Monday, October 31, 2011

Autumn Paradise in the Lammermuirs

We had a big pre-Guy Fawkes Day bonfire courtesy of the lovely Blairs this weekend. We burned a Yah in effigy (Brits love their effigies) had some caramel covered apples, and went on the world's least scary ghost walk. My biggest fear was that I would trip in the dark and knock myself unconscious. And I suppose it didn't help that my three nicest friends were in charge of the scaring. (I'm talking to you, Snoph, Torc & Iona.) 

There were fireworks and many pitchers of mulled cider (which did not turn out to be my friends) and about 20 folks who definitely are my friends. Even with my sad hangover, we wellied up and went on a lonnnng walk through the East Lothian Lammermuirs for a pub lunch in adorable Garvald. I take it back about the Fall colors in Scotland. East Lothian rocks fall colors in a major way. 

Thanks, Charlie & Zeph for a sweet weekend.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Autumn & Tim- Wedding!

Mostly, I'm trying to contain tears today at not being at the wedding of one of the brightest lights in the world. (They're partying it up right now, NYC time.) While I have a casting director to thank for Autumn's presence in my life (well, that and my constant love of redheads) I feel like destiny would have found some other way to put us together had it not been for the first industry reading of VOTE!

Once Steven and I got to know her, we knew she just had to be Alix in Nicholas & Alexandra. And the first time I ever heard her rehearse "In Your Name," I knew something really special was happening. I talk about those moments a lot-- where the right song aligns with the right singer. This was definitely one of those times. You can tell that everyone in the room is floored and I almost dropped the camera because my hand was shaking. 

Professional interests being the least important element here, Autumn is an emotionally giving friend in a way that I have rarely encountered. In the kind of way that someone like me both yearns for/recognizes, and is also skeptical of in others. I can be pretty guarded of my heart. I don't like asking for things. I am wary of being taken care of.  I tend to be skeptical of people who just freely share and shower me with love and friendship. But Autumn just does that and once I learned to soak it up, I've been relishing in one of the better female friendships ever. 

It meant a lot to be able to share her struggles and be present as she and Tim fell in love. I remember when they had their first date, when she was excited about him and we looked him up on facebook so I could vet him. I remember loaning her a shirt on their first serious date (his house. He was cooking.) Tim & Autumn helped me move to Scotland. They even took over my apt. In a way, I like living vicariously through my friends better than living my own life. Seeing the people I love happy is better than anything I could do myself. 

Autumn's bachelorette party in NYC this summer was one of the funnest nights. Bittersweet too, when I think of what I miss everyday not living there anymore. But at least I got to partake in some of the wedding festivities. And even though the really annoying fact that I am (still!) not rich (or famous) is preventing me from being there today, as she marries Tim so good in a bookstore (cutest bitch ever) in one of the prettiest dresses I have ever ever seen (can I borrow?)... I am there in spirit. And I have spies. 

Autumn & Tim-- so much love to you both! Here's a Scottish wedding poem from Thomas Campbell (they love these rhyming ballads!)

Freedom and Love

How delicious is the winning 

Of a kiss at Love's beginning, 
When two mutual hearts are sighing 
For the knot there's no untying!

Yet remember, 'midst your wooing, 

Love has bliss, but Love has ruing; 
Other smiles may make you fickle, 
Tears for other charms may trickle.

Love he comes, and Love he tarries, 

Just as fate or fancy carries; 
Longest stays when sorest chidden, 
Laughs and flies when press'd and bidden.

Bind the sea to slumber stilly, 

Bind its odour to the lily, 
Bind the aspen ne'er to quiver, 
Then bind Love to last for ever.

Love's a fire that needs renewal 

Of fresh beauty for its fuel; 
Love's wing moults when caged and captured, 
Only free he soars enraptured.

