Thursday, February 26, 2009

Alec Baldwin: The Funniest of the Baldwin Brothers

Even though this isn't really safe for work, my coworker sent it to me this afternoon anyway. I was bold enough (stupid enough?) to watch it at my desk and even though I should have saved it for home viewing, I couldn't turn it off. Alec Baldwin is just that funny.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Standing Ovation

I can’t help but recommend Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Nights. At first I thought I’d just recommend it to a select group (i.e., Jen), because it’s so focused on theater and Broadway inside jokes and references that I didn’t think the rest of you would like it much. That may still be true, but I ended up enjoying it so much that I simply can’t be that stingy with my recommendation.

Rudetsky is a minor B’way celeb himself. He hosts a show called Broadway Chatterbox on Thursday evenings (6:00 so there is still time to make an 8:00 curtain), and it’s hilarious. He interviews Broadway actors and actresses, makes them sing, entertains his audience, and generally rocks the shizzle (yeah, I said it). Jen and I went to the show twice about ten years ago and loved every minute. While I was in Chicago we hatched a plan that we’d be Thursday night regulars as soon as I moved back. Somehow, that plan failed utterly, and I’m still not sure why, but I digress.

The point is, Rudetsky’s humor translates completely to the written page. The book is fluff through and through (reading fluff is my M.O. Lately. It allows me to keep up with fun reading while not taxing my homework-taxed brain even further), but it’s also absolutely hilarious. Some of the humor is theater-specific, but much of it is not, and I throughout the course of my reading I became convinced that one need not be a Broadway hanger-on to enjoy this book.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Forgot one!

I also loved Tarji P. Henson's white dress.

Oscar Fashion

I used to love the Oscars, but something hasn't really clicked the last few years. They just seem to get more and more boring. I thought Hugh Jackman was a great choice for the host, though he should have been more visible throughout the show. He started out strong (loved his opening number) but faded throughout the night. I'm the right demographic for a song and dance number, but that routine with Beyonce was just bad.

There weren't many surprises for me in terms of the actual awards, either, which made it less exciting. This was the first year in many that I wasn't in a pool, and I wish I had been. I performed very well, so I think I could have taken home some cash. And where were the emotional speeches? Dustin Lance Black and Sean Penn got me the most with their political angles. The rest were just blah.

All this is to say, though, that the fashion is the most interesting thing to recap. Below are my two favorite and two least favorite dresses of the night.

My absolute favorite was the dress Penelope Cruz wore. Since she started acting in English I've often found her annoying, but she does know how to rock a poofy skirted dress. Do you guys remember her 2007 Oscar frock? Beautiful!

Anne Hathaway is beautiful no matter which way you slice it, but she looked extra stunning and statuesque on Sunday night. It's too bad that she couldn't have done her dance number in it, because this dress is way prettier than the one she changed into to play Frank Langell/Nixon.

I don't even know what to say about Reese Witherspoon. This dress is just not cutting it. She's lovely but this dress is not. It's too bad, too, because she's looked gorgeous other Oscar nights.

And possibly the worst of the worst: Jessica Biel. The dress was wrinkled and puffed out in a really unflattering way. Her hair was gross looking (very greasy), and overall she just looked like a nightmare.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Be Mine, Coraline

I’m not really a big believer in Valentine’s Day. While it’s always nice to tell people you love them, the holiday seems too consumer-driven and artificial for me to get too excited about it. It’s more meaningful to tell people throughout the year what they mean to you, and I hope I succeed in doing that.

All this is to say that I wasn’t looking for a dozen roses and a standard V-Day outing on Saturday. Instead, Todd treated me and Dylan to Coraline in 3-D. It was great! I’ve never read the novella by Neil Gaiman, so I went in without any adaptation-related complications. I loved the movie! It was just creepy enough and extremely well done. The 3-D effects were excellent, too; their quality was immediately evident and outclassed everything we saw in the 3-D previews. They didn’t go for any of the cheap reach-out-and-grab-you 3-D moments, though, and just used it to make the movie look great. I’d recommend seeing it in 3-D if you have a theater close to you. If you don’t, though, the storytelling and movie won’t be compromised. You should still see it.

