Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 11 of '11 - Fergie & Fife Posts

Another year comes to an end and I'm still amazed that I managed to blog everyday. (Well, apart from those two scary days in Lisbon.) I love having a dialogue with you guys-- be it in comments on here, on facebook, or even the few of you who quote me or copy me without properly crediting. I suppose, like any writer, I'm just happy to have readers. Here is the combo of your favorite posts and mine! Hope you have a fabulous Hogmanay/New Year's Eve and here's to an amazing 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 11 of '11 - Books

Saving the books category for last just feels right considering the place of honor they occupy in my life. Though, this is the first year that I'm including any non-fiction. I'm pretty proud of myself for expanding into non-fiction-- not that I don't read a lot of it-- I do. It's just that non-fiction never seems as good to me as fiction. For fairly obvious reasons. I'm not going to give myself too much credit though, because the only two that I read and loved that actually came out this year are humor books by some heroines of mine. (Okay and a shout out to someone we lost this year.) (Other amazing non-fiction I read this year, but didn't come out this year include AL Kennedy's On Bullfighting & Mary Karr's Lit.) But, without further ado, here are my top 11 books of the year. 

11. Arguably. Essays
RIP, Hitch. You will be missed. 

10. Swamplandia!
I tried to avoid Karen Russell's book and found that I could not. I'm the only one allowed to put exclamation marks in titles, right? Wrong. Honestly, the book is full of eccentricities and I'm not even sure how to describe it. Only that I think  you should read it. 

9. Bossypants
One of my favorite things about Tina Fey's book is that she reads it herself in the audio book version, so naturally, that's the version I got. Thanks, too, Tina for having this come out on my birthday. That was sweet of you.  I keep going back to how bad I feel for Brits who didn't get to grow up with Saturday Night Live. This just warmed my heart. Though Brits still won't be able to watch. Sigh. 

8. The Stranger's Child
Alan Hollinghurst taught me a thing or three about how to pace a historical telling that spans 60 years or so, all through interludes at English country houses. I don't know that I'll ever slow my pace to his speed, but it was nice reminder to slow the eff down. A great story, and a lovely portrait of the way time acts on us. Click here for more. 

7. The Art of Fielding
Chad Harbach's first novel is on just about everybody's top list and for good reason. Despite an over-arching sports metaphor, which normally I'd sort of loathe, I loved the book for its pith and precision. And I suppose if one must use a sports metaphor, at least he used baseball. 

6. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Mindy Kaling is the best. I'm putting her ahead of Tina Fey just because people are always comparing the two...sort of for no reason...isn't it possible for more than one woman to be extremely funny? In completely different ways? Her best friend rights and responsibilities is amazing. And I dedicate them to Emily Vi. 

5. 1Q84
Haruki Murakami, you outdo yourself again. How can you make the decline of humanity so appealing and humorous? I have such a soft-spot for Japanese writers. I love your play on the title, which as a Japanese speaker, I smiled immediately about. Ichi Kyuu Hachi Yon. Nine in Japanese is kyuu. The characters, the sense of place, it was perfect. (Long, but perfect.)

4. The Marriage Plot
This isn't Jeffrey Eugenides' best. And I still think he's kind of eye-roll inducingly pretentious (I  mean, people are always going on about my Franzy being a dick! Just listen to Eugenides!) but nevertheless, I was SO excited to read this. And I enjoyed every minute of it. I don't care how many times he says Leonard isn't DFW... the dude clearly is. For more, read this & this

3. There But For The
It was an honor to be given this book by the amazing Ali Smith herself the day after graduation. I loved the idea of a stranger locking himself in someone's spare room. The idea of strangers in general. How known any of us are to each other and to ourselves. And the characters are so expertly drawn, I jammed through this book like lightning. For more

2. The Pale King
I think it says something about a writer, namely, this one: David Foster Wallace, that his unfinished novel is better than most I've read. And obviously ambitious. A novel about the tedium of life (set in the IRS) that itself was not tedious? I wish he'd finished it. He hadn't quite succeeded or completed the task. But bless him for trying. For more

