Monday, January 31, 2011

in transit monday

I have no idea where I'll be when this posts. But chances are, I'll be in transit. Right now I'm in a lovely first class seat on a Virgin Railways train to North Wales. Later today, I'm hoping for a local tour and hopefully some birdwatching from designated expert, Torcuil. I'll let you know what I learn about Wales and birds. 

Even though I have four connections on this journey,  I just have to say that travelling first class by train is about the most lovely way to travel I can think of. I don't know what I did to get bumped up, but I hope it happens more often. Sigh.

It's nice and foggy from my big windows and I'm sipping free tea. This is living. Earlier I was working on Nic & Alix and now I've moved on to a new short story for my collection. I have to keep reminding myself to keep focused on short stories and not skip ahead to working on my novel too much. Not that Don Paterson is a novelist, but he's one of the people who graded my semester project where I pitched (at least the research portion of) my novel and he really liked it. He said really nice things. And being Teacher's Pet and all, it really makes me want to work on it. :)

Anyhow. After Wales, I'm going to meander down to London for Sophie's concert at Half Moon. Good times! Hope you're having a great Monday!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

and the best country song of the year is...

Adele. "Don't You Remember." No joke. This is a Nashville song all the way, but I feel like maybe it's so on another level precisely because it is not a Nashville singer. Don't get me wrong-- I'm the proud daughter of a steel guitar player. But this is everything you love about a country song, minus the nasal (and sadly, the steel guitar. THOUGH! You can't tell from these clips with pared down orchestrations, but on the album-- which I've been listening to non-stop-- the arrangements are pretty lushly country.)

She wrote this song with Dan Wilson, who wrote "Not Ready to Make Nice" with the Dixie Chicks. Also, lead singer of Semisonic. ('member them? Responsible for such hits as "Closing Time" and "Chemistry"?) I'd say, girl, keep working with EVERYONE you're working with because it is working. Across the board, the album is like all the best musical genres had an orgy resulting in a baby that no one is sure who the dad is.

It's practically impossible to choose a favorite off here. But this one, I have soft spot for. I suppose I'll always love country. And, of course, a well-placed, heart-wrenching key change. Basically, Adele (especially this album) is everything I like about music. Get it. Americans, sorry you'll have to wait until Feb 22.)

Better quality. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

invincible summer

Is Albert Camus the most quotable writer ever? I'd contend YES. (Let's agree not to deal with Shakespeare-- that's just...extra.)From some of my favorites like "Charm is a way of getting the answer 'Yes' without asking a clear question" and "live life to the point of tears," his hits just keep on coming. I have a bit of a crush on him. I'm not alone. Elizabeth Hawes wrote a whole book about the severity of her lit crush. Camus: A Romance. You know I read it. I feel her. 

I'm longing for spring these days, but joyous that I'm taking myself off the leash I've used to chain myself to my desk these past three weeks.  (We did it!! VOTE! and it's 10 song concept album is DONE! Now, onto finishing Nic & Alix.) I feel I've earned some reckless freedom so I'm hitting the open road. I'm heading South. And where I end up (within the reasonable bounds of about 2-3 days) is anybody's guess. In the meantime, another Camus gem for your winter Saturday, wherever you are. 

How great word is 'invincible'!? Can we just talk about that?

Friday, January 28, 2011


So yesterday, my trusty best friend Emily forwards me the email (that I'm sure I also have in an email account somewhere that I no longer check-- I have a few of those) with the subject line: WHAT IF ANTHROPOLOGIE DID WEDDINGS?

....Oh. So they're going to do this to me

I have a complicated relationship with weddings. From 2003-2005, I went 38 weddings. (And plenty more since) I have been in 23 of them as some sort of maid of honor/bridesmaid/officiant of some indeterminate value. I just seem to mark my life by them. I've only got about two friends left that aren't married, so I don't know that I'll be purchasing any of their fancy wedding attire anytime soon, but I can't wait to see what kind of random trinket-esque things for me to blow my money on come February 14th (really?) when BHLDN has their "Unveiling." (cue signature eye roll. I love puns, but...) (Props on the Amiina song choice of "What Are We Waiting For?" BTW, BHLDN. You know how I love that Icelandic thing.)

