Hello friends!

Did you think I disappeared? It’s okay if you did… there’s been a lot of non-activity on here and for that I do sincerely apologize.

I have read 25 books in the last 3 months, but due to time constraints at the moment, I will not be posting my thoughts on all of them right this second. If you would like to keep tabs on what I’m reading, I encourage you to befriend me on Goodreads!

Speaking of books… my M/M YA ebook, Out at Home, is available on Amazon. It was published on December 6th and most people who have left comments/ratings seemed to have liked it. I will admit upfront that the book needs help on the editing-front. Unbeknownst to me, no one at the publishing company edited it before it was posted (to be honest, I don’t think anyone there actually read it…). Am I thrilled about that? No. But is that going to stop me? Also no. I have received some truly awful critiques and emails about the book, but I’m using them as a learning experience. Right now I’m 52+ chapters into writing a second YA novel (M/F this time) and am planning on querying agents when that’s finished later this year.

Another reason why I haven’t posted much on here is that I have been super busy seeing shows!

I mentioned in my New Years Resolutions post that I hoped to see at least one show a month. Even though I’m still broke as hell, I have been really privileged to see a bunch of shows this year thanks to my amazing blogging gig with IN New York magazine.

Here are my posts for shows I’ve seen this year:

Nevermore – Edgar Allan Poe: The Musical

Chicago the Musical – Chicago Continues to Razzle Dazzle Audiences With All Its Jazz

The Heidi Chronicles – Revival of The Heidi Chronicles Brings Feminism and Friendship Back to Broadway

Honeymoon in Vegas – Book Your Reservation For a Honeymoon in Vegas

(Stay tuned for more posts about On the Town, Fun House, Dr. Zhivago and Something Rotten!!)

In addition to the shows I’ve seen/will be seeing for my blogging gig, I saw Constellations and Brooklynite. Jakes Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson were beyond amazing in Constellations. We had 2nd row seats (because I was the first person in line for Rush tickets – woot) and it was a dream come true to see Gyllenhaal on stage. (Especially since I just saw his sister in The Real Thing a few months prior.) Brooklynite was great too! This time we had front row tickets for the Off-Broadway show starring the always adorable Matt Doyle.

I’ll also be seeing Darren Criss on his opening night as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I’ve seen the show three times so far (with NPH, Andrew Rannells and Michael C. Hall), so I’m looking forward to see how Darren will put his stamp on the role. Michael C. Hall was my favorite Hedwig by far. I don’t expect Darren to top him, but I am very interested in seeing how someone so young will tackle this role.

The heavy depression I was in surrounding the holidays has lifted considerably. Some things are still a bit (a lot) bumpy, but I’m definitely feeling loads better than I was. So that’s good, right?

And really that’s all that’s been going on. Oh, and I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix and HBO Go. (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was wonderful, as was The Newsroom. I’m catching up on Mad Men right now and am looking forward to Daredevil.)

Well – I must get back to work! Have a wonderful day 🙂

Hello!

Here is that massive book post I promised you ages ago. (It’s been a crazy few weeks. My ebook should be available soon and I’m busy writing a second YA novel. I just finished the first part – about 80K words – and will start on Part 2 tomorrow. I’m very much in love with this book and working on it is really fulfilling, albeit emotionally taxing.)

And now, here are the books I’ve read…

Very Far Away from Anywhere Else – by Ursula K. LeGuin – God, by now I read this book about 3 months ago. I remember that the cover did not accurately represent the main characters and that I really loved the book, though I cannot for the life of me specifically remember why. The two leads were friends (as I recall) and I think there was some pressure to be more, but that wasn’t important to them. What was important was moving forward and finding something to be passionate about in life. She had her music. He had… well, shit… I don’t remember. But it was a good book, I swear!

The Shape of Things to Come – by Maud Casey – I’ve been reading a lot of YA books (since I’m writing YA books) but decided to deviate and read something about a 30something (because I’m 30). Wrong move, Kate. I was hoping this book would help me on my path to figuring out what to do with my life, but instead it just made me feel more confused and sad and depressed. I liked how it was written, but content-wise, this wasn’t the best thing for me to be reading at this odd juncture in my life.

The Geography of You and Me – by Jennifer E. Smith – I love Jennifer E. Smith’s writing style. Her stories are really very simple, but her characters are so layered and relatable and you just really want to see their journey through because you can’t help but care. And you want to know what happens, even though it’s pretty easy to figure it out on your own. This book was about two teens who meet one night during an epic blackout in NYC, only to be separated soon thereafter because of families moving and other unforeseeable circumstances. They keep in touch via postcards until they don’t. These are characters you root for because you want good things for them. And I will gladly read anything by Jennifer E. Smith. Always.

Dreams of Significant Girls – by Cristina Garcia – I thought this was a really interesting book. I loved how it followed the same three characters for three summers and showed how so much can really change over that period of time, especially when said characters came from such different backgrounds. It’s always fascinating to read about people who are stuck living with people they would rather not, but seeing how their relationships grow and shift was very fulfilling. Plus, the book was just super well written.

#16thingsithoughtweretrue – by Janet Gurtler – I had it in my head that I wasn’t going to like this book because I wasn’t too impressed by the plot summary. But then I found myself really caring about the roadtrip and the characters who weren’t the protagonist. This book seriously plot-twisted at the end and I remember audibly yelling, “NOOOOOOO.”

Adorkable – by Sarra Manning – I do fancy a good British book every now and again and was glad I pulled this one off the shelf at the library. Quirky girl snogs popular boy even though they kind of hate each other. But then they don’t. And it becomes a big to-do about independence and self-respect and identity and relationships and vulnerability whatnot. It was an entertaining read.

Franny and Zooey – by J.D. Salinger – I tried, you guys. I tried and I failed. I get that reading Salinger is supposed to rock my world, but I was not into this book at all. Perhaps I’m so far removed from the way of life depicted in this book that I just didn’t care. Or perhaps it was because I was having an off day when I read it. Either way, I sped through this just to be done with it. Go ahead and judge.

Divergent – by Veronica Roth – I had to see what everyone was talking about. I’m a little over dystopian books/franchises at this point but powered through. It’s not that I didn’t like Tris, she just is not among my favorite literary heroines as of late. Four, despite his obvious (read: purposeful) character flaws is a little too perfect. Too chaste. And, I could not wrap my head around how people thought it was weird or wrong to identify with more than one group. I did like the book better than the movie, though. For what it’s worth.

Eleanor & Park – by Raindow Rowell – My heart is gone. This book ripped it out of my chest, tore it in two and threw it in the Hudson River. (I read a lot of this book while sitting at the pier in between work.) I had heard really good things about this book and found they were all true. This was wonderfully written, devastatingly gut-wrenching and altogether feelings mangling. Eleanor reminded me so much of someone I once knew well and I wanted to reach through the pages and tell her that she deserves so much more out of life than what she was being handed by her shitty stepfather and terrible kids at school. Reading the ever-growing friendship/relationship between Eleanor and Park made my heart hurt. They ways they showed they cared for each other were precious gifts to the reader. Reading this book was so intimate because of how guarded Eleanor kept herself. And rightly so – holy shit that poor girl was not having an easy time out of existing in her circumstances. I loved this book. I loved Eleanor and Park. I hated how this book made me feel when I was done reading it. If I had my heart, it would still be hurting.

Insurgent – by Veronica Roth – Here we go. Round 2. Tris and Four and those other people are doing stuff because of the government and whatnot. Honestly, I don’t really remember the plot that much. (I’m writing this about 2 months after I finished reading the book. You can tell it obviously didn’t leave that big of an impression on me.) I read this because I had just finished Divergent and the library had it. I still didn’t see what the big deal about being Divergent was… like, of course people are going to identify with more than one character trait. (I could not suspend the disbelief needed to enjoy this series.)

Better off Friends – by Elizabeth Eulberg – I very much enjoyed this book. Set in Wisconsin, it’s about a girl who befriends the new boy from California and is set from 7th grade through most of high school. They are best friends and everyone just assumes they are together or will get together. They date other people and ultimately come to terms with what kind of relationship works best between them. Friendships between teenage boys and girls are a tricky thing and I thought this book captured the ebb and flow of that time in a person’s life rather well. So many emotions. So much angst. So many changes. Sometimes just being friends is the best option. Sometimes it’s not.

The Distance Between Us – by Kasie West – West’s covers are awful, but her books are easy to get through and somewhat enjoyable. This time around, the girl is kinda poor, the guy is super rich, and class-based struggles ensue. There’s more to it than that, obviously, but that’s the general gist of it. I’ve read another one of West’s books and do keep an eye out for her name on my library shelves. I know her books won’t challenge me, but they are entertaining.

One Man Guy – by Michael Barakiva – A teenage boy comes to terms with his sexuality amid a very religious and culturally-focused family. Set in NYC, he befriends another gay kid and they have adventures throughout the city. This was an easy read and though it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me I was glad I read it, if only to get another author’s perspective on the subject matter.

Boy Meets Boy – by David Levithan – The story of a gay boy who meets and falls for another gay boy with minimal drama. That’s really it – their town is accepting of LGBTQ people for the most part. Miscommunications are worked through. I mean, there are some characters who are not all for all-things LGBTQ, but on a whole this is pretty much a paint-by-numbers with regards to plot progression. It was still a good read. Not my favorite Levithan book, but I did like it.

Then Again, Maybe I Won’t – by Judy Blume – I thought I had read every Judy Blume book when I was younger, but I never read this one. Maybe because its protagonist was a young man and when I was younger I kind of flocked to female characters. (Or biographies of people from various wars.) This was about a kid whose family becomes a little more well off than they used to be and how the new money affects them. It was basically a morality tale saying how you shouldn’t be a dick even though you’ve come into some money. I love Judy Blume, though. Forever and always.

The Beginning of Everything – by Robyn Schneider – I fell a little bit in love with this book and then it kind of threw me for a nasty loop when all the pieces came together. That being said, I would still totally recommend this because sometimes getting emotionally destroyed by a book is entirely satisfying (albeit rough on the feels). The main character was a tennis star at his school until his leg got smashed in a car accident. He quickly falls from the very top of the social food chain and goes through school limping to the beat of a new drummer, if you will. Plus there’s a mysterious new girl in town. That never ends well, does it? I’m keeping an eye out for other titles by Schneider in hopes of getting my heart ripped out again.

Boys Like You – by Juliana Stone – This book is about an NYC girl named Monroe who spends the summer down in Louisiana with her grandma after an unfortunate accident back home. She unwillingly befriends a local boy with a bad reputation and a super guilty conscious. Their relationship gets closer as they deal with their shit together and individually. I didn’t feel like this book covered much new ground with regard to the genre, but I get the appeal for a teenage audience (angst and a hot guy who plays guitar).

