Saturday, November 15, 2014

Interstellar: Water Cooler Currency

It seems as though everyone in the office at work as seen Interstellar, and we're all talking about it. Critics have been a little split on the film, with some praising it's stunning visuals and entertainment value and others critiquing its lack of sophistication/intellect. Here's what my co-workers and I have determined over coffee and the copier:

1). Paying for IMAX seems to have been worth it. My co-worker Kate said its enormity was astounding.

2). Along that's visually spectacular. We think the sublime of nature in romanticism is being replaced in the twenty-first century with galactic film.

3). Matthew McConaughey is so orange!

4). The dimensions of time (especially near the end) actually blew our minds. Worm holes, black holes, alternate universes, etc. We talked about time and relativity for 20 minutes and still felt perplexed/curious!

5). Matt Damon and the snow planet: gratuitous macho scene that came off as foolish boys having a snowball fight.

6). Robots were not as impressive as our beloved original HAL: their voices were almost too real; their design was bizarre and nonsensical; but their programming capabilities fascinated us.

7). We're happy Anne Hathaway is out of Hollywood hiding.

8). As per usual, Hans Zimmer knocked it our of the park with a shimmering and cavaliering (albeit loud) soundtrack.

9). Dylan Thomas's poem, "Do not go gentle into that good night," while a lovely poem was overused and felt forced. We get it, Nolan, you're an intellectual! 

10). The pathos was delicately balanced––it wasn't cold, but it wasn't sappy.

Photo via Wired, by Paramount Pictures. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

{On Repeat}....Bal-Musette

I was listening to a podcast of Fresh Air the other day and heard some of the most whimsical music: Bal-Musette. It's a style of French music that predominantly features the accordion (I had always thought of polkas when it comes to accordions) and from turn of the twentieth century. Musettes were played in dance halls in France and are inspired from Italian, Bohemian, and Auvergnat cultures.

Fun fact for coffee lovers, bal-musette dance was also known as java.

I never would have guessed, but I'm finding bal-musette to be the perfect early-winter music. It's fun, upbeat, a little romantic in a goofy way, and feels very exotic. Listening to it is like a mini vacation––everything seems sparklier and more special.

I suggest listening to: The Paris Musette, Guy Visuer, and Accordeon Melancolique

Image: lithograph by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1892), via MoMA

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Truly Midwestern Sayings (Decoded)

I've lived in the great Midwest my entire life, and thus I'm not always aware of what constitutes a "truly Midwestern" saying. When I traveled to Berlin, I realized some of our strange American aphorisms, and then even Minnesota/Wisconsin versions. When my family took a vacation to Florida, everyone picked up on our accents and our expressions. I've compiled a list and helped decode their secret meanings.

1. Minnesota Nice: this is just an excessively polite way of saying passive aggressive.

2. "That's different": Your behavior/lifestyle/personality/opinion is totally unacceptable in my view and I will never understand, nor attempt to understand, why you do/think that.

3. "For sure": this seems to be exclusively Wisconsin in my experiences. If you're hardcore, you'll tack on an elongated "oh" in the beginning. Depending on tone, this can be condescending (if someone makes a suggestion that you despise) or eagerly appeasing (agreeing for almost the exclusive desire to agree). See No. 1 for why. (I'm pretty sure that other regions say, "most definitely.")

4. "Just a thought": this is typically said at the end of an opinion/suggestion. It's a polite and slightly passive aggressive way of implying that what you just said is (to you) the right and superior sentiment, but you don't want to come of as pretentious or too forward.

5. "Wouldn't you know"/"Dontcha know": the former is a way of introducing what you're going to say as special, interesting, serendipitous (like if you recently saw a long-lost friend you had been speaking about the other day). The latter is added at the end of a statement, and means to establish agreement.

All in all, most Midwestern sayings are about playing nice. If confused, assume they are trying really hard to keep the peace.

Photo via sarahcarlsonetc Instagram. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

{On Repeat}...Caroline Smith

My friend recently introduced me to a Minnesota-native artist, Caroline Smith. I'm hooked and it feels like the perfect playlist for autumn right now. What I like about her music is its adaptability. It's simultaneously romantic, melancholic, spunky––it fits every mood.

