Okay… I’ve seen two Broadway shows and have read 4 or 5 books since my last post, but I don’t have the time right now to gush about them. I promise I’ll get to those at some point soon. Because I have read some good books… and some crap ones. And both the Broadway shows I saw were really great (The Bridges of Madison County and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, for those who are actually interested…).


No, this post is going to be about friends and my really great weekend (well, Saturday) with some friends who I haven’t seen in about 3 years.


I love my friends. I have some really good friends in the city and I’m grateful when I get to see them. Some I see once a month. Some I see every couple months. Some I talk to multiple times a day via Facebook messaging or text messaging. One of my most favorite people in the world doesn’t live in the city, but we talk every few weeks on the phone. (Though last week we talked two nights in a row for multiple hours each night and it was glorious.) This weekend I was able to reconnect with three lovely women I went to grad school with. I haven’t seen them in years and we don’t really talk much outside of some Tweets here and there or comments on Instagram, but we had a really great day together talking about our common pasts, our differing presents and our plans for the future.


Now, I’m the kind of person who was always friendly with a large group of people but who only has a handful of really close friends. I have often said that I would actually be content never interacting with other people, but since I can’t be a complete hermit I an fiercely loyal to the close friends I do have and genuinely enjoy spending time in a more one-on-one or small group setting.


To put it mildly, I had an odd week last week and was ready to be a shut in for the weekend so I could work on my book. But, out of the blue a friend who was visiting the city asked me out to brunch on Saturday and then a couple other friends who were in town for a conference were free to hang out that evening, so I ended up having a jam-packed Saturday with old friends instead of spending it alone hunched over my computer.


I honestly haven’t had that much fun in awhile.


At brunch, my friend and I kibitzed for a couple hours over bottomless mimosas and filling carbs. I was planning on heading home before I went out later that evening, but she invited me to go to the Met with her. So, we tipsily made our way uptown to the Met and walked around the museum for a few hours ogling priceless works of art and priding ourselves in being able to identify various painters and sculptors even though we had a super great buzz going on. I had never been to the Met, so I was super excited (as I love art and history and art history). My favorite exhibit was easily the Ancient Egyptian art and artifacts. But the whole museum was great and we took some selfies with the statues, which was fun.


We weren’t tipsy by time we left the museum to meet our other friends at a bar. Once there, we started drinking again, so after my three pints of beer and cider, I was feeling pretty damn good again. Not only was I riding high from my delightful beverages, but I was having an odd afternoon of high self-esteem.


It is probably not a huge surprise that I have medium to low self-esteem most of the time. Even though I know I’m a very smart person who has good manners and morals, I often am down on myself for not knowing where my life is headed or having the kind of financial or social stability that a lot of my peers and family members have.


(This is where you insert the comment about how you’re not supposed to compare yourself to others because your life is your life.)


But I was feeling really good about myself while I was hanging out with my friends and even still today.


See, the friends I was hanging out with are all college professors. We all graduated around the same time from our masters program, but then the rest of them went into the doctoral program whereas I found myself drifting away from our shared major. I never really felt like part of our program (even though I totally graduated – woot), but I was friendly with these people and continue to admire them for their successes. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of their accomplishments and that they are important people in their field and presenting at conferences and all that jazz.


Heading into the weekend knowing I was going to be seeing/hanging out with a group of college professors (while I am merely a dog walker), I was super surprised when they all were really gung-ho about how I just up and moved to NYC a couple years ago and that I’m writing a book.


See, while I see myself as a lowly dog-walker who is struggling to find her purpose, my friends actually see me as a writer.


I mean, I tell myself that the dog walking is just a job, not a career (because it’s not a career… I cannot do that forever, especially after this terrible winter. That Polar Vortex actually almost killed me), and I want to be a published author very, very much. I am determined to get this book finished and published. It is happening.


But there is something really flattering and wholly humbling when people you know and admire think that you are doing something awesome. When you have such a low opinion of yourself, it feels like you won the lottery when people you believe in believe in you too.


And I know that sounds terrible. I know that. But it’s the truth.


So for the first time in awhile, I felt really good about myself yesterday. And that encouragement from my friends stuck with me today as I sat down and wrote another chapter.


But it’s not just those friends who are helping me see that maybe – just maybe – my dreams could be a reality. It’s all my friends and family.


See, when I was having my multiple phone conversations this past week with one of my most favorite people who doesn’t live in the city, she told me that she started reading my book. (I sent her a draft via email awhile ago and she’s now reading it… woot.) Even though I know what I’m writing is not something that she normally would read, I was bowled over when she said that she thought it was good.


I know the book has trouble spots. And I know it’s going to need some serious help in editing. But with the support and encouragement from friends who I respect and love, I am able to love myself and my work too.


Besides the nice things my friends have said, I got a real boost from my brother the other day. He said that he’s really inspired by how hard I’ve been working on my book and it’s inspired him to work on the website he’s designing and the other side projects he’s been working on outside of his schooling. And even over the holidays, he brought up how impressed he continues to be of the television shows and videos I worked on when I was in college. Even though he’s my younger brother, I look up to him and how accomplished he in in his fields. So, to hear that he is inspired by work I’ve done and the work I continue to do is a little mind boggling.


And maybe I don’t love myself as much as I could, or think as highly of my own work as I should, but even this little surge of self-confidence from my friends and family has helped so much.


I know if I don’t thank them as much as I could or should, but Thank You. Thank you for your stories. Thank you for your time. Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for venting at me. Thank you for caring about me when perhaps I’m not caring as much as I should about myself.


I hope I am able to be that kind of support system for the people in my life who need it the most. I hope I can make you proud and I hope I can make myself proud.


Things just seem so much more possible when you don’t have to go it alone.


I hope everyone had as much of a productive (and fun!) weekend as I did.


(Dude, I played Cards Against Humanity for the first time… holy shit, that game is amazing.)


Have a good one

So, I haven’t posted on here in forever. But I have finished reading a few books over the past few weeks and have a few recommendations among them.


