Category Archives: Broadway

Yellow dancing and purple tears and WHAT IS HAPPENING

This is probably going to be scattery.  I’m in the midst of a project that is taking a bit of time and also brain power. It’s almost done, my little tater tots. Promise promise. I’ll be better early next week. Or maybe mid-April when tax season’s over. There’s an end in sight, I’m saying.

Anyway.

FRIDAY WAS THE DAY FROM HELL.

So in the clerical pool at work, there is me – full-time clerical drudge – and my co-worker K., part-time clerical drudge. K. had to take a vacation day yesterday, or she would stop accruing vacation time. I love K. Like bunches and tons. I don’t want her to stop accruing vacation time. I want her to have ALL the vacation time.

But when I got into work Friday, already KNOWING it was going to be complete and utter chaos with only me to deal with it, it was WORSE than that. Apparently, the tax elves had been busy overnight, so there were tax returns EVERYWHERE for me to work on. Plus all the typing. And filing. And the myriad other things I do in a day. Because I am VERY IMPORTANT. Like a junk drawer, where you put all the junk you don’t want but know you can’t get rid of? I’m where you junk all the jobs you don’t want, but know need to be done. Doesn’t that make me feel ever-so-fine? Sure does, bub.

So I worked and I toiled and I worked and I toiled and people came in and were mad I wasn’t working on THEIR job and they’d leave and ANOTHER person would come in and be all, “WHAT ABOUT MY JOB” and I just kept gesturing toward K.’s desk and muttering, “I’m doing the best I can.”

Then I started randomly humming “Totally Fucked” (sorry, did you need a cuss warning? Too tired to give one) under my breath (from Spring Awakening, because what better to help me out than a musical on the worst day of tax season yet?) because it entertained me that they just thought I was humming, possibly because I was mentally deranged, but really in my head, the lyrics “Yeah, you’re fucked all right, and all for spite, you can kiss your sorry ass goodbye, totally fucked, will they mess you up? Well you know they’re gonna try” were on repeat, LOUDLY, and it was AWESOME. Because they had NO IDEA. They thought I was humming a PRETTY LITTLE DITTY. Well, there you go, coworkers. THERE YOU GO. I was WELL-AWARE of my predicament, and I had the PERFECT SONG in my head to go with it, thank you very much.

Here’s the song. Starring my man Jonathan Groff. YOU ARE WELCOME. (Yes, I know it’s douchey some asshat filmed a live performance. But! GROFFFF!)

Also, I told one of my coworkers that I was pretty sure work had murdered my soul (this was after a billion other things went wrong and I was kind of chastised for something that wasn’t even WRONG and I was SO PISSED) and she was all, “Well, good, it’s about time, it’s a lot easier to work here if your soul is dead.”

I work at a place where it’s EASIER TO WORK IF YOUR SOUL HAS DIED.

I think maybe this is a huge old flashy warning sign, right?

Oh, and, there’s this thing where I have to sign up for a mentor, and I might have asked the lady in charge of it if my mentor would be able to help me with my career path of NOT LOSING MY SHIT. Probably that wasn’t wise as she’s in HR. I might be unemployed now. (If you’re interested, her answer was, in a soothing voice, “We may be able to find some resources to help you with that!” YOU GUYS I THINK MY OFFICE IS SENDING ME TO ANGER MANAGEMENT. Imagine the blogging potential there!)

Anyway. Then on my lunch break, I decided I had to get out or I would die, so I ran some errands, but one of the places I called to make sure that it would be open? Not open. Why would you be a liar? That’s disheartening. And also, every single person I got behind was driving SO SO SLOW and I was TOTALLY ROAD RAGEY and I wanted to punch everyone in the neck twice.

Yeah, so I had kind of a shit day.

But then things got better when I got home, and I had a package waiting for me in the mail which I will, once I have time, blog about in more detail, because it gave me such joy, and I got to talk to my dad (his solution for how much work sucks? “Record everything everyone says to you.” When I said, “What good would that do? Who would I give the recording to?” he didn’t have an answer. This doesn’t seem like much of a solution, to tell you the truth, but I love him for trying), and I learned that “doof” is German for “stupid” and that’s just a fun word to say, right? Apparently, you say it like “loaf” and not “roof.” You know, in case you wanted to call your cat that over and over. Not that anyone in THIS house would do that. And if they did, they did it in a loving VOICE, I mean, come ON.

So anyway, I was doing some stuff and driving around and two songs came on that bear note. One was happy; one was confusing because I finally listened to the lyrics.

The happy one first. I had never heard this before:

How much fun is THIS? Sorry, this is the live version, apparently there’s no video or something. But it’s like this adorable punk-looking British kid and he’s all swing-jivey! I kind of love this.

THEN, right after that, I was flipping around the channels because Bon Iver came on and I don’t allow that garbage in my earholes, and Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” came on. I’m not putting in the video. I’m sure you’ve all heard this song. If you haven’t, you’re probably just old! Like me! Hi, old-timers like me!

Now listen, I totally enjoy the Gaga. I do. She’s nutty and a total attention hog but I like her music. It’s fun and it makes me want to dance around the house like a looney.

I think they might have done this song on Glee, which is why it sounded familiar to me. I only know a handful of Lady Gaga songs very well and this isn’t one of them. But I was all, oh, hey, I’m in the shittiest of shitty moods! I will listen to this!

I find this whole song very confusing.

I apparently am TOO OLD FOR LADY GAGA. Well, at least too old to pay attention to the lyrics. Maybe I could just nod and hum or something. Because these are confusing lyrics, you guys. Like, half of this is a weirdo acid trip and the other half is a sad-panda emo stalker movie.

OK, so we start with:

We are the crowd, we’re c-comin’ out
Got my flash on, it’s true

(I assume this is about, well, paparazzi. Easy enough. It’s in the title.)

Need that picture of you
It so magical, we’d be so fantastical

(Either the stupid lyric site I’m working with has a typo, or “it so magical” is a lyric. Either way, I hate it. This still seems to be about paparazzi, even though it’s kind of dumb.)

Leather and jeans, garage glamorous
Not sure what it means

(I’m not, either, Gaga. Is “garage glamorous” a thing? Then the guy at my auto body shop is FABULOUS!)

But this photo of us it don’t have a price
Ready for those flashing light

(Ugh, this has to be the lyrics site, right? It has to be “ready for those flashing lights.” Otherwise I’m sending Gaga to remedial grammar school. I can forgive the “don’t” in the line above, it’s a choice, but not the “light.” Also, this is the first sign we have that this is not just about paparazzi but about stalkers.)

Then we have the chorus. It’s totally boppy. I like it a lot.

I’m your biggest fan, I’ll follow you until you love me
Papa, paparazzi

(Um. “I’ll follow you until you love me” is a worrisome thing. Don’t be putting ideas into little kiddos heads, now.)

Baby, there’s no other superstar, you know that I’ll be
Your papa, paparazzi

(Confusing. Who’s the superstar? The paparazzi? Or the celebrity? OOH. Maybe that’s the POINT. Maybe they’re INTERCHANGEABLE. No, wait, probably I’m reading too much into this shit, right?)

Promise I’ll be kind
But I won’t stop until that boy is mine

(Please stop encouraging this behavior. Hey, teens? Please stop if the boy isn’t interested. There’s a fine line between stalking and crushing, ok?)