Can you keep the bee from ranging, 

Or the ringdove's neck from changing? 
No! nor fetter'd Love from dying 
In the knot there's no untying.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

We All Go Back to Where We Belong - Kirsten + R.E.M

All weekend, I've been loving on the last (tear) REM single, "We All Go Back to Where We Belong" starring my twin, Kirsten in some cool stop-motion photography style action. It's not actually stop-motion, but it often looks like it. I'm pretty sure they just played her the song and filmed her. It has all that awkwardness of knowing you're being filmed, and all the comfort of listening to a song you realize in the middle you really like. 

The song (which sounds a little 70s to me. There's a horn section that lends the song to the Virgin Suicides soundtrack, in my o-pinion.)  is off their first ever definitive greatest hits album. And the title of it could be the title of my life so far...even the dates are exactly correct: Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbarge: 1982-2011.  

I've always had a soft spot for R.E.M. They were at UGA in Athens at the same time as my dad. I always liked to imagine them at parties together. What a conversation between my dad and Michael Stipe might look like. 

And during that first stint of zealous, painfully earnest ambition I had between the ages of twelve and sixteen, I listened the their 1998 album UP (my favorite of their oeuvre-- weird, I know.) on a loop while I wrote my first novel. (Perhaps if I'm ever feeling zany enough [or drunk enough] I'll post some of that little twelve-year-old existential-Buddhist-historical attempt. Don't hold your breath though.)

I will hold my breath for the compilation though. What about you guys? Will you buy it? I find myself frequently missing the 90s. I think it will be nice to have an express train back there whenever I want. 

They also did a version with poet and activist John Giorno

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Links Buffet

While this week has been marked by sweeping technological failures-- my internet has been working in intervals simulating Chinese water-drip torture-- the offerings on the internet have been abundant. Happy Friday! Here's a links buffet. 

- We've planned a trip to gorgeous MoorCockHall this weekend for Scottish outdoorsy type things. 
- Katie Rose Clarke sang her fab rendition of Mr. Prez at this Women of Wicked concert. 
- An interesting NYTimes article I'm not sure I agree with about novelist productivity
- My Rice writing prof, author of The Passage, answers questions about its sequel, The Twelve
- Cool Shoebox app for scanning, organizing old family photos
- Speaking of pics, I narrowed down the lens I want to this one! I tested-- SO pretty! Merry Christmas!
- And these camera-friendly handbags to go with!
- Finally a place to watch Bill Maher in the UK
- Really excited about Siri. But the Scots aren't. Here's why. It's like this.  
- Sally Draper actress Kiernan Shipka is a child therapist
- Swedish acoustic group, Erato, covering my homegirl Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend." As someone who drops her keys 30 times a day, I respect anyone with refined motor skills, let alone rhythmic hand-eye coordination.
- I think this spoof of it was supposed to be comedy,  but it wasn't funny and only made this chick look pissy. 

- Finally: whether you like Katie Roiphe or not, I was flattered when my pal McC said she thought I could have written the following from her article about Gawker. (For the record, I agree with you, Katie. I've been railing against pathological snark for a while now.)

"To casually and sloppily take down, to ironize, to sneer comes very naturally to us, we can do it in our sleep, but to care, to try, to want, are harder. And to admit that you care or are trying or are wanting, well, forget it: Those will be impossible."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Edinburgh's Best - Drummond Place Gardens

One of my favorite things about Edinburgh are all the private parks around New Town and Stockbridge. From Queens Street Gardens to my own little Circus Place allotment, enough of us have access to them so there's always a good place to picnic with friends or relax on a bench with a book. 

This summer, thanks to Anna, we really grew to love Drummond Place Gardens. It's the perfect size and the perfect level of peaceful. More quiet than Circus Place & Queen Street, but with enough adorable children testing the slides to be interesting. It really is sort of a hidden gem. I can't count how many rainbows we saw from Drummond Place. And many afternoons passed into sunsets with us all feeling like characters from The Secret Garden-- minus the Edwardian diseases and plus wine. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Currently Listening to Tom Waits, Bad As Me

"Everybody knows umbrellas cost more in the rain."

