29 June, 2010

Knowledge is a suite of rooms..."

"Knowledge is a suite of rooms. Dirty rooms, un-swept as museums in the provinces. And to enter each room you must leave with the women at the door some priceless thing, which feels part of yourself and your identity so that it feels like ripping skin.

And the keepers sit in piles of discarded treasures, like the pelts of love or children's pity, and at each successive door the piles are less because few stagger such long distances, until there comes a door at which there lies a small, white rag, stained as a dishcloth, which may be sanity.

And if you think that is the end you are mistaken, it is the beginning.
And people say, ‘I know myself.’
Have you heard that?
Never.
They know the contents of one room."
                                                 -- Howard Barker, from The Bite of the Night

28 June, 2010

I've Been...

Adjusting. Capital A.

Reading like crazy thanks to Audible.com: (Outliers, Foreskin’s Lament, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, The Partly Cloudy Patriot)

Loving Jeremy Piven with all her heart: not only does he have a J name, but he also, simply a total freakin genius.

Adventuring with Ta'u Pupu'a to see Laquita Mitchell bust out her Bess! (Masterclass reunion babayyyy...)

Getting back into her beloved running routine (as well as doing ancient early-90's Buns of Steel VHS like a flippin' pro...)

Al & Ruthie reunion slumber party? Hell yes.

Returning to London...


Singing with Lance Horne (and Leanne Jones and Paul Spicer) at Freedom Club

Watching one of my closest friends and my absolute life-saver Tasha get married. (And speaking at the wedding!) Literally the most enjoyable wedding I have ever attended.

Reeling over how much I love Victoria Jayne Hinde. She wrote me a poem. Victoria, I love you.

Recovering from Amy Maiden breaking the news to me that she hates yoghurt-covered-things. [Record scratch followed by female screaming and cataclysmic crashing sound] She felt we "we there..." Whatever...

Standing outside the Palace Theatre on my 5 year London anniversary. *Sigh.*

Pounding the pavement!

Witnessing theatrical magic. Peter Stein's beautiful, 12-hour adaptation of Dostoevsky's The Demons with an entirely Italian acting company on Governor's Island. Thank you Lincoln Center Festival. (Needless to say I was 'Possessed' by excitement.) If you ever have a chance to see this production, it is a life-altering experience. 

Literally obsessed with the Radiolab Podcast. You must check it out today

20 June, 2010

Father's Day: A List

I received the most incredible and unexpected email today from one of my oldest, dearest friends David Fetzer.

Three things I miss about your Papa:

1. Hearing him shout "Fetzer!" either from across a room, or hallway, or on the other end of the phone, in the background.

2. His talent for singing ever-so-subtly off-key.

3. His crazy infectious perma-smile, especially in the context of watching his daughter when she performed on stage. Which I did get to witness.

Thinking of you both today.  =)

* * *

It inspired me.

- Burger flipping in home movies

- Turning up the volume full blast on the television and marching to the University of Michigan “Hail to the Victors” theme when they scored.

- Running in the rain.

- Driving to Chicago to get Jeremey Catterton for Christmas.

- Our favorite game: 20 turns (every time you get to an intersection you choose left, right or straight ahead— after 20 “turns” you find yourself someplace new and do something fun!)

- Seeing Beauty and the Beast.
- and A League of Their Own (he loved both musicals and baseball— these cinematic experiences stood out)

- Driving to Interlochen in 1998 to see the Academy and listening to the cast recording of Ragtime. Whilst stopping at the gas station the “New Music” intro began playing and Dad, in typical Dad fashion, changed the script eeeeeeeeever so slightly… in what would have become a classic family line he spoke along with Brian Stokes Mitchell “..this is called, RAGTUNE…” Ragtune? RagTUNE?! Totally straight face. Amazing.

he had a heckuva Jerry Lewis impression...
- Prom with Bill Bradley:
I was a young Freshman on my way to Prom with a senior boy who was a little too fond of me for my taste, and the three of us had talked about sort of lightening the mood when he came to pick me up. My mother and I  were absorbed in the girl stuff and so off course did not catch the fact that my father had decided it would be really a trip if he dressed up in a full tuxedo (with no shoes) and greet Bill, my date, at the door. When he opened the front door, he look at Bill and said, “Hi Bill... ya look good... Al’s not quite ready yet.... let’s go for a little drive.”
They drove around the block and talked a bit and I think after Bill got over the initial shock of how strange this was, he realized it was through humor that my date was lightening the moment.
    Of course, as Bill and I left the house, Dad had mysteriously disappeared, and as we were about to get into the car, my Dad popped out of the bushes in the tux and screamed
    “HAVE A GOOD TIME!!” Whereupon he continued to dance around barefoot as we pulled out of the driveway.


