Weekly Adventure: Chill Thanksgiving Edition

I love Thanksgiving, complicated history aside, it’s a pressure free day where the point is to gather and eat a lot of food. This year lived up to my expectations completely.

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During food prep, Mom and Charlie had important crossword duties to attend to

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Dad made sure everything was safe for the rest of us to eat

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While Phia and Charlie actually cooked everything for us

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Nancy’s beautiful centerpiece (and the traditional scratch off tickets)

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Negaro/Dennett Thanksgiving selfie (though I personally like last year’s better…

The next day, while recovering from our food comas my mom and I watched all of the new Gilmore Girls and I have a lot of feelings about it. (Some spoilers below the picture.)

Gilmore Girls

  1. I continue to disapprove of Logan. Strongly.
  2. Rory may actually be (read is probably) a bad person.
  3. Emily Gilmore can be cruel, but she is also incredibly strong. (And I love her attitude towards the D.A.R.)
  4. Luke Danes, and Jess Mariano, are the best. It’s that simple.

We took a break in the middle to go with Dad to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Which is pretty wonderful. (Full review to come in the case of awards nominations and/or sequel reviews.)

On Saturday, I got to meet up with some Chicago friends in town visiting family and lay round watching football.

Sunday, my parents drove my back to Queens and I was able to show them around the museum where I work, which was pretty special.

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Mom in Noguchi’s garden

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I don’t think they tried to match…

And now it’s my favorite time of year! Happy Holidays every one!

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My neighborhood gets pretty into the season. In addition to these lights there are also speakers piping in (very loud) Christmas carols, which I’m sure will get old fast, but for now I find whimsical.

 

Weekly Adventure: Art Therapy Edition

I’m not sure how to start this post. I spent a lot of last week in tears and I am still pretty fragile. But, despair is defeat, so I’ve picked myself up and am working on being a proactive helper to those I know the new President and his supporters either don’t care about or actively hate. But in the meantime I have to take care of myself too. And for me that means movies (I saw Loving on Friday), books (I’m reading a great one about Yeats right now), and art. So this Saturday I pulled myself out of bed and used my museum employee free admission to see some art.

Kerry James Marshall – “Mastry” at the Met Breuer 

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Still Life with Wedding Portrait, 2015

What sadly serendipitous timing for this large exhibition of work by this African American political artist. A little boy in the elevator with me told his mom that he found the paintings on the exhibition’s first floor “scary,” I had accidentally walked through the show backwards (a mistake I make a lot somehow) but was surprised. The work on the second floor was powerful & (especially given our current political moment) sad at times, but not graphically violent. (Even his portrait of Nat Turner with his master’s head was remarkably restrained in my mind.) I’m not a child obviously, but I think we all need to be willing to be scared and disturbed by the injustices that work like Marshall’s depicts.

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Our Town, 1995

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Art of Hanging Pictures, 2002

This is part of a 2002 installation depicting life where Marshall lived on the South Side of Chicago. The depictions hit me hard as a proud Chicagoan in exile. I’ve been grappling with what it means that the places I love are so segregated and only safe for some people. Just like this piece. I don’t have answers for this, but the representation helped me to articulate it.

Agnes Martin at The Guggenheim 

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I struggle a lot with minimalism, especially in contrast to the vibrancy and emotion of the Marshall show. (Yes, I know the irony of working in the Noguchi archive and having a hard time connecting to minimalism.) But I always want to support institutions that give single artist exhibitions to female artists. So, Agnes Martin. Her work is technically astounding – all those tiny straight lines! – but most of it did strike me personally as cold.

It fit really well with the Guggenheim’s architecture though! And I very much enjoyed reading about Martin’s life. A Canadian immigrant who traveled between NYC & Taos, NM she worked to create and maintain a style separate form, as one wall panel put it, “the visual and rhetorical bravado” of the Abstract Expressionists. She endeavored to create “innocent” and “happy” work that she felt was life affirming, which is an inspiring project on its own. Especially given her place as a female artist who suffered from schizophrenia in a male dominated, abelist art world.

