Random Roundup

I have a few things I’ve been meaning to post about, and thought I might as well do it all in one go:

1. I went to NYC and had a great time. Saw lots of friends, did lots of wandering, and ate lots of good food. My 3 favourite things!

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12063845_10100121342706764_8052982763288268484_nWashington Heights

2. Still no luck on the job front. I’m starting to feel really disheartened. Like, what do I do with my life if I can’t find a job in the field I want?

3. I thought I’d been kicked out of my outpatient anxiety program for being a flake, but it turns out I wasn’t. Apparently vanishing during your first 6 weeks isn’t all that uncommon. I start back on Tuesday, and hopefully this time goes better.

4. I’ve become obsessed with adult colouring books.

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5. I joined an online creative writing club. I’d heard about it through some friends, and I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve been partnered up with someone in Ottawa for a couple of projects, so it’s been a pretty cool experience. I haven’t really done creative writing before, so it’s nice to have someone to bounce everything off of.

6. I got quite frustrated with my Panic Project and put it on the back burner a couple of months ago, but I think it’s time to get it going again. I just need to figure out where to start! The creative writing project has made me realize how helpful having a partner for it would be. Sigh. Maybe one day!

I think that’s it. My life is pretty boring! How are you doing?

 

 

 

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Tomorrow! Tomorrow!

I love ya, tomorrow! You’re only a day away!

I’m off to NYC tomorrow, and if you can’t tell, I’m excited. I haven’t been since being stranded there for 12 days of November 2014– Almost an entire year ago! For shame. (I’m making up for it by going again in 6 weeks. Thank you MegaBus and your $1 tickets!) I’m not sure what I’ll get up to, but I’ve made a goal to go to 2 places I’ve never been before. We’ll see where that leads me!

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I also wanted to write a quick update to apologize for my pity party in the last post. I know there are people out there going through so much worse, and I’m trying to remember that and be more grateful for the little things. This too shall pass and all that.

12 Days In New York City

I love New York, but boy was I ready to come home after 12 days in it. Had the last 7 of those days not been so stressful it might be another story. But the fact was that I barely had enough money to get me through the 6 intended days, so the additional 7 weren’t overly enjoyable as I tried not to use much public transit or eat out or really do anything that involved spending any money…

But, despite all that, it was still a lovely and much needed holiday!

I arrived in the city on a Wednesday at which time I wandered to Vi’s and collapsed on her couch. On Thursday made my way to Brooklyn to go see the Botanic Gardens. I’d seen someone post about it somewhere, and thought it might be worth a visit. The weather was great, the colours gorgeous, and it turns out there’s not admission cost on Thursdays.

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That evening I headed to Times Square to meet up with Vi. We were hoping to the lottery for a show, but missed it for both The Last Ship and Hedwig. Instead we got omlettes and watched Netflix.

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On Friday I headed down to Union Square where I spent a couple hours getting lost in the racks at The Strand. Paul Giamatti was there. We stood in the ‘Banned Books’ section together. It was pretty cool.

15911_935531347244_5967592703995276388_nStrand Bookstore

I then went and wandered around the West Village and people-watched in Washington Square Park. It was chilly, but sunny, so I was happy.

10676367_935525339284_7555660138133744980_nWashington Square Park

That night I headed back to Times Square to meet Vi. We lost the lottery for Idina Menzel’s show If/Then, but were able to grab ‘Lottery Loser’ tickers for only $5 more. I guess the show isn’t doing so well… I thought it was okay. I’m glad I saw it, but really it’s only selling points are Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp.

Speaking off, we did stage door, of course! I’ve seen them both before, but it’s always fun!

10422083_935529480984_5726191222963934932_nIdina Menzel

10613008_935529241464_6093073703670348153_nAnthony Rapp

On Saturday I met up with Carly, Sara, and Annie for an excellent 4 hour lunch. We’d never all gotten together as a group, so it was a lot of fun. Eventually Carly had to head to work and Annie to a housewarming party, so Sara and I met up Vi and went to dinner.