Winger – by Andrew Smith – This is a book about a 14-year-old junior who is in love with his 16-year-old junior best friend. Winger plays rugby, dorms with delinquints and has a hella intense year at school that involves drinking, injuries, love, death, cartoons and all sorts of coming-of-age plot that kind of just hits you in the feels. I very much enjoyed this book even though parts of it really made me sad. Smith’s writing style, though… I want to be able to absorb it just by clutching onto his books.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – I’ve seen this movie several times but never read the book even though this is one of my friend’s favorite books of all time. I saw it on the shelf at the library and grabbed it. I love David Levithan and will read anything with his name on it. I was glad I read this book and enjoyed it enough, but I think since I’m so in love with the movie and I saw that first, I’m going to favor the film adaptation. Sorry, but not really. Still read the book, though. For reals.

Bossypants – by Tina Fey – This was one of those books that made me laugh out loud when I was reading it in the park. To the point where I had to cover my mouth and try to disguise my laughter as a coughing fit lest I be judged. I love Tina Fey. She is one of my lady heroes and I will forever be indebted to her for her work on SNL, 30 Rock and Mean Girls. (And since I love her so much, I’m going to, from now on, pretend that I didn’t see Date Night or This is Where I Leave You.) Fey is a smart, strong woman who knows comedy well. She’s a great writer and she knows what works. I admire her candidness and appreciate her comedy and writing pointers. This was a great read. Between this and Mindy Kaling’s book, I feel like there are people out there who might just understand my weirdness.

Fangirl – by Rainbow Rowell – Okay. So this is all about fandom obsession. I’m on Tumblr. I’ve read stuff on fanfiction websites. (Hell, I even wrote a paper for my grad school internet ethics class about the legality of fanfiction.) But I’ve never been as far into fandom as Cath so I could not really sympathize with how far she dug herself into the fandom lifestyle. I get being a fan of someone/something to the point of decorating your room, wearing shirts, etc… But when you submit fanfiction for a college assignment – sorry, but that’s not acceptable. Fandom is great for fitting in with people online (or even in person), but that can’t be your only thing you have going for you. And I guess that’s what frustrated me most about this book. I wanted to reach through the pages and shake Cath a bit and tell her she needs to find a hobby. I’m a hermit who spends a bulk of her time reading and writing too, so there was definitely stuff I could relate to too. But on a whole, the book mostly frustrated me despite how much I liked how it was written.

Allegiant – by Veronica Roth – Finally. The last one. I breezed through the first two books and this one as well. I kind of felt obligated to finish out the trilogy even though I wasn’t entirely on board with it. But, I’m glad I read them all so now I get what the hype is about with regard to the movies. (I don’t agree with it, but I get it… there’s a difference.) I wasn’t that surprised by the ending, though I can see why so many people flipped out over it. Props to Roth for not shying away from doing something hard as opposed to appeasing the fans.

Happy Accidents – by Jane Lynch – I love memoirs that don’t just paint a rosy picture of what it’s like to be rich and famous these days. It turns out Lynch wasn’t the nicest person ever, nor did she ever have it super easy as she tried to launch her acting career. I liked reading about her struggles with coming out, trying to get featured more in her early days in comedy, and how hard work and a lot of luck played a major part in getting her where she is today. I did find it awkward to read all about how she met her wife because they are now divorced and that’s sad. I’ve seen a lot of her films. A Mighty Wind will always be my favorite. Those New Main Street Singers are awesome.

100 Sideways Miles – by Andrew Smith – I will read anything Andrew Smith writes. So when I saw this title on the shelf, I grabbed it and debated between flying through it or taking my time to savor Smith’s writing style (which I envy like whoa). Smith is such a great storyteller and I love the relationships he forms between his characters. He writes teenage male friendships so well. And I loved how this book measured passing time using distance the Earth travels around the son. (The title refers to five seconds – or the amount of time it took for a dead horse to fall off a truck on a bridge and onto him and his mom below.) Even the most far-fetched aspects of this book are still believable because the narrator is just so damn convincing and likable. Thank you, Andrew Smith.

If You Find Me – by Emily Murdoch – Wow. I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did, but then again you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, are you? (BUT I DO! I TOTALLY DO! ALL THE TIME!) This book was about two girls (15 and 8, I believe) who live in the woods with their mother ever since they were little. Their mom leaves them and the older girl’s biological father and a social worker come find them. The girls have to acclimate back into society in their new living situation (which includes a stepmom and stepsister) and going to school. Of course some serious shit went down in the woods, but the girls persevered because survival was all they’d ever known. Good book. And now I’m on the lookout for other titles by Murdoch.

The Book Thief – by Markus Zusak – I not so secretly am fascinated by stories (fictional or not) set during the World Wars, especially WWII. I was unaware that this book was written from Death’s perspective (that’s not a spoiler – it’s easy to get that right off the bat when Death speaks about taking people’s souls…), but found that to be a really intriguing POV. I knew the title character was a little girl (I saw the movie trailer, though have yet to see the movie) and figured this book would break my heart. That’s a bit of an understatement. Death gives you some of the bigger, more gut-wrenching plot points ahead of time but the blows are still just as big and painful. This was a long book (500+ pages) with very, very tiny font. I was still able to get through it in a few days because it was such a good read even though it made me sad. I very much recommend this book.

Hope Was Here – by Joan Bauer – This was a super quick read about a girl named Hope (nee Tulip) who lived with her aunt. They moved around working at various diners in various states. This book was about their latest move to middle of nowhere Wisconsin (which I could relate to, as I used to live in Minnesota). Though I never worked at a diner, I caught on quick to the lingo and could empathize with the customer service woes (I worked at Macy’s. I get it.) Hope was a straight-laced girl with a crush on a good guy and the gumption to fight for what was right even though she got the short end of the stick in big ways throughout her life. I liked this enough that if I come across any more of Bauer’s books at the library, I’d give them a whirl.

King Dork – by Frank Portman – This book had a bunch of blurbs on the covers and inside boasting how hilarious it was. I realized halfway through the book that almost all of said blurbs were written by dudes. The book had its charming moments and I did laugh out loud a couple times, but I’m sure it would have had a bigger impact on me if I were a 15-year-old boy. Thomas (aka Chi-Mo, aka Moe) was likable enough and I did feel bad that he was at the bottom of the social food chain. There was a lot of plot (a LOT of plot) and at times I felt like there was too much going on, but it wasn’t impossible to keep straight and if you thought about it, you could see how most of the plot twists came to be/kind of made sense.

So, yeah! If you’ve got any book recommendations, please let me know!

Based on the cast alone, I was wholly excited to see It’s Only a Play on Broadway. So, I saw it on 9/27 and walked away still excited about that cast, but extremely unimpressed with the play itself.

To be honest, the play wasn’t very memorable. It was a string of inside jokes about the theater/entertainment industry. I laughed not because the jokes were inherently funny, but because of who was delivering them. You laugh when Nathan Lane tells a bad joke because it’s Nathan Lane and he has this uncanny ability to contort his eyebrows into some serious furrows. You don’t groan quite so hard at Matthew Broderick’s epically long monologues because it’s Matthew freakin’ Broderick. He of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off and the How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying revival cast album from 1994 that I’ve listened to probably a billion times since I got it for Easter back in 1995.

The play seems to acknowledge how lackluster it actually is. The text is definitely nowhere close to anything substantial. It’s entertaining to a fault, but won’t leave you feeling inspired or challenged or moved.

I do appreciate the play for what it gave me. Or rather, I appreciated the theater-going experience. This was my one chance to see Lane and Broderick on stage together. This was my one chance to see Broderick and Megan Mullaly on stage together (as she’s also on that H2$ revival cast album…). This was likely my one chance to see F. Murray Abraham on stage. This was likely my one chance to see Rupert Grint on stage. This play introduced me to Isabel Keating (Stockard Channing was out with an injury, so Keating has been playing her part and she kicked ass). This play introduced the audience to Micah Stock.

Oh, Micah Stock. What a great Broadway debut. And the one performer in the show who provided me with my biggest laugh of the night… lets just say that Wicked is no longer the only show on Broadway that features “Defying Gravity.” (HE DOES ALL THE PARTS. I LITERALLY CLUTCHED AT MY NON-EXISTENT PEARLS AND DOUBLED OVER WITH LAUGHTER.)

I know a lot of people my age and younger are flocking to the play for Grint. He’s good in his role and a very likable actor/person. But he’s not the main character by a mile (it’s an ensemble show, but Nathan Lane is definitely the “star” and seems to log the most minutes on stage). Hopefully those who are seeing this for Grint will realize that they are actually in the presence of theater giants and should be grateful for that experience.

I’ve seen a few other shows on Broadway the past couple months that were infinitely better than It’s Only a Play.

This is Our Youth was entertaining and actually made me reflect on my 20s. I’ve been a fan of Keiran Culkin and Michael Cera for years, so it was great to see them on stage. This play started a bit slow for me, but then picked up the pace and was rather engaging. I had no idea who Tavi Gevinson was before seeing the show, but I was impressed with her stage presence. Each of the actors really added that intangible “something” to the production and I was really glad I saw this early in previews.

The same say I saw It’s Only a Play, I saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I read the book a few months ago and loved it. I loved the stage version as well. The set was amazing – it was basically a giant chalkboard that doubled as projection screens. It was really rather modern and fairly minimalist.

I was personally glad that Taylor Trensch was in as Christopher during the performance my friend and I attended. I saw him once before in Matilda (his understudy was in when I saw Bare) but wondered how he would be in a play instead of a musical… well, he’s wonderful. Christopher is such a complex character that I really related to when I read the book and it was a real pleasure to see such a capable actor portray him on stage. *This* is the play to see if you want to feel something real.

In addition to these three plays, I also went and saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch again. I had never seen Andrew Rannells on stage before and was desperate to see him in this before his run ended. (I will be seeing the show again when Michael C. Hall takes over, mark my words.) I saw the show when NPH was Hedwig and it was the single most amazing theater-going experience of my life. Rannells’s Hedwig was amazing as well and I am forever grateful that I got to see him in this role. The show itself is flawless and I just get so much out of it when I see it (or listen to it… that soundtrack is pretty much on repeat on my Spotify account).

The next thing I have tickets for is The Real Thing at the end of October and Cabaret in December (EMMA STONE, Y’ALL). I plan on seeing The Elephant Man and Hedwig again. And I just found out that Jake Gyllenhaal will be on Broadway in something at the start of the new year, so I’ll try and see that too.

Basically, SEE ALL THE SHOWS.

If you follow my blog, or keep tabs on me in real life, you’ll know that I used to post in-depth recaps of Glee. I stopped after Season 4 because I was getting so mad at the show. I’m still mad at the show and at this point I wish it would have just been cancelled already. It’s hard watching something I once loved get so far away from what it once represented and championed.

