Friday, December 31, 2010

top 10 of '10- Fergie & Fife

Happy New Year's Eve here from Howe Street in Edinburgh! Here are my top 10 posts from this year. It's a combination of popularity and just my favorites. Hope you enjoy. Thanks for making 2010 great. Here's to 2011 being even better. Most days, I can't believe this is my life. I'm the luckiest girl in the world. 

9. Brando

Thursday, December 30, 2010

happy new year from bamff

It's basically impossible to be unhappy while looking at this. What a great welcome back to Scotland.  Fun parties in Edinburgh and sledging and this sunset here at Bamff. Big year-end post tomorrow before I head to my Hercule Poirot party! What should I wear?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Just the Right Amount of Wrong

I have a new favorite hotel in Las Vegas. Since I'm travelling today-- probably crammed in some teeny tiny seat-- I thought I'd share with you some more luxurious times. All the way back to Friday night, when me and some of my oldest friends in the world had a bang-up evening at The Cosmopolitan. In a town where almost everything-- the music, the people, even the air seems perennially paused in the late nineties-- it's nice to remember that, on the strip at least, we will always tear down what doesn't turn a profit and build something new ;)

Definitely dig the place. And the one thing that's convinced me there might be a purpose for big banks-- (good job Deutche Bank) who took on completion of the project after the initial builders were unable to follow through when the economy crashed. They scrapped all the original plans and came up with their own. The result is fun and eclectic. The cocktail waitresses outfits, the way they're allowed to show tattoos. Their slogan is "Just the right amount of wrong."

We grabbed drinks at the Chandelier Bar (gorge) and then had some delicious tapas and sangria at Jaleo. Our buddy Oliver, who runs the place, hooked us up with all the best eats. But the funnest part was catching up with my pals, their parents, siblings, and significant others. Enjoy the (niche) beauty that is my hometown at night.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

digging through history

One of the things I love to do whenever I come back to Vegas is dig through all my boxes that my Dad keeps in his basement. I reread fiction I wrote when I was a little kid (truly, I was a weird child), remember all the cool books I bought and read, but can't schlep with me everywhere, and look at old photos of my friends when we were really awkward looking (some of us still are ;).

I especially love all the stuff from my summers spent with my grandparents in Georgia. My grandmother taught me how to quilt and is a prize-winning quilter. I don't know that I still remember how to quilt, but at one point, I was decent enough to help my grandmother make this amazing little dutch girl quilt when I was twelve. (That throw pillow, I  even handled all by myself.)

Having Tigerlily around makes me think about women and traditions passed down through the generations. I'm a bit too old to rock this pink quilt anymore, but I spruced up my family's antique bed (my favorite bed ever) with it this trip. I hope one day to pass it on to my daughter. And in the event that I don't have one, I'll give it to Tigerlily. Even if she isn't into pink, it's really warm and perfect for a little girl. 

I'm headed back to Scotland this evening-- and I'm very much looking forward to it-- but it's been nice digging through boxes and remembering for the past ten days. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

the return of bad lighting

Sometimes, it takes a catastrophic event to bring about something good. When Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was shut down due to a nasty fall by stunt man/Spidey double, Chris Tierney (get well soon!), it raised a lot of questions about safety in the theatre and what the heck is going on with that show in general. 

But on a happier note, the event prompted what appears to be an revival in blogging from one of my favorite all time people, Jon, and his blog, Bad Lighting. He'd been on some kind of hiatus while climbing the corporate ladder, but after being in the audience to witness the historic fall, he's back and blogging with a vengeance. (He even did an interview on NY1 with my homey, Frank DiLella.)

Jon is perhaps the most elitist art person I know (myself being a pretty big populist-- I think I knew of maybe 2 items on his best-of 2010 music list). And while I essentially moved away from NYC to ditch the Bravo Channel run clever/meanness that's consumed America, I can't help but love Jon's brand of snark. This is largely because he's an excellent and witty writer. I mean, he may have insulted my adored Keats biopic, Bright Star, by calling it a "coffee table book of a  movie," but even I had to agree he was right. (It just so happens I'm a big fan of coffee table books.)

