Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Love is like the angry sea

Happy March!

I'm excited that it's March because I have a life-long beef with January and February. As months, they've never really wronged me any more than any other months, but there's just something about the pressure of a new year, Valentine's Day and the (usually) icy and cold weather than gets me down.

Granted, this February, it was like, 75º most of the time -- hey, global warming! You terrify me, but thanks for letting me wear dresses in the winter! -- but I'm still not sad to see spring officially get sprung, you know?

Plus, March gets me closer to both 1) the family vacation to the coast I'm going on in April and 2) seeing Metallica (!) with my dad in June. Three cheers for breaks.

Here's what I've been into lately:

  • Over the past week, I've watched four movies I'd never seen for the first time, which always makes me feel productive even though I'm literally just sitting on the couch. I watched No Men Beyond This Point in a fit of righteous indignation, so it made me feel better at the time, but overall it was kind-of meh. If you're thinking of watching Arrival, skip it. It's not awful, but there are way better space movies out there. If you want something similar, but better, check out Contact (1997)! Don't skip Hell or High Water though! In addition to featuring Chris Pine's face (always a plus), it's a slow-simmering look at family, the working class and what it can be like out here in West Texas. It wasn't actually filmed here, but it felt like it took place right in my backyard.

         The other film I watched was The Departed, which I enjoyed, despite my half-hearted and    
         unwarranted attempts not to. Somewhere, my "Films of Scorsese" professor is really glad I 
         finally did some of my classwork.
  • Still reading Armada, and I'm pretty into it. It's extreme sci-fi geekery, just like Ready Player One, but they're actually not too similar, which means I can enjoy them both. I'm also re-reading RPO (out-loud, to my dad, because that's a thing I do -- #IAmCute) and it's actually helping rather than hurting my attempts at respecting them as their own thing.
  • Here's my Spotify playlist for February! This go-around, it's full of R&B throwbacks, including at least one Prince song -- but please know I saved a good chunk of his catalog as soon as it went live because FINALLY. Also hi, Biased Friend Sales Pitch/former Austinite tagline: listen to my friends' band! They released their EP today and it's really good and I'm not just saying that, I promise.
  • New makeup obsession: Urban Decay "Vice" lipstick. It's always a miracle for me to find a stick lipstick that actually stays on all day and I'm impressed with this line so far! So far, I've bought two: "Oblivion" and "Hex."

Spare thoughts:
  • I was like...weirdly affected by Bill Paxton dying? I haven't seen very many of his films, but Twister was the first film I ever saw in theaters, so I had a whole moment~ about how there has, effectively, never been a time I was aware of movies without also being aware of Bill Paxton. Idk, man -- life is super weird.
  • And everything's not rosy right now for me personally -- but I'm trying to focus on the good. It's always hard for me (I'm a "realist" by nature, which is just an obnoxious way of saying I'm pessimistic), but I'm hustling. Everything passes eventually!

Monday, February 6, 2017

"Ten percent defiant"


During my time on airplanes/in airports to and from Austin, I finished up Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody. Verdict: super enjoyable. Like most things AK, it felt really genuine. She cracked jokes constantly, didn’t really drop names (except Aubrey Plaza, more than once, but who could blame her?) and was willing to admit it’s not all rose gold in La La Land. Five-star recommendation from me.

Now reading: Armada by Ernest Cline. I’m going to try really hard to not constantly compare it to Cline’s debut, Ready Player One (which I adored), but it’s going to be hard. Wish me luck.

Been indulging in not-quite-horror with my watching lately, The West Wing aside. In January, I watched It Follows and, weeks later, still can’t decide if I liked it or not (if you’ve seen it, what did you think?). More recently, I watched Bloodsucking Bastards — a relatively new installment to arguably my favorite genre, horror-comedy. Speaking of horror-com, if you love it like I do, watch Netflix’s new show Santa Clarita Diet immediately. It is DELIGHTFUL. Pretty gross and very funny, it’s a great addition to the genre (literally, I could go on about the intricacies of horror-comedy for paragraphs — and have). 10/10, do recommend.