1. The Submission
Some called it a "rare and dangerous feat" and I agree. Quite simply, I was blown away by both the simplicities and honest complexities in Amy Waldman's book. I empathized with every character. I felt myself as a New Yorker in the central dilemma. And I don't think America or New York is anywhere near done dealing with 9/11, it memorial place in our city or our relationship with Islam. For more

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Wire as Nexus for Actors, or why Grantland is growing on me

A part of me thought I'd just never forgive Grantland for poaching my dearest Molly Lambert away from This Recording. (I mean, both that website and her writing haven't been as good my opinion.) But a combination of astute Homeland coverage (I don't have a top list of television for the year. It would basically consist of Homeland, Downton & Portlandia [put a bird on it!].) and then now THIS! is making me reconsider. An amazing analysis and diagram of the HBO recycling program...something I've been banging on about for AGES! Bless you, Grantland. Bless you, Bill Simmons (Now give me some Molly Lambert back. No more of this "Johnny Depp and the Too-Close Co-Star.")

Minday Kaling talks about her perfect level of fame in her book (so that you can never be convicted of first degree murder) but mine would be the kind described by the wonderful Andy Greenwald in this article, an "NPR-ish level of quasi celebrity that can get you mobbed on Hudson Street or a guest spot on Parenthood. " Yes. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 11 of '11 - Of the Internet

Memes, videos, jokes, whatever you want to call them. I do a links round up every week featuring all the cool shit that I... round up on the internet and these were my favorites.

11. Allie Brosh's amazing Clean ALL the Things multiplies
ALL along the watchtower?

10. Anything Mindy Kaling. Especially this.
You should also probably read her book

9. Anthroparodie
Because what is the point of loving something if you can't mock it relentlessly? Also this

8. Graduate school barbie
So. True. Even when you're bored, it's still true. How is it possible to be both so bored and so stressed?

7. The Downton spoof with Kim Catrall, Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders
As much as it sort of ruined watching the show for quite a few of us, this was a total crack up. 

6. Jooey Deschanel
A site for impish teens! How to sound like a music box from the 40s. Why swings can be sad. That is all.

5. If everything were turned into a Broadway musical
My fave is Julie Taymor's Everyone Poops.

4. Katie Roiphe's article about Gawker
Because of this: "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."

3. Feminist Ryan Gosling
No explanation should be necessary. 

2. Jon Stewart's farewell to Glenn Beck -  Part 1, Part 2
No matter what your politics, I think the world is a better place without fear mongers like Beck in the spotlight. Not to mention, this is simply a virtuoso performance. 

1. Josh Groban sings the tweets of Kanye West.
Screw "best thing on the internet." This was my favorite over all THING that happened in 2011. Until yesterday, when Aly and Dion got ENGAGED!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

You're Welcome, Americans - Downton Christmas

Because I love you and I want you to be happy and I'm in the giving (or passing along, really) mood, here is how you can watch the Downton Christmas Special in the US. Let me just say two things about it: 1. Thank Sweet Baby Jesus. 2. See that look on Dame Maggie's face? That's how you'll feel. You're Welcome. 

Here's another little Maggie Smith gem, Capturing Mary, in case you've never seen it and you're looking for some distractions during the post-holiday doldrums. 

Or if it's more Julian Fellowes you want (and I know you do...Steven Jamail) you can check out the trailer for his Titanic, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking. There's no Kate or Leo, but, ya know...

And finally, this. Carson's very own Christmas Album. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fergie & Fife - Top 11 Albums of '11

The first thing I think it's important to be clear about is that, really, I say "best" but what I mean is "favorite." I've already written extensively about taste, the idea of opinions & critics, and the (in my opinion) much more favorable idea of, well, favorites. I'm not a critic. To me, the word is kind of an insult. I'm a lover. But, as it happens, I do genuinely think a lot of these are the best of what 2011 had to offer. 

