Movie Musical Traditions…

2015holibadge-blueIn which I watch The Wiz Live (slightly delayed) and reminisce about movie musicals…


I have this ability to retain songs and song lyrics in my head. Particularly from musicals. It’s become something of a party trick, being quizzed to see if I know the words to a specific song from a specific musical.  If you know me at all, you know I’m a musical theater geek. A part of myself that I happily embrace. I was the kid dancing and singing in my bedroom to the cast recording of Annie, dreaming of being Andrea McArdle. I was also the kid who listened to the soundtrack of Grease interminably, acting out every song, every moment, while wearing my Grease t-shirt (iron on of the movie poster on the front and with my name in raised velvety letters on the back).

Pre-cable (and even after we had cable) and pre-VCR in our house, I was the kid who was ridiculously excited for the yearly airing of both The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz on network TV.  Heralding in the holiday season with my favorite kind of music, my favorite kind of entertainment, the big old ham in me (in a tiny little girl) singing along with every single song and dancing along with the choreography. So, when NBC decided to resurrect this holiday musical tradition by producing musical productions live on TV, I was excited.

While neither The Sound of Music nor Peter Pan were perfect, I was still all in with them, enjoying the hell out of the exuberance of live, by the seat of your pants musical productions on such a large scale. More the better that kids around the country who don’t have the resources or the access to live musical theater could watch. Which leads me to tonight and The Wiz Live on NBC.

The Wiz poster Of all the musicals and movie musicals that I loved as a child, The Wiz was at the top of the heap. The movie came out in 1978 and my 9th birthday party in January 1979 was at a screening of The Wiz, which was not the first time I’d seen it (my parents, always wonderful at indulging my interests, let me see it several times in the movie theater). I owned the double album on vinyl and played that soundtrack so much it warped. I knew every word to every song, every breath, every quirk of phrase. And I loved it! I now own it on DVD and still, to this day, if it happens to be on TV, I must watch.

So, I was thrilled last year when it was announced that the next NBC holiday musical would be a new version of The Wiz. A little trepidatious that it would live up to my expectations, but here we are. I love it. The cast is wonderful, the updates aren’t jarring or obnoxious and fit in well with the theme of the original. The music? The music lives up to every one of my childhood memories. And yes, I still have it all memorized. It’s right there like an old friend and it feels like a wonderful little gift to start the holiday season.

So, I end this evening with a love letter to musical theater, to movie musicals, and to The Wiz (Live and otherwise). Still holding a very soft spot in my heart.  Can’t wait to see what NBC has in store for next year’s live musical.

And now I’m going to “Think of Home” (where I get to go in two weeks!)…

A new day…

Holidailies 2012A lazy New Year’s Day, sort of.  Up early and then read for a while before falling back to sleep until about 11:30am.  Spoke to my sister and then up and hanging out doing a lot of nothing today with Gen.  Somewhere about 2pm I started making zucchini pancakes — my mom’s recipe — and one of my favorite holiday traditions.  They are absolutely delicious, but I forgot just how much work they are.  I had intended to shred the zucchini in the food processor, but discovered that part of the shredder attachment was missing, so hand grated zucchini it was.

We started our Downton Abbey marathon at about this time.  As it turns out, Gen had actually seen most of the first series — with me (amazingly I didn’t recall), and so we picked up with the final two episodes of the first series.  Several hours later the zucchini pancakes were demolished and we were well entrenched in Downton.  It definitely holds up on repeat viewings, but despite it’s refined air and period costumes, it bears more than a passing resemblance to many a modern soap opera.

We are now, finally, finally, at the series two Christmas Special and Gen’s patience with all things Downton is wearing a little thin.  As much as  I adore every soapy moment of it, I can see what she means.  I mean, if they would just tell each other the truth to begin with, it would save so much drama (which, obviously, is the point).  We’ve taken to yelling at the screen and mocking the characters (which, for us is par for the course).   But, I honestly can’t wait for the third series to begin on Sunday!

All in all, not a bad way to spend the first day of the new year, hanging out with my best friend, a little cooking, some entertainment and a lot of laughter.

Tomorrow, back into the thick of things…

Planned Inertia…

Holidailies 2012I planned today as a day of very little.  It’s almost too easy to do, but I sort of knew that I wasn’t going to be productive today before I went to bed last night.  The good news is, I don’t seem to have had a return of the deep dark depression that followed my Thanksgiving sojourn.

