ICYMI: #JeffersonWearsCoolPants

This week, Kanye was back to his ranting habits, and it was amazing. Naturally, we compared it to Hamilton. Because #WeAreAHamiltonBlogNow

Hamilton Explained: Cabinet Battle #1 (As Kanye Rant Tweets)

Welcome back to Hamilton Explained! It’s been a minute. When the Hamilton soundtrack was released all of these historical and musical references were jumping out at me and I wanted to start unpacking some of them here. I wasn’t counting on a whole community of people doing this very thing over at Genius. Instead of duplicating the efforts from Genius (check out their annotations if you haven’t!) here’s Cabinet Battle #1, explained through tweets from Kanye West’s epic January 27, 2016 rant against Wiz Khalifa.

WASHINGTON:
Ladies and gentlemen, you coulda been anywhere in the world tonight,
but you’re here with us in New York City.
Are you ready for a cabinet meeting???

The issue on the table: Secretary Hamilton’s plan to assume state debt
and establish a national bank.
Secretary Jefferson, you have the floor, sir

JEFFERSON:
‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’
We fought for these ideals; we shouldn’t settle for less
These are wise words, enterprising men quote ‘em
Don’t act surprised, you guys, cuz I wrote ‘em

8th I made it so we could wear tight jeans

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

JEFFERSON & MADISON:
Oww

JEFFERSON:
But Hamilton forgets
His plan would have the government assume state’s debts
Now, place your bets as to who that benefits:
The very seat of government where Hamilton sits

HAMILTON:
Not true!

JEFFERSON:
Ooh, if the shoe fits, wear it
If New York’s in debt—
Why should Virginia bear it? Uh! Our debts are paid, I’m afraid

Don’t tax the South cuz we got it made in the shade

Oh niggas must think I’m not petty cause I’m the best that’s ever made music

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

In Virginia, we plant seeds in the ground
We create. You just wanna move our money around

14th Nigga it’s called creativity #youshouldtryitsomeday

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

This financial plan is an outrageous demand

Second, your first single was corny as fuck and most there after

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

And it’s too many damn pages for any man to understand

3rd no one I know has ever listened to one of your albums all the way through

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016


If you missed one of our previous Hamilton Explained posts, here’s another battle, in the form of rules of a duel.

Hamilton Explained: Ten Duel Commandments

We’re still listening to Hamilton non-stop, and it’s time to break down another song. Last time it was The Schuyler Sisters, and today I chose Ten Duel Commandments. As before, lyrics are in italics and lines that we’re expounding on are in bold. If I didn’t get an idea or fact out of the (finally not-so-useless) history and rap references swirling around my brain, the source is credited.

[MEN]
One, two, three, four

[FULL COMPANY]
Five, six, seven, eight, nine…

  • References not just the “ten duel commandments” but also the count to ten paces before turning and firing.
  • Repeated in Take A Break, The World Was Wide Enough, Blow Us All Away. [source: genius.com]
  • But also: the 1-9 count is repeated in French – only by Eliza with Philip – in Take A Break and Stay Alive (Reprise).

[BURR/HAMILTON/LAURENS/LEE]
It’s the Ten Duel Commandments

  • We all know this one:
  • But also: dueling WAS super-codified and regimented. A Code Duello was a treatise explaining rules in hand-to-hand combat, and the 10 Duel Commandments is just the last in a long line, after a few centuries’ break.

[FULL COMPANY]
It’s the Ten Duel Commandments
Number one!

[LAURENS]
The challenge: demand satisfaction
If they apologize, no need for further action

  • Satisfaction, in a dueling context, refers to restoring your honor after a slight or an offense.
  • But Lin Manuel Miranda wouldn’t just leave it there, of course. Notice how he weaves satisfied/satisfaction in other contexts throughout the show: in Angelica’s assertions in Satisfied, as well as Hamilton’s. There’s a running theme that Hamilton’s greatest strength and downfall is his inability to be satisfied with his station at any given point.
  • This extends to Burr, always clawing his way up the political ladder; as well as Angelica, who made a calculated choice to pass on Hamilton;  Phillip, who couldn’t let an insult rest; and, in later years, Eliza:

  • I’m not crying, you’re crying.

