Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 14th, 2011 - The Nutcracker

I popped my ballet cherry!

 Unless you count the 3 movie/book versions of this I've seen and the ballet choreography in Billy Elliot.

I don't, and that's all that really matters.

Anyway, last night I went to see Pacific Northwest Ballet's staging of the Nutcracker by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (apparently his first name is properly spelled Pyotr) and Choreographed by Kent Stowell with Shauna and Tim over at and the new roomie, Lindsey.

As far as first times go, this one was pretty awesome. Although it did feel like it went by much too fast. Especially the second act. But by then I was  a little buzzed from the champagne we treated ourselves to during intermission.

It's still not OK to leave alcohol in the glass.

I also started making Inception connections what with the dream within a dream within a dream that is the premise of the story at that point.

There were a lot of children in this ballet which is very appropriate, it being the Nutcracker and all, but I think next time I'd like to see something not so kiddy. Although I am stoked for Snow White in the future and that might be the same.

A super fun holiday night in all ended with our acapella renditions of the Elephant Love Medley and Bohemian Rhapsody in the car ride home.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 4th, 2011 - In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family In Hitler's Berlin

Wow...that's a long title.  Good thing the cover is so amazing ;) *

Anyway, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson lived up to the expectations Devil in the White City  set. I wouldn't say it outshone Devil in the White City but you can't really beat a serial killer and his murder house juxtaposed with the Chicago's world's fair where inventing the Ferris Wheel was the biggest risk since sliced bread.

I may have made that sound more sarcastic than I meant to, the Ferris Wheel really was a big deal.

I guess the only problem I had with this is that you can't really shock me anymore with all the horrors that Hitler, the Nazi's, and the powers of appeasement pulled. Larson definitely reopened my eyes but know... for how long.

The murder house stayed with me though. When mentioning that I moved to Seattle all by myself, Inever forget to mention the Uncle who lives a block away and who checks in with me every single day and would totally notice if I'm missed.

I keep pitching Devil in the White City by accident.

The reason these two books are so good is that Larson's sets himself apart by making non fiction not as boring/droning/forgettable as it usually is. I'm a history major, I shouldn't say these things. But the feelings, thoughts, and pauses for breath and reflection before big actions aren't really thrown into nonfiction. Too much and people start to question a writer's credibility. But every time Larson does it I don't even notice because it is completely in mesh with that person's character.

For those of you who want a little more detail on the book than the title gives you, the American family in question is the Ambassador Dodd, his wife, his son, and his daughter Martha who were in Germany from 1933-1937.

When most of America was sitting in front of the TV and newspapers with their hands over their ears and eyes (it's possible, I learned that when I was a kid), criticizing anyone who took even mild stands against Germany's descent into psychotic despotism, Ambassador Dodd was driving around Berlin in his old, reliable, American car. He quietly worked behind the scenes, trying to teach by example and he would publicly call officials on their bullshit if they happened to say it in front of him.

His daughter, Martha, was getting to know intimately  all sides of the issues at hand by bedding anyone with luminous or striking eyes. It's her right, but not a mentality I get. Although it does make for interesting reading.

It was a shady time y'all. Hopefully, in this case, history never repeats itself.

* Book Club is conveniently called Judge A Book By Its Cover

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1st, 2011- Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella

"A lovely night, A lovely night! A finer night you know you'll never see!" :)

The 5th Avenue's 2011 holiday show is Rodger's and Hammerstein's Cinderella and it's adorable. I guarantee you that people will take the bus home  humming the music and straight up sing it when they have to walk the last few blocks by themselves. (and by "people", I mean me. )

But because I'm in an argumentative mood because someone was condescending to me on Facebook and I'm trying not to force them to change their mind so I'm just leaving the argument to die a natural Facebook death (even though my last post I conceded the point and tried to exit gracefully)... I guess I'll be nit picky here.

One of the songs, "Ten Minutes Ago" is all about how Prince Christopher Rupert Vwindemier Vlandamier.... (there's more, I'll spare youand Cinderella fall in love at first sight.

Alright, sure, that's totally possible. But please wait more than 10 minutes so you can try and make sure. Normally I don't think this would bother me, after all it is a kid's show and they need to keep things snappy. But Brandon O'Neill, who I've obsessed about before, played the Prince and he was very over the top with it. Antsy little boy legs, hunched "I'm so excited!" shoulders, pretty much all the things a person who would fall in love at first sight would do.

Except, I'm sure deep down he was feeling, "This whole premise is ridiculous. Who falls in love at first sight?" and I'd probably like him less if he didn't think that.

Although I did swoon a little at the kiss.  I would never say that was a bad casting choice because you get to see Brandon O'Neill in hot riding boots and the cool vest-with-the-high-collar- over- billowy- shirt- sleeves-look. Can that look come back, please.

He did the best with what he had to work with (a pansy).

Anyway, I guess I wasn't feeling the whole love at first sight thing. I did cringe a little at the cheesiness, although at one point all the adults chuckled and a kid got it two seconds later and laughed really loud and that set everyone off into wild applause which was nice to be a part of.

God bless children.

The only other things I sort of bothered me was that most of the female cast had very distinct and unique voices that are acquired tastes. They're lovely and perfect once you get used to them but a little jarring during their first song.

