Monday, April 30, 2012

London Coffee Festival

On a rainy Sunday, three former Rice Owls in London and Cambridge Alum from Bosnia headed out to the Old Truman Brewery for the London Coffee Festival. It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday that felt like a day in Seattle. With its odd mix of industry trade show and caffeine addicts paradise, we sampled all kinds of coffee, tea, and coffee substitutes as well as pre-packaged breakfasts, pastries, macaroons, and various other foodstuffs you might encounter in a cafe. 

My favorites were an amaretto tea from new company Tea Nation and a pear liqueur for black coffee that was sooo much better than I expected (if not actually alcoholic). We need get some coffee booze though at the end of our wandering when we sat down in a mock Hyde Park for some acoustic music and espresso martinis. 

I had a pretty hardcore caffeine crash later that afternoon, but it was totally worth it. Coffee is beautiful. NYC, you should take a lesson. Check here for the full list of exhibitors

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Scotland { the } Brave

As much as I love media for young people, somehow, I mostly manage to miss the animated films of today. I still haven't seen Up. All the Happy Feets...nope. (How many of those are there?) It took me ages to finally see Finding Nemo. But I really do have a lot of respect for Pixar and especially what seems to be the trend away from "villain" based plots. (This revelation came courtesy of an insightful conversation with my friend-- Dad & filmmaker, Trevor Banks.) 

With Pixar's newest release, Brave, the lack of an obvious "villain" is just one of many reasons to celebrate it. It's probably obvious, but Brave takes place in Scotland. So, right there, it is already The Best. (Perhaps Pixar wants some of that Scottish Brogue fairy dust that made DreamWorks so much $$.) It's also Pixar's first film to feature a female protagonist. Way to finally get on that train, you guys. 

Our heroine, Merida, also has wild curly red hair. Bonus. Points. Her dad's name is Fergus. Super plus plus bonus points. The premise looks cool. The humor seems right up my alley. And while people have joked about "yeah, this is exactly what Scotland is like," ... I mean, it is supposed to be ancient Scotland. It does capitalize on some actual Scottish folklore (or fairy tales. Pixar is marketing this as their first 'fairy tale.') and! they've thrown over Reese Witherspoon (or maybe she dropped out, but let's just run with it, shall we?) for Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald. And she's not even the only Scot they've got working on this flick! So what I'm saying is, for a corporate cartoon, there's something that feels authentic here. 

They even used Gaelic singer, Julie Fowlis's (she's from North Uist, no less!) tune Tha Mo Ghaol Air Àird A' Chuan in the trailer. So, kudos, Pixar for making the effort. I'll be checking out Brave when it comes out in June (or August in the UK). Will you guys?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

London On The Brain

Everyone has been sending me London stuff lately. Perhaps as a reminder to be where I am right now. I'm definitely ready for a hard-hitting London Summer. Though, I suppose I wish it felt less like the days leading up to the great flood and Noah's Arc up in here. London is on everyone's mind these days it seems. From some of my favorite writers, like AL Kennedy-- talking about London Theatre no less, to some of my favorite blogs, to McC. (Well, London is pretty much always on her mind.) Sometimes you need a little pair of reading glasses to help you see all city's poetry. Of place names and street signs and cocktail ingredients. Queen of Hoxton. Bootstrap. Forty Winks

Some of these places I've already been. Some might be good. Some might be tedious. But I've decided to dive in. First up, the Dalston neighborhood Rooftop Park & Art space. As soon as it stops raining, you can find me there. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Academia K-Hole Friday Links

This is the little girl who lives in my soul. 

Ummmm... I got nothin you guys. I am beat. I've been spewing ideas all week long. I'm out. I was ALL up in the internet while I toiled though. You're welcome. My academic spinning into butter is your fatty feast. 

- Who are these women who don't like Ryan Gosling? I don't get it. But while I disagree, some of these are funny. I like, "He looks like a ferret with better abs."
- This should not be happening. I love how they keep trying to hide Uma Thurman's pregnancy. 
- Did you read my SMASH recap this week?
- Do you watch Once Upon a Time? It's so bad! I love it! Guilty pleasure. Watch this. Ana Gasteyer's impression of Lana Parilla is spot on. (PS- I love that they call Ellis a Shakespearean trained actor. Ahahahahhaahha. Ahahahahha.)
- I really want some bright art for my gallery wall. Perhaps one of these by Michelle Armas?
- The difference between competition and capitalism. Interesting. Even for David Brooks. 
- No, really. Thanks for doubling the interest rates on my student loans, Congress. Aw, PELL NO!
- This. puppy!
- This poem by my advisor about the day Etta James died
- For realz. How does Vulture just keep asking the important questions?