Baby, you’ll be famous, chase you down until you love me
Papa, paparazzi

(STOP THIS MADNESS GAGA)

Remember we talked about advice songs the other day? Gaga’s giving us advice. Advice about how if you don’t give up, YOU CAN HAVE THE MAN OF YOUR DREAMS. That’s not true, by the way. If it was, I’d be married about 47 times right now.

I’ll be your girl backstage at your show
Velvet ropes and guitars
Yeah, cause you’re my rock star in between the sets
Eyeliner and cigarettes

(So…did the stalker GET the guy, or is she like a backstage ho, or what’s happening? Also, I know guys in eyeliner are hotties, but they’re also usually douchebags. Let my experience be your guide, my little lost starshines.)

Shadow is burnt, yellow dance and we turn
My lashes are dry, purple teardrops I cry

(WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING. This is getting totally the most weird. It’s like the poems I used to write when I was in junior high: “My heart is a velvet balloon of sorrow…it expands, it explodes…confetti of your love like rain, doves of sorrow scream…”)

(Please note I never wrote anything like that in high school and my writing, much like my taste, has ALWAYS been EXQUISITE.)

It don’t have a price, loving you is cherry pie

(Whenever I hear “cherry pie” outside of mention of ACTUAL cherry pie I always think of that video with Tawny Kitaen on the roof of the car, you know? I can’t help it. It makes me laugh.)

Then the chorus again, more encouraging little girls to be stalky, etc.

Real good, we dance in the studio
Snap, snap to that shit on the radio

(Now we’re…dancing? In a studio? And cussing and snapping? I don’t know, what happened to the yellow dancing and the purple  tears of sadness?)

Don’t stop for anyone
We’re plastic but we still have fun

(How are these people related to the stalkers, the stalkees, or the backstage hos? It’s like it’s a whole different song right now.)

Then more chorus. Then we’re done.

I liked this song a lot more when I thought it was about paparazzi and not encouraging young girls to go after their dream men and NEVER GIVE UP even if they get a restraining order against you or something.

Also, recently, a lovely young woman of my acquaintance posted the following on Facebook. I think it needs to be addressed.

“I was so afraid, now I realize, love is never wrong, and so it never dies.”

Google tells me this is from The Lion King 2. There was a Lion King 2? Huh. Learn something new and unneeded every day, I suppose.

Love is never wrong, so it never dies.

REALLY.

OK, listen. We all went through our sad little emo phases where we were all “HE/SHE COMPLETES ME” and “THIS IS FOREVER” and such. Is there a way to just shake this out of teenagers? I love this kid to distraction, by the way. She’s one of my jump-in-front-of-a-train-for people. I want to hide her under my bed and give her chocolate and not let anyone hurt her ever again; barring that, I want to find whatever asshat decided it was a good idea to mess with one of MY people, and I want to take a fireplace poker and stuff it up his nostril until it comes out the top of his head. Then I want to hit it with ANOTHER poker so it makes his whole body vibrate like a gong.

But here’s the thing, babe. Love is OFTEN wrong. Can I just tell you HOW wrong? The most. The most wrong. SO EFFING WRONG. And also? It TOTALLY dies. It turns into hate, sometimes; it dies right off so you don’t remember the person’s last name a couple years later, other times. Sometimes, it’s not even love! Sometimes, it’s lust, or infatuation, and it PRETENDS it’s love, but it’s not. It’s just slutty lust dressed in love’s ill-fitting party clothes, or goofy infatuation wearing love’s best shoes.

You’ll learn this, eventually. I promise. But maybe stop watching The Lion King 2. Because it’s obviously not teaching you the right things. Watch the first one, that one was all circle of life-y and shit, that was nice.

Also, I’m hoping she stays the hell away from Gaga. Otherwise, she’s going to start stalking the shit out of love-never-dies boy and that won’t be good times for anyone involved.

ALSO, just quickly, I told Dad about how I was totally going to go to Europe, once the rich people sponsored me? You know, because he was totally going to have to be gentled into this idea. Because my internet people are killers.

His response?

“That’ll be nice. You get so excited about things. You’d have a nice time.”

OK, so either he’s PRETENDING to agree because he does not believe in my rich-person plan (if so, BOO DAD, it’s TOTALLY going to work, you just have to give it TIME) or he really doesn’t care and maybe he believes the internet people are real.

This is all very perplexing.

Also, remember I was all excited about porridge? I told my mom about it and she said, “That’s just Cream of Wheat. You hate Cream of Wheat.”

I don’t know that I’ve ever TRIED Cream of Wheat, MOM, since when do you know all the foods I’ve tried in ever?  But if you put it THAT way it SOUNDS totally unappealing. Porridge sounds EXOTIC and like FAIRY TALE FOOD. Cream of Wheat sounds like what Nana eats when her dentures stop fitting.

To end on a happy note, I found out about the BEST MEME EVER this week. Ready?

SOCIALLY AWKWARD PENGUIN.

You all probably know about this and are all “OLD NEWS AMY GAAAHHH” but it made me laugh so hard I snorted.

OK. Off I go. Planning. Scheming. Hoping. Wishing. Etcetera.

Happy Saturday. Hope your day is free of angstiness! And full of bubblegum!


Everybody’s got the right to be different, even though at times they go to extremes.

It should come to no surprise to anyone who’s a regular reader of my blog that I’m one sick and twisted individual. NO I don’t perform kitten-murder. But I am obsessed obsessed OBSESSED with serial killings.

That sounds horrible. My dad says I’m not allowed to tell people that because I’ll be locked up by the FBI.

Let me clarify. I’m not obsessed with them like, I want to PERFORM them, or hang out with someone who IS performing them, or I think there should be MORE of them. I’d be more than happy for there to be none. I’d happily deal with a life where there are no serial killings for me to obsess over, that’d be ok. Because they’re distressing. But I find the whole psychology behind a serial killer fascinating. It’s one of the reasons I like Criminal Minds so much. Well, that and Spencer Reid. And also the acting is wonderful and I want to be Kirsten Vangsness.

I pretty much like all the blood and gore and all that craziness. But not torture porn. Listen, those Saw movies are the worst. And that Hostel movie? ZOMG NO. I watched it because I want to lick Eli Roth like a popsicle, especially after Inglorious Basterds, and NO NO NEVER AGAIN. I don’t need to see nonsense like that. Someone’s EYE was out of the SOCKET and on their CHEEK. Like, hanging out and bobbling along. I almost threw up on Dumbcat. I spent most of the movie covering my eyes and saying “no no no no no EW no no no no WTF WHY no no no STOP THAT RIGHT NOW ELI ROTH YOU SICKO.”

But murders? Yep. I do like a good murder.

And what else do I love? MUSICALS.

What do you get when you put the two together? MY FAVORITE THING EVER.

Now, I think I’ve mentioned this, like, until your ears fall off, but my favorite musical of all time is Assassins. It is the perfect musical. It has it ALL. Music and lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim, who makes me spin around in my chair with glee. There is MURDER. There is HISTORY. There is DRAMA. There is ROMANCE. There are CRAZY PEOPLE. There is nothing at all wrong with this musical. I have seen it live three official times, and have listened to the CDs so much I’ve worn them out and had to re-purchase. I KNOW. It’s my roadtrip music. So someday if you roadtrip with me, you will be listening to Assassins. Won’t that be fun? Sure. Sure it will. IT WILL.

