We’re All the Selfish One: Girls Episode 7

This is the episode of Girls that I’ve been waiting for. Partly because I think the idea of a warehouse party is equal parts hilarious and terrifying, something that Lena totally captured, but also more importantly because we finally got four distinct, well done stories of all four girls. (Especially Jessa, I think I’m coming around on her.)

First I think I might be in love with Zosia Mamet, which is awkward because I’m straight and I really don’t like her father, but her acting of the “cracksident” (word credit to Julia) was so hilarious and perfect. She should totally go to the front of kick boxing class. And she should also have an awkwardly enduring non crack induced relationship with Ray. That would make me happy.

Jessa’s inappropriate flirtation with the dad of the kids she nannies for came to a head this week. (I hate that phrase…what’s a better alternative?) And thankfully, and I think realistically, she didn’t sleep with him. Yes she crossed a few lines, and he might not actually be wrong in calling her a tease, but she ultimately made the right choice. I think she needed to get right up to that line before she even really knew that she wouldn’t cross it. I think I might be starting to respect her?

Poor Marnie, she looked so out-of-place in that (admittedly really pretty) dress. Yes she was being really selfish last week, and she shouldn’t have gone to talk to Charlie at the party. (Honestly she probably shouldn’t have gone to the party.) She was just so out of her element, and when she tried to play the roles she so used to – love-object of Charlie/mother of Hannah, it just blew up in her face. Even her attempt at trying to make Elijah (Hannah’s gay ex) into her confidant turned into a speech about she was being selfish. But her comeback “Hannah’s the selfish one” really summed something up for me.

When they are walking into the party Hannah says she’s not going to know anyone because she’s “a loser” which Marnie dismisses as part of the “weird mythology” Hannah has invented for herself. But Hannah as “the selfish one” is just a piece of her own weird mythology. Not that Hannah isn’t selfish – of course she is – but so is Marnie, so is Jessa, so is Elijah frankly. And so am I. They’re all young and don’t have anything figured out and because their own lives are so up in the air, they can really only care so much about everyone else’s problems – even though they clearly love each other.

Which leads me to Hannah…and Adam, poor simple and yet – as we learned this week – actually complicated Adam. We finally see him with a shirt and outside of his apartment, hanging out with his lesbian friends. His friends that know Hannah’s name, so he talks about her, which might seem strange except as I realized throughout the episode, is that all we’ve seen of Adam up until this week is through the prism of Hannah’s disappointment with him. But this week we see him being goofy and kind of hilarious (and as a full human with his own problems) and we see his disappointment with her. I’ve said from the beginning that he treats her like shit because he lets him, but it honestly didn’t occur to me that that’s what he thought she wanted, probably because I’m a girl.

(On a side note: I hate the line “you never asked,” but that’s probably because I tend not to ask important questions, because I don’t want to ‘push’ anything. I guess that means I’m a little like Hannah – I guess that makes me the selfish one.)

I’m interested to see what an actually-in-a-relationship-Adam is like, because Hannah’s smile in the back of that crowded cab? So hopeful and so inappropriately timed.


Thing I Love: Awesome People Hanging Out Together

No I am not just writing to say I like that people have friends and they hang out, though I suppose that’s nice.

It’s no secret that I love blogs filled with old photos. I also love celebrities, not like in a “find out where their staying kind of way,” but more in a “read too many blogs/biographies of dead actors kind of way.” So when I stumbled across the awesomepeoplehangingouttogether tumblr last week I almost squealed, but I was at work, so I restrained myself.

