Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sufjan Stevens and the Illinoise-makers

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to post something. . . But the post I have for you today includes pictures!!! YAY!

So Saturday night, Lauren and I took the long way to Athens, GA and saw Sufjan Stevens in concert. That's "SOOF-yawn" for all of you newcomers! (For the longest time, I couldn't remember his name. I kept spelling it like this: Soguosthj;ghoa.)

About a month and a half ago, when Lauren and Lexi first introduced me to his music, I decided I liked the music but not Sufjan's voice. After the concert, I decided I like the music AND his voice, although I sometimes think he sings when he should just leave the music instrumental. I say that because his music really is great as just music. Sufjan plays the piano, banjo, guitar, and apparently a bunch of other instruments. But what I really like is that he utilizes pretty much every available musical sound. He has backup musicians who play the drums, trombone, and trumpet. They harmonize, snap their fingers, and clap their hands. It's great!

For this particular tour, the backups are called the Illinoise-makers. Why? Well, Sufjan Stevens has decided to create an album for each of the 50 states! Right now, obviously, he's on Illinois. He's already done Michigan. Before that, he made a "regular" album -- "Seven Swans." I really like that one, but I think the whole 50 states thing is cool. I mean for the next 48 years, he'll have material. I wonder if that makes songwriting easier or more difficult. I also wonder if he'll finish, and I am of the opinion that he won't. But as for now, I'll enjoy his music, which maybe sounds like it'd be cheesy at this point, but I promise it's not! It's actually classified as Christian music, I think. I normally don't listen to what is termed "Christian music/rock/whatever" (unless you include church hymns), but his music is pretty original. He sings with Christian themes in mind, but the music basically comes out as folksy fictional stories with religious/spiritual undertones. He talks about this in an interview with Pitchfork Media, which you can read here.

Anyway, here are the pics. Don't forget to check out samples of his music on all of those links above.

The show was at the 40 Watt in Athens. For those of you who don't live in Georgia, I'll explain what all of us Gawjuns know about the 40 Watt. It originally started out as a club with just one 40-Watt lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. Oh, and NOBODY calls it the "40 Watt Club," as the sign below shows. It's ALWAYS referred to, more coolly, as the "40 Watt."

Okay, so this picture is perhaps not the most interesting, but I had to try to capture the atmosphere. The room had miniature Christmas lights all over. It was like a fairyland. (As I'm typing this, I'm thinking how interesting it is that I -- and I think most people -- refer to miniature lights as Christmas lights.)

Here is Sufjan Stevens and one of his Illinoise-makers. Sufjan is all decked out in his star-spangled jumpsuit, a nod to the patriotic theme. This Illinoise-maker had a great voice, I thought. And she seemed really, really happy and cheerful, as did most of the band. I mention it because cheerfulness is definitely an anomaly in the music scene.

Here is the most panoramic view I could get of the band. I LOVE concert lights; they're so cool.

This was just before the show ended. Sufjan and his crew had just been through Illinois on their way to Georgia, and stopped to get this blow-up Superman in Metropolis, IL.

This is obviously not a very good picture (The lighting at the 40 Watt is terrible for taking pictures!), but it's the last one I took. It was the 2nd encore and a nice acoustic song.

Thing I'm thankful for: Video phones. Lily, Macy, and I have been having a ball with my new one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I Guess I Should've Been Alive In the 50's. . .

. . . Because I have the traditional family values found then. Sure, I understand that there are exceptional circumstances that create so-called non-traditional households. But overall, I'm tired of people justifying non-traditional ways just because it's what's more popular or common now.

I'm referring to this article I read on MSN Lifestyle -- "The Changing American Family." At first I was pretty interested because I love reading statistics, but by the end of the article, I realized that the author is not just giving us statistics. He is not lamenting the fact that less than 25% of American households are made up of a mother and father and children; he is lamenting the plight of the non-traditional family, which is, he says, that they are discriminated against in housing, employment, adoption, insurance, etc. In the last paragraph, he quotes a non-traditional parent: "It really doesn't matter what kind of relationship the parents are in -- what matters is the love they have for their child. That is what makes a family."

I realize that what I'm about to say is extremely conservative for the 21st century, and I know that people will think I'm ignorant. But I will say it anyway! It's very important that a child be loved, but the best kind of love is to bring the child into the world with a mother and a father if possible. If it's not possible, I don't think it should be done. A family is a mom, a dad, and kids. There are some circumstances that alter this somewhat -- like divorce in extreme cases and death of a spouse or both parents. I'm tired of people justifying their lifestyles by saying, "This is what makes a family because it's more popular now." Why do the laws involved in this particular issue have to change? Shouldn't the people be changing for the laws? (I realize that laws sometimes need to be changed, but in this case, I don't think they need to be.) And look at that, I just did it again. I stuck a parenthetical aside in here because I feel I have to justify my opinion to the liberal American public.