- Playing frisbee with the popular kids. It went like this:

Freshman Al: Hello, Silber residence.
Popular Senior Guy: [awkwardly] Hey Al, this is Popular Guy calling.
Freshman Al: Oh. Um, hi Popular Guy, what’s going… on?
Popular Senior Guy: Well…
Popular Junior Guy: [calling from the background] Ask him *Number 1*! He said! He said to call! He said he’d play!
Popular Guy: Eh, sorry that was *Popular Junior Guy.*
Freshman Al: I see.
Popular Senior Guy: Well, we were calling because we were just hanging in the park and wondered if...
[Al thinks momentarily “Ohmigod the popular guys want to hang with me…”]
…If your Dad wanted to play Frisbee with us?

[Pause]

Popular Junior Guy: [yelling from the background] will he come?!
Freshman Al: Let me… um… get him… one second…
Popular Senior Guy: Well, we’re actually… like down the street can we just come over?
Freshman Al: Eh, sure. I’ll get my Dad.
[Hangs up. Calls upstairs] Dad!
Dad: Yeah?
Al: The Popular Boys wanted to know if you want to… play FRISBEE with them…? Did you say you’d hang out with them? [disbelief]
Dad: …well… yeah. Can I go? I promise not to say anything embarassing. I’ll be really cool I promise!
Al: DAD! THEY ARE THE SUPER MOST POPULAR BOYS! THIS IS So…. RIDICULOUS!!
Dad: But Al I really want to play frisbee! Pleeeease?
Al: Oh God FINE.

[Doorbell rings. Al answers door…]

Al: Hey.
Popular Boys: Hey.
[Pause]
…Is your Dad home…?
Al: Yeah.
Popular Boys: …Cool…
Al: …okay…I’ll go get him…

[Al turns around and sees her Dad right beside the door looking really really cute and anxious to go and play with the boys. Like a kid.]

Oh go ahead Dad heavens sake!
Dad: Thanks Al! See ya!
Popular Boys: Later Al.

…[Al. Alone. My Dad is more popular in high school than I am… Awesome.]


- Family vacation to Mackinac Island

- Seeing Camp Tanuga

- Peeking from backstage and watching his illuminated face during his first viewing of my high school performance of She Loves Me

19 June, 2010

Songs I listen to over and over [again]: A Mixed Tape

Literally culled from my "most played" on iTunes. Everything revealed, with and without shame. 

Here it is.

My mixed tape for you.

*

One Voice 
and
Beautiful Dawn
both by The Wailin' Jennys

Three extraordinary voices, The Wailin' Jennys continue to evolve into far more than the melodious sum of their individual talents five years after blowing in on a fresh acoustic breeze from Canada's mid-western heartland. The Wailin' Jennys are a Juno Award-winning Canadian folk trio from Winnipeg, Manitoba and New York, consisting of soprano Ruth Moody, mezzo Nicky Mehta, and alto Heather Masse. All members also play instruments (acoustic guitar, electric upright bass, mandolin, banjo, accordion, bodhran, drums, harmonica, and violin). The group is featured regularly on Garrison Keillor's show A Prairie Home Companion. (By the way, one of favorite fact tidbits is that the group's name is a pun on the country singer Waylon Jennings....um, amazing...)

Video Killed The Radio Star
The Buggles
My Interlochen 2001 suite THEME SONG...

About You Now
Pop fluff and I am not ashamed! One of the best memories of a song I have— driving to Milton Keynes with “Team Blue” (The North London contingent of the Carousel cast) and playing this song over and over and over again. “…Great tune,” said Becci the driver as we pulled into Milton Keynes:  City of the Future.

So What
I love Pink and would happily be her shoe-shiner just to be near her. This is the best gettingreadyinthemorning song. The best angryrunning song. The best warmupbeforetheshow song.

The Man That Got Away
Audra. Oh Audra.