Her voice is delicately strong; her music sounds like those cool girls who are quietly confident. Listen to her album Half About Being a Woman here.

If I must choose, my favorite tracks are: "The One Thing," "Child of Moving On," and "Buy Me Something," all of which are infectious.

Photo by Reginald P.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Upcoming Movies

I rarely go to the theater, because I can't justify spending a fourth of my grocery bill on movie tickets. However, I've come across several trailers that pique my interest. I'll admit that I don't have refined, artistic taste, so some are pulpy and trendy. Regardless, these are what I'm looking forward to.

The Theory of Everything
Eddie Redmayne stole my heart in Les Miserables and now this. I'm aware of the potential sappiness with this, but I think it will be touching and heartfelt. 

Dear White People
This satirical film is getting so much buzz and being celebrated as a culturally relevant for everyone. It deals with identity, acceptance versus tolerance, and raises some pressing questions of contemporary American prejudice.

Gone Girl

The book is totally pulpy, but has been getting a lot of attention as a surprisingly gripping novel. The film has gotten mixed reactions from critics, but I still want to give it a try. I typically like Ben Affleck and I've been a fan of Rosamund Pike since she was in Pride and Prejudice.

Matthew McConaughey is on a career high and Anne Hathaway has come out of performance hiding. I was never a huge fan (and she is the epitome of my childhood in The Princess Diaries), but after such cruelty with the "Hathahaters" she deserves a moment to shine again in a great movie.

I'm also taking this opportunity to say that Boyhood is aptly placed in Oscar lists. (I will forever adore the precious treatment of time in that film.) Do you have any recommendations for me? I'd love your suggestions!

Photo public domain via Commons

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Currently Reading: The Goldfinch

I just finished reading Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch and it was astounding. My sister's boyfriend, Alex, bought me two great reads for my birthday in June and I finally found the time to sit down and devour this 700-plus pages.

The enormous novel was intimidating at first (the commitment seemed astronomical!) and I was slightly concerned that it would seem I was part of this global book club––it's the novel of the summer and kind of a chit-chat point like TV shows. However, I'm always game for a book about art featuring a Russian supporting character.

The Goldfinch is what you would call a bildungsroman (a story about growing up, usually through a "journey"), so Tartt writes in the voice of a boy spanning at least ten years and both American coasts (and continents!). His travels, battles & triumphs intersect and spiral into the lives of other diverse characters that creates a multidimensional life for Theo and the reader.

While it took me weeks––I'm a slow reader, I'll admit (you can see my progress on Instagram from beginning, middle, and end)––I was melancholic when I finished. I felt some serious pride and also sadness, because it has passages that are just so breathtakingly beautiful. I haven't read something this  popular & lovely in a while.

Donna Tartt only publishes a novel what seems like every decade, and I can see why. The Goldfinch is perfection. I highly recommend carving out a chunk of time to read this stunning novel.

P.S. I heard it's going to be a movie?!?!; here's the actual Fabritius Goldfinch

Saturday, July 26, 2014

J.Crew Wishlist

Readers, you may already know this but . . . J.Crew is an all-time love and classic. I'm here to remind you of two great things:

WISHLIST: J.Crew has an amazing wishlist feature that not only allows you to save products you love for later, but also categorizes them smartly and beautifully. (We all know J.Crew reigns supreme in online shopping curation.)

It categorizes by in-stock, on sale, only a few left (!!), and also by importance. So if you have twelve items in there, it's probably like this: there's one item you need and if you don't get it you might cry/die (that's at the top), four are beautiful but you can't get yourself to buy them just yet, followed by six that you randomly added because you wanted to distract yourself from real work by online window-browsing, and the last one––because you couldn't stand having two rows of four with one row of three.

My wishlist looks like this:

Row 1: Necklace / Shirt / Bag / Shoe
Row 2: Sweater / Rain boot / Cuff

SALE: Seriously and awesome sale is going on right now with an additional 40% off of final sale items. If you know your size well for the majority of the store, you'll be fine (as final sale is non-returnable). Shipping rates are also reduced right now for a limited time. Now is the time to buy!!

Top photos via J.Crew