** PS- also, I lied and I went back and made this 11. Because I forgot about Tom Waits!

11. VOTE! TUTS Kids
Listen, I said favorites. And I had to put it on here because... if you had an album come out this year, you'd put it on your list. It's not a perfect album. We're working to make it better. But like anything and everything we've ever done with this show, hot damn did we learn a lot. And most especially from the wonderful, wonderful kids who sang their hearts out on that stage and on this album. Just listen to the adorable little Kristen del Bosque on "Diva President." 

10.  Indigo Girls - Beauty Queen Sister
I don't think this is their best album, but it's still solid. And they've never done an album that didn't have at least one heartbreaker on it. This time, it's "Birthday Song." For more, check out here

9. Tom Waits - Bad As Me
I knew I was going to forget one. I'm so so sorry, Tom Waits. I love you and I love your album. I feel so ashamed that I left you off the first draft of this that I can't even say anything about your great album, so I'll just direct you back to my original post about it when it first came out. 

8. Feist - Metals
I described this as perfect music to write to, and I stand by that. The more I've listened to this, the more I find to like and love in it. Leslie Feist, you are one mellow-sexy bitch. 

7. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
People keep using Fleet Foxes as an example of the attitude of my generation. That rather than being these star-individuals that we were taught was the way to go, at this point, we'd rather just be a "functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me" ... because then at least we'd be functioning, I suppose. Existential questions aside, this album reminds me of some good times in St Andrews, and counting the number of times Kris Lofgren would call something else "Fleet Foxy." In all its different usages, I think Fleet Foxy is a pretty sweet adjective. 

6. James Vincent McMorrow - Early in the Morning
Put on the map recently for his "We Don't Eat" single featured in the video about NYC that everyone and their mother loved, this Dublin native has a whole album full of goodies with Early in the Morning. He reminds me a lot of a lot of people, but I'd rather sit down and write with this guy on in the background way more than any of the guys he gets compared to. For more, check out here

5. Florence + The Machine - Ceremonials
I'm glad there was an album from Florence for my first year living in Scotland to go with her last album that saw me through my move. And actually, I think as a whole composition, Ceremonials is better. Funny that there's a song called "Spectrum," because I really think about the album in terms of color and light. There's a lot of bright and there's also a lot of moody night songs. She's always making albums that sound the way night time on the Isle of Skye feels. How stars can look when there's no light pollution. This is girly, too, (like that last statement wasn't...) but I just really like the album artwork. Hee hee. 

4. Adele -21
This is an example of what would probably be #1 in the real world list of best of 2011. It topped many people's lists. I loved the quote from Sasha Frere-Jones that no one really dislikes Adele. They might not like the frequency of her song plays, but sister is a first-rate vocalist and no one, no one can say otherwise. "Someone Like You" is the only Billboard #1 to feature only a piano and vocals. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I also still think "Don't You Remember" is the best country song I've heard in a long time and I'm thrilled to hear Miss Adkins will be making a country album. 

3. Washed Out - Within and Without
I wish I could say I started to love Washed Out because I knew it was Ernest Greene, from Perry, GA and married to one of my oldest friends/childhood playmates, Blair Sexton, but... I didn't. I suppose that's really more of a good sign that I started listening without the bias of knowing this entire (amazing!) album was recorded in the lakehouse in Houston County where I spent some of the best moments of my childhood. This is another one I just listened to on a loop for months. Just months. The whole thing is great, but I still love "Amor Fati" the mostest. 

2. Gotye- Making Mirrors
This was a late-game- changer courtesy of Taylor, but man. I'm still jamming out to this on a daily basis. Sometimes he sounds like Sting, sometimes Seal. Sometimes the Beatles. (Tell me the "Easy Way Out" Chorus doesn't remind you of "Daytripper.") Obviously, "Somebody That I Used to Know" is first rate. But I'd also encourage you to check out "Save Me" "Bronte" & "Eyes Wide Open." Even my dad was bobbing his head to the synth satire, "State of the Art."

1. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
I don't really care if it is or isn't better than For Emma, Forever Ago. I don't really even care that he screwed up what I thought the lyrics were (and still think should be!) from "Perth." "Holocene," "Towers," "Perth," even that psycho/awesome 80s homage steel guitar laden "Beth/Rest"... I wore this album OUT. 2011-- and riding the x59 bus back and forth between Edinburgh & St Andrews-- will always sound like this album to me. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Idea of a Perfect Christmas Tree

Hope everyone is having a great Christmas out there. Starting next week, my year-end Top Tens. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from Tigerlily

Hey. Tiger here. Calling to wish you a Happy Holiday season. I'm extremely advanced for my age, so I can already operate most technological devices, including iphones, vacuums, and my Aunt Ryann's blog. Do me a favor and have the best Christmas Eve you've ever had. Peeeease? Ok, Ok, Ok. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Eve Eve Links

Being around all my friends' adorable kids is pretty much the best Christmas time present I could imagine. (And thanks to my new lens-- it's so pretty!-- I can photograph the living daylights out of them without needing actual daylight!) The side bonus is that I also see these kids' parents & the rest of the folks I've been pal-ing around with for the past 20 ish years. It's a brilliant, warm feeling to be around the people you never have to explain anything to. It's my favorite part of the holidays. Class of 2000 annual Christmas reunion, Commence. 

But if you're bored, waiting for your own holiday reunion to commence (so much down time around the holidays. Sigh.) here are some links for you. 

- The really overwhelmingly nice article about Steven & I in Rice Magazine. We're page 47-48.
- World's Weirdest Hotels
- a thought-provoking article about ideas of modesty
- last minute Christmas List update: subscription to Upper Case Magazine
- this Art Heist thing is pretty sweet. I love stuff like this.
- I'm into clever ideas
- Beautiful photos, travelling on the Orient Express

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Here's to you, Vegas, Forever in the 90s

Here's a little confession: whenever I'm homesick (or, for that matter, can't sleep... so let's just say, this is a common occurrence) I watch CSI. A part of me feels a little silly for doing it, knowing that, except for the occasional obligatory shot of Nick Stokes on the Strip, it isn't filmed here. 

But they get almost all of the details right. From the street names & intersections, to which neighborhoods are bad and which are posh... they even use local newscasters when they show news clips. (Most often Paula Francis.) This is mostly due to creator (and my teenage speech & debate patron) Anthony Zuiker

And it's that texture, even more so than my belief that Nick Stokes is the perfect man (I love when he flips that shovel in the opening sequence. Bam!), or the increasingly preposterous (and/or recycled! They rely on 10-12 years of distance for you not to remember certain actors coming back [such as the actor who plays Henry, who originally played the baddie in a zoo animal smuggling case that got a man killed. He couldn't be Henry! He got sent prison.]) plot ideas (like the whole Strangers on a Train idea. They've done that one three times now). Even more than my loose personal connection, which somehow feels less than loose. 

Everything about Vegas, even CSI, loops back around to the 90s. The show didn't start until 2000, the year I graduated and left Las Vegas, but everything about it feels fixed in the 90s, just like Vegas. It's willingness to strip, repurpose and reassemble pieces-- actors, plot lines, you name it. 

I can't stress the truth of this to you enough. And can you blame Vegas? (The dream of the 90 is alive in more places than just Portland!) The 90s were a golden decade. The 90s were good to Vegas. Good to America, in fact. It started with the Mirage in '89, and then the Excalibur and the Rio in '90, the Las Vegas Bowl in '92. In '93 we sold and imploded the Dunes to make way for the Bellagio and built the one billion dollar MGM Grand. (In the spot of the old Marina Hotel. That wing still smells like fish to me.)

'94 - Luxor opens with a light beam you "can see from space."
'95 - Fremont Street Experience built, Hard Rock Hotel opens, Landmark imploded. 
'96 - Stratosphere opens. The iconic Sands is closed and imploded on November 26
'98 - Aladdin imploded, rebuilt. Bellagio opens featuring Las Vegas's first fine art museum

We've never been as good as we were then. But we keep trying. And I'm certainly not the only fan of nostalgia around here. The radio stations still have the same DJs. Mark & Mercedes are still playing almost exclusively 90s music. Paula Francis is still rocking the news on Channel 8.  It's comforting.

