Music Keeping Me Sane Right Now

I’m winding up my time at my job and getting ready for my big move (for those of you that don’t know, I’m heading down to Austin in a few weeks to start grad school.) Needless to say I have a million things running through my mind, here are some songs that I’m listening to get me through:

You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon

For some reason on the train back from Springfield a couple of weeks ago, I put on the Paul Simon Spotify station. It was an excellent choice.

Brass in Pocket – The Pretenders

Border Animals – Ravenna Woods

Bodies – Robbie Williams

Just for the record, I am completely aware that this song is ridiculous, but it was a big hit in Ireland when I spent a semester there and for some reason it popped into my head last week (and it will not go away.)

Don’t – Ed Sheeran

So this apparently about how Ellie Goulding cheated on him (potentially with a member of One Direction? Rumors are hard to follow sometimes), which sucks, but the song doesn’t.

Burn – Ellie Goulding

Because I still really love her anyway…

Boom Clap – Charlie XCX

Because it’s getting my vote for TBTL Song of the Summer

I Do My Father’s Drugs – Joe Pug

He’s a Chicago boy who now lives in Austin, and I saw him play at Millennium Park recently and it was awesome.

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Boy Crazy – Lydia Loveless

I get to see her in a weekish at Wicker Park Fest!! So excited that I get to cross that off my list before the move.

Lets Get High – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

Because it’s summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Best Picture Baking Project: Annie Hall

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I love Annie Hall, but I couldn’t think of a dessert that would in any way fit with it, but Google pointed me towards something called “Annie Hall butter cookies,” which are basically just sugar cookies, but they were good.

Had I seen this one before?

Yep, I wrote about finally watching it for the first time a couple of years ago here.

Top 3 observations on this viewing?

  1. It was stranger than I remembered. And I remembered it being pretty strange. But there were so many weird little tangents that I had just completely forgotten about. Like this dinner scene:

2. The cameos make this movie. Christopher Walken’s strange suicidal monologue. This blink and you miss it moment of brilliance from a young Jeff Goldblum:

3. This gag will never fail to make me laugh out loud:

 

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win?

The Goodbye Girl – Which I’ve never seen, but have lied about having seen before, and I have a weird love for Richard Dreyfuss.

Julia – also on the “to-see” list

Star Wars – Hmm, I love that Star Wars got nominated! But Annie Hall is a better film on its own in my brain.

The Turning Point – I’ve never even heard of this, but it is apparently about ballet.

 

Bechdel Test Pass?

Nope. There are multiple named women, but they don’t talk to each other, except for a two second conversation between Alvy’s mother and aunt in a fantasy sequence they don’t talk to each other. (But they aren’t talking about a man in that sequence, so that’s something.)

And it is the movie that gave us this style icon – so we have to give it a few feminist cred points

Annie Hall Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 ½ cups unbleached flour
  • ½ tsp salt

Directions

  • Cream together butter and sugar
  • Add egg yolks and vanilla and mix well
  • Whisk together flour and salt
  • Mix flour mixture into the butter mixture
  • Chill dough
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Roll onto lightly floured board to thickness of ½”
  • Cut with cookie cutters and place on a cookie sheet
  • Brush cookies with egg wash (one egg + one tablespoon of milk) and sprinkle with sugar crystals
  • Bake for about 12min
  • Remove from oven and let cool

Six Degrees of Cinema: The Object of My Affection

I had seen this movie when I was too young to really understand what was going on. I knew that Paul Rudd’s character was gay (and I knew what gay meant) and that Jennifer Anniston’s character was straight and that she was pregnant with that guy that looks vaguely like Billy Crystal’s baby, but that she wanted to raise it with George (Rudd.) So the plot I had pretty much down, but the important part – the emotions involved – was completely lost on me.

I think I remember wondering why George’s boyfriend, the adorable Amo Guinello who seems to have completely disappeared, couldn’t just move in and help with Nina’s baby too. But now re-watching it, that conflict was achingly real to me. The idea that there all different kinds of families is really important to me, but what this story makes clear is that everyone has to be on the same page about that. The problem isn’t that George and Nina don’t love each other, or that they don’t make a good team, but that they want different things from each other and in Nina’s case things George is literally unable to give.

This is all very heavy, and this movie is not. It’s essentially a good-hearted romantic comedy with a slight-twist. With wonderful scenes satirizing both the academic and avant-garde theatre worlds, which basically means it was created for me. And it features really hilarious supporting turns from Alison Janney and Alan Alda as Nina’s fame whore step-sister and husband.

Also I’ve read the book, and you can really see Wendy Wasserstein’s touch on this script. I especially loved the scenes between Nina and her young clients at the community center. “You call the shots” for yourselves ladies. (At least the ones that don’t involve controlling other people’s emotions of course…)

In this chain: Breathe InGone Baby Gone The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert FordAll the Real Girls Prince Avalanche – The Object of My Affection

Weekly Adventure: Abraham Lincoln Edition

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A few years ago my friend Alexis and I went to visit Miró in Austin and wandered into the LBJ Presidential Museum. It was awesome (and not just because it was air-conditioned). It was fascinating to see how the museum decided to portray his legacy – the moment that sticks in my head from that one is the transition from the good (the Civil Rights legislation) to the bad (Vietnam) with just a blank wall with a scale model of the USS Maddox. Since then I’ve been to a bunch of other Presidential Museums (mostly with Lex!) and the way that each one presents the legacy of the man they are memorializing.