Assassins is about all the presidential assassins in the United States, from John Wilkes Booth to the attempted assassinations of Ronald Reagan. It’s this weird construct where they’re all hanging out and interacting, and then each of them have a story and a song, and it all culminates in the Texas School Book Depository, where John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald have a talk about responsibility and duty and making a name for oneself in the world. It’s grand and it’s majestic and it makes excellent points and it is just about perfection. ALSO, it stars the character of Squeaky Fromme, one of my most favorite crazy people. One of my favorite theater groups is putting it on this season, and I can’t say I’m not the most excited. Because that would be a LIE.

The original musical starred Victor Garber and Terrance Mann and Annie Golden and Greg Germann and a lot of other excellent people. The recent revival (SIGH that I missed this) starred Neil Patrick Harris, Denis O’Hare, and Mario Cantone, again with a lot of other excellent people. Both albums are worth buying because the music is wonderful and different on both, although the same basic bones are there.

There aren’t many clips online, but here’s one of the finale number, “Everybody’s Got the Right,” from the 2004 Tony Awards:

Aw, look at adorable NPH! I really hope he realizes we can be BFFs soon. We’re wasting a lot of time, here. Neither of us are getting any younger.

So, a while ago, my most wonderful friend Patrick and I were discussing our mutual love of Assassins, and he mentioned that Carrie the Musical was FINALLY GETTING A REVIVAL. Now THIS was exciting. Another combination of things I love: death, Stephen King, and musicals.

It’s closing in a couple of weeks, but here’s the website. Doesn’t this look EXCITING? Also, I like that the music is by Michael Gore. Michael GORE, you guys. For a musical about BLOODINESS. That couldn’t be a better name for the person to write the music for this if he made one UP.

The musical seems, other than a few minor differences, to be very similar to the book. I would like to see this very much. DO YOU HEAR ME, LOCAL THEATER GROUPS? VERY DAMN MUCH.

I found a video of the pig’s-blood-dumping scene on YouTube and I’d post it but A., what kind of jackass films something all illegally in a theater? RUDE and B. they filmed it WITH SOMEONE’S HEAD IN THE WAY. So not ONLY did you do something ILLEGAL, you did it HALF-ASSED. I’m not posting that. YES I watched it, shut up. It’s the closest I’ll ever come, probably, to my dream show of CARRIE THE MUSICAL.

Then Patrick, because he is AWESOME, said, “oh, there are other killer musicals” and sent me A WHOLE LIST of them. I know, right? You WISH you had friends that would send you lists of killer musicals.

So, we have the Silence of the Lambs musical! It is called Silence! The Musical. It seems to be a parody, so that can’t be fun or good. Look what the website says: “This laugh-out-loud naughty satire features a singing chorus of floppy eared lambs narrating the action as Buffalo Bill gleefully dances a hoedown while kidnapping hapless Catherine Martin. Even Dr. Lecter, scary as ever, sings about the life he’d like to lead someday outside the prison walls.”

Oh, that’s a shame. Really? I don’t know about that. Are the lambs puppets? There’s a HOEDOWN? I kind of don’t mind the idea of a hoedown. I mean, who does. A good hoedown is kind of awesomesauce. But I think this whole thing might be ill-advised. Let’s move on, shall we?

There of course is Sweeney Todd, which is another Sondheim musical. You all know Sweeney Todd. We’ve discussed this. Johnny Depp was in the movie. Murderous barber? Heart set on revenge? Slits people’s throats as he’s supposed to be shaving them, and then he and Mrs. Lovett cook them into meat pies, which they then serve to unsuspecting patrons of her meat pie establishment? It is AWESOME. Also, the song “Have a Little Priest” is one of the best songs ever. It’s about who they should murder and cook and serve. One of the lines is “The trouble with poet is how do you know it’s deceased? Try the priest.” COME ON. That is SO FUNNY and CLEVER. Look at that rhyme scheme! It makes you absolutely salivate.

Then there is Theatre of Blood. This apparently was a British production, based on a Vincent Price film, that never got off the ground. Here’s the description from IMDb of the movie: A serial killer stalks London, targeting theater critics who he kills in methods inspired by Shakespeare plays. The police grow to suspect the killer is Edward Lionheart, an egotistical actor who leaped to his presumed death after being denied an important award, mainly due to his refusing to appear in any play not written by Shakespeare. The remaining critics and the police find themselves helpless to stop Lionheart’s increasingly baroque revenge, though they contact his daughter in a desperate attempt to find something they can use against him. Everything builds to a reenactment of King Lear in which Lionheart will succeed or die once and for all.

Shit, I would watch that. That sounds like it has a LOT going ON. Also, there’s Shakespeare. It all sounds very meta. I’m in.

There’s totally a song called “Pie.” Oh, snap! You can LISTEN to it! YOU GUYS. It is a LOVE SONG TO PIE. By someone who sounds like they have the fake French accent from The Little Mermaid of the song “Les Poissons!” THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER. Seriously, click on that. CLICK ON IT.

Then, of course: Jeffrey Dahmer Live, the infamous musical that adorable guy took that internet douche girl from Gizmodo to and she blasted him all over the internet for it that time. The musical that, if someone took ME to it, it’d be like GUARANTEED third base, at LEAST. It’s not playing anymore but maybe someday someone will think it’s a good idea to take this shit on tour, I can only hope. I mean, LOOK. Here’s Jeffrey Dahmer SINGING INTO A CLEAVER. While WEARING PRISON GARB. I mean, don’t ask how he got a cleaver in prison, because that’ll hurt your brain, probably, but you can’t deny this is pretty awesome.

Then I found out Duncan Sheik – the brilliant mind behind my favorite recent musical, Spring Awakening – is doing a musical version of American Psycho. DUNCAN EFFING SHEIK. It seems to be still in the early stages? But if it’s anything like Spring Awakening, which was just so mind-blowingly amazing that I was bouncing in my theater seat and ran out IMMEDIATELY and bought the cast recording and have listened to it so many times I know all the songs backward and forward now – I’ll totally be excited to see this.

But then. THEN. Are you ready for the possibly both best AND worst of them ALL? Patrick found this for me. He’s the best. He might have the best killer musical Google-fu.

Lonely Heart the Musical.

This is possibly only in New Zealand and is based on the honeymoon killers, who I didn’t know about (I KNOW! And here’s me loving crazies and serial killers!) until I started reading up on this.

Apparently, this sad woman wrote to this Lonely Heart column in the paper, and their job was to match people up and they’d start this correspondence and maybe fall in love. It was internet dating, pre-internet, in other words, only people were VERY embarrassed about it. So they matched her up with this guy. Only problem was, the two of them were INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE, you guys. She was a looney tune and he had been traveling the country for years scamming other lonely-heart ladies. It was only a matter of time before she moved across the country and in with him, and they started this two-person grifting scheme where they’d pretend to be brother and sister, and he’d marry other women and scam them. Only she’d get totally jealous when he would have sex with his new wives. SO THEY STARTED MURDERING THEM.

There are some awesome quotes in that True Crime link up there. Martha, the woman: “By the age of 10, she possessed a woman’s body and the sexual drive of an adult.” BY THE AGE OF TEN. I don’t know if this is a thing. I think someone made this up. Also, the man thought he was a voodoo king and could use his powers to make woman do his bidding, apparently. “After Fernandez built up enough anticipation in Martha and he performed the necessary voodoo ritual, he decided that the time had come for the meeting.”

Other awesome quotes:

“This was a major stumbling block in his career of theft and deception.” (I just like how this is worded. It makes me laugh.)