Albatross
Judy Collins.
Wildflowers is an album by Judy Collins, released in 1967. It has literally orchestrated my life (a fact I told her in person shaking slightly as I held her hands at my high school graduation). My Mom owned the original LP when she was in high school/college and I purchased the CD in 8th grade and would sit and listen and listen and listen... Albatross is my favorite song on the album partly because Collins wrote it herself and partly because the imagery is so profound and vivid: "The lady comes to the lake, dressed in lavender and leather. Looking North to the sea, she finds the weather fine..." Scene set. Cue the full orchestral string section. Enjoy. (and thanks Mom!)

Out Loud 
and
Long Island Shores
both by Mindy Smith
Mindy Smith rose to fame in 2003 when she was the first artist signed to contribute to the Dolly Parton tribute album Just Because I'm a Woman. Her contribution to the project was a cover of Parton's classic "Jolene." Dolly Parton followed by adding backing vocals to a new mix of the song, which was then featured on Smith's debut album that was released in January 2004, One Moment More which you need to go purchase right now. Her evocative, sultry folk voice sound like a gemstone, her lyrics and music are alive with genre-crossing light.

Eddie’s Balloon 
from my friend David Fetzer, and his childhood pal Patrick Fuguit's (of Almost Famous fame) awesome band Mushman. They're amazing.

Dance Me to the End of Love
Madeleine Peyroux's version is my favorite and I think Leonard Cohen should be proud. Peyroux is a Parisian busker at her best. 

Shut Up and Let Me Go
I love the Ting Tings and I don't care who knows it. Their New Wave 80s thing is kitch and delish and SHUT UP AND LET ME LOVE IT- HEY!


America
Simon and Garfunkle
On a literal level, the song expresses the idea that the search for "America" leads to New York City, as Simon's lovers travel eastward, from Michigan to Pittsburgh and then to the New Jersey Turnpike leading to New York City,  but also details in first-hand terms with non-rhyming lyrics, the metaphorical journey of two companions in search of the true meaning of America. 

Morning Glow
I think this is Stephen Schwartz's best song. The hope. The ascension. The dawning of a new era. Of a new day. "Morning Glow is here at last..." Musical theatre shaped goosebumps every time.

O Come O Come Emmanuel
As previously mentioned on this humble blog, Sufjan Stevens lifts me up, lets me soar, breaks my heart. This song is faith at it’s mostsimple, subtle and achingly beautiful. 

Let’s Misbehave
Elvis Costello's version from the De-lovely soundtrack is a stunner.



Tell Me Why
by [hangs head in  shame] thebackstreetboys
.... if you make fun of me.... basically, you are dead. This song evokes summer camp co-ed mixers like no other. This song is driving through metro Detroit in the summers of 1997-1999 in Scott Ladue's car (with Ian Brodie and Che Wentz) and getting pulled over because we were driving in far too celebratory a manner. I cannot even tell you how many incredible memories of this stupid stupid stupid song I have. My favorite in fact occurred just months ago in our nation's capital. Brian Cali and I were driving home from a night at The Kennedy Center, and the infamous tune of summery magic came on to the radio. Slowly, slowly, we began to sing it under our respective breaths. Suddenly my eyes were closed, my fists were clenched! We were both singing a little louder. Then suddenly the chorus! Ohhhh the chorus! We were singing with all our hearts. We were alternating the classic tune:

Brian: TELL ME WHY!
Al: AIN'T NOTHIN BUT A HEARTACHE!
Brian: TELL ME WHY-Y!
Al: AIN'T NOTHIN BUT A MISTAKE!
Brian: TEL ME WHY!
Al: I NEVER WANNA HEAR YOU SAY...
Brian & Al in improvised harmony: I WANT IT THA-A-AT WAY!

When it was over the car went very. quiet. We sat in the silence a moment or two stunned by what had just occurred.

"We can never talk about this to anyone. And we can never mention this again... okay...?" I mutter it under my breath starring straight ahead. "Totally..." he agrees.
And we drive on.
 
Bamboleo
Spanish bliss. Oh sí.

You & I Both
Jason Mraz I love you. Sharing a love of you with Victoria began a beautiful friendship. I'd happily have it be You and I both but whatever I'm happy to listen to your music on repeat.


Let me tell you about my boat...
I do a little “public transportation dance” to this song that is really something.

Won’t U Please be NiceSure I will Nellie McKay. You are such a delightful, gorgeous weirdo.