Vi and I saw ‘On The Town’. I liked it well enough. It’s a classic, so, you know. The dance numbers seemed a little drawn out, but the music was great.

On Sunday Vi and I went on a roadtrip to Baltimore. She rented a car and got tickets to see Next To Normal, I tagged along. Oh, and I can now say I’ve been to Delaware. Woo!

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On Monday it down-poured so we went to the movies to see ‘The Theory of Everything’. I also dragged Vi from shop to shop in search of a single magazine, as, you know, I do that. The weather cleared up later in the day though, so I went for a nice stroll around mid-town.

10417639_935529875194_770824464564860528_nFlatiron Building

On Tuesday I headed out at some ridiculously early hour only to reach the far end of West-nowhere (aka the Megabus stop) and learn that there were no buses. No one seemed to know why. So, my enormous backpack, suitcase and I hiked it over to Penn Station to see about a train. I got a ticket, all looked well, until it’s announced that all Toronto bound rail service will be suspended in Syracuse. Again, no one could say why. So I got a refund and started frantically texting everyone I knew for a place to stay. Annie was kind enough to offer her couch right away, so I made my way 160 blocks or so uptown to Washington Heights.

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I eventually came to learn about the horrendous storms in Buffalo and every 12 hours or so would get an update that train and bus service remained suspended. That week is a bit of a blur with regards to what happened when, and in what order. Again, I stayed in a lot. I mean I managed to watch the whole first season of Gilmore Girls on Netflix, so…

I did go for several nice walks around Washington Heights and Fort Tryon. One day I took the subway down to the Upper West Side to go to Barnes and Noble, and then took a very long city bus journey back to the George Washington Bridge (if you catch a bus within 2 hours (maybe 3 hours?) of catching the train they don’t charge you again- HEY OH!). Washington Heights was pretty cool though, I’m glad I had some time to explore it.

10339759_935648637194_174245830662665114_nView of Hudson Heights and the Bronx from Fort Tryon Park

10406411_935648617234_5416060134614959295_nHudson River, Fort Tryon Park

10421163_936189343614_8391701833344519889_nUpper West Side

And then of course Saturday was the insane Into The Woods evening. I’m still not over that one! Earlier that day though I met up with the wonderful Jennifer Eolin for tea and trading of horror life stories, and a couple hours later went for hot chocolate with another online friend. All that made for a very nice day. Adding in Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, and an early Into The Woods screening were just icing on the cake!

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I didn’t sleep Saturday night, and had to leave for my bus around 4:30am. Thankfully though when I arrived there was no one advising of a cancellation, and I even managed two seats to myself for the entire journey home.

It all kind of worked out. Sort of. Maybe.

Two Midnights Gone: ‘Into The Woods’ Review & Event Recap (With Photos)

Though the show cautions to be ‘careful the wish you make’, I’m here to attest that every so often a wish can indeed come true.

This past Saturday evening a strange and inexplicable happenstance of events took place (that’s another story), resulting in me attending a screening of Into The Woods at the Directors Guild of America Theatre in New York. It was followed by a Q&A with director Rob Marshall, writer James Lapine, and the films incredible cast.

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The Film

Minor spoilers ahead…

I was both excited and scared (ha) for the release of the film since I first heard it was happening about 2 years ago. After all, movie adaptations of stage shows can be hit or miss. I was hopeful that with Rob Marshall at the helm this film could do it, especially since I hold ‘Chicago’ (which Marshall also directed) as the gold standard for modern transition.

Now, I won’t go so far as to say that Marshall repeated the perfection of ‘Chicago’, but he did come pretty darn close on this one. He stayed true to the book, where possible, and brought the sights and sounds of the show to incredible new heights. I wasn’t as visually blown away as I was by ‘Chicago’, but I think that was the point. ‘Into The Woods’ is a very dark, character driven story. It has no need for the glitz and accoutrements, so comparing the two in that respect feels a bit like apples and oranges. (But don’t get me wrong- ‘Into The Woods’ is visually stunning.)