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Friendship, 1963

Vigil for Hope & Human Kindness – Not art I know, but certainly therapeutic

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I haven’t taken to the streets since the election, I have so much love and respect for my friends & family members who have and I’m sure I will join the soon. But I, as a person, don’t do rage well. (I think most people are anger-leading people or sadness-leading people and I am the latter.) But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been craving collective action and catharsis. So I was really glad to see this event in Brooklyn pop up on my Facebook.

I didn’t know just how much needed to cry and sing and plan with other people until I got there. On my way home I kept thinking about how we make fun of 60s activists for “singing Kumbuya” in the face of oppression. And sure, that song is silly, but the need to be quiet and still and take solace together is just as real as the need to yell and stomp. (And I really mean that, we need both.)

So, here’s the way we closed the vigil (well this followed by hugs from strangers, because cliche hippie stuff actually feels really good in the darkness.):

And now that I trust we are all going to try to take to care of each other – I’ll see you at the barricades.
 

 

Songs My Commute Taught Me

As I come to the end of my first week living in Queens, walking to work (or taking the Q104), I’m starting to reflect on the last couple of months, the majority of which I spent on a train. It was, for the most part, a stressful existence (though my parents were Godsends who made it as smooth as it could be), and I was basically exhausted for the past two and half months straight.

But there were some pluses. I read a lot, book and articles, I got back to inbox zero, and I caught up on all my podcasts, which means I discovered a lot of new music. Here are 10 of my favorite songs (and the podcasts that featured them):

Good AS Hell – Lizzo 

TBTL Song of the Summer (feels like a million years ago at this point…)

Why iii Love the Moon – Phony Ppl 

One of Jamila Woods playlist picks on The Dinner Party Download

Joan Crawford – Blue Oyster Cult

From the Joan Crawford series on You Must Remember This 

When You Were Mine – Lake Street Dive (Prince Cover) 

They preformed this on Chris Thile’s debut show on A Prairie Home Companion (which I have a complicated relationship with. I have a love/exasperation relationship with founding host Garrison Keillor, and I think it’s carrying over to Thile’s show, but he keeps booking all my favorite bands…)

Back in the New York Groove – Ace Frehley 

Look, I don’t like KISS, but Luke was in New York on TBTL and this is just a really good soundtrack song for a commute to the city.

Andrew in Drag – The Magnetic Fields

Another TBTL pick, this time for the other co-host. His name is Andrew, I don’t believe he has ever done drag though…

Smile More – Deep Valley

This was the featured music on Filmspotting a couple of weeks ago, and I fell in love for reasons obvious to any one who has read this blog, followed me on Twitter, listened to my podcast, or met me…

Capricorn – Friends of the Bog 

OK, this one is a total cheat. My friend sent it to me the other day on Facebook, but I did listen for the first time while on my way to work, and I think its beautiful so…I’m including it.

Birmingham – Shovels and Rope 

One last TBTL pick.

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The view from the train wasn’t too bad either

Weekly Adventure: Party People at The Public Theater

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Despite living very close to it all summer, before last night I had never been in the famous Public Theater. But, now that I live in the city again I have restarted my theater lotto apps. It turns out the The Public offers free tickets to the first previews of their shows by lotto. I had heard through a grapevine that Party People, a transfer from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, was supposed to be amazing, so I entered and won!

I’ve been to shows in previews before (in Chicago), but never a first preview. It was exciting to think that I was at the actual NY debut of this show. (And of course the performances were already great, it didn’t feel like I was watching anyone rehearse anything.) I’m definitely going to take advantage of this program again.

OK, not onto the show itself. Developed by the ensemble Universes, who, according to the playbill, are known for mixing genres (poetry, rap, theater, political protest) to tell stories, the play looks at the legacy of the Black Panthers and the Young Lords (a Puerto Rican nationalist group started in Chicago that I had embarrassingly never heard of until last night.