Here are the top 5 things I learned:

1. Dustin Hoffman is a photo-bomber

2. Stephen Colbert is amazing (not so much something I learned as something that was reaffirmed)


3. Tony Perkins when not playing a psycho killer = generally adorable

4. James Dean and Ertha Kitt took dance classes together

5. Paul Newman and Robert Redford can make anything look cool – including ping pong

Also this happened:

In Lieu of An Adventure

I was going to write about the really fun outdoor concerts I went to this weekend at Northwestern’s Dillo Day, but I never actually made it to any concerts. (No I wasn’t too trashed, I just got distracted by catching up with old friends and then I got tired.) And while I had a lot of fun over my holiday weekend (The Avengers is just as good as everyone said it was, and this season of The Bachelorette is filled with delightfully idiotic men) I didn’t really do anything that rises to even my admittedly low standard for adventures. So instead here’s a list of 5 things I enjoyed this weekend in the cool confines of my room. (I don’t do well in heat.)

1. A few episodes of Northern Exposure  

 I have a total crush on 90s era Rob Morrow back when he played the nerdy one (him as as the buff one on Numbers? Never really saw it.) This is a delightfully quirky little peek into how weird Alaska is, or at least I assume Alaska is like this. I’ll admit it’s pretty much all I know about Alaska, oh and John Corbett wears a lot of tight tee shirts.

2. Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare – Audio Book

  Look I’m a nerd, I love Shakespeare, I love Bill Bryson and I like being read a story before I go to bed. (And sometimes I’ll fall asleep at 8 on a weekend night unintentionally while listening to Bill Bryson explain how many words Shakespeare invented. I’m not ashamed of it.

3. America’s Next Top Model British Invasion

Contradiction in terms? Maybe. Awesome? Definitely.

4. Eurovision – Jedward

My friend Julia, who lives in London, sent me this video. I cried laughing. I was in Ireland when Jedward made their X-Factor debut. They have come so far, and yet remain the same.

5. A Wendy’s Frosty

‘nough said.

Thing I Love: WTF with Marc Maron

I love podcasts, I need them to get through my day, but lately I’ve had some changes in my technology, and following a lot of daily podcasts has gotten a little harder to do. (Yes I tried Sticher, I’m not sure how I feel about it.) But I can’t not have someone talking into my ears to get me through the tedium of reports, so I did something new. I actually paid for a podcast.

More specifically I bought Marc Maron’s WTF ap. For those of you don’t know, WTF is a twice weekly interview show produced out of comedian Marc Maron’s garage. He interviews comedians mostly, with a random assortment of writers, actors, and other entertainment folks, along with his own parents and his therapist friend Dan. I’ve been listening to the new episodes of this for probably about a year, if not more, and have always enjoyed how Marc is able to disarm his guest enough somehow that they reveal things you are shocked to hear in public. (I mean addiction, family history, one guy came out – it’s insane what he gets out of these people.)

What buying the ap has allowed me to do is go back and listen to the entire run of the show, which has been so interesting. You really can track the evolution of the show from an idea that he’s trying to figure out to the wildly popular show that is now. Marc can be a difficult person and some of the best interviews are with comedians that he has had tension or outright conflict with in the past. So many people come into the garage and tell stories about how Marc was a dick to them in the past and he just listens, sometimes apologizes and sometimes argues. It’s fascinating. I’m a pretty private person about my emotional life, so the amount of candor that these people – especially Marc – display is astounding and wonderful to me.

Plus there’s lots of fun “inside comedy” shop talk and crazy stories about doing comedy in the 80s and 90s. Marc was friends with a lot of people who are famous now (look there’s him and a baby-faced Louis C.K.) and clearly has dealt with resentment issues, but he’s really carved out a niche for himself with this show, and if you like comedy at all (I’m a bit of a closet comedy nerd) this is definitely worth getting into.

Life Stops When You Go Home: Girls Episode 6

This episode felt out of step with the rest of the series so far to me, but that isn’t necessarily a criticism. This week Hannah traveled home to visit her parents for their anniversary, which as they all discover is one of those ideas that sounds great over the phone, but it awkward in practice. They weren’t having a party they just wanted her to come home for the weekend.

First let me just say that I found myself really missing the other girls this week, and I’m excited to get back to their little world next week. (As is Hannah I think.)