[COMPANY]
Number two!

[LAURENS]
If they don’t, grab a friend, that’s your second

[HAMILTON]
Your lieutenant when there’s reckoning to be reckoned

  • “The seconds’ duty, above all, was to try to reconcile the parties without violence. An offended party sent a challenge through his second.” [Source: PBS]
  • Laurens grabbed his friend Hamilton as his second in his duel against Lee. [source: Founders Online archive]
  • Double meaning time: a lieutenant is a subordinate acting in their superior’s stead.. but also, Hamilton was a Lieutenant Colonel.

[COMPANY]
Number three!

[LEE]
Have your seconds meet face to face

[BURR]
Negotiate a peace…

[HAMILTON]
Or negotiate a time and place

  • A part of every duel: in the Lee/Laurens duel, it was Edwards and Hamilton who met and negotiated a time and place (“half past three,” in a “wooded situae.” Quaint). [source: Founders Online archives]

[BURR]
This is commonplace, ‘specially ‘tween recruits

[COMPANY]
Most disputes die, and no one shoots

  • Burr’s right: dueling was downright trendy in the 18th century, especially among the young men of the British gentry. I’m picturing 1700s-style Rich Kids Of Instagram who would be wearing pastel shorts and Oxford shirts with rolled sleeves today. Just a couple bros, their firearms, and their tender, tender egos.
  • By the late 18th century, dueling was particularly popular among members of the military. ‘Tween recruits.

Number four!

[LAURENS]
If they don’t reach a peace, that’s alright
Time to get some pistols and a doctor on site

[HAMILTON]
You pay him in advance, you treat him with civility

[BURR]
You have him turn around so he can have deniability

  • Part of the typical Code Duello included having a surgeon on site, preferably one with experience with gunshot wounds. Again, the goal was not to have one guy shoot the other guy dead, just to prove that you had the balls to face getting shot dead to uphold your “honor.” BROS. EGOS.

    [Source: Pistols At Dawn: A History Of Dueling]

  • Dueling was illegal, and by turning around the doctor could not be called as a witness (or, presumably, hailed as an accessory).

[COMPANY] Five! [LEE] Duel before the sun is in the sky

  • Before the sun is in the sky: duels were conducted at dawn for a few reasons. First, to prevent rash decisions: from the Irish Code Duello – “Challenges are never to be delivered at night, unless the party to be challenged intend leaving the place of offense before morning; for it is desirable to avoid all hot-headed proceedings.”
  • Second, at dawn, neither party had the advantage/disadvantage of the sun being in their face.
  • Third, police were often in bed.
  • And finally, it would be harder for witnesses to spot the duelers.

[COMPANY] Pick a place to die where it’s high and dry

  • Hamilton and Burr’s duel site – also used by Hamilton’s son Phillip – fits the description. This might be an old-school application of the mom-tested rule that when splitting a piece of cake, one person gets to cut it and one gets to choose. In the Code Duello, one party chose the ground and the other the distance. If you choose soggy oceanfront property to duel on, you just up your own chances of getting stuck in the mud or staggering into the water.
  • The Weehawken site, for instance, was chosen because it was a high ledge only accessible by water – choosing a high location might have meant that a Colonial villager didn’t accidentally stumble upon your duel.
     
  • “This line mirrors Biggie’s line of “Don’t get high on your own supply.”” [Source: genius.com]

Number six!

[HAMILTON]
Leave a note for your next of kin
Tell ‘em where you been.