It took me a long time-- nearly 20 years-- to come to appreciate, or even understand, this weird and sort of wonderful place where I spent my formative years. While the 90s weren't an especially "good" decade for me, those years are echoing and reverberating back through everything I've done since. A part of me has always tried to deny to myself that this is where I came from-- it's not intellectual or cerebral, Vegas doesn't appreciate art or culture, etc etc etc, I have waxed on to myself, as I toured the world, and tried on different versions of myself for size. And oddly, moving abroad has actually enabled me to be here more often and more fully than I have ever before. 

Vegas is always destroying and regenerating-- we have no sentiment. We rip it down. Anything that isn't working anymore-- it comes down in artful implosions. But a part of it is fixed resolutely somewhere in the 90s. And I'm glad of it. It makes sure I can't let myself off the hook. Any temptation I might have to forget the fluke of my identity is evaporated driving down the many many freeways to the tune of one of those 90s jams. They can start calling Barbary Coast "Bill's" but Drais is still there and so is Battista's Hole in the Wall with world's oldest living accordion player. And Green Valley Parkway is a bit bleaker than it was in my day-- we're no longer dying the grass green-- but drive down Windmill & turn on Glacier, and my old house is still there, along with the Willow tree my dad and I planted in the front yard in 1994. It's taken over the whole yard. You'd hardly know you were in the desert. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reading The Anglo Files with my new pal Sarah Lyall

When my dear pal McC told me I needed to read Sarah Lyall's The Anglo Files (she showed up with the book on a visit to NYC right before I moved) I sort of dismissed the idea. I mean, I was going to Scotland, right, so I didn't need to know quite that much because Scotland would have their own quirks. And they do. However. 

Certain things continued to haunt me. Why don't they rinse the soap off the dishes? How come I don't know ONE Brit with a full-length mirror? Okay, those are really the main ones, but there remained something else more general, still elusive, even after over a year completely submerged. It's the difference between loving it because it's different, and feeling completely at home. The way I've noticed that my whole body posture relaxes when Taylor and I retreat to a corner at any party to speak a short-hand of language and feelings about any given social situation. 

So, once I dove into the book, it was like Sarah Lyall had been watching me for the past year and half. Thank you, Sarah Lyall, for reminding me that I'm not crazy. I also read Watching the English, on loan to me from my friend Kate. (We call her French Kate, and she is. But she sounds American. Because her mom is American. On the other hand, we have another Kate who we call American Kate, but she sounds British. Because her mom is British. Follow?) Watching the English was good, but didn't quite strike the same chord with me largely because Kate Fox (neither of the Kates just mentioned, but the author of the book) is British. 

People taking a good, long look at themselves is just a different observational lens than someone from outside looking in-- and, in this case, someone from exactly where I'm from, looking from a very similar place that I'm currently standing. I love that Sarah Lyall is a New Yorker, a writer & mostly standing in the spot of someone working in the arts and around other writers, journalists, etc. 

It works because that lens allows her to look at politics and parliament (a section which was totally and completely laugh out loud funny. People on my plane looked at me funny when I would bust out.) as well as social customs and drinking culture that happen naturally around the kind of lit events Sarah Lyall frequented. Basically, it didn't feel like a sociology experiment. It felt more organic than that. Only the Cricket section(s) I couldn't get through. One, because they felt a bit more forced (even for her) and two, because no amount of clever writing could ever make me care about Cricket. 

And it works for me, like the NYTimes Review said of it, because: "it is warm, blunt, confessional, companionable. Which is to say: it is very American." She clearly loves both places dearly. And so do I. 