Going home is weird, even when it doesn’t include a Judd Apatow written parental sex injury farce scene. And Lena brought her usual insight and to this quintessential young person experience as she has to every other so far, but the episode kind of left me feeling blank. There were a few great moments, I especially loved Hannah’s version of “affirmations” in the mirror before her date with the pharmacist. I’m not going to lie I have totally done that.

Emotionally I really connected to the scene in the hall between Hannah and her mom. Hannah decides not to ask for rent money that she desperately needs from her mom, because her mom is proud of how she’s “making it work” on her own in New York. What’s great about their relationship is I don’t think there’s really anything she could do that would really disappoint them, but their being proud is still so incredibly important to her.   

Basically this was an episode about how we all regress when we go home, but sort of surprisingly there was some progress with her relationship with Adam. In that he treated her like a person instead of “monkey meat.” I’ve said from the beginning that there’s a not terrible person hiding in Adam, but I might just want there to be, just like Hannah does.

Ten Songs For: When You Run Into Your Ex That You Are Actually Over

I’m pretty sure that my iPod is psychic. Or at the very least that Apple has some sort of genius alogrithim that thematically links songs when you put your iPod on shuffle. This came up most recently for me, when I was walking to the el very early last Thursday morning. My walk is about 3.5 songs long, and usually, because I have oddly ecclectic taste in music I end up listening to a strange patter song from a musical and then a Backstreet Boys hit fading into Rufus Wainwright. But this one morning I got 4 songs in a row that all seemed to be about the same, oddly-specific moment. They were all break up songs, but not wallowing ones, or even really angry (though this list is a little angry), just songs that are about to have ton confront someone that used to mean a lot to you and now, weirdly is basically just an acquaintence with some awkward stories.

So with a little help from my friend Julia, I give you this list to get you through the next time it happens to you:

1. Somebody That I Used to Know – Goyte feat. Kimbra

Basically this song defines exactly what I’m talking about.

2. Don’t Ask Me – OK GO

Love them. Love this song.

3. Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson

I feel ridiculous writing ‘you’ as ‘U,’ but I’ve been a fan of Kelly since her American Idol days, and nobody does fun pop girl power better than Kelly.

4. Desert Island Top 5 Break Ups – Will Chase – from the High Fidelity soundtrack

This show lasted for literally 7 performances on Broadway, and this song reeks of denial, but it’s so fun.

5. Amsterdam – Guster

I’ve seen Guster live 4 times, this song is so great. And introduces the second instance of the record theme. Everyone is obsessed with getting their records back, which I guess is something my generation really doesn’t have to deal with generally.

6. Call It What You Want – Foster the People

Julia’s contribution that I hadn’t heard/thought of before I asked her. Totally worth it just for video. I would love some bubble wrap to jump on.

7. Dancing on My Own – Robyn

Yes, I know I already put this on the blog. And it’s a little less “over it” than the others, but I can’t resist this beat.

8. Single Ladies – Beyonce

Yes, it’s a cliche, but sometimes nothing beats this song. 

9. You’ll Think of Me – Keith Urban

A little more melancholy, but you can’t make a break up play list without a country song.

10. Faith – George Michael

Because there is never a time when this song will not help me.

Doing It For the Story: Episode 5 of Girls

I’ve stopped looking at all of the reviews of every episode of Girls that clutter up my Twitter feed every Monday morning, but I did really enjoy reading this post pointing out to my favorite critics over at Slate that Girls is a comedy.

But honestly I can understand their confusion, with the exception of the absolutely delightful “high” Marnie/shy Charlie/totally gay Elijah college flashback scene, there wasn’t a lot to laugh about this week. Unless laughter is how you deal with feeling profoundly uncomfortable, I guess.