Pray that hell or heaven lets you in

  • Two drafts of Hamilton’s final note to Eliza exist. You wouldn’t want to tell your wife beforehand, because (a) no way is she going to let that go down, and (b) plausible deniability.
  • From Hamilton’s letter: “Heaven can preserve me and I humbly hope will; but, in the contrary event, I charge you to remember that you are a Christian. God’s will be done! ” [source: Trinity Wall Street.org]
  • And also: “Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted.  With my last idea; I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world. Adieu best of wives and best of Women.  Embrace all my darling Children for me.” [source: it’s hamiltime!]
  • Great, now we’re all crying.

[COMPANY]
Seven!

[LEE]
Confess your sins.

Ready for the moment of adrenaline when you finally face your opponent

  • The colonies, at this point, are mostly Mainline Protestant – just Catholic-y enough that absolution before death was kind of a thing.
  • The opponents would arrive separately to the site so only saw each other shortly before go time.

[COMPANY]
Number eight!

[LAURENS/LEE/HAMILTON/BURR]
Your last chance to negotiate
Send in your seconds, see if they can set the record straight…

[BURR]
Alexander

[HAMILTON]
Aaron Burr, sir

  • Just a nice little callback to Aaron Burr, Sir earlier in the show.
  • As we mentioned earlier, Edwards was actually Lee’s second, but whatever, this works.

[BURR]
Can we agree that duels are dumb and immature?

[HAMILTON]
Sure
But your man has to answer for his words, Burr

[BURR]
With his life? We both know that’s absurd, sir

  • Fun fact, unless you’re Alexander Hamilton: the man was not that keen on dueling. In the Lee/Laurens duel, he tried to advocate against it and then successfully stopped a second shot from being fired after Lee was injured. [Source: Founders Online archive.]

[HAMILTON]
Hang on, how many men died because Lee was inexperienced and ruinous?

[BURR]
Okay, so we’re doin’ this

  • Oh, when he shit the bed at the Battle of Monmouth (see: Stay Alive)? Literally hundreds, all because Lee wouldn’t follow directions. From George Washington. Who by all accounts was pretty good at leading things … you know, like revolutions and America. [Source: History Net]

[COMPANY]
Number nine!

[HAMILTON]
Look ‘em in the eye, aim no higher
Summon all the courage you require
Then count

[MEN]
One two three four

[FULL COMPANY]
Five six seven eight nine

[HAMILTON/BURR]
Number

[COMPANY]
Ten paces!

[HAMILTON/BURR]
Fire!

  • The Code Duello said that you couldn’t play chicken and fire at the air.
  • But of course, Hamilton threw away his shot, and even stated his intent to do so before the duel.
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Saturday Spotlight: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

HERE

  • We’ve been sitting on our first Cheers Chats post since August, but it’s finally here – along with a year-long series discussing all of Cheers’ best episodes as we watch them for the first time! Join us, why don’t you?
  • It’s funny. You go through school with people born in the same year as you, but as an adult it’s always fun when you meet someone who’s your exact age because you experienced the same things at the same time – – like all of these now-30-year old events that were Made In 1986, just like us!
  • Something that SHOULD be familiar but isn’t: Yentl, a Pop Culture Blindspot wherein nobody can tell that Barbra Streisand is a woman because she has a terrible haircut and a newsie suit.
  • How about new friends? Plenty were probably made at Broadway Con – we weren’t there but we enjoyed it from afar!

THERE

  • Yes, of course BroadwayCon had a Hamilton panel!
  • We’re gleaning our Cheers Chats watch list from this AV club article: 10 episodes that show how Cheers stayed great for 11 seasons.
  • We’d love to link up more Cheers posts here but I’m afraid we’re scrupulously avoiding “spoilers.” Expect a reading binge oh, somewhere around next January.
  • It’s several years old now, but this 2012 staging of Yentl by Jill Sobule (I Kissed A Girl Jill Sobule, anybody remember Pop Up Video) imagines Yentl as a trans man instead of a woman in men’s clothing.
  • Any other ’86 babies out there? Peruse the Time Magazine covers from the year of our birth.

