Weekly Adventure: An American in Paris

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My friend and fellow intern Hillary won the An American in Paris ticket lottery yesterday, and I was lucky enough to be brought me along. We got cheap tickets in the second row, which means we were up close and personal with the dancers – and that’s what really matters, because though I love a Gershwin song and they manged to craft a cohesive and at times moving story out of the muddle of a film. But just like in the movie, the star here is Chris WheeldonChris Wheeldon‘s choreography (he also directed). And it is danced brilliantly by Leanne Cope as Lise and Garen Scribner stepping into Gene Kelly’s part. Which, honestly must be one of the most daunting things as a dancer, but he has Kelly’s charm & ease (and athletic ability) – not to mention he was not hard to look at from the second row.

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Speaking of beauty, the costumes and sets (both by Bob Crowley) were gorgeous, which makes sense given the importance of design to the plot.

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The supporting cast was also great, including Max Von Essen (above) and Brandon Uranowitz as Adam the jazz pianist/composer whose role is greatly expanded from the film. He sings “But Not For Me,” which is (because of Four Weddings and a Funeral) one of my all time favorite songs and he belted it out perfectly.

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It can feel weird to blog about things like musicals while the world is in such awful turmoil, but I’m not sure what I have to offer the important conversation our country needs to have about racism and violence and hatred. But, this show tries to make the argument for bringing more beauty into the world in the face of destruction, and that resonated for me last night. So maybe that’s what I’ve got…

Oops, I’ve Been Bad at Blogging Lately…

I know I already said in my last post that I needed to readjust to working and blogging, but I clearly haven’t actually tried to do that. I have however written “blog post: I’m the worst at blogging” into my planner many times over the past few weeks and then squiggled it out the next day after it had failed to shame me into actually updating my blog.

At this point, once again, I’ve had too many adventures to do any of them justice in one post. (Including winning the Fun Home lottery – which I really should have written about, because that show is amazing and I feel bad that I let too much time pass and didn’t get my reactions in writing. Short version: Michael Cerveris is fantastic. As is Judy Kuhn. And the whole time I was either laughing hysterically or sobbing.)

Anyway, here are a bunch of pictures with minimal commentary:

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Mini-mermaid at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade

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Lindy West and Hari Kondabolu at the Strand

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My brother at our family lake cottage

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Prospect Park is pretty

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House of Balenciaga Evening Dress, part of the ManusXMachina exhibit at the Met’s Costume Institute

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Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park

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4th of July with Hanna in Queens (we did not coordinate outfits I promise) 

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Our view was actually pretty good…

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But it was even prettier from the park

I’m going to really try to be better guys…

Award Show Round Up: Tonys 2016

As long time readers know, the Tony Awards are very important to me, as they combine two of my main loves: theater and award shows. Theater, musical theater in particular, is almost therapeutically important to me. So, though a night of celebration may have been tough for a lot of people in shock and mourning about the horrific events in Orlando this weekend, I (and a lot of other people on Twitter), really needed a night of connecting to the amazingly creative, positive, and loving part of human nature. OK, slightly preachy preamble over. Here are my highlights (I tried to keep it to 5, so I have 9):

James Corden was a delightful host, and you could tell he’s just a big theater nerd like the rest of us:

I really love the “Rose’s Turn” breakdown. I have a weird soft spot for that song…

All of my favorite winners were from Hamilton, of course. But I mean…

Renee!

Daveed!

Leslie!

(One time, he favorited two of my Tweets in one day. This was months ago, I still buzz a bit when I think about it.)

And of course, Lin, summing everything up:

And on that note, Frank Langella’s speech was pretty amazing too:

Also, non-Hamilton shows I want to see now include, Waitress:

and The Color Purple:

James Corden’s best bit of the night brought in one of my other pop culture loves, Law & Order

And, while I loved the opportunity to see “The Battle of Yorktown” play out, my favorite performance of the night was saved for last, “The Schuyler Sisters” in street clothes:

I love how they knew they would win, so they just said, stay on stage at the end and sing.

There were also pretty dresses:

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Adrienne Warren in Alberta Ferretti

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Heather Headley in Badgley Mischka

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Saorise Ronan in Stella McCartney

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Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton

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Sara Bareilles in my new dream wedding dress designed by Gomez-Garcia

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Lupita Nyong’o in Boss

 

 

 

Weekly Adventures: First Week in NYC

I meant to write like 3 separate posts this week, but it’s been 2 years since I’ve worked 9-5 and remembered to blog. Most nights by the time I’m home I have the energy to lie down in front of my fan and watch clips of John Oliver (and The Bachelorette – and my British soaps). But that’s because I’ve been having so much fun exploring the city. I’ve been visiting New York since I was in middle school, but in the past few years I haven’t been here as much and I’ve never been here for longer than a couple of days at a time before. So, I took advantage of that full force in my first week. (And caught up with a couple of my favorite people who are here now too!)