I caught up on some DVRed and on demand TV (those Real Housewives are not very nice to each other and the food on Top Chef still looks delicious), read some more of Dark Places (I foresee Gillian Flynn becoming a must read author for the duration), ate a lovely sushi lunch from Amber (thanks to a credit from, and basically was a lazy sod.  Like I said, almost too easy to do.

The tendency is to roll myself back up in my hermit cocoon and become a ball of couch potato until life intervenes and forces me again to interact with it.  So, instead I’m going to fight against that and make sure I do stuff.  Tomorrow, whining or no (and I’m certain there will be some), I intend to exercise.  I also need to do grocery shopping, before the weekend.  And the living room explosion needs to be contained.  Also, apply for a few jobs.  It’s not exciting, but it’s necessary to make a list and keep myself accountable.  One foot in front of the other and all that shit.

I definitely count it as a plus that I’m not feeling depressed or anxious.  I am feeling like I could lean back into the inertia and do nothing for a lot longer, so I’m pushing against it, fully aware of how difficult that sometimes becomes for me.  But I’ve built some inertia into my plans for New Years (a low key, Downton Abbey marathon watching affair), just so I don’t feel too deprived.  I know, my life is just party party party.  Never a dull moment.

In the meantime, trying to get the workout argument over with in my head tonight (or at latest tomorrow morning), so I don’t waste too much time before I get off of my ass and just walk…


Small Pleasures…

Holidailies 2012And now a fluffy post to balance the downers that have preceded it.

I make it no secret that I am a voracious consumer of television and movies.  And although my movie theater viewing has been curtailed severely over the last year (THIRTEEN DOLLARS IN NYC!), looking at the upside of unemployment, I have a lot more time to feed my movie and TV habit and I’ve taken full advantage of it.

So, tonight, a list of some of my favorite TV and movie viewing of 2012, including (unsurprisingly) some guilty pleasures (but don’t think I actually feel guilty about them).


Best in the Movie Theater

  • Beasts of the Southern Wild – one of the most beautifully rendered and delicately acted movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Part fractured fairy tale, part modern commentary, all heart and soul.  Highly recommended!
  • Lincoln – There’s nothing that I can say about this that hasn’t already been said.  I’ll just marvel again at how Daniel Day Lewis disappears into every role he inhabits and how he most certainly IS Abraham Lincoln.

Best from Netflix/Amazon/Video on Demand – Documentary Edition

  • Marley – It doesn’t hurt that Bob Marley’s music is part of the soundtrack of my youth, but this wonderful documentary delves into the many layers of his life and music and is so rich with never before seen footage and conversations that I will likely watch it again.
  • The Queen of Versailles – Expecting a movie that mostly pokes fun at the wretched excess of wealth (particularly the nouveau riche variety), this documentary about the rise and fall of Jackie and David Siegel as they embark on a quest to build the largest (and tackiest) house in the country, was at turns, funny, sad, pathetic, and always deeply fascinating, especially in light of the way David Siegel chose to interject himself into the Presidential electoral process this year.

Best on TV – Zeitgeist Edition

  • Homeland – I mean seriously, who isn’t watching this?  I don’t even have Showtime and I manage to watch it, every single week.  Replacing the first season of 24 as the crack cocaine equivalent of TV viewing.
  • The Newsroom – Come to think of it, this has a strong standing in the crack cocaine equivalent of TV competition too.  The best that Aaron Sorkin has been since the very early days of The West Wing, maybe even better.  And so timely and so smart and so much more enjoyable than the actual news!
  • Scandal – as far as I’m concerned, Shonda Rhimes can do no wrong.  Grey’s Anatomy may not be what it once was, but it’s still on my regular viewing list. However, for a political junkie, conspiracy theory, thriller loving girl like me, Scandal is the ish!
  • The Walking Dead – Totally in withdrawal and it’s been just over a week since the midseason finale.  Bloodier and better than ever, this show (and its companion commentary show The Talking Dead) make Sunday night the best of TV.  Currently consoling myself by reading the comics from which it was created.
  • Sons of Anarchy – Never fails to be violent and bloody and shocking in the best possible way.  And fearless in its narrative decisions, even when it means killing off beloved characters. (RIP Opie!)
  • Revolution – Give me a smart, engaging, post-apocalyptic series with a fascinating mythology and you’ll have me at hello!