Villanelles
So. Gabriel Kahane is my pal. But ever since our first meeting in November of last year where we shared a disparate stage with musician David Yazbek (what a motley crew, eh?) I have fallen for his music as I have with his fine self. It is, in many ways, the closest thing to musical visual art I've ever listened to. It jumps out of the speakers and grabs your throat-- sometimes shaking, at other times caressing, and in certain moments, coaxing a lump in that self same place. It infiltrates. You hum his clean but complex melodies, his orchestrations stick with you. The lyrics haunt. Do listen. Do. Let Gabe "carry you up Second Avenue" and you'll never look back.

A Light That Never Dies
Sophie Solomon is also one of my pals and a stunning, blindingly talented and physically beautiful British violinist, songwriter and composer who fuses many different musical influences into her music.
Sophie began playing the violin at the age of two and or the first five years she played totally by ear, learning to read music at the age of seven. She is the Klezmer specialist extraordinaire which is how our paths initially crossed-- she orchestrated Fiddler on the Roof for the Sheffield Theatres Production in 2007, and we've remained friends ever since. Her album Poison Sweet Madeira is un-be-LIEVE-able.

The Book of Right-On
American harpist, pianist, and singer-songwriter from Nevada City, California, Joanna Newsome has been strongly influenced by poly-rhythms, used by West African kora players. Her harp teacher, Diana Stork, taught her the basic pattern of four beats against three, which creates an interlocking, shifting pattern that can be heard on Ys, particularly in the middle section of "Sawdust & Diamonds."

The media have sometimes labeled her as one of the most prominent members of the modern psych folk movement, although she does not acknowledge ties to any particular musical scene. Her songwriting incorporates elements of Appalachian music, avant-garde modernism, and African kora rhythms.

Favorite lyric in this song? "I killed my dinner with karate..." Um. How can you not adore something so bizarre?!

London Still
The Waifs
I couldn’t mention a song list without the eponymous song. I cannot tell you how often I get asked where the title of my blog comes from! Allow me to clear that up: why from the Australian folk band The Waifs of course. From their glorious album Up All Night.

"I took the tube over to Camden to wander around,
Bought some funky records with that old Motown sound. 
I miss you like my left arm that's been lost in a war---
Tonight I dream of home and not of London anymore..."

Reaction to that lyric:    . . .

06 June, 2010

As Soon As Possible: An Essay in praise of Carpe-ing that Diem

for Adam & Tasha, on and for, their wedding day

*

“when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone,
you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
 - Nora Ephron, When Harry Met Sally

*

Have you ever seen the zany hospital dramedy called Scrubs? Hands? Anyone? Well, if you haven’t what you need to know is that a sassy Dominican nurse named Carla is engaged to the charismatic and slightly cocky surgeon Christopher Turklington.

They agree to write their own vows and read them aloud at the rehearsal dinner. But, stuck for romantic inspiration, the groom Turk leaves the writing of these vows to Carla’s brother… who has a long history of hating him. “A peace offering from Carla’s kid brother!” says Turk, and he eagerly agrees to this relationship-saving offer. Turk doesn’t bother to read through the vows until the big moment and when it arrives, he looks to Carla’s brother, smiles, and Carla’s brother nods proudly as Turk begins to read:

“I love how you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love how it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love how you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend a day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes and love that you're the last person I want to speak to before I got to bed at night. I realized that when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

And Carla looks at him… menace in her eyes.

“You realize,” she says, terse, through gritted teeth, “that that speech is from When Harry Met Sally…?”

…Turk looks in panic and detestation at Carla’s brother who grins at him nodding a distinct bwahaha on his face.


*

Now, you're probably thinking why is this tall American girl talking about a TV show? Well I mention this because despite Turk’s foolhardy attempts at sincerity the sentiment of his stolen speech is true: we all want both certainty, and for 'the rest of our lives to start as soon as possible.' What is it, exactly, that we are waiting for?

*

I have the distinct pleasure of having known both partners in this couple both individually and as a couple for the last 5 years.

I remember every one of Adam’s early dating escapades.


I remember his bachelor loft in Zoe Rainey’s flat complete with pellet gun and hidden diving knife craftily housed beneath the bed, and thinking: how is he ever going to end up here…?

I remember meeting Adam with Tasha outside the St Martin’s Lane Starbucks and thinking what a sincerely gorgeous couple they made.