Cheers Chats #1: Give Me A Ring Sometime

Let’s take it back. It’s 1982, we’re not alive, and maybe you aren’t either. The wacky, Studio 54-era disco-and-drugs ’70s were over, but the serious perm and shoulderpad business of the ’80s hadn’t really started. If you wanted to pitch a tv show about normal-looking people who wear a lot of brown and go to a bar sometimes, you were right in the zeitgeist. That’s the world that gave us Cheers.

Okay, now let’s take it … well, a little bit less back: August 2015. We got together to knock out a quick Pop Culture Blind Spots post. Neither of us had seen Cheers and together we were going to change that. By the end of the pilot, we were absolutely obsessed with this 33-year-old show that everybody else already knew was good. It became clear that we needed to devote more than a single post to Sam (The Luke Danes of 1980s Boston), Diane (Shut Up, Diane), Our Boo, Carla and all the others who we’d prefer you not tell us about because we haven’t seen the whole series yet, thanks. We shelved the post until we had more time to devote to the series.

So here’s what’s up: the last Friday of every month we’ll be posting Cheers Chats, where we discuss the top-ranked episodes of the 1980s smash hit, Cheers. Come join us, because our love for this neighborhood bar and grill is only going to grow. If you love the show too, or are watching along, jump into the comments … because sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

Episode 1.01: Give Me A Ring Sometime

For starters, here’s our collective Cheers knowledge:

  • It’s Boston
  • They’re in a bar.
  • Sam and Diane are a thing, maybe. Like Ross and Rachel?
  • Norm is the mailman. No, scratch that – CLIFF. Cliff is the mailman.
  •  Norm is George Wendt – aka Jason Sudeikis’ uncle. He is a barfly. Barfly’s a word right?
  • It’s just that “barfly” looks like it would be pronounced “Barflee” and would be the name of a mischievous dog on a PBS sitcom from the 90s (which originally aired on CBC).
  • Frasier is a spin-off of Cheers. (Traci typed this; Molly exclaimed “yes, that’s right!” like a child correctly recited the Alphabet for the first time. I repeat: we did not watch Cheers.)

Chit-Chat Club

(Off-topic Cheers chatter.)

M: Netflix says Cheers is from 1992. Like … is it sure? I feel like this started in the late 80s and that I was super, super little when it was on. I also felt like it was one of those shows that ran for a million seasons.

T: 1992 is 23 YEARS ago. That is a college graduate.

M: WE WERE RIGHT. 1982 – 1993. 1992 is neither of those years. It’s just … a year. We were 6. Home Alone 2 came out. I wore a lot of stirrup pants.

T: Who do we write to about this? Mr. Netflix? I’ve got a strongly worded comment box for you.

T: This is the first time we’ve live-blogged together in the same room. And it’s weird.

M:  I feel like we’re about to turn it into the chit-chat club up in here and forget to type.

This Theme Song

We love this tune by super well-known singer/songwriter Gary Portnoy, but in the pilot, they play the theme song for real and it sounds kind of depressing? Maybe it’s the old-timey cartoon illustrations of folks in the 1900s in the opening credits (because they’re like, all dead)? Either way, this song still holds up.

Later on, they do that thing where they play the theme song, but instrumental and sad, before what would have been the commercial break.

Bahhston Tahhlk

Last week, Seth Meyers did this absolutely brilliant sketch about actors and Boston accents and it is so incredibly dead on. In saying that, not everyone in Boston has an accent, and if they do, it’s not always thick. At one point in the pilot, this kid attempting to get a beer at the bar says, “How bout a beeahh (beer), chief?” Stop exaggerating. Like, did he “Park his car in Hahhvahd Yahhd” too?? (NO ONE DOES THIS).