I stared at the name of this new Anthropologie venture for about 10 minutes before I emailed Emily back saying, "Am I dense? What does BHLDN stand for?" Beholden. Beholden? I think I know the context of this word they were aiming for. But I'd avoid words with the meaning "obligated; indebted" for a company that makes marriage-related products. (For women!) I won't spell out for you, intelligent readers, why I find that slightly -- if unintentionally-- offensive. But even the example given in the dictionary is foreboding:  "a man beholden to no one."

Sort of a feminist nightmare. 

Anyhow, does the thing make me sick a little? Yeah. Will I pore over every single thing they sell? Yeah.  At least I know I'm being exploited by marketing executives, right? Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

little manhattan

I finally saw The Kids are All Right on the plane ride back to Scotland from the States in December. And I liked it. But I'll never be able to look at Josh Hutcherson and not think of my second favorite movie of all-time. The perfect Little Manhattan. It came out the year I moved to NYC and it's Upper West Side-iness coincided with my own little bout of hanging out near the 72nd & Broadway stop. 

If it doesn't make you want to fall in love, it will make you want to fall in love with New York. So if you've never seen it, run don't walk to get it. It's kind of like a Woody Allen movie about kids. I'm serious when I say, it's a perfect movie. And just the thought of it makes me homesick for New York. Even when they're having a Thundersnow and it's a mild 45-50 degrees F around here. It is a quintessential New York movie. 

It also has a quintessential NYC soundtrack featuring "At Last," a bouncing "Love" by Matt White (which actually sounds like a sunny spring day in Central Park, and of course, "In My Life." With the Dakota right there, it's hard not to think of that song. And good guarantee that someone is going to cry. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Guest Post: McC offers a piece of twix, & trip to Scotland

Greetings Fergie & Fifers!

McC here, back in Los Angeles after a lovely trip through the UK.

Playing dress-up in Ryann's clothes, St. Andrews :)

Tigerlily, Edinburgh
Ryann's future house

In the off chance that this blog has not persuaded you already, I am here to attest that Miss Ferguson lives in a truly special place. We laughed, we cried, we sang in the streets and offered to split candy bars with strangers. We drank Irn Bru...we watched Downton Abbey, played in the snow, and took a costume-drama tour of Edinburgh, too! It was paradise in a teacup, and I hope to return very, very soon.

Until I can get back on a boat to St. Andrews, I've put together a little collection of
Scottish-inspired treasures from Etsy for your perusal. Hope you enjoy! xo

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

robert burns & the birthday A-Team

Interactive Robert Burns. Seriously.
As far as Birthday conglomerations go, January 25th is about as good as it gets. It is the A-Team of birthdays. And I don't just mean the man they put on money, Mr. Robert Burns, but a cluster of my favorite people in the whole world. 

1. Preacher Barbie, Kate Floyd. She's one of the people I'm most continually in awe of. She is actually a Methodist minister. She's so compassionate, she will make you want to be a Methodist. Read more about her here

2. Rob Shafer. The other perfect Robbie. Also so insightful and lovely and just out there making the world a better place, sometimes you gotta sit down for a minute because your head is spinning. That's okay though, because he's a doctor, so he'd make sure you didn't pass out. If I ever wanted to disappear from the world and live in nature and just talk philosophy forever (and sometimes, I'm tempted) I think I'd suggest to Rob we just go hang on the ranch in Carizozo.)

3. Last. Best. My Dad. I've tried many times over the years to express the new and very growing ways in which my dad is the number one sign I have that the world likes me. He is the perfect dad for me. And like the other people who share his birthday, he's out there in the world talking to people about all there is to be happy about. He's entertaining them, dispensing wisdom, and supporting more people than I can wrap my brain around. 

Happy Birthday, A-Team! Go read some Burns tonight! Google's showing the love. I may read from my Burns iPhone app. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

i got lots of things to do: i was born this morning, i'm gonna die tonight

It's great when you can actually see your way to the end of the tunnel. And I can see it today. The other side of both these shows is almost there, I can taste it. Only about ten days now. My friend Joe is serving as the sound track for this week. 

Sometimes, I'll forget how good stuff is, how much I like it-- and that's why itunes is so nice. For those subtle reminders. Like, hey, Ryann, remember Things To Ruin? And sharing a bottle of wine with Joe in the lobby of Urban Stages after ReWrite? And how adorable and stupidly talented every moment of Nick Blaemire's existence is? Ah, yes I do. 