And my friends were making headlines all over the place. 
- Member o' my favorite family, the Ramsays, all up in the Guardian
- My friend wrote this about the crushalicious Pat Kiernan
- My ol' pal from Rice, Philip Humber, delivers Letterman's Top 10 after pitching the 21st perfect game in MLB history. "I sure am glad I drafted myself for my fantasy team."
- I'm going to wait a little longer into the Season to talk about Man Men. But this. And friends, let's have a convo in person. 

Here's my POTUS with the Mostest:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let's Get Wired! It's the London Coffee Festival!

So I'm not even kidding-- WHO is coming to this with me? Not that I have time or money, but coffee is one serious life priority for me. (Side note: do they have this in New York? If so, why did I not know about it?? And if not, WHY NOT!?)

I'm currently living life and a pretty high caffeine octane, and even though I'm super hoping to be past most of these deadlines by this weekend, I see no reason to come down off my caffeine high. Let's get some lattes! (and espresso martinis.)

The cool thing about the festival is that portions of all the ticket sales and coffee profits are going to Project Waterfall-- a clean water charity benefitting Tanzania.  

It's all part of a larger Second Annual UK Coffee Week, which has been going on since Monday in an effort to raise money for clean water in African coffee producing countries. Last year, they raised over £100,000 from customers at over 2700 cafes donating 5p to the cost of their coffee.

So if you're a friend or reader elsewhere in this beautiful United Kingdom, you too can participate! Cousin Matthew (aka Dan Stevens) of Downton Abbey fame gives his approval. What else is there to consider?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New York, One Hundred Years Ago

Does it ever get old, looking at pictures of New York City? Not for me. I think cities are the most beautiful things. Ones we know inside and out even more so. Discovering their past lives even more than that. The last time I remember some good weather here in London, Gordon, Iona and I went to Highbury Fields and Gordon was reading this book, Triumph of the City. I put it at the top of my list of reading for pleasure-- if I ever get back to that. 

Essentially, Edward Glaeser talks about how for the first time in human history, more people will be living in cities than spread out in small towns and communities or rural areas. And that cities are our greatest invention. I'm inclined to agree. For all their grit and toil, give me a metropolis any day. 

For more of these amazing NYC photos, check out here. (It's Daily Mail. Sorry.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Family Press

I suppose I don't really talk about my family too much, but I'm pretty proud of all of them. Most people who knew me in my younger days are still confused I didn't end up living in my beloved Georgia, watering my Southern Roots. While I haven't ruled out retiring to Savannah and a plantation house one day, it's enough to be a bit of a Georgia girl in New York, London, or wherever else I may happen to be. It was good enough for Jessica Daves, my aunt/pivotal Editor in Chief of Vogue Magazine. And it's working for my gorgeous and talented cousin, Lindsey, who makes her Southern Living debut this issue. Check it out!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Love Will Stay at Lincoln Center

All my life, I've been someone almost pathologically interested in holding on to everything. I attached everything to myself; every one. Even if they left. Even if they were never really there. And I took everything with me, no matter where I went. 

As I've gotten older, I've retrained myself to be less attached, less obsessed with forever and with keeping things. Luckily, I still get to excise my feelings about that early desire to make everything last forever by writing songs. 

This song was a gift in that way. I'm not sure I would have ever let myself write a song where the central idea was as basic as "Love Will Stay." I would have tried to say it some more clever way. Something newer. And that would have been a mistake. But instead, I inherited the really solid bones of one of the most beautiful songs I'd ever heard. I remember re-working this song like a puzzle on bus, coasting through up state New York. 

I wasn't about to die, like Alix knows she is, but I knew how she felt. And in the end, the song also got to ask the central questions that Nicholas & Alexandra asks as a whole: what lives on after something dies? What remains after we are gone? What stays? Your work? What if it was your work that got you into trouble in the first place? So then it's love, right? It was for Alix. I hope it will be for me too. 

Here's Janet Dacal, singing a military-march/pop mix of the song we're still selling loads of sheet music for (thanks, guys) from the Lincoln Center concert, one week ago. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Right & The Wrong Kind of Drama

At some point last year, one of my masters professors said something so startlingly accurate about the writing process that it actually knocked the wind out of me. And for the first time, I began to see a big picture about my real life relationships in the mix with the made-up relationships I write about all day long. 

She said this: "Have you noticed... that when the work isn't going well.... when there isn't the right kind of drama on the page...that you create the wrong kind of drama off the page?"

And, obviously, my answer was YES

When I am cranking out the kind of material I want, when that shit is flowing like I like, I do not start shit in my own life. When things are not going well at my desk (probably because I am eternally uncomfortable mediocrity. Also with prolonged periods of uncertainty) I make trouble in other areas of my life. If things are going well, I question them and undo a good thing. If something is on the edge, I just go ahead and push it over. 

This is often why when I'm really on deadline, I go of the grid and sequester myself. I try to cut off contact with my real life so I don't ruin it.  

But then... I can't do that forever, right? I bet my hypothetical future children (not to mention the hypothetical future child services) would not appreciate my emotional or physical disappearance for three weeks. (or maybe more!) What to do!? Does anyone have the answers to these questions? Is there any answer that's right for more than the person who's figured it out for his or herself. Probably not. But we keep on asking. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

That's The Story...of Jason Michael Snow

Have you met my new crush, Book of Mormon actor, Jason Michael Snow? Allow me to introduce you, if you haven't already met. When he sang Steven and Kirsten Guenther's (my girl talent crush/want to be her) awesome song, That's The Story, at our Lincoln Center concert, I knew right away that I wanted to go home and rewrite ALL my shows to include a part for him.

One of the nicest things that ever happened to me was when a VOTE! fan said that I was "possibly too adorable to exist." I would now like that pass that warm fuzzy onto Jason Michael Snow. So adorable, I'm still not sure he's real. 

Don't believe me? Check it. Also this. This was at the concert. Also this. Remember when this was one of my favorite things ever? I was here for this too. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crunch Time Friday Links

Now that I'm back in London, it's serious crunch time on so many projects. Major life sorting. If I let all of everything I have to do flood my brain, it's too overwhelming, so I'm trying to just take it one thing at a time. Let's hope it all works out! Here's some nuggets to entertain you in case you're having a working weekend too. 

- Turns out, there is a formula for writing a best seller. Now you tell me. 
- McC has requested this NYMag inspired Glasgow jaunt for her next trip. DONE. 
- This.
- Rupert Goold's Headlong Theatre Co. will bring Duncan's American Psycho to the UK this year. Woo!
- Rachel Shukert's Smash Recaps might be funny, but I love Vulture Mad Men Recaps 4-EVA
- Speaking of Mad Men, my fave lesbian from the 60s (and second fave Mamet) is now a pink Juicy track suit wearing, Sex & The City Worshipping JAP on Girls. I watched. It sort of made me feel dirty?

- Since it's been a week of musical theatre, I thought I'd leave you with two videos. The first, if you haven't already seen it, is Carrie Manolakos singing Radiohead's Creep. It's pretty special. And I mean that in the best way possible. The second is the video interview Steven and I did after the Lincoln Center Concert with ViveKaterin

Have a fab start to your weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One Man, Two Guvnors

While I was in NYC, I'd hoped to take in about 12 of the Broadway shows I was dying to see this season. As it happens, I only got to one. And it was, fittingly, a London transfer of the super hilarious, One Man, Two Guvnors. It's a Richard Bean farce, adapted from Servant of Two Masters to 1960's Brighton. I had heard from almost everyone in London that it was a thing to see, so I was very happy to see most of its original London cast in NYC and for free. Just how I like my theatre. 

Obviously, everyone's raves over Gavin & Stacey creator James Corden in the leading role of the harlequin, Francis, were right on. There were so many gags and audience moments. I was only saddened by my prior knowledge of how those gags work to let them fully enrapture me. 

Other absolute stand outs for me were former UK Office actor, Oliver Chris, (who I now have a massive crush on) as a truly odd and specifically accurate kind of posh murderer/romantic lead (Yeah.) and the mid-thirties actor playing a mid eighties rickety waiter named Alfie. 