And while I'll probably NEVER tire of stuffy British dramas, I laughed out loud when I read this about The King's Speech

Tis the season for self-serious historical biopics, and that's just what this one is. Deliberately paced (read: slow), handsomely photographed, and screaming it's importance at the top of it's lungs, one senses that the real climax the filmmakers are aiming for will occur on Oscar night. That might be a tad harsh, as the film does this brand of film as well as any other ... I'm just a bit sick of the stuffy British dramas.

Maybe it's just nice to check out a blog that isn't entirely stylish girls who post daily pictures of themselves in their outfits. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Read my Schu Schu and fall in love with snark all over again.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

kelly reemtsen

I pretty much love nothing more than a good tradition turned on its ear. Particularly anything to do with the Stepford Wife/ 50's homemaker glamour meets vacuum type tradition. Any twisted homemaker thing really. (See: any of my fiction.) 

I think that's why I liked Anne Taintor so much (though I'm slowly losing interest there). It's hard not to spring to the next level when you see the awesome paintings of Kelly Reemtsen

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

friendship is the christmas spirit

 Happy Christmas Eve! This has already been an eventful trip to round out an eventful year. The best times in my whole life, I think-- certainly the times that actually feel like the point of Christmas-- are these times with my friend-families. Sometimes, you just have to go help with an Elf photo shoot or be a witness on divorce papers. 

The mystic I saw this week said 2010 was a year for breaking apart. And indeed, I saw three friends through divorces. And I myself divorced from my spouse, New York. But I also saw that moving to another country made most of my best friendships stronger than ever. That I made so many new ones I now feel I could never live without. And there are these two new people-- Tigerlily & Luke. 

We can laugh (and yell if we need to) our way through anything. When deciding what to put on the Elf Christmas card, the original thought was something straight. But then Emily yells out, "Go Elf Yourself!" Would it be appropriate? Maybe not for any other family, but definitely for this one. Jimmy daddy put the issue to bed: "Do it. It's been that kind of year."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

top 10 of '10- albums!

10. Duncan Sheik- Covers 80s
It's only an EP, but do I care? No. Duncan sings depeche mode. And Rachael Yamagata sings too? Done done done. 

9. Kings of Leon- Come Around Sundown
If the album only had "Pick-up Truck" on it, I'd have been happy. As it turns out, about half the songs here made it into my Heaven in Scotland playlist. 

8. Angus & Julia Stone- Down The Way
Whenever my train was late (it was a lot) or New York just had me stressed out this summer, I'd put on the mellow Australian brother/sister team and dream of "Big Jet Plane(s)."

7. Frightened Rabbit- Winter of Mixed Drinks
Of course I had to have a Scottish band on here. And I have Kris to thank for this rec (along with a lot of the music I've listened to in the last half of this year.) It was  hard not to personalize songs about the North Sea, and what it felt like to (metaphorically at least) "Swim Until You Can't See Land." The whole album is a must. 

6. Sia- We Are Born
Most of my best summer moments have this somewhere in the background. From heading to dinner parties on St Marks to farewell parties on midtown rooftops, Sia was there. 

5. Mumford & Sons- Sigh No More
Raised by a country and bluegrass musician, I was always going to love this album. That's not a banjo on there, as I've heard said, though it does sound like one. But there is a cello. You all know how I feel about cello rock.  And the video for "Little Lion Man" is simple, but gorgeous. I'm a child of the 80's and still a sucker for that. 

4. The Black Keys- Brothers
White guys doing the blues. No words. Love love love. Every song, every video. Everything. All of it. All the time. 