For those of you who don’t know, the RIB in the title of this post refers to Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk.

MAJOR SPOILERS for Glee Seasons 2-6. You have been warned.

I’ll say that again… MAJOR SPOILERS for seasons 2-6.

I should be working on another chapter of the book I’m writing. But instead, I’m typing this out because I feel I needed to get up on a soap box for a moment and express my utter discontent about Glee as we continue on in the hiatus between seasons 5 and 6.

At the moment, MyTV is rerunning Episodes 5.1 and 5.2. In 5.1, “Love, Love, Love,” the glee kids sing a bunch of Beatles songs but one of the bigger plot lines is that Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) is planning a marriage proposal for his boyfriend, Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer).

Kurt and Blaine (referred to as “Klaine” by fans) have been a fan pairing since Blaine’s first appearance back in Season 2 (Episode 2.6, “Never Been Kissed”) and officially canon starting in 2.16 (“Original Song”). Their relationship has been punctuated with several meaningful moments – their first school dance together (2.10, “Prom Queen”), the first time they said I Love You (2.22, “New York”), when Blaine transferred to McKinley to go to school with Kurt (3.1, “The Purple Piano Project”), their first time having sex (3.5, “The First Time”), their first big fight (3.17, “Dance With Somebody”), their first break-up (4.4, “The Break Up”), their first big step toward reconciliation (4.8, “Thanksgiving”), Kurt’s dream sequence of them singing “Come What May,” i.e. the song they were planning to sing to each other at their wedding (4.15, “Girls [and Boys] on Film), when Blaine asks Kurt’s dad about proposing to Kurt (4.21, “Wonder-ful”), when Blaine buys Kurt’s engagement ring (4.22 “All or Nothing”), when Blaine and Kurt get back together and Blaine proposes to Kurt (5.1, “Love, Love, Love”), when Blaine and Kurt live together in NYC (5.14, “New New York”), when Blaine and Kurt have a huge fight and decide not to live together in NYC (5.16, “Tested”), when Blaine and Kurt have another fight but ultimately decide that loving and trusting each other is something they will choose to do and they move back in with each other (5.20, The Untitled Rachel Berry Project”).

And then we come to Season 6, which although is presently filming, won’t air until early 2015.

I don’t actively seek out spoilers (in fact, I’ve unfollowed a lot of people on Twitter and Tumblr to avoid spoilers), but plot points have still popped up on my dashboards and from what I’ve gathered, Season 6 starts off six months after Season 5 ends. Kurt has called off his engagement to Blaine, Blaine has flunked out of NYADA and moved back to Ohio and is now dating (living with?) David Karofsky. Yes, that same David Karofsky who used to bully Kurt (to the point of death threats) and whose only two interactions with Blaine have contained shoving matches where Blaine tried to stand up for/protect Kurt (2.6 and 2.17, “Night of Neglect”).

It has been increasingly harder to care about Glee the past few seasons, but this is really it for me. It is so frustrating when the show has taken my favorite character (Blaine) and has repeatedly committed epic character assassination. Not only is this a huge disservice to the fans; it’s an overall disservice to the people who have actively looked up to/cared about Klaine.

When Blaine was first introduced in 2.6, he was seen as a mature mentor and confidant for Kurt. Blaine was someone Kurt could talk to about being bullied and being out at school. Though his age/grade was never explicitly stated on the show, fans assumed Blaine was either a year ahead of Kurt or in the same grade as Kurt.

Season 3 was Kurt’s senior year of high school. It was revealed, however, in 3.2 (“I Am Unicorn”) that Blaine was a junior. And all of a sudden, the confidant Blaine disappeared and his character became a lot less confident, a lot more whiny and increasingly further away from the strong character he was introduced as. Flaws were a necessity to knock him off the pedestal Kurt had put him on, but the radical shift in character was inconsistent even with the already noticeable lack of character continuity on the show. (Among other things, it has since been revealed that Blaine was meant to be a junior in Season 2 and subsequently should have graduated when Kurt did. Fan theory is that because Blaine/Darren Criss were fan favorites, he was Benjamin Buttoned to be a junior in Season 3 to keep him around at McKinley for an extra season and a half.)

As mentioned before, Kurt and Blaine had their first huge fight in 3.17. Kurt was texting/flirting with another boy (Chandler) and it was making Blaine jealous and feel insecure about their relationship. He was already worried about losing Kurt when Kurt went away to NYC the following school year, and Kurt texting another boy was adding insult to injury. Kurt was jealous of Blaine with other guys twice before (Jeremiah in 2.12, “Silly Love Songs;” Sebastian in 3.5, “The First Time”), but his texting with Chandler was a bigger problem between them because of the impending distance issue. Kurt and Blaine came out of 3.17 seemingly stronger than ever with promises that distance was not going to be a problem.

Of course it was, though. As soon as Kurt got to NYC in Season 4, he and Blaine’s relationship became strained, driving Blaine to cheat on him. They officially broke up in 4.4 and it pretty much broke the fandom. (Note – I was there when they broke up. Some friends and I were at Battery Park while the Glee cast was shooting the scene where Blaine told Kurt that he was with someone else. There was a lot of tears from both the fans and the actors. It was a really emotional night watching my favorite tv couple – at the time – break up over and over and over again.)

Fans were hopeful, though. And so was Blaine. (Sadly, Blaine just said his line from 5.1, “Kurt and I will have a happy ending” as I’m typing this… Stab. Twist. Remove.) From then on, Blaine was insistent on earning back Kurt’s trust and getting Klaine back together. Even though I was dead-set on them getting engaged (the characters were too young), I was on board with them reuniting.

Since Klaine happened, their relationship became a big deal in the fandom and in the media. Criss and Colfer (dressed as Kurt and Blaine) were featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Klaine won several online polls about favorite couple, including Entertainment Weekly’s Greatest TV Couple of All Time. They were even nominated for a People’s Choice Award for Best On-Screen Couple. These young men were a positive representation of a gay relationship on television and inspired countless people. If you’ve seen the Glee 3D Concert movie, you can see clips of fans talking about how much they love Kurt and Blaine and Klaine. If you are into fanfiction, there are hundreds or thousands of stories revolving around Klaine. These characters matter to a lot of people. Though fictional, they were characters to root for. We fell in love with them as they fell in love with each other. And it was nice.

Until it wasn’t.

Kurt and Blaine went through some more relationship drama after they got engaged. Though bumpy, at least it was a depiction of the realistic ups and downs couples face (jealousy, miscommunication, needing space, etc…). They lived together. Then they didn’t live together. They dealt with STD testing (since Blaine had been with someone else). They dealt with making a home but also needing to make space for themselves. There were some decently written (and much needed) discussions between the characters and we saw them grow as men and as a couple.

But then all these rumors and spoilers for Season 6 started floating around and even the biggest Klainers were like NO.

Why are RIB tearing our beloved couple apart yet again? Is that really necessary to drive the story.

At this point, No.

Season 6 is Glee’s last/final season. With Rachel and Finn no longer an option for the show’s big couple, Klaine is basically it. And RIB is ripping them apart in the worst way possible. Not only by breaking them up, but by having Blaine dating Karofsky. (Annnnnnd, as I’m typing this, Blaine and Co are singing “All You Need is Love” to Kurt and then making the most romantic proposal speech in recent television history. Sigh.)

Having Blaine date Karofsky not only diminished Blaine as a character, but it seems like the ultimate disrespect to Kurt’s character as well. (Kurt has gotten the short end of the stick for pretty much all of his plot lines. No character has gone through more shit on Glee than him. He gets absolutely nothing handed to him and often has to overcome layers of obstacles just to break even. And don’t even get me started about how the NYC characters from Season 5 are all back in Lima in Season 6. Like, way to quash the characters’ hopes and dreams about growing and moving away from their small town to achieve their life goals.) I just can’t wrap my head around a plot that would make sense for Blaine to date Karofsky after Karofsky bullied (and then ultimately befriended) Kurt. You just don’t do that to a person who you love. You don’t date his tormentor. You don’t date the person who beat him up. You don’t date the person who threatened to kill him. You just don’t do it. And it doesn’t matter how reformed Karofsky is (because guess what, I liked Karofsky as soon as he got nice and began to accept himself) – you don’t write scripts where Karofsky and Blaine are dating.

But on top of that, you don’t write scripts where Karofsky and Blaine date each other if you still plan of having Blaine and Kurt get back together. Because you know that and Blaine are still going to get back together. And they’re probably going to get married. But at this point, I kind of actually don’t want that to happen.

Kurt and Blaine have been referred to the “Ross and Rachel” of Glee. I wish they were considered the “Monica and Chandler.” Because Monica and Chandler were the heart and soul of Friends. Ross and Rachel were the “will they/won’t they/who gives a flying f**k” couple. They never seemed to have their shit together and by the end of the series, I didn’t care if they did or did not get together.

I care about Kurt and Blaine. Or at least, I did much more than I do right now. And I think RIB used to too. But now they just seem to care about causing unnecessary drama on a show that already has too much drama and ruin the one great thing that it had going for it – a strong gay couple with fan-favorite characters. Sure, people are talking about it… but when everyone is talking about how much they wish the show was cancelled already or that they don’t want to watch anymore because everything we loved about the show has been tossed by the wayside. Well… that just seems like poor planning on RIB’s part.

Why piss off fans who have been loyal to Glee for 5 years? We, the fans who went to the live tour, bought the CDs, downloaded songs on iTunes, bought DVDs and Blu-rays, bought merchandise, increased visibility and notoriety of the people on the show… There are 13 episodes of this stupid show left. For all time. Why ruin it for the people who built you up from nothing? Why besmirch the integrity of the characters? Why destroy the happiness of the people who have stuck with you through time slot changes and shortened seasons? Sure, RIB will likely end up giving us what we wanted in the beginning (a Klaine wedding), but now it will just feel tainted.

Glee no longer brings me as much glee as it once did. It hasn’t for a long while now.

And yet I still watch. I’m too stubborn to give it up. Though I still enjoy the covers, I now hate-watch the shows and seethe about how the writers have almost entirely given up on everything that was once good about Glee.

There seriously needs to be more hours to the day… or at least one more day included in the weekend. Right?

It’s been a busy few weeks… read a lot of books, saw a few movies and a couple shows on Broadway. I’m also 25+ chapters into the book I’m writing, have submitted query letters for the book I finished writing a few months ago, and have been having all sorts of terrible interactions with guys. (Ranging from seeing a guy jerk off in public to getting dumped by a guy via text even though we weren’t dating. Good riddance to that, though. The text guy was really rude and called me all sorts of names – “weird,” “crazy,” “complicated” – all because I wouldn’t tell him where I lived or agree to go with him to go see a movie right when he asked. Mind you for that last one, I was already in bed with a migraine. But this self-proclaimed “nice guy” told me he was done with me and wished me good luck finding someone as nice as him. Because, you know, “Just keep in mind I never asked for any obscene pics or anything like it.” Gross, right?)

