Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wedding Music +/- Subliminal Messages*

As you may have understood from previous posts, I am currently planning a wedding. I don’t want to talk about wedding planning per se, but it is MUSIC THURSDAY (I should create an awesome graphic for that), and so I thought I’d bring you guys into a music-related issue I’ve had weighing on my mind. We’ve already selected a reception band, which comes with its predetermined set list, but bands take breaks, and I plan to insert myself as much as I can into the prerecorded song selection process. So I’m thinking, what are some great songs that are fun for weddings but that maybe the recorded version is better, e.g. “Somebody to Love” by Queen? Let’s face it, not everyone can hit the notes of Freddie Mercury.

Really any advice for songs would be great (seriously, contact me). My college roomie is getting married in May and needs lots o’ suggestions as well.

Another question that occurs to me, though, is how much do people really listen to the words/messages of songs played during the wedding reception? Scanning through my iPod, I’ve come across some really fun, danceable songs, but in taking another listen, I think, “Is this song reception-appropriate?” For example, the song “Golddigger” by Kanye West has a great beat and is very festive where dancing is concerned. However, is marrying someone for money the message you want to convey when you just married someone for (hopefully) love? It seems like a weird thing to bring up.

Another fun one that you may not be as familiar with is “Breaking Up” by Rilo Kiley. I love this song, but as it’s pretty obviously about breaking up, it feels like an odd one to purposely play.

What a random video!

Am I overreacting? That is a likely possibility as it’s kind of how I roll. What’s your opinion, though? Does it even matter? Let me know. Also: song suggestions. For real.

*I almost titled this post “Hit List”. Ha. I am dumb. I am REALLY glad I thought that one through first.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mope. Mope. Mope.

Things are going pretty lamely today. I didn’t get something that I really wanted, and on top of that I’m also dealing with some worrying family issues. I’m pretty good at keeping what many would consider #whitegirlproblems in perspective, but that doesn’t keep me from still feeling a little blue about everything that’s going on with me right now. But instead of sulking my way through the rest of the day, I’d really like to come up with something that might cheer me up. I’ve considered taking myself to a delicious dinner and/or buying myself a prize, but the thought of spending my limited funds on something I don’t really care about just makes me feel worse. Any suggestions? I’m definitely looking forward to going home and putting on my jammies.
What do you do when you’ve got the blues?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Graphic(s) Love

I feel like the more I post to this blog, the more obvious it becomes that I am incurable nerd. Oh, well; I’m over it. I have accepted my nerdy interests for what they are. And the nerdy interest I’ll be discussing today is how I stumbled across and am now absolutely in love with this blog, The Graphics Fairy.
To begin with, I think I’ve decided to design my own Save the Date postcards to announce my wedding. A lot of the ones I’ve looked at online feature a picture of the bride and groom, which would be all well and good except that JP and I don’t have any recent, quality photos of just the two of us and no time to get any taken. Additionally, I want the card specifically to be a postcard, for both postage- and awesomeness-related reasons, and I’ve had a hard time finding a good postcard that I like. So, being somewhat crafty and typographically-inclined, I’ve convinced myself that designing these things can’t be that hard. Right? RIGHT?!?!
My idea was to have some kind of vintage-y looking image for the front (so specific, I know) and an antique postcard logo for the back. That’s where The Graphics Fairy blog comes in! I had found your typical stock image sites where a subscription starts at around $50. I also found an etsy seller where the images I needed ran about $5 apiece. But then—wonder of wonders—I came across this great blog that had everything I needed and more FOR FREE! (To be honest, I think that etsy seller is pretty familiar with this blog as well. Hmm…)
The kinds of images the site carries are very specifically vintage in appearance, so if that’s not the kind of thing you’re looking for, then steer clear. However, if you’re like me, and this stylized artwork appeals to you, definitely check it out. I feel like this look is very “on trend” these days; at least that seems to be the case for weddings, thus my current worldview may be skewed by following too many wedding blogs. Even if you’re not wedding planning, you may find something cool to do with these images. If nothing else, they’re pretty neat to look at!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum

It’s Music Thursday here on ye olde blogge, and today I’m going to give a shout out to all my ladies (both regular and drag-type) who will be performing this weekend at Jungle Club. Seriously, when you’re putting on the risqué hit musical Cabaret in a fabulous Atlanta gay club featuring local drag celebutantes, how can you go wrong?
“Leave your troubles outside!
So life is disappointing? Forget it!
We have no troubles here! Here, life is beautiful...
The girls are beautiful...
Even the orchestra is beautiful!”
Cabaret is set in early 1930s Berlin in the seedy Kit Kat Klub, where patrons come to distract themselves from the increasingly tumultuous outside world with drink and bawdy vaudeville humor. The show follows the stories of several people: young cabaret singer Sally Bowles and her roommate and eventual lover Cliff Bradshaw, as well as her landlady Fräulein Schneider and the Fräulein’s Jewish paramour Herr Schultz. Unlike a more traditional musical, not all of the characters express their emotions through song. Rather, several of the songs are performed within the construct of the cabaret to complement or provide contrast for the dramatic action. For example, after Sally convinces Cliff to let her move in, the Kit Kat Klub’s Emcee and two chorus girls sing “Two Ladies”, as if in parody of the pair’s strange living arrangement.
“Two Ladies” from the 1998 Broadway revival starring Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson.
The show is funny and dramatic, and I feel like it symbolically depicts how surreal it must have been to live in Germany during the rise of the Nazi party. In previous productions I’ve seen, the show has been disturbing but profoundly moving, and I have a feeling tomorrow night’s performance will prove just as powerful. To entice you to see the show, I’ll leave you with my favorite song from show (and a popular standard among belters), “Maybe This Time”.

Cabaret will be performed this weekend and next, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at Jungle Club in Atlanta.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays (on a Tuesday)

It is super rainy here today. Mornings like this make me want to crawl back under my down comforter and spend the morning reading and sipping black tea with milk…or watching Pride and Prejudice for the millionth time. Things to consider: Heavy rain makes me nerdy?
I’m currently reading two books: Sleepwalk with Me by Mike Birbiglia and A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. Sleepwalk with Me is a hybrid of the personal essay (made popular by David Sedaris) and stand-up comedy. The essays are written with the comic’s sense of what sounds funny when spoken aloud, which is fine for me because when I read, my inner monologue becomes an audio book narrator anyway. The essays are all pretty funny, and I am definitely enjoying it so far.
A Game of Thrones is the first novel in a fantasy series, and while I’m not normally a fantasy aficionado, I was turned on to the series when I heard HBO had optioned the rights for a weekly drama. Though I only started the book recently, it’s definitely entertaining me. It seems to be set in a period akin to the Middle Ages in a world in which the weather has gone astray and where “summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime.” Coincidentally, my coworker is reading the third book in series, and he says that the story becomes more intriguing with each book. I’m interested to find out!
ALSO, I’m always interested to hear other people’s book recommendations as well. I’m on, a social networking site for people to keep track of what they and their friends are reading. You should check it out! But if you’re not on it and have good book recommendations for me, comment on this post or shoot me an email. Inquiring minds (specifically mine) want to know!

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Wanna Dance with Somebody!

JP and I are taking beginner swing dancing lessons at our local dance studio, and it is a strange combination of both fun and weird times. It is fun because I like to dance, and I’m enjoying picking up some new skills. It also makes me feel like I’ll be more prepared for dance auditions when this whole wedding business is behind us and I can be in shows again. Also, the instructor is festive. She’s approximately five feet tall with a raspy smoker’s voice and is very sassy. AND, she keeps giving us “dance rules” that she says could also be considered “life rules”, e.g. “The closer your partner is to you, the easier they are for you to control.” Hmm...weird but great.
The classes are weird because—and I’m not sure why I didn’t realize this beforehand— a number of people attend the class without partners, so instead of dancing with JP the entire time as I would prefer, I dance at least one dance with every guy there. Now, some guys are nice and are clearly there to improve their dance moves; however, some guys are pretty creepy and are mostly there to pick up ladies. Last night, for example, a balding gentleman with glasses strolls in 20 minutes late but is ready to jump right in to dancing. When it was my turn to dance with him, he would spin me in and out with excessive gusto and then laugh loudly at my startled expression. Then he would bring me close in to his side for the cuddle step, which I haven’t learned. When I tried to tell him to stop trying to get me to do that step, that I didn’t know it, he replied: “I just can’t help but pull you close to me.” BARF. It turns out he’s been swing dancing for most of his life, and he “just wanted an opportunity to practice [his] moves.” Not with lines like that, sir. Not with lines like that.
Additionally, one of the weirdest things about the whole evening is that the instructor played the same song THE ENTIRE TIME. Just when I thought it was over and that the CD would move on to the next track, the same song would start again, right from the beginning. Did she have an entire CD of only that song?  Was the song itself just on loop?! It was nuts.
So for today’s installment, I’d like to give you a little taste of Beginner Swing with Elisabeth and JP. Just hit repeat and let it loop for the next hour.

