Personal

She knows my name!

Two very good friends of mine went to Disney recently and met the best princess ever, Princess Ariel. Shortly after, they sent me this.

I flipped out.

Movies

Into The Woods

Disney’s getting a little dark. No, I’m not referring to the measles outbreak but rather the screen adaptation of musical Into The Woods.

via Disney's Into The Woods Official Tumblr

source: intothewoodsmovie.tumblr.com

My parents took Andy and I to see it two weeks ago, and I really enjoyed it. So much so, in fact, that I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack. “On The Steps of the Palace,” available above to stream from Spotify, is sung beautifully by Anna Kendrick and is one of my favorites from the soundtrack.

Having no prior knowledge of the musical might have contributed to my enjoying Disney’s adaptation so much, or so the critics would have me believe. However, I think that Rob Marshall revitalized James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s musical for an entirely new audience perfectly.

Let me start off by saying that I’m a big fan of Meryl Streep. My mom and I occasionally have “Meryl Nights” where we share dinner over an old (or new!) DVD starring Streep. So I was excited to see her play a witch and, well, sing. Despite what others seem to think, I like her singing voice and thought it was one of the best parts of Mamma Mia! I was not disappointed by her performance – as an actress and a singer – in this. Her songs are actually played on my Spotify much more than Anna Kendrick’s.

I was captivated by the entire cast, with the glaring exception of Johnny Depp. His song is my least favorite (I usually skip it), and his performance was boring. The child molestation theme of the performance, while sufficiently creepy and potentially construed from Sondheim’s lyrics, clashes with the entire feel of the film. Depp’s screen time is so minimal that it is forgettable, and more importantly, over before you know it.

It also must be acknowledged that Daniel Huttlestone was fantastic in this. He won audiences over with his performance in Les Misérables, and he shined in Into The Woods as well. Lilla Crawford was great, too, though I couldn’t put my finger on why I found her a little annoying until I looked her up after the film. She was the title role in Broadway’s revival of Annie a few years back. Annie, like any of the little girls that play the Welch’s girls are mind-numbingly irritating.

The film itself, when stripped of the fantasy environment, is an exploration of the desires and the demons we find in adulthood. Disney, of course, was really the only choice for such a story. However, the dark themes of the original show were not left in the dark in this adaptation: we explore death, mutilation, stealing, and infidelity. But no fear, we also witness love and have comedic elements such as the narcissistic princes.

In terms of the story, well-known stereotypes and fairytales collide: Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and more. It’s at the very least, a fun outing, but I believe that a lot of people would be interested in this music that might win Emily Blunt her second Golden Globe (it’s her fourth nomination)!

Find tickets at Fandango. And if seeing it at a Regal Entertainment Group theater, definitely join their Crown Club: it’s 100% worth it.

Personal

A Look Back

The late Marina Keegan helped me come to a paramount realization about my life this year: it really is just beginning. Let me explain. I was reading her essay, The Opposite of Loneliness, and this paragraph very nearly leapt off the page to strike me awake from my miserable slumber:

But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…”

I’d better start from the beginning.

You see, I graduated from college and was thrust into a cold and pitiful economy. Like many of my peers, I struggled to find secure and promising employment but eventually was welcomed (with open arms) into the retail industry. It didn’t take long for me to go numb (literally – I worked in the temperature controlled rooms where perishable food is stored) and fall prey to the misguided notion that this was the top of the line for me.

2014 is when that all changed. I was granted the opportunity to turn my passions into two part-time jobs. Then a few months later, thanks to Marina’s words of wisdom, I accepted my first full-time job.

Marina Keegan is the reason I worked harder this year. For that, I will be forever in her debt. So to honor her and all that she’s helped me achieve, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on what a great year 2014 was.

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Music

An Interview with Danny Malone

 

Danny Malone is a singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas whose newest release, SpeedDreamer, is available today. With three albums and over 700k combined YouTube views on his various music videos, we’ve come to expect a lot from Danny. And yet, a lot of people haven’t heard of him.

I recently was offered the opportunity to discuss his new album, troubled past and his thoughts on the music industry.

You’ve previously stated that you tried living in New York but it wasn’t for you. And you were quoted in a 2010 interview in Austin Sound as saying, “Southern is in my bones.” Is that still true – does your heart really reside in Texas?

No. I don’t know why I said that.   My mind is so strange.  Maybe I felt that then.  And maybe I thought I couldn’t handle NYC.  But today, answering this question, I think I could live in NYC, and I really don’t feel any connection to being “southern”.  I think I could live anywhere really.  No matter where I am, I’m somewhere deep in my brain, halfway in another dimension, talking to ghosts, or remembering the future.  I think what you’re asking is if I feel like any certain place is my “home”.  I have a response to this:

Wherever she is, that is where I want to be.  Probably where I NEED to be.  She is home.  And home is where my heart resides.

There’s a lot of chatter currently about the art that musicians create and the value that it holds. Taylor Swift has seemingly waged a war on Spotify about just that. What are your thoughts?

I honestly just don’t really think about this kind of stuff.  What does my opinion really matter?   This machine quite incredibly far removed from me and my ability to change anything.  Instead, I just think about what is directly tangible, or related to my little quiet life.  Doesn’t it seem like everything is just kinda fucked?   I just make art to affect myself and the people in my life who I love.  I think I make art for a maximum of 7 people.  If it reaches more, that’s great, but it’s not my intention by any means.  I’d rather leave those money-grubbing battles to the pop-star fakes and Bono.

I’ve been a fan since I saw the music video for “Baby Bleu” on YouTube back in 2008. You’ve got to tell me: I’ve heard everything from Baby Bleu was your brother’s dog to a beloved car of yours. Who – or what – is Baby Bleu?