Some loose songs I discovered in January: “As the Romans Do” by Theo Katsman; “Kids (Ain’t All Right)” by Grace Mitchell; “Trouble in Mind” by Larkin Poe; “Another Day of Sun” from the La La Land soundtrack (see also…the rest of the La La Land soundtrack); “Got Your Number” by Serena Ryder. If you want to know what else I’ve been listening to, you can check out this playlist! I make one at the end of every month with all the songs I saved that month.

Hope February’s treating you right! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"They want a new life. And they want it here."

Months ago, Maggie texted Melany and I out of the blue with a very important question: Did we want to go see Mamma Mia! in January?

Obviously, the only reasonable response was yes. In less than 15 minutes, Maggie had purchased our tickets and we had reimbursed her. Technology really is amazing — especially when it secures me a reason to go to Austin, months in advance.

I got to town Friday afternoon and loafed around Maggie and Melany’s apartment until everyone got off work. Friday evening, Maggie, Melany, KaCee, Kyle, Melany’s non-Maggie boo Kevin and I all went to dinner at a southern cooking restaurant called Hoover’s Cooking (terrible name, tasty food). I ordered off the kids’ menu like a True Adult™ because this place provides THREE SIDES with every entree and that’s just…way too much.

Later that night, I hung out with Bryan and Tess. We went to a “house show/art show thing” — a terrible but accurat4e description. It was one of those times when I caught myself repeatedly thinking, “This is just so Austin.” A heavily painted van parked outside an unknown someone’s house; a static-y band playing in the living room; art that included — amongst other things — a terrifying mannequin statue and technicolor paintings of both the president and a naked woman’s body, strung across a fence; an obscene amount of Lonestar beer cans and weed smoke. When a grown woman in overalls and long pigtails, with unnaturally glassy eyes, tripped past me, I knew I was somewhere special.

Standing in the chill and sprinkling rain, talking until your throat hurts, is a good time.

When it started getting too cold, we headed in search of a coffee shop and ended up at Bennu, where we stayed until after 2 a.m., complaining about being millennials because ask any Baby Boomer — that's what millennials do.

Saturday, Maggie had to work and Melany went to brunch with Kevin (but brought me back Torchy’s because she is a beautiful soul), so I spent 90% of the day in my pajamas, binge-watching The West Wing, which I have never seen (so good — 10/10 would vote for Jed Bartlett). 

Then it was time to get ready for Mamma Mia! We dressed fancy because that’s what you do when you go to the theater (we rightly berated every person we saw wearing jeans) and left after we said we would because we have literally never left on time for anything. But! We made it. And in time to get drinks, which, let’s be real, is vitally important.

Before we could go in and find our seats, Maggie made Melany and I go “stand by that wall and be fancy” because that’s a thing she does. This is the kind-of results she gets:

Mamma Mia! itself was fantastic. I had never seen the universally abhorred/beloved film version, so I had nothing to go on before the curtain went up, but I laughed until my face hurt many times, didn’t cry once over the beauty of musical theater (a mascara-saving miracle) and got to sing and dance to ABBA with two of my best friends — what more could you ask for?

After we left the show, we decided we all looked entirely too good to just go home and Kevin was still having a birthday bash of sorts at the Highball anyway, so we planned to head over there after picking up some P. Terry’s.

But LOL. Maggie’s car ran out of gas…while we were in the drive-thru line. 


Some P. Terry’s employees and a nice stranger named Al Something or Other (who is a actor who is going to be in that Tonya Harding movie with Margot Robbie, allegedly) moved Maggie’s car out of the way of the hungry burger-seekers and then Al took Maggie to get enough gas to get us out of the parking lot and to a gas station. It was an ordeal, but Maggie didn’t get murdered and we were all reminded that there are in fact good people in the world, so we’ve grown from the experience.

We also did actually make it to the Highball for a few drinks, so overall, a success.