Also,  it felt like everyone was talking like they’re from a 1930s movie. At one point, it felt so garbled that we had to rewind three times then turn on closed captioning to figure out what they’re saying ( it was: How long is the wimp convention in town?”). Again, everyone is very muffled, like if you listened to that 1930s movie through one headphone.

Photo Jan 28, 10 47 33 PM

The Luke Danes of 1980s Boston

So Ted Danson – kind of a hottie? We never really put too much thought into him before, but NOW we are. You want to know why? Because Molly realized that Sam Malone is such a Luke Danes (Traci promptly shrieked “That’s why!” and dissolved into laughter upon this epiphany. She also started sweating because of this fact). (Note: That was very diplomatic of her, but if Traci was sweating that’s because it was August and 90 degrees and I don’t have an air conditioner. Enjoy the cooling breeze of a BOX FAN, friends! – M)

The Netflix description for the pilot reads: “Sam Malone, an ex-baseball player turned bar owner, operates a saloon that’s always filled with quirky customers and even more eccentric staff.” Hey, you know who ELSE played baseball?

scott was seriously too handsome to be a baseball player. he needed to share his good looks with the rest of the world as an actor.

GUYS I CAN’T UNSEE IT. I CANNOT. Also, does that make Diane Lorelai? Let’s dissect this – Diane’s husband-to-be is a professor at BU who references Proust – MAX MEDINA, MUCH?? And at some point, Sam gives Diane a drink JUST LIKE LUKE GIVING LORELAI COFFEE.

Photo Jan 28, 11 02 43 PM

Unrelated to Luke Danes, Sam is a recovering alcoholic who owns a bar. In season 7, are we going to see a dark storyline of Sam battling his demons and has to go to rehab? (Read: Ted Danson filmed Three Men and a Little Lady). Probably. Picturing a Bailey Salinger plotline.

Carla’s My Boo

Rhea Perlman busts into the bar and immediately goes on a rant:

“OK, I’m late! My kid was throwing up all over the place. You don’t buy that excuse, I quit. I don’t work for a man who has no compassion for my children. And you’re not exactly swamped here. I’m usually punctual. If you don’t like it, fine. This ain’t such a great job. I’m gonna change.”

A) Love her already.

B) She’s younger than we remembered.

C) She’s clearly the feminist of the show. Later on, she suggests to Diane that she stop waiting around for her fiance to come and just leave him. This coming from a woman whose husband used her to go to TV repair school then left her and their 4 kids behind once he graduated. All day Carla. All Day. Forever.

LLOL

(We used the LLOL acronym when we’d talk on AIM as teens – it means LITERALLY laughing out loud, as opposed to LOL as the typographic version of a smirk)

We genuinely LOLed throughout this entire episode. Like way more than we typically would during a pilot.

Exhibit A: 

Carla, after answering the phone: “Who isn’t here?”

Every male sitting at the bar in the middle of the day: “ME!”

Exhibit B: 

Cliff: Women have fewer sweat glands than men, but they’re larger, more active. Consequently, they sweat more…  (To Diane) How about you, miss? What are your perspiration patterns?

Exhibit C: 

Sam: Still working on that novel?

Coach: Yeah, coming on six years now. I got a feeling I might finish it tonight.

Diane: You’re writing a novel?

Coach: No, reading one.

 One-Hit Wonders

(Characters we don’t expect to be seeing again.)

This episode features Diane and her version of Rachel’s dentist husband. We hadn’t bothered to remember his name, which is a sign he might not be returning for the rest of the series.

Photo Jan 28, 10 50 36 PM

T: Also, I haven’t even bothered to remember Diane’s fiance’s name. I’m assuming he’s gone by the end of this episode.

M: Same. Barry, for now?

T: Barry it is.

M: Where Everybody Knows Your Name… except Traci and Molly. Who don’t care. He is very old.

