Thomas Horn.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"So where'd those planes come from, that burned my city up? All that smoke and ash, teaching us how to crash." ~the felice brothers

I love my city.

Image credit: ECP

Sunday, September 04, 2011

"I'm gonna stay eighteen forever, so we can stay like this forever. And we'll never miss a party, 'cause we keep them going constantly. And we'll never have to listen to anyone about anything. 'Cause it's all been done and it's all been said, we're the coolest kids and we take what we can get." ~brand new

For some reason I seem to post less often when I have more "free time." It's a weird mental state I've been in, trying to savor the lack of obligations I have at the moment. I'm sure I'll start posting a lot more once school starts.

Today is my birthday. After you get to a certain age (and I think I've gotten to that point), birthdays can be a bit depressing. They just make you think of where you "should" be by then. Luckily I have some pretty great friends who are working to make sure I feel special. Roseann and I went out for dinner, fro-yo, and a movie (Our Idiot Brother) last night. Pretty soon I'm meeting Lauren for brunch. Tonight I'm going over to Nic's; we'll watch True Blood and she's cooking and baking. I've gotten some lovely birthday messages, and I bought myself some birthday presents (a new American Apparel hoodie, a sweater, nail polish) because I got money for my birthday. Nic got me tickets to see Other Desert Cities in October, which I'm really excited about (as a huge Six Feet Under and Brothers & Sisters fan, seeing Rachel Griffiths onstage will be awesome). So yeah, I'm lucky. I'm not ready to go back to work this week, though.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"What will you do when something stops you? What will you say to the world? What will you be when it all comes crashing down on you, little girl? What would you do if you lost your beauty? How would you deal with the light? How would you feel if nobody chased you? What if it happened tonight?" ~the naked and famous

I know, I haven't written in forever. And I have no excuse because it's summer so I'm not working and I have the time. I've just been really lazy lately. Really, really lazy. Gosh, I still have Comic-Con and vacation stuff to write about, right? Well, I'll save most of that for another day. This is going to be a video post. Here are some recent videos I've taken.

The day after I got back from my trip out west, I went to a concert in Central Park. The Summerstage venue is one of my favorite places in the world. What's better than being outside in NYC enjoying some amazing music? I was there to see The Naked and Famous. I've written about them before here. The last time I saw them live, I had audio issues when I recorded my videos, so I was glad that these turned out better. These are my two favorite songs of theirs (unfortunately I did run out of battery during "Young Blood," but I got most of it):

"Girls Like You:"

"Young Blood:"

And I don't think I posted Comic-Con videos before, but I did film two panels, Chuck and Covert Affairs, so here are those:

Chuck (I love everything about this. Vic is freakin' hilarious. Zac tears up at the end. It was of many times I saw him cry that week):

Covert Affairs (Another amazing cast. One of my favorite moments comes around the 6-minute mark when Peter Gallagher says he's very proud "they decided to use one of my eyebrows on the Comic-Con poster."):

And just because:

More to come.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"I'd like to rest my heavy head tonight on a bed of California stars. I'd like to lay my weary bones tonight on a bed of California stars." ~wilco

Oh my goodness, Comic-Con is insane. 130,000 people (including me) have descended on San Diego for this nerd's paradise, and even for a New Yorker, it's overwhelming. But it's also amazing. I had been warned that I would spend much of my time waiting in lines, but it was still a bit of a surprise to discover the extent to which that is true. I waited over two hours on Wednesday night just to pick up my badge. Over two hours, just to get a badge! I went to the badge pick-up with a friend and we were in line outside and she said, "this isn't so bad." We assumed that when we got inside the building, we'd be able to get our badges right away. I joked, "Watch when we get inside there are more lines snaking through the whole thing." I was totally kidding, but it turns out I was right. This is what it looked like:
It was ridiculous. But I got my badge so I was ready for Thursday morning.
On Thursday morning I got in line early for Ballroom 20. The first panel was Burn Notice, which I don't watch, but I sat through it because Covert Affairs was next (it's one of my favorite shows). I got a good spot, and the Burn Notice panel was actually really entertaining. Bruce Campbell is hilarious.

Covert Affairs was awesome. Piper Perabo is adorable, Peter Gallagher is, well, Peter Gallagher (I LOVE him), Chris Gorham is gorgeous and charming...I love that entire cast, and it was so much fun to see them interact in person. I filmed the panel so I didn't focus on taking photos. I'll upload my videos later.

