Midweek Music

I’ve been meaning to post a playlist for awhile, but misplaced the page in my notebook where I had been keeping my list. I found it last week and added a couple to make it a square 10. As always they mostly come from the Dinner Party Download or TBTL (what can I say I rely on the men of the APM Podcast network to give me new music…)

Emerald St. – Jamila Woods feat. Saba

Direct Address – Lucy Dacus

She Turns My Radio On – Jim Ford

Eternal Flame – The Bangles

When I was in 5th grade I watched a Behind the Music about the Bangles and even though I never remember to listen to their music, I pretty much still want to be them when I grow up.

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I mean look at the attitude (and the hair) #goals

Nuit de Foile – Début de Soirée 

Please enjoy this bonus video of another role model of mine, Isabelle Hupert – possibly the coolest woman alive – dancing like a giddy teenager to this song.

Alex Chilton – The Replacements 

Cherry Hearts – Prom Queen (cover a Shins song)

Delta Lady – Joe Cocker

How I Left – Sean Hayes

Who Says – John Mayer

(I know, he’s a sleazeball, but I just love this song…)

 

 

Award Show Round Up: Golden Globes 2017

The HFPA likes to surprise us. This has always been true, and it certainly was last night. From the first award, which by all rights I think should have gone to Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali, though I do love the Taylor-Johnson family:

And then Billy Bob Thornton for “Goliath.” Most liked tweet of the night: “Honest question, what is Goliath?”

You may have noticed that I skipped over Jimmy Fallon’s opening. That’s because I don’t really remember it. I know it was a La La Land parody, and then his monologue was fine. He’s charming and has a lot of energy. He didn’t detract from my experience the way Ricky Gervais did last year, but I still just miss Amy and Tina.

Anyway, in great news, Tracee Ellis Ross won!

And I have to watch Atlanta:

Hugh Laurie is always charming:

La La Land won everything, but I really enjoy composer Justin Hurwitz’s nervous energy immensely:

Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress of course, but she should have won leading actress (sorry Isabelle Huppert, but it’s true):

My award for cutest moment of the evening:

Ryan Gosling, thank you for being as amazing as I  think you are:

Barry Jenkins was robbed for Screenplay. (Or maybe Kenneth Lonergan even.) The story of La La Land is not the point, come on HFPA, spread the love a bit.

Kristen Wiig should host next year. Steve Carrell could come too if he wants:

Meryl Streep is the greatest. Not just the greatest actor of our time, but maybe one of the greatest humans:

And Viola’s presentation almost made me cry. And I see what you’re doing there director by cutting to Vince Vaughan and Mel Gibson in the middle of her speech. And I saw people on Twitter talking about how upset they looked. But c’mon they are used to being the only conservatives in a Hollywood room. And they were sitting and listening respectfully, what did you expect them to do? You should have just stayed focused on Ms. Streep and her message.

I do love Emma Stone:

And Casey’s performance deserved this award. And I encourage you to listen to his episode of WTF with Marc Maron. I’m not trying to excuse away his past behavior, but he is a complicated man, with an interesting story:

And then, thankfully, Moonlight got it’s due:

And of course, a lot of the women were wearing very beautiful dresses:

Viola Davis in Michael Kors (Photo Credit: Jay  L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in Georges Chakra (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison, Getty Images)

Emma Stone in Valentino (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty)

Mandy  Moore in Naeem Kahn (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) 

Sienna Miller in Michael Kors (Photo Credit: Getty) 

Blake Lively in Atelier Versace (Photo Credit: Getty/Frazer Harrison) 

Reese Witherspoon in Atelier Versace (Photo Credit: Rex/Shutterstock)

Tracee Ellis Ross in Zuhair Murad (Photo Credit: Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock)

Goldie Hawn (Photo Credit: Getty/Frazer Harrison)

Brie Larson in Rodarte (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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

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. 

Back to School…I mean…Back to Blogging

I’m not going to start yet another post with an apology for the gaps in updating. I clearly needed a break from blogging so I took one. (I’ve been doing this since February of 2012!) But this past weekend I’ve been itching to get back to some of my on-going series. (Stay tuned for a new Best Picture recipe once it has cooled down enough for me to turn on the oven.) For today though, I’m going to ease back in with some music.  Here’s a list that goes back a few months (the page in my notebook it started on is opposite my notes on Sing Street) so I guess this is a collection of songs that stuck with me throughout the spring and summer, just in time to welcome fall.

Ring Them Bells – Joe Cocker

I had actually written down the Bob Dylan original of this, but while I was looking for the original, I found this Joe Cocker version and, you may remember how I feel about Joe. (Though this video is a little cheesy for my tastes, I just love his voice so much…)

NU 1 – PWR BTTM 

Oh What a World – Rufus Wainwright 

To Find You – Sing Street 

Portugal – Walk The Moon 

Freedom – Wham! 

Thank TBTL for this one. We all remember Freedom ’90, at least you do if you read this blog, but this earlier song is great to. And the intro to this video is an interesting time capsule.

Love Yourself – Justin Beiber 

I hate how much I love this song.