Highlights include:

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Catching the final day of the Poetry Project’s Beats and Beyond poetry festival, including a reading from Michael McClure, who was one of the other poets to read the night that Allen Ginsberg first read Howl.

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It was pretty awesome.

On Friday my fellow Tenement Museum summer interns used our free entry to museums to visit the Whitney. Their new building is beautiful, and right now they have a great exhibit of portraits from their permanent collection spanning two floors. It includes traditional painted portraits and street photography (my favorite), and more experimental pieces, like this one:

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Called Standing Julian, by Urs Fischer, this piece is actually a gigantic candle, that burns all day (it’s extinguished at night), and allowed to melt down.

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There was also a exhibit dedicated to Stuart Davis , whom I had never heard of before (because my art history knowledge is completely selective), but I really loved. Especially his use of color.

 

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Super Table – Stuart Davis (1924)

Afterwards we got tacos at Chelsea Market and walked the Highline, which was both super touristy and very pretty.

For my other main adventure of the week, I went with Hanna and a few of her Princeton friends to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, which was the best. Although, we missed the peak flowering season for a lot of the sections, the Rockefeller Rose Garden was spectacular:

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You can see a lot more pictures I took at my flower-centric Instagram @Itaketoomanypicsofflowers

Then on the way home, I happened upon the Hare Krishna Festival in Washington Square Park, which was so vibrant it was overwhelming.

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Also, I’ve lost the Hamilton lottery a bunch of times.

An Adventure Filled Month

I just realized that it’s been a month since my last post! And what a month it has been: I graduated from UT, drove across the country in a minivan with my parents…and all of my furniture, read a lot of books hanging out at both my parents’ house in New Haven and our lake cottage in the (fictional sounding I know, but very charming) village of Higganum. (Hilariously, spell check wants me to change that to Michigan.) As usual when I have a crazy long hiatus, I’m not going to do a full play by play of my May. Instead…photos:

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Going away party in ATX. One last round of probably too drunk for photos photo shoots at our hidden wine bar on Rainey.

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Feeling official right before convocation with my parents (and the couple in the background who is in every single one of our pictures.) (And yes, I know I look like my mom.)

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Post ceremony we met the Cassetta women to watch Joe (on the right here) and his crazy good blues band Matthew Robinson and the Jelly Kings at Antone’s

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Day after graduation, rolling out, with tons of extra space

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This country is pretty I guess (I think this was Virginia, but honestly it all sort of runs together in my brain)

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Words of wisdom from Amy Poehler

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Connecticut is particularly pretty (but I may be a bit biased)

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Salt always looks upset in pictures I take of him. But, he likes me, I swear

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Parental planning session at the lake

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#lakelife

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More back porch reading

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Oh, yeah…I live in New York now

Thing I Love: Sing Street

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Full disclosure to start, Irish director John Carney‘s previous musicals (especially Oncebut also the underrated Begin Again) are in my personal pantheon of pop culture that I love so much I find it hard to write about. (Also in there? Say Anything, Our TownTwin Peaks“, and George Michael.) So, when I first heard about Sing Streethis new one about a group of Irish teenagers starting a New Wave band to escape the dreariness of being at a Christian Brothers school in Dublin in 1985, I bought my ticket at Alamo before even watching the trailer.

And, while it doesn’t have the star power of Begin Again or or the (heart wrenching) emotional realism of Once. It has the soul I’ve come to expect from Carney, and it taps into the joy (and confusion) of being a teenager with a dream, when you’re still too young to know any better. It reminded me a lot of The Commitments  with a genre swap. (One of the original Committmentettes – Maria Doyle Kennedy – plays the main boy Conor’s (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) mom!)

What I love about this (beyond the fact that its an Irish musical, which means I’m pretty much automatically all in), is the ways that is comes close to cliches and then surpasses them. Like Jack Reynor as the older brother/musical sage, he could have been simply goofy comic relief, but Reynor plays him with so much sadness just under the surface that he broke my heart.

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And Raphina (Lucy Boynton) – the model that inspires not just the music but the band itself – could just be a manic pixie dream girl, but Carney wrote her as a real human, who is just as lost and confused as the other kids.

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Also, thank you casting people, this is what teenagers look like.