But enough about my oh so entertaining personal life. This post will be about the three movies I’ve seen in the last two weeks.

The Maze Runner

I’ve read all four books in Dashner’s Maze Runner series and The Maze Runner is by far my favorite. I was really scared heading into the movie that it was going to be dumb… but it wasn’t. The Maze Runner movie was actually really well done for the most part. The cast (led by Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien) was a capable group of young actors and they brought a real sense of urgency to the story. The guys in the Glade have been there for years, but the audience is introduced to them at the end of their respective ropes – Thomas (O’Brien) and the lone girl Teresa are the last two Gladers to arrive and then everything basically goes to shit. The large walls surrounding their Glade suddenly don’t provide the protection from the Grievers that they once did and they either need to find a way out of the maze or everyone will die.

There were some huge variances from the books that bothered me (the shape of the maze and Thomas and Teresa’s lack of telepathy, among others), but I bet if you haven’t read the books it wouldn’t affect your enjoyment of the film because you didn’t know what you were missing out on. I was looking forward to the cliff, but was okay with it not being there. I was not a fan of the big exposition-filled monologue at the end of the film. The movie was hugely entertaining leading up until that, and then it just felt like someone was sitting you down and explaining all this stuff you had absolutely no idea about if you haven’t read the books. But for the people who have read the books, it’s adding insult to injury by not using better plot devices to foreshadow what’s going on outside of the Maze.

Although I wasn’t a fan of The Scorch Trials or The Death Cure, I will see the latter films in this series. (I know The Scorch Trials is already in production…) I don’t watch Teen Wolf, but some of my friends do and have told me repeatedly of their infatuation with O’Brien.

I get it now.

This is Where I Leave You

A cast that strong deserved an infinitely better script than what they had to work with. I haven’t read the book from which this film was based on, but I think I probably would have liked it better just because it felt like the movie was missing something meaningful.

Four siblings and their mother gather to sit Shiva after the father/husband die (even though they don’t actively practice Judaism). Everyone’s got some sort of problem or secret going on in their personal lives – all stemming from relationship issues. It seems that just about everyone is unhappy, so they cheat on their SO or get cheated on by their SO or want to get pregnant or blah blah blah.

I am so sick of movies and shows that use cheating on people as a main plot point. Like, seriously? Maybe this is just me being naïve, but is that really a plot point that a majority of people can relate to? I know that I rarely side with a character that cheats. To me, that’s a cowardly way out of one’s problems and often causes even more problems later on. WHY CAN’T PEOPLE JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER? Hash out your problems instead of just screwing someone who isn’t your SO. You’re unhappy in your relationship? THEN TALK TO YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER AND DEAL WITH IT LIKE A FRIGGIN ADULT.

To top it all off, on top of all the cheating and whatnot, the movie wasn’t even that funny. It’s mostly a drama, but there were obvious attempts at moments of comedy and a lot of them fell flat. And as much as I love Tina Fey (I LOVE her. So much. She’s my lady hero and I’m actually in the middle of reading Bossypants right now…), she was not the right person to play the sister. Or maybe she would have been the right person if that character was written better. (The female characters were horribly underwritten and there were clichés everywhere. EVERYWHERE.)

You could tell that these characters were supposed to be complex, layered people… but they all just read as flat, douchey privileged people whose lives were falling apart because they were making dumb choices left and right.

I wanted to love this movie. But I couldn’t.

The one thing I did love… Will Swenson was the dad! He kept popping up in photographs and then he had a 30 second flashback. That 30 seconds was the most I was engaged the entire film.

I was so disappointed. On paper, that was one of the best ensembles of the year. On screen, it was just a bunch of talented people being underused as they told a story about irresponsible people making irresponsible choices.

Pride

A friend had free passes to see an advanced screening of Pride and I’m so grateful she asked me to join her.

Pride is based on the true story of how a small group of lesbians and gays in London helped raise money for a Welsh mining community in the mid-1980s. This film reminded me a lot of Billy Elliot, The Full Monty and Brassed Off… basically Margaret Thatcher, unhappy coal miners and how hope and a sense of community can go a long way.

The epically sad thing is, is that I had never heard about this story before seeing the movie – and I took a film class in college that dealt exclusively with the Thatcher Era and what was going on in GB during that time. Obviously this movie wasn’t out while I was in college, but we did study what was going on in the news at that time and this story wasn’t part of that.

Pride was one of the most inspiring films I have seen in awhile. It was really powerful to see the members of the LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) raising money for a mining community simply because of solidarity. The lesbians and gays had dealt with adversity from the government and members of their community and thought that the miners shouldn’t have to deal with similar situations.

Of course there was a culture clash. The small mining community the LGSM was raising money for was not entirely receptive of the charity because some of the people in said community were homophobic. The LGSM and Welsh community came together through little events and meetings and eventually more and more people realized that the LGSM was just trying to help when seemingly no one else was.

Juxtaposed with the striking miners was the rising awareness of HIV and AIDS within the gay community. This plot line was not at the forefront of the film, but its weight could be felt throughout.

Though Pride was dealing with a low point in recent history, its overall message was incredibly powerful. It was a nice reminder that kindness to others really can go a long way and change peoples lives for the better.

What was really cool about the screening was that some of the actors and creative members from the crew (the director and screenwriter) were in attendance, but even more awesome was that some of the people whose real lives were portrayed on screen were there too! The LGSM member who was the second person in London to be diagnosed as HIV positive was there (according to the “where are they now” bit at the end of the film, he just celebrated his 65th birthday), as was a woman from the Welsh community who later went on to be a member of the government. I didn’t get a chance to talk to them, but I did see them in the lobby as I was exiting the theater and they were chatting with people about the film and their experiences when the strike was actually happening.

I did have a super brief moment in the lobby with Andrew Scott. Most people know his as Jim Moriarty from the BBC series Sherlock, but in Pride he played a member of the LGSM. He was taking pictures with people and talking to press and I was able to tell him how much I admire his work and did get a picture with him.

Pride opens in LA and NYC on September 26th, but I hope it goes wider because more people need to see this wonderfully uplifting film.

Heathers the Musical allows audiences to experience the worst parts of high school over and over again through the catchy score and darkly twisted stage adaptation of this 1989 cult classic.

The show starts on the first day of Veronica Sawyer’s [Charissa Hogeland] senior year. Friends with the unpopular chubby girl, Veronica suddenly finds herself hanging out with the uber-popular trio of Heathers [Jessica Keenan Wynn, Elle McLemore, Kristolyn Lloyd] who rule the school and treat just about everyone like crap. Veronica knows the Heathers and their fans are bad people, but popularity trumps morals and she willingly dumps her friend and goes along with them. When new kid JD [Dave Thomas Brown] shows up, Veronica (and the audience, let’s be real) is immediately intrigued with his general badass-ness and they quickly become the audience’s OTP. Until they aren’t.

After confrontation at a party, the Heathers banish Veronica from their little posse and she is marked as a victim of social suicide (“Dead Girl Walking” … sure to be a go-to shower song for angsty girls everywhere). Revenge quickly gets out of hand when accidental homicide starts turning into a series of planned endings. Serious topics like teen violence, sexual desire, suicide and eating disorders are addressed with biting dialogue, delightfully entertaining physical comedy (slow motion fighting sequence, an ode to blue balls), and memorable music numbers. The show is laugh-out-loud funny but also edge-of-your-seat suspenseful (especially if you haven’t seen the movie).

Veronica is a relatable protagonist because you really get why she tolerates hanging out with the Heathers. Being someone people want/respect in high school seems like the most important thing at the time even though years later you’ll realize it’s not. The Heathers are just as flawed as everyone else, except they have money and money means power. (“Candy Store” will be stuck in your head for days.) And JD… oh, JD with his Slurpees and black trench coat. He’s the mysterious new guy and if you aren’t drawn to his charm, well then you probably weren’t watching the same show I was. So when JD starts doing and saying things that are quite questionable, you don’t want to believe he’s really capable of going through with any of it. JD makes your heart race for a number of reasons throughout the show, but his “Meant to Be Yours” performance that is all kinds of intense and really drives the show toward its finale. Electric and scary moments like when Brown owns the stage during his aforementioned solo make seeing the show a necessity. The soundtrack is fun to listen to, but seeing the characters come alive through the music adds to the overall enjoyment of the experience.

Because that’s what Heathers the Musical is – it’s an experience. The costumes reminded me a bit of Cher and her friends from Clueless, but with bigger 80s hair and hair accessories. Because the main characters wear the same outfit for a majority of the show, it’s easier to focus on the lyrics and dialogue. The humor and horror is all there, but it’s all through words and actions rather than superfluous set or costume changes. The set is rather sparse and the props are minimal (but so effective), but you’re never wishing there were more things on stage because the actors do their jobs so well.

Heathers the Musical might be closing at New World Stages on August 4th, but it deserves to find legs elsewhere in the city so more people can lick it up, baby. Lick. It. Up.

Wow. It’s been a while since I last posted about the books I’ve read and I’ve read a bunch more since then. Even though I want to be getting back to the book I’m writing (I’m in the middle of re-writing/editing a second book and just started writing a brand spanking new book that I really wasn’t planning on writing but the words just started flowing… so, lots of writing the past few weeks!), here’s what I’ve been reading:

Dairy Queen – by Catherine Gilbert Murdock – A high school girl who grew up in a football-loving family and works on her family’s cow farm is coerced into training a rival team’s player. He’s a jerk at first, but of course they start to like each other. She then decides to try out for her own high school’s football team without telling him. I’m all for girl power when it comes to hard work and overcoming obstacles, but this book was predictable and a bit cheesetastic.

Debutante Hill – by Lois Duncan – Written in the 1950s, this “aw shucks” and “gee” filled book is about a rich high school girl who is upset that her dad forbids her from partaking in all the debutante events that one of her peer’s mom’s starts up. There is a definite rich kids vs. poor kids aspect to the story, as the protagonist agrees to go out with Dirk, a boy from the other side of the tracks (even though she’s totally seeing a rich guy who just went off to college). I liked Dirk a lot and really felt for his character throughout. He wasn’t a bad guy, just misunderstood and overlooked. I enjoyed this book for what it was worth and always appreciate it when a rich kid gets a reality check.

Unbreak My Heart – by Melissa Walker – This book is about a high school girl on a summer-long boat trip with her family and how she deals with a fallout with her BFF and befriends/crushes on a boy who is taking a boat-trip with his dad. The cover for this book is awful (as I’ve found most YA covers are) and I was embarrassed to be seen holding this book even though the story itself actually wasn’t half bad. I thought the protagonist was selfish, but most high school girls are. (I would know… I was one once.)