I know that I have been advocating, along with everyone else, for the Marnie/Charlie break up for the past 5 weeks, but now that it’s come I was actually really sad. Probably because Charlie finally seemed to have a spine, and a personality that didn’t revolve around how much he loved Marnie. I mean his “I am an important part of the community of this apartment” speech: Nonsensical? Sure. Charming in its desperation? Yeah.


Also he’s awesome at making furniture, that apartment was way cooler than Marnie and Hannah’s. Yes, this was a college relationship that should have ended with graduation, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t both in pain. Or at least he is. Honestly, Marnie, the “don’t break up with me” thing, gross. You clearly just wanted to be in control, it didn’t have anything to do with Charlie, which I guess is fitting, because you had clearly stopped thinking about him at all a long time ago.

Now on to Hannah’s story for the week. While I am generally a big proponent of doing anything “for the story” as Jessa tells Hannah, you should really draw the line at sleeping with your boss, or any inappropriate old man. The story won’t actually be that great, where could you tell it? It would just make everyone uncomfortable. And as for the last scene with Adam…I’m not going to go into detail but – Lena, I feel like we’re friends now and I know you are trying really hard to tell stories that have never been told and I think you’re succeeding. But I do not need to know certain details of your life (or your fictional characters’ lives.) I don’t want to know these things about my friends, and I’m pretty confident they don’t want to know them about me. That being said, it did make me laugh, even if mostly out of discomfort.

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Five Star Book: Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

I was going to start with some perfunctory, half-apology for writing about another play, but if you aren’t interested in plays, you probably gave up on this blog awhile ago.

I have never been that big of a Tom Stoppard fan (with the obvious exception of Shakespeare in LoveI mean, come on). Mostly this indifference was based on the fact that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead was on the reading list of an “Existentialist Theater” class one of my friends took. I have a deep seeded disdain for existentialism, it’s based partly in the fact that I resent the amount Beckett I have had to read in Irish literature classes and my basically positive outlook on life.

But last year my friend Julia told me about how much she loved Arcadia and how it was one of those books/plays for her. You know one of those pieces of art (literary or otherwise) that you love so much that you feel like they are a part of you, that you are almost scared to describe them, because you know you won’t do it justice. Which made me run out and buy Arcadia and then wait a year to get around to actually reading it.

Well, I really shouldn’t have waited. It’s absolutely brilliant. So good in fact that when I finished it on the train yesterday morning I put in my bag and then picked up again and started leafing through it to reread what I’m sure will become my favorite passages.

It’s not an easy play to summarize, as I discovered trying to describe it to my mom last night on the phone. It takes place in one room in a grand English house in two vastly different time periods: the early 1800s when Lord Byron was a guest at the house, and the present when a couple of scholars are trying to prove their theories about Byron and his companions.

Theatrically, Stoppard is very specific about how he wants the transition between the periods to blend and blur as the show goes on and I would love to see a production to really see how I feel about that, but on paper that almost seems beside the point. The point for me is about the central characters and their pursuit of knowledge – and not just knowledge but discovery.

In the 1800s a young girl named Thomasina (which I  just think is such a Romantic name) learns from her tutor Septimus (which is a ridiculous name of course) enough about geometry that she tries to form a picture of the whole universe with it. The two characters have a delightful rapport, which is a wonderful contrast to the manor house melodrama going on around them.

The modern sections of the play function as a kind of treatise on the nature of scholarship, with its own manor house farce in the background. The three scholars, Bernard, Valentine and Hannah all have lots of, often very wordy, opinions about what makes their own work important or provable (while of course none of it is really provable.) This sounds like it should be dry, but Stoppard is witty enough that their jabs and petty jealousies become sort of fascinating and in the end, all of their work is trivial, but as Hannah sums it up for a despairing Valentine,

“ Comparing what we’re looking for misses the point. It’s wanting to know that makes us matter. Otherwise we’re going out the way we came in. That’s why you can’t believe in the afterlife, Valentine. Believe in the after, by all means, but not the life. Believe in God, the soul, the spirit, the infinite, believe in angels if you like, but not in the great celestial get-together for an exchange of views. If the answers are in the back of the book I can wait, but what a drag. Better to struggle on knowing that failure is final.” 