“But in their haste, they made a pivotal error. Janet did not own a typewriter and couldn’t type.” (DUN DUN DUNNNN! They wrote a suicide note from someone who DIDN’T TYPE or HAVE A TYPEWRITER IN HER HOUSE. Um.)

‘”The electric chair scares me!” Martha said.’ (Yeah. Yeah, it’s a little daunting, Martha. You know what else is? BEING MURDERED BY YOUR NEW HUSBAND AND HIS “SISTER.”)

“The papers called her “fat,” “simpering,” “Big Martha,” “a 200 lb. figure of wrath,” “the giggling divorcee,” “unattractive,” “a weird woman,” and other humiliating terms.” (My favorite of these is “a weird woman.” I’m totally a weird woman. I also like “a 200 lb. FIGURE OF WRATH.”)

There have been a couple of movies based on this story. Guess who played this short, kind of dumpy, sad, and lonely murderess in one of them. Guess. No, guess. Wait, I’ll show you.

Yep. I knew you’d guess it, because it’s so obvious. Horrendously ugly, fat, lonely Selma Hayek. TOTALLY BELIEVABLE CASTING!

So in this musical, which even *I* don’t think is probably a very good idea, and listen, my standards on killer musicals are LOW LOW LOW, I’d watch Dahmer singing into a CLEAVER, has closed now. The reviews I read were actually quite good. So maybe it was alright? I mean, who would have thought a musical with all of the presidential assassins would end up the favorite musical of ALL TIME of this crazy-eyed blogger when she was just a wee little thing singing along with Bert and Ernie and Snuffleupagus? Not me, that’s for sure. So, yes, I’d watch the Lonely Heart musical. FINE. If you INSIST. (On a personal note, it seems like one of those grassroots theater efforts, like, the writers worked really hard to get it off the ground, and people all pitched in, and I love to see that. So congratulations, all.)

So what did we learn today?

MURDEROUS MUSICALS ARE AWESOME.

Amy’s pretty twisted when it comes to her entertainment choices.

Hostel is not something anyone should watch EVER. *shudder*

Not all weird women murder people. Some just WRITE about it.

And Carrie the Musical needs to go on tour IMMEDIATELY.

Here is a picture of NPH all bloody in Assassins to end on a good note. I know that might not be a good note for most of you, but for me? UTTER PERFECTION.


Work is what you do for others, liebchen. Art is what you do for yourself.

We haven’t had random crap day in a while. Did you totally miss it? Probably not, it’s pretty disjointed. TOO BAD CHARLIE. You’re getting it ANYWAY. Who’s Charlie? I don’t know. My dad used to randomly say Charlie when I was little so I say it now. It’s a thing. I DON’T HAVE TO EXPLAIN MY CHOICES TO YOU.

My internal time clock is all off this week because I’m attempting to be one day ahead with my posts because I know how busy I am this week. So when I write “today” I have to be sure I’m really meaning “today” and not “tomorrow” or “yesterday.” It’s totally like writing from the past. Or the future. I don’t know how time travelers do it, I really don’t. Poor Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap. If he blogged it would have been a mess. Oh boy.

Stephen Sondheim. STEPHEN EFFING SONDHEIM.

Doesn't he look like we could totally be BFFs? YES.

So the other night, I checked my feed reader (can I just give some love to my phone’s feed reader? I don’t have to ask your permission. I’M GOING TO. I mean, it’s buggy as hell and keeps shit unread that I’ve totally read but how much do I love that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, every hour, whatever blogs have been published pop up like magic on my phone, ready for my perusal when I am ready to read them? It’s the best, seriously) and All Over Albany (I totally am like their biggest cheerleader this week, rah, rah) had published a post so I was all “la la la what’s this” and I clicked and then I seriously died, then I revived, only to die AGAIN.

STEPHEN EFFING SONDHEIM IS COMING TO THE CAPITAL REGION IN SEPTEMBER.

OK, now, you probably know who Stephen Sondheim is. But you might not. I mean, you might not be a musical theater person. That’s fine. Well, no. It’s not FINE. It’s totally sad and what’s wrong with you, honestly. But I get it, not everyone knows who Stephen Sondheim is.

Stephen Sondheim is the Tony, Oscar, Pulitzer, and Grammy-award-winning composer and lyricist for such brilliant works of musical theater such as Sweeney Todd (see? You’ve heard of Sweeney Todd. I mean, come on. It was a movie. Johnny Depp was in the movie. YOU’VE HEARD OF JOHNNY DEPP YOU GUYS), West Side Story, Into the Woods, Company, Sunday in the Park with George, Gypsy, and, the musical that changed my entire life and made me love musicals more than anything in the entire world and remains, to this day, even though I’ve seen, and I’m not even exaggerating, probably at least 100 musicals over my lifetime, Assassins. He wrote a MUSICAL about REAL-LIFE PRESIDENTIAL ASSASSINS. And it is AWESOME. I’m not even kidding. NPH was in the revival recently. You’d love it, I’m serious. He’s also a wonderful author and wrote two annotated books about his works, Finishing the Hat and Look, I Made a Hat which have all the lyrics to all of his musicals, plus stories about his life in theater, his thought processes behind writing, and photos of the productions, which make a musical theater nut such as myself kind of squee all over when she reads them.

He’s also quite elderly (82 in March!), so the sheer fact that he’s coming to town is really the most awesome thing EVER. I have a list of people I want to see speak before I die. I’ve seen one of them – Kevin Smith (as mentioned, I actually got to meet him and geeked out embarrassingly) – and never, ever imagined I’d ever get to see the others. Stephen Sondheim is ON THE LIST. ON THE LIST, you guys. And the list is three people long. So really, if I get to see Stephen Sondheim in September, all I have to do is figure out how to finagle my way into seeing Stephen King someday and then I guess I can die? That’ll be nice, I could use the rest. I’m totally exhausted.

This is such recent news that the HVCC website doesn’t even have anything about it yet. And All Over Albany says that HVCC students (that’s Hudson Valley Community College, sorry, I’m kind of the most excited so not being explainy enough) get first dibs on tickets. What if they buy ALL the tickets? I don’t want to have to mug a community college student in a dark alley for their Sondheim ticket, but I’m saying right now I totally would if I had to. I TOTALLY WOULD. And I would use jazz-hands. I mean, if you’re mugging someone for their ticket to see the god of musical theater you have to mug them using musical theater dance moves. It’s a given.

So I really think it’s in everyone’s best interest if they just let me buy a ticket as soon as they go on sale, to ensure the safety of their student body. Thanks in advance.

The fun of live theater is that it’s LIVE.

This is totally me in the light booth at my theater, only female. And without an afro. And we can't afford a monitor, even one like this that seems to be from the 80s.

So we’re in tech week for Rumors this week. We had tech on Sunday, we had our first dress rehearsal Monday, then another last night, then tonight is the pay-what-you-will preview, which is also our final dress rehearsal. It’s coming together beautifully, and the show’s going to be great. Lots of laughs. Everyone’s going to be pleased. I’m proud of the cast and crew. It’s been a great experience so far, and listen, I’ve worked on a lot of shitstorms, let me tell you, so I know when something’s a good experience. All is well, my little boysenberries!

Except I totally effed up like every single cue in Act One on Monday.