Catalyst – by Laurie Halse Anderson – Talk about a dramatic turn for the worst. Geez. I did like this book, as I like LHA’s writing style for the most part. Another selfish high school girl, but this time it’s one who was determined to get into the one and only college she applied to and be an overachieving perfect person. Her odd friendship (that’s too strong of a word, but I can’t think of anything better) with the troubled girl from school whose house burned down was really interesting and I thought this book went to a lot of dark places. I would recommend this, for sure.

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period – by Gennifer Choldenko – Um, so I was the completely wrong demographic for this book. (I mean, I am for all YA books, lets be real, but this book should have been labeled Middle Grade, as it was for younger middle schoolers at best.) If you are at a 5th grade reading level and want to read about a chubby white girl befriending a black boy and then them finding out they have more in common than they think, than go right ahead and read this. It was sadly an epic waste of my time even though it was well written.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – by Jennifer Smith – I love stories that are mostly set over 24 hours because it gives you a crash course in who these people are and whether they are compatible with each other as they are forced to be by each other’s side practically the whole time. (I’m writing a script about something similar, so this helped a lot in that regard.) I’m a huge fan of Smith and will gladly read any of her books. This was cute, funny, sad and just overall very enjoyable (albeit so far-fetched… I mean, stuff like this doesn’t really happen to m/any people). This was a quick, lovely read and I very much recommend it.

Subway Love – by Nora Raleigh Baskin – Nope. Just no. I was not a huge fan of the writing style or the plot once I got going. (A girl from the 70s and a boy from the present meet/interact/fall in love on a subway car that somehow lets them transcend time.) Each chapter had the same grainy picture at the beginning of it, which was credited to being from a Wikipedia page. Really? I sped through the second half of it so I could return it to the library as soon as humanly possible. While I respect the author for getting her work published, this book was unfortunately not for me. At all.

Pieces – by Chris Lynch – A boy’s brother dies and some of his organs are donated to other people. The boy then meets up with some of the recipients and questions what his relationship is/should be with these people who now house a piece of his brother. I thought the book was headed a different direction than it ended up going. I didn’t not like it, but I wanted more.

The Darlings in Love – by Melissa Kantor – I had a problem with the protagonists being 14 because their problems seemed more fitting to 16-18 year olds. The BFF-ness of it all was fine, but I don’t think that 14-year-olds can properly grasp the concept of being in love with someone. Like, crushes and whatnot, sure. But end-all-be-all relationships and love does not happen when you’re 14. (Did you see what happened to Romeo and Juliet? Wait till you’re older and actually understand, kids.)

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin – by Josh Berk – I liked that this book had a deaf protagonist who was friends with a nerdy polite kid, and that they solved a crime together. But I thought some of the word choices were silly. I’m not really a fan of silly. But, I get that this book is aimed at younger boys and younger boys seem to eat silly up. So, there you have it.

Everybody Sees the Ants – by A.S. King – This book has been staring me in the face for months and I finally checked it out. I regret not reading it sooner because it was just such a satisfying read. I think I’ve read 3 or 4 of King’s books so far and this was certainly my favorite. It’s about a boy who gets picked on a lot and his parents are worried he’s going to harm himself, so his mom takes him on a three-week vacation to visit his relatives. He keeps having dreams about rescuing his POW grandfather and then wakes up holding weird items from said dreams. He befriends a girl while on vacation and learns a lot about himself and his family. It’s just a really good book and I’m definitely not doing it justice.

Project Sweet Life – by Brent Hartinger – A super quick read about three friends and a summer of shenanigans as they tried to avoid getting summer jobs (but still trying to make money). I like Hartinger’s writing style, having read one of his books before. This book was good, but I won’t need to read it again.

Grand & Humble – by Brent Hartinger – Oh my god, I’m only just now getting the second meaning of the title as I’m writing this out and I read this book two weeks ago. DAMN, SON. This was the first book in a long while where I was actually super caught off guard by the plot twist. I thought I knew what was going on, but I totally did not. It’s about two high school boys and how their lives are eerily similar even though they have nothing and everything to do with each other. I’m describing it poorly, but it was a good read. Man, I feel so stupid for not getting the title sooner. (An accident happens at the junction of Grand & Humble, but there is totally another meaning behind it… oh my god.)

The Burn Journals – by Brent Runyon – This is a first person account told years after the fact about a 14-yr-old boy who set himself on fire in a suicide attempt (that he immediately regretted) and the physical, emotional and mental recovery he went through. Runyon is a phenomenal storyteller and I am so grateful that he shared his story like this. What a horrible, horrible thing to go through… but he did get through it. And it took a lot of work, and seemed very painful on a lot of levels. This book will stay with me, that’s for sure.

The Miracle Stealer – by Neil Connelly – A girl’s younger brother is seen as miracle worker in their small community and she thinks that they are using him. She tries to protect him, but some bad stuff goes down. I’m not a super religious person and I don’t really buy into the belief that some people are tools of God, so I could see where this girl was coming from. The book was okay, but I had a hard time believing that the kind of mom this book depicts would name her daughter “Anderson.” I know that’s a petty complaint, but it took me out of the story several times.

New Kid – by Tim Green – I yanked this book off the shelf at the library because it was about a boy playing baseball. While on vacation, I leant it to a friend and she read it before I did, saying I was going to hate the ending. And she was right – what a terrible ending. Geez. This was another book in the YA section that should have been labeled Middle Grade. Basically, this kid and his dad move around a lot because the dad’s job has kind of forced them into hiding. And his dad has a habit of making them move when the kid is literally in the middle of a baseball game. Sigh. It’s not great. And then the terrible ending happens.

Wintergirls – by Laurie Halse Anderson – This book is about a high school girl with anorexia. Her bulimic friend dies alone in a motel room and then the anorexic girl must deal with that death on top of her own body image issues. This is one of the few books I’ve ever read about eating disorders. I know I will never be able to fully understand the struggle of people who suffer from anorexia and bulimia, but I’m thankful for books like this to give me a glimpse into that world. This was a good read, albeit a sad and frustrating one.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – by Jesse Andrews – A Jewish high school boy and his black BFF who like to make shitty home movies befriend a Jewish girl from their school who is dying of cancer. No one falls in love and no huge lessons are learned, but it was fascinating to see how the characters all coped with what was going on. There were a lot of cultural stereotypes, but I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised about that.

Somebody Up There Hates You – by Hollis Seamon – More teens with cancer, but these kids are in Hospice. And there is love and sex and other shenanigans. This was a mostly enjoyable read despite the subject matter. I think I’m going to lay off the “kids with cancer” books for awhile, though.

Boys Wanted – by Flynn Meaney – There is a sudden shortage of desirable boys at the Wisconsin high school featured in the book. Told from Hunter and Kelly’s points of view, we follow them through their school year and how Hunter’s stock rises even though he was kind of a slacker. Even though this book was totally predictable, it wasn’t half bad. Hunter and Kelly were both likable.

On the Fence – by Kasie West – Another shitty cover that wasn’t even remotely close to depicting what actually happens in the book. (SOMEONE MAKE BETTER YA COVERS, PLEASE) The book is about a tomboy who has feelings for her next door neighbor and sometimes late at night they talk to each other through the fence. The girl ends up working at some clothes shop and along the way allows herself to be a bit more girly (clothes, makeup, whatnot). She thinks that’ll help in the guy department, though she is repeatedly told by her brothers and the boy next door to be herself (even though that has landed her zero dates thus far). This book wasn’t terrible, but it was also very predictable.

My Heartbeat – by Garret Freymann-Weyt – Fourteen year old Emily (I think?) looks up to her 17-year-old brother, Link, and his best friend, James (who she is madly in love with). Link and James love each other, but Link is afraid to define himself as gay and James doesn’t like that Link is not open with how they feel about each other. They fight and part ways, but then James starts hanging out and then seeing Emily (which is basically a dream come true for her since she’s loved James since she was little, but also confusing because she knows James and her brother loved each other, though that love was never consummated for reasons). I had no idea what this book was about when I grabbed it off the shelf, but I’m glad I read it. Self-acceptance and acceptance from society are always hot-button issues and I thought this book was written really beautifully.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been reading. I’m in the middle of two books right now, but will wait until I’m done reading those (and several others) before I post about books again.

I’ve been super busy with the books I’m writing too. I’m presently querying agents/agencies regarding the book I finished writing in May. I’ve heard back from three places (all No) so far, but I’m going to just keep on querying. In the meantime, I’m re-writing/editing a book I wrote last summer (YA book about two high school teens and how they meet on vacation) in addition to writing a book about two high school freshmen navigating the challenges of self-perception/the public’s perception. I think I might put the vacation book on the backburner for a bit because I’m really finding some momentum with this college book. I got 15 pages written so far and hope to write a few more tonight before I head to bed.

As always, if you have any suggestions on books I should read, please let me know!

Have a good one

My WiFi was out at my apartment, so I couldn’t stream Season 2 of Orange is the New Black.

Instead of sulking about not being able to see what’s up in prison this season, I’ve decided to type up a “shows I’ve seen in the past few weeks” blog while most everything is still fresh in my head.

It’s been busy few months and I’ve seen some AMAZING shows.

Since I last posted about theater, here is what I saw…

The Cradle Will Rock – one night only performance at the Jacobs

So, a few months ago I got an email saying that Patti LuPone and a bunch of the 1981 cast of The Cradle Will Rock (and a few newcomers) would be doing a one night only performance of the show in May. I bought my ticket about 15 minutes after receiving said email. The Cradle Will Rock is a politically-charged musical about unions. The songs are catchy, the jokes are still relevant and PATTI LUPONE. (When you have the opportunity to see LuPone on stage, you take it. Got it?) I saw a staged version of this show at the New York City Center last summer, but was thrilled that I’d get to see it again. (I highly recommend the movie The Cradle Will Rock – Tim Robbins’s 1994 film about how the musical came about in the first place. It’s wonderful.) The show was solid and I was so glad I went. (This was the fourth production I’ve seen LuPone in now… love her.) I was mostly really glad for the kid I was sitting next to. He knew nothing of the show, but was a huge Patti LuPone fan and had just finished his first year of musical theater school. My heart was swelling for him and it was my hope that he enjoyed himself. (He did.)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch – presently playing at the Belasco

Holy shit. This was the single most amazing musical theater experience of my life. If NPH didn’t win the Tony, I was going to lose faith in the theater community. (He did win. And rightly so. Same with Lena Hall’s Best Featured Actress in a Musical and Best Revival. ALL DESERVED.)

I still cannot properly express how blown away I was by this show. I had seen the movie ages ago and knew what the general gist was, but I purposefully didn’t listen to the soundtrack or read any reviews before I saw NPH KILL IT as Hedwig.