So, as I've said many times before about/to (as I send my request out into the internet cosmos) Sarah Lyall, can we be friends? I think we'd be good friends. I'll babysit if you want. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

KRC on E! News

My all-time favorite Glinda (Yes, even more than Cheno) the lovely Miss Katie Rose Clark was doing her thang and taking viewers backstage at Wicked on E! News. She rocks. She especially rocks here. I wonder if she'd let me have one of her Glinda costumes when the next one "wears out"....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mysteries of Lisbon

How did I miss this? Even before I knew that this movie was in Portuguese, or that it was set in Lisbon, I saw the first frames of this preview (which came right before this atrocious flick) I knew this was a costume drama for me!! You mean, it's like a Portuguese combo of Dickens and Victor Hugo??? Sign me up! And! It's four and half hours long. Bonus. 

Based on the book by Portuguese writer Camilo Castelo Branco, Mysteries of Lisbon tells the story of an orphan in search of his identity across Portugal, Italy, France and Brazil. I haven't actually seen it yet, but am currently devising a plan to track it down. Miguel, have you seen it? Thoughts? I almost couldn't believe from the preview that it was shot in digital. It actually started as a 6 part mini-series, so I think actually I should probably watch all six hours...right?  

I mean, listen, it's not that costume dramas are the only things I like... it's just that they satisfy a very specific escapist part of my character that other genres can't. My love of them has been kindly and mildly mocked by my best friend since we were kids. Everyone needs dorky, hopefully endearing loves. This is one of my many. What's yours?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Human Again - Ingrid Michaelson

Miss Michaelson has long been what winter sounded like to me. The way you feel both like hybernating, and that there is an energy current underneath, asking to be tapped. 

I remember many many winter mornings strolling through the East Village with her in my ear-- past Black Hound Bakery and St Mark's church in the Bowery up to Union Square for Buddhist meetings, lost in my thoughts and my wishes. Or brisk, sort-of-lonely mornings ambling into midtown on the N train from Astoria. 

Does she know that? Is that why she's always putting out albums to coincide with and complement the season? I think she does. That's the nice thing we all get to imagine about our musicians. That they know our thoughts and they're in league with us. 

Human Again is out on January 24. It's available for pre-order now. First single is "Ghost."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Your first look at our Houston Production

Wish you could have seen VOTE! in Houston? If so, here's your first look at a taste of what our audiences got. I filmed these during our final tech, the night before we had our first audience. It was cool, too, because it was also the first time I had even seen these numbers. I'm going to blame this fact for my maniacal laughing at the end of "Ambition" when I almost dropped the camera. 

All I ever wanted for that number was a nerd army emerging from lockers...and boy did I ever get it. And I don't really have words for "Hands of a Surgeon." Federal Reserve Solid Gold Dancers? Yes, please. Ms. Fowler is the reason why I was voted Teacher's Pet, class of 2000 Green Valley High School. And it warmed my little suck-up heart to show Ms. Fowler this number the last time I dropped in on her at good old GVHS. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

At Home With Holly Golightly

The famous pad of Holly Golightly in the wondrous Breakfast at Tiffany's is for sale. Personally, I'm not too picky about NYC real estate. If someone wanted to gift me any old place, I'd probably take it in a snap. But this one is pretty sweet. And for only 5.85 mil, it can be mine... I mean, yours, who am I kidding? Banker Peter Bacnovic's jail time loss is our gain. Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Great Expectations and Whatnot

Even though I'm cuddling with my adorable goddaughter on a sun-drenched deck over looking the mountains of the Vegas Valley and a golf course, I'm still sad at what I'm missing back in the UK this Christmas. And I don't mean all my friends parties (though I am sad about that). No, sadly, Nerd Girl over here is sad to be missing all the good costume dramas. 

There's the Downton Abbey Christmas Special, and a brand new adaptation of one of my all-time faves, Great Expectations. (And it's starring Agent Scully! I mean, Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham.)

 I remember first reading Great Expectations as a freshman at Green Valley High School and having a philosophical and spiritual epiphany about Buddhism. It was definitely an epiphany of the 15 year old girl variety, but it set a lot of things in motion. And Great Expectations is home to one of my favorite lines of literature when Pip describes Estella as "the innermost life of my life." 