And the songs are great, but they sound like something kids (especially insightful kids I’ll grant), would actually write:

Look, this movie just made me, really happy (even though it is steeped in that quintessentially Irish theme of leaving and being left behind.) And like Carney’s previous movies, really made me wish I was a musician. Because I love the montages of them writing songs (a classic Carney trope at this point) and the grin on bassist Eamon’s (Mark McKenna) face when Conor comes to the door and asks him if he wants to write a song is the most irresistible thing I’ve seen in a while. (The answer is, “Always.”)

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A Mixed Bag of Music

I usually at least try to manufacture a theme to tie together these music posts. But, looking down at the list I’ve been building in my notebook over the last month or so, there’s just nothing that all these songs have in common. Which may say a lot about my state of mind right now (I’ll be done with grad school in under a month, and less than a month after that I’ll be moving up to New York City!)

Yeah, I slipped the biggest update I’ve had in awhile into parentheses…it still doesn’t quite feel real yet, but I promise I’ll write an actual post about all that stuff at some point. But for now…music, enjoy the eclectic mix:

This Is How It Starts – Tacoma Narrows

These guys followed me on Twitter awhile back, and I was flattered so I followed them back, and I’m glad I did, because they are awesome. (Though hard to Google.)

Basket Case – Sara Bareilles

The Right Profile– The Clash

You can thank You Must Remember This for this one. It’s a good song, but mostly, it’s an excuse to Google Image Search Montgomery Clift again…

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Not that I need one…

Left Hand Kisses – Andrew Bird feat. Fiona Apple 

His new album is pretty great. Groundbreaking criticism, I know, but he’s a genius there isn’t much to say beyond that.

Snake Eyes– The Milk Carton Kids

I don’t remember if I shared this video of these guys making Marcus Mumford cry after I went to their show in December, but it’s worth sharing again even if I did.

Bread & Roses – Joan Baez & Mimi Farina 


Speaking of crying…

Marilyn Monroe– Nicki Minaj

(Told you this was a mixed bag…and this is another YMRT find.

Dairy Queen– Pwr Bttm

I wish I could say I was cool enough to have discovered these guys at SXSW, but actually I first heard them in the credits of an episode of The Outs and then went down a YouTube rabbit hole and fell in love. They are delightfully strange.

The Schuyler Sisters – the cast of Hamilton 

Because, let’s be real, I’ve been listening to this album near constantly for like 9 months. And pretty soon I’ll be waiting in lotto lines again!

We Shall Overcome – everyone at Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday Concert 

I went down a real Pete Seeger YouTube rabbit hole a couple of Saturday’s ago. It gave me a much needed dose of optimism about this country. I highly recommend it.

Thing I Love: You Must Remember This

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It’s been awhile since I wrote about a podcast, though I have many that have become ‘must-listen,’ over the past few years (mostly anything in the “Filmspotting family of podcasts” & Serial). But I haven’t fallen in love with one as quickly and completely as I have with You Must Remember This,  hosted by Karina Longworth, in a long time (maybe only TBTL has captured my attention so completely.)

Described as a work of creative non-fiction (a term I like, but always makes me laugh because I can imagine  my Dad rolling his eyes even as I type). YMRT covers “the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century.” Which means it was basically created for me. But, I don’t think you have to be a film nerd or fangirl/boy to get into this show. Much like Anne Helen Petersen’s Scandals of Classic Hollywood it is also a fascinating deep dive into American cultural history. (Petersen guests on at least one episode of YMRT.)

Although it’s mostly a one woman show. (Marlon Brando’s archivist – dream job by the way – is the only other interview guest I can think of.) But there’s still a ton of variety. The topics covered are wide ranging both in terms of era – within the first 20 episodes she covered silent era ‘vamp’ Theda Bara and 1990s era Isabella Rosselini – and in terms of theme. Emphasis is (obviously) placed on the control exerrted by the sudio system (and the industry that followed its demise), but everything from gender to Communism to paparazzi to 1960s drug culture comes up. Each episode or series (the current one following the McCarthy-era Blacklist) has a titular subject, but you can never tell from that where it’s going to go. (Just listen to the episode “Liz❤ Monty” to prove my point and fall in love with Montgomery Clift.)

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Kath❤ Monty as well

Longworth has a distinctive rhythm that I find myself falling into. It’s almost lulling at times, but in a comforting rather than sleep inducing way. I feel like I’m in good hands with her, I mean how else would I have gotten through the 11 episode series on Charles Manson’s Hollywood – chilling but fascinating – though it did make me hate Dennis Hopper.

Go listen!