The basic plot of the show is that it’s Hedwig’s concert and he explains through/in between songs how he came to have his angry inch and go from a young gay man in East Berlin to the cross-dressing songstress in America. The cast is Hedwig, his present boyfriend/backup singer, and a four-man band. The end. NPH is on stage for pretty much the entire show and he owns that stage and everyone in the audience. As Hedwig, he interacts with the crowd, performs in tall heels, dons some cray cray outfits and wigs, and goes through a beyond gut-wrenching arc all in 100 minutes. NPH is not just a showman, he’s a damn good performer, actor and all-around entertainer. He has mastered the comedy and tragedy of Hedwig’s story and if you aren’t gobsmacked after seeing that show, then you did something wrong.

My jaw was hanging open the entire time and I found myself wishing I could just feel that way forever. I was so moved. So entertained. So enriched. Seeing Hedwig was a defining moment for me and I wish everyone could experience that kind of theater-going magic at least once in his/her life.

NPH is exiting the show in August and will be replaced by Andrew Rannells. I need to see this show again, and I need to see Rannells as Hedwig.

This show is definitely not for everyone. (There’s a lot of swears, references to homosexuality, lap dances, lewd humor and all around not-PC stuff. It’s glorious.) But if you want your cage rattled in the best way possible, I very much urge you to see this show.

Matt Doyle at 54 Below (two nights only)

Awwwww, precious. Matt Doyle is precious. My favorite theater buddy and I bought tickets for this months ago and we were so glad we did because Matt Doyle is a joy to watch in person. This was the first time I saw him perform any of his original music, so that was a lot of fun. The whole evening was just very enjoyable. Matt Doyle (as that is what I’ve called him to his face, so that is what I will forever refer to him as – first and last name, thankyouverymuch) is a very talented singer and he’s just a goofy little dude who seems to really love getting to perform with his friends. My favorite part of the night was when he and another cast member from Jasper in Deadland sang “As Long As You’re Mine” from Wicked. Loved. It.

Rocky – presently playing at the Winter Garden

HOLY SHIT, GO SEE THIS SHOW.

I’m not kidding. You should totally see this show.

And you’re probably thinking, “Rocky? Like, that boxing movie is on Broadway? And it’s a musical?! What the damn hell?”

See, that’s exactly what I was thinking. I was like, “Man, this is probably going to be really dumb and cheesy.” I mean, I saw Rocky when I was younger and was like, “Man, that is really cheesy.”

But guess what? THE MUSICAL IS FRIGGIN’ AWESOME.

I ended up with front row tickets for myself and my sister and they were the greatest seats ever. We were nice and close to the stage, and then we were friggin’ ring-side for the epic fight between Rocky and Apollo Creed that happens for the last 20 minutes of the show. (The ushers literally escort the center orchestra seated people from their seats in Rows A-F [“the Golden Circle” seats] to bleachers on the stage and then they assemble a boxing ring in the middle of the audience! And since we had left orchestra seats, we were ring-side! We got high-5s from Paulie! We were literally right by Rocky’s corner. IT WAS EPIC.)

So the show itself is literally the plot of the first Rocky movie and it totally works as a musical because Rocky is a really vulnerable and likeable character. Throughout the course of the show, I found myself caring a lot about Rocky and literally rooting for him by time his big fight happens. (I was standing and cheering loudly for Rocky. Like, I was actually on my feet and yelling, “COME ON, ROCKY!” like I was at a real fight. I CARED, OKAY?)

For me, the show worked because of Andy Karl (who plays Rocky). I was familiar with Andy Karl from his role in Legally Blonde: The Musical (he played the UPS guy, Kyle), but now he will forever be Rocky to me. He had the low voice going. The shrug-my-shoulders-cuz-I-know-I’m-a-goof-but-I-got-feelings-too. His cute little sweater he wore in the Thanksgiving scene (SWOON). How he talked to his turtles (“Yo, turtles.” SWOOOON). Not to mention him in his wife-beater and boxing shorts. (Damn, son.) Andy Karl definitely has the acting chops and singing chops to lead that great ensemble and his Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical was well deserved. (There was no way in hell he was going to win… let’s be real. But he totally earned that nomination and rightly so.)

After the show, we were able to meet most of the cast at the stage door. We chatted with Margo Seibert (she played Adrian and was really great – I love her voice and she had some really tough ballads that she nailed) and Terence Archie (Apollo Creed). We were also able to talk to Andy Karl and get pictures with him. We told him we were fans since Legally Blonde and he mentioned his stylus line and joked that he was still wearing tight shorts. Everyone was super nice and seemed very appreciative of the good reception they were getting from the audience.

I would love to see this show again and be a part of the Golden Circle. I had the chance to get Golden Circle tickets, but my sister and I would have been separated for the whole show and we wanted to sit together. If I go by myself later on, I’ll take advantage of the special seats.

Rocky turned out to be one of my favorite shows of the season (along with The Bridges of Madison County, Twelfth Night and Hedwig and the Angry Inch). I was just so surprised by the amount of heart and spirit this show had. I seriously thought it was going to be dumb, but I was so, so wrong. Go see Rocky. It’s a lot of fun and a really unique theater-going experience.

(Also, if there ever were going to be an X-Men musical, Andy Karl would make the PERFECT Wolverine. Just sayin’…)

Newsies – playing at the Nederlander

I saw Newsies when I first moved to NYC (when Jeremy Jordan was just finishing up his run as Jack Kelly), so I was glad to see it again with Corey Cott in the lead. My, he gets a bit intense. I still loved the show. Newsies is one of my favorite Disney movies of all time and I love the stage adaptation because it’s a real crowd-pleaser (what with all the dancing, a better female character/love interest who actually serves a purpose to the plot instead of feeling like an afterthought, and how the songs are more powerfully presented). I was grateful to have a balcony seat this time so that I didn’t miss anything (especially during “Once and For All”). Newsies is just super fun and the ensemble is fantastic. So many cute dancing boys. So. Many.

If/Then – playing at the Richard Rogers Theatre

My sister won us lotto tickets for this show, so not only were our tickets $25, but they were FRONT ROW. (For the record, my sister’s name was the first drawn in the lotto, so not all lotto tickets are front row. We just happened to luck out big time.) I was super excited to see this show because I had never seen Idina Menzel perform in person and one of my friends had really hyped up the plot and the music. I walked away feeling blown away by Menzel (holy hell, woman), but completely underwhelmed from the show itself. You know how people have been saying that it’s basically Sliding Doors the Musical? Well, it really is. And though I could relate to the over-arching questions of “What happens if you make this choice over that choice? And how does that affect you in the long run?” I couldn’t really relate to the protagonist because she was nearing 40 (I just turned 30), she was having relationship problems with a boyfriend and best friend (I’m presently very single for reasons), and she was having issues with her career (I don’t have a career right now because I’m still working toward getting my first book published. And dog walking is not a career. Not for me, anyway.) The songs were all right, the ensemble was good, but I just was not super moved by this show. I think my friend hyped it up too much and I walked in with too big of expectations. Menzel deserved a better show than this for her return to the stage. I mean, I’m glad I saw it, but there were a bunch of other shows this season that actually struck a lasting chord with me. I’ll remember this show for seeing Menzel belt out her solos from feet away. I’ll remember stuff like Rocky and Hedwig for how they touched my heart and made me feel the gamut of emotions.

The 68th Annual Tony Awards Dress Rehearsal – Radio City Music Hall

Yes, I was lucky enough to see the Tonys Dress Rehearsal for a second year in a row. (PINCH ME. HOW IS THIS MY LIFE?) This was the reason my sister came to visit me – because I had tickets to watch Hugh Jackman rehearse his hosting duties. And trust me, NO ONE knew what the hell he was getting at when he hopped in. NO ONE. What a waste of an opening. (NPH’s opening last year was epic. EPIC.) And while on a whole this year’s Tonys rehearsal was not as exciting as last year’s, it was still really cool to see. I mean, we got to see performances from all the nominated New Musicals and Revivals. (I was so sad that the Violet performance focused mostly on the church part… that’s, like, not even a majority of the show.) It was cool to see Sting perform, even though I’m not really looking forward to The Last Ship. (We saw Sting perform twice, as they had to run that bit again at the rehearsals. TWICE THE STING, FOLKS.) It was also AMAZING to see Jennifer Hudson. Holy shit. I mean, I was a little disappointed that we weren’t going to see Jeremy Jordan, or any of the actual cast from Finding Neverland, but JENNIFER HUDSON. That woman takes you to Church and back every time she sings. I had goosebumps. It was also cool to see Alan Cumming perform with the Cabaret cast even though that show wasn’t really nominated for anything. But, Alan Cumming as the Emcee is iconic, so that was awesome. It was fun to see what presenters actually showed up to practice their lines. I was most excited to see Audra McDonald, Matt Bomer, Zachary Levi, Patricia Clarkson, Bradley Cooper, Zachary Quinto and Vera Farmiga. I was bummed that neither Clint Eastwood nor Tina Fey were at rehearsals.

As much as I love Hugh Jackman, I hope NPH hosts next year.

The Tony Awards Gala – The Plaza

Let me be perfectly clear: I did NOT attend the Tonys Gala. I worked at the Tonys Gala. (I took tickets at one of the entrances.) A friend got me involved with this gig and I will be forever grateful to her because it was so much fun! And while I will not divulge whom I saw and/or took tickets from, I will say that it was a really lovely time. The people I took tickets from were very nice and it was fun answering questions or helping people with directions when needed. If you’ve ever worked at a retail establishment as a greeter that was basically what I was doing. (I would ask people for their tickets and then told them to have a nice night. The end. Regardless who I was taking tickets from, they got the same greeting and smile as everyone else.) In addition to the people attending the gala being friendly, I also got to work with a nice little group of fellow ticket-takers/direction-givers. It’s amazing how much fun you can having while you’re working so long as you’re working with the right people. During our shift, we got to walk around the gala for a few minutes and grab a soda and some snacks. I felt wholly out of place in my $8 dress from Target, but no one treated me like I was less than. When me and the person I was working with left for the night, someone else working at the gala (who was not a part of the group we were working with) offered to hail us a cab like he had been doing for gala guests. I smiled at his offer, but said “No thank you” and crossed the street to wait for the subway to take me back to reality.

I don’t know if I’ll get to do this again next year, but I sure hope so. I very much love and respect the theater community and it was a real privilege to get to help out on a night that celebrates Broadway because Broadway has meant (and still means) so much to me.

Much Ado About Nothing – playing as part of Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte in Central Park

Shakespeare in the Park is one of my most favorite things about living in New York City. It’s FREE theater performed by wonderful ensembles of actors. I was fortunate enough to score a pair of virtual lottery tickets for the 6/14 show and it was amazing. My favorite theater buddy and I thoroughly enjoyed the three-hour romp of love, betrayal and shenanigans. (If you think about it, the plot is terribly sexist and a majority of the characters are horrible people, but it’s Shakespeare, so we are groomed to think his work is the bee’s knees.)