I think the last time I made a post about books I was reading Stick, so I’ll start with that…


Stick – by Andrew Smith – This book about Stick (real name “Stark”) and his older, gay brother Bosten was an enjoyable read. It wasn’t a super happy read (their home life was terrible), but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I wanted to give most of the characters hugs. I liked that it was mostly about a sibling relationship, and brothers at that. I am drawn to stories about boys/men dealing with emotional stuff and having to talk about it with other boys/men. Man feelings. Can you dig it?


Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn – I very much enjoyed the premise of this book. Lily and Dash communicate via a shared notebook and they make each other go on little adventures. It was a friendship story where people were friends through the written word before meeting in person. (Of course it develops into a story about teens liking each other, because that’s how these things take shape…) I loved this book until I really didn’t. It took a really strange (re: wholly silly/unbelievable) plot turn toward the end and took me out of the magical cuteness that the story had been up until that point. I don’t like when things get silly. I don’t feel it advances the plot and it actually is quite insulting. As a reader, I don’t like it when the author (or authors, in this case) takes the story on a route that pulls you completely out of the book. I honestly stopped reading at one point, shut the book and heaved a heavy sigh of disgust. I still liked this book (for the most part), I just wish it would have taken a better route to get to the ending.


Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List – by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn – This is the first thing (co-)written by David Levithan that I hated. I couldn’t wait to finish the book because I needed to return it to the library as soon as humanly possible. I could not stand the female protagonist and her immaturity. Naomi (straight high school girl) was basically madly in love with her gay guy BFF Ely and she kept getting mad at him for not returning the feelings (and for kissing her boyfriend, who turned out to be gay). It’s frustrating to read about characters who are best friends even though one of them is a kind of terrible/selfish/ignorant person. I liked Ely for the most part, but even he got on my nerves. I do not recommend this book. I just… ugh.


Maurice – by E.M. Forster – I’ve seen just about every E.M. Forster film adaptation except for Maurice, so I was very keen to track down this book and read that before I ultimately track down the film. It was interesting to read about the relationship between two guys set in the early 1900s, but heartbreaking at the same time. I admit that I skimmed the last half of the book (it was due at the library the following day and couldn’t be renewed), but I got the general gist of it. It was a good read and I really do want to see the movie.


Gone, Gone, Gone – by Hannah Moskowitz – This book is about a gay teen named Craig who is living near DC post-9/11 (when all the sniper stuff was going on). Someone broke into his house and all his pets ran away. Also, his ex-boyfriend’s father died in 9/11 and was now at some mental institution. Craig falls hard for a new kid, Lio (he was a cancer kid and his twin brother died when they were younger). So, basically a lot of drama on top of even more drama. Oh, and these boys love each other after a few weeks/months. Do 15-year-olds really fall in love like this? Every time I read a YA book and the 13-16 year old characters go on and on and on about falling in love, I’m like, “Really?” I think back to when I was in middle school and early high school. I wasn’t in love with anyone. I had massive crushes on people, yes, but even then I knew I wasn’t mature enough to be in love. So when I read all these books about kids falling in love, I wonder if I just missed out on something early on, or if I’m supposed to suspend disbelief because everyone just loves reading about people being in love. (For the record, the book I’m writing is about high school juniors and though they like each other an awful lot, they are not going to profess their love for each other because they’ve known each other for, like, two months.) I thought this book was a little too heavy on the drama, but I liked Moskowitz’s writing style and decided if I came across any more of her books, I’d give them a whirl.


When Love Comes to Town – by Tom Lennon – I pulled this book off the shelf at the library because the spine was the hands of two guys clasped. I was pleased to see that once I got the book off the shelf, the book front and back had the two guys – just two dudes wearing plaid shirts and jeans holding hands. Adorable. The book itself was a little less adorable, but really interesting. It was about this gay high school senior named Neil who knew he was gay since he was about 10 or 11, but was scared to come out because it was Ireland in the early 90s. Throughout the book he told some people and tried to embrace his identity. He went to a gay bar, he chatted up and befriended some other gay guys, and he finally told his parents he was gay. His story had obvious ups and downs and I just kept asking “But what about Ian?” as Neil found himself falling for a guy named Shane even though Ian from school was the better choice of who he should be with. I liked this book a lot and it was really cool to read an Irish book about LGBT youth.


Marco Impossible – by Hannah Moskowitz – See, told you I’d read more of her books if I found them. The premise of this book was kind of cheeseball – 13-year-old Marco and his sidekick/BFF Stephen were going to break into the high school prom so Marco could confess his love to Benji, who was on his way back to England for the summer. (Again – 13-year-olds in love?)  Though I balked at the premise, I actually enjoyed the book. It was cool to read about Marco and Stephen’s friendship and how Marco being gay was not a big deal but a very big deal at the same time. Straight Stephen was mad that Marco was going to a different high school than him come the fall, but during their night of shenanigans in order to get Marco into that prom, Stephen finally pieces together that Marco has a target on his back at all times because he’s gay and he’s not safe because some of the other kids are out to get him. Reading about hate crimes makes me sad. I mean, I got picked on in school for being a bit of a nerd, but little Marco gets his locker bashed in and death threats because he likes boys. You legitimately worry that Marco’s plan to publicly proclaim his love for Benji is a fatal trainwreck just waiting to happen, but you still want to watch it happen because maybe, just maybe, it won’t turn out as bad as you think it probably will. I liked this better than Gone, Gone, Gone because there was a healthy dose of comedy surrounding the more serious moments.


The Death Cure – by James Dashner – This is the prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy and I haven’t finished reading it yet. I actually started reading this after Gone, Gone, Gone but I find it so boring that I put it down and read the other books instead. It’s due at the library this week and I don’t feel like renewing it, but I will try to finish reading it even though I am really not liking it. I thought it was going to be about Thomas and Theresa pre-Maze, but it’s not. It’s about characters I don’t really care about thirteen years before The Maze Runner takes place. I’m maybe 11 or 12 chapters in so far and I’m very underwhelmed by the writing and the plot. I honestly wish I hadn’t started reading this, but I feel obligated to finish it. Once I finish it, I have two newer David Levithan books waiting for me.