 

 

 

Weekly Adventure: Spring Break Getaway Edition

It’s South by Southwest time here in Austin, and like a true local, I spent most of it out of town. (This isn’t a slam on SXSW, I find people that complain about it more insufferable than festival goers, I just had other places to be.) Mainly, one of my dear friends was getting married in Chicago last weekend and because plane tickets into Austin spike in price for the festival I chose to take a detour through Dallas. And just in case you were ever in doubt about whether or not I’m a huge nerd, I spent my time there visiting a couple of presidential history museums (oh, and taking advantage of my hotel’s cable to watch Shadowhunters in real time…).

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I seemed to have brought the gray weather north with me, but nothing can ruin this view for me. It gets me every time I come around the curve on LSD.

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As previously stated, this is not a wedding blog, but I’m just so incredibly proud of Julia and my gift to the happy couple. It seems Pinterest worthy, so I’m uploading here so we can make that happen. (Basically it’s a basket full of booze for them to mark milestones in their marriage. And Jules did the bow, I have no crafting talent.)

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The happy couple at their wedding brunch at Farmhouse

 

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Jules expertly Vanna White-ing the delicious pastries

The next day, I went for a good old fashioned urban hike through a long stretch of Lincoln Park, and stumbled upon the Lincoln Park Conservatory, which is currently hosting the Chicago Spring Flower Show. I didn’t know that was a thing, but it’s right up  my alley.

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I took a million pictures, many of which you can see on my new all-flowers Instagram account.

It was one of those Chicago spring days where it can not decide if it’s gray or bright or cold or warm. But Grant looked pretty good in the afternoon light:

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My destination on the walk was the Chicago History Museum, which I had somehow never been to before. (I know, it makes no sense.) But I’m glad I went, it was a lovely mix of traditional and socially conscious, and I nerded out a lot.

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The 1893 Columbian Exposition as depicted in the diorama room. These have been on display since the 1930s.

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A suffragist in the exhibit on social protest

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They have a temporary exhibit right now called “The Secret Lives of Objects,” which is essentially a hodgepodge of intriguing things curators found in storage. Some fun and some ssurprisingly poignant. Like this lamp, it started the Iroqouis Theater Fire (which is the reason we have doors that open out in public spaces.) A really cool exhibit if you’re in Chicago.

The old part of the CHM building is gorgeous:

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In the permanent exhibit, I learned that the Harlem Globetrotters were founded in Chicago (and remained headquartered there until the 1970s but have been named after the NYC neighborhood since the 1920s, which doesn’t make sense), and saw these important historical artifacts:

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They also have a really well designed, small exhibit of some of Vivian Maier‘s street photography, which I really loved:

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What I loved about the exhibit was the way I felt surrounded by the faces of the people Maier captured. It felt like being on the street with her. Very transporting.

That night I got some post-work Bourgeois Pig with Jules and then enjoyed The Bachelor finale with the girls I started the season with. (Such a treat to see them all again so soon!) And then the next morning it was off to Dallas.

Despite the swing in temperature & humidity, it turned out to be another lovely day for a walk, and I was surprised by how pretty the part of downtown I was staying in was. And they had cool, historical photo based, public art:

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I was walking to Dealey Plaza.To pay my respects as a longtime Kennedy fanatic (I won’t go into that now, this post is long enough) and to visit the Sixth Floor Museum (which is a great mix of tribute to Kennedy’s legacy and examination of what happened on 11/22/63).

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The Plaza itself was a WPA project, and is really pretty. But it’s sort of surreal to walk around it. I’ve seen footage and photos of it so many times, and other than the models of the cars and the heights of the trees not much looks that different. It was very surreal.

Also strange, the amount of men walking around carrying strange homemade signs trying to convince you to pay them for their tour of “what really happened”

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Very high tech conspiracy HQ

They don’t let you take pictures inside the museum, but it was a moving and thought provoking experience for me. (For the record, I think Oswald did it. I’m not completely sure how to explain Jack Ruby, maybe the mob was involved, maybe not. Oliver Stone is full of shit.)

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I took the DART light-rail to get around. I found it clean and easy to navigate. I also could have rode for free the whole time, but chose to pay, because I believe in supporting public transportation.

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Across from my hotel there was a place called Thanksgiving Square, it had murals and interfaith scriptures, and this ring you were meant to pause under and give thanks. It felt sort of stuck in where it was, but I said a little prayer under the ring. (I didn’t go into the chapel, but I sort of wish I had, it looks really cool.)

On my second day in Dallas I took the train out to SMU to visit George W. Bush’s Presidential Library and Museum. I did this, because of my life goal to visit all of the President’s landmarks (see LBJ and Lincoln).