To end on a high note though, the sets and costumes were delightful, the magic was magical (no but really, I was surprised at how they did some of it) The music of course was excellent. Greg McCormick Allen, Nick Garrison, Sarah Rudinoff, and Jennifer Paz (Lionel, The stepsisters Joy and Grace, and Cinderella respectively) were all perfectly cast.

I definitely want to see it again and you should too if you get a chance!

If you can't, then just stick one of the three movie  versions in :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blogger Swap Awesomeness :)

 I participated in a blogger swap recently so I could get a little help with this list of 101 things I would like to do within 1001 days.

My partner, Miranda at Aimless Translation, sent me a lot of thoughtful stuff to help me out :) I got these about a week ago and the only excuse I have for posting this so late is that  I moved! and pretty much all the small things that could go wrong with that did so I haven't had time to sit down and blog until tonight.

 Here's a few photos  of what she sent me :) Her arrangement's so pretty too. I didn't even think to make mine pretty, just practical. I keep forgetting you can do both...

Thanks Miranda! This is what she helped me out with:

20: Go 2 weeks drinking only water (sugar free packets to make the water taste better!  - There's a strawberry lemonade flavor and a cherry which is my favorite flavor!

65: Hand write a letter a month to a family member - She sent me some note cards monogrammed with my initial. I'm already behind on this so I needed this extra boost
83: Find a new favorite cocktail: She sent me a recipe for what sounds like an awesome cocktail. I'll have to give it a try when we finally get this new place all set.

91: Fill every page of a journal: She sent me an adorable monogrammed journal that will fit perfectly in my bag. Hope to have this done by the end of 2012 :)

33 and 34: See a ballet and an opera in Seattle: Miranda looked up some productions for me and gave me the dates which was helpful because I hear about these things and then forget to look up when and then all of the sudden they're gone. I'd love to see how they do Snow White ballet style and I'm already looking forward to Madame Butterfly.

Thanks again, Miranda! And thanks Holly for putting this together.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Top Twelve Thursdays: Christmas Time!!!!!

Taking a lead from  Life.Love and posting my favorite Christmas songs of the moment! (I can't have favorites of all time, that changes literally all the time. Links are to youtube videos, some of which are fun to watch too. The first and the last are pretty special though. If you want to make your own, then you link up with Shauna at Life.Love  :)

1. Carol of the Bells - Mannheim Steamroller: a creepy instrumental version. PLUS the video I found for this is awesome. I'll just let you embrace it and not give spoilers. Trust guys.

2. White Christmas -  Bing Crosby: from the movie White Christmas

3. River - Robert Downey Jr. : from the only good season of Ally McBeal (shhh sorry I'm fun)

4. Where are you Christmas - Faith Hill : From How The Grinch Stole Christmas 

5. Christmas Tree - Lady Gaga: You have to appreciate Lady Gaga/have a sense of humour to appreciate this. It's dirty but fun ;)

6. Believe -Josh Groban : from the movie Polar Express. His voice is so deep and sexy but still innocent.

7. Only Hope - Mandy Moore: I KNOW, I know, it's super embarrassing that I like this song. I'm  also not sure it's technically Christmas but she sings it during the Christmas play in  A Walk To Remember. It's also embarrassing that I like that movie. There are other versions of this that are equally good. Help me find them!

8. Carol of the Bells - John Williams : the Home Alone version aka  the traditional version

9. Christmas Time Is Here - from A Charlie Brown Christmas : it sounds so sad, but I can play this on piano :) ...or could.

10. Silent Night - all Instrumental versions:  but if we need something specific then Enya's 

Oíche Chiúin works too :) 

11. Carol of the Bells - Hayley Westenra: I just discovered this! Not too creepy but not too traditional either

I'll find tons of other creepy instrumental christmas music, but I'll just leave you with this one for my twelfth. Enjoy ;)

12. Jingle Bell Rock - Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Lacey Chalbert: this one's just necessary.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November 6th, 2011 - Packing for Mars

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void  by Mary Roach is a nonfiction analysis of what NASA's work on getting to Mars. What we know and what we need to find out.

Sounds boring, right?

It's surprisingly not. Mary Roach has a talent for picking up the weird minutiae and pulling a whole chapter out of it. Like: how do you shit in space? stay clean? eat? at what point do you reach your BO threshold and when does your skin stop accumulating oil. Is that story about Enos the chimpanzee being the first thing to orgasm in space even true? ( spoiler alert:  it's not...probably)

I'm definitely going to read her other books: Spook: Science Tackles the AfterlifeStiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

By the way, they're using cadavers for crash test dummies now. I'm trying not to judge based on my initial reaction, but I'd be freaked out.

Anyway, I'm always hesitant about recommending nonfiction books, but if you once in your life had an interest in space you'll probably enjoy this one.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October 20th, 2011 - Saving Aimee

So, I know I saw this a couple of weeks ago but I haven't really wanted to write anything about it. So I didn't. I'm only doing so now because I don't want to screw up my record and leave my few readers in the dark for too long.

It's not that I didn't like this new musical with book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford and music by David Pomeranz and David Friedman. It's more that I was kinda of 'meh' about it and I'm not entirely sure why.

Saving Aimee is a biography musical that takes us from Aimee Semple McPherson's teenage years and through 3 marriages, 2 kids, a possible fling/kidnapping, and the development of an extremely influential religious movement.