I guess that's a major part of this post. I'm tired of having to bury my opinions for the sake of self-preservation. It's just not kosher these days to proclaim a conservative view without being intellectually shunned -- especially when it comes to marriage and family. When I tell someone I changed my major from pre-med to English, I have to go into this big long talk about why. I can't just say, "Well, I want to be a stay-at-home mom, and you can't do that and be a doctor, can you?" Again, I'm not saying that all women should be stay-at-home moms, but I am asking why I sometimes get quizzical looks when I tell people that's what I want to do. Just when did America change so much?

Anyway. I'm sure plenty of you readers will have much to say on the topic -- maybe much derision for me. But I can take it. :)

Thing I'm thankful for today: My nieces. Again. Will I really love my own future children more??? :)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

It Was So Good, I'm Going to See It Again!

The new movie "Just Like Heaven" is . . . should I say it? Just like heaven. It's my favorite new release of the whole entire year! (And probably longer than that!) It was so good! I saw it with my mom at the matinee, and walking out of the theatre after a matinee show feels great because it's still light outside -- so if you wasted 2 hours watching a crappy movie, you know you can either watch another one to make up for the first, or you can just do something completely different with the daylight hours you have left.
But if you've spent 2 hours watching a good movie, you feel wonderful, and you've only spent $5.50 doing it! Great!

ANYWAY, mommy and I both thought the movie was really good. Do you remember my previous anticipatory post? I was not disappointed. I compared the apparent premise of the movie to "City of Angels." Well. This movie kicks "City of Angels's" (?) derierre. :) The trailer is kind of confusing, but once you see the movie, you'll be happy that the trailer didn't give too much of the plot away. It's pretty clever and creative. I wonder if it's a re-make of the 1930's movie of the same name (I can't find much information on that one.).
I don't want to say much more, except . . . enjoy it. And one more thing. "Just like Heaven" was such a feel-good movie. It doesn't have any raunchy sex scenes or vulgar language -- well, I do remember maybe 2 swear words. But overall, it was very clean. It makes me want to yell at movie executives and say, "See? A blockbuster movie CAN be clean! People like to see those kinds of movies!"

While thinking about this movie earlier, I thought about Reese Witherspoon's other movies, and I have to say, I think she's been pickin' some good ones lately. I love to watch her onscreen; I think she's a great actress. She has a refreshing cheerfulness that sets her apart from other actresses, but she can still act out some heavier emotions. I'm wary to make any bold statements of favorites, but I think she's probably one of my favorite actresses. If her next few movies are exceptional, I will definitively say that she is. And her next movie is "Walk the Line," a documentary-like film about Johnny Cash. If that's as good as it looks, I think I will be making that bold statement sooner than I think.

As for the male lead in the movie, Mark Ruffalo, I'll say that he played his part well, too. I've only seen 3 of his movies, though, so I don't really know much about his acting style. I DO like his mumbling and his scruffy appearance and his sensitive charm. . . ! :)

Thing I'm thankful for: Other people's patience with me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

This Just In!

Read this MSN article. Though sad for all of us hopeless daydreamers, I really do hope it works out for him. I mean, he seems like one of the only really decent celebrities.

To see what exactly I'm referring to, READ THE ARTICLE. (I even linked it twice for you!)

Thing I'm thankful for today: Little tiny hugs from my nieces.

Friday, September 09, 2005

My First Big NY Interview

Some advice that would've helped me BEFORE my interview was given to me by Brooks and Jacki, respectively:

  1. When travelling, always pack a pair of nice shoes.
  2. To prepare for an interview, empty your bowels.

BUT, I talked with them much later in the day. And this is what I told them:

I was WAY worked up over nothing. I mean, it was an interview -- the first "professional" interview of my life. And I've really only had 1 real job interview before, but "that was for college," I thought. I should've kept thinking that because the organization for which I interviewed is a university press. So it was pretty laid-back and college-y. You know, people wearing jeans or khakis with pique polos. This was not the high-profile, stuffy workplace I was expecting. I was even overdressed in my black sweater, red pencil skirt, and black high-heels (which, incidentally, KILL in NYC).

Going into it, I thought, "This is an interview, so I will be answering questions." But Lexi said to relax because the purpose of interviews is to see what a prospective employee looks like and to see whether or not he or she would be a good employee to work with. That's exactly how my interview was. My interviewers spent more time talking about what they do and the press in general than they did asking me questions.

So all in all, I think it went well. We'll see what happens. . .

Also, I have a video clip of me filling out the "official" application. Lexia has to convert it to something that I can actual post on the web, so as soon as she does, I will make a link to it.

Thing I am thankful for: Washers and dryers INSIDE the house. It cost me (well, Lexia) about $12 to do laundry today!!! Cong Rong A Zong Yong!!!