The first half of the film followed the book very closely, and the strays that came after were understandable. ‘Ever After’, ‘So Happy’, and ‘Agony’ (reprise only) were removed, as was the character of the Mysterious Man. This allowed them to toss/alter a few smaller plot points, while keeping the story moving. (Though I will forever be saddened by not hearing Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen sing about ‘their things’ with dwarfs and blood.)

I found the flashbacks inconsistent, and mostly unnecessary. For instance, when Little Red Ridinghood is recounting her tale to The Baker in ‘I Know Things Now’ there’s a flashback. However when Jack recounts his own adventure to The Baker in ‘Giants In The Sky’ there is no flashback. And the latter worked much better for me.

I was thrilled to see that the characters of Little Red Ridinghood, Jack, and The Baker were given so much screen time (I’d say the most, aside from The Witch and Wife). I was worried that given the cast, the roles played by lesser known screen actors would be cut down. But, as I mentioned above, the film followed very closely to the book. No extra time was given to The Wolf or Cinderella’s Prince simply because they were played by A-listers (albeit both parts were brilliant – Chris Pine stole every scene he was in). This was a truly an ensemble piece, and a remarkably well cast one at that.

Meryl Streep as the The Witch, Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife, James Corden as The Baker, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince (or “The Prince” in the film), plus Billy Magnussen, Lilla Crawford, Johnny Depp, Tracy Ullman, Christine Baranski, and more. Honestly, every role in this film was perfectly cast. And every last one of them can sing! (As is not the case in some… *cough* Phantom… movie musicals.)

My big concern going into the film was that it would by Disney-fied, as they say, and I am happy to report that that was not the case. There is just as much death, destruction, removal of toes and heels, and general dark humour in the film as is in the original show.

Though this fact does leave me wondering who their intended market is. While the film will certainly appeal to fans of the stage show, who else are they gearing it towards? The theatrical trailer gave no indication to an unknowing audience that it’s a musical, or that it’s meant for an older audience. I have a feeling that despite the cast and aggressive advertising, this release will not be a great one. I’m sure it’ll do well enough, but I don’t think that it’s going to be the box office and awards blitz that Disney is hoping for.

But, I hope that I’m very wrong on that count, as I personally loved the film and will definitely be seeing it again (and likely again) in theatres after it’s released on December 25th. I am extremely excited about the soundtrack, which contains 50 tracks (!!!) and will be released on December 14th.

The Q&A

I still can’t believe my luck on this one. Not only did I find myself in a screening, but then a massive portion of the cast shows up, sits 10 ft in front of me, and chats about the film for an hour.

blog1Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Tracy Ullman, Rob Marshall, James Lapine, Anna Kendrick.

blog2Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Emily Blunt, James Corden, moderator.

The Q&A was a nice mix of moderator, audience (both NYC and LA), and social media questions. Everyone got a chance to talk for a bit, lots of insight was provided, and some great stories were told.

Yahoo has the entire 50 minute event online, should anyone be interested in watching:

https://screen.yahoo.com/woods-live-q-event-200000218.html?format=embed

As you can watch it yourself, I don’t need to say much on it. So, instead, I’ll share some photos:

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It was a very fun night, an excellent film, beautiful people, and I still can’t believe I was there.

Stranded

What does the universe do to the gal who was having a million panic attacks thinking about her upcoming trip and had actually decided not to go up until 5 minutes or so before she left? Why, strand her at her destination, of course!

If you’re unaware- I am currently stuck in New York City and am not sure when I’ll get home. I was meant to head out at the break of dawn Tuesday, but some nasty storms have swept through Buffalo. Seriously, it’s horrifying what’s happening: 70-some-odd inches of snow have fallen in the last 48 hours and several people have frozen to death in their cars after being buried. The NY state thruway will be closed until at least Friday, all cross-border bus and train services have been suspended, trucks aren’t being allowed to enter the US on the Peace Bridge. And the snow is still coming down!

There’s now thousands of people stranded in The City (and elsewhere), and I’m incredibly grateful to have friends who don’t mind a couch surfer. I know others aren’t as lucky, and I hope no one has found themselves in a dire situation. I might be tight on cash, but I’m safe, warm, and surrounded by good company.