Man, I love my some physical humor. And this play is essentially just one gag like that after another. There was even some physical humor in the audience due to the presence of Joan Rivers, whose face is not even vaguely humanoid anymore. 

It's also a play with music (Almost as good as a musical ;) and turns out, everyone in the cast can sing. Hurrah, for those Renaissance Folks. 

Anyhow, my point is, either in London or New York, check out One Man, Two Guvnors. Wrap his nuts in bacon and send him to the nurse!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Concert Sneak Peak - Kyle Dean Massey- Holy Man

While we await the official videos from Monday night, here's a little sneak peak courtesy of a little bootlegging. Kyle Dean Massey gave pretty much a flawless performance of one of my favorite songs from Nicholas & Alexandra-- and one of my favorite performances of the evening. Crazy too that even though we wrote this song two years ago, I'd never actually heard anyone sing "Holy Man."

More on the concert to come-- once I've regained my mental faculties back from jet lag. In the mean time, enjoy Kyle as the debauched, crazy-like-a-fox Rasputin!

Photo by Daniel Robinson

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mentors & Inspiration

I have so much to say about how awesome last night was. But I'm already late for leaving for the airport. So for now, let me say that when I was being interviewed, I was asked about who my mentors are and the music that inspires me. Incidentally, my answer was this guy. While I was showing me and Steven's music in NYC, he was in my hometown performing at the Smith Center with Suzanne Vega. Who went?

And here he is talking about the song that changed his life. Pay it forward ya'll. Back to rainy London town. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Am Titanium

Wow, I love today. It's days like this that make me wonder why I ever left NYC. I mean, I know why, but it sure is great to be able to soak up everything I love about the city I love the most. Perhaps I should enumerate.

1. The sun is shining
2. But it's not too hot
3. Iced Coffee. It exists here. 
4. I talked about writing all morning with an amazing friend
5. I saw my old co-workers, the people who essentially named this blog. The only people who call me Fergie. 
6. Hope looms large on the paid writing/employment landscape
7. MOST importantly: tonight will be a massive musical celebration. Pretty much everyone who gave me and Steven a start in this business will be there. Not to mention, the people who sustained us and inspired us in the fat times and the lean times (of which, there have been many.) 

It's kind of amazing to hear songs that are technically new-- in that, no one besides me and Steven have ever heard them-- but that are two years old, or even just a few months old. They always seem channeled from another part of myself. Or another world entirely. 

I'll tell you why that's a comfort. I'm a bit of a control freak. I like things a certain way. I get hung up on people being a certain way. I'm easily disappointed. In other people. In myself. In my work. But if you stay attached to that stuff, you'll spend most of your life being disappointed. 

If you let it go-- and know that pretty much everything is just being transmitted, that we're just conduits-- then you're pretty much invincible. Which is the best feeling in the world. And that's why this is song for today. See you guys at Lincoln Center for some good singin'. 6PM. 65th & Amsterdam. Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Playing Cultural Catch-Up at Cookshop

The amazing Schu (and Steven too!) was good enough to treat me  to some NYMag Critic's Pick, Cookshop, last night. This little spot on 20th and 10th is truly delicious. Everything was delicious. Everything. Even the martini our waitress spilled all over Schumann and the table and my arm (which is how I tasted.)

My cocktail was also delicious. A rhubarb margarita. Apparently, says Schu, (and you know, he's always up on these things) rhubarb is the new "it" ingredient. (Or the First Food of Spring.) So I was happy to join the ranks of with-it New Yorkers again-- even if only for the short time it took to consume one cocktail. 

I had probably the least expensive thing on the menu: a ramps pizza (ramps, apparently being the other fashionable food item due to their short freshness window, says Schu. How does he learn this information?) that definitely took the prize for best bang for your buck. For just a couple of ingredients, it was the perfect size and totally inhaleable. Personally, I was a fan of Schu's Porkchop. But at the end of the evening, we agreed that the winner of the entrees was Steven's scallops. Despite the relatively small portion size, these babies just lemted in your mouth and were flavored in the same subtle, melts-away fashion. Delish. 

Add to the food, some of the sharpest pop-cultural minds in the business today, and it made for a first rate evening. Basically, no one delivers cultural commentary like Schu. And turns out, the combination of that one and Steven Jamail might just be lethal. Watch out, New York City.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lillie's Pennies

We did it up NYC style last night. It was a late night. And I feel the night is best expressed in photos. 