Just as I was listening to the new Tom Waits album, Bad As Me, courtesy of NPR, Jeffrey Eugenides described his surrogate in his new novel as looking like a young Tom Waits. I smiled. One, because I just love Tom Waits. Two, because, thanks to the ten trillion cool-as-shit pictures of Tom Waits, I could picture everything this kid was doing-- even in an Eastern Relgions class at Brown, and even though Eugenides has never looked a bit like Waits or half as cool. 

In many and various situations I simply wasn't paying attention to, I've been listening to Tom Waits all my life. But let's be real-- and if you know me, this will come as no shock-- I love Tom Waits, and came to the bulk of his material thanks to the single best television show of all time, The Wire. Thanks for that, buddy. And thanks for this new joint, which is suiting me perfectly as sort through all this research.

The new album came out this Monday. You can preview it on NPR too. Check out "Raised Right Men" and "Talking at the Same Time," which is somewhere between NOLA and LA noir. 

For some hump-day fun, in case you're bored and would like an excellent procrastination tool, you should really check out Tom's Wit & Wisdom section of his website. You've got to be a pretty serious badass to even create a Wit & Wisdom section of your website in the first place. And even more so to fill it with things like: "Poetry is a very dangerous word," and "You know, I don't like straight lines. The problem is that most instruments are square and music is always round." About NYC: "It's like a big ship and the water's on fire."

And my personal favorite, if only for its Scottish references, "It's hard to play with a bagpipe player. You can't play with them. It's like an exotic bird. I love the sound; it's like strangling a goose." Hilar. 

Also, check out this snazzy typography video by Jackie Lay set to "Eggs and Sausage." 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Art in All Places- The Sheep of the M8 Pyramids

Along the M8, between Glasgow and Edinburgh is (New Yorker, woo!) Patricia Leighton's "Sawtooth Ramps"... or as its more commonly called, the M8 Pyramids. Even though it was corporately sponsored (by Motorola in 1992-1993) it's still one of the coolest environmental art projects I've ever seen. 

Last night on the drive back from St Andrews, my fellow phd friend Sam told me about the sheep that not only keep the grass clipped, but clearly serve as additional decor. The only time I ever passed the M8 Pyramids, it must have been the sheep's day off, but I think they're pretty cool. I mean, they even have their own facebook fan page. Their colorful dots (they change colors regularly) made me smile on this grey grey day. 

For video and more info, click here

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Next Read- The Stranger's Child

Having a Type A personality, you're pretty much always worried you're not doing enough. So it's nice when your phd advisor says he wouldn't mind you spent the next twelve months doing no writing-- just reading. Which is  basically what Jake Polley gave me license to do today in our meeting. 

It's nice having permission to slow down, not hurry and let myself move into the rooms where I'm going to write. Just be in those spaces. And give myself as much raw material for texture as I need. I'm excited about the reading list he gave me. I'm still constantly surprised at how little overlap there is in contemporary American fiction and contemporary British fiction. How little American stuff makes it over here and how little British stuff I hear about in the States. 

I mean, the first one up on that list  JUST came out in the States less than two weeks ago: Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child. It's oddly parallel to a lot of the central questions and relationships I've got going on in my novel. It even roughly runs the same timeline. Not only that, but NY Mag compares it to The Corrections, so you know I'm going to dig a British post-World-War-One, children of artists "Henry James without the obfuscation" version of a Franzen novel. I can hardly wait to delve into it on the train ride home tonight. 

For more, click here for Guardian Review and more about the Booker Prize this year

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Today in St Andrews

Today was full of good ideas. From the Crepes my Belgian friend made us for breakfast to the long walk from outside of town into our offices on North Street to the great theatre meeting I had this afternoon. I love good ideas. 

Another good idea is my new favorite app, Pic Stitch, which has allowed me to make putting more pics on here just easier. I love easy. 

I think the next good idea for this day is that I should cook dinner for my super cool friends and their two little boys. Being on my own, I get excited about being involved in a family for a little bit. What to make, what to make.... Then, of course, it will be Downton Abbey time. My favorite part about Sunday. Sad to be missing watching it with the usual suspects. Catch ya on the flipside!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Motivational Boat Series: Where to find Success

Along the river Tay in Dunkeld! Okay, so while it's obvious that I inherited my dad's utterly corny sense of humor, I have seen a lot of motivationally named boats. They make me laugh. 