T: Barry is going out to talk to his ex-wife, and leaves Diane behind, but why is he leaving her in a bar by herself in Boston? This bar is not the only place to visit in the city.

M: Old North Church is open, like, all the time.

T: EW DIANE’S FIANCE’S NAME IS ‘SUMNER’

Carla (answering phone): Cheers. Just a minute. (To Barry) If you’re not, I apologise, but is your name Sumner Sloane?

Barry/Sumner: Yes, it is.

Carla: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Shut Up, Diane

(We just have a feeling we’re going to be saying Shut Up, Diane at our screens KIND OF A LOT.)

Diane’s got a book out and a bunch of pencils while sitting at the bar. GO TO THE LIBRARY, DIANE. To add more to the Gilmore Girls parallel, Diane could also be one of Paris’s friends, Louise and/or Madeline. Or Lindsay’s crazy mom Theresa. Or the mom who convinced Luke and Lorelai to speak at Stars Hollow High for career day.

Diane and Sumner act rich, even though we’re pretty sure professors don’t make that much money.

Diane uses the bar phone to cancel the flight reservations to Barbados since Sumner hasn’t come back.  A) a PHONE. B) She knew the number to the airline by heart? C) She immediately got through to a customer representative? She says she wants to change the flight reservations and Traci screams ‘THEY’RE ON IT!’ As in that dumb Sumner took his ex-wife to Barbados on his wedding day to Diane. Not even mad that we called it.

Diane says “now look, Buster!” because this sitcom was written by a man at a typewriter wearing a trilby with one of those journalist tags in it.

Sam ends up hiring Diane to be a waitress after Barry/Sumner leaves her, but why is she acting like a hostess? I thought bars don’t have hostesses? All Day Carla would NEVER.

Little Ditty About Sam & Diane

T: We’re at the first scene between Sam and Diane and TBH, I ship it already. Why am I so into Ted Danson right now??

Barfly Fashion

Diane. It is your first day on the job. What are you wearing? This plaid peasant shirt. Why is the apron so short? Is this a denim skirt? And with these knee highs?

This elderly lady is living her BEST LIFE. In a wheelchair, wearing a fancy hat, and sipping on a beer. Goals.

We are Team Carla All Day, but can we just discuss this empty purse? She’s a mother of 4, why is it filled with nothing. Also these pants. V 80s.

Cheers Cheers

(Raising a glass to our new favorite old sitcom.)

We literally had to adjust the TV set during Cheers because we thought it was too dark. The TV was fine. The show is dark. That’s also why we weren’t watching it in 1992. Too dark, no appeal to 6-year-olds. But now we’ve seen it, and while we shouldn’t feel surprised that the most beloved sitcom pilot of all time is good, here we both are. Those 22 minutes went by so fast, which is what we were afraid was going to happen. Looks like we’ll both be binging on Cheers for the next several months. Like Sam of two years ago, we think we may have a problem (too soon?). 

Next Up: We are basing our watch list off of AV Club’s 10 Episodes That Show How Cheers Stayed Great For 11 Seasons  (plus one, because the Pilot didn’t make the cut). We’re going chronologically, so stop by next month when we’ll discuss Episode 1.08, Truce Or Consequences.

Hamilton Explained: Cabinet Battle #1 (As Kanye Rant Tweets)

Welcome back to Hamilton Explained! It’s been a minute. When the Hamilton soundtrack was released all of these historical and musical references were jumping out at me and I wanted to start unpacking some of them here. I wasn’t counting on a whole community of people doing this very thing over at Genius. Instead of duplicating the efforts from Genius (check out their annotations if you haven’t!) here’s Cabinet Battle #1, explained through tweets from Kanye West’s epic January 27, 2016 rant against Wiz Khalifa.

WASHINGTON:
Ladies and gentlemen, you coulda been anywhere in the world tonight,
but you’re here with us in New York City.
Are you ready for a cabinet meeting???

The issue on the table: Secretary Hamilton’s plