Presenting: 12 Magical Moments

My friend over at Dose of Dash had a wonderful idea to help us all ring out 2012 – a little DIY project!

Magic Moments announcement

 

So please join us in sending out 2012 with lots of love! You can upload directly to the Flickr Group (12 Magical Moments in 2012) or use the hashtag on social media posts. Don’t forget to let either me (@kathryndennett) or Miro(@em_dash512) know so we can pull them all into one place! xoxo
Miro from Dose of Dash & Kathryn from I Get a Bit Obsessive 

Note: **This a project about positivity and sharing the joyful moments of our past year with each other, in an effort to be inclusive please try to avoid agressive or controversial statements.

And the Nominees Are: Round 2 – Musicals!

As you read this blog, you obviously know that I am a big fan of musicals. I was and am the cliché musical theater nerd endlessly debating original cast vs. revival albums. I am a sucker for a man who can belt. And I cry like nobodies business at a Soliloquy.

But movie and TV musicals are hard to get right, the suspension of disbelief is somehow just easier in the theater. So with that in mind here’s my take on this year’s musical nominees:

Les Miserables

Despite being a big theater nerd, I never really got into Les Mis, my go to line about it is that I love drums, and am not a fan of recitative. And after seeing Tom Hooper’s, epic adaptation of it last night I can say that…I still wish there were more drums, but I really should have given this show more of a chance sooner. The cast of this film is amazing, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, and Samantha Banks are especially fantastic, (though I do think people are being really unfair on Russel Crowe). I love this movies, but I remain completely befuddled by the point of Cosette.

Glee

I gave up on Glee halfway through the third season. I was sick of the ridiculous preachiness, contrived plots, and overuse of auto-tune. Plus I had moved out of my apartment with cable so I was never just going to stumble upon it. Unless of course I was visiting my parents for Thanksgiving and my mom wanted to watch the super hero episode. Not only did I get “Some Nights” stuck in my head for a solid month (oh wait no it’s still there), I decided to give the show another chance. I got the third season on DVD and watched it all in about three days. It is contrived and silly and overly sentimental and wonderful. Teenagers should not get engaged, birth mom’s should not try to steal their children back, and no one should “say sorry with a song,” but the cast of this show can belt. It shouldn’t be winning awards anymore (and let’s be real it won’t), but I’m glad to be watching it again.

Nashville

I’ve written about this show before, and although it has some plot and pacing issues I have just continued to love it each more with each week, and each new character – a dirty hipster Jack White stand in? a virginal QB Tim Tebow wannabe? Yes please!

Yes I know it’s not a musical in the sense of the other shows on this list, in that no one just breaks out in song for no reason, but the music is the heart and soul of this show, and it’s so good.

Smash

Full disclosure: I have seen only the first and the last episodes of this show. I really meant to watch it, because I love musicals and the theater world and the backstage drama. From everything I’ve read what I missed in the middle was a bit of a mess, but the finale was good enough that I plan on catching up. Also I love any show that employs so many of my Broadway favorites. (Christian Borle! Wes Taylor!)

Five Star Book: The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud

I have a really long “to-read” list, like it can take well over a year between buying a book and actually getting around to reading it, at times I wonder if I buy them just because I like the way their bindings look on a shelf. Which is to say that I have been looking at the spine of The Emperor’s Children for a long time now, with little to no idea what it was about. (I think I picked it up in a massive used bookstore binge.)

The element of surprise may account for I was so charmed, but I think that it owes a lot more to Messud’s masterful characterization. I know these characters, I hate and love and am them, or more accurately I guess I can see myself becoming them, as I’m not 30 yet.

The blurb on the front of this book says that it is a “masterful comedy of errors,” which in many ways is true, but what it strikes me as is a portrait of a certain class of Americans, specifically New York intellectuals, and all their attendant pretensions. I don’t want to give away the twist, even though you can see it coming pretty early, but I will say that could in other hands be a crass use of tragedy to facilitate plot, in Messud’s feels like an attempt to explain how these intensely real characters would handle life in the actual world.

This is a book about the legends we create in our minds about our families, heroes, and ourselves. Which of course means it’s a book about disillusionment, but it’s also about friendship and the way that people who exasperate you can also be the people who will take care of you. Somehow I managed to find it hopeful, but maybe ask me again in seven years.

 

P.S. According to Wikipedia Noah Baumbach is adapting it into a movie – I am honestly surprised that it took six years.

Merry Christmas!

I’m taking a blog break and heading home. But here’s this, courtesy of XRT’s holiday music hour last night, which by the way is the perfect packing soundtrack…

I hope all you are celebrating have a wonderful holiday!