Anyhow, I know I'll be immediately doing some catch up on the iplayer once I'm back in the UK and things have settled down from all the fun surrounding Hogmanay. Americans, I'll report back any streaming sources I find.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Disappointing Blue Sea, of Cliche

How, how HOW did this get good reviews? HOW? You KNOW I was poised to love this film. I was so excited I got all sigh-y and everything. Let me enumerate.

- Post war London!
- costume drama!
- Rachel Weisz!
- Tom Hiddleston!
- Based on a play
- Vivien Leigh starred in the original movie! 
- costume drama!

And yet. From the very beginning, with its intrusive score and just constant constant melodrama, I have almost never disliked a film more. The whole audience was giggling in some of the more egregious scenes of Tom Hiddleston (great as F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris) doing essentially a caricature of... what?... the thing that most came to mind was Michael Fassbender as Archie Hicox in Inglourious Basterds

I mean, I can deal with a certain level of impressionism and melodrama, but there was not one fresh line, not one real moment of character development to know why these people were in love with each other or why they couldn't be together. 

(During an inane, abrupt fight at a museum) 
Her: "Where are you going?!"
Him: "To the impressionists!"

The scenes just rehash each other. Freddie just keeps screaming, "No, because if I stay, then you'll start talking," as if the most torturous idea of all was a woman who actually wanted to hold him accountable for something. 

The camera following Rachel Weisz's constant, slow puffs of smoke gave me a migraine from my constant eye-rolling. How could such a beautiful film turn out SO SO badly. I must know what Jon Schumann thinks! Please see it, Jon, and send me your fizzy snark. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

America-bound Links

Tomorrow, I'm going to tell you about perhaps the worst film I've ever seen-- which I saw last night-- I'd vent now, but I don't like to put out too much negative energy on days when I travel, so instead, we'll have some links! 

This week, pretty much all of these are courtesy of the illustrious McC. 

- Who knew famous authors answered stock questionnaires sent by headstrong kids?
- The love, actually and hate, actually of Love, Actually. I died. 
- More instagram prints
- Graduate School Barbie. So. True.
- The science of sarcasm. Yeah, right
- The McCartneys in Scotland, 1969
- I heart Google Street View
Low-tech high tech
- This has been done before, but this one is better. I love all the people in the room just continuing to type. Feck, I miss SNL living in Britain.

- Your favorite Kanye West Tweet embroidered!! (...!!!) This was maybe my favorite thing of 2011. When I order mine, I'm trying to decide between "Fur pillows...are actually sleep on," and "Do you know where to find marble conference tables? I'm looking to have a conference...not until I get the table though." Luckily, you can get a discount if you order three!! So I can get my third favorite: "Man, whatever happened to my antique fish tank?" This Christmas Camper is HAPPY. 

Off to fly! Edi to London City, Cab to Heathrow, Heathrow to the Ve-gas. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Borders Weekend

After a weekend of buses, trains, and even more buses, it feels nice to have this (albeit short) respite in my cozy room. Then it's off again tomorrow morning for the US of A. From one of the funnest London house parties and a late late night, I took an early morning train to Carlisle. The rather unfriendly folks in Carlisle didn't help much with me catching the bus to Selkirk, but I made it eventually. 

The most wonderful Sandy invited us all for a feast and walk-about at his lovely cottage. Sandy lives on the Philiphaugh estate and his cottage sits next to beautiful strawberry greenhouses. There were warm fires and fuzzy socks and plum gins and beautiful table settings and slumbers with great friends. I had never tried hare before, and now I can say that I have. Just checking off those game meats. And Anna's Guinness cake with orange icing was so delicious it may or may not have also been my breakfast the next morning in addition to pudding the night before. 