I'm not very religious; not quite an atheist, but when people start putting words in Nollij's mouth I get a little suspicious. So when I first heard that a musical was underway based on the founder of one of the biggest church's in LA, I started thinking that maybe this would be the one that would break my streak.

I went to the Spotlight Night to see where they were going with this, and learned that Aimee led quite the scandalous life, (she was the evangelical Kim Kardashian, basically) and they were going to focus on her entertainment impact just as much as her religious one.

So I saw it.

It was good story, but there was a lot to cram in there (three and half love stories will do that) and I didn't come away humming any tunes (although the music was good). There weren't a whole lot of characters you could get attached to either, since Aimee was always in the center of it. If she wasn't on stage, they were singing about her. Props to Carolee Carmello for pulling it off, however. She was very talented as was the rest of the cast.

Maybe that was what made it 'meh' for me, Aimee had no outside foil. She was both Beatrice and Hero and that just means there was no one to root for/against. It just kind of was.

I don't regret going, but I don't think I'd see it again is what I'm saying.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 2nd, 2011 - The Gun Seller

The Gun Seller, written by Hugh Laurie - yes THE Hugh Laurie, more on that later - is a tale starring a sarcastic, loner, but eminently capable Thomas Lang who can play many different roles very well.

Sound familiar?

Ok, it's later. When I mean THE Hugh Laurie, I mean Dr. House in House, Mr. Palmer in Sense and Sensibility, the voice of myriad animated characters, and apparently he was in Spice World? We love him best when he plays sarcastic, loner, eminently capable characters because we know he has a soft silly side.

In regards to The Gun Seller ever being made into a movie, he implied that it would be nice to play a small cameo part but he imagined they'd want someone stellar and action-figure like to play Mr. Lang.

He published this the year just after Spice World came out, just to put that comment in perspective.

Also he is now a musician. Life just isn't fair sometimes.

Anyway, back to the book. The Gun Seller is amazingly well-written with the zingers flying left and right and twists and turns in plot and lots of mystery.  But mostly you just want to take Thomas Lang and snuggle him so he can be sarcastic but snuggle you back. Because that's how he is. Sadly, he's just too busy saving the world from evil corporate multi-rotor ( I don't actually know if that was the thing that made them technologically advanced but something high techy) helicopters that can besiege a city faster than you can blink.

More importantly, there's not really a lady worth him snuggling until three quarters of the way through (so you can pretty much ignore her) - which was smart on Laurie's part because then all the snuggle-worthy ladies out there have their sights set on him, because Lang is Laurie in a fictional world where there are evil corporate multi-rotor helicopters that need stopping.

I know I made that sound a little frivolous, but there was a lot of thought behind the twists and turns and conspiracies of the plot. In fact, every once in a while I double checked the copyright date of this book because it was written in 1998 but he seems to allude to 9/11 and how Americans view terrorism when they're not a victim of it and how that would change if, flying spaghetti monster-forbid, anything should happen. (it was a pretty spot-on prediction in my opinion. )

I loved it and want a movie, but only if Laurie plays Lang.

Doesn't this pic just say
"Let's snuggle but just so you know, 
sarcasm means 'I love you' in British" 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

September 11th, 2011 - Never Let Me Go

So my idea for this 9/11/11 meeting was to read something related to the 9/11, but received no response for that, so Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro was selected.

(pro tip to future/current online book club organizers: If you build it, they will come. If you ask for feedback, all you'll hear is crickets*.)

Never Let Me Go is one of those books that reveal important details to you after you've spent 5 chapters trying to puzzle it out. So I'm just going to make my recommendation vague for those of you who don't want spoilers.

I'd say read it, or at least see the movie with Kiera Knightly and Carey Mulligan (I haven't seen it but I tend to <3 Kiera Knightly - yeah I know I'm weird). The story raises a lot of good points about how hard it is to go back from the comforts technological advancement and science can give us, and what that means ethically, and why we should stop shady things in the beginning. It should make you think. But it's not a happy story so be prepared to not exactly like it.

Also, it focuses more on the emotional reaction/result of the scientific achievement,  not how it theoretically works, so I wouldn't call it science fiction. I actually wish there was a little more background given, but I respect what Ishiguro was doing by leaving it out.

Oh and for those of you screaming, "How dare you say someone see the movie instead of read the book???!!!!" It's because I think the point is worth making and I recognize that not everyone out there reads 3-4 books a month like I do. Get over your hipster self.

*BTW GUYS! do you watch The SingOff on NBC? It's an acapella competition show and this one group called UrbanMethod did a version Airplanes by B.O.B featuring Haley this week (10/24/2011) and one of the guys started it off with cricket noises and IT WAS AWESOME!  I'm rooting for Pentatonix  though

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

August 11th, 2011 - Les Misérables

Les Misérables set off the 2011-2012 season of musicals at the 5th. It was preformed by a touring production that was celebrating it's 25th year with a set and costume and choreography redesign.

I had never seen the original so I have nothing to compare it to, but I thought the set design was beautiful and amazing and technologically up to date. I always get a little thrill when a musical can shock you with something you didn't know could be done, and this new set had a couple of wonderful moments. I know some people who dislike the movement towards digital backdrop, but I think these maintained the artistry that a handcrafted one would, while also adding a couple of extra features.