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Music

S Club 7 Have Reunited & Everything is Perfect

You may not know this about me, but I am a hardcore addict fan of S Club 7. So much so that my best friend and I used to run fan sites for the group when we were younger. If you’ve ever heard of S Club Castle or S Club 7 NY, that was us.

Yes, I’m being that guy. Everyone should be that guy. Because S Club 7 have just reunited for BBC’s Children in Need. This day is historical.

And “rumor has it there’s a big S Club 7 press conference on Monday” (according to my best friend and fellow S Club 7 fanatic, Kim). Bow down. When will your faves? Who run the world? S Club.

Personal

The Villains of All Hallow’s Eve

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that my favorite movie is Disney’s The Little Mermaid. For one, because it’s the best movie ever created. So for this year’s Halloween festivities, like Taylor, I brought it back to 1989 and went as a gender-swapped Ursula the Sea Witch.

And not only did I go as Ursula, but I smoked all the other Ursula costumes you could even think of (had this been a Best Ursula Costume Party. It wasn’t), because Andy designed my vest. A vest with tentacles. GENIUS.

Luckily, one of our best friends was able to teach us (me) a lot about design, fabric, sewing, and the fashion world as a whole – all while doing the majority of the work. And while most of my design has always been through a computer, it was refreshing to see how these two men bring their talents to fruition out in the real world. Andy and I also painstakingly constructed Ursula’s (stolen) crown and found the perfect necklace from Liebchen Jewelry’s Etsy store. Those really helped pull the outfit together. That, and the body language. Don’t underestimate the importance of body language …ha!

But I have to admit… the gender-swapped Disney Villains idea wasn’t mine – Andy came up with that on his own. And he pulled off a truly amazing Maleficent, if i must say so myself. We really outdid our costumes from last year, didn’t we?

We also tried out a recipe for Caramel Apple Sangria (a Pinterest find!) that was everything you could hope for – and more. There was a lot more attendees this year (thanks to a much larger apartment) so naturally we had more food. Candy, snacks, specialty dishes friends made – and everything had it’s own place card (housed in little vampire teeth) with spooky names.

Plus, this year I got to help with the jack-o-lanterns. Andy showed off his (probably magical?) carving skills with his Void Stiles (Teen Wolf fans, rejoice) while I attempted David Tennant as the Tenth (best) Doctor from Doctor Who. Our massive (and truly heavy) pumpkins were from when we went to Stony Hill Farms for pumpkin picking and their corn maze. They held up great on the drives from New Jersey to Staten Island to Brooklyn (minus a horrific stem-decapitation we won’t be talking about that occurred between me leaving home and going to work that Friday).

There’s nothing better than spending a night (in) with great friends. What were you dressed up as this year?

Personal

Corn Mazes and Pumpkin Picking

I am bad at directions. It is statistically proven that if you add another person to help me find my way around – with a map or without – I will increase our odds of getting lost. A quick trip to a store that’s about 10 minutes away could take close to four hours – with a GPS. That’s a true story. Actually happened. My college friends were brave people, getting in a car with a navigation system with me at the helm.

So naturally, when Andy told me we would be going to a corn maze in New Jersey a whole bunch of red flags went up. A few thoughts popped into my head: ‘He knows this is a bad idea, right?’ ‘Maybe we won’t even find the maze’ and ‘Is this a test?’ to name a few.

He begged. He pleaded.

I caved. How could I resist that face?

And so we found ourselves on the road, enroute to Stony Hill Farms in Chester, NJ. Luckily, a wrong turn created a detour from the terrifying New Jersey roads to a quiet little road that we hoped would lead to our destination. And then we saw something in the middle of the road. An owl, I was convinced. We came closer and closer, and it became clear that this massive bird in the middle of the road was a hawk. I decide against creeping up upon it as it stares us down, and stop the car. Andy frantically grabs for the camera as I admire this beautiful sight of one of my favorite animals. And then it flies away clutching a slipping intestine in its talons. It was an incredibly thing to witness.

But then Andy snapped me back to reality and reminded me of his plan for us to die, lost, in a maze. And so we moved on.

Soon, we reached Stony Hill Farms. We picked out our humongous pumpkins with these marvelous stems that would make perfect jack-o-lanterns for our Halloween party. We ate some apple cider donuts. We agreed that we had under-dressed and would probably be freezing for the rest of the day. And then he bought the tickets to the corn maze. I was distracted. I hadn’t known what hit me. All of a sudden, we were watching a short video about what not to do (panic, use foul language, run… All things I do when lost). This would be difficult.

A man, about to enter the maze, explained to his friends that he studied last year’s maze for 20 minutes before entering. That maze still took him 2 hours. I turned and asked Andy, “Did you study this maze?” “Not really,” he responded.

It took us 46 minutes. We survived. And then we did a mini-maze and a rope maze. We were drunk on power. And hungry. So we got back into the car and headed towards a nearby restaurant. And promptly got lost.

Edit: Here are our finished jack-o-lanterns! This was my first time carving, so hopefully I didn’t butcher David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. And Andy’s Void Stiles from Teen Wolf is… seriously amazing.

Short Film

All I Ever Wanted

Finally, the moment has arrived. The web premiere of All I Ever Wanted!

ABOUT THE FILM

California’s ultimate party boy Carter (Jonathon Grant) typically spends each day going to the clubs having a good time followed by returning to the apartment he shares with his older sister Rochelle (Angela Zivica), where he continues the party. Rochelle, having had enough of his endless drunken nights and “sleepovers” with every guy in the city, takes matters into her own hands.

Sent to New York to finish college, he finds himself faced with the same temptations he is trying to leave behind. Will Carter fall back into his old tricks or find something more?