So, yeah… this is what I’ve been reading the past few weeks.


If you have any good recommendations, let me know!

I know I live in NYC, but you don’t know how happy I am to be in my apartment wearing pajamas and burrowed under a pile of blankets. It’s cold here in the Big Apple. I would know – I spent the entire day outdoors walking dogs. (Walking dogs is fun, but it’s less fun when it’s bitter cold and windy like whoa.)


It’s not 2014 yet as I type this, but it likely will be by time you read this post. Happy New Year’s (Eve), everyone. We did it. We made it through 2013.


I don’t know about you, but 2013 was a bumpy year. I started the year off with the flu and bronchitis. I got let go from my job, was unemployed for a few months, and felt really low about myself. Things are a lot better now as the year is coming to a close. I’m employed. I have health insurance that kicks in on January 1st (Thanks, Obama!). I can pay my bills. I have family and friends who love and support me. I already have much higher hopes for 2014.


(Don’t get me wrong – there were awesome parts of 2013. I got to go to the Tony Awards rehearsal. I saw a bunch of shows on and off Broadway. I saw Darren Criss in concert [again] with a group of friends. I saw New Kids on the Block/Boyz II Men/98 Degrees in concert and it was awesome. I reconnected with one of my best friends from middle school and we see each other once a month and we’re fabulous. I got to see one of my other best friends twice this year and we went on a freakin’ cruise together with my family. My sister got married to a really awesome guy who I’m grateful to have as a brother-in-law. My brother celebrated his first wedding anniversary with a lady who I absolutely adore as my sister-in-law. My parents celebrated their 32nd Anniversary and are pretty much the cutest pair of people in the history of married folks. I got to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with family.)


I have a lot of free time at work this week (some of my clients don’t need their dogs walked), so I’ve been reading a lot (I’ll get to that in a bit). But, today since I was working down toward Chambers Street, I decided to walk a little further south to where the World Trade Center towers once stood. I’m so glad I did.


The first time I visited NYC was 2004, so I never actually saw the towers in person (though of course I had seen them on TV and in movies). I moved to NYC in 2012 but had never been to the site even though I had been near that neighborhood on a couple occasions. But, today I walked to the base of the Freedom Tower and saw where the towers once stood. It was a really humbling and thought-provoking experience. I felt a lot of emotions all at once and it was almost too much to handle. I reflected on 9/11. I can’t even articulate the enormity of it all. I kind of don’t want to – me seeing the site was a very private moment for me. And as much as I was thinking about everything that 9/11 entailed for the past decade and change, I also (selfishly) thought how it was appropriate that I, personally, see the site today. Right then. The word that kept flashing up in my mind was “rebuild.” I don’t feel that I need to explain that, but I know for my own purposes what today meant to me as I look to 2014.


Last night I did something I usually don’t do – I wrote down some New Years Resolutions. I was careful with my list and made sure to write down things that I actually thought I could accomplish. I know people always say “lose weight” or “eat better.” I know I don’t eat as healthy as I should, but I walk about 5-10 miles a day, five days a week for my job and have lost 20 pounds in the last year and a half, so… those things were not on my list. (insert shrug here)


Here’s what is on my list:


– Finish my book – This is very much achievable. Right now I’m on Chapter 17 and I have the rest of it outlined. It’s going to need a lot of help in editing (I know I need to add in a lot of description, among other things.), but it’s coming along. I really hope once it’s finished and polished a bit that it’s good enough to submit to literary agents. I aspire to publish a novel. It’s on my Bucket List. Let’s do this.


– Finish my screenplay(s) – I’m a couple scenes shy of finishing the first feature-length screenplay I ever wrote and about 30 pages shy of my second script. The first script is crap, but it was something I needed to write because it was taking up too much room in my head. The second script has potential, but I’m still wrestling with how I want it to end. I can get it done, though. I know I can.


– Go on more dates – This is actually the thing on my list that I’m least certain about, but I’m going to actively try to make this happen. I went on two dates this year… and actually, I wouldn’t even call either of them dates. They were more like “walk-and-talks” (because my life is obviously a movie… duh). Both non-dates were 2-3 hour walks in Central Park where the guy I was with and I talked about stuff. I knew one of the guys from school and the other guy I met on a dating website. Both were nice guys, but nothing came out of either non-date. However, I learned a lot about them and myself during the few hours we spent together. Without making a tangent into a depressing story about how I’ve (wrongfully) thought that I wasn’t good enough to find someone special, I will say (well, write) that I am learning to love myself more and by doing that, it’s dawning on me that I am a good person and though I might not be super model hot, I’m not altogether fugly either. I have good morals. People tell me I’m funny. I’m caring. And someday I would like to get married. (You likely don’t know how frustrating it is to be the 7th wheel at family functions… Trust me, it’s frustrating.) I’m not looking to get married right this second. But, it would be nice to meet a guy I click with. It’d be nice to have a guy whose hand I can hold when we go see action movies or live theater. So, yeah. Go on more dates.


– See at least 1 show a month – I’ve been doing pretty well with this so far, but I want to make sure I keep it up. Live theater is the greatest form of entertainment ever. I love it. I need it in my life. (My show for December was “Beautiful – The Carole Kind Musical.” I will post a whole post about it in the next few days. It was amazing.)


– Read more – This is something else I’ve been rocking out the last few months. Reading (especially for fun) is one of life’s simple pleasures. I’m so glad I finally got my NYC library card over the summer. With my job, I usually have a few minutes (or hours, depending on the day) between walks and it allows me to get some reading done. Lately, I’ve been reading mostly YA novels. I finished three within the last three days and started another one this morning. (I will write a separate blog post about this as well…)  My parents read a lot and it’s something that has stuck with me. I read a lot when I was little, but over the years it was something I was doing less and less. I’m glad to have picked this hobby back up. It’s relaxing as much as it is educational/research.