Which sums it all up really, as all the characters in both times find, there’s no grand answer, but we still have to look.

I want to say more, but it will just be gushing. Will someone in Chicago produce this please? I’m dying to see it on stage.

Thing I Love: The Best of Talking Heads

I have a tendency to get in music loops. I’ll play the same song or album over and over again until I get it out of my system, and then I won’t be able to listen to it at all for a long time. Recently, my commutes have been taken up with playing The Best of Talking Heads and trying to stop myself from singing out loud or bopping visibly.

I am in no way a huge Talking Heads fan – it wasn’t until I was writing this post that I knew for sure that there was no “the” in their band title. But my mom has a weird tendency to sing random songs, and that’s how I first heard of them. “Psycho Killer” is one of her favorites, and it’s oddly catchy despite the disturbing title.

I bought this collection on whim one time when I couldn’t get “Once in a Lifetime” out of my head and then proceeded to never listen to it until this year. What I have recently discovered is that it is an awesome soundtrack to banal life. It makes everything seem surreal and cinematic, like I’m walking through the opening montage of an indie movie.

David Byrne and the rest of the crew met in art school and so some of the songs get a little too “conceptual” for my taste, but it also leads to a really cool collage-esque mixing of different musical styles, like the gospel choir vibe at the beginning of “Road to Nowhere:”

Because this is a “Best of” I get the impression that these are the most “listener-friendly” Talking Heads tracks, but that’s all I really need. Nothing brightens a morning schlep to the el more than this song:

Journals Are So Not OK to Read: Girls Episode 4

In time for the new episode to appear tonight, I have finally actually seen last week’s episode of Girls, “Hannah’s Diary.” It had a whole new level of awkward (which I think is kind of her objective) with the overly touchy new boss. (But on the bright side – she has a job now!)

I didn’t have as many thrills of recognition this week, but I did see issues that have definitely popped up or I wouldn’t be shocked to see come up. First I need to get something off my chest – I kind of hate Jessa, not that I don’t find her realistic, but I just can’t put up with her. (But I did love her way of comforting the recently rejected Soshana…that rang really true for me.)

I was super proud of Hannah for finally confronting Adam about the way he treats her. And I thought that scene was incredibly well acted and written, because it wasn’t a pity party. She acknowledged that he’s been acting this way because she has let him. (Something I think we all know in our hearts happens more than we want to admit.) Though I’m not super stoked that they then had sex, because he showed an ounce of emotion towards her, I am interested to see what the long-term fall-out from her honesty will be.

Now onto the title story – Ray (who is deliciously obnoxious, I know so many people like him) reads Hannah’s journal to Charlie (who I realized I’ve been calling Brian, because that’s how nondescript he is…I can’t even remember his name.) And realizes how frustrated Marnie is in their relationship. They then turn it into a song, which they then perform for Hannah and Marnie and a bar full of strangers. It’s not only horribly awkward, it’s really mean-spirited.

People shouldn’t read other people’s journals, they are just going to be offended, and honestly what were you hoping to find? It’s never good. At best it’s boring. Maybe I just take this personally as I have journals from many different times in my life littered throughout my apartment and would be horribly embarrassed if anyone ever read them, even the ones that aren’t that personal.

Also I’m a little confused at why Marnie was so mad Hannah after the song (she full on throws a drink at her). It’s not like they haven’t talked about all of these things before. It would be one thing if she was lying to Marnie’s face about it and then writing these things. But anger isn’t a logical thing so…

Also can we talk about true to life the whole going to see your friend’s really bad two person band play is? The awkward spoken word rendition of the diary entry, performance art gold man.

Hopefully it won’t take me a week to get around to watching the new episode, but for now I’m going to go out and enjoy the sun.

Posted in TV