Sunday was another chill day. We watched the movie version of Mamma Mia! (obviously — and, y'all, it’s actually not that bad. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve seen a lot of bad movies, but it was definitely 100x better than A Walk to Remember and the only overtly terrible thing was Pierce Brosnan’s singing voice. Stick to espionage, 007). Then Melany and I traipsed out into the real world to spend money at Room Service Vintage (where I picked up a Shaun of the Dead pin), Lush, Waterloo (picked up the La La Land soundtrack and The Decline of Western Civilization: Part II — The Metal Years), BookPeople (where I bought a book called My Best Friend’s Exorcism that takes place in 1988 — AKA a summary of my personal brand), Paper Source and Hut’s Hamburgers (where they played ‘80s club music the whole time just to make me happy, probably).


Afterward, we headed back to the apartment to watch Bloodsucking Bastards (delightful) and This is the End (decent) before Melany slowly succumbed to death (not really) due to her terrible immune system.

I returned home on Monday without any flight delays for maybe the first time in my life. Perfect cherry on top of a good weekend.

I won’t lie: I still miss Austin every single day and weekends like this are always bittersweet for me. But I’m extremely lucky to have friends who will let me crash on their couch and tag along to their parties and drink their alcohol. I’m a defiantly individual person (to a fault), but everybody needs their people. And I’m glad I’ve got mine.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"Show up. Dive in. Stay at it."


I just finished reading Bad Kid by David Crabb, one of the books I picked up at the Texas Book Festival. I had never heard of it prior to that weekend, when I went to a panel Crabb spoke at ("Growing Up Gay in Texas"), was insanely charmed and made a beeline for the book tent. It was extremely funny and also managed to make me cry at the end -- three cheers for books that make you feel all the things.

Now reading: Scrappy Little Nobody by my celeb BFF, Anna Kendrick.

I've been watching Bones from the beginning, committed to my habit of getting super into a show as it's ending/after it's already over. It's such a good little show -- silly most of the time, serious some of the time, with a cast of well-written, lovable characters and a will they/won't they romance that's making me crazy even though I know they, in fact, will.

Listening to my Spotify Weekly and Release Radar playlists on the regular. Also frequently on repeat: "Parakeeter" -- KAYE; "Glory Days" -- Betty Who; "American Woman" -- Muddy Magnolias; "Werk" -- Faarrow; "Soy Yo" -- Bomba Estéro; "Fuqboi" -- Hey Violet.

Can you tell I made my sister a "Bad Bitches: Vol. 2" mix CD for Christmas?

I keep talking myself out of buying a compact of Too Faced's "Papa Don't Peach" blush. My resolve will probably not last much longer.

Finally, I've spent the past 12 hours or so reflecting on President Obama's farewell address. I don't care what your politics are (that's not true, I totally do, but whatever), you have to admit one thing: this man can give a speech. To me, the standout (besides the entire part POTUS was talking to FLOTUS, I'm not crying, you're crying) was this line:

"Show up. Dive in. Stay at it."

Brb, hoping to do just that every day, forever.

Monday, January 2, 2017

We're all gonna be just fine

My blog is a twice annually blog, apparently.

But I've done a year-end wrap-up two years in a row now (consistency!), so I had to keep up the streak.

Despite the fact that 2016 was, worldwide, something like a really bad horror movie that no one paid to see, personally, it wasn't that bad.

Like every other year, I made some questionable hair decisions, talked a lot, watched too much TV, drank too much Dr. Pepper and worked most of the time. Things were pretty consistent -- and sometimes consistency is a good thing.

I took a lot of pictures of the sky. I took too many selfies and didn't apologize for any of them. I hung out in a lot of bars with my dad, where we played a lot of pool (I am still bad) and saw glam cover bands and out-two-stepped everyone else, always.

I got to go on an expenses-paid business trip to Washington DC, which made me feel Adult and Important. I added to my small record and huge book collections.

I was lucky enough to find time to travel to Austin more than once this year to see some of the people I love most. I saw some of my favorite acts right now (Carly Rae Jepsen is the cutest; Brendon Urie is babeliest).

One of my trips back was for the Texas Book Festival, which is as magnificent as it sounds. Austin shuts down one and a half streets of downtown all in the name of books, authors travel from all over the world to hang out and speak on panels and a bulk of the events happen in and around Texas' beautiful Capitol building.