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There’s obviously a lot to unpack about the history and impact of 1960s radical revolutionary politics (I’ve took a class in grad school that spent weeks on it), and that may explain why this play feels like 3 separate shows mashed up and remixed into one. There are too many “truths” to attempt a cohesive narrative.

For the most part this strategy works, but as with any kind of collage there are parts that are more successful than others. And this is probably a personal preference, but up until the very end, I just really preferred the songs set in the sixties and seventies. They had a vibrancy and urgency and explained the history without feeling pedantic. On the other hand the frame narrative (a gallery show featuring interviews with former party members) never seemed to fully come together for me.

But, the final number, which brings together the two stories with a rousing chorus of “Give me land, bread, housing. Give me justice. Give me peace” was a powerful call to action (as in actual action rather than tweeting about the things you believe) that really resonated.

The show runs through Dec 11 in the Anspacher at The Public Theater 425 Lafayette St. 

Weekly Adventure: Falsettos

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Welcome back to regular Weekly Adventure updates! (This one is actually for last week…but I moved this Sunday so I should be back on schedule tomorrow. Yeah, that’s right, I already have an adventure planned for tonight!)

Anyway, last Friday night, my New York godmother (who I sometimes refer to as Baboo, because my brother and I have known her since before we could pronounce words properly) went to see the new revival of Falsettos at the Walter Kerr Theater. (Actually in the exact same seats that my mom and I saw The Crucible from this summer!)

Earlier that day I had read the New York Times review where Charles Isherwood referred to this production as perfect, which combined with my love for pretty much the whole cast (I mean, I hadn’t heard of the kid obviously, but Andrew Rannells? Brandon Uranowitz? Christian Borle? Traci Thoms!) had me excited but also worried (again) about inflated expectations.

And, honestly at first I wasn’t sure what Isherwood was talking about. Don’t get me wrong, it was good. And all of the actors were great. Especially Stephanie J. Block in her slow motion break down glory.

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But it didn’t seem to be rising to the level of “perfect” anything…and then Act II started.

For a little background Falsettos is made up of 2 one acts (there’s also a prequel of sorts) about a man named Marvin (Borle) who leaves his wife (Block) for a man (Rannells) and their attempt to remain a family with their son Jason, despite this complication. (And the further complication that she then falls in love with the family psychiatrist (Uranowitz).) It’s a good set up for both comedy and pathos, and the first act zips along this path…

But the most important background fact is that the last act came out in 1981. And is about gay men. So, it becomes a gut punch of how this zany neurotic family deal with the crisis they didn’t even have the name AIDS for yet. While this is obviously upsetting (Baboo and I both cried all the mascara off of our faces), but it was also an incredibly moving look at what makes a family and how heartbreaking it can be to be in one.

So, in the end, I get where you’re coming from Mr. Isherwood. Act II is pretty damn near perfect. (And can’t wait to cheer for Andrew Rannell’s Tony Nom next spring.)

Weekly Adventure: NU Homecoming (and Hamilton!) Edition

(Fair warning right at the top, this post is mostly selfies I took with Jules and gushing about Hamilton. If that doesn’t interest you, I understand. Come back soon for awards season movie reviews!)

This past weekend was (somehow!) my five year reunion from Northwestern. It wasn’t really on my radar to be honest, except I was already planning to be in Chicago because my friend Katelin so generously offered me her extra ticket to Hamilton(!!), which just happened to be for the Sunday night of Homecoming weekend. So, I bought a couple of commuter tickets. It was a really fun weekend of seeing some of my favorite people, and indulging a bit in pretending we were still in college. (Which in my case meant I spent almost all of it with Julia taking selfies…)

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The only picture I took at the official 2011 Class Party. Like I said, it’s just like college (except my glasses are cooler)

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Day 2: Football Game – difference from college include: we were sober when this picture was taken and the Cats won on Homecoming

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Not a selfie, but I had to document Jules getting her car out of her blocked in space by driving down the sidewalk

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They have big bean bags in Norris now and we enjoy attempting to take “Boyhood” shots

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From “Build Her a Myth” by Carrie Schumacher currently on view at the Dittmar Gallery 

I have always loved the Dittmar, it’s weirdly tucked between the student center Starbucks and the TV where people who are “studying” watch games. But they sometimes have really interesting installations. The current show is made up of these apparel pieces made out of pages torn out of romance novels. They make a statement about the stories women are told about themselves and the expectations that creates, plus they look amazing.

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OK, back to selfies. This one is practically required. (Photo Credit: Jules and her updated phone with the selfie timer.)

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Post-nap trip to Little Goat (at this point it’s a tradition when I visit).

I have to admit this is the most Cubs related thing I did even though we were eating this dinner as they were winning the pennant. I’m happy for them, but even looking at pictures of Wrigleyville that night stressed me out.

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Look we have other friends! 

In another fun coincidence, it was Noel’s birthday/housewarming celebration while I was in town so I got to see even more people whom I love.

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Including the birthday girl and her fire carriers

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BOLT!

The next day, after brunch at The Dawson, which was lovely but where I took no pictures. I ventured out to Madison and Jeison’s new apartment to meet their adorable new family member. He was shy but so tiny and fluffy! (It was also nice to his parents I suppose.)

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

OK, here’s the thing. You already know everything I am about to say. We’ve all heard it a million times. “Hamilton is brilliant.” “The best show ever.” “Mindblowingly good.” Etc, etc. And to be honest I was actually a little worried walking in that it could not possibly live up to my expectations/love of the album.

But, it totally did. By halfway through the second song I knew I was seeing one of the best things I will ever see. I can’t describe why it’s so much better live. Partly it’s the choreography of course, and the thrill of live singing is always amazing, but there is something about the momentum of the show that is really impressive that I don’t quite have words for.

When I told people that I was flying to Chicago and seeing Hamilton a few out here (in typical NYC fashion) asked me if I was disappointed to not see the “real thing,” by which I have to assume they mean the original cast (which no one can see anymore…). I’ll spare you all my Chicagoan at heart rant about NYCentric thinking (especially about theater in Chicago), and instead just say that:

  1. The cast we saw was amazing. Joshua Henry literally took my breath away as Burr, and Karen Olivo was perfectly cast as Angelica. New to me Ari Afsar was fantastic as Eliza. (The whole cast was great, I can’t link to them all.)
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    Photo Credit: David Korins

    And…

  2. It was actually cool to hear the different takes these actors had on the material. I’ve gotten so used to listening to the recording that at first even the slightest rhythm change was jarring, but then I reminded myself that reinterpretation is what keeps theater alive. And don’t get me wrong there aren’t radical changes here, but  it’s a testament to how good this cast is that they aren’t just doing impressions of the original cast.

OK, I could go on and on (and on) and in person if you’re interested I will, but let me know, because I’m terrified of seeming like I’m bragging by bringing it up.

(Though not so terrified to not buy a Schuyler sister’s tee-shirt that I cannot wait to wear this weekend to IKEA to buy furniture for my new apartment. Yeah that’s right I’m moving back into the city this weekend. You might think I’m burying the lead, but the lead is still Hamilton.)

Things I Keep Meaning to Blog About

I’m still commuting to Queens from New Haven everyday, which, despite the looks of shocked pity on the faces of people whom I tell this to, is really not that bad.* It’s just long, and not really great for typing. (There are people that bring their laptops and type. I am not on their commuter level.) So, I’ve made notes and reminders for at least 5 posts in the last two weeks and just never gotten around to writing any of them. Instead of letting that backlog grow, here are 5 things I’ve meant to blog about recently:

  1. Andrew Bird at College Street Music Hall

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New Haven is a small city, but because of Yale and it’s location along the route between Boston and NYC, it gets pretty good music sometimes. Case in point last Friday, my cousin Phia invited my parents and I to join her and her parents to see Andrew Bird. He was great ( of course) the whistling alone is mind blowing.

The one quibble I had with the night was that the sound mixing was a little off, at least for us in the balcony. There was a lot more bass than you expect from a violinist-singer-songwriter, but it really only bothered my Mom and my Aunt Nancy. (You can see their reactions on my Instagram.)

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2. New Haven City Wide Open Studios

My parents’ house is near an old Armory building that is supposedly going to be a community center…but once a year the Open Studios program sets up a bunch of artists in there. It was pretty cool:

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This was made of silverware!

3. This Is Us

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I’m not breaking any ground here, but I really love this show. I see your think pieces about why it may be bad, but I don’t want to read them. This show makes me feel good. (Well it makes me cry, and then it makes me feel good.) Catharsis is an important function of art and this serves it up every week, accompanied by good (if at times overly earnest) writing, and excellent acting. I saw a video where Sterling K. Brown summed up how I feel both about this show and about the so-called “Golden Age of Television” we are living through right now. All of these prestige shows, even the comedies, take a pretty dark view of the world and humanity, This Is Us lets the light in and I like that.

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Also, Milo Ventimiglia is in it…

4. In The Dark 

115db4-20160819-in-the-darkAnd now I’m going to undercut everything I just said about focusing on the light. This is a true crime podcast about the 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling. It’s from APM, which also produces a few of my other favorite podcasts, so I’ve been hearing ads for this for awhile, and I wasn’t going to listen. Despite my love of Serial, I’m not really a true crime person, I get too invested and then too scared, but I kept hearing every day on my other shows how good this was so I sucked it up and started. And it’s amazing. It’s obviously upsetting, but it never feels voyeuristic. Host Madeleine Baran  is fantastic and measured. This isn’t a leering look at tragedy, it’s a compassionate investigation into what went wrong with the (large scale) attempts to solve this case. Seriously brilliant, I’m actually sad it’s almost over.

5. Billy Gilman on The Voice

OK, I can’t end on that. Here’s a clip of a former child country star singing Adele:

* This relatively positive attitude probably stems from the fact that if all goes to current plan I won’t be doing this much longer. 

Weekly Adventure: West Coast Wedding Edition

I meant to post this earlier in the week, but I was so tired from my trip to Portland that I never got around to it. (Well that and for some reason my computer needed to update forever. Did that happen to everyone with a PC this week?)

Anyway, exactly a week ago today, my brother married the love of his life in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I was so happy to be there and pretty emotional, so rather than a full post here are a lot of pictures from the weekend:

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View from the Bridge on my quick tour of Portland with Kate

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Stalker shot of the bride and groom a few nights before the wedding

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The drive through the Gorge to the venue was breathtaking 

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Like seriously gorgeous

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The venue was also incredible. (Also love that I caught G taking the scenery in…)

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The couch at the rehearsal dinner venue tried to eat mom…

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Adorable cottage where the bridal party got ready

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Bridesmaids gowns in the light

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The beautiful bride

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Her beautiful bouquet

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The reception was like something out of a magazine

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G was clearly thrilled to see me taking pictures

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Head table with blurry fairy lights

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Best Man mid-toast

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First Dance as a married couple!

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G and Baboo breaking it down on the dance floor

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G dancing with the aunts

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Doug and Dad having a moment

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Boarding the bus to the after party 

Then my phone died and I stopped taking pictures…

It was a really great weekend, and as I’ve already said a bunch of times, I’m so excited that Kate is my sister (in-law) now. And I can’t wait to go back to Portland sometime to really explore without all the (delightful) wedding hubbub.

Award Show Round Up: Emmys 2016

Due to the fact that my commute is crazy long right now, and I wanted to eat dinner when I got home, approximately every person on the internet has already shared their thoughts on last night’s Emmy Awards, but whatever. I have thoughts.