I feel bad for the director, who is my lovely friend K. and sometimes we start giggling about shit because we can read each other’s facial expressions like we’re talking when we’re not even talking, like from across a damn ROOM, it is awesome. It’ll be fine when we have an audience, but I’m sure it’s not engendering a lot of confidence in my skills that I didn’t seem to be able to get a single cue right the whole first act.

First, instead of a phone ringing, I had a buzzer. This wasn’t 100% my fault, as the sound designer, who I love like a crazy person (LOVE YOU A.!) had been fixing the sound cues because on tech day, there was something wrong with the buzzer sound, and so he re-recorded it so it didn’t sound like a joy buzzer underwater and sounded like an actual intercom buzzer. But he accidentally inserted it into the list of cues where my phone ringing cue should be, and it was labeled “office phone buzzer” so I wasn’t sure – was this going to be a phone ringing, or a buzzer? Should I play it? Was it going to be right? A. wouldn’t lead me astray, would he? So I played it. Yep. Buzzing instead of ringing. The actors were awesome and pretended it was a phone ringing and now I know better but that was kind of embarrassing.

Also, it’s the first show I’m running from a laptop. Now, I’m getting a laptop for my own personal blogging uses soon, so I really should figure out how to USE a laptop. It’s like learning a new skill for me.  I kind of feel like a cavewoman mastering fire. THIS SHOULD NOT BE THIS DIFFICULT. Listen, THE MOUSE IS A PAD NOT A MOUSE. This is worrisome. And sometimes I click on things and it’s not clicky. And sometimes I just get overall confused by the setup. But! I soldier on. Because dammit I refuse to be conquered by a laptop. I mean, CHILDREN can use laptops. I’m a grown-ass WOMAN. I can figure this shit out.

Then I was supposed to make headlights happen so people could say, “I think a car is pulling up!” but I didn’t hear the cue line where I was supposed to walk over to the light board to get READY to do that so by the time I realized I was supposed to be over there, that had already come and gone. Embarrassing.

Also, the intercom system shit the bed about 10 minutes before the show, so when I gave them places, they didn’t hear me, and when we started the show, no one came out on stage, and they were all, “We didn’t know it was time to start the show” and then the whole show was thrown off because of the stupid intercom system.

It was kind of a gigantic mess.

In better news, last night it went much better, with only a couple little tweaks for me to make for the audience we’ll have tonight. WHEW. I’m sure K. is not as freaked out as she was when she left the theater Monday thinking “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH AMY.” I don’t know. I was broken, I guess. It happens. ALL IS WELL NOW.

I’d be just about the best pimp. I’d rock a cane and big sexy velvet hat.

Alan Rickman, I love you truly, madly, AND deeply.

Just a quick pimp of something I wrote elsewhere in case you haven’t already read it – here’s my Reading Rage Tuesday article over at Insatiable Booksluts: How to Ruin Your Young Adult Fantasy Novel. People seem to have enjoyed it, and we’re having lively discussion. Some of this discussion is Twilight-bashy, and if you like Twilight, I apologize. I have officially stopped Twilight-bashing on that post, or even DISCUSSING Twilight on that post, because it was getting a lot like a political discussion with my dad and arguey and “I am right” and “NO I AM” and that makes me nervous and rock in the corner and I LIKE THINGS TO NOT BE LIKE THAT. I do so try not to bash people for their taste in literature, I really do, and try to just be happy they read at all? Twilight just makes me so irrationally upset. I’ll stop now before my head explodes. WAIT ONE MORE THING. I will just say, I can recommend you a number of other series you might like better than Twilight, if you’d like? I’d be happy to do that. Just let me know. I feel like it’s a public service I’d be doing, honestly. ALL FOR YOU DAMIEN.

I’m totally going to win German

As soon as I learn German, I'm sure I'll be sending out awesome cards JUST LIKE THIS ONE.

So Ken’s going to teach me German, so look out Germany, because I’m going to win your language.

OK, so maybe he didn’t really SAY he was going to teach me to SPEAK German, but I like to make shit up and also exaggerate for effect. He IS going to teach me random German WORDS and PHRASES. I’m very excited about this project.

SO FAR, I have learned the words for “gravestone” and “jelly doughnut” (“grabstein” and “krapfen,” Andreas taught me the jelly doughnut one VIA Ken, and aren’t they the most awesome words? Grabstein. Hee! And krapfen! I LOVE GERMAN) and how to ask for more mustard (“Ich will mehr Senf” which probably won’t come in the MOST handy since I don’t dig mustard all that much, but it’s a start) and an awesome phrase that I’m totally in love with – “Eine Krähe sticht der anderen kein Auge aus” – which means “One doesn’t peck out the eyes of a fellow crow,” how much does THAT rock as a phrase? the most, is how much – and from my dad’s time in Germany I know the word “scheiße” which I like to use because it’s naughty, and from being a musical theater nerd I know “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” which is A Little Night Music (ahem, ANOTHER SONDHEIM MUSICAL.)  Also, I’m in love with that squiggly-thing up there which I believe indicates two ss’s. Let’s look up what that’s called. Wikipedia tells me it is either called a “Eszett” or a “scharfes S.” I love both of those names. KEN. I suggest we work on this word next: “eichhoernchen.” This means SQUIRREL. Have you ever seen a more consonant-laden word in your LIFE? I am madly in love with it.

So it is only a matter of time before I am totally fluent in German, just like I am in French if by “fluent” you mean “I can say about fifty words and understand the alphabet if its spoken slowly”, and can say such amazing phrases as “Help! My grapefruit is on fire in the library!” which is a TOTALLY HANDY FRENCH PHRASE. I can also say “Stop! I don’t like bread!” in French. Which isn’t true, I love bread, who doesn’t love BREAD? but I can SAY it, so that’s kind of exciting, right? Ladies and gentlemen, 7 years of French education at work!

But Ken! I have to learn to SOUND German. Germans always sound very gruff. I assume even when they’re talking about rainbow kitten unicorns. We’re going to have to figure out a way for me to sound gruff. Mostly when you talk to me I sound like a cartoon character on speed so this might be an issue.

OK. That is a lot of random crap, and I think you’re all on crap overload, so I’ll stop now. Send out break-a-leg vibes to my gorgeous cast, have a wonderful shiny happy Thursday, and vermeiden Sie rasende Vielfrass. Babelfish tells me this is a VALID TRANSLATION. Except when I translated it BACK from German to English, it said it translated to “avoid racing much-ate.” Which is SO FUNNY TO ME that I totally spit-took. FINE. This is SUPPOSED to say, “avoid rabid wolverines.” I’m pretty sure I’m not winning German yet. GIVE ME TIME SHEESH I JUST STARTED. (Also, Ken, what’s up with the random capital letters in German? Or is that not really a thing and I shouldn’t be doing it? SO MUCH TO LEARN!)

HAPPY THURSDAY!!!

(Psst, the title is a Sondheim lyric quote – from Sunday in the Park with George – AND has some German in it. And relates to both my work at the theater and my writing for the blog. So THEREFORE, it ties in to ALL FOUR OF MY TOPICS TODAY. Are you suitably blown away? Yeah, I thought you might be.)


The play’s the thing (wherein you’ll stretch the patience of the Artistic Director)

My head hurts.

OK, so if you’ve been paying attention (you have, right? You totally have, gold stars RIGHT at the top of your papers) you know I’m a theater person. More specifically, I work at one of our amazing community theaters. I’m on the board, actually. I’m the Artistic Director. I KNOW RIGHT. Totally fancy.