Unfortunately the thing they didn't touch (I'm assuming), the music, was disappointing to me. I of course had heard renditions of a few of their more famous songs "I Dreamed a Dream" and "On My Own", but I f kept away from the soundtrack for once and trusted the rave reviews. I do not understand why this show is so popular.  Yes the good songs are GREAT but maybe they're so great because of the 10 minutes of discordant nonsense you had to sit through to get there.

The book and lyrics assume that the audience is pretty familiar with the story - which is asking lot, have you tried to read Hugo's  Les Misérables? -  because it doesn't take a whole lot of time to introduce the myriad of characters and single out who you're supposed to care about. They just throw them in there and if you miss the name you're screwed.

I feel like they lyricists and musicians could have done a better job making the story more accessible. I had to dig way down into my memory of high school to remind myself what was going on rather than be gently reminded by the show. And while I agree that nothing kills a show faster than too much exposition, not enough left me with a bad taste too. Although what do I know, because this has been on tour for 25 years.

That being said, the actress who played Eponine, Chasten Harmon, was brilliant. Loved her.

And I'd probably see it again if it comes back just to figure out if I liked it or not. (I know it sounds like I didn't like it, but now that I know what to expect I'm hoping to have a different experience)

Also...apparently there's going to be another movie with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway (what?), despite there already being one although the 1998 version wasn't a musical one.

Monday, October 24, 2011

August 7th, 2011 - A Visit From the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan won a Pulitzer Prize and  the people in my book club were still not super excited to read it. One of the nice things about organizing though and going to every meeting is that eventually my votes add up and people have to read it anyway :) *cue maniacal laughter.*

Having read it though, it was mostly meh for me. I guess I didn't really connect with any of the characters, but I always blame myself for being super weird when that happens and not the writer.

Anyway, A Visit From the Goon Squad is another novel where each chapter focuses on a different character of a seemingly random net of friends and acquaintances and spans from the 80s to sometime in the next 10 or 20 years.

The last two chapters were the most interesting. Chapter 12 in the book is a written as a PowerPoint presentation, the premise of that being that the "narrator" of that chapter was a young girl who had to keep PowerPoint notes for school and she just adopted that format for journal writing.

Egan actually created the PowerPoint and posted it on her site so you can see what it's supposed to look like with color and sound.

I think that the chapter was an innovative device but I couldn't really see a generation using PowerPoint for journal writing when you have things like live-journal and blogging and Tumblr

The last chapter was set in the not to distant future when people would rather text each other than talk to each other when out to dinner, and babies dictate the popular trends with their own personal point and click devices. (i.e. the most random, colorful, catchy artists are the popular ones). It was interesting to see the struggle between generations with adapting to technology and keeping up with society and trying to retain our human connections.

I didn't love it but I thought it was worth reading.  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

July 10th, 2011 - Personal Days

Personal Days by Ed Park takes all those "how - the - hell - are - we -still - in-business moments of an office and somehow turns it into a 'how to survive at work" bible AND a random mystery novel at once.

AND a nice characterization of your typical coworkers. The person who cares to much about their work, the person who doesn't care at all but does it well anyway, the five people with the same name, the one who doesn't get any work done yet is the bosses favorite, the boss who doesn't know what's going on who is always under pressure from the "higher ups" that no one ever meets. They're all in there.

And you've got your weird office happenings: accidental reply-alls, tech support screwing with your computer and updating it so that it's even slower, that line break that WILL NOT go away no matter what you do that ruins your whole presentation, the cat e-mails going back and forth, random desk moves. It's all in there.

Park also does switches up the format in  each part in really interesting ways. The last part is a 30 page e-mail that was written by someone who was in a completely dark elevator and whose period "." was no longer working on his keyboard. He made it work.

If you work in an office environment you'll enjoy it and laugh, and simultaneously want to bang your head against the desk because life shouldn't be like this but is.

And  I wasn't kidding about the random mystery novel part. It really does turn into one.

Friday, October 21, 2011

July 7th, 2011 - Aladdin: A New Stage Musical

Aladdin!!!!!! ZOMG this was so amazing I saw it twice.

The first time I went to see this was the very first performance of it at the 5th Avenue. I saw it  spontaneously because it looked like nothing was going on for my b-day and they had like two tickets left.

It was fantastic.

So, before I mentioned that I had thought Disney musicals were just live versions of the movie, and that I didn't think that was very creative. Mary Poppins  proved me wrong once, but this is the one that brought back my faith in Disney. It's just enough like the movie to make people not angry, but they added so many new characters and songs and amazingness.

There's three, meta-narrator like individuals named Babkak, Omar, and Kassim who are friends with Aladdin. All of their songs are amazing, especially High Adventure which is still kind of stuck in my head three months later. Plus, Kassim, the leader of the group of friends, was played by Brandon O'Neill, further cementing his awesomeness in my mind. And Brian Gonzales and Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who played Babkak and Omar respectively, held their own in comparison. (i.e. they were awesome too)

I know I sound like a surfer dude, but I'm writing this three months later and I'm still stoked about it.