Clockwise from left: Miro, Lex & I at the LBJ library; Me hanging with the Roosevelts in Hyde Park, NY; Lex & I at the JFK Libray; Me with the shuttle that connects the John Adams and John Quincy Adams Museums

Clockwise from left: Lex, M & I at the LBJ library; Me hanging with the Roosevelts in Hyde Park, NY; Lex & I at the JFK Library; Me with the shuttle that connects the John Adams and John Quincy Adams Museums

I’ve lived in Illinois now for over 6 years now and yet I hadn’t ever made the trek down to Springfield to see the Lincoln Museum until this weekend. My friend’s Katelin, Noel and I decided that it would be a fun/nerdy way to celebrate the 4th of July.

The first place we went was the Visitor’s Center which was in an old train station and has a few of the costumes and sets from the movie Lincoln:

One of Sally Field's costumes from Lincoln

One of Sally Field’s costumes from Lincoln

Daniel Day Lewis's costume and the set for the cabinet office

Daniel Day Lewis’s costume and the set for the cabinet office

Then we crossed the street to the actual museum, which was very modern and pretty, and for some reason filled with creepy mannequin characters.

There were also a set of these of the whole Lincoln family that you could pose with…Noel suggested that is how you love your soul.

There were also a set of these of the whole Lincoln family that you could pose with…Noel suggested that is how you love your soul.

You can’t take pictures in most of the exhibits, but they are for the most part really well done. Especially a piece featuring the late Tim Russert commentating on the Presidential election and the handling of the election, and everything related to Lincoln’s death and funeral procession.

I also thought they did a really good job of being kind to Mary Todd Lincoln. It can be really easy to reduce her down to a stereotype and make jokes about séances, but the museum does a really good job of explaining the trauma she went through; she suffered so much loss and reacted to it in the only way she could. For the most part I thought they did a wonderful job of summing up his life and career – with a big exception that I’ll get to in a little bit.

So it turns out that other than various Lincoln related monuments there isn’t a lot to do in Springfield on a Saturday afternoon, so after the museum (and the holographic show about the importance of archives, which I really appreciated.) We decided to go to see Lincoln’s Tomb, which the man at the Visitor’s Information desk said was a “quick walk” away. I believe his exact words were its “up this way a bit and then right over.” That man was a liar, it was a half an hour walk. And we found out later that there was a bus, that we managed to miss in both directions.


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Visiting a grave is always kind of weird as a tourist stop, but I felt like the National Park service did all they could to keep the tone somber and reverential. (Also architecturally it is just really impressive.)

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By the time we walked all the back in to town (passing a few confused Springfield residents who we could hear saying “where do you think they’re headed?”) All of the restaurants we passed seemed to be closed, except this one:

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Just kidding, we went to a wonderful pizza place called Joe Gallina’s

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Seriously the pizza was sooo good:

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On the way back to the train station we finally found Lincoln’s Law office:

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And this plaque:

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Joshua Speed was Lincoln’s “best friend” who he shared a bed with for over five years and wrote incredibly emotional letters to. I was really angry that there was nary a mention of him at the official museum. I understand that they may not want to take a position on the nature of Speed and Lincoln’s relationship (it is complicated by the fact that modern notion of homosexuality as an identity is a really recent cultural phenomenon that wouldn’t have made any sense to these men and the idea of romantic friendship between men wouldn’t have been uncommon or frowned upon.) But I don’t see why they mentioned the store they owned together without mentioning the fact that there was a co-owner who was incredibly important to Lincoln (no matter what way.) I’m glad there was some acknowledgement of his presence in the town.

Overall it was a great trip – worth hours of Amtrak.

 

 

The Shakespeare Project: Henry IV, Part II

Who would have thought that I would have come to the end of the Henry the Fouth’s saga wishing for more discussion of succession and what it means to be a king. In the past I’ve said that’s why I am bored by the histories, but I’ve realized something. Once you get the names and family trees straight (thanks Wikipedia) the most compelling parts of this extended saga (which I’ve revisited recently by starting The Hollow Crown, holy shit Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear are remarkable in Richard II), is that philosophical discussion of the nature of monarchy – is it God-given? If so what sway does the will of the people hold? Don’t they have to consent to be governed? – can actually be fascinating.

And stripping even that away, as I am very American (Happy 4th y’all) and at a certain point the idea of monarchy gets fuzzy and boring to me, the story of Henry IV and his son – the slowly and reluctantly reforming Hal (later Henry V) is so compelling just as a family drama. There are really moving speeches about filial duty and regret from both father and son in this play, and I was lost in it more than I expected to be.

So why did I still take weeks to get through it? Because Falstaff is insufferable. And not in a “fat guys are funny, isn’t rudeness hilarious?” way, but in a “seriously, him again? Go back to fucking dying king I do not care that Shallow is funny and Silence won’t shut up.” You’re so clever Shakespeare. Seriously, I know that Falstaff is like universally acclaimed and discussed, but I really didn’t see the point of his presence in this half of the story at all.

In the first half, he’s important to establishing Prince Hal’s conflict, but it really feels like he was jammed in here, because he had been so popular in the first half. I understand that Shakespeare was a commercial artist and he had to make concessions to his audience, but I’m so glad Falstaff doesn’t show up in Henry V.