This means a number of things. I get to help pick the season of plays we’re going to produce each season; I get to make sure that, from an acting and directing standpoint, the shows go forth as smoothly as possible; I get to send out email with “Artistic Director” after my name (I know! Exciting! I mean, you could do the same thing, but it would be LIES); I get to make reports in front of the board of directors on a monthly basis; and I get to coordinate the two showcases we have in the summer – the Director’s Showcase (we ask a director who’s new to us to direct a one-act play, so we can see how they do, and, if they do well, we consider them for a full-length play the following season and seasons thereafter) and the Playwright’s Showcase.

The Playwright’s Showcase is where we solicit one-act plays from local playwrights, the Artistic Director (paying attention? THAT’S ME SLAPPY) reads them, chooses the right fit, then we put on a staged reading of the one that is the best written and fits best.

There are rules:

It needs to be a one-act. A one-act play, usually, runs between ten and ninety minutes.

It needs to be by a local playwright. The actual borders of the Capital District are a little fuzzy, but if you live, say, four hours away, probably that’s not as much “local” as it is “long-distance.”

It needs to be something that can fit a staged-reading format. A staged reading, for those of you who aren’t stage rats, is when the actors don’t memorize the lines – they have the script in their hands – but they do move around the stage in a general approximation of blocking (i.e. what they’d do if it were a real production of the piece.) There aren’t real full-on costumes, but the actors do attempt to wear what they think the character would wear, to the best of their abilities. There aren’t full props/furniture/set/etc., but there are basic pieces, as needed, to approximate what would happen, were the piece fully produced. Lights and sound are very basic.

It can’t be a children’s play, a monologue, or a musical. (These are rules that have been in place for years, long before I was at the theater. I didn’t put them there. I don’t know who did. I assume there is a reason for them. Probably because children’s plays are annoying, monologues are simpler to write and therefore wouldn’t give the other plays a fair shake, and musicals are difficult to produce? Just guesses. They’re not my rules, I’m just following them, and they seem fine to me.)

It can’t have been produced or published elsewhere, ever, in any way, shape, or form. Why would we want to do something that’s been done elsewhere? There are a lot of plays that haven’t been done yet, let’s give them a shot.

We don’t hide these rules. These rules are very well-publicized. Website, Facebook, submission guidelines posted hither and yon. I mean, why would we hide the rules? That wouldn’t help us. We WANT you to follow the rules. We WANT everything submitted to be correct.

We got about thirty scripts submitted this year. Now, on the off chance that one of the playwrights happens to read this (highly doubtful, honestly, I think I can count on one hand the local people who read this, but you never know, it is the internet, stranger things have happened) I will not name names, because that’s rude, and that’s wrong, and listen, I know how much work goes into writing something. No, seriously, I do. I know it looks like probably I just eff around on here but I actually kind of work at this shit. Also, I’ve written plays, and poetry, and short stories (but those were horrible, I’m not going to lie) so I’ve been there. If you are reading this, you might recognize yourself. And this might hurt your feelings. And I am sorry, but maybe a truth bomb is what you need? I don’t know. You need something. SOMETHING IS NEEDED.

Playwrights: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU.

I’ve read about half of the submissions so far. Two are possibilities, which, listen, WHOO THANK YOU MOMMA, because last year, I didn’t get to the one we ended up going with until it was the last one I read, and I was PETRIFIED I wasn’t going to find anything, and then it was amazing and I was so happy. A number of them have been produced elsewhere, which I suppose you could have hidden from me, but you admitted it in your cover letter? So I can’t consider them. One of them would have run about three minutes, because it was three pages long, and there were about four lines on each page, and each line had about six words in it. So, not a lot was accomplished in that play. A number of you live in New York City, and I know we like to think that New York is one big happy, but the Capital District of New York and New York City are not local to one another, and listen, New York City-ites, don’t EVEN tell me you’d call me your “neighbor” if the shoe was on the other foot. You totally wouldn’t. I’ve seen your faces when I say I’m from Albany. The word for what you do is called “sneering.”

Just to be clear: I am not looking for the next Neil LaBute (although, *swoon* if I found him.) I’m just looking for the next thing that isn’t like rubbing sandpaper over my eyeballs while my feet are roasted in a George Foreman grill and someone pulls my fingernails out with needlenose pliers. And, before you’re all “wah, wah, Amy’s so BITCHY about this” – listen, I actually very much enjoy this part of the job, for the most part. I’m just really, really confused, sometimes.

So listen! I have learned some really valuable tips, in reading all of these plays for the last couple of years, and also watching the ones we’ve selected for the past five years, which I’m going to pass along to you. And then YOU, TOO, can write a play!  And, if you are local, SUBMIT IT TO ME so I CAN READ IT! Are you totally the most excited? I thought you might be. I mean, I know there have to be some burgeoning playwrights out there who are looking for tips, and I have tips. MAN DO I HAVE TIPS. And, as you all know if you’ve been paying attention (I told you they would come in handy, your paying-attention skillzzzzz, why aren’t you listening to me?) there’s nothing I like more than being the most helpful.

HOW TO WRITE A PLAY FOR SUBMISSION FOR YOUR LOCAL PLAYWRIGHT’S SHOWCASE
(based on the plays submitted to my theater over the years)

Ignore grammatical conventions. You’re an ARTIST. What need have you for using the word “they’re” correctly? You’re a free bird, baby! And this bird you cannot change! So you just go ahead, love child, and say, in your stage directions, “She looks over they’re as he walks away” and DAMN THE MAN for trying to keep you down! Also, go ahead and don’t run a spell check before final submission. ARTISTS DON’T SPELL CHECK.

Ignore the rules clearly stated in the call for submissions. They’re just guidelines, clearly. Once they read YOUR brilliant masterpiece, they will LAUGH. LAUGH at the FOLLY of RULEMAKING. They clearly did not mean YOU when they said “local” playwrights, Jenna from Juneau; they clearly did not mean you when they said no musicals, guy-who-writes-JUST-LIKE-SONDHEIM; the deadline they posted was just a silly joke, Six-Weeks-Late Sammy. Send it anyway. They’ll be glad you did. Baby, you’re a firework, ridin’ on the back of a special freakin’ snowflake.

Demand Broadway-level production values. I mean, sure, they SAY it’s just a staged reading, but the fact that you need someone to fly in on Spiderman-Turn-Off-the-Dark-quality wires won’t stop them, right? I mean, not once they read YOUR masterpiece. Or the fact that they need full darkness with only a strobe light for most of the show to make sense. Or the fact that most of the play takes place on a fully-functional spaceship, hovering four feet above the audience. They’ll read it, and be so blown away by the play, they’ll throw a year’s worth of budget into their pay-what-you-will show for you. I mean, I can’t imagine any other possible other outcome, can you?

Use jargon. Nothing endears an Artistic Director to you like having to puzzle through the following sentence: “I’sa allus gwanna be wondrin’ bouchu, Elsabetta, iffin youse be uppa heada me, or iffin youse be off yonder. I’sa allus gwanna be wondrin’ bouchu, becuz you be my whole worl’.” I take it back – you know what the Artistic Director likes better than this? Reading a whole one-act written in this style. And the AUDIENCE will love it, too. No question. DO IT DO IT DO IT. It is not at ALL offensive.