I found success in Dunkeld at a Save the Free Beavers of Tay event-- even though I did sprain my ankle that day. I was pretending my ankle was fine as we went on a hike (??) and the laugh I got from this boat seriously improved the Saturday. It's the little things. Hope you get some good laughs from unexpected places. I've got some eating and carousing to do today at the base of the castle. And a trip to beautiful, beloved St Andrews. 

Don't forget, I'll be talking VOTE!, Nic & Alix, new projects and theatre gossip this evening at 5PM on STAR radio's Standing Ovation. Stream it!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.

Post title sponsored by Samuel Beckett. Someone close to my thoughts these days as I write a character based on him and play with different ways to open my novel, one of which I'll send off to Jake Polley later this afternoon. I feel you, Sammy. In a book that takes place both in the 1930s and the 2000s where would you rather start? Now or then? Hmmmm..... 

At least it's Friday. And in case you need something to distract you until the weekend officially starts, check out these Friday links:

- Tune into STAR radio tomorrow at 5PM Scotland time to catch me talking about VOTE!, Nicholas & Alexandra and other projects on Standing Ovation. We'll also play songs from both shows! (Non-UK'ers, you can stream online.)

- My beloved Willy's Pub is in financial trouble. I think we were always in financial trouble, but I know I would cry (and I'm sure I wouldn't be alone) if the Rice pub where I misspent my youth had to close down. PS- If it does close, I want my all-team signed Chris Kolkhorst jersey back. 

- Great NYT article about insane bureaucratic visa restrictions that are keeping great artists from working (for free!) in the United Kingdom. I feel your pain, fellow artists trying to work internationally. Oye. 

- This cat-fight between the richest man in musical theatre and the real-life peeps who live at Downton Abbey, I mean, Highclere Castle, gave me a chuckle. (I apologize in advance for linking you to the Daily Mail.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Downton Abbey theme... with words??

As a lyricist, I feel like a bit of a traitor when my first instinct was to think... No! There shouldn't be lyrics. (I think my face looked a bit like Maggie Smith's.) John Lunn's score is just too delicious to go narrowing it to down to specific emotions that will come with any lyrics. Apparently, even he was skeptical about the idea. 

But as a Downton fan (and let me just say for the record, Series 2 was losing me until last week. Now it's gettin' kray-zay!) I'm clapping my hands. Something more for me to consume! Ah! Props for getting Mary-Jess as the vocalist. What do you think? Downton theme with lyrics? Will you buy the album

Is it an attempt to fall in the category of "My Heart Will Go On"? Or would it be as blasphemous (and with terrible results) as putting lyrics to the Star Wars theme or my most sacred cows: the theme from Braveheart or the perfection that is GWTW's Tara's Theme

I think it's time to fess up, people: What's your sacred movie score? Or maybe it's TV theme? The one you'd go postal over if someone messed up? One that turns you into a total dork every time you hear it? (Tears, dancing, fake orchestra conducting?) I know you have one... 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Black Cat Bone: Congrats on that Forward Prize, Burnsy.

Exciting times around here. I've kept forgetting to talk about the fab and hilarious John Burnside (aka my phd advisor) winning the super prestigious Forward Poetry Prize for his book Black Cat Bone. The Forward, along with the TS Eliot are basically the UK's biggest prizes for poetry. Other winners include, oh ya know, Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, & Ted Hughes. So... yeah. 

The panel was chaired by my academic idol, Sir Andrew Motion, who wrote the brick sized definitive bio of John Keats, which I am staring at on my desk right now. (More on him later. Le Sigh.) And when the panel (that also includes bio revolutionary Lady Antonia Fraser) talk about your book's "vitality of language, an undertow of complexity and an evocative dream logic" that's got to feel pretty nice. 