And aside from the being stranded, I’m having a nice time. I’ve been to several shows, including Idina Menzel’s newest. I visited The Strand for the first time, and looked at banned books with Paul Giamatti. I people watched in Washington Square Park, visited the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, took a road trip with Vi to Baltimore, had a mini MTT reunion lunch with Carly, Sara, and Annie, wandered the West Village, Union Square, Washington Heights, and did Trivia Tuesday in Harlem with some students from Columbia.

I have photos, but I’ll save those for another day. Well, okay, here’s one:

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I ♥ NY

I really, really do.

I mentioned in my last blog that in early September I was given medical clearance to travel again. As you can guess, I found myself in New York a week or so after getting this wonderful news. It was Vi’s birthday, the bus tickets were cheap, and it was 2 for 1 ticket week on Broadway. The decision was practically made for me!

Continue reading “I ♥ NY”

Minuet

Warning: Fangirl post ahead. Proceed with caution…

If you know me if any capacity greater than “her“, you’re probably aware of my ever-so-slight infatuation with Idina Menzel. If you don’t know who she is, she’s worth a Google. But, to save you a bit of time, I’ll go over the basics: Broadway superstar, Tony award winner, phenomenal singer, actress, and overall awesome live performer.

In spring 2004 while on a high school trip to New York we went to see a little show called Wicked. Believe it or not, it was still a relatively little show at the time! This was during it’s original Broadway run, before the Tony’s, the tours, the media frenzy, and the general insanity that was/is the Wicked hype truly took hold. I’d not heard of the show before that trip. In fact, I recall us even debating showing up for it because the Harry Potter cast was going to be down the street at Radio City at the same time. Thank goodness we went!

We sat in the back row of the top balcony, and I had forgotten my glasses back in Canada. Figures! So, I started watching a blurry performance of a show I knew nothing about. And then this green/blue figure appeared on the stage and started singing The Wizard and I, and I was hypnotized! As the show went on I was completely entranced by this woman’s voice, and was so gutted when the show was over.

When I arrived home from the trip I immediately got my hands on the album and started learning a bit about the cast. I will admit, I didn’t get overly obsessed immediately for some strange reason. But during my first year of university it really started to stick! I started getting my hands on Idina’s music (theatre, albums, live show recordings, anything that was out there), and by my second year I was slightly crazed. That was the year she opened London’s West End production of Wicked and I even found myself trying to figure out a way to get there to see it! I didn’t, of course, but lived vicariously through friends I’d met in her fandom who went. It was a fun year.

Like all obsessions, it faded a bit after that year. But, I still completely adored her! And, as it happens, she was signed by Warner Brother records, released an album, and did her first tour. And there was even a date in Toronto. So, my mom got us tickets, and I finally saw Idina in concert on November 7th, 2008. And it was awesome! At this time I didn’t know much about stage-dooring, and being with my mom she insisted we get out as quickly as possible. But, that was okay. The concert was a lot of fun, and I was happy to have just been there.

This first tour had a strict no photography rule, so I sadly only got a few terrible shots on my phone, like this:

Having heard so many recordings of her previous live shows (Zipper, Ars Nova, etc) I knew what to expect going in. She forgets her own lyrics, swears like a sailor, and changes her stories. A lot. Her performance style is fabulous, lively, and fun. It’s what makes seeing her shows such a treat.

Another few years passed, and my love for Idina remained. I saw her films, watched her shows, and continued to listen to her music. And, what luck, in 2011 she went on tour again! This time with a symphony behind her. I could not contain my excitement! Idina has a powerhouse voice, and putting a full symphony behind her was so very fitting.

On September 17, 2011 I drove solo to downtown Buffalo to see her perform with the Buffalo Phil Harmonic. It was an absolutely phenomenal performance that blew her previous concert out of the water. She was as funny and charming as ever, and this time had the accompaniment to support the sheer diversity of her performance.

The lighting in this venue was poor, so I wasn’t able to get good pictures. But, they beat the previous shows’, so that was a win. And to top it off, I got to meet Idina in all of her glory after the show! She didn’t take photos, as she was feeling under the weather, but she still went through the block long queue to sign for everyone waiting.