Use affected phraseology out of nowhere. For example, if your character is American, OF COURSE he would say “I’d like a right spot of supper, Mumsy,” when he’s shown no sign of pretending to be British in the past and then never shows it again. Or have someone’s sister call him “brother wuther bubsy boo” for no reason but then have no one call attention to it and never explain why it happened or have her either be the victim of a traumatic brain injury or involved in an incestuous relationship with him. Also, it’s not at all jarring to have a character who you’ve spent twenty pages setting up as very, very stupid throw in the words “stellar denouement” and then move onto something else as if he hadn’t just Rainmanned out. So yeah, do this. It’s what’s done.

Write rude, demanding cover letters/emails to the Artistic Director. In your cover letter, please be sure to do the following: explain how good of a writer you are, EVERYONE SAYS SO NO THEY DO; explain that theaters of this size/type are “usually” beneath you, but you’ll make an exception, just this once, because you’ve heard slumming can sometimes be good times; explain that you KNOW this is just a staged reading, but when YOUR play is chosen, you’ll expect a full production of it, because, you see, it DESERVES it; and, by all means, please try to find the email address of the theater online somewhere, then send odd emails to the theater, sort of threatening them if they don’t choose your work. It’s just polite. And you want to be polite, right? RIGHT.

Be vague. Don’t explain. It’s up to the reader or viewer to figure out the following: who the character who just walked in is; what his or her relationship is to the other characters in the play; why they’re there, what their motivation is, why they’re talking in this totally cool jargon patois-y slang, and why they’re flying in on guy wires. MAKE THEM WORK FOR IT.

Don’t read any other plays, ever. Why know what else is out there? It’s all garbage, anyway. Yours is the only work that matters. You’d just clutter up your head with other nonsense. Keep your EYES on the PRIZE. And the PRIZE is your own work, not the crap that other playwrights are putting out. I mean, seriously, do you really have time to keep up on the field you want to break into? No. No, you don’t. Get to writing, Scribbly Pete.

Make sure it’s as boring as possible. I mean, life is exciting, right? There are SO MANY SHINY THINGS. Television! Zap! Movies! Bam! The interwebs! Zowie! When people go to the theater, they want SLOW. They want DULL. They want TALKING without ANYTHING HAPPENING. They want NO MOTION. They want BLAH. I mean, what if someone were to have a heart attack in the theater? You could never live with yourself. Best to keep it sloooooow. Safer for all involved, really.

Don’t let there be any stakes for anyone ever, why do that, LAME. You know what’s the worst? When characters in a play have stakes. I mean, like, let’s take a play you all know. Hamlet. You all know Hamlet, right? (Oh, please tell me you do. If you don’t, please just go out and get a film version, if Shakespeare makes you twitchy. Hamlet is lovely. LOVELY. Ignore people that tell you otherwise; they are out of their minds.) Hamlet’s characters have stakes. Hamlet wants revenge on the man who killed his father and married his mother; Ophelia wants Hamlet to love and marry and cherish her, and not be such a freakin’ loon; Claudius wants Hamlet out of the way, because Hamlet’s getting way too suspicious; Gertrude wants to go on schtupping her husband/brother in law; Polonius wants everyone to be true to thine own selves; Laertes wants to be stabby and revengey. EVERYONE HAS A WANT. EVERYONE HAS STAKES. Well, I say nay! I say, DOWN WITH STAKES. Why’s everyone need to be all stakey? Let’s all get placards and go march on the town square: NO MORE STAKES. NO MORE STAKES. Who needs ‘em? Let’s just have our characters wander, aimlessly and stakelessly, sniffing flowers, peering at clouds, petting the occasional puppy. It’s all good, yo. Your audience will APPRECIATE the STAKELESSNESS.

Copy something that’s already been done, I mean, that’s tried and tested, right? I mean, someone already did the legwork. It would be completely reckless of you to GO OUT ON YOUR OWN and COME UP WITH AN ORIGINAL IDEA. You already know, say, vampires are hot. So probably write a script about a teenager who falls in love with a vampire. IT’S NOT LIKE THAT OTHER ONE THOUGH. This vampire doesn’t SPARKLE in the sun. He…GLIMMERS. Yeah, that’s it. Or! Or, you know what’s also tried and true, is having, at the last minute, someone drop out of the sky and save the day. It even has a name! Deus ex machina. Isn’t that pretty? I mean, how can you NOT use it?

Don’t include your contact information anywhere on the script/envelope. I mean, I know I shouldn’t have to tell you this one – you already KNOW this, right? But don’t let anyone know who you are. A., they should ALREADY know, you’re JUST THAT WELL-KNOWN, just from your writing style alone, and B., why make it easy for them to contact you? They should WORK for it. Also, if you foolishly DO include contact info, you know what’s awesome? Don’t include email. It’s just a passing fad, this internet thingy. Don’t give in to it. Everyone likes the telephone, and has plenty of free time to talk to you on it. Everyone should call you on it and talk to you. They’ll want to, I mean, you’re the next big thing, and who WOULDN’T want to talk to you? For hours on end? And hours? And HOURS?

There. This should totally get you all on your way. Now, when you’ve written your amazing script, and you’re getting your awards, PLEASE don’t feel like you HAVE to thank me in your speeches; I mean, it’s only POLITE, but it’s not MANDATORY, or anything. I can’t FORCE you to. Of course, karma’s a bitch, and if you don’t, you’ll probably lose a limb in an industrial accident of some sort, but don’t let that influence your decision! No no no! NOT ONE LITTLE BIT!

Write, my little Shakespeares and Shakespearesettes! May your characters be lifeless, your exposition dry as dust, and your plot so full of holes the whole cheese industry of Switzerland will shudder with envy! YOU CAN TOTALLY DO THIS!


I Can’t Even Do a Year-End Best-Of Music Post Like a Normal Human: Day One of Three.

Surprise! Because I couldn’t leave you lost and gone forever, my sweet Clementines, I wrote you THREE BLOG POSTS when I was supposed to be packing. How much do you love me? The most, right? I know. So you WILL have new posts from me today, tomorrow and Christmas day. HUZ-FREAKING-ZAH. Love your faces.

I wanted to write a “top ten songs of the year” post. But nothing with me is easy, really. As you all know. I couldn’t. I couldn’t narrow it down to ten. I had SO MANY HAPPY SONGS this year, seriously. So I went through the new songs I purchased for myself this year, and I made a list of my favorites. Thirty. So I said, ok, rank them, and knock off the bottom 20. But I couldn’t, listen, I couldn’t do that, because yes, the top ten are marginally *better* than the middle ten or the bottom ten, but I LOVE the middle ten and bottom ten, and I want you to KNOW about the rest of them just as much as I want you to know about the top ten.

So I’m doing a three-day song extravaganza. I KNOW. It is EPIC. Don’t even get me STARTED.

However! If you are a music person? You’re totally going to hate this and you should leave right now because I didn’t follow the rules. I’m a musical heathen. I don’t know what’s *good* music; I don’t know what makes a *skilled* musician or band. I know what makes me happy (or, in my case, melancholy, which is what I like, most of the time) and I know what thrills me and so that’s how I pick my favorite music.

Also, and this is going to kill the hoi polloi among you, it doesn’t have to have been released in 2011. It only matters that I heard it for the first time in 2011. If I was on the pulse of music, sure, I might have enough music from 2011 to make up a list. But this is a list of my favorite music I HEARD in 2011. Not that was RELEASED in 2011. One of these is from 11 years ago. If you don’t like that, I’m sure Rolling Stone has a fancy-schmancy list or something. Go listen to that.