Best of TV – Another Country Edition

  • Twenty Twelve – Mockery of the London Olympics in the style of The Office?  Starring Hugh Bonneville?  Yes, please!  Though the series was limited, it’s brilliance looking at the absurdities of office life, elevated to the world stage is absolutely HILARIOUS!
  • The Hour – Called the British Mad Men, resemblances end at dapper costumes, lots of cigarette smoking, toppled stereotypes, and high quality storytelling, BBC News has never been this interesting, in a 1950s set thriller about TV journalism.  Series two just started on BBC America and I can only hope there are more episodes than series one.  Love it!
  • Downton Abbey – Shall I just say, Duh?  Even the theme music makes me happy.  Some of the best period drama to ever grace the small screen as far as I’m concerned.  Series three starts on PBS in January and I’ve managed to restrain myself from seeking it out on the ITV website and wait for the US premiere (though I do quite enjoy watching “adverts” from the UK.)
  • Copper – Gritty New York City set tale of rough and tumble policemen and Tammany Hall politics. Think Gangs of New York with better accents, a more attractive main character, and a distinct lack of  Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Being Erica – The final season of my favorite, hip, smart, Toronto singleton figuring it all out (while traveling back in time to revisit her choices).  Sad to see it end.  Erin Karpluk, you need a new job that will treat you as well!

(Note: I may or may not have watched some of the above on their home country broadcast websites via a beautiful technological invention that allows me to be in those countries virtually while never leaving my living room)

Best of TV – Teenybopper Edition

  • Girls – Okay, not quite “teenybopper,” but I’m far enough away from my early twentysomething angst that it almost feels like it.  That said, hilarious, smart, awkward, and not all shined up for glossy TV viewing.  Lena Dunham is the real deal.
  • Dance Academy – Soapy, sweet and a dancer’s smorgasbord, I discovered this Australian show about aspiring professional ballet dancers on Netflix and cannot wait for the next series (and if it doesn’t happen, I may be crushed!)
  • Teen Wolf – Not your mother’s Teen Wolf (nor mine either).  MTV has brilliantly taken a goofy, 80s comedy about a cute dude (aww young Michael J. Fox) with a werewolf curse and turned it into a moody sci-fi tale of teenage angst and ruthless killers, plus it co-stars Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica‘s Saul Tigh) as a grizzled loose cannon (shocker!).  What’s not to love?
  • Awkward! – If Square Pegs and My So Called Life had a baby, added edgy humor, serious snark, and lots of bleeped profanity, this would be it.  You’re Welcome!
  • Bunheads – Sutton Foster.  Dancing.  Small Town Hijinks.  Snappy, snarky dialogue.  Yep.  I’m in.

Best in Guilty Pleasures

  • Breaking Amish – Probably not a moment of “reality” in this reality show, but it certainly fed my fascination with religions and subcultures.
  • Man vs. Wild – discovered thanks to my sister and nephew and devoured in multi-episode Netflix marathons filled with mockery from the peanut gallery. Plus Bear Grylls = adorable (though slightly insane).
  • Intervention – What is it about watching alcoholics and drug addicts spiral out of control, have their families rally around them and then turn their lives around (or not)?  I guess I love a good redemption story.
  • Investigation Discovery – Yes, pretty much the entire network.  I’m weirdly obsessed with true crime, and I guess since there’s a whole channel focused on it, I’m not alone.  Mostly, though I love 48 Hours Hard Evidence, Dateline on ID, On the Case with Paula Zahn, and Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?

Looking forward to in 2013

  • SMASH – The return of my theater fangirl favorite!  The addition of Jennifer Hudson!  And locations shoots at the Westway Diner!  And singing and dancing and Broadway show geekery!
  • The Following – Serial killers, cults, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy.  I’m in!
  • The Americans – 1980s set tale of KGB spies who are the All-American couple next door.  And it stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys.  Again, I’m in!
  • Mad Men – Though it may not be what it once was, I’m still a sucker for Don Draper and company.  Awaiting their return. Oh when, oh when will it be?

Tomorrow we’ll likely return to our regular navel gazing program.  But until then, enjoy…

One week into another…

Gen came into town last Friday night and on Saturday we hopped in the Zipcar and headed for New Haven.  After a couple of wrong turns and a little bit of driving in circles, we managed to meet Anita at Atticus Bookstore Cafe for lunch.  The food was delicious and the company was great.  After lunch, we finally got to see Richard II at Yale Rep.  It was a really wonderful production and Gen’s friend Jeffrey was phenomenal.  We then headed back to the city to go to the opera.  This is why we got the Zipcar in the first place, figuring that taking the train would be a gamble.  Of course, neither of us gave a thought to the fact that we were heading back into the city on Saturday night.  Which meant that we got stuck in heinous traffic and didn’t actually make it back in time for the opera.