And the Nominees Are: Round 1

Award Season is upon me! This means I’ve gone to the movies twice this week and I have exceeded the hold limit at the Chicago Public Library trying to get the DVDs of the early nominees that I missed the first time around. I’m in pop culture heaven.

For those of you who don’t know, I try to see all the nominees every year. I chose four of the major award shows a couple of years back to focus on: the SAG Awards, the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, and the Oscars. I have specific reasons for each, and why I ignore others, but I won’t go into them here (maybe in the intro to future updates).

Those of you that pay even a little bit of attention to these things have probably already figured out that this means that I will be consuming a lot media in the coming couple of months. I try to see every movie and watch at least a couple of episodes of all the TV shows. But I have a very, some may say absurdly, low tolerance for violent imagery, so I give myself three “outs” every year. (So far I can already announce that I will not be watching Breaking Bad or Django Unchained.)

OK enough explanation, so far I’ve seen:

Argo

The first award contender I saw this year, this movie had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I’ve never been one of those people who hated on Ben Affleck, but I have so much respect for him based on this movie. He created so much tension and suspense that he had me questioning whether I remember the history of the Iranian hostage crisis correctly. The cast is stacked with some of my personal favorites: Chris Messina, Clea DuVall, Victor Garber, Brian Cranston, Tate Donovan, and Alan Arkin & John Goodman,who feel as if they are in their own movie, in a way that is totally thematically appropriate. I also loved how it was a period movie that was accurate without winking at the audience about silly hair or polyester shirts.

Lincoln

One of my nerdier obsessions is presidential history, my friend Alexis and I want to go to all the presidential libraries at some point in our lives, and so I was totally onboard from the first whispers that this movie was in production. And for the most part I was not disappointed. Daniel Day-Lewis may be an alien sent here to show us what acting is supposed to look like, and he did an amazing job of making me forget that he was a Irish-Britishman rather than the 16th president of the United States. Also Tony Kushner wrote the script, which was excellent if a bit preachy at times, but when we’re talking about the end of slavery, I think we can all handle a little preaching.

Hitchcock

And now to prove that I don’t just love all award contenders. This movie had a lot going on, it’s a behind the scenes of Psycho, an emotional look at what it’s like to be the “red carpet widow,” and a strange movie where it is somehow acceptable to have Ed Gein hanging out in the corner talking to Alfred Hitchcock. It never really comes together into anything coherent. That being said, the only nominations that it’s been getting so far are for Helen Mirren’s turn as Mrs. Hitchcock, Alma Reville, and her performance was breathtaking. There’s one scene, where she finally takes her needling, selfish husband to task, Mirren knocks it out of the park and before her monologue was even over I was thinking “oh that’s a nomination right there.” But overall while watching this movie I thought about how much I would rather be watching Psycho, which is insane given my above stated feelings on violence.

Anna Karenina

(Side note: I CANNOT spell that last name on the first try ever.) I think this movie was definitely gunning for more nominations than it has gotten thus far, but only in marketing. The actual movie is so far from straightforward awards bait, aside from the British talent heavy weight cast, (I mean it is a Working Title production that was expected). Instead it is a surreal, staging (like literally on a constantly shifting stage), of the Tolstoy novel. It’s visually stunning and the acting is wonderful. (I was especially moved by Jude Law as the Alexi Anna is married to.) The only nomination it has so far is for Dario Marianelli’s score, which is appropriate as the first half of this movie is essentially a ballet with dialogue, but I would expect some upcoming ones for costumes and maybe art direction.

In Lieu of an Adventure: Holiday Party Edition

So although it felt at times like an epic quest hindered by a curse from the baking gods, I can’t really call the holiday party I co-hosted with Julia this weekend an adventure, but it was wonderful.

A few tips:

1. When your bread recipe implodes in a dramatic fashion and you spend any remaining baking time curled up in the fetal position, go to the Swedish Bakery at 5348 North Clark and buy seasonal egg bread, it goes really well with cinnamon-sugar butter

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2. Various kinds of booze boiling on the stove will welcome your guests even if they show up in the middle of a downpour

Cider!

Cider!

Mulled Wine!

3. Try and always have an almost-TV-chef friend show up with latkes

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4. Gingerbread cookies are adorable, and a good way to take your excess aggression

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5. Try not to overreact to your White Elephant gift.

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Maybe next year I’ll take my own advice…Happy Holiday’s everyone!

Thank You!!