Or from the Guradian: "A tour de force of luminal expression." Word up. You go, JB. See you on Monday to soak up some of that wisdom. 

You can get Black Cat Bone here in the UK. For more JB, check out here

Illustration by Michael Mucci, from here

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Looking Up: Paris Ceilings

Even though it's not for about another six months, I'm kind of stressed out about my 30th birthday. Not the turning 30 part, just the how I'm going to celebrate it part. It got me thinking about my lovely 29th birthday in Paris. Since I'm feeling nostalgic for the other location of my novel (besides NYC & obviously, the Isle of Skye-- the book is called The Muse of Skye, afterall.) I felt like I needed to put them to better use on the old blog.

But back to birthdays and celebrating. The grandeur of Paris is hard to beat, but I've got to top it. And I'd like to be with as many of my favorite folks as possible. I've got friends on two continents and opposite coasts of the United States. Should I go to NYC? Plan a sunny, tropical get-away now and invite my close friends to come and splurge? What about this rustic private cottage in Majorca? I wouldn't mind a beach. Or at least somewhere warm. American friends, what would entice you? Put the week of April 5 on your calendar now! xo

Monday, October 17, 2011

How to do a Sunday Lunch with friends

Yesterday was basically the opposite of today's windy downpour. Bright, brisk & merry, we headed to the Farmer's Market where we sampled and watched kids scamper. There were several great French merchants in this week, including a cheese monger from Lyon, who had these two adorable mischievous kids. They kept asking each other questions and answering each other in unison "OUAIS!" It was great.

Back at Cleodie's we dug in and continued our lessons in 20th Century pop culture of the Western Isles. The only thing anyone actually cooked was the delicious tomato and roast pepper soup that Cleodie had whipped up the night before. And even though I'm still wary of the "game meats," everyone agreed with Cleodie when she said "this is the way to do Sunday lunch." Sampling of everything. No cooking. Lovely, diverse friends. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Song: Ashes & Fire

Today's Fall Sunday Morning is brought to you by Ryan Adams and his new album, Ashes & Fire. (Maybe I should have saved this for Guy Fawkes Day next month? Or the bonfire I'm attending at the end of the month? Anyhow...) So far, the verdict is out for me on this album. I like it, but I haven't found any lasting attachments to anything yet. It's certainly good for a stroll to the Farmer's Market though. Which is what I'm off to do now! Can't wait to show you all the fun stuff Zaza and I came up with yesterday for her new site! It was fun! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Night Movie Night: Savannah Smiles

Flashback to the year I was born: 1982- Savannah Smiles. This was one of my fave pictures all throughout childhood. I don't know how much I actually liked it (the plotline was a bit gruesome) but my mom loved it and always suggested we watch it, so we did. 

I liked that her name was Savannah-- one of my favorite names and one of my favorite cities. 

A little girl runs away because her social climbing parents don't pay attention to her. She's incepted by some crooks, who she, of course grows to love even more than her parents. The "goodbye Bootsie scene" the soundtrack, that harmonica. "I hope no one ever tells her we're bad guys..." I die. That was my childhood, folks. 

The whole story was kind of depressing in that sunny 70s/early 80s way, but the real life story got really sad-pants when the girl who played Savannah, Bridgette Andersen died at the early age of 21 of an accidental drug and alcohol overdose. Wow, that sort of ruins the fun sunny Saturday attitude I had when I sat down to write this post. 

Oh well, I still recommend. Iona and I have pralines and cream ice cream to eat. Off to watch! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Have a zany weekend

Happy Friday! What are you doing this weekend? I'm helping my absolute favorite Edinburgh artist revamp her website and take dreamy pics to help sell her awesome artistry! I've talked about Zaza & her great gift ideas lots before, but since it's almost time to start thinking about holiday gifts again, I felt I should remind you. She ships to the US. 

We're also making  a trip on Sunday to the always lovely Stockbridge Market (of sign fame- even though that's not where it is anymore) with Iona, Anna, & Cleodie. Cleodie is pretty much who every woman wants to be when they're in their 70's. Cultured, well-read, funny, philanthropic and universally adored. She's also an amazing cook and so are Iona & Anna, so we'll see what kind of goodies they get up to. 