– Visit my sister – I put a “?” by this on my list because this might not be as feasible as I hope (I need to wait until taxes are done, among other things). My sister lives in Arkansas and she and her husband just got a new puppy. Aunt Kate needs to go see little Rosie before little Rosie becomes the size of a small horse.


There’s actually one more thing on my list, but I’m deciding not to share it with the masses. (And by “masses,” I mean the couple people who accidentally stumble upon this blog while looking for a Harry Potter quote…) But, I hope that I’m able to accomplish that last (mystery) resolution.


Man, I am yawning. It’s a combination of me being super exhausted from being in the cold/wind all day, me not sleeping well to begin with, and the 24 oz of hard cider I downed in the last couple hours. (I’m not tipsy… but I can feel it.) I’ll make it to midnight, but likely only just. I’m bonkers tired (I only slept well a couple nights in the past few months…), but luckily I don’t have to work tomorrow. I won’t be setting my alarm, but my guess is I’ll probably still wake up early. I have a lot of stuff to type tomorrow (blog posts for her, blog posts for FFE, and my book), but it’s nice knowing I don’t have to be anywhere.


It’s really nice knowing I don’t have to be anywhere, I kind of broke a toe a few weeks ago and it hurts to walk on it. And since I walk a lot for my job, there is really no time for my toe to not hurt. Oh well.


I hope your 2013 ends/ended well. Mine ended pretty great. I got to go home to MN for Christmas. (I realize I live in NYC and have lived here for over a year now, and I plan on living here forever, but it doesn’t feel like “home” yet. So, for the time being, MN is still my “home” because that’s where my parents and dog are. Also, I recently lived there for 2 years, so it was my home and still feels as such.) It was a bugger to get there – my flight got delayed a bit, and then they switched our gate a few times. My parents were awesome enough to pick me up at the airport, but we didn’t get to the house until almost 1am on Christmas. We stayed up for a little and had some coffee cake, and then I wrapped presents. I was so tired, but I couldn’t sleep. Christmas day we watched some Sherlock Series 2 (I can’t wait for Series 3!!!), The Hobbit and Love Actually. My mom, sister and I saw American Hustle. My mom and I marathoned White Collar Season 4. My parents, brother and I went and saw the USA National Hockey Team play the Canadian Olympic team as a “Road to Sochi” match. Women’s hockey is awesome, by the way. It was so great to see all those talented ladies take the ice – plus, it was a super great game. AND I got to see the Herb Brooks statue outside of the arena. I was really sad to leave my family (especially because I don’t know the next time I’ll see them again), but I had to come back. NYC might not quite feel like home, but I know I’m supposed to be here.


Have a safe and happy New Year! (Expect some blog posts soon about books and Broadway 🙂 )


A friend asked if I’d go see Frozen with her, and I’m super glad I said Yes.


To be forthright with you, I haven’t been much of a Disney fan as of late. The last Disney film I saw in theaters was Enchanted, and the most recent Disney princess movie I saw was The Princess and the Frog. I had heard mostly good things about Frozen via the Interwebs and people were going ape-shit over Idina Menzel’s big song, “Let It Go.” Add in the facts that the film also co-starred Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad and I was all in.


(SPOILERS, obviously.)


The film is about some royal sisters, Elsa (Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell). Elsa was born with the ability to freeze things – something she told at an early age to hide/suppress because it would be hard to control if she would become afraid. Once close, Elsa and Anna grew apart because Elsa was basically put into solitary so she wouldn’t hurt herself or others. Anna was unaware of her sister’s power until it was too late. They fought and Elsa accidentally turns their kingdom (Arendelle) into a frozen entity during the summer. Elsa runs away and sings “Let It Go,” the greatest female power ballad (which reminds everyone of “Defying Gravity” – especially because both songs are belted by the same vocally flawless lady) and deems herself free. Unfortunately the people of the kingdom are not pleased about it being winter and whatnot, so Anna decides she’s going to find her sister and talk some sense into her. On her journey, she befriends Kristoff (Groff) and his reindeer, Sven. They later run into Olaf (Gad), a snowman from Elsa and Anna’s childhood that Elsa recreated during her power ballad. (Olaf was my favorite character in the whole film – he was super funny, very cute, and was a selfless and caring character… inherently good and loved Anna unconditionally… my theory is because he was created by Elsa and although Elsa and Anna had grown apart, Elsa still loved Anna unconditionally.) Anna, Kristoff and Olaf face several external obstacles on their quest to have Elsa reverse the winter. As it’s a Disney film, all ends well and with true love overcoming all.


Overall, I really enjoyed this film. I thought the soundtrack was great and I left the theater with a lot of songs stuck in my head (always a good sign from a musical). The “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” might be one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard about best friends/siblings growing apart. “Let It Go” would be my go-to car song if I still had my car. (I’ve listened to it thrice in the last hour…). “In Summer” was HILARIOUS. Oh, little Olaf… singing about what he would do in the heat of the summer. The best part was Kristoff’s reaction and how he really wanted to tell Olaf the truth about what happens to snow in summer. (Later, Olaf does find out what happens when snow comes in contact with heat, and it breaks your heart when he says, “Some people are worth melting for.” AWWWWWWWWW) During the end credits, Demi Lovato sings a pop version of “Let It Go,” and I loved that too.


The music was very reminiscent of other work. The opening song that the ice guys were singing very much reminded me of “Fathoms Below” from The Little Mermaid or “The Virginia Company” (and to some extent “Steady as the Beating Drum”) from Pocahontas… songs that establish the tone while also revealing cultural aspects of the setting. As mentioned before “Let It Go” was very much a “Defying Gravity”-esque ballad. It’s a means for Elsa to express her fears, but also allows her to take control of them and declare her newfound freedom and individuality. (Elsa had a lot of Elphaba moments… A LOT of them.) “In Summer” reminded me of some of the songs from The Book of Mormon (which originally co-starred Gad… not hard to put two and two together). Olaf’s obvious naivety about what would happen to him if he tried to stick around during the warmer months was very much akin to Elder Cunningham’s “Baptize Me” or “Man Up.” His heart is completely in the right place, but his common sense is very much elsewhere.