Aside from amazing new music, the set was beautiful and flowed seamlessly from one scene to the next. I had read criticism of the "A Whole New World" set but I found nothing wrong with it. (I'd link to that article but I forgot which one). Costumes were also beautiful but I noticed in the second one that Babkak was wearing Toms which made me super happy :)

This play was designed for local theaters, not Broadway, so if it comes to your area you should definitely see it. See it many times! I wish it was back here so I could see it again.

June 25th, 2011 - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

So we're going away from Seattle for this one and over to the Lakewood Playhouse. It's about a 45 minute drive.

Have you heard of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street?

If not then I will Sondheimize you! That's funnier when said aloud.

He is this quirky musical lyricist and composer who composes excellent and catchy music and then creeps people out with his lyrics and story, in a really witty style. I love it.

<3 <3 <3 <3

Sweeney Todd is about an English man who was exiled from the country by corrupt men so that they could steal away his wife and child. He comes back 17 years later in disguise and opens up a barber shop.  A barber shop of REVANGE (think Megamind when reading that).

Below his shop is a place that sells meat pies that used to be made of really bad meat (probably rats and if Mrs. Lovett were quick enough cats) but her shop is all of the sudden booming because of a new secret ingredient.

Watch the song A Little Priest. It should win you over.

I'm sending you to the movie version which I don't particularly like but they did this song good.

There's a couple of other substories I didn't mention that all come together at the end. But it's excellent and should be seen! was a community theater production and all that that entails. I was mostly angry because the three old biddies in front of me could not keep their commentary to themselves. "OH MY GOD IS HE GOING TO PUT THAT MAN IN THE OVEN" " Yes. Yes he is.

June 20th, 2011 - The Mistress's Revenge

The Mistress's Revenge by Tamar Cohen. - warning, scathing criticism ahead.

Um, this book is unfinishable. We had read it because they gave us five free copies so we could read it and hopefully spread word of mouth about it (presumably) and not a single person in that group finished it.

It's awful. The narrator's a nut job who whines a lot because the married male friend she was sleeping with wanted to get back with his wife and she didn't want to go back to her husband/kids (who she unforgivably neglects and makes feel unwanted).

And instead of taking it quietly she does passive aggressive things like really make friends with the wife (who she already knew!!!! she and her husband would have dinner with him and his wife all the time while they were fooling around).

I despise cheating, like I understand if something happens once when you're both drunk but you need to figure out your life the morning after and not drag you're spouse/significant other/person you're leading on with fake commitment into months and years of insecurity and despair and suspicion. Cut it off or never do it again.

I cannot understand people who cheat and then sit at the dining room table with duped wife and husband and laugh about old times and inside jokes w.

What the HELL.

And I think, maybe, (hopefully) the point was that these people are psychotic and stalkerish and insecure but I couldn't put up with the narrator anymore. And I scanned through and I think somehow she wins at the end.

Enough said.

June 6th, 2011- Light Boxes

Light Boxes by Shane Jones is... er... interesting. On a positive note it's a short read, but you'll probably have to read it twice unless you're practiced in poetry.

This isn't  poetry by the way, it IS a Novel, but every thing's a metaphor for three things at once and you have to decide what it means to you at the time and then completely change that idea by the next chapter and so on and so forth. It's fun, if you're prepared for it.

The concept is, that February is jealous of flight and has refused to succeed his place to Summer. (It's hard to tell when February is a person, or a month, or "winter"). He goes around killing children (or maybe only forcing them into hiding?) and if you dare oppose him then something bad is sure to happen.

The village this is based in refuses to take this lying down and come up with some ingenious but ultimately futile ideas to combat him. Going around insisting it's summer by dressing in shorts and trying to tan while it's snowing. Constantly boiling water to melt the snow and thaw the ground, make a jagged box of light bulbs to fit around you're head to combat the early dark.


It's an experience, and it's short, but I can't comfortably recommend it because I know only a handful of people who might like it and none who would absolutely love it. Let me know if you did, though. I totally reread it like 4 times with post-it's because I had to lead a discussion on it. There's only so many times you can say "I don't think we're supposed to know what the author meant by this but I'm going to ask what you think anyway"

Laughing in hindsight.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

No posts today :)

I'll continue with the excessive catch up posting tomorrow! Today I get to go see Saving Aimee!!!! Hope it's good.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


No book/musical posts today. Not even a kittens one, but the other important pet. The puppy.

My baby puppy Shadow passed away this morning back in Southern California at around 10 year old. That's 70 something in doggy years so it was a nice long life with cuddles and food and walks. 

She'd been having a rough time of it the past few weeks, but seemed to be getting better the last couple of days. Her last week saw homemade chicken and Spanish rice meals and she went quietly and painless in the morning so at least she was spared months of suffering and got good eats.

I picked Shadow out at the pound for her pretty brown eyes, shiny fur, and the fact that she wagged her whole body instead of just her tail. She turned out to be more of an unbiased, friendly-to-everyone family dog rather than MY dog but that was OK, because it was what we needed. 

For the first few years, she would get so excited about new friends that she peed. Not fun for us exactly, but how's that for a welcome.  

If she got the chance she would run and run and run, and if you chased her, well then more fun for her. 

She always smiled with her eyes (obv. a fan of America's Next Top Model) and would wag her tail politely when I interrupted her sleep to scare away the ghosts in my room.  

She will be missed.