Next I went to Napoleon Dynamite. If you're wondering why the cast of a movie that came out seven years ago was there, it's because they've turned the movie into an animated series that'll begin airing midseason on Fox. It was fun to see the cast reunited. I mostly went because of Tina Majorino (I'm a huge Veronica Mars fan), but I liked seeing Jon Heder (who is incredibly hilarious) and the rest of the cast as well. That panel was in a small room and I was right up front, so it was a nice change from Ballroom 20.

Next I headed to NerdHQ, where I was working and got to see the Felicia Day panel. She's pretty amazing. Here she is with Zac Levi:

At night I went to see Mark Christopher Lawrence (Big Mike on Chuck) do his stand-up act, which was fun. I'll post a photo later.

I'm not sure when I'll post again. I know I won't be back to my hotel room for a couple of days because I'll be working at NerdHQ until late and then camping out for panels. Another defining feature of Comic-Con seems to be the fact that no one sleeps. Eventually I'll put a bunch of pictures online, but that might not be for awhile.

This is just my day one report, so stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"On the stereo, listen as we go. Nothing's gonna stop me now. California, here we come, right back where we started from." ~phantom planet

Covered by Mates of State:

Tomorrow I'm heading out to California! I'll be in San Diego attending Comic-Con and working at NerdHQ. After five days in San Diego, I'll head to L.A. to meet up with a couple of friends. My parents will then join me and we'll take a road trip across the west, stopping at Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Park, and the Grand Canyon on our way back to their house. I'm excited. I'll have internet access along the way so I may post updates, although I don't think I'll have much free time. Stay tuned for tons of pictures at the end of my journey!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"And if you listen, I can’t call. And if you jump, you just might fall. And if you shout, I’ll only hear you. If I could stay, then the night would give you up. Stay, then the day would keep it’s trust. Stay, with the demons you drown, stay, with the spirit I found, stay, and the night would be enough." ~u2

I have more to write about, but the most pressing thing is U2. If you know me at all, you know I'm obsessed with U2. Meeting Bono last year was one of my most memorable experiences. I'm absolutely crazy about the band; there's so much that I love about them, I could go on forever. Instead, however, I'll focus on my most recent U2 experience. I went to see them in Philadelphia. I did GA (general admission), which meant I didn't have a seat but had a spot on the field (the concert was in the football stadium where the Eagles play). GA is the best way to experience a big band like U2 in a stadium. There is nothing like it in the world. The stadium holds 80,000 people and 16,000 people are on the field in GA. On the field, the energy is like nothing else you've ever experienced. You're surrounded by thousands of people just as excited as you are to be there. In the stands you never know what the people around you will be like, but if you've waited over 12 hours for a good spot, you know you'll only have other crazy hardcore fans around you, and that makes a huge difference.
I took the bus to Philly early in the morning (6:30am) to line up and was #439 in line. U2 didn't go on until after 9pm so I spent a whole lotta time in line, but I wanted a good spot. I had fabulous people around me in line who welcomed me into their group (and filled me up with lots of food throughout the day!). When we were finally let into the stadium, I ended up just where I wanted to be, on the railing along the outer circle (it's difficult to describe the stage, so the best way is just to show you a visual):
The Claw is pretty cool, huh? No wonder this is the most expensive tour ever.
I've been in the center pit before and it's a lot of fun, but it's difficult to see the main stage because it's so high. Where I was standing, I had an unobstructed view (no heads!) and had great close-up views when the band members came out on the walkway (which was fairly often; there were moving bridges that brought them out).

opened the show, and I was really excited about that because I'm a big fan of theirs. They did a great job (although I was disappointed that they didn't play "No Exit").