Now that it's fall, I think Iona and I will also have to resume our trips to the Edinburgh Farmer's Market at the base of the castle. Splitting an angus burger with cheddar and grilled onions (from Well Hung & Tender, ha!) as well as a pulled pork sammy with haggis and applesauce...oh man, I'm hungry. Is it lunch time yet? 

A couple of other things:
- More hilarity from Ira Glass
- I dug these Occupy Wall Street charts from Business Insider
- I can't with this guy... Rick Scott. Ugh
- What if I started a cute camera collection?? 
- Godspell started performances on Broadway last night! I remember the first day this idea was discussed in our office. So excited to have it realized! You go, Ken & team! Let's get Davenported!  And lovely to see some great friends (and former VOTE!ers in the cast. Sending love to Celisse & Nicholas!)
- Speaking of crowd funding! Scotland now his its own crowdfunding platform: Vunded

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Music to Write To- Feist, Metals

When I'm writing, I really like to have music on in the background. I know people are often divided on this front-- music while working, yes or no? Which one are you? I think the trick is really finding the right music. (duh.) The right music will surprise your mind and open up new little sections. I feel more creative. But if it's too obvious (or obviously annoying) it will distract you. To me, the right music somehow makes you listen and makes you write, activating a form of automatic writing (in the Gertrude Stein sense of the idea.)

Feist has often been a go-to for me with music to write to, and her new album, Metals,  is no exception. I've been jamming and writing all week. I'm especially loving this track, Get it Wrong, Get it Right, which makes me think of my writing process anyhow-- haha. 

I also enjoyed the Shia La Boef/ Michael Bay anecdotes about Feist in this article. Enjoy! It's almost the weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Gift from the Writer Gods

Sometimes, you get a little gift from the writer gods to let you know that they love you, and they want you to be happy. Jeffrey Eugenides' new novel, The Marriage Plot, and this amazing article from New York Magazine were two such gifts from the patron saint of researchers and academics. 

I've been researching pretty hard core only for several weeks now. It's hard to know if you're getting anywhere sometimes. Sure, I've found a lot of stuff. I have a lot of pdfs set to read on my kindle. I have made a lot of notecards. But are those just fun tricks to convince myself I've got something tangible? Especially when most of it isn't on these post-post modernists guys I'm mostly concerned with. 

Part of the reason I'm interested in these guys academically is because, so far, they aren't really being discussed. Up until now, they were just too young. Didn't have enough material. And I was sort of feeling around in the dark about these hunches I had about certain aspects of their friendships played out in their work. 

For whatever reason, this article soothed me-- confirmed that I was on the right track. Though pretty stinkin comprehensive for an NYMag article, it kind of scratches the surface of where I wanna go with this research. Just listen to this quote from Wallace in a letter to Franzen: 

"You seem so mad at me. Why do you want to be my friend?"

Ugh. Amazing. They were fighting about each other's writing. About the fate and future of the novel. What the post -post modernist novel should be. It's like lit-cat-nip. 

My friend Brian (who is a writer, I should point out) says he's absolutely uninterested in anything going on with the contemporary novel. And yet, he's writing one, here in 2011. What I've discovered about myself over the last year or so is that I was either wrong about myself, or I'm in the middle of a bit of a paradox. Because, while I consider myself to be a deeply nostalgic person, nothing--  nothing, interests me more than whatever is going on in fiction right now.

Read The Marriage Plot. I had to make myself put it away last night. I'm up early read it again today-- on a hunt in a post-post modernist roman a clef (even if Eugenides says it isn't. I don't think I believe him.)

(All photos from the NY Mag article)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hey Girl. It's some Lovely Links

Oh, there's been lots of  good stuff on the internet lately. It's like a test to see if I can stay focused on work and not be distracted. So far, I'd say I'm getting about a C on that test. 