3. Robyn- Body Talk (Parts 1-3)
It's hard to pick a favorite of the three. But whenever I felt like dancing, Robyn had something for me. I also loved the acoustic version she'd float our way each time as a preview of the awesome dance track to come. And "Hang with me" and "Indestructible" are definitely among my favorites here. "Call Your Girlfriend" is up there too. I've loved Robyn since I was 15-- glad to see more folks are paying attention.

2. Florence + The Machine- Lungs
Sure, technically this came out in '09, but it certainly had one hell of a 2010. When I knew I was going to Scotland, but had nine months to fill just dreaming of it, Florence is how I worked and sweated and daydreamed my way to the day I got to take off. "Cosmic Love" will always feel like the secret knowledge that I was headed North.

1. Jonsi- Go
It was hard to decide between Florence and Jonsi for this top spot. As much as Florence was the music of getting to Scotland, Jonsi was the sound of being in Scotland. I think that's what wins here. When I'm old, I'll here "Go Do" or "Hengilas" and remember both the energy and stillness of moving to St Andrews to write all day long. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

the poets

Last night, I was hanging with old friends at a bar and we were looking at some of my Scottish money. Speaking of a Robert Burns note, I said, "See, they put poets on their money in Scotland." To which he replied, "Wow, you really have found your place." 

Here are some other famous Scottish poets, the 1960s freakbeat/psychadelic rock group, The Poets. Sad they never made a full album. But they're perfect for the fourth straight day of rain in Las Vegas (unheard of). I must have brought the weather from across the pond. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

the queen of pentacles

Last night, at a Christmas Party full of friends I've had for fifteen years, but many of whom I hadn't seen in years, we all had our cards read by a mystic our hostess hired. My old pal, DK and I went up together so we could hear each others'. I went first and my mind was blown. The only other time I 've felt a reading like that was right before Tigerlily was born with Adi and Emily. 

I had the Queen of Pentacles. And when she turned it over, she gasped. "Oh, honey, there's no reason in the world you shouldn't be hugely famous by now." Then she looked at my numbers again. And turned over more cards. 

She said I got out of New York at the exact right time. That I have to stop being fixated on New York because it's stopping me from being in Scotland, which is where I'm supposed to be. And that there is some reason that I've been put in a holding pattern on my two key dreams for years.

And she said that I've been returning to Scotland for many lifetimes. 

I'm reunited with Emily and Tigerlily today. Heaven. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

twenty-five hours in limbo

The three connecting flights in three countries thing is a bad idea. If you can avoid it, don't do it. I don't care how cheap it is. Just don't. There are a lot of other stats for this trip. Like 6 trams. And 3 inter-gate busses. Remember how paranoid I was about the scanning and the patdowns? I had to go through security three times. On all three flights. All three flights were delayed and my luggage was lost in Paris. I can't help but think that we're better than this. 

Aren't there algorithms that solve for everything? Didn't we just cure AIDS?  I know we're smarter than this. There has got to be someone smart enough to fix flying. 

I knew my luggage was lost as early as Atlanta because I actually had to reclaim it and go through customs and re-check in as soon as I landed in the states. I get why that is. But wow. They don't build a big enough window for you to do all this and still make your flight. After waiting for luggage that never came and waiting in the same long line to tell them I'm an American citizen with no customs claims, I ended up at gate B21 in Atlanta too late to get on my flight, even though I could see the plane on the tarmac. My dad was on that plane and I was so excited to see him.  

No Delta personnel was anywhere to help me. And at the moment where, 19 hours into my sleepless journey, I thought I couldn't take anymore, the entire gate area full of AME church congregations started up a loud, clapping rendition of "Oh, How I Love Jesus." 

Just try to imagine my face. 

Finally, I tracked someone down who told me that I couldn't get on the plane, even though it continued to sit there. He said he could fly me Vegas the next afternoon. To which, I said, "like hell you will." 