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Although, I was not and am not W’s biggest fan, I’m not going to go into a political rant here. Mostly, because most of my experience at this museum was apolitical and nice. The staff were all really lovely. They had a temporary exhibit about how campaigning has changed that included this carpet that showed all the results of every presidential election:

IMG_5128And Bill Clinton’s sunglasses:

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On loan from his library in Little Rock

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And this awesome looking board game that I am not allowing myself to look up on eBay, because I will buy it

The building itself is really beautiful:

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And, while I found myself disagreeing with the emphasis of the permanent exhibit there were some pieces that were done unquestionably well.

For instance, the 9/11 memorial, which includes a part of one of the Towers and a lot of very moving archival news footage:

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And the recreated Oval Office (one step up from LBJs because you can step in, walk around, and even take pictures at the desk!):

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There were also some nice lighter moments featuring the First Family. Hilariously, when I went searching for a statue to take a selfie with, I couldn’t find one, but these were prominently displayed:

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The only part of the whole thing that made me truly angry was the “Situation Room” simulation.

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Basically, you sit down in rows with a bunch of strangers, and vote on a screen in front of you on which “crisis” you want to tackle. (My group chose Hurricane Katrina. Other options include Saddam Hussein and The Financial Crisis). They then give you a briefing and 3 options to choose from. You can track what others in the room are thinking with a CNN-like approval line on the big screen. Then you vote on what you would do. Then they tell you what Bush did. As I was walking out of the room it felt like a cool multimedia experience, and I was surprised that I had chosen the same response that Bush did to the crisis. (I do not generally think I agree with how he handled Katrina.) And then I started to feel queasy. The flashiness and official look of the presentation makes it seem like in each of these situations, Bush had exactly 3 options, none of which were all that good and that’s why he made some of his least popular choices. Now, I do agree that being the President is an impossible job, and perfection is not an attainable goal, but I think this presentation simplifies the most important failures of my government during my lifetime to “well things are complicated, you couldn’t do any better.”

What sucks, is that this was right at the end of the exhibits, so I left with the bad taste in my mouth. As you can see from the newest addition to my Presidential Photo Collage:

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Now that I’m back in town, I’ve mostly been lying around exhausted. Though I did go see Midnight Special yesterday. It’s amazing. I want to go see it again. Like I want to go pay full ticket price a second time. That’s an extremely rare feeling for me. But like, I may go see Midnight Special again tomorrow if anyone wants to join me.

Rainy Day Movie: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

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Today is the official start of my spring break, but my brain mostly checked out of things after this past Wednesday (due to the weather, lack of sleep, and some annoying miscommunication with my landlord). Plus it’s still been raining off and on here for like a week now. Which is good, Austin needs the rain, but also because it gives me an excuse to go to the movies. (Not that I need an excuse, I went to see Hail, Caesar! last week and it was beautiful out.)

I was a bit surprised when my mom’s first reaction to my telling her I went to see Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was to ask if it was stupid. Because it isn’t, and I had forgotten, that the trailer sort of makes it look like it is. I went because, as previously discussed, I love Tina Fey and will basically buy a ticket to anything she’s in, and this was written by her TV partner Robert Carlock, so though my expectations weren’t high I was prepared to like it. And I did (though not without reservation.)

Based on war correspondent Kim Barker‘s memoir (which I definitely want to read now), this follows Fey’s journey from copy writing drudge to adrenaline junkie war reporter. It’s harrowing and absurd and unapologetically feminist. It’s funny, but rarely in a laugh out loud way. (That can be hard when every ten minutes or so something explodes.) There’s a lot of drinking to forget the craziness of the danger they are putting themselves in. And a lot of hooking up, in fact the best scene to me captured the actual awkwardness of casual sex. Not the perfect choreography of most dramas or the forced hilarity of everything going wrong you see in most comedies (including Fey’s Sisters from late last year), but realistic fumbling. I found it refreshing.

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This gave me a different insight into the war in Afghanistan. I had never seen it from a female perspective before, and I appreciated that. (It helped that I could follow what they were talking about because of this season of Serial.) But, there was one glaring problem here for me. Fahim, Barker’s translator, driver and “fixer,” was played by Christopher Abbott (whom you may remember as Charlie on the early seasons of Girls) and the Attorney General of Afghanistan is played by Alfred Molina. And if you can’t see what the problem may be here, then I’ll direct you to this brilliant John Oliver video about white people playing other races in Hollywood movies. It’s hard, because I think Abbott especially is a fantastic actor and he is so heartwarming and brilliant in this. (As he is in everything I’ve ever seen him in.) But, they should have hired an Arab man to play that character and they should know better. It didn’t ruin the movie, but it did keep taking me out of it.

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Putting that scarf on him doesn’t make this OK