Feminist Ryan Gosling
This blog was only started like 3.5 days ago and it's already blown up to beyond belief. Internet viralism is wacky. Hey Girl. I mean... WOMAN. I love the explanations. "Yes, Hey Girl is pejorative. Have you seen the original meme? That is the joke. That. Is. The. Joke."
Love it. 

Anne Sage of City Sage talks one of my favorite travel destinations: Portugal!
She checks out The Favorita Hotel

The uncertain future of Hotel Chelsea
One of my favorite NYC landmarks. What will happen to all the ghosts of the great artists? 

These things have been circulating about Occupy Wallstreet. 
I'm inclined to agree with the authors, especially Slavoj Zizek, who is nothing short of brilliant. (Read his book, Violence.) Mostly, even if I disagree, I'm able to see the logic of the other side. On this, I simply do not. I'm not a jobless hippie who hasn't played by the rules, as some propaganda has alleged. Nor do I wish to stop purchasing products or living a normal life. As some, truly faulty logic photos have alleged. I simply think that the super rich in America are out of control while the middle class is paying the price. And I don't trust bankers. Except one, named Peter. So I'm going to ask him his opinion on all of this. I bet his answer will make sense. 

New Cranberries Album this Valentine's Day
Wow. The brooding, angsty 12-year-old in me's heart just skipped a beat. I used to lock myself in my room in Vegas and listen to No Need to Argue for HOURS. I'd listen to Ode to My Family on repeat. I was emotional

A new blog lovingly parodying the awesomeness/ridiculousness of my favorite place on Earth. The jokes aren't quite as good as the concept and name itself, but I still chuckled. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Charlie Chaplin

One of the projects on my list of "Please let me get around to writing all of these before I die" is a Charlie Chaplin musical. He could do anything. Writer, Director, performer, composer. It's no wonder George Bernard Shaw called him "the only genius to come out of the movie industry."

I've been studying the nature of genius a lot lately for my thesis on artistic communities. It's been nice to delve back into his work and the partnership he formed with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks with United Artists. But my soft spot for ol' Charlie is long-standing. He was was one of my first talent-crushes since I saw the amazing biopic with Robert Downey Junior when I was a kid. (Check out this ULTRA 90'stastic trailer) Then I started watching all his films. 

The man who wrote "Smile" is one of the most genuinely moving people to witness. Not just funny, though obviously he was. He was so vulnerable. Even in comedies, even without speaking, there was something heartbreaking about his every moment on screen. I cry every time I watch The Kid. And I'm not exaggerating when I say I'd name my hypothetical kid Chaplin. 

I can't help thinking that what called Chaplin to speak for the first time in his films, in The Great Dictator-- which he funded with his own money-- holds just as true or truer today. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nerd Alert: You win, Scrivener. I'm Yours!

For a while now, I've been debating switching to Scrivener from Final Draft, etc for all my writing purposes. I knew from what I saw in the app store that it was definitely cool. Bulletin boards! Multi-media tools! But would I really use it? 

So many cool features of so many products (I'm gonna go ahead and say about 80% of my iphone apps, I don't really use. Though I do like busting out my 'Angry Scot' app at parties sometimes and I think Shazam is one of the most genuinely useful and genius things humans have ever created. It's right after music itself, in fact.)

But I digress. I've never really thought of myself as a 'visual person.' I mean, I'm definitely into aesthetics. And I can't work in any ugly environments. But, for example, when I work on musicals, etc, why I've never really gone deep into the world of film or screenplays is that typically, I don't see the camera shot. To a lesser extent, I can't visualize the mechanics of how a particular scene is going to be staged. There are exceptions to this, of course, and I have actually beefed up on that side in the last year or so. Which I suppose leads me to where I am right now with this whole Scrivener thing. 