The next day, we read by the fire and went on a walk, where we had a run-in with some sassy cows and warmed up in the famous Tibbie Shiels pub before heading back to Edinburgh via car (mercifully.) Thank you, Sandy, for the warmest hospitality!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Twelve Hours it Takes Sometimes

Ever since being introduced to Scottish supergroup The Reindeer Section, they've been the music of road trips here. It's been one long ass week of road trips, overnight buses, too-early trains and good times. I'm about to crash. Enjoy a massive conglomerate of Belle & Sebastian, Mull Historical Society, Idlewild, Snow Patrol, The Vaselines, etc etc etczzzzzzzzzzzzzz...............

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Silent Way - New Milo Greene!

Boom! New Milo Greene! I'm sad that I originally was linked to the premiere of this video from MG's facebook to Teen Vogue, but I suppose it's just the price you pay. 

On a more positive note, there is a banjo in this song, people. (!!!!) A BANJO. I'm just really happy with this current instrument trend we've got going on in music right now with using all the instruments I learned to love, growing up the child of a slightly off-beat 'country' musician. (I put that in quotation marks since he was always pretty experimental and so the stuff that's going on with bands like MG.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

London Lights

At the moment, I'm hiding out in London where the weather is sunny & brisk to avoid the hurricane in Scotland. It wasn't deliberate. Actually just a bit of luck that I was down here for an interview. 

Currently, Mel B. (aka Mel RH B, Mel Royal Highness B) is freestyling in the kitchen while we make mince pies & gingerbread and jam to some cheesy 90's Christmas tunes such as this little gem & obviously this one. We even have edible glitter to go on the mince pies. Yes, that is a real thing. Later, we're going to the Portobello market and I know am planning on jusssst luxuriating in this sun. 

Yesterday around dusk, as we strolled past the Christmas decorations and through Westminster back to Pimlico, I snapped a few lights shots of my own. Happy Friday, everyone! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

All in the Family- Gentleman South

I'm not the only blogger/writer in my family. No, I don't mean Tennessee Williams. Or even Lindsey, who occasionally makes the foray out into the cosmos. Nope. Probably the least likely candidate I can think of now is pumping the internet full of insight and-- above all-- good taste. 

Check out my cousin's new blog about all things great and Southern. (Don't worry-- not all the products are just for dudes, I mean, gentlemen.) Hil has always had very particular taste. (I can assure you.) So you can trust that everything he picks out will be of the highest standard.

Those not living down South, don't fret! While a lot the posts are about great Southern restaurants and shops, many things are products made in the South, but totally shippable to YOU wherever you are. (Okay, maybe not the UK, but ya never know.) So click over and show the Ferguson/Harpers some traffic love. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ali Smith - There But For The

A week ago today, I listened as my advisor John Burnside presented us with Ali Smith's amazing rap sheet of success. Then she got an honorary doctorate from St Andrews. The next day, after a cool chat session, she gave me her new book & I'm already almost done with it. Which is rare for me-- I'm a bit of a slow reader. Dangerous in my line of work.

There But For The. The gist is basically this: at a dinner party, a man walks upstairs and locks himself in the spare bedroom of the house, whose hosts he barely knows. The novel is then narrated by four people who, they themselves barely know the man. It's about strangers. It's about "the consequences of even the most casual, fleeting moments we share everyday with one another."

On a personal note, I love a child narrator. 

On another personal note, and for the rest of you musical theatre lovers out there, there is a very extended scene at a tedious dinner party where the main and most returned to topic of conversation is the greats from musical theatre. 

I'm talking Harold Arlen & Yip Harburg, Harburg's childhood run ins (prompted by alphabetical seating) with Ira Gershwin and just before that, one of my fave musical theatre anecdotes of all time about Jerome Kern and the writing of "I've Told Every Little Star," from Music In the Air. (Which thanks to Encores, I saw at City Centre with the amazing Kristin Chenoweth.) Man, I just love it when things I love turn up in other things I love. Reading about musicals in a novel somehow made me miss Broadway and little bit less & a little bit more. 

(Bird loving friends among you, ahem, Torcuil, might also enjoy the above mentioned anecdote. Perhaps you can tell us which bird it was that inspired Kern from listening to song?)

But enough about musicals. Back to the book. Go get There But For The. Just do it.

Why Stop Now?

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