My policy to airline workers is this: smile smile charming until you cross me. I was so tired and so uncomfortable, I told him he'd better just move some stuff around and get me on the next flight. I had no luggage, no American cell phone, no way of charging any of my electronic devices that would get me in touch with anyone. And if he thought this little blonde girl with pigtails looked nice, he was sorely sorely mistaken. 

I was rerouted to the A Gates for the next flight out. And thanks to Dena, I remembered that there was Chic-fil-a in the A Gates, thus providing for the only true moment of joy all day. 

One other nice thing: I had forgotten that if you get on a West-bound plane at the right time of day, you can chase the sunset all the way home. Just about 4 straight hours on sunset. Gorgeous.

But I'll tell you what. I don't love America this much to do this again. Luckily, I've only got one connection in London on the way back. But I think I just can't do this West Coast thing. I'll do East Coast. Or West Coast if I've been on the East Coast for a bit already. But Dad said to me in the car last night, "I can see you living somewhere remote in Scotland and not flying anywhere," and I think he's right. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Perfect Christmas- In a Photo

Isn't this the most beautiful upright piano you've ever seen? This entire photo is my exact idea of a perfect Christmas. Growing up Buddhist with a bevy of various step families, Christmas never felt super traditional for me. The closest I ever came to what I suspected Christmas was like for everyone else were my holidays in Georgia with my grandparents, and of course, with Emily's family. I'll probably be hitting the Song house pretty hard this season as well. Especially since I have a Tigerlily addiction as serious as crack. 

This photo is actually from the Te' Chichi clothing catalogue. They're a Japanese clothing company. Pretty! Check them out while I'm flying from Edinburgh to Paris to Atlanta to Las Vegas-- don't you wish you had that schedule??? 

Anyhooo, enjoy. The website is in nihongo, so have fun with that! Tanoshkatta da ne!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bye for Now, St Andrews

I'm really bad about endings. I hate when anything-- anything at all-- is over. From a book to a chapter of life to just a semester. I hang on to everything-- often even once I've outgrown it. 

When I handed in my stories this morning and spent the last little bit of time with my friends at North Point, I felt lonely already and ill at the idea of not seeing them for a month and half.  All of them will still be in the states for January. Meanwhile, I'll be here in St Andrews on my eight hour a day writing schedule to finish the edits on both VOTE! and Nicholas & Alexandra. Not the lure of Dad or Emily or even Tigerlily could shake away the feeling that I was actually leaving home by leaving Scotland. It's the same way I used to feel when I'd leave New York-- even for a weekend. 

I'm only in Las Vegas for 10 days and actually I can't wait to see my dad and hug Little Miss Tiger and Emily. But I'm already skipping forward to when I get back for New Year's in Edinburgh and Sara's visit and all of this phase of my life I'm just beginning to explore. 

Let's hope an evening in Edinburgh and the company of Iona will cheer my spirits. St Andrews...My People.... I'll miss you. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

something new

photo by Curtis Brown photography
Funny how even at the Lincoln Center, they'll still probably mispronounce your name. And someone will still bring a crying baby (my family karma played out, even when I'm not there. A crying baby is normally how I note that my grandfather is still keeping tabs on me from the beyond. Glad to know he was at Lincoln Center, even if I was not). Steven did a great job introducing the song. (Normally it's my job to deal with any awkward questions from the host-- if anyone was at Composer Exposure, I'm sure you remember how I had to lay down the law there.) I love the audience when he says we wrote the song on skype. 

Here's a recording of Tim singing the New Year's song we wrote. We really rock-popped it up in this version-- perfect for Tim. Though my dream is still to hear in more of a world-weary R&B style sung by a dude who's been around the block a few times. You know who else I might send this sheet music to? This guy. (I miss you, Landooner!) The sound quality of the recording is a little intense (Tim can wail) so check your volume before listening. I'm off to finish my last set of short stories for the semester. 