Lower Your Expectations – Bo Burnham 

I watched this special awhile ago and frankly don’t really remember much of it, but this song is pretty great.

Gagarin – Public Service Broadcasting 

My fellow interns at the Tenement Museum and I went to see these guys live on the USS Intrepid this summer, and I totally fell in love with them.

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Plus Hillary and I got to meet one (and his mum) and we were totally smooth about it…

Everybody Knows – Dixie Chicks 

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!

 

 

 

Music Keeping Me Awake Today

The skies opened last night here in Austin. And for those of you who don’t know me, I really hate thunderstorms. They just put my teeth on edge, so I didn’t sleep much last night. I definitely think we should get “There Was A Lot of Thunder Last Night” days off, but unfortunately I don’t. So I made a playlist of songs to keep me awake while I have shelve at work today. Enjoy!

Take Back the Power – The Interrupters

Ugh! – The 1975

Under Pressure – Queen & David Bowie

(Does anyone else find this mashup video, apparently sanctioned by Queen, deeply bizarre?)

Hold On We’re Going Home – Arctic Monkeys cover

(Credit for discovering this goes to Jules – or maybe her high school students? – but I love it. Almost as much as the Bear’s Den version, but the one won’t keep you awake.)

Lovefool – The Cardigans

The House That Jack Built – Aretha Franklin

Put Yourself First – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

(You can listen to me and Miró discuss this song – and lots of other fun feminist things on the newest episode of Method to the Madness.)

Take Off Your Sunglasses – Ezra Furman & The Harpoons

Thing Called Love – Bonnie Raitt

Best part of this = Bonnie’s voice. Second best = Baby Dennis Quaid

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Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Elton John and Kiki Dee 

Because I’ve been on an Elton kick lately…

Here’s hoping I’ll sleep through round 2 of the storms tonight. Stay safe and dry Austin friends!

And the Nominees Are 2016: Round 2

Merry Christmas everyone! I’ve been enjoying loafing around my parents’ house for the past week, so other than a fun family outing to see Star Wars it’s been mostly a week of catching up with some things on streaming, (and filling in some new nominees from the Critics’ Choice nominees.

Trumbo

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I’m a sucker for movies about The Movies and (as already discussed this awards season) I think it’s important in today’s, frankly terrifying, political climate to tell stories about what happens when we, as Americans, let our fear run things. So, I was basically the target audience for this biopic of Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston), a screenwriter and Communist, who was blacklisted during the peak of the HUAC craziness. And, I liked it a lot. Cranston is amazing, at this point that almost goes without saying, but he does such a good job of evolving his performance over time and in reaction to what happens around him.

The supporting cast is also great. I was especially moved by Louis C.K. as Arlen Hird, a more radical member of the Hollywood Ten  (and a more tragic figure), and Michael Stuhlbarg as Edward G. Robinson, an actor who named names for the committee, something the movie handles very sensitively, which I wasn’t expecting. Also, Helen Mirren is deliciously evil as Hedda Hopper, a gossip columnist so over the top she looks like she just walked out of a Capitol scene in The Hunger Games, but she’s Helen Mirren so, of course, by the end even hopper felt like a full, complex (though flawed and fear driven) human.

This can be heavy handed and a bit preachy at times, but so could Trumbo himself.

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Wolf Hall 

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Another one we discussed on Method to the Madness , Wolf Hall is the epitome of great BBD (Boring British Drama). It’s a slow, lovely literary adaptation, covering the story of Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance) and the upheaval of Henry VIII (Damien Lewis)’s reign. I admit that this didn’t stick in my brai as much as other miniseries covering similar subject matter have in the past, but I stand by my last post in praising Rylance. I think he’s probably one of the best living actors today, and I’m glad he’s been getting more film and TV work lately.

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Danny Collins

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Some movies com and go without me even realizing it, even though I’m almost always at the movies or wishing I could be at the movies, and Danny Collins was one of those. But the HFPA will always nominate Al Pacino whenever they can so I got the chance to chat up with this quiet little gem.

The story is simple, Pacino plays a coke head lounge singer who started out as an idealistic folk musician, who receives a letter than John Lennon sent him when he was young. It acts as a wake up call, and Collins snaps out of his over the top party life and travels to New Jersey (much to the chagrin of his manager/best friend played by the always charming Christopher Plummer) to spend time with his estranged son (the always compelling Bobby Cannavale).

It gets dangerously close to schmaltzy at times, but it’s at its heart an interesting take on an addiction story. Danny never hits a true rock bottom, because his success insulate him against that, but his problem does hold him back from true happiness and connection. He’s a good guy, but he’s scares to be as open as that requires. It’s much better than I expected and available on Amazon Prime. Worth a watch.