While I was there, I had the amazing opportunity to see one of my favorite writers of all time, Rob Sheffield, speak on a panel about David Bowie. Sitting there with two of my friends, surrounded by people who were so intensely impacted by the Starman, was a special moment.

Almost as special as a few minutes later, when I actually got to meet Rob and gush about his books and have an almost-completely-sane-sounding conversation with him about Mötley Crüe.

I look like a Giant Nerd in that picture and it's because I am and I don't care at all.

Finally, I got to do something else I never really thought I'd get to do -- go to another Harry Potter-related midnight release. While I didn't care for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (at all), I'm still super grateful I got another chance to experience a release because there's nothing quite like standing in a room surrounded by 100 or so people who also really care about something that matters to you so much more than you can explain. I definitely cried right there in the bookstore as the crowd counted down to midnight.

It was obviously a year of public nerdiness for me.

I also made my sister dress up with me and we went as the loves of Remus Lupin's life (Nymphadora Tonks and Sirius Black) and we looked rad as hell:

So, altogether, America and the world and most of our hearts had a bad year, but I guess it wasn't really that bad. I got through it with the help of hi-rise jeggings, Netflix (namely Friday Night Lights, The X Files and Breaking Bad), supportive friends and my carefully curated makeup collection.

Without the staples, we are nothing.

P.S. Of course I also made an entertainment round-up because honestly, it's me.

Here are the 15 best movies I saw for the first time this year:
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl; Deadpool; Spotlight (watch this if you want to feel a lot of righteous indignation); Miss You Already (watch this if you need to cry for hours); Everybody Wants Some!!; Zootopia; A League of Their Own (how did I make it so long without this movie??); Star Trek Beyond; Room (watch this if you want to put things into perspective); On Golden Pond; A Long Way Down; Singles; To Die For (watch this if you want to laugh -- but only if you like black comedies); Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (watch this for a reminder that we are all just trying).

Wishing you all a great 2017!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Been a minute, don't forget it

Lately, I've been:

1) Watching Hannibal.
I had wanted to watch Hannibal for quite a while. It has a rapid cult following and we even talked about it in one of my RTF classes because the fact that it aired on NBC is honestly unbelievable. I also really enjoy the three movies that, chronologically, take place after the series (Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal).

Unfortunately, it wasn't available on any streaming service I subscribe too, nor were the episodes available on NBC's website. I assumed I would just have to wait or buy the seasons on a whim.

But then, lovely Amy came through! She has the seasons, uploaded them to Vudu (a service I had never heard of) and let me use her login information to watch them. As she put it, "What're internet friends for if not for sharing fantastic television?"

I haven't finished the series yet, but I'm about a third of the way through the third and final season. And let me tell you: this show is weird. It is definitely not for everyone. But I really enjoy it. I have no idea what's going on, most of the time, but that's refreshing in a way. The imagery is dark, disturbing and often grotesque -- but also beautiful, in the way showrunner Bryan Fuller has come to be known for things that are both strange and intriguing (see also: the superb Pushing Daisies). No one can touch Sir Anthony Hopkins, but Mads Mikkelson brings his own interesting take to the character the American Film Institute named the #1 villain of all time. And you can't help but empathize with Hugh Dancy's always-suffering Will Graham.

Also, Gillian Anderson is a recurring character. So, bonus.


2) Obsessed with Everybody Wants Some!!
I've only seen four of Richard Linklater's 25 directing credits, but I still manage to be low-key obsessed with him -- probably because two of those films (Dazed and Confused and School of Rock) were formative to me becoming the person that I am. He also founded the Austin Film Society, which I think is super cool.

Anyway. As mentioned, I am a big fan of Dazed and Confused so when I heard Linklater was making a "spiritual sequel" to it ~100 years ago, I was beyond stoked. I followed it from stage one (they even had a casting call in Austin while I was in school!) and could not wait to finally see it when it hit theaters this spring.

Unfortunately, I did have to wait because non-blockbuster movies do not typically make their way to my town. Finally though, when I was in Austin in June, I went to (my beloved) Alamo Drafthouse to see it with some friends, hoping and praying it would be as great as I wanted it to be.