The general consensus seems to be that the show was amazing, and at first I found this surprising. It was a good show, and there were some refreshing winners, but was it really that good? But then I thought, this is the Emmys, the bar is so low. The fact that they gave awards to more than one person of color (and 2 women directors!) and managed to pay tribute to people without turning it into a showbiz funeral, was all it really took to make it a success.

Here were my personal highlights:

Jeb! I like the Bushes when they have absolutely no power to over the government. And Jeb seems to have a sense of humor about himself which is nice:

I like Master of Nonebut I loved Alan Yang’s acceptance speech:

KATE MCKINNON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All speeches that end with “topple the patriarchy” will always be featured on this blog:

Look, I know people will be disappointed by this, but I still haven’t watched Transparent, (I know, I know), but Jeffrey Tambor has always given good acceptance speech:

I have no interest in rehashing the gruesome murder of an innocent woman and her friend, so I haven’t watched The People vs. OJ Simpson, but I’m a little bit in love with Sterling K. Brown after last night and I am A LOT in love with Sarah Paulson:

Patton Oswalt has been put through the wringer this year, so I was happy that he got this recognition.

(Also, would have been happy if any one in that category won.)

For no good reason, the fake rivalry between Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon makes me really happy.

And I’m always happy for a Good Will Hunting reference whenever.

As I tweeted last night, I’ve loved Rami Malek for a very long time. (Like since he was on a stupid sitcom with Michael Rappaport long time), but I am so happy the rest of you can see what a delightful weirdo he is.

And, like I said about Modern Family a few years ago, we get it, Game of Thrones is good, they don’t really need anymore Emmys.

Also, dresses! There were a lot of one shoulder looks with cutouts, some more memorable than others.

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Kerri Washington in Brandon Maxwell (Todd Williamson/WireImage)

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Constance Zimmer in Monique Lhuillier (Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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Kristin Bell in Zuhair Murad (Photo Credit: Getty/Kevin Mazur)

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Mandy Moore in Prabal Gurung (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Priyanka Chopra in Jason Wu (Photo Credit: AP)

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Tina Fey in Oscar de la Renta (Photo Credit: GotCeleb)

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Angela Bassett in Rene Caovilla (Photo Credit: Robyn Beck/Agence France Presse – Getty Images)

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Constance Wu in J. Mendel (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The Shakespeare Project: Henry VI, Part II

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So, I could blame the fact that it took me over a year between parts 1 and 2 of Henry VI on grad school, but really it was just that I was not very enthused about the first part, and, as I have said many times, I like my War of the Roses stories to be about women and magic.*

But, reading part 2 this past weekend did give me at least two things:

  1. An opportunity to, one and for all, figure out who is related to who in the fucking War of the Roses. (BTW, technically I think it’s pretty clear that York had a better claim to the throne right?)
  2. A new respect for the badass that was Margaret of Anjou. Sure, she was a murderess, adulterous badass, but she was a woman who knew what she wanted and went for it.
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Just sitting here praying for the blood of my enemies…

Here’s my ultimate thing with the histories, there is so much about monarchy that I will just never understand. The most tragic part of this play (and that’s saying something as upwards of 5 people get their heads cut off and paraded around the stage) is that Henry just really didn’t want to be king at all. But, because his grandfather decided that Richard II wasn’t rightful monarch, poor Henry, whose own dad died when he was super young, has to run a mess of a country when he’d much rather hang out with his friend/uncle Gloucester and pray.

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Basically, this whole play boils down to:

  • Richard is King but doesn’t want to be
  • Margaret is Queen but would like to be King
  • York thinks he’s King & would probably be suited to it
  • The common people are dumb & violent & believe they could be King (i.e. Jack Cade)
  • All people who believe something different from you about who should be king deserve to get their heads cut off.

Can’t wait for part III…

*This part does have a sorcerer who tricks a woman into treason but turns out to predict the future. So…there’s that…