I was a little (okay, a lot) sad that Jonathan Groff only had one song (and a less than stellar one at that). He was wonderful voicing Kristoff, but I wanted to hear him sing much more than he did.


Another thing that bothered me about the film was the plot twist with Hans. I won’t spoil that for you, but it very much came out of nowhere and he basically just has an epic monologue that’s like “Here’s what’s really going on with me even though there was no foreshadowing to come to this conclusion, but you’re all going to go along with what I say because my voice is dreamy and I said so.”


The last thing that I found a bit unpleasant was that it got a little “damsel in distress” near the end when the film had been setting the female characters up as independent and headstrong women. However, I was pleased with the turn the scene ended up taking and was glad that the focus of the film was more about Elsa and Anna’s relationship than anything else.


I have an older sister and I definitely called her while I was walking to my apartment and left her a voicemail that she should go see this movie. A sister/sister relationship is a sacred thing and it was nice to see a well-crafted (and visually STUNNING) Disney film about sisters instead of just another film about a princess finding a prince.


Frozen was very entertaining and I really enjoyed myself. If you’re looking for a funny, heartfelt movie about family and friendship, I highly recommend it.





So, I’ve been a reading (and writing) machine these past couple weeks. I think I’ve read four or 5 books that I would like to share my opinions about. Unfortunately I don’t have time right this very second (I’m falling asleep as I’m typing this… I haven’t been sleeping so well since I got back to NYC), but hopefully this weekend.

Yeah, I got to go back to MN for Thanksgiving and spent some much-needed time with my family. We played a lot of Just Dance 2014 (IT HAS KARAOKE!!!!) and my mom, sister and I saw Catching Fire. I was the only one of the three of us to have read all the Hunger Games books, so my mom and sister were wholly disappointed when Catching Fire ended abruptly (as the books does…). I tried to explain to them that they should just read the books. Because they should. (Although I’m still not a fan of Mockingjay. The movies best be better than the book. Catching Fire was as good as the book. I owe you a whole post on that.)

And yes, I’ve been writing. I’m on page 53 of my YA book I’m writing and page 80 of my screenplay. I finished a super detailed outline of my book and I’m really excited to get the rest of it written. I’m a few pages away from one of my favorite moments and I just hope I can do it justice 🙂  The book is slow-going just because I tend to only get a couple pages done at a time if I’m lucky do to my cray cray schedule, but I got 10 pages done over the weekend. So that was good. That likely won’t happen this weekend since I have to type up a report, but I’ll do my best to press forward. Those who know me best know I’m not the biggest champion of my own work, but I really think this has potential. I just need to keep at it!

Well… I’m gonna end this and try to get some sleep. Besides having trouble sleeping, I’ve been having problems with an increased amount of headaches and migraines over the past few weeks. Not ideal, lemme tell ya.

Have a good one

Last weekend, I sat/stood outside in the freezing cold and epic windiness for two hours to get Student Rush tickets to see Big Fish. The show is closing at the end of December and I knew I had to see it before its truncated run was over because 1.) It’s a musical based off of one of my favorite books and films   and  2.) Norbert Leo Butz.


A lot of people are probably familiar with the movie version of Big Fish (my tied-for-first favorite Tim Burton film [tied with Ed Wood, of course]), but maybe not so much with the book (written by Daniel Wallace). I highly recommend the book – it’s a good read and allows you to use your imagination to picture Edward Bloom’s stories as fanciful as you want. I read the book before the film came out, and then I saw the film twice in theaters. I’m not one to cry at movies, but the ending made me tear up both times. (No tears actually fell, but my eyes were definitely glassy.) I bought the DVD the day it came out and have watched it multiple times since.


I love the movie and I really wanted to love the musical.


I liked the musical.


But believe me when I say (write?) that I CRIED during the last couple scenes.


And I was not the only one in the theater to burst into tears. There was audible sniffling all around me. And rightly so.


Big Fish is a father/son story for the ages. It’s about a man named William Bloom who is trying to reconcile with his father, Edward Bloom. Edward Bloom was a traveling salesman while William was a boy, so he was not home as much as William wanted him to be – and when he was home, Edward Bloom told these wildly fantastical stories about giants, werewolves, witches and the war in which he himself was always the protagonist. Young William (and later adult William) thought these stories were too ridiculous and he wanted to know the truth about his father and what really happened in his father’s life. When illness strikes the Bloom family, time literally starts running out (as opposed to stopping/slowing down… see what I did there? Wink) and William desperately tries to piece together the truth. Additional stresses pile on as William finds out he is to become a father and he worries about being to able to raise a son when he thinks he doesn’t have a great example from which to lead. There are a lot of scenes of father and son butting heads, but also moments of redemption and forgiveness. Let’s just say a lot of the people crying in the theater were adult men.


For some reason, I am more affected by Father/Son stories than Mother/Daughter stories. Actually, I know the reason… it’s because Father/Son stories force the characters to open up and discuss feelings. And watching men talk (and sing) about feelings is not only entertaining, but heartbreaking. Vulnerable male characters are much more interesting to watch than guys who keep all their feelings bottled up inside. This is why I love Big Fish (the movie). This is why I only liked the musical.


Yes, the emotions were there in the musical. But I just wanted more. The whole idea behind Edward Blood is that he lived this crazy, almost unimaginably fantastical life… but the stage version just doesn’t quite live up to how big Edward Bloom’s world really was. Yes, there were still a giant and a mermaid and a big fish… but I selfishly still wanted more.