"Happy Birthday" sung by a bunch of professional singers sounds pretty good.
We write songs. We dance. Ladies & gentlemen, Ferguson & Jamail can do it all. Clearly.
Pretty Becky.
These two are just walking sex. AMIRIGHT!?
SJamail and SGib
Ashley's tattoo is rad. Jackie is the bomb.
By the end of the night, we were all drinking these "Lillies Pennies" from copper mugs. I thought it sounded a little dirty, but they sure were tasty. Slainte!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City Links

Ugh. I love being back here. I love sitting on patios and having lunch, I love day drinking, I love talking about theatre all the time.  I love walking amongst the crazies. 45th Street was a gold mine of delight this morning as we strolled the dogs with our coffee. There was the three legged chihuahua and the theatre queens proclaiming that "Um... Estelle win a Tony," and of course the step-limp druggies. This bitch is a beautiful city. 

I'm sitting in Steven's living room right now listening to a very talented friend, the secret recipient of every Smash Recap I write, sing all the parts from Annie, the first musical I every truly loved. I used to to watch and sing it with my Grandma. It's easy to remember everything you ever liked about being yourself when you lock in on something that crucial to the original kernal of who you were going to become. 

Peep this. 
- Ugh. Student debt. Thanks, guys
- Yeah, why are so many Americans single?
- In cased you miss this Ashley Judd piece, it's right on point
- Awesome feature on the show I most want to see while in NYC, Peter & the Starcatchers
- The peach champagne sapphire is my new favorite thing
- As someone who writes television recaps, I enjoyed this defense of television recaps. 
- SNL & their recently hip taste in music

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Serenading Unicorn

I swear! You leave the United States for just a few years and you miss important cultural touchstones such as the Juicy Fruit Serenading Unicorn. Sigh. I first learned of its brilliance from my Hav-ster (Who I get to see TODAY!) who posted the birthday version on my wall last week. But some of the other choice selections include, "Please Take That Post Down," "Sorry You Lost Your Phone" (very Weezer-esque) and "I See You Are Single Again." You're welcome. It's almost Friday! I'm in New York City!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Celebrating at the Cosmopolitan

From the first time I visited semi-recent addition to the Strip, Cosmopolitan, it became a favorite. That made it easy when I was planning my big birthday night out. I knew Cosmo had pretty much everything I wanted and all in a pretty convenient package. 

We started at Comme Ça, the David Myers French Brasserie upstairs for a girls dinner. It was good to have an intimate dinner like that. Let's just say Em and McC are a pretty vivacious combo. We feasted on delicious artichoke salads and flatbreads and then McC and I decided to get crazy. Comme Ça offers a Beef Wellington for two, served with a kind of black-eyed peas and kale succotash and peppercorn sauce. I conquered that Beef Wellington. McC was defeated by its girth. It's hard to blame her though. It was some serious Beef Wellington. 

Next, we moved on to the dessert course. I picked the Beignet au Chocolat, satisfying McC's love of bananas foster and Emily's love of chocolate. Our waiter, Nick, had them write me a birthday message in chocolate and since he had been so kind as to recommend some delicious espresso cocktails to go with dessert, I took his additional recommendation that I lick the plate. (Apparently, he'd been trying to get someone to do that for ages and I was the only one to oblige.) 

The meal was such a success, we thought, why end it there? So McC may or may not have slipped Nick her phone number and he may or may not have joined the party downstairs in the Chandelier Bar.

Corraling large groups makes me anxious, so I was happy once I found everyone and felt like I could relax with my London Summer cocktail. It was great to see everyone-- old high school and Buddhist friends, my old buddies from the newspaper-- some people I hadn't seen in years. People who taught me how to drive, people I won a State Championship with, people who taught me how write something like this blog right here.

And the ambience at Chandelier (excepting the truly tragic girl one level above us who kept leaning over the bar in the shortest dress ever to reveal to us she was not wearing any panties) is divine. If you want good photos from an evening, go there. 

Finally, as we all started to turn into pumpkins, we went to see our friend go-go dance at Bond. There, almost got in a fight with a tranny and danced to an oddly nineties mix of music, recalling our days of teenage glory when we'd drive around like good-hearted brats in Gia's BMW. Those were the days. And so are these. 

Why Stop Now?

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