I’m adding this to my reading list, too.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Books As Art

If any of you get bored with the look of all your books lined up against your walls, here’s a nifty way to give it a whole new look. I’m pretty sure I’ll never do this, but I’m tickled by the concept nonetheless.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Slumdog Success

I finally made it to see Slumdog Millionaire this past weekend. I’m now only woefully behind on Oscar Watch instead of incredibly woefully behind. After so many comments on my Benjamin Button post about how Slumdog was the movie to see, I went in with high expectations. I don’t think it totally lived up to the hype, but I still really, really liked it. I’ll spare you all a full blown review since most of you have already seen it. I will say, though, that I thought it was very well told, the performances were excellent across the board (especially impressive when dealing with child actors), and the music was great. I don’t know exactly which two songs are Oscar nominated, but I intend to find out. There are a couple I’d like to add to my collection.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Proof that you can simultaneously go to grad school and read for pleasure

So one of the ways my grad school angst manifested itself was a fear that I wouldn’t get to read a book for fun for the next two years. This wasn’t helped by just about everyone I know saying some variation on this theme. I heard, “Oh, I guess you won’t be going to the movies for two years;” and “So, we probably won’t be talking as much for a while now;” and “We should get together for drinks now before you disappear for two years.” It started to feel like I was sentencing myself to prison, and I had to tell everyone to put a lid on it (not in so many words).

The reality, of course, is that I do have less free time. That’s ok, even if it’s not really fun. Everything is a trade off, right? And I’m happy to say that when I finished Tom Robbins’ Villa Incognito last week, I proved to myself that it’s possible to scale back and not cut the things I love out of my life entirely while I’m in school.

This is the first Robbins book I’ve read. I inherited several of them from Rena when she did her big clean out ages ago and, with the 80-some-odd books in my to-be-read pile, it took this long for one of his to make it into my hands. I didn’t absolutely love the book, but there is no denying that Robbins has a formidable imagination. With his mixture of mythology, American history, personal relationships, religion, and drug trafficking, he creates something more unique than most authors will ever achieve. More than one person has mentioned Skinny Legs and All as a Robbins favorite, so I’ll have to dig through that big ol’ pile of mine and see if that’s one that Rena gave me.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fickle Hillary

This is hilarious! I mean, it's possible that Hill just didn't see Bill coming in for the kiss, or maybe she's blinded by Barack's presidential aura, but a snub is a snub. And as embarrassing as it probably is for Bill, it's pretty darn funny, too.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mad Men? Mad Tweets

Do many of you twitter? I know a few of you do, and I wish the rest of you would, too. It would just give me one more way to keep up with you all minute by minute.

I posted a twitter a few weeks ago about how I wish that my wardrobe was a lot more like Betty Draper's. And it's true--I love most of the clothes on Mad Men, but I just think I could really rock the Betty Draper look (minus all the cigarettes and depression). Later that night, "Betty Draper" started following me on Twitter. Out of curiosity I checked out her twitter feed and attached website. Since then, "Ken Cosgrove" and "Peggy Olson" have also started following me—all based on one comment about Betty Draper's clothes! I did a little twitter searching and, no surprise, there is also a feed for Pete Campbell, Don Draper, and many other characters as well.

I assume that it's just a bunch of random fans who each grabbed one character's name and not a single person or a group of Mad Men-obsessed friends. I'd be curious to know for sure, though. I also wonder how many other shows have this. I mean, are there people twittering as if they're Jack, Sawyer, and Locke, too? What about Captain Adama, Gaius Baltar, Starbuck, and Sharon? It's like fan fiction you can interact with, and it's bizarre.

What shows/characters would you want to twitter as? If I were sassy enough, I'd try to be Veronica Mars. Hmmm...maybe I should see if there is a Twitter version of Logan Echolls out there.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Life As a Student

Kristinn asked for more details on my return to grad school, and Todd thinks I should be blogging about school all the time (blog as study tool), so here you go:

I’m taking two classes this semester. The first is called Analysis, Theory, and Ethics, and all Strategic Communications students are required to take it in their first semester. Everyone who started the program this semester (18 of us, only three of whom are guys) are in it together, and by all accounts the prof is a total stickler for good writing. Before classes started we all had to share personal bios on yahoo groups, and I’d say 80% were well written and the rest were just a mess. I feel bad for those people, because everyone says this guy really cares about comma splices, passive voice, etc. We submitted our first written assignment last week, so I guess we’ll find out soon whether he really is that much of a hard-ass. The class itself is ok. It’s the most theoretical of all the courses in the program and is supposed to be the foundation for everything else. The lectures have been fairly theory-based (last week we talked about social constructionism, for instance), and we’ve done a lot of reading about logic and persuasion.

The other course I’m taking is called Survey and Analysis of Communication Practices. The class itself is actually 100 times more interesting than it’s name, I’m very happy to say. Our homework assignment before this week’s class was to watch all the Super Bowl ads (I loved the Hulu one, below). And we started Wednesday’s class by talking about Michael Phelps’s pot smoking and what that does to his brand and how he should handle the media interest. The content of the class (especially brand identity and positioning) is really interesting so far, so that bodes well.