There were big musical numbers, but sadly I did not find the songs all that catchy. I can only remember a couple lyrics from a couple songs. I mean, if they have a cast album, I’ll totally get it… but that’s only because I crave anything sung by Norbert Leo Butz. His voice is magical. He was the perfect Edward Bloom… I just wish the musical lived up to his stage presence.


I am wholly biased when it comes to Norbert Leo Butz. (Though luckily, a lot of people share my bias.) I have been a fan of his for over a decade. In undergrad, I would watch bootlegs of Wicked and The Last 5 Years on youtube and stare at my computer screen with a look of pure wonder etched across my face. He’s such an animated performer and plays those big moments as huge as they deserve to be… but at the same time, he masterfully pulls back and allows the vulnerable moments to just be. And it breaks your heart.


In the musical, NBL plays both the younger and older versions of Edward Bloom (sometimes within mere seconds of each other… his physicality of those two characters is brilliant and impressive). Though his bigger moments definitely play out when he’s young Edward, I was more impacted by both Edwards’ quieter moments. For young Edward, it was the daffodil scene. I was in the fifth row for the show, and this was the only point that I wished my seat were up in the mezzanine so that I could see the daffodils from far away. I don’t consider myself that sappy of a romantic, but I definitely swooned when NBL sang “Daffodils.” His voice is perfection. It goes into your ears and then flows like cocoa throughout the rest of your person, making you feel all warm and protected. You feel safe and smitten at the same time and I honestly could listen to him sing anything. But I digress… Edward’s quieter moments.


The end scenes. Oh, lord. If you have not read the book or seen the movie, I will not ruin it for you. (Please at least see the movie. Really.) But, William and Edward come to a sort of understanding at the end of the book/movie/musical and William finally gets his dad’s stories and why Edward did what he did and why he was away so much when William was little. There is just so much love and understanding that happens when William achieves clarity about his father and it’s very beautiful and a sucker punch to your feels. It was at this point where my tears started and they did not stop until the finale reprise of “Be The Hero.”


Despite the shortcomings with the songs and some of the staging, the cast on a whole is really quite good. It’s an entertaining show and an emotional one at that, but I very much understand why its open-ended run is now drawing to a close at the end of December. If you have the means to see it, I would definitely recommend it. Everyone should have the opportunity to see Norbert Leo Butz in a musical at least once in his/her life. (That’s another reason why I kept crying during the last few scenes… this was a decade-long dream come true for me. I was supposed to see NBL in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels years ago, but his understudy was in the day I had tickets. Yes, I did see him in Dead Accounts last year, but that was a play… and a meh one at that.)


Big Fish is a great story. If you can’t/don’t see the musical, at least check out the movie and/or book.


Big Fish is playing at the Neil Simon Theatre until the end of December 2013. Student Rush tickets are available at the Box Office ($27/ticket, and up to two tickets per student ID). I was the third person in line and my tickets were E 17 and E 19 (Left Orchestra).

I have been reading a lot of YA books as of late (a loooooot), as I’m writing a YA book and am trying to read a wide variety of books within the genre. In the last 24 hours, I read The Spectacular Now (which was recently made into a major motion picture). It was definitely a good read. Tim Tharp’s writing style is, in a word, spectacular. His dialogue was great, his descriptions were interesting and unique to other books I’ve read, and I was intrigued by his protagonist (Sutter). I say that I have mixed feels because as much as I loved reading the book, I saw the ambivalent ending coming a mile away and I sincerely wished he would have gone a slightly different direction.

One thing I found interesting about this book was the lack of adult supervision. Yes, there were adult characters and they did pop up every now and again to say (or not say) parent-y things. A majority of this book is Sutter interacting with his friends and ex/girlfriends. They are seniors in high school, which to young people is about as adult as you can get without legally being able to buy alcohol. But that’s the thing, though… Sutter is basically an alcoholic and has zero troubles acquiring alcoholic beverages throughout the whole of the book. He usually seems to have a buzz going, but strangely enough you (the reader) still kind of like him. He seems charming, and when you read the dialogue with Miles Teller’s voice in mind (as he played Sutter in the movie), you kind of get why he does what he does. His life isn’t perfect and he’s been through some shit – but haven’t we all? Sutter just deals with his through drinking and falling for someone he never thought he would actually fall for. It’s kinda sweet, in a backwards “life sucks” way.

I didn’t see the movie, but based on the cover of the book I got from the library with the movie characters on it, they glammed up Amiee pretty good. (Ain’t that always the case?)

I’m super glad I read this book while I’m in the middle of writing my book. It’s definitely inspiration to make the description in my book more colorful. 

And with that, I’m gonna get back to my book. I’m on Chapter 11 🙂 

I went and saw 12 Years a Slave today after hearing phenomenal reviews and seeing the trailer. The film has Oscar Bait written all over it and I wanted to see if the hype was warranted. It was and it wasn’t.


Yes, 12 Years a Slave is a powerful film. It tells the story of Solomon Northrup and how he, a free man living in New York, was forced into slavery in Georgia where he spent 12 years surviving on the different plantations he worked on. His story is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, but while watching the film I felt like I was being told exactly how I was supposed to feel. Of course I felt terrible for the situations Solomon and the other slaves lived through – NO ONE should have had to gone through that. As our government’s documents say, “all men are created equal,” so there is no excuse for how poorly slaves were treated. (People are not property. No person is worth more or less than another person, nor should s/he be treated as such. Basically all the rhetoric Brad Pitt’s character said in the movie…) But, at the same time, I thought some of the sequences and specific shots in the film were wholly self-indulgent and were put in for the shock-value they provided. At times, this was used well (the scene were a hanged slave is barely surviving by standing on his tiptoes for almost an entire day), at other times, I was put off by the in-your-face nature of it all (I’m all for close ups of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s beyond expressive face, but the camera hung on him so long, I became distracted by his contact lenses that he was obviously wearing…). The film has graphic depictions of violence (Remember The Passion of the Christ? This film was way worse than that, lashings-wise. I had to look away a few times.), but it’s sadly necessary to drive home the point that slavery was one of the stupidest and inhumane things our country ever took part in.