There are very few songs I'd actually be willing to classify as a masterpiece, but the first time I ever heard "I Was Born This Morning (The Cicada Song)" I knew it was something special. All of it-- from the metaphor to the sound. How it manages to keep its shape even when it's a little out of control.  What's more, I can't think of any other song that sounds like how I feel when I wake up every morning as a writer. 

How much there is to do. How little time there is to do it all. Even when you have all day, every day.

I think you know most of what you need to know about Joe Iconis with this song. Also, it's pretty impossible not to love Nick Blaemire when he's hopping around stage like that, not to mention when he sings "Honey." I've never listened to Nick sing that song and not believed him that I was the only woman for him. ;) (Well, me and every other girl in the audience, but you know what I mean.)  It's a shame there's no video of him singing it, because he is, ladies & gentleman, a delight. But you can buy it, as well as the rest of Joe Iconis's Things to Ruin here. (I also recommend Son of a Gun)

Sometimes I worry that, one day, I'll have to go back to a life where I don't get to write all day. An idea which scares the ever-loving daylights out of me. Because the only thing I like as much as I like writing-- the only thing I feel just as powerless to stop myself from doing-- is writing about, loving, appreciating my friends. Working in the arts or otherwise, I could blog for years off the momentum of that feeling. 

I'm missing them this morning, but I'm hopped up on blood and pheromones. And I got lots of things to do, I got lots of things to do... I was born this morning, I'm gonna die tonight. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

soooo many things sunday

As I head into week three of my butt being glued to my desk chair 10+ hours a day, I just want to update you on some of the latest. 

1. We have a VOTE! St Andrews cast! 
I'm so pumped for them. They are a really great bunch. Scotland is tad scant on the fierce-belting ethnicities, so for the first time ever, Ms Fowler will be white instead of the proud Black woman she normally is. And Nikki... let's just call Nikki mixed-race. From a licensing the show standpoint, we've always wanted to see what it would be like to tweak those things a bit, and now we have our chance. On both counts though, I think it's going to be just fine. 

2. New Tracks comin' atcha!
We're right in the middle of our marathon 16 song recording session of VOTE! and Nicholas & Alexandra. One of my favorite things about my recent insomnia is when those emails start rolling in from Steven and Jimmy, our amazing technician and music consultant. (We've been recording VOTE! with him for FOUR YEARS! He's like family!) The orchestrations are better, the lyrics are better. It's such an awesome concrete reward for sitting at your desk working out a puzzle all day.

3. Speaking of that puzzle, major structural changes to VOTE! are now done!! 
All that remains is three intense days of cleaning, tightening, honing, funny-ing until we send the thing off to that fun exciting opportunity I've been alluding to. Hopefully I'll be able to tell you all about it soon. After Wednesday, I'm back to dead Russians and finishing up Nic & Alix before our due date and classes start again.

Maybe I'll use my little trip to the Borders with my fellow St Andrews MLitters to actually write a short story or something... 

Hope you're having a great Sunday!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I want to be keira when I grow up

I love babies so much, my friend Seb felt he had to caution me not to kidnap any. But then he sent me this Kidnapping how-to, so I'm feeling some mixed messages! ;) Luckily, I don't have to kidnap any of my favorite babies, because their moms are all my favorite people. Like this little one. Also the star of one of my favorite posts, The Little Ballerina Rebel. Hope your Saturday is as relaxed/glamorous as this!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Davenport makes it to the Bahamas

This time last year, I was sitting in a hotel suite in Atlantic City with my work family, plotting the Davenport World Takeover. We made goals for 2010. We dreamed about being somewhere warm. And Bossman KD said that if everyone met their goals, the staff retreat would be somewhere warm in 2011. 

So I'm overjoyed that (even though I've moved on to the next chapter of my life-- where warm days are pretty limited) the Davenportians are on their way to a cruise of the Bahamas. Davenport is a pretty special place, with special people working there, and pretty badass captain.

It's easy to see how everyone met their 2010 goals with amazing projects like the at the booth ap- called by Entertainment Weekly "the best thing to happen to New York theatre since the introduction of the TKTS Booth," the new rehearsal studio and of course, this, the first-ever crowd funded musical

For a thousand bucks, you can be a Broadway producer of Godspell. Sort of. But Ken explains it better than me, so I'll send you that way. While you're on his blog, you should stick around. It's one of the most valuable theatre resources I can think of. You'll be Davenported (That's for you, KJ).