Love you, Shadow Baby. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

May 26th, 2011 - Guys and Dolls

And we're back at the 5th!

This was actually the second performance I saw of this that month but since The 5th Avenue has this AWESOME deal where you can exchange your first ticket to see the show again for only $20, I don't remember what the date was for the first time I saw it.

Guys and Dolls is a classic. I'm sure most of you know it from the 1955 movie with Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando (yeah, they got Marlon Brando to sing).

It was a musical before that, based on the short stories of the semi-fictional world peopled by mobsters, show girls, gamblers, and all the characters you imagine from 1920's New York. These stories were created by Damon Runyon and his world is known as Runyonland. The things you learn at Spotlight Nights!

 Yeah I'm obsessed with the 5th...get over it.

Anyway, I had never seen a live production of Guys and Dolls before and I loved it! Except for the end. In the movie they end with a double wedding and people stop talking. In the musical they end with a song about how the men are going to be completely changed and like it. A lot less easy to believe.

Anyway, Billie Wildrick  made a reappearance as Adelaide and was wonderful. And I also developed a celeb crush on Brandon O'Neill who played Sky Masterson (not like Brando). I'll talk about him again for another show.  (They're the two in the picture)

And Sarah Brown annoyed me less than in the movie (she's what I would be like if I was religious and therefore  makes me uncomfortable)

Yay for local performers and awesome shows! This was so worth seeing twice.

May 22nd, 2011 - Mary Poppins: The Hit Broadway Musical

And we're back at the Paramount for  the touring production of Mary Poppins: The Hit Broadway Musical.

So...this may sound familiar, but I didn't like Mary Poppins: The Movie as a kid. Here's why, and I think it's something unique to me. If I saw a movie when I was a kid, and the story went into a dream world or fantasy world for a scene or two, I lost my ability to make sense of the movie. Alice and Wonderland, Dumbo, and yes Mary Poppins all fell victim to this confusion.  Even the puppet show scene from Sound of Music kind of threw me off.

We also know that I don't like the Paramount as a theatre. And I made  reference to how I imagined Disney-produced musicals to be too constricted by the movies in an earlier post.

But I liked this. We had made sure to get seats in the orchestra at the Paramount, I had grown out of my timeline confusion, and the only thing a Disney-produced musical means is that they have lots of money to throw at it.

Which means cool cutting-edge backdrops and settings, sweet costumes, flying, and great talent.

There were lots of kids in the audience, which meant lots of people getting up and down and arriving late etc which was kind of annoying but at least they're going to musicals!

And there were tons of new songs...I think. Like I said, I'm not all that clear on what happened in the movie, but they seemed new!

All and all it was a good show that was worth the overpriced tickets. At least I cheated them out of their online fee. =P

May 1st, 2011 - Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is an acclaimed novel that, according to my cover, was a Finalist for the Max Booker Prize that is being turned into a movie starring Tom Hanks. (more on that later)

No one in my book club finished it, except for me and half of that was because I felt obligated as host.

Now Cloud Atlas, when you finish it, is an excellent book. It's extremely smart and entertaining and how he managed to write some of it is amazing to me.

But I can understand why people had a difficult time getting into it. Cloud Atlas is basically 6 different stories sandwiched into each other; a mystical birthmark and our knowledge of the timeline being the only thing linking them. The first story we are introduced to is written in the style of a travel journal written on a ship exploring and colonizing the Pacific.

I don't know how many 19th century travel journals you've read, but they're not the most gripping of reading material. The language is great at putting you to sleep, no matter how interesting/important what they're saying might be. You go through 40 pages of this before suddenly being cut off and finding yourself reading the letters of a bitingly witty composer in the 1930s, who we find out half way through his section has discovered the aforementioned travel journal. His letters cut off to go into another seemingly unrelated story and so on and so forth. It really is interesting if you finish the whole thing. Mitchell's genius at being able to write 6 completely different styles of literature (two set in the future) is awesome...if you can drag yourself through some of those styles.

But my biggest thing is... how can Tom Hanks "star" in this movie if I can't figure out who the main character is to save my life. He might be in it...but there isn't really a lead role. I'm interested to see how this will play out.

If you're in for an intelligent read and have good skimming skills then definitely pick this up, otherwise I'd wait until you were in the right mood.

Monday, October 17, 2011

April 30th, 2011 - Vanities: A New Musical

April was a busy month in the Seattle musical world.

And they were all based on a non-musical moive/play that was written before. Vanities: A New Musical was originally just the play Vanities which ran 6 years Off Broadway and was made into an HBO special in 1981.

The entire cast is 3 women and you see them grow from high school to college to late 20's to late 30s.

The musical was pretty cool. The 5th Avenue Theatre collaborated with the ACT theatre in Seattle so that they both produced it, and you could buy tickets at both, but it was performed at one of the ACT stages (there are three I think?) They had built a set beneath the stage and each act was a conversation at some point of their lives between the 3 women, so whenever they changed scenes cool stuff would raise from below. In between acts the women would change into their older costumes on stage while singing kind of a slow kind of theme song.

I'm kind of a sucker for musicals with 3 main female characters because I have two cousins around my age and we would always divide up roles with 3 female lead shows. I was Pru in Charmed. Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels, and Jody in Center Stage. I'm pretty sure I would be Kathy here. The uptight, driven one in high school who loses all ambition right after college.