I haven’t seen or read Much Ado in about a decade, but vaguely remembered the plot and main characters. Having taken a Shakespearean Comedies course in undergrad, I am very familiar with the “rules” of what makes this story a comedy. And while there were dozens of laugh-out-loud moments (holy shit, Hamish Linklater as Benedick repeatedly made me laugh so hard that there were tears in my eyes), there were also other key aspects of Shakespeare’s comedies… like weddings. And mistaken identities.

It was a real privilege to see this cast. I saw Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe in last year’s performance of The Comedy of Errors and was thrilled to be able to see them on stage again. There were other familiar faces in the cast as well, like John Pankow (Ira from Mad About You), Pedro Pascal (he’s on that Game of Thrones show) and Brian Stokes Mitchell.

Yes, you read that right… BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL.

My heart stopped when he first walked out on stage. I knew he was in the show, but there’s a difference between knowing someone is in a show and actually seeing him/her acting right in front of you. Brian Stokes Mitchell is one of those performers who has forever been on my list of people I need to see perform in person at least once in my life.

And, man, did he not disappoint. It was brilliant to see him on stage, and his character even SANG for a few moments throughout the play. I was dying. DYING. (You don’t get it… I’ve listened to him and Audra sing “Wheels of a Dream” from Ragtime for almost 20 years now and his voice is just so prominent and the epitome of musical theater greatness.) But then… then…

So, we waited around after the show because my friend wanted to meet Pedro Pascal (she watches GOT, but I do not). We did get a chance to chat with him for a few moments and I took a picture of her and him after he signed our programs. We were really hoping to chat with Hamish Linklater, but we saw him quietly duck out with a child in tow, so we didn’t say anything because it is wholly rude and inappropriate to approach an actor when he’s in parent-mode.

The crowd at the stage door dispersed after Pedro Pascal was done taking pictures and whatnot, but my friend and I hung around because we saw Brian Stokes Mitchell behind the gate, meaning that he was still there and hadn’t left yet. I was flummoxed – like, does the younger generation of people not know who Brian Stokes Mitchell is and his importance in the New York theater scene?

One of the ushers asked my friend and I if we were waiting for someone in particular and I said that I saw Mr. Mitchell behind the gate and we were hoping to maybe say Hi. The usher immediately said “Oh! I’ll go tell him! Hold on.” And then the usher disappeared behind the gate and a few minutes later, BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL WALKED TOWARD US.

He was so nice and friendly! He was surprised that my friend and I waited for the chance to speak with him and I nervously rambled that we have been fans for a long time and that it was a real pleasure to see him perform. He talked with us for about five minutes, asking us questions about how we liked the show, where we were from, if we were theater people, etc… He even wrote little messages in our programs and was really just very kind. My heart is still on the verge of explosion because I honestly did not expect to ever get a chance to see Brian Stokes Mitchell in person, let alone talk to him for a few minutes. What a classy dude. And that voice. Dear lord, that voice. All day today I have been whispering “Brian Stokes Mitchell” to myself and laughing because meeting him was a real thing that happened.

But the show – go see the show. The whole cast is really spectacular and the show itself is just so entertaining. Watching Shakespeare being performed is so much more fulfilling than just reading it. It’s so much easier to understand because of the body language being used, and the inflection or peoples’ voices. I am continually amazed by Hamish Linklater’s epic commitment to his role. There’s a reason he was nominated for a Drama Desk award for The Comedy of Errors last year. I would not be surprised if he gets nominated for Much Ado next season. His physical comedy is masterful, but he’s also very skilled at the more vulnerable and heartfelt content.

If you live in NYC, there is no reason for you not to partake in Shakespeare in the Park. Tickets are FREE. If you don’t want to wake up early and stand in line for tickets, then just do the virtual lottery.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been up to (theater-wise) the past couple months. I’m seeing tick… tick… BOOM in a couple weeks, but don’t really have solid plans besides that. I do hope to see King Lear at Shakespeare in the Park, and maybe a Broadway show or two. We’ll see!

Have a good one

Wow, so I didn’t realize that I’ve read 15 YA books in the last month and a half… Some of them were really great and some of them were just plain awful. As I look ahead to the next book I’m planning on writing, I’m actively trying to read more books with a female protagonist. There are also some authors who I’ve grown attached too over the past few months, so I’ve been trying to read more of their work too.

Here’s my thoughts on what I’ve been reading:

Shine – Lauren Myracle – This book is about a hate crime in rural America. A young gay man is attacked at a gas station and his former BFF tries to piece together who did it because she feels the cops aren’t doing enough. It’s one of several books I’ve read recently where the female protagonist is a survivor of physical assault. I’m always interested to read how other girls (even fictional ones) deal with that. The book spans only a couple weeks. I like condensed time lines like that – I feel it offers a sense of urgency to solve the crime. This was a good book and I’m glad I finally read it. (I had checked it out of the library once before but had returned it before even cracking it open.)

Out of the Pocket – Bill Konigsberg – I wanted to read this book for months and I finally tracked down a copy! I’ve read one of Konigsberg’s other books (Openly Straight) and liked it a lot, but was desperate to read this one because it dealt with a gay high school football player. While I’m not a fan of football, I was eager to read this since my book is also about a gay high school sports player (baseball, though) and I thought this book would be educational to read. I like Konigsberg’s writing style and thought the story was engaging.

The Boy on the Bridge – Natalie Standiford – I was so disappointed while I was reading this book. I read Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye in Robot and LOVED it, but this book was the complete opposite of that… I hated it. And wished I could unread it or at least get those couple hours of my life back. The most disappointing aspect of the story was how the female protagonist was basically throwing away her education and her time in Russia for some boy she really didn’t know that well. What they had did not come across as love and it was frustrating as a reader to read page after page of this girl making a string of stupid and irresponsible decisions. I would put this female protagonist right up there with Bella Swan as terrible literary characters that little girls should never aspire to be.

Break – Hannah Moskowitz – I’ve read a few other books by Moskowitz, but I think this was her debut novel. It was about a boy who was determined to break every bone in his body so that they would grow back stronger. He had a really troubled home life (in that his younger brother was pretty much allergic to everything, and there was a crying baby around all the time, and his parents weren’t all that with it all the time) and his friend was an enabler with him wanting to break himself. It was really disturbing to read the thought process of this kid, because you just wanted to reach through the page and demand that he stop hurting himself.

Ask the Passengers – A.S. King – This book was about a high school girl coming to terms with her sexuality. (She was in a relationship with a girl she worked with at a catering company.) There was definitely more to the story than just that, but what I took away from this was how I really enjoy King’s writing. I’ve read a few of her books by now and they are good reads.

Boyfriends with Girlfriends – Alex Sanchez – This was another book I wish I could unread. I don’t get how people praise Sanchez’s writing because I feel he writes down to his intended audience and the end result is immature, silly and insulting. I get that this book was trying to open up people’s eyes about bisexuality and gender fluidity, but I could not get over how awful the dialogue was and how immature the descriptions of sex were. Also, his characters giggled a lot. Like, “tee hee” was written across more than several pages. The thing is, Sanchez is very well published within the LGBTQ YA genre. This was the second book of his that I’ve read. And while I thought The God Box was okay, I thought this was just plain bad. And I hate to write that because I fear someone will someday say that about my book… but I honestly was wondering how he justified writing the book the way he did. High school kids don’t talk like that. They just don’t.

Marly’s Ghost – David Levithan – This was my palette cleanser after the Sanchez fiasco. A modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, Marly’s Ghost is about a young man mourning the death of his girlfriend. Her ghost comes to visit him around Valentine’s Day and says that he’ll be visited by three ghosts. The boy overcomes his Bah Humbug feelings about the holiday that’s meant to celebrate love and finds that he can and will love again. It wasn’t a real head-scratcher, nor was it on par with some of his other books, but I enjoyed it. This was a very quick read.

The Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson – A high school girl’s older sister died and she and her extended family that she lives with are in mourning. During this time, she gets closer to her dead sister’s boyfriend, as well as the new boy in town who just started up at her school. It’s easy to see why both guys are attractive – one helps her remember her sister, while the other is a new distraction from it all. There was a lot of poetry in this book (as the protagonist was prone to writing prose on anything she could get her hands on), but I thought it added rather than detracted from the main focus of the book.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz – A.S. King – A high school girl’s former BFF died and she’s the only person who knows the truth about his death, though she doesn’t tell anyone for a long while. She lives with her dad (as her young mother ditched them when Vera turned 12) and they don’t relate super well with each other (although they do love each other). Vera gets a bit self-destructive at times, but she eventually comes clean about everything. Again, I just really dig King’s writing style.

You are Here – Jennifer E. Smith – I LOVED THIS BOOK. I just really wish the cover reflected the characters better. (The cover has two obscenely attractive high school students sitting on/leaning on a car, whereas the kids in the book are much more normal/dorky than that. I’m sorry, but if the book describes the boy as bespectacled and with a bad haircut, don’t put some glasses-less Abercrombie looking dude on the front cover. I almost didn’t pick this book up because I thought it was about attractive teen runaways.) I forget the characters’ names, but the main girl finds out that she had a twin brother who died days after they were born, so she decides she’s going to steal her older brother’s car and drive from NY to NC to see her dead brother’s grave. When the car breaks down, she calls the quiet neighbor boy (Patrick! I think…) and he runs away from home to go with her on her journey. His stipulation for going is that they stop at some historical landmarks along the way. The two teens were friendly with each other, but were never really friends. During their trip, they find out a lot about each other and themselves. I thought this book was really well written and I cared dearly for these characters (especially the boy) as they made their way to NC. I would gladly read this again someday.

Being Friends With Boys – Terra Elan McVoy – I was intrigued because this book was about a high school girl who managed her guy friends’ band, but then it turned into a drama-fest about, well, being friends with boys. I liked that the protagonist was depicted as an average girl (like, she wasn’t super skinny or flawlessly beautiful), but I did not like how the book went on and on about her feelings for a couple guys, but then in the last couple chapters it’s all “hold the phone, I’m madly in love with this guy who I haven’t really talked about since the first third of the book.” It was an okay read, but I’m not racing out to read anything else by this author.

Dying to Know You – Aidan Chambers – Another book that I loved, but the cover (and title) was completely misleading. The cover had two goldfish on it… which really had not much to do with the book being about an 18-year-old plumber befriending an elderly writer and how their friendship grew while the writer was trying to help the plumber write about himself to appease his girlfriend. The book was charming and the main character was the writer – which was a little odd for a YA book, but I dug it nonetheless.

Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust – Leanne Liberman – This book had been staring me in the face every time I go to the library and peruse the Ls for more David Levithan books. I am fascinated by the Holocaust, so I bit. It wasn’t a bad book. It was about a Jewish girl who basically was sick of hearing about the Holocaust and decided to renounce her Jewish-ness. However, she found she was unable to do that when a group of guys from her school (including her crush) were joking around and pretending they were Nazis. The overarching themes of cultural respect and self-acceptance were good.

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson – Taking place over the course of a school year, the protagonist continues to close in on herself as her peers continue to blame her for calling the cops at a party. The truth is something terrible happened to her at said party, but no one else knows. She finally finds her voice (through words and art) and gets the confidence to stand up for herself. This book was really powerful on a personal level because of the subject matter. While i did not experience the same kind of assault as the protagonist, we were the same age when it happened. I wanted her to speak up so badly, but at the same time I understand why she didn’t. This was a good read and I’m looking forward to reading more books from the same author.

This is What Happiness Looks Like – Jennifer E. Smith – I liked the premise of this book. A teenage movie star accidentally emails a teenage girl about his pet pig (because he misspelled the email address he was actually trying to reach). They befriend each other online and email back and forth for awhile when he decides to shoot his next movie in her town and meet her in person. Drama and teenage feels ensue, but it wasn’t cheesy (even though it easily could have been). I liked Smith’s other book better, but I’m definitely keeping my eye out for more of her stuff. She’s really great at writing description and it makes me jealous.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been reading. Most of it was good. Some of it was not.

I’m still working on my book! I finished a major round of edits yesterday. I will be looking into literary agents in the coming weeks to try and get that process rolling. Some days I’m really confident in what I wrote. Others I am not. Of the friends who I sent the first draft, four of them gave me some really useful notes, which I did take into consideration as I edited. I know the book still needs some help, but it is coming along.

(I also went to a few theater shows in the past few weeks, but I’ll write that up in another post a little later.)

If you have any book recommendations, let me know!! I’m always reading 🙂

Fan events are a self-fulfilling prophecy of why we can’t have nice things.

A few weeks ago, it was announced that FOX was hosting an even in NYC for the world premiere of X-Men Days of Future Past at the Javits Center. My friend RSVPed to the event and invited me to come along with her (as we are both fans of X-Men, as well as a lot of the cast). Since the RSVP was in her name, she was sent repeated emails from FOX/the event reminding her of said event and stressing the importance of having tickets that bared a unique barcode. (This will be an important detail in a bit…)

Having been to several fan events of varying natures before, my friend and I knew we would have to get there much earlier than the 4:00 start time the invite gave. We knew people were sleeping outside in line the night before, but we decided to get there around 9:00am on the day-of. The event said that the first 500 people in line would get free promotional items, be able to interact with the cast and see the film (among other incentives). When I got to the line around 8:45am, I was told I was around the 350th person in line. (This will also be an important detail in a bit…)

My friend joined me in line soon thereafter and we set about killing time and chatting up the people we were near in line. Javits Center employees were seen walking the line every now and again, some had handheld clickers and were counting how many people were in line. The little group I was in was worried about getting into the event, but we were told by an employee that we would.

As hours ticked by, we noticed that the line ahead looked much denser than it had when we got there. It was obvious that people were cutting into the line and no one (Javits Center employees or other people in line alike) was doing anything about it. When some people cut in front of us, our group spoke up. It wasn’t fair that we had been waiting over 5 hours at that point and new people just sauntered up and joined the middle of the line when the end of the line was wrapped around the block.

(I would never cut someone in line. Like, my person is not programmed to be that inconsiderate to someone else. Even if I was upset about the length of a line, I would get my ass to the back of it because that’s the only logical spot where I belonged when I first arrived to a line.)

We were obviously wondering what was going on, and would ask Javits Center employees about more information. We weren’t told much, if anything. At one point, someone said they were going to hand out wristbands (something that should always be done IMMEDIATELY in this kind of mass-attendance event). But, instead of wristbands, we were given Twinkies.

Yes, Twinkies.

Not only was that a super unhealthy food item to give people, but it only made people more upset about not having some sort of idea of what the actual agenda of events was.

What else made people mad was word that people no longer needed to have a ticket to get in line/attend the event. This meant that people could easily insert themselves into the line at any point and not need any sort of documentation to prove that they were on the original event list to be there. So, all of those emails my friend were sent were null and void. Her inbox was spammed for weeks with reminders to have her tickets with her, only for the event to completely disregard that on the day of. (Please note, she was sent a reminder email at 7am on the day of the event to have her tickets with her.)

An hour or two after we were told, “things will get moving in 15 minutes,” the line was condensed like cattle. We heard word that the first 500 people were already given wristbands. My friend and I were wristbandless. We went from being the 350th people in line to well over 600 because that many people had cut the line while we were waiting. Myself and some other nearby people in line tried to ask a passing Javits Center employee about how we were misinformed about being guaranteed to get in. He snidely told us that that was show business and that the Javits Center was only hired to host the event and that we needed to complain to FOX representatives. I asked him if there was some way they could send out someone to answer our questions and he repeated that the Javits Center had nothing to do with it. (I’m being much more eloquent and polite about this than what he actually said to us. This man was so rude.)

While we were super pissed about no longer being among the first 500 people (after having waited for over 6 hours at this point) and the rude Javits Center guys, but eventually we were told we would still be getting passes to see X-Men Days of Future Past that night either at the Javits Center or a nearby movie theater. We made peace with that news, as we mostly wanted to see the movie.

So, we stayed in line. And got rained on a bit as the line slowly shuffled forward while the wristband people were let into the building.

Those of us who did not have wristbands were still let into the building. We were immediately wanded and had our bags checked, then ushered through to a barricaded area where we were given free t-shirts and posters.

My friend and I ended up at the front of the barricade that lined a black carpet. There was a little stage set up and stacks of shirts, posters and Blu-rays. The host, a morning DJ from Z100 (Garrett something?), explained over the pop music that was piped through the speakers that he was going to do trivia with us and give away all the shirts, posters and Blu-rays (all of which were signed by Hugh Jackman – you know, Wolverine).

For the next hour and a half, two hours, Garrett gave away stuff to people and we stood against the barricade (legs tired, energy draining). Finally around 7:00, it got interesting. One of the writers was there and he talked a little about then film.

Hugh Jackman then showed up and signed stuff/took pictures with people along the length of the barricades before he was ushered toward the little stage to answer some questions.

Then everyone else started to trickle in.

And I mean EVERYONE.

A majority of the main cast of X-Men Days of Future Past made their way down the barricades signing things and taking pictures, then answered a few questions, then signed and took more pictures.

I knew it was going to be crazy, so I had it set in my head that I would only try to get pictures (if I could) with my two favorite cast members (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender). I then hoped that I could have the other cast members sign my poster.

As soon as the actors got over toward where I was standing, some of the people around me were increasingly losing their shit. The sisters my friend and I were flanked by would scream at the celebrities, rudely demand selfies and then make snarky comments if something did not go their way. There were grabby hands, loud voices, no Pleases and Thank Yous and just really terrible manners all around. I was hit in the face a few times from people around me and behind me trying to get their posters or shirts in front of the actors so that they would sign it.

I was appalled.

I made sure to say Thank You to everyone who signed my poster. When I could, I would offer up a kind sentiment about a movie/performance of the actors’ that I liked. (I managed to tell Nicholas Hoult I loved his performance in A Single Man and he took a second to make eye contact and sincerely say Thank You. While the rude girl next to me was screaming Game of Thrones stuff at Peter Dinklage, I said that I was a fan of his since The Station Agent and he smiled and nodded his thanks in my direction.) I was able to get pictures with McAvoy and Fassbender, but only after I made sure to ask them politely for the opportunity. (“May I please get a picture with you?” Then after a nod/yes, I said “Thank You” and then thanked them again after the picture was taken. MANNERS.) Even in a frenzied environment, I feel it is super important to be polite. These actors worked hard making the movie and they shouldn’t have to deal with fans screaming in their faces and rudely demanding selfies.

Fan culture is such a weird thing. It’s great, but it’s also completely awful.

Being in a fandom is a great way to meant other people who share similar passions and interests. I’m grateful to have made some really amazing friendships with people through fandom events and online interactions (some which have bled through to real-life friendships). These are the people I feel comfortable talking about pop culture with because they get it on the same level of intensity that I do. I don’t have to apologize for my interests because they love what I love just as much. And that is an AWESOME feeling to be able to share that passion with others.

But at the same time, I hate fandom culture. I don’t like going to events and having to deal with the crazy people who shove and are super rude because they think that they are entitled to something just because they are fans. The actors may have been contractually obligated to be at that event yesterday, but that doesn’t mean they should be treated like pieces of meat from hundreds of fans. No one deserves to be shouted at or pulled in for a picture without consent.

Fans are an integral part of the popular culture industry. We are the audience. We are why movies get made and shows stay on television. (Yes, money has a huge factor in that too… but who is buying the movie tickets? We are the butts in seats.) But as fans, we need to keep our wits about us when we have the opportunity to meet and interact with the celebrities we love. There is no need to yell in their faces or grab at their clothes. They are people just like us. How would you like someone screaming in your face and demand you to sign something or take a picture? Now times that by almost a thousand.

As grateful as I was for the chance to briefly interact with the cast of X-Men Days of Future Past last night, I am not rushing to go to any more fan events any time soon. It’s really rough spending all day standing in line and then being surrounded by some of the rudest people you’ll ever encounter. All the shouting. All the shoving. It’s really disheartening.

Tomorrow is the second ever Fox Fanfront. I have to work, so there was no way I could attend. I’m actually really glad about that.

As much as I love some of the shows on Fox (Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Mindy Project especially), I cannot handle another fan event right now.

I attended the Fox Fanfront last year. There was also a lot of shoving, shouting and celebrities. It was really cool to see everyone from the FOX network, but the event was really disorganized for the kinds of fans they were dealing with. (I would argue 90+% of the people in attendance were there for Darren Criss/Glee. Since Darren is actually performing at the Fanfront tomorrow, I can only assume the fans are going to be crazier. If you’ve never been to a Darren event, you don’t even know. Trust me.)

So, I’ll watch videos online when I get home from work and gladly scroll through the pictures of the friends of mine who are going. I’ll go to work as per usual and earn my paycheck while being miles away from the potential shit storm.

I wish more people at fan events would just calm down and take a moment to realize what an awesome opportunity it is to get to interact with the people from their favorite shows/sports/movies/etc… We need to treat the celebrities and each other better at these events. No one needs to get shoved. No one needs to get screamed at. No one needs to make it a negative experience. Think about your actions, or at least try to put yourselves in their shoes.

I’ll continue to be a fan. But it’ll increasingly be from afar because I can’t handle seeing people treat celebrities (they claim to admire so much) like shit/property.

(Oh – and we never got screening passes to X-Men Days of Future Past, but they made sure to tell us over and over again to go see the movie in theaters on Memorial Day weekend.)