This week is my first group assignment, which is going to be interesting. Working in groups can either be great or miserable. Here’s hoping my group is a winner.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ponytail Heaven

Remember that part of Mean Girls when Lindsay Lohan learns what is required of her to be a Plastic?

“We only wear jeans or track pants on Friday. You can't wear a tank top two days in a row. You can only wear your hair in a ponytail once a week. So, I guess, you picked today. And if you break any of these rules you can't sit with us at lunch. I mean, not just you, any of us. Like, if I was wearing jeans today, I would be sitting over there with the art freaks.”
— Gretchen Weiner

I’ve put my hair in a ponytail for the last five days in a row. I’d so be out of the popular clique if this was high school.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Fantasy Life

I love New York, but there’s a part of me right now that’s fantasizing about a (slightly unrealistic) life a couple of hours outside the city. This may just be the winter doldrums speaking, but I’m currently entertaining the following: Todd and I move to a small town about two hours from the city. This being a fantasy, of course, it’s not that far from a train station so all our friends can and do come visit on the weekends. This also being a fantasy, I look fabulous despite the fact that I’m baking all the time. In fact, every weekend when we have visitors, I bake fresh bread before everyone gets up; you’d all wake up to the scent of warm bread coming out of the oven! We’d have home made honey butter to spread on it, along with preserves that our awesome new neighbors jar themselves. We’d shop at the farmer’s market, which we’d bike to, of course. We’d have a barn or something that could be turned into an art studio where Todd paints and I make pottery (apparently fantasy barns come complete with kilns these days). We’d also have a chocolate lab, possibly named Otis, to keep Camilla company.

I am fully aware of how many elements of this fantasy are loony, but at the same time, there are parts that are still compelling. Todd and I could conceivably buy a house upstate someday, whereas saving for a Manhattan home is daunting as hell. Even with the real estate crash, they are still wildly expensive. Then again, I have at least two years of grad school ahead of me before leaving the city is an option, and who knows what ideas will spring up in my mind between now and then.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tori Fullard, Football Fan?

At the end of last Wednesday’s class, my professor instructed us to come to this week’s session prepared to talk about our three favorite and three least favorite Superbowl commercials. I’ll confess: I’ve never watched a single Superbowl in my life. I’m not sure that I’ve actually watched a single football game in my life. It just never interested me. In the name of academic excellence, though, Todd and I put on this weekend’s game. Todd was kind enough to explain the basics to me (having never watched a game, you can imagine that the rules were also something to which I never devoted much mental energy), and we settled in. After the first quarter we ordered in, just like the rest of America. We ordered sushi, which I understand isn’t standard Superbowl fare, but at least it’s healthier than the wings, pizza, and chips that we were culturally encouraged to eat.

The surprising thing throughout the evening was that I was actually entertained for most of it. I did admit that a 3-quarter game would suit my football attention span better, but I was shocked to be interested at all. If it had been more of a runaway, perhaps I would have maintained my bored-by-football status. As it was, I was kind of into it. Wonders never cease.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Curious Case of Mixed Reactions

This weekend was supposed to be all movies all the time, starting with a double-header of The Wrestler and Slumdog Millionaire with Jen on Friday night. Very, very sadly, Jen’s trip home was cut short, and we didn’t even get a chance to see each other face to face, let alone sink into several hours of movie watching together. I’m woefully behind on Oscar Watch 2009 and quality time with Jen. :(

I did see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on Saturday, though, when Todd and I double-dated with Anne and Aaron. After much confusion about where we’d meet and eat, we finally caught up with them at the Old Castle Pub right across the street from the Ziegfeld, one of the prettiest theaters in the city.

The movie itself was a mixed bag. Anne and Aaron reacted very positively, describing it as beautiful; Todd and I were more lukewarm. There were undoubtedly elements that worked for me (the ending) and elements that did not (Brad Pitt’s NOLA accent). This being a David Fincher movie, it’s no surprise that it was unnecessarily long, and it definitely dragged at times. It is a beautiful love story, but for all of Benjamin and Daisy’s love, it lacked passion. Where was Benjamin’s anger? Why did he never rail against the unfairness of living a life no one else could really understand? Where was his fury that a long lasting affair with his one true love was impossible? Why was he so sanguine about his condition? Benjamin sometimes spoke in fortune cookie nuggets of wisdom, and a second life on a boat felt oddly Forrest Gump-ish. I’m not suggesting that Pitt should have been pissed-off for three hours, but without a full range of human emotions on display, Benjamin seemed even more other worldly, and, therefore, I felt less connected to him.

Having not yet seen any of the other best picture nominees, I’m still willing to make this claim: Benjamin Button, while a perfectly good movie, does not rise above and deserve to be called the best picture of the year. Movies not even nominated (Hello, Dark Knight!) deserve it more.