Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Weekly Buffet: Digging In

Whether it be seeing a movie, a mime, a Broadway musical, or going to a local battle of the bands, attending live performances is an outlet to take part in something we wish, deep down, that we could do ourselves, or maybe it is something that piques our interest and moves us. It's like opening a world to all the different possibilities of ways that life can be lead. Plus, it's fun.

The idea of stand-up comedy to me seems like a great job. Making people laugh night after night would be a riot. But it's also endless work coming up with jokes/bits. And that terrifying thought of bombing. Which is exactly how I know that hobby/profession is not for me. I do, however, still like to indulge this interest by venturing out to see those that do have that talent.

Over a week ago I had the pleasure of catching Chris Hardwick - he of Singled Out/Nerdist/@Midnight/Talking Dead/General Host of all the Com-icon panels fame - do his thing on the stage. His charisma of telling a funny story sure pays off in real life. He knows how to work a stage and an audience better than most comedians I've ever seen. He never looked nervous once - just breezy.

Well except when he timidly wondered, "So, what's with all those 12's around the city?" Boy did the Seattle crowd answer.

Even though I love them, I hadn't gone to a comedy show in years. And that wasn't the only thing I revisited lately. Between giving an author a second chance and considering the face behind some favorite songs, this week was about digging deeper into what we already love and exploring what other, new choices out in this world have to offer. 

 You Wrote That?

Musical artists are the face of a song, but many of them don't completely write their own material. It's sad to admit, but it doesn't occur to me as often as it should to look up who actually wrote the song I love that plays on the radio. When you do, patterns connecting favorite songs start to develop.

After one internet search, I realized that one guy has written many of the songs I've been obsessed with in recent years. Justin Parker wrote/co-wrote songs for quite the range of female singers -  "I Know You Care" (Ellie Goulding), "Ride" (Lana Del Ray), and "Stay" (Rihanna) - all of which are the specific songs that made me give a crap about each of those singers. He can write a dang good jam.

Never had I thought about those three songs together, since the artists are so different, but after figuring out the connection the very similar sound is so obvious. All three are slower, haunting ballads with gorgeous melodies. If all of those songs were given to one artist, that would have made one hell of a record.

Now, instead of seeking out the next single from a pop star, I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for songs written by Parker, because wherever he goes, a beautiful song will follow.

West Of Memphis

Every week since the cultural event/podcast Serial ended, there have been articles proclaiming to know what is "the next Serial" or what new thing will give you your "Serial fix".

I'm continuing that tradition, because I have found the perfect item for those suffering from Serial withdrawl. It's not a podcast, but anyone looking for a fix of unsolved murders mixed with wrongful imprisonment, look no further than a documentary from 2012 - West Of Memphis.

Unlike the case of Adnan Syed, this one has an ending that is partially resolved. Although, it will leave you just as frustrated with America's criminal justice system.

In 1993, three eight-year-old boys were murdered in the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas. Eventually three teenagers from the town were convicted for the murders. Was there evidence against them? None whatsoever. They just happened to fit the profile that many people felt would have done such a terrible act.

Such an injustice got attention from Eddie Vedder and Peter Jackson who helped to fund the efforts to get these kids exonerated. What unfolds throughout the documentary is a dumbfounding realization of all the ways this case went wrong over twenty years.

It's an extraordinary story.

Dear Sugar

Cheryl Strayed is having a big year. Her book, Wild, which is about "finding herself" while treking through the PNW trail, is getting Oscar attention due to Reese Witherspoon playing her in the movie version.

Having not seen the movie, all I can speak to is my impression of the book. When I read it a couple years ago I was struck by many elements of the story and impressed by her endurance to do such an intense task. Although, I wasn't a fan of the book as a whole, often rolling my eyes at Strayed's writing style that felt a lot like complaining, and her endless attention to pointless parts of her trek. We get it - every night you slept in a tent, wrote, and read a book - that would get quite repetitive and boring. Oh, and don't get me started on how she chose her last name.

Overall, I just wasn't a fan and didn't see myself reading any more of her material. I had to take this all back when a friend, who shared my same opinions about Wild, thrust another, very different book of her writing into my hands. I decided to give it a chance and what I've found is quite fascinating.

Strayed's work as an internet self help columnist named Sugar, was compiled into a single book called, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Strayed greatly succeeds at being an open minded person who you can tell really wants to help people. Her advice is refreshing and honestly powerful to read. I've also always been a sucker for stories from the mouths of real people who are struggling, and I can't put it down.

Lessons: For me, Strayed is better enjoyed in short columns instead of an entire novel. Also, don't give up on someone after only one thing. Dig deeper, and try again, and you could find something great.

They Do This Every Year??

For about fifteen minutes on Sunday night, the greatest thing I had ever seen was The Miss Universe pageant. That is a sentence I never thought I would write, but it's true. 

Each girl must present herself with a costume that represents her country. These weren't just any old costumes either - we're talking costumes that put Vegas showgirls and Cher to shame. 

I was getting so into laughing and watching these costumes come out on the stage that I actually got mad and "boo'd" at the women who didn't have 10-feet wide diorama's built on their body. Yeah, you're from Greece, that's a clever, flowy, white dress you have. Give me a break! Canada was supporting the weight of 10 hockey sticks and a score board on her back. Now that's a winner.

Who knew that there is a legitimate reason to watch a pageant on television? 

The most upsetting part is learning that this costume competition happens every year - I mourn the many years of this mess that I have missed.

I try hard not to limit myself to the usual routine and this week is a great example of mixing it up. There's quite a lot of unexpected things out there to enjoy.

I suggest you start working on a costume that represents your country. I think I'd channel Lady Gaga and instead of meat, make a dress out of good ole American apple pies.

Until next time!

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