Oh, and I finally got this bad boy signed!

And, believe it or not, my luck only increased when they announced that PBS would be filming a live performance in Toronto, where I just happened to be living for grad school! What?! So, I a friend and I immediately grabbed some side balcony seats and squeed with excitement.

And come to the week of the performance, I get a Groupon offer for $20 rear view seats. Now, they were filming the concert over 2 nights, and we’d gotten tickets for the second. And paid way more than $20… So, I decided day-of to just splurge and get the ticket for the first performance. And I’m so glad I did. Turns out they seats were fantastic! The acoustics were slightly off, being behind, but knowing I was seeing it the next night, I didn’t worry too much about it. So, on November 17th and 18th 2012 I watched the filming of Barefoot At The Symphony (watch it all, it’s hilarious):

Seriously, who else but Idina Menzel could get a Julliard trained symphony, conducted by the incomparable Marvin Hamlisch, to perform a Glee version of Lady Gaga? They also cut out the numerous (and I mean numerous!) cursing fits for the DVD version posted. Heh.On the second night Catherine and I waited for hours and hours at the stage door, and were able to meet and get a photo with Idina!

I wanted something a little different signed, so I had a photo from the night before developed, which she signed.

This past summer it was announced that she would be doing a UK tour starting in October. And, I just so happened to be moving to London in August! I couldn’t not get a ticket. But, I resisted my inner fangirl and only got a ticket to one show. On October 14th, 2012 I went to see a matinee performance at the London Apollo Theatre. I got second row seats, the best I’d had before, brought along my trusty Canon, and enjoyed the wonder that was another Idina concert. And this time, managed to get some photos I’m quite proud of!

Sigh. I don’t know when/if I’ll get the chance to see Idina perform again, but if it doesn’t happen, I’m more than happy with the experiences I’ve had! But, if there’s a date I can easily get to, I certainly wouldn’t pass it up… ; )

(And a note: I got to see Kristin Chenoweth when she came to Toronto this past summer and got the Playbill pictured above signed by her as well! Mission accomplished!)

Alright. Fangirling over. We now return to our regularly scheduled programme.

It happened again…

Update: This blog was a bit of a teaser. You can find the full story (with loads more pics) here- The Jenna Fischer Adventure.

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That’s right, New York City. I found myself in the Big Apple yet again this past week. For those of you planning the intervention, let me assure you that this time was for completely different reasons, that I just couldn’t resist! (Hmm, I feel that is the type of thing one would say at an intervention though… Ah well!) And, really, 3 times in 2012 isn’t *that* bad, is it?

Anyway, as I said, this trip was completely different. After what has been an, overall, shit (pardon the language, but, it’s really the best description I could come up with) year so far, my friend Sally convinced me to take a break. So, after my semester at school wrapped up, and some personal stuff was over, she headed over and we hit the road.

I’ve never driven to NYC before, but after a recent rise in the price of flights it became the cheapest option. Our wonderful friend Carly offered us a place to crash, and we were set for a few relaxing days out of town. And I must say, it was a rather fantastic holiday.

We went to the Tribeca Film Festival, saw Once on Broadway, did some window shopping (as actual shopping involves something I don’t have- Money! Heh), and took in the sites around the city. Oh, and we met Jenna Fischer. Multiple times.

Sally on The High Line:

Tribeca Film Festival

Once

Jenna Fischer-

On our first day in New York we went to see the premiere of Jenna and her husband Lee Kirk’s new film “The Giant Mechanical Man”. It was a lot of fun. After the show the cast got up to do a Q&A, at the end of which we were surprised by a shout of by Jenna asking if we were there. After the show we went up to meet her, where we received an invite to the films after-party. It was at a roof top bar in Chelsea, and was awesome. We spent the entire night star-spotting! In the days following we were able to see Jenna and Lee a few more times. Her publicist helped us get in to an event at Apple, and the filming of Live! With Kelly. It was all very exciting!

I just realized I never finished my last London blog. Woopsie. I’ll get to it, eventually.