Here are the lyrics 
(excerpted for the blog)
"Something New"
By Ryann Ferguson & Steven Jamail

Another New Years Eve, another to let-down
Trying to catch a cab in a ten-mile range
Another night of tempting fate somewhere downtown
Trying to see if midnight will bring some real change

There's gotta be something

Something better than this.
Something more than the champagne pour and who's drunk enough to kiss
It's the only holiday where you can feel both anxious and blue

I think it's time for something better, something new

All my only sometimes-friends small-talk about resolutions 
 Mourning years that passed and time that's slipped away
How about we make some noise for New Year's Revolutions?
I'd rather count my blessings. Afterall, it's a holiday.

There's gotta be something
Something brighter than this.

Something more than the champagne pour and the chance to reminisce
I've raised my glass to change before, but this time it feels true

I'm ready for something better, something new

 When one ball drops, I'll lift another up,

 Take control of what fills my soul-- more than what fills my cup
 I'll wake up to a kind of dawn that I've never dreamt before
There's so much a new year can restore

Try to find something

Something braver than this

Something more than the dull roar of auld lang syne amiss
I've raised my glass in hope before but this time it feels true

I'm ready for something better, something new

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

today feels like this

My friend Morgan sent me the most awesome care package before I left for Scotland. In addition to awesome knitted scarves and hats for the frigid weather, he sent a notebook for ideas and two mix CDs. So I have him to thank for introducing me to Allie Moss and this song, "Corner." Which anyone who's ever heard me talk about Buddhism knows I talk about corners a lot. This song sort of turns what I always say about corners on its ear. I'm a fan of that. It's a great song for today. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

late-breaking VOTE! news

photo by Curtis Brown Photography

Hey baby birds. Great news here in Scotland. Remember how I've always wanted the chance to ACTUALLY workshop VOTE! before we had to put up the show? Well Merry Christmas to me and Steven because we're going to workshop the show here at St Andrews. 

We've been hard at work on cool new changes to the show and we're itching to see what they'll look and sound like when we put everything back together. So in February and March (to coincide with the apparently crazy-serious elections here) we're going to do a month long workshop of the show with students. 

I'll talk a bit about the musical development process, dramaturgical things, why we've made the changes we've made, etc. And we'll read, discuss, I'll edit and then we'll come back in a few days and look again. It will culminate in a production, but guess who WON'T have to produce it for once-- ME! 

I was looking at some old blog footage from when I used to make all those silly blogs a few years ago, and it turns out, I may actually be psychic. Did I predict VOTE! in Scotland? I just might have. 

More information is forthcoming if you're in St Andrews and would like to be a part of the VOTE! workshop in any way. We won't just need actors and wailing singers. Even if you just want to learn all that goes into developing a new musical, this will be for you. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

some opera for your monday

Everything I know about opera, (which still isn't much) I learned from my college room mate, Sasha Cooke. She's literally God's gift to modern opera, as far as I'm concerned. Because while I find most music beautiful and engaging, with opera, I've always felt a bit on the outside (and my only writing award to date is an opera prize for an aria-- hilarious). I wasn't in the storm, I was just watching the snow globe. 

Until I started to see Sasha in things. Not only is she just the most amazing mezzo soprano, but she is truly a first rate actress. She's so nuanced. I have lots of funny stories from those days we spent as 18 year olds. I'll refrain from telling my favorites so as not to embarrass her here. But I'm so glad we were able to spend time together while we both lived in New York. It was a joy to share in her celebrations with her: from Hansel and Gretel to Dr Atomic to her wedding! 

She was so so stunning as Kitty Oppenheimer in Dr Atomic at the Met. (Talk about inspirational! The lead in a new opera at the Met at 26!) She was the most alive. She was the only splash of color-- magenta against so many browns and earth tones-- and she was the sensual heart of a piece of music about science and horror (that, to my taste, never built to anything). Sadly, there's not much video of just her from Dr Atomic. But these videos will give you the idea. Many criticized Penny Woolcock's staging, but I found it (along with Sasha) to be the most appealing parts of the show.