Have fun in the Bahamas, Davenportians! Have a Pina Colada for old Fergie!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

a pretty exceptional songwriting story

By now, probably most of you in New York know the astronomical success story of Kerrigan-Lowdermilk's kickstarter campaign which netted them 35K for their album project, Our First Mistake. (Kickstarter's been pretty decent to us, too). But since I've spent a lot of my time these days talking to young theatre hopefuls about the business, I thought I'd talk about it a bit for you Scottish/World readers. 

Our First Mistake finally came out this week and the last time I checked, it was like #14 on the itunes pop charts?! Congrats to Kait and Brian, for sure. 

It's hard to know where you support is going to come from. And everyone is going to take an individual path to getting what they want in this business. Sometimes, you lay groundwork for years and years slogging through things, feeling like you're getting nowhere, and then all of a sudden, you adjust one knob, and the whole thing comes into balance. 

This happens on a macro level-- like with your whole career. On a project level, like a technology platform that allows you to really reach your fan-base and raise 35K! And on a micro level-- the daily rewards that keep you going. When you get a song absolutely right. Or better. That was good, but this is better

I can think of countless examples of this in the stuff Steven and I do. And other friends. And with pillars of the industry. And with my favorite song from Kait and Brian's CD, "Two Strangers." The song is from their show, Tales From the Bad Years, and was originally sung by three women

Then K-L cast it with guys. Of course, I'm willing to admit my bias here (I will be loving and working with MK until you pry my pen out of my cold, dead hand)-- but I also think I'm right-- K-L put the most precious honeychild alive out front. Morgan Karr. Mmm. Finding the perfect singer for your song is special. And when they did that, something extra happened. Something laced with the magic you wake up every morning to chase.  Buy this track. Just buy it. Wait for "Or at least I've been told SO..." 50 seconds in and prepare to DIE. 

Because Morgan Karr sounds like sweet buttery ice cream on this song. 

I know what you're thinking. "But this is an expensive fancy kickstarter-funded recording. Bet it wouldn't sound that good live?"

Wrong.  You go, Morgan, Matt, Jay, Kait & Brian.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Haviland!

Today is the most glam-fabulous person I know's birthday. That person is obviously Haviland StillwellI could start listing all the infinite ways this friend has changed my life for the better. But I actually feel like the joy from our friendship can best be expressed in this video. It's from a beach trip we took last February in Los Angeles with Andrew Keenan-Bolger and excellent writer/badass chick Ashley Reed. It makes me very happy to hear everything that is awesome about Haviland echo out into the world.

Happy Birthday, Baby Bird!!!

iona's breakfast

One night in Edinburgh recently, McC, Iona and I were talking about the trend of blogs devoted solely to what the girl who runs the blog wore that day. A litany of outfits and pouty poses. I have perhaps a rather mean-spirited tendency to make fun of them, though I suppose I do see the point. I like clothes too. 

And in a way,  you could argue for clothes as wearable art. And I suppose that if you want to get down to it, the art stuff I talk about on here is just as pointless. Priorities, perspective, yada yada.  And I do think that clothes can help you feel confident...ok ok.

But for the sake of this blog (and Iona's new blog) let's just allow ourselves to be snarky about it for a minute. So Iona said, "I'm going to make a blog where all I do is post of a picture of what I eat for breakfast every morning." And she did. And it's genius. 

I like that she posts the breakfast at the end of day-- somehow allowing for a causal kind of thought process. That the events of the day could actually be traced back to the muesli with raspberries, etc. Also, Iona is a really good writer, and should probably have a whole lot of readers, so go check her out

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

tiger classic rock series

She crawls, guys. She's mobile. The world will never be the same. Here is the latest in my Tigerlily as classic rockers series. You may remember Tiger as Elton John. Now, I present to you: Tiger Springsteen. Which classic rock look should we give her next? Kiss? The Beatles St Pepper? (Because we already have the jacket for that... just saying...)

Monday, January 17, 2011

the russian arc

In my total Russian immersion the past week or so, I've watched and re-watched a lot of the Russian classic films, documentaries, etc. From a four-hour long documentary on Russian Imperial history, two versions of Anna Karenina (Vivien Leigh wins, obvs, but the Sophie Marceau has the visual). 

But no visual or experience has trumped one movie that I almost didn't watch-- Russian Ark. Russian with English subtitles and the first 5 minutes-- I'll quote Jon Schumann "deliberately paced (read: slow)." But as I continued to watch and finally went and investigated, I found out that it was both was and was not deliberately paced. 