We were both kind of bummed, because we really wanted to see it, but we made the most of the evening.  We ended up having a decadent dinner at Rosa Mexicano, where the guacamole (made to order at your table) is so addictive there might as well be crack cocaine in it.  The question we asked each other for the rest of the evening was, “How was the opera?”  And the answer?  “The guacamole was delicious!”  Since we couldn’t see Margaret Garner, that meal wasn’t a bad consolation prize.  After dinner, we went back to my apartment and watched a couple episodes of Flight of the Conchords and even that hilarity could not stave off the food induced narcolepsy that suddenly had overcome both of us.  I left Gen to her coma on the futon and dragged myself off to bed.  I think I was asleep before 11pm.  Crazy…

On Sunday, we met the boys for brunch at V*YNL.  Ah, my favorite brunch place ever, with my favorite people.  The best kind of way to spend a weekend day.  Afterwards, Gen and I took a little detour to the Drama Book Shop, where Gen had to buy “a couple” of things.  Which translates into a big honking pile of books.  It was amusing.  Mostly because I didn’t actually spend any money, which is quite unusual for me.  Once Gen left for home, I had the grandiose idea that I would get a ton of things done…cleaning, organizing.  Okay, so I’m delusional.  Instead I took a nap.  And then a new week began.

 Amazingly, it began with a lot less anxiety than I expected.  I actually had most of the details of the upcoming weeks under control.  And I’m not sure why that surprises me so much except for the fact that working for my boss for the past year and being told how useless I am and that I never have my job under control, somehow I started to believe it.  Thing is, I just work for someone who can only feel better about herself by making other people feel worse and in the end it has nothing to do with me.  That was quite the revelation. 

So, here I am, heading into another Friday.  I have to get all the final details under control tomorrow, since it’s my last day in the office for more than a week.  I leave on Monday for a week in Texas (Yippeeta!) and I have a gazillion things to get done in the office and at home before I go.  And as much as the anxiety of everything I need to get done and everything I have to do once I’m in Texas is looming, I guess I’m getting back to myself, because, different than six months ago, now I’m not letting the insidious external voices cloud what I know is true.  I’m competent and this is an event just like any other event that I’ve done.  Which means I can totally handle it.  So, I might actually enjoy this trip to Texas.  Even though I wish I were traveling to somewhere else.  Because Texas?  Hot and full of Republicans.  And me?  I don’t generally enjoy either.  Oh well, I’m sure it will be just fine.  Because a luxury hotel and room service and a week without having to get up to feed the cat isn’t such a bad thing…

Fall Friday…

One of my favorite things over the summer has been Summer Fridays, where our office hours have been 9am-1pm.  I went away a lot this summer, but on weekends in town I usually went to the movies on Friday afternoons.  Something about watching Ocean’s Thirteen in the middle of the day on a weekday feels decadent.  So of course Summer Fridays only last through Labor Day weekend.  Today is the first Fall Friday.  Which means I have to be here ALL DAY LONG.  Now, frankly, I have so much work to do, that it’s not really an issue, but I don’t really WANT to be here. 

Speaking of Labor Day, it was a wonderful weekend.  Anita and I drove up to my sister’s house in New Hampshire and we brought along her dog, Rose, who got along famously with Ziggy.  It was really fun to have two hyper black labs under foot the whole weekend.  They were quite entertaining.  On Saturday we went to Portsmouth, eating and shopping and strolling.  The weather was beautiful.  At first Duncan didn’t want to go with us because he said that all we would do is walk around going into candle shops.  This made all of us crack up, because apparently candle shops are the height of nerdiness in the world of twelve year old boys.  I’ll note that we did not drag him into any candle shops, but did spend quite a lot of time in Macro Polo, which is a dream shop for any non-nerdy pre-teen boy (as well as his geeky aunt). 

On Sunday we made a pilgramage to Mecca Target, so I could get my fill of suburban shopping.  We watched Red Eye on Sunday night, which was a far better movie than I thought it would be.  And Cillian Murphy has some of the creepiest eyes I’ve ever seen in my life.  The rest of the time was spent laughing, bird watching, playing with the dogs, and eating well and a lot.  It was the perfect way to spend the last weekend of summer.  And now, back to the grind…