So it’s really hard for me to believe, but this is my 100th post!! I really never thought I would stick with this so long, and the only reason I have is that so many of you, both friends from the real world and people that stumble upon this page through the wonders of the internet, have been so kind and encouraging. It really means more than I can say, so please keep reading, and I will try to use the phrase “a lot” less – OK Dad?

Weekly Adventure: Robbie Fulks and Kelly Hogan at The Hideout

I’ve written before about my love for both The Hideout and Kelly Hogan, and my trip there last night to hear her, as the guest performer in fellow country singer Robbie Fulks’ weekly show, only confirmed it.

First, The Hideout is all decked out for the holidays, which means it is decorated with construction paper chains, which is exactly how I would have thought they would decorate, if I ever thought about it before.

Photo: Julia Davidson

Photo: Julia Davidson

But kitschy/hipstery charm of The Hideout aside, last night’s show was essentially just a great celebration of folk-country and fun. Both Fulks and Kelly, I think I’ve listened to I Like To Keep Myself in Pain enough times to be on a first name basis, are true masters. Fulks’s classic country, almost bluegrass quick guitar picking and Kelly’s power house voice, which never fails to give me actual chills, blended really well. And the set list was a  great balance of classic country songs, Kelly’s new music, and a few unexpected gems like a soulful cover of “Carolina On My Mind” and a shout out to everyone’s favorite ‘soap opry’ Nashville  with a cover of “Fade Into You.”

Photo: Julia Davidson

Photo: Julia Davidson

They also had a delightful rapport that reminded me of old variety shows. I would love for the two of them to have a variety show, or at the very least an album together.

Also, just because I feel like I should explain, Kelly came up on stage and said “I’m sorry I usually dress up, but I just got back from tour and the van drove away” with her clothes… hence “Senior Dogs”

Photo: Julia Davidson

Photo: Julia Davidson

Lots of Things I Love: My Movie Alphabet

blogathon

I’m jumping on the movie-blog bandwagon, and participating in Mettel Ray’s acrostic blogathon (though I’m not really a movie blog, I like lists a lot.) The official rules allowed an actor, director, or movie for each letter of the alphabet, but I stuck to movies. I also do not have the Photoshop skills/resourcesof some other participants, but I did my best to find good images for the movies I picked. It was really fun, but trickier than I initially thought – ‘O’ & ‘K’ especially.  

# is for 10 Things I Hate About You

A is for An Education

 

B is for The Breakfast Club

C is for Camp

 

That’s baby-Anna Kendrick!

D is for Dead Poet’s Society

 

E is for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

F is for Fish Tank

G is for Gigi

H is for Happy Together

I is for It’s A Wonderful Life

J is for Junebug

Mostly just Amy Adams and Benjamin McKenzie in Junebug

K is for Knocked Up

L is for Like Crazy

 

M is for Moonstruck

N is for Never Let Me Go

O is for O Brother, Where Art Thou?

P is for Pretty Woman

Q is for The Queen

 

This movie is mostly about the corgis for me

R is for Reality Bites

S is for Say Anything

T is for Titanic

U is for Up In the Air

V is for Vertigo

W is for Weekend

X is for Xanadu

OK I’ve never actually seen Xanadu, but my friend, who blogs over at Dose of Dash, loves it, so I’m going to assume I also love it.

Y is for You’ve Got Mail

 

Z is for Zoolander

Weekly Adventure: School for Lies at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Yesterday was the definition of delightful. Chicago Shakespeare Theater invited all it’s young broke patrons, aka the people who take advantage of the CST for $20 program, to the first preview of their new production of David Ives’ School for Lies, which is an adaptation of Moliere’s Misanthrope.

I’ll get back to the show in a second, but can I just suggest to the theater companies of Chicago that inviting a bunch of young people to the theater for free and then giving them free champagne and cake at intermission, is a great way to cultivate audience loyalty. Or at least get a good review on a blog.

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But seriously, the show was amazing on its own. Everything from the costumes to running gag with the servant throwing canapés into the air, was over the top and fantastic. The play is a satire about the lies we all tell each other in the name of politeness and how this leads to ridiculous misunderstandings. It’s also about sex and love and how no one can recognize you if you aren’t wearing your glasses, oh and it’s written in verse.

Moliere, like Shakespeare, can be treated too seriously by modern theaters and viewers, the archaic language makes the whole enterprise seem formal. By updating the language Ives has opened the play up to the audience, and restored the silly and at times downright dirty, humor.

Even without the champagne I couldn’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. You should all go see it, if you’re under 35 the ticket will just cost $20.

 

The show runs through January 20th on the main stage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater at 800 E. Grand (the end of Navy Pier).