And it totally was. Like, I literally have not stopped talking about it and it's been a month. I watched it again the other day -- still love it. At the risk of spoiling any great lines/gushing for paragraphs on end, I'll just say: 1) if you like Dazed and Confused, you will like Everybody Wants Some!!, 2) if you've ever played on a sports team, you will probably love it and 3) Linklater is a master at recreating the time and feel of a specific place. The music, the clothes, the cars, the attitude. Everything about this movie screams 1980, exactly like it's supposed to. It's great.


3) Getting better at using Spotify.
I have complicated feelings about music streaming services. Less because I still think there's merit in physically owning music (I do, but it's a hard argument to make, even to myself, when digital really is so much more convenient), and more because I worry that all the pros of using streaming, like finding new artists and being able to listen to them so easily, will end up hurting the artists themselves in the long run. I'm sure artists get paid from Spotify, etc somehow, but there's no way it's less complicated than just straight buying their stuff. So, it skeeves me out a little bit because the music business is already so shady a lot of the time.

But still, I've started using Spotify more, with the idea that I'm using it to find stuff I wouldn't otherwise and that, if I really love something, I will go actually buy it. So far, I've been enjoying it. I love the Discover Weekly feature because the bots really are fantastic at finding me music I'll like that I would have never found. And I recently read this article about how you can get the most out of your weekly mixtapes, so I've been trying to better my practices to better my experience. It's pretty cool.

4) Watching and rewatching the "MILF$" video.
She's Fergie-Ferg and I'll love her long-time. 

I am unashamedly into this song and, more importantly, its video. Like most Fergie vids, it's filled with Fergie and her fellow ladies looking super sexy -- but what makes this video great is that all the ladies in it are sexy because they're mommas. Basically, I love that Fergie must've been like, "You know, I get the MILF thing. I'm super hot and I'm a mom. All the moms I know are super hot. Wait, literally all moms are super hot. Yes. Leggo." And then made a video about it.

Also, as I mentioned on Twitter, there's this part at the 1:50 mark, where she starts yell-singing instead of rapping and it reaffirms my need for Rockstar!Fergie, a la the way she was in this song.

5) Reading On Bowie.
As anyone who's ever spoke to me about what I'd like to do with my life -- or followed me on Twitter for more than five seconds -- knows, I love Rob Sheffield. Despite studying journalism for four years and wanting to pursue it for over a decade, I don't know a lot of journalists by name. But Sheffield is one that I've followed for literal years now and I love everything I've ever read by him. He's the bomb.

So, naturally, when I found out he had a new book coming out (his fourth), I was so amped to read it. It's about David Bowie (obviously) and, impressively, he wrote it and got it published since Bowie's death in January.

Bowie is one of those artists I've always respected in a detached awe sort of way -- I've never really listened to his music (besides the songs everyone knows), but he's always been there in the background of my life, like most other people on this planet (and, honestly, probably others). I've always wanted to know more about him because he seems like such a fascinating character -- or rather, series of characters. And he seems so important to the people that really love him. Learning about him through the words of someone I already respect seemed like the perfect scenario.

I'm only about a fourth of the way through the book so far, but I expect to speed through it because it's an easy, interesting read. I already recommend it.


6) Digging the good representation news we've gotten recently.
A lot of times, when it comes to the discussion of diversifying our media and the people who get to make our media, it can seem like we're treading water. But sometimes, there are some really good waves.

Like, for example, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' diverse new class, which includes mega-babes John Boyega and America Ferrera, among others. Or the fact that John Cho revealed Hikara Sulu will be casually, but explicitly, depicted as gay in the upcoming film, Star Trek Beyond. There's been some pushback there, namely from the Original Sulu, but I for one couldn't be happier to see a franchise already so well-known for boldly going going a little bit further.

Also, bonus real-world LGBTQ representation: Aubrey Plaza came out as queer this week.


7) Dealing with tragedies.
There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said. My heart hurts, but still I have hope.

Currently looking forward to: Ghostbusters (out July 15); Star Trek Beyond (out July 22); and, more distantly, Fantastic Beasts (obviously; out November 18) and Anna Kendrick's memoir, Scrappy Little Nobody (out November 15).

Have a good weekend everybody!