Anyway, the theater was very small and was probably the closet I'd been to a stage ever, which makes me slightly uncomfortable but grew on me as the performance went on. And while the whole cast was awesome, Billie Wildrick was outstanding and showed up later for Guys and Dolls.

April 17th, 2011 - 9 to 5: the Musical many of you liked 9 to 5 the movie.

Yeah, I wasn't a huge fan. And you know how A Christmas Story the Musical totally made me <3 the story despite my hatred of the movie? Yeah, the musical (the only kind of official link I found for them was for their facebook page) is pretty much exactly like what I remember from the movie.

Here's the deal behind it, Dolly Parton took her big break and wrote some more songs to make a musical. And I'm not going to lie, I've rocked out to Dolly Parton before. But for whatever reason I thought this was overdone. Like what I imagined musicals based on Disney movies to be like - too committed to being like the movie. (I learned later this year that I was wrong about Disney musicals)

They even had a projection of a giant Dolly Parton head up on a constantly moving clock to narrate the show. Which I thought was cheating. Usually I'm good with technological advances in musicals, I don't mind parts of Phantom probably being recorded because it's impossible to live sing some of it, I don't mind backdrops being projections and not painted and moving...I do mind Dolly Parton's face being emblazoned above the stage, apparently.

This was kind of meh for me. I don't remember any of the songs other than the main "9 to 5" theme and I liked how they staged the scene where they get high and fantasize about killing their boss, but as a whole it wasn't super memorable for me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

April 3rd, 2011- Billy Elliot: The Musical.

So I was walking by the Paramount and realized that the last weekend for Billy Elliot: The Musical was then and I should probably see it if I wanted to say I'd seen all the musicals between the 5th and the Paramount. It turns out I had missed one early on but I didn't know that at the time.

Going to this was a spur of the moment decision and I was able to get cheap seats at the Paramount (which are not the same at all as cheap seats at the 5th, more on that later). I did no basic research beforehand. I had never seen the movie and I honestly thought it was based on that movie about the kid who was a genius at chess.

Boy was I in for a surprise.

First off, I hated my seat. I'm usually on board with the "whatever you seat you can get is a good seat" philosophy but the cheap seats at the Paramount are truly nosebleed seats where it's difficult to see who's singing and not easy to understand what they're singing about. Add accented English to that and you have me not knowing what was going on for the first two songs of the show.

I did figure out it wasn't about chess.

The kid performers were excellent, as was Billy's dance numbers, and the staging in regards to the strike and the miners' plight was really touching. (although I was still only half sure about what was going on)

I did order the Netflix movie the musical was based on right after, in order to fill in the gaps and found out it was Jamie Bell's big break movie. He's adorable.

I wouldn't call this musical a must-see but it wasn't bad either.

April 3rd, 2011 - One Day

One Day by David Nicholls was recently turned into a movie with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess as Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew. The movie wasn't too bad and the book was better, as always. The main reason most people liked it was because it made the idea of soulmates and fate and things working out in their own time very real.

We all have our potential Dexter Mayhews/Emma Morleys. The guy/girl who keeps cropping up and is super easy to talk to, but for whatever reason neither of you is willing to give a relationship a shot at the same time as the other. And unlike your typical romantic comedy, the reasons it won't work are very real. Careers get in the way, family deaths, other long term relationships that seem to be missing something, life-crises, drugs, affairs. It's not until these two sort themselves out and grow into their own person that they are able to be together. And, like in real life, that takes forever. Over a decade for them, which is slightly depressing.

There's a shock or two in for you with this story, it's not your typical romantic comedy and you'll probably tear up unexpectedly at some parts.

Also, there's apparently a parlor game in England called Are You There, Moriarty that involves blindfolding participants and slapping them across the head with a rolled up newspaper Never agree to play this.

Friday, October 14, 2011

March 6th, 2011 - The Imperfectionists

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, like Super Sad True Love Story, centers on what the death of the printed word looks like. It tells the story of a small newspaper in Italy that is run by Americans.

Instead of tackling the newspaper head on though, he spends a chapter each on the lives and history of 11 people impacted by it's existence. It's creator, it's editors, it's biggest fans, it's owner ,etc.. And they're all very real and flushed out and effective at making you feel something. They're the kind of real that is hard to relate to, because it's so sad and harsh and unresolved.

You know, like, how life works.

None of the characters are really likable, but you can still choose your favorite because when compared to everyone else, that character least unsettled you. It'll be different for each person who reads this book.

Consensus was that the reason this is a good book is because there isn't a whole lot to like about it. That makes sense. It's well-written, intelligent, thought provoking, and the the fact that Rachman was able to effectively tell a story like this in so disjointed a fashion and in such different styles is admirable. But once you read it you want to criticize the characters and their choices, and you end up feeling real pity for them. And think..."Maybe I should go buy this book in book form, not in e-book." which is a good motto in my book.

March 5th, 2011 - Next to Normal


Like I don't want to talk about it too much, because finding out what goes on while you're there helps you relate to all the heartbreak and healing on that stage. SO DON'T GO AND WIKIPEDIA THE PLOT. Just trust me and see it if you get the chance.