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Creed

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Confession, I’ve never seen the original Rocky all the way through. I know the whole story, and have seen the sequel where he goes to Russia on TV a bunch of times as a kid. But, I like Michael B. Jordan, and heard interesting things about Sylvester Stallone‘s performance in this (and it got nominations) so I went. If the original Rocky is this kind of mix of inspirational and yet subtle than I think I can safely say that I love it. I saw a review of Creed somewhere that described it as essentially an extended sports montage, and while I don’t think that’s completely fair, I did feel actually uplifted throughout most of this and I hat boxing so that’s a accomplishment. Jordan does a good job of creating his own character and Tessa Thompson (whom I have loved since her days on Veronica Mars) is lovely as his love interest. But Stallone was the most interesting factor to me. He’s an old man in this, it looks like he can barely move in some scenes, and it was a unique take on franchise maintenance to have the central strongman hero, step into the shoes of the comic relief/emotional guide. Also, that score will never stop being epic.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

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 Miró and I discussed this one on our Summer Movie Special. I saw it over the summer and don’t have my old notebook on vacation with me so I don’t have my full notes on what I thought of this. Basically I liked it a lot. I think it managed to avoid cheap sentimentality despite being about a girl with cancer, but also respects the fact that at a certain point you have to let sentiment in. Because otherwise we aren’t human. It’s also a lovely look at being a teenage film nerd, which I, of course, loved.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Look, you already know whether this movie is for you or not, but if it is its magical. The plot is essentially A New Hope redux, with the great addition of a kick ass heroine – Rey, played by the revelation Daisy Ridley. Just as I hoped, the action zips along, the music is stirring and the relationships feel real. There are a couple of moments of real pathos (they there Harrison Ford), but not so many that it feels like they’re trying too hard.

I had forgotten how funny this universe can be, and the one liners here were pretty great. Especially those delivered by John Boyega.

Minor spoilers ahead: 

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I was also really happy to see that Poe (Oscar IsaacOscar Isaac) didn’t die at the beginning, because you can’t give me ten minutes of Oscar Isaac and then leave me with a jacket. I (maybe naively) have hope for Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)’s redemption. Can’t wait for episode 8.

Weekly Adventure: LBJ Presidential Library & Museum

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This post is a little bit late, I actually visited the LBJ Presidential Library & Museum on Halloween, but I was hungover, and then recording with Miró, and then the week started and I realized that I still hadn’t written about my experience, so here you go. A slightly belated reaction – thought I don’t think the museum has changed in the last 4 days, so it’ll probably be OK.

I’ve written before about my love of Presidential Museums (and my fool’s errand goal to visit each President’s Official landmark in my life.) Which actually all started with a trip to this very concrete block of a memorial to a very complicated man. Between that initial visit (over 7 years ago now!) the LBJ has been redesigned, and well, it’s very up to date and flashy now, but I’m not sure if that makes it better. (I’ll get to that in a bit.)

First, they have a visiting exhibit (from the Grammy Museum) on The Beatles, and it’s pretty cool:

IMG_3893 (It also includes cool stuff about the musicians that influenced The Beatles, and a lot of fun music playing. Worth a walk through if you’re in town.)

When you leave the temporary exhibit space you are in the main foyer of the building, which I have to admit is visually impressive:

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I’m a sucker for the literal glorification of archives obviously

That black pillar you can see at the top of the stairs there is engraved with LBJ’s greatest rhetorical moments. I especially liked this one:

IMG_3905Then you walk into the permanent exhibit, which has a lot of fun interactive things, like where you can listen to the recordings of his voice (like at his ranch):

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And there’s really well done multimedia presentations about pop culture and world events that help to contextualize his career both before and during his presidency. There’s (as there should be) a lot of emphasis on his efforts in the Great Society to help lift Americans out of poverty, improve public education and broadcasting, and a really moving section on his contributions to Civil Rights. This was all lovely, and especially interesting to me now that I have the background from seeing both Selma and All the Way last year.

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And now we come to why I was disappointed. I have been talking for years about how refreshing the LBJ Museum’s take on Vietnam was. Rather than shying away from his involvement in the conflict, they faced it head on and acknowledged the blemish that it was on his legacy. They did this in an emotional way, using photos of slain soldiers and descriptions of atrocities. In this new exhibit, they address the complicated political position he was in but there isn’t as much of an acknowledgement of the emotional toll it took on the country.

This may not be the place for a discussion of that, and it’s possible that’s why the curators decided to temper the narrative in the redesign, but I think the museum is slightly less interesting for it.

But they still have the 1/8 size Oval Office:

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IMG_3923 It’s worth a trip if you’ve never been, and this revisit gave me a chance to update my Presidential Visit photo collage (because I am the biggest dork in the world):

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New Big Adventure: We Started a Podcast!

IMG_2239 If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or know me at all, you probably know that Miró is one of my best friends from high school and one of the best things about moving down to Austin has been that she and I get to hang out a lot more. In addition to a mutual love of British mystery miniseries (which we lovingly call our Grandma TV), we both share a love of podcasts. And a couple of weeks ago she texted me suggesting we start our own…so we did! It’s called Method to the Madness (or MttM for short).

It’s about pop culture and feminism and, in our first episode, (available now on SoundCloud and coming soon to your favorite podcasting app) dentists. Which is to say it’s about the stuff the two of us like to talk about. We were super nervous to start it off, but it was really fun! (And bear with us through the beginning bumps in the road! And the way I stumbled over the beginning of most of my sentences.)

You should check out our website – http://methodtothemadnesspodcast.wordpress.com – and stay tuned for future episodes!

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