After four years of planning and assembling 2000 actors in the Hermitage Museum (including the Winter Palace) all 96 minutes are unedited, single take, single shot on a steady cam. 

I wonder how it would play if you didn't already know a lot about Russian history-- as very little is explained. But everything about Russian Ark helped me in my quest to give a soul to some grandeur and tragedy that I have few resources to show visually-- the way Alexander Sokurov could. The way this film manages to be both comprehensive and completely slice of life-- that's exactly what I need for Nic & Alix

And that soul of which I speak of, hope to capture... Some days, I feel daunted having never gone to Russia. But I think about the Marquis de Custine quote (who is a character in the film) from La Russie en 1839 "Russian civilization is a thin veneer of Europe on an Asiatic soul."

Also check out the making of... starts here

Sunday, January 16, 2011

the heartbreaker

Last weekend, Iona and I had a great Saturday night in watching movies and eating Chesnut paste out of a can. (???- I know, but it's delicious.) 

I was pretty worn out after a failed trip to London, but I always have fun with Miss Iona and after much deliberation, we decided on popular recent French Flick, The Heartbreaker

I might be a little bit in love with Romain Duris (I'm sure I'm not alone.) He is the perfect French movie star to my imagination. And he is charming, charming, charming in this movie. I smiled a lot. You will too. Check it. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

high, high so, high so-sigh, high society

've been feeling a bit blue the past few days. I'm sure writing about the Romanovs all day long isn't helping. I  have a tendency to internalize whatever I'm writing about-- maybe that's why I like comedies. When I feel like that, it means I need to listen to some musicals (non tragic that is.)

It's also no secret that Grace Kelly is the pinnacle of pretty much everything as far as I'm concerned, so today, I'm going to indulge in some lyrics from the master, Mr Cole Porter, and Bing, and Grace, and Old Blue Eyes. And Louis Armstrong. 

If you're bored and it's as rainy where you are as it is where I am, I'd watch High Society if I were you. End of song, beginning of story...

Friday, January 14, 2011

today feels like this

Today feels like this. That is all. Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Orfeh sings Villain's Girl

Thanks to Orfeh, for posting this on her official youtube! It will be up on ours later today. This version reflects some of the changes we've made to the song over the years, plus some of the original things. I think Orfeh pretty much kills it. (And you know she dressed for the part!)

Happy Thursday! It's felt so nice to be knocking out so much Nicholas & Alexandra lately. I love getting stuff done. I finally caved and made a facebook for Nic & Alix, so if you feel so inclined, go ahead and like us here

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

this is not about you, man

I've been planning on writing about this since I first heard the story on NPR while I was back in the states. I'm obviously plugged into any kind of large writing prize for writers under 30 (though time is running out for me to qualify for that!) and the Dylan Thomas Prize from the University of Wales is the biggest. 

I was struck by this NPR feature about Elyse Fenton and her prize-winning collection, Clamor-- I was actually angry. Here is a woman who wins the largest writing prize you can win-- she's the first poet and the first woman ever to win it---- and her husband is worried about how it will reflect on him?! 

Talk about missing the boat. Perhaps it's just the spin that NPR is putting on the thing, but I can't express to you my degree of deep deep frustration with a husband who would diminish his wife's extraordinary achievement, as well as her very real experience of being a war wife, by fretting over what his war buddies or anyone else might think of him. 

Just listen. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

emily hogarth

My newest artist obsession is Emily Hogarth. I discovered her (and this amazing print with lyrics from "Caledonia") at my favorite little shop with no name in Edinburgh. I couldn't get the print the last time I was there, but you can bet I'll be back to snag it. I can see it hanging in my amazing New Town flat there next come September. 

She works mainly in paper cuts-- which you can tell even in her prints. I love that she says she's trying to make everyday magical. That's certainly a goal I can get behind. 

She's got a great blog and an etsy shop with a lot of her prints, including some of her other Edinburgh-inspired prints. But this one is the one for me. It's daydreamy. 

Back to writing. Day one yielded a tear-jerker song for Nicholas in Nic & Alix. It's really fun and funny to write songs with Steven over skype. But so far so good, right?! And tonight starts auditions for VOTE! in St Andrews. Hope to see some fierce belters out at the Barron tonight!

Why Stop Now?

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