I remember walking through downtown Plymouth with Tasha to our theatre before a two-show day of Carousel and hearing the entire story of their courtship told with utter adoration and affection… no. detail. spared.

And I remember clearly the day after Adam proposed to Tasha. She reported to work, called me up to her Savoy Theatre dressing room and showed me the ring in a fit of squeals.

But most memorable, and a moment I feel so honored to have been in the presence of, was that same evening, Tasha was on for the role of Carrie, the character that sings about her engagement and upcoming marriage to “Mister Snow.” I watched as Tasha sang a song filled with being the joys of marrying the man you love, and witnessed the reality of her marriage to Adam dawn on her as she sang. It was an unbelievable moment filled with what can only be described as the unutterable. When it was over we embraced in character as Julie Jordan and Carrie Pipperidge, but Al and Tasha were weeping.


*

We’re bombasted with messages throughout our lives to Seize the Day, to live in the moment, No Day But Today, to Carpe Diem. But so often we are filled with doubts, with fears and crippling insecurities about our life choices.

All our lives we wait.
We wait and hope to find a partner who is a reflection of all that we cherish-- Love reflected in a their tiniest gestures; in their distinct, irreplaceable Selves.

Poet Carl Sandburg claims that
"Love is a little white bird
and the flight of it so fast
you can't see it
and you know it's there
only by the faint whirr of its wings

...
and you'd like to write it
but it can't be written
and you'd like to sing it
but you don't dare try
because the little white bird sings it better than you can..."

To adore a person with both our reason and our spirit.
That is, we surmise, the greatest reward in life.
Adam and Tasha have found such a love. And how wonderful to be in love’s presence, and on so momentous a day.

Love, I believe, exists at the core of everything Holy, and in moments such as these we are closer to understanding a connection to that Greatness. Love is not, in any way, a sacrifice; it is the transmission of life.
That requires no hesitation.
That is certainty.
Love such as this begs only the question “what are we waiting for?”

So.
Seize that day.
Carpe that Diem.

For it is true: when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

*

05 June, 2010

Small Pleasures: A List, Part 2

26.   "What About Bob?" ... ahoy.
27.    Truly helping someone in need
28.    Old fashioned photo booths
29.    Really great advice
30.    Kiiiiiiiissing… mmmmm….
31.    A great hair day with no effort. (Al + Jew frizz + Humid = a rather rare number 31...)
32.  Reunions
33.    Hot, rainy afternoons. Thunder and lighting preferable. (Dad and I used to sit on the porch and watch the rain, smell the "clean" and just be totally at peace and mesmerized by the curtains of rain coming down on our street in Michigan. Sometimes we would venture out into the rain and get soaked and Mom would let this happen for a few minutes before reminding us about being struck by lighting and all that...)
34.    The funny things kids say
35.    The novel you get lost in, and re-read over and over again throughout your life.
36.    Finding the perfect piece of clothing...on sale…boowakacha
37.    Wash-and-fold clean laundry. IT IS MAGIC. MAGICAL I TELL YOU...
38.    Fireflies
39.    Spending a whole day at an incredible museum
40.    The cold side of the pillow
41.    Having exact change. Exact flipping change! It is like a miracle, it is a little celebration of perfection. Of exactness. It fills me with glee.
42.  A spoonful of peanut butter and or Nutella straight from the jar (and possibly frozen…)
43.    Saturday morning breakfast/brunch cooking: pancakes, fruit, bagels, Dad-made bubbelech, and good company of course. I have certain brunch companions in my life that are exceptional at the weekend brunch gathering. Example: Jane Noseworthy (a blinding Carrie Pipperidge and former Miss Nebraska doncha-know) + all things brunch = nnnnnnDelicious.
44.    Singing along to the radio and knowing all the words. Especially in the car driving along the highway.
45.    Jumping in puddles. Big ones. Fat ones.
46.    A long, leisurely catch up with an old and loving friend. Laughing, reviewing, learning, sharing, reflecting… I am starting to get to an age where I have known people for over 10 years and it is truly remarkable the kind of connections I still have with people I have loved, and who have loved me, for so long. People that remember my Dad, people that were “there for that,” who have been there in my heart if not before my eyes. (I’ve recently had a great many upon my return to New York that have filled my heart up profoundly).
47.   The smell of garlic cooking
48.    Eating with chopsticks (Chinese food optional)

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