For a full idea of her loveliness, the Kennedy Center has her whole concert, she sings a song from our bullfighter musical right here, and here is her "Sandman" Aria from Hansel & Gretel that aired on PBS (and on the big screen!) It was and still is a joy. The details! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

iona has her own blanket

Do you know about Anta? It's gorgeous. It's crazy expensive. And one day, I'll decorate my whole house in it I think. In case you're loaded, check it out for holiday shopping. There's even an Iona Macdonald blanket-- in honor of our birthday girl. (Who, by the way, dreamt last night that I was driving us home from the bar last night. I don't think I need to list to you guys all the many reasons why I am the worst candidate to drive us all home. [pps- we didn't actually drive. we walked.])

Saturday, December 11, 2010

cover loving

Headed out to the Edinburgh Farmer's Market with Iona & Co. Then on a mission for some socks and some sonnets. Then tea with an old eccentric aunt with Iona and her cousin Torcuil, who is a birder. With an overactive writer imagination, I have an idea in my mind what a birder does and I'm guessing it's probably wrong. Either way,  I'm gonna find out exactly what that entails. While I'm on that mission, here is some lovely Sara Bareilles covering the man himself, Otis. Oh how I love Otis. Happy Saturday. Very Happy indeed. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

top 10 of of '10- novels!

Novels were the hardest- not narrowing down- because I'm still actually amazed that I read 10 novels that came out in 2010,  (I guess grad school actually helps with that). But I was concerned with ranking them. In reality, I wanted a 3 way tie for first. But here goes, my top ten novels of 2010. 

10. Dead in the Family- Charlaine Harris
Okay, these aren't great books. But I love True Blood so much, and miss it so dearly when it's not on TV, that I read the books during the huge gaps between. 

9. Super Sad True Love Story- Gary Shteyngart
a loaner from a friend at St Andrews, it's a bit wacky, but I like any world where you can college major in "Images" and minor in "Assertiveness."

I love David Mitchell. Everyone told me this was a reinvention and it was. But give me remote islands and Japanese culture: sold. 

7. The New Yorker Stories- Ann Beattie
Actually short stories of hers that appeared in The New Yorker from 1974-2006. (I'm including it, since I read many of them actually in the New Yorker.)

6. Room- Emma Donahue
A lovely kindle read. I love stories about children. And the challenges of confined space.

5. The Infinities- John Banville
After this, and The Sea, I will read anything by John Banville. You bring in those Greek myths, John. 

4. A Visit From the Good Squad- Jennifer Egan
I didn't think a mixed-media novel could work, but Jenny Egan is just that good. Novel in short stories, you rock my world. Especially the one about Sasha's uncle in Italy. 

3. The Imperfectionists- Tom Rachman
I actually think this book is damn near perfect. I've since heard some less than flattering stories about its author, but I will love that book forever. I would love to write a book that slim and funny and wonderful. 

2. Freedom- Jonathan Franzen
I literally switched the order around 5 times. I feel like I have a good reason to bring this book up in conversation every day. I mean, I'm going to write my phd thesis on it, so I think that will tell you a bit about the level of love. Franzen's ability to perfectly observe neuroses is unmatched. I wouldn't want to be friends with anyone in this book, but I loved every one of them. 

1. The Passage- Justin Cronin
I love this book not just for what it is, but what it represents, and the promise of more to come. Success in writing is pretty elusive, and most of the time seems kind of arbitrary. Justin is the big shining example of the opposite. That critical, financial, and popular success can all land on the same-- really nice, really talented, really awesome-- person. His daughter (one of my all-time favorite babysitting kids) dared my professor to write a book that wasn't boring-- a book about a girl who saves the world. Instead, he wrote three. I can't wait for The Twelve to come out! 

Have a great weekend! I'm off to Edinburgh to celebrate the birth of Iona!

Why Stop Now?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...