The music is brilliant and very classic rock -ish rather than super fun standalone show tunes, and the lyrics are witty and intelligent without being as pretentious as I am being by using the word pretentious.

Probably the only issue I had with it was because the show was built and designed for Alice Ripley to play the lead. But the songs were so rough on her voice that by the time she got to Seattle she either got awful reviews because she was performing with laryngitis, or an understudy took over.

I went twice (because The 5th Avenue has/had an awesome deal where if you bring in your ticket stub on the day of a performance you want to see you can get any of the remaining seats for $20.) and both times I went I got the understudy, Pearl Sun, who was still awesome. I quickly got over the disappointment of realizing I wasted my second chance on another understudy, because she swept me up in it all over again.

This is definitely not a boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl resolve issues and get married in the finale while singing about it kind of musical. It explores a lot of issues that no one really knows how to deal with, but still leaves you with a sweet feeling at the end. See it if you get the chance!

February 6th, 2011 - An Object of Beauty

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

yeah, THE Steve Martin, the same Steve Martin that manages to do something embarrassing in every film he's in. Unless Meryl Streep is in it? apparently?

My feelings about Steve Martin were once roughly the same as my feelings for "A Christmas Story: the movie" and pretty much for the same reasons. I take an active dislike to movies where someone does something embarrassing.

My parents hated me as a kid because I would throw a fit about all of their favorite movies. * one hated me as a child because I was adorable and precocious, but I did get a bunch of eyerolls for these passionate dislikes*

But as a writer, Steve Martin rocks. I actually went and bought his book, Shopgirl , which I just found out was a movie, because of this book.

An Object of Beauty is about an art dealer/art historian in New York who's ethics slowly get really messed up. Favorite part: They reprint all of the pictures he talks about, in color, on fancy paper, throughout the book which is awesome sauce. Especially because I wanted to be an art historian before I realized I'd have to deal in all the genres of art I don't like all that much AND would spend a lot of time in school and interning and becoming more and more dependent on my parents/the government fairies who are quick to turn on you.

I might go back into it one day, when I can commit to it and travel and can afford to not have my morals so easily swayed as Lacey's were.

Anyway, Steve Martin is about a billion times smarter than I gave him credit for, and my feelings changed all because of this book. I decided he was awesome after seeing the play he wrote, PIcasso at the Lapis Agile performed at UofW. Which is being turned into a movie and again, I just found about that searching for a link for you.

Blogging is helpful. I'm so excited for this movie that I'm just going to finish now so I can go be internet obsessive about it.

<3s for Steve Martin!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

January 9th, 2011 - Super Sad True Love Story

First book for the book club was Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Yeah, try finding that in a book store without his name written down on your hand.

This is set at the end of the transition between people physically writing things down on paper and people posting every thought online. It's a collection of diary entries by our stuck-in-the-past, book-collecting, all around pathetic nice guy, Lenny Abramov, mixed in with live-journal like blog entries of his love interest, Eunice Park, her friends, his friends, co-workers, etc.

I'm not going to lie to you. The book IS super sad. It's one of those futuristic but only 5 years in the future futuristic stories, that centers around love. But I wouldn't necessarily call it a love story. It depends on your idea of love I guess.

Also, in the future, girls wear jeans that are completely transparent and or crotchless. And you get automatically ranked whenever you walk into a public place.

It's a book to make you think with a style that's interesting, hilarious and heartbreaking all at the same time. I'm still new at writing book reviews. Tips welcome :)

November 28th, 2010 - A Christmas Story: The Musical

Two days after my mother, gramma, two kittens, and I drove up from California with all of my stuff, I took them to see A Christmas Story: The Musical! to make up for driving two days with two kittens and all of my stuff.

First off, I HATED A Christmas Story: the movie. Despised it. Spoiler alert: I mean EVERYONE told him that he would shoot his eye out and first time he shoots it...
And the pink bunny costume...
And the Leg lamp...

I shake my head in disgust. I admit I hold a grudge against it from my childhood, if I had seen it as an adult...I probably would still have hated it.

But I LOVED A Christmas Story: the Musical! I totally understood why Ralphie wanted an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. I even wanted one. Sometimes, you really just need a song to explain things like that to you. Plus the kid who played Ralphie, Clark Hallum, was stellar.

I can't think of single negative thing about the show. It goes on tour next year so you should see it if you get a chance =)

Hello Blog World :)

So I have another blog here:

P and D in Italy

But it started off anonymous, and was pretty negative, and I think the reason I wasn't posting there was because I wasn't feeling so negative anymore and I didn't want to live up to my travel posts, which are awesome :)

So I started another one!

Welcome to my new blog! My name is Alex, and I'm 23 years old and 3 months.
Fun Fact: I was named after the main character in Flash Dance
because my mom thought that Alexandra's construction hat with "Alex" on it was cute, and they admired her independent spirit.

I can't stand the movie, but it's ok because I still like my name :)

Here I will update you on the books I'm reading, the musicals I'm seeing, and the kittens who torture me...err cuddle. Don't expect a lot of kitten posts though because I'm still shy about being a "future" cat lady.

The next week or so should be a flurry of posts as I plan to review the books I've read for my book club (there's 11 so far) and the musicals I saw last season (10), so we can document my Seattle experience chronologically. Because I'm weird like that. After that it might trickle down to one or two a month.