The cast for this film was amazing. Ejiofor continues to amaze me with the amount of emotion and character he is able to display with his facial expressions and body language. He is graceful on screen and is an ideal protagonist. You root for him because you care. You care because he should never have had to live through that. And honestly, it’s amazing he did. (That’s not a spoiler… the movie is based off of the book he wrote about being enslaved for 12 years.)


Another standout performer is Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Patsey (a slave woman who works alongside Solomon at Edwin Epps’s plantation). This woman goes through hell and then is repeatedly dragged back through it. She’s a hard worker who is on the receiving end of unwanted affection and detestation from the Epps patriarch (Michael Fassbender – beyond creepy and a total asshat) and matriarch (Sarah Paulson – oh my god, I wanted to smack her so hard and/or scratch at her face). Patsey asks Solomon for a favor in one scene and it breaks your heart, but not as much as her lashing scene. (Also not a spoiler – basically anyone who is a slave in the film gets beat at one point or another because slavery was a terrible, terrible, terrible thing that hurt a lot of people who didn’t deserve to be on the receiving end of such intolerance.)


And then there are the slave owners/overseers. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Solomon’s first owner and was the “nicest” one of the lot. He didn’t actively beat his slaves, but he didn’t treat them as equals either. Conversely, Michael Fassbender portrays a borderline maniacal slave owner who states on multiple occasions that slaves are property and he can treat them however he wants. (If I could have reached through the movie screen and ripped his nuts off, I would have.) Brad Pitt’s character confused me. He seemed like a wanderer who was just kind of there. He was one of the few white characters in the film that saw that slavery was wrong and spouted all sorts of equality-driven dialogue at Fassbender’s character. I am not a Brad Pitt fan, but I obviously had to like his character because he was one of the only people who spoke out against all the wrongdoings that were going on.


The cinematography for the film was gorgeous while the editing left something to be desired. There were some shots and short sequences of scenery that dragged a bit. I get that they were meant to establish location, but I cared about Solomon and would rather have had a few less water shots to keep his story going.


I knew Hans Zimmer did the music before the credits rolled. My favorite bit of music was a sequence that sounded like it might have been lifted from Inception – a series of loud, long, ominous tones to heighten the drama and cause unrest. I dug it.


Before the movie started, I tried to scope out what other people were in the audience – whether people came alone or were with others. I heard a child or two somewhere in the theater (this movie is NOT appropriate for little ones… holy hell). There was a wide variety of people, which I thought was good. I went to the movie by myself, but ended up seated near a group of black women who were my age or a little younger. The woman seated closest to me handed me a wad of tissues part way through the film. I wasn’t crying (my nose is just always running), but I accepted the tissues and thanked her just the same. I did tear up a couple times (there is a scene with Solomon and his violin that symbolized him finally losing hope and that really got to me, as well as the ending… oh, that ending), but I didn’t cry. I did let out a few curse words during scenes where Solomon and/or other slaves were treated poorly, or when Solomon had the courage to stand up for himself/others. But then people clapped at the end of the movie… I hate it when people clap at movies. Ugh.


12 Years a Slave is a good movie. It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen ever, but I can see it getting nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and perhaps some production awards. However, I think that critics and awards voters need to think about the quality of the film, though, and not just the message. I mean, yes, obviously slavery is beyond wrong and the film’s message is inspiring, but giving this film a slew of awards it might not deserve when compared to other worthy films is not going to change the fact that slavery existed. Handing 12 Years a Slave a bunch of trophies will not make up for the terrible things slaves went through. Instead, people should look at this film and vow never to let anything like that happen again. (Yes, I’m talking to YOU, people who still treat minority/disenfranchised groups of people with less respect than they deserve…)


Awards season is just beginning. 12 Years a Slave is a contender, but I wouldn’t push it to the front of the Oscar race just yet since we still have two months of releases to go.

This afternoon, I had a chance to see the Off-Broadway musical Little Miss Sunshine at Second Stage’s Tony Kiser Theatre.


Based off of the 2006 film of the same name, Little Miss Sunshine is the humorous, and at times heart-breaking, tale of the Hoover family’s weekend trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Redondo Beach, California so that nine-year-old Olive can compete in a pageant she qualified for while visiting relatives. What’s special about this family is that none of them are special in that they are dysfunctional and unglamorous just like the rest of us. Two parents, two kids, a formerly suicidal gay uncle and grandpa who abuses drugs travel in a barely running VW van on a long road trip. The dad is unemployed and desperate for a book deal for a 10-step motivational plan he keeps using on anyone who will listen. The son has taken a vow of silence until he can get into flight school. The daughter wears glasses, has a bit of a tummy, and is the antithesis of any girl you see on that Toddlers and Tiaras show. We laugh with them because we can relate to them. We laugh at them because it’s easier to laugh at their hardships than deal with our own.


Based on the cast and source material, I had high expectations going into this show and can honestly admit that they were met. Little Miss Sunshine wasn’t flawless, but isn’t that the point? With no act breaks or intermission, we are with the Hoovers every step of the way (or every mile they drive, rather), for better or worse.


I wondered how they were going to handle the family being in that VW van for a majority of the musical (for if you’ve seen the movie, you know that the van is a major set piece) and was enamored when six yellow chairs on wheels were rolled around the stage in formation to represent the van (said chairs also were used as chairs and beds). The actors basically Flinstoned themselves about the stage, but it didn’t seem silly – it was practical and believable. Those chairs were the van and those actors were the Hoover family.


The cast was very strong. I had seen Will Swenson, Rory O’Malley and Wesley Taylor on stage before, but it was great to see them in different roles than I was used to. I was most excited to see Stephanie J. Block, as she is a performer I had always wanted to see in person but had missed out on before.