One thing I don't love about U2 is that they don't vary their setlists much. I guess they cater towards the casual fans/people who don't see them in concert multiple times, and I understand that. If you're only going to see U2 in concert once, you probably want to hear the hits. And they have a lot of hits. So each concert ends up being like a "greatest hits" show with a few wildcard songs thrown in there. I go for the wildcards. I've heard "Pride," "Where the Streets Have No Name," "One," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," and "Beautiful Day" so many times live that I would be thrilled if they were replaced, but they're setlist standards and unfortunately they're not going anywhere. I would kill to hear "Numb" live. That's the one song that I would seriously go absolutely crazy if they played. Someone would literally have to pick me up off the floor (and I really mean it). They haven't played it since 1993, though, and if they haven't played a song in nearly 20 years, of course I'm not expecting to hear it. I suspect Edge has forgotten the lyrics. I'm realistic about my expectations. Each new show I go to, I hope to hear one song I LOVE that I haven't heard them play live before. The last time I got "Ultraviolet," which made the whole show worth it. This time that song was "Stay." "Stay" made me so freakin' happy that I didn't care about what they didn't play.
"Stay (live in Philly, 7/14/11):"
I was also glad to hear "Scarlet," "Zooropa," "Until the End of the World," and "Even Better than the Real Thing." One standard song I always enjoy is "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Part of it is always the crowd singing, and I'm a sucker for letting the crowd sing. 80,000 people belting out a song together is an experience like no other. It's cathartic and unifying and simply lovely. Plus, this time it was accompanied by some really old video footage of the band, which was funny.
"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (live in Philly, 7/14/11):"
Another song I've heard live before but that I liked hearing again was "Miss Sarajevo." I love Bono's opera voice.
"Miss Sarajevo (live in Philly, 7/14/11):"
Overall I had a blast. I recommend everyone go to one U2 show and do the GA experience. It gives you a tremendous sense of community with the fans around you and with the band. It physically takes a huge toll on you and you'll spend days recovering, but when they're playing you're just filled with pure adrenaline. And now I have a crazy-dark tan, which is awesome (who knows how long it will last, but I'm happy for now).

I took a bunch of photos, none of which came out great, so I'll share just a couple here and then direct you to my photo page for more.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

"It's hotter than the islands are tonight, and Mr. Softee's trying to shut me down. But I keep scraping by the fading light. Mi 'pana, this is my town. Piragua, piragua, keep scraping by, piragua." ~in the heights (lin-manuel miranda)

This song usually pops into my head whenever I pass a piragua guy on the street (which happened every time I left school for the last two months, because he waits right outside the school for the kids to come out). It's definitely piragua season. I might like the reprise even better. In the Heights is a great cast recording to listen to in the summer; the music is light and playful and upbeat. Lin-Manuel's Tony acceptance speech for Best Score was quite awesome. I especially love the Sondheim reference. He's quite awesome. During this year's Tonys, he spent the show backstage writing a rap based on the night's happenings for Neil Patrick Harris to perform in closing the show. I knew right away that Mr. Miranda must have created it, and of course I was right. Anyway, here's his Tony acceptance speech from a few years ago:

I met a famous Broadway performer yesterday. He's one of the best musical theater actors of his generation (if not the best), he's a Tony winner whom the New York Times called "The Last Leading Man," I'm constantly in awe of how talented he is, and one of my friends introduced me to him. Of course I made a fool out of myself, but he was so incredibly kind and we actually had a real conversation. I'm still in awe.

Another cool Broadway experience: I went to the fan performance of The Book of Mormon. I've seen the show already, but I was very grateful for this opportunity to see it again. The show scheduled an extra performance that was completely free for all the audience members. They held a lottery for everyone who has ever entered the daily lottery, and I happened to win. It was a stroke of luck (some people entered dozens of times and didn't win tickets to the fan performance, but I only entered once and won). I got seats in the second row of the orchestra on the aisle so I had an absolutely perfect view, and I loved seeing the show again. The crowd was incredibly enthusiastic, and the performance was filmed for the Lincoln Center archives, so it was a cool show to attend. I think it was very generous of them to give back to their fans through this free performance. They certainly don't need the publicity (they're sold out for months), and this was a very nice gesture. The show was just as funny the second time. Just in case you can't get tickets, you can catch a glimpse of the show in their Tony performance:

Another show I've seen recently is The Illusion at Signature Theater Company. It's the last in Signature's Tony Kushner series, to which I subscribed this season (so I was able to see all four shows in the series). This play incredibly different from the other three Kushner plays that were performed (both parts of Angels in America and The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures), but I enjoyed it very much. It was directed by the talented Michael Mayer, whose careful attention to all the production elements (from the set design to the lighting) created a beautiful production. It was illuminating to participate in a talk-back with the cast members after the show; this is the kind of play you should see more than once in order to understand it more completely (because of a reveal at the end that I won't spoil), and I liked hearing the cast discuss it. Ben Brantley wrote an interesting review for the New York Times. I was glad I was able to see all the plays in Signature's Kushner season, because he's such a talented playwright who has a lot to say.