Also: I am well-aware that this list makes me look like, alternately, a crazy person, a teeny-bopper, and like I’m in the middle of some sort of major depressive episode. I’m a little of the first (although I’d prefer to say I have eclectic taste, or you can say no taste at all, if you want), I assure you I’m not the second, although sometimes I get sucked into their music, and I’m actually not having the third at the moment at all. Things are good. I’m in a really good place, thanks. I just really, really like sad songs. No matter what mood I’m in. Happy, sad, whatever. Doesn’t matter. I love a moody, sad, depressing song. They’re my thing. So yep, a lot of these are as dark as midnight. But I promise I’m not a secret cutter. I’d suck at that. I’m very clumsy and I’d end up bleeding out instead of making a totally emo statement.

We’re starting today with numbers 30-21, and (duh) moving onto 20-11 tomorrow and 10-1 the next day. I know! Fancy fancy fancy. I’m like the Spin magazine of people who know nothing about music, seriously.

And to make things look OFFICIAL and shit, I even put the name of the song, the singer and/or band, the album, the year the album was released, and one of my favorite lyrics from the song. AND A VIDEO. So you can listen to it! I know. You love me so hard right now, right? You’re welcome.

(Psst, if you decide you love one or more of these and must have them, please for the love of Pete pay for the download. I know, I know, you like to stick it to the man and download shit illegally. That’s so totally black-ops of you! Here’s the thing. These people deserve to get paid for what they do. So pay the $1.49 or whatever on iTunes – most of these are $.99, to be honest – and download them legally. You’ll feel better and you’ll put a little money in an artist’s pocket and karma’s a bitch, you know?)

30.    Jar of Hearts – Christina Perri

Album: lovestrong (2011)

And I’ve learned to live half alive

Yes, yes, I’m already making half of you turn up your noses. I know this is some teenager singer and I’d turn up my nose if I were you, too. But have you heard this song? It’s totally pretty. I mean, yes, sure, some of the lyrics are a little silly and emo and “I wrote you this POEM at 2AM when I couldn’t SLEEP because I love you so MUCH.” Also she has pretty annoying hair. But give the kid a break. She has a lovely voice, and it’s a pretty song, and I like it very much when I hear it.

29.    Our American Cousin – Molly Lewis

Album: I Made You a CD…But I Eated It (2009)

The war is now in the past/and this play really isn’t that bad… 

I was lucky enough to have been introduced to Molly Lewis by a friend who has excellent musical taste this year. Her music is quirky and fun and filled with ukulele goodness and she is just completely adorable. This song makes me so happy, because it’s written from the point of view of three different people inside Ford’s Theater the night Lincoln was shot – a patron, Booth, and Lincoln himself. (In case you aren’t a weirdo theater presidential assassin nerd like me, and like to know things, and don’t already know this, Our American Cousin is the name of the play that Lincoln was watching the night he was assassinated by Booth.) This is a ton and a half of fun. And if you like this, you will love the rest of Lewis’s work. She’s just a gem, and I’m so happy someone thought to say to me this year, “Hey! You know who you might like? Molly Lewis!”

28.    Elaborate Lives – Adam Pascal

Album: Aida Original Broadway Cast Recording (2000)

I wish I had the courage/to tell you face to face/but I could wait forever/for the perfect time and place 

I saw Aida for the first time this year. I knew nothing about the show, and honestly, wasn’t all that excited, because (and I know, yell at me if you must) I really don’t like Elton John. But it was spectacular. I loved every minute of it. I came home and immediately downloaded the whole album. This is one of my favorite songs from the show. (The plot, in very brief – Aida, the princess of Nubia, is taken prisoner by an Egyptian warrior. They fall in love. His fiancée is the Pharoah’s daughter, and there is a heartbreaking love triangle.) So, Elton John! After 2011, I’m grudgingly cool with you. At least when it comes to musicals. I still think your popular music is shouty and jangly.

27.    Hannah – Freelance Whales

Album – Weathervanes (2010)

And if you’re partial to the night sky/if you’re vaguely attracted to rooftops 

I have no idea what’s happening in this song but you can’t listen to it and not be cheered, and then kind of sad, and then cheered again. It’s got this tinkly cheerful part, then this soaring kind of melancholy part, then this tinkly part again. It’s kind of like me, only in a song? It’s got ALL the emotions and it runs through them in like a three-minute time span. So now you know what it’s like to be friends with me. Exhausting! But pretty. With fun parts.

26.    Down by the Water – The Drums

Album – The Drums (2010)

If you fall asleep down by the water/baby I’ll carry you all the way home 

This is kind of almost a fairy-tale creepy song. The beginning part is like a romantic stalker singing it. I kind of love it and fear it at the same time. It’s pretty, though. It’s one of those driving-late-at-night songs that you listen to that sets the mood. Dark and a little creepy and a little sexy and a little romantic.

25.    Missed the Boat – Modest Mouse

Album – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007)

Well, we know we had the good things/but those never seemed to last/oh, please just last 

I don’t know what it is about me and hipster music. Like, I feel like I should hate it? But then I hear something like this and it makes me sad and happy and I love it so, so much. So it’s probably uncool to love Modest Mouse? And I know it’s from four years ago? Suck it, this song is totally pretty.

24.    Maps – The Front Bottoms

Album – Maps (2011)

And you’ll be thinking: how did I get here? Where the hell am I?

 

This song makes me irrepressibly happy. I love the “but you are an artist, and your mind don’t work the way you want it to” part so much. “Washing yourself with handsoap in a public bathroom.” But whenever the lyric I have quoted above comes on I shout it out in my car or my home or wherever to the top of my lungs. It reminds me of the joy I feel whenever I hear “This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife!” comes on. This is a song about sad things? But it is SO DAMN CHEERFUL. I love it so much.

23.    Firework – Katy Perry

Album – Teenage Dream (2010)

Come on, show ‘em what you’re worth 

Shut it right now. Just shut it. Sometimes? I need a totally shouty teenage anthem. I have two on my list this year. This one and another that’s a lot, lot higher on the list. So, you have that to look forward to, now, don’t you, Chumley. I like this song. Is Katy Perry annoying? Sure. But this song makes me happy, and I like to bop around to it, and sometimes a person likes things that are happy.

22.    When I Go – Slow Club

Album – Yeah, So? (2009)

I’ll fashion you a letter and I’ll send it to your house 

The first time I heard this I was totally hormonal so it made me cry. Then I listened again and I wasn’t hormonal and it made me sniffle. It reminds me of someone I loved that is no longer in my life. There are a couple of these on here, actually. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think songs and poetry that remind us of times gone by are good things. Also, it reminds me a little of the message of The Beatles “When I’m 64.” It’s sad. But it’s sweet.

21.    Try Too Hard – Common Rotation

Album – Keep an Open Gallery (2011)

Still, you try too hard 

This, honestly, isn’t my favorite Common Rotation song of the year? But I can’t FIND my favorite one. I KNOW IT IS TOTALLY A TRAVESTY. I don’t know a single lyric so I can’t even Google that sucker. It’s the worst. Anyway, I blogged about Common Rotation – they were the opening act for The Indigo Girls and starred (squee!) Warren from Buffy! – and have since downloaded a lot of their music. I like this song very much. It’s my favorite from their most recent album. They seem to have a lot of fun with what they do, and that makes me happy.

There’s my 21-30! Tune in tomorrow for 11-20. What other musical fun will I introduce you to? WAIT AND SEE MY PRETTIES.


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