Swenson and Block played Richard and Sheryl Hoover. They looked like parents – hell, they looked like my parents – and it was easy to believe that they had been together for awhile and were dealing with a lot of crap that adults don’t want to be dealing with on top of having two rambunctious children and live-in family members (her brother and his dad). The stress was written all over their faces, but so was the underlying love that ultimately kept the family together. Both Swenson and Block are strong actors with equally powerful vocals and it was a pleasure to see them act opposite each other. (Throughout the show I wondered why Will Swenson and Matt Bomer haven’t been cast as brothers in something. Someone needs to make this happen. Please and Thank You.)


O’Malley played Frank, Sheryl’s gay brother who had recently tried to slit his wrists because of relationship problems. This production delves a little deeper into Frank’s story than the movie did (with the addition of a couple scenes between Frank and his former lover, as well as Frank and his nephew) and the audience understands a little more (if not a little better) about why he did what he did and how he’s doing now. O’Malley was great, but I couldn’t help but think that he reminded me an awful lot of Jesse Tyler Ferguson for some reason… (I’ll blame the facial hair and how they have similar dialogue/lyric delivery).


David Rasche, an actor who I was not familiar with, played the grandpa (the role that won Alan Arkin a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in the film). He got a lot of laughs because the character is so inappropriate, but I also appreciated the bits of scenes where he was able to be serious. (I often say how I think comedic actors/roles are at their best during dramatic moments.)


Olive and Dwayne Hoover were played by Hannah Nordberg and Logan Rowland, respectively. Nordberg was a delight as Olive. I thought she projected well and definitely held her own on stage among the more seasoned actors. She had a great handle on the comedic moments, but also shined during Olive’s more dramatic scenes. Rowland was great as Dwayne. As Dwayne is silent for half the show, Rowland’s facial expressions and body language were vital in getting that character across and I thought he pulled it off. Dwayne was always one of (if not) my favorite character in the show and though his freak out was a little less underwhelming on stage, it still made an impact.


So, I mentioned Wesley Taylor earlier… he had a small role as Frank’s former boyfriend and as a surfer-esque dude who works at the pageant. Let’s just say my body was not ready to see his abs underneath his neon pink polo shirt, but his voice is just as stunning as I remembered it to be. (I saw him in The Addams Family when it premiered in Chicago a few years ago… “I’m Crazier Than You” was on repeat for awhile.)


Sadly the Playbill does not list the songs from the show, so I don’t know any of their names (and I’m too lazy to Google it right now…). BUT, I can say that the music was good and if there happens to be a soundtrack someday, I’d totally get it because the voices of these performers are top notch and the lyrics were solid. The group numbers were great, but I was a little Meh about the song Richard sang about his dad. That was just not the best sounding note for Swenson to end with, you know?


If you’ve seen the movie, you know that it ends right after the pageant. And if you remember the pageant… well, then you’ll be pleased with how the musical’s pageant ends too. I had a grin on my face that you couldn’t have smacked off.


When the show was over, our performance had a moderated Q&A with Stephanie J. Block. (I was unaware of this prior to being seated… there was a note in everyone’s Playbill.) Though she said a lot of “actor-y” things about finding her character and the different productions of the show leading up to this one, I still found it to be wholly enjoyable and informative. It was fun to hear her speak so highly of the show and her cast and it very much seemed that this was a labor of love for everyone involved. (I kind of ran into Block in the lobby after the show. I let her duck out the exit ahead of me and she told me to have a good night, so I told her that the show was great and she thanked me.)


If you liked the movie, then you’re sure to enjoy the musical. Little Miss Sunshine is playing at Second Stage Theatre (305 W 43rd St, New York, NY) through December 8, 2013.

So, the Season 5 season premiere of Glee was on the 26th and I’ll have a Glee-cap up eventually… maybe even tomorrow.

Right now, though, I’m super tired so I might just type a little somethin’ somethin’ and then read a bit and then sleep. I realize tonight is the season premiere of SNL, and although Tina Fey (my lady hero) is hosting, I don’t think I’m going to make it. I am beyond exhausted and will likely have to watch the show tomorrow on my phone (because my computer is too slow to stream video… of course).

Today was my day. I did laundry, but then I read for a bit and worked on my book. I’m at 22 pages now (13000+ words). I don’t get much (if anything) written during the week, so I wanted to make sure I got something done today. I’ll try and work on it some more tomorrow. I have to work tomorrow for an hour (insert sad trombone noise here) and then stop at the library to pick up “Will Grayson, Will Grayson.” I just hope it’s better than “Paper Towns.” I’m excited for “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” because it should be more in line with what I’m writing. 

I finished reading “Call Me By My Name” this week and was conflicted. There were parts in the book where I audibly expressed my disgust at the protagonist. I kind of wanted to smack him at times since he was so flip-floppy on his feelings for Oliver, but at the same time I got why he was the way he was. All of us overthink stuff at some point… but I thought Elio was selfish during the parts in the book where he got exactly what he wanted but then felt ambivalent (or worse) about it. I was kind of surprised that this was listed as a YA book. Granted, the main character was 17, but it seemed like it was meant for a more mature audience. (Let’s just say that if we were going by movie ratings, it would have been NC-17 for sure… especially the part when Elio was handling Oliver’s bathing suit and then when Oliver ate the peach. You know… The. Peach.) At this point, I’m rarely shocked with the content of what I read… but this book had a few shocking moments even for me. 

I started reading Edmund White’s “A Boy’s Own Story,” but I’m only a few pages in. I’m going to put the pause button on this while I read “Will Grayson, Will Grayson.” I need the latter as a palette cleanser after “Call Me By My Name” before launching back into “A Boy’s Own Story.” It’s pretty heavy thus far.

You can’t see me as I type this, but I just let out the biggest yawn. It was actually quite painful, as I have jaw problems. So… I should probably wind this down, go brush my teeth and try to get some sleep. I really wish I didn’t agree to work tomorrow (it’s only an hour… but still…). 

I hope you are having a pleasant day 🙂 

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