P. S. I have pictures of Palmyra, NY and Niagara Falls -- I will post them as soon as I can.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Ode to Mommy

I am supposed to be back in Georgia right now. But about an hour before mom and I were scheduled to leave, I got a call from a lady at one of the publishing houses I applied to, and she wanted to meet me for an interview. The place is in NY, so you know what THAT meant: quick decision. Should I stay, or should I go? Well, obviously, I stayed. Let me just say now that this is one of the quickest decisions I have made in my life. I don't know how long I'm going to stay, and I only packed for a week!
So I'm totally scared out of my mind right now and completely confused about where I'm headed in this crazy world, but one major concern for me this afternoon was that I didn't have any interview clothes. So mommy gave me some money before heading to the airport. She was so excited for me and so was Lexia. And my dad even called me later and congratulated me on getting an interview, and Brooks and Jacki did too.

So thing I'm thankful for today: My family.

But especially mommy because as she was driving away today in the cab, I missed her so much. I've never left my mommy, and she's never left me (except on vacation), and now she's in Georgia, and I'm in New York. And I don't like it. Not one bit. But I'm really okay because Lex is with me, and she helped me buy some good clothes today. (Thanks, Lex.)

Lookout Le Femme!

Lauren doesn't always wear skirts and blouses; in fact, she rarely does. But today she had on a very feminine-looking white cotton blouse, which was surprising. It was a lazy day, and she kinda sorta dressed up. Maybe it was because Matt Damon was around, but maybe she just decided to look out -- le femme style. Maybe I'll post some images later so you can see what I mean, but for right now, I'll just tell you the nickname we came up with for her. Lookout Le Femme. She rolls her eyes when I say it, but I told her I would post about it. And so I have.

Thing I'm thankful for: My mom. You'll see why in my next post.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

One and a Half NY Celebrity Sightings

Lexia and I went to The Magnolia Bakery again last night. This time we went with our mommy. Mommy couldn't walk that far, so we took a cab. As we were getting out and walking onto the sidewalk, Lexia loudly whispered, "Sara! C'mere quick!" I turned around just in time to see the back of Mike Myers, who was walking away. Lexia said she might've said something to him, but she didn't "register" that it was him until he had walked past her. I told her she should've sung (in a Scottish accent), "If you want my body, and you think I'm sexy. . ." Hmm. . . too bad. I had my camera with me. One thing I will mention is that Mike (Now that I've seen his back, I'm on a first-name basis with him.) was wearing a black long-sleeved sweater. Talk about HOT! How one can wear a sweater in this weather is beyond me! But he is a little guy. . .

Today, Martin Scorsese and his crew were filming a movie on Lexia's street. When I talk about "Lexia's street," I mean a few buildings down from hers, and when I say "a movie," I mean "The Departed," a movie starring Matt Damon, Leonardo Di Caprio, and Jack Nicholson, among others. Ca-RAZY! I was thisclose to seeing one of my favorites (Matt Damon)! And although, Lexia, Lauren, and I were obligated to pass by the building several times today, we did not see any of these people. But I was SO close, and we did see their trailers! This qualifies me saying that this was a half-sighting, I think.

Or maybe I should say that was definitely NOT a sighting, and the back of Mike Myers was a half-sighting. But then I'd have to change the name of this post to "A Half NY Celebrity Sighting," and then you probably wouldn't want to read it.

Thing I'm thankful for today: Looza Apple-Cherry Juice.

Addendum: Lexia just informed me that I did see another celebrity -- today. It was James Iah (or however you spell his name) from Smashing Pumpkins. I didn't really see him, though, Lexia did. I saw the back of him, which seems to be my lot in the celebrity sighting life -- seeing the backs of people, I mean. Anway, James was with his dog.

Friday, September 02, 2005

When Atlanta Gas Prices Rise, Go To New York

I am in my sister's East Village apartment right now -- I really think that if Hell was a real place, it would only be a little hotter than her living room. We just came back from The Magnolia Bakery, where we bought the prettiest cupcakes anyone could ever lay eyes on. Sadly, the bakery was OUT of banana pudding, but I will not despair -- we're going back on Tuesday. . . (I should probably point out that besides being deliciously pretty, the desserts are also VERY good. They're like Pringles that way; once you pop, you CAN'T stop!!!)
Anyway, mom and I are here in the Big Apple visiting Lexia. We've already taken some pretty fun pictures, so when I get home on Wednesday, I will post them. Just to give you an idea of what kind of captions you can look forward to are those that include such establishments as The Magnolia Bakery, The Marshall Chess Club, and . . . Fantasy World? :)

Thing I'm thankful for today: Air conditioning (because we don't have it here!) and one more -- that feeling I always get at takeoff in a plane. I LOVE it!