We signed up for all of March, so we have three lessons to go. If we continue to like it, we may stick with it in April. I think JP’s favorite part is that Hines Ward is filming his training sessions for Dancing with the Stars at our studio, and occasionally he gets to see the football star. To that I say, whatever it takes to get him to dance with me!
What about you? Have you ever taken a dance class like this?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Historian: A Review

OK, so I just finished reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and let me just say: BOO! First of all, it took me approximately 500 years to get through it because rather than actually reading it, I had checked out the book-on-CD version from the library, and it came with 22 discs. 22! So, to begin with, it was insanely long. Secondly, it was a GIANT snoozefest. You would think, in a book about Dracula chasing people through Europe that some exciting things might happen. WRONG! In fact, even though all of these academics are on the hunt for the fanged fiend, they look for him the only way they know how—in the library! Seriously, their sole means of seeking him out is in reading books to look for “clues” as to his whereabouts (including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which for some reason they consider an actual source). And, unluckily for the reader, Kostova includes these documents verbatim in the text of the novel.

Vampires: Scary :: Researchers: Boring 
Anyway, I was intrigued by the book initially because I knew that it was a bestseller, and because it put a historical perspective on the Dracula myth, which I find interesting. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. If you’re still interested in the book, I recommend reading the Amazon reviews for clues as to why some people liked it. I honestly have no idea.
Takeaway: The Historian plods over hundreds of pages, attempting to offer readers a suspenseful epic, but pointless plot points, epic plot holes, and dull characters kept this reader from engaging. I can’t believe I read the whole thing!
SPOILER ALERT/Alternate Ending:
I came up with an idea for an alternate ending that could have redeemed the whole thing—and up until Dracula’s sudden (and anti-climactic!!) demise, I thought that it was actually going to happen.
WHAT IF it turned out that the daughter-narrator had been recording this tale for posterity this entire time because SHE had agreed to become Dracula’s vampire librarian??? As in, instead of ridding the world of evil, she just gave in and agreed to commit her afterlife to cataloging Dracula’s collection.
Have you read it? If so, what do you think of my alternate ending?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Old Crow Medicine Show

So, last week, per our previous discussion, I took my Dad to hear John Prine at the Fox Theatre. It was great! He sang of number of songs I recognized and a few I had never heard but loved right away. It was an amazing show, and I’m glad I had the chance to see it with my dad.
Another band, however, opened for Prine, and I enjoyed their set as much if not more than the one I was there to see!
The other band, Old Crow Medicine Show, plays folk- and bluegrass-inspired music and draws mainly from the styles of the early twentieth century to the 1940s. Featuring fiddles, guitars, the harmonica, banjo, and mandolin, it was amazing how their sound was at once so familiar and yet so unusual. It reminded me a lot of the music from Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?, a soundtrack my mother played to death when it first came out.

“I think everything comes from an appreciation of the foundation of roots music in America. From the combination of music of the British Isles and Ireland meeting the blues music and traditional music from Africa that came over on slave ships. Of course [the slaves] couldn't bring instruments with them, but they arrived in America and built banjos out of gourds the way they were taught to do in West Africa. And then suddenly this whole new language began. Everybody's black, everybody's white. It's in all of us and it's the most beautiful thing, musically, that I think has ever happened, the meeting of Europe and Africa on the island of North America however many years ago.”
Ketch Secor, Fiddle, Harmonica, Banjo and Vocals
I enjoyed their music, but even more I enjoyed their energy. They bounded across the stage with their fiddles and swung their heads around to belt harmonies into mics; it felt like watching on old-time radio show, which seems like exactly the kind of thing they’d be into.

This video was nominated for two 2007 CMT Music Awards.
The only thing that puzzled me about the group was their OUTRAGEOUS Southern accents. I mean, I know we Southern speakers are known for our lilting drawl; however, these guys straight up sounded like plantation owners. They sounded like they were Foghorn Leghorn’s neighbors, “Well, ah, ah say now, audience.” It was nuts! I’d like to believe these speech patterns are perfectly natural, but my skeptic side tells me that although they may have been born with Southern accents, the way they speak now has to be hammed up for their audiences.
Regardless, I thought the band was great, and I really enjoyed the show. I wasn’t there to hear them, but OCMS has a newfound fan in me.
Obviously, this group already has quite a following. Are you familiar with their stuff, and if so, are you a fan?
p.s. Let’s all pretend I posted this last Thursday.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Being an Adult

I like being an adult.
I like choosing what I eat.
I like going to bed whenever I want (usually early).
I even like getting up at 5 a.m. and going to gym every day (or at least I like it more than I dislike the crushing guilt I feel when I don’t go).
What I do NOT like, however, is when a certain fiancé’s former roommates from boarding school are not adults, therefore they get drunk on Tuesday nights, and therefore they drunk dial certain fiancés despite living two time zones away (i.e., what might make for a mildly obnoxious drunk dial in TX makes for an extremely obnoxious one in GA). I also do not like when certain fiancés forget to turn their ringer off so that at 3 a.m. when said drunk dial comes in, I am woken up to the following:
Seriously, wait for the chorus.
Fact: It’s going to be a long day.