Staring into the mouth of 80,000 words over the next 3-4 years and mountains of infinite research, even here at the beginning, when the stack is small and mostly hypothetical, I'm finding it difficult to wrap my mind around. Two separate but deeply related projects: one fiction, one non-fiction, with photos and videos and just characters and articles til the cows come home. It's too much. I feel too drunk to drive the car. I can't even find the keys in my purse which is full of crap. But! In the span of half a day of importing all my stuff into Scrivener, I feel my anxiety level dropping with every random idea I put and pin on my virtual bulletin board, using adorable virtual notecards. It looks just like my real bulletin board! Except I can copy and paste. 

It tracks everything. It splits things. I can move whole sections around like I was born to do it.  Listen, maybe I just effing LOVE bulletin boards??! (Does this explain my love of Pinterest??) Or perhaps, I guess I do think visually. 

And for like $45 bucks-- which I haven't even spent yet because I'm using Scrivener's badass 30 day free trial (where only days you actually use it count towards your 30!) until that Anthropologie $$ starts rolling in. (Or I suppose I should say ££, but let's be real-- the $$ sign is just rad and so is the word dollar. dolla dolla. Anyhow.)

Any other writer types out there using Scrivener? I have a feeling a lot of my phd compadres are already on board. What are your thoughts? Cool tricks? Gripes?  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Autumn Twilights

No vampires in these awesome Edinburgh twilights we've been having. I'm not looking forward to seeing the moon at two-thirty. But it's nice to have a bit of night time, instead of our summers with light until eleven and sunrise at four. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

I could never fast from Fassbender

For the past several days, I've been on a bit of a Fass-bender (See what I did there?) Why is he so attractive? I'm in the process of putting together my initial bibliography for my phd and let's just say a lot of my reading has been rather depressing. So I turned to this half-German, half-Irish stunner to be entertained. Turns out, Fassbender's work errs on the depressing side as well. 

When he isn't being killed by Chavs, Nazi Soldiers,  Charles I loyalists (or possibly Oliver Cromwell) in films, he's killing someone else, turning evil, locking his crazy wife in a tower, or smearing feces on a wall and starving himself... and then dying. Don't get me wrong- he's turning out some fantastic performances, and, hey, at least he looks good dying. 

(Except in Hunger. You guys, I'm not kidding. Have you seen this film? Fassby went on a medically monitored crash diet and everyone around him feared for his life. If  you watch, you'll see why. Near the beginning of the film, during a 17 minute single-take shot, as I watched M's shirtless stomach expand and contract with each breath while talking to a priest, I thought, "Shit, he did drop some weight!" Then! His character, IRA leader Bobby Sands, says he's about to START a hunger strike. And I thought, "You've got to be kidding me! You mean it's going to get worse?!?" Oh and it did. I'm trying to think about what kind of mindset you'd have to be in to do that for your craft. And how come I find this kind of extremism and dedication to craft so (hypothetically, if not actually) appealing? 

Let's hope this extremism doesn't apply to chose charges (later dropped) by his ex who claimed Fassby was abusive. That would just break my heart. 

One more bonus of being in the UK, is that more of his projects are available because they were made here for the BBC, etc. For my US readers who might feel so inspired, you can watch The Devil's Whore (worst title ever, about the English Civil War) and Angel on youtube. 

Also, can I just say how excited I am to see him as Carl Jung? (I'm looking into Jung's treatment of Lucia Joyce at the moment for my phd.) Opposite Viggo Mortenson (his older bro look alike) as Freud?? Only the loathesome Keira Knightley appears to be marring the amazingness of A Dangerous Method. And this is just one of the slew of new movies coming out with Fassby, so expect him to be a star that continues to rise. And as soon as he dumps Zoe Kravitz and moves back to the UK, we can get married. ;) Hope you have Fassb-- I mean-- fab (okay that one went too far) weekend!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Often, I've said that I'd let Apple make my whole life. Anything. Part of why I started buying Apple products in the first place, why Apple is the only stock I've ever personally bought, is because I just liked Steve Jobs' attitude. Liked everything I heard him say about creativity and work and failure and starting over and perseverance and dot-connecting and taking risks.

I was supposed to go to St Andrews today. And it seems a little melodramatic to say, but I think I'm a little too depressed to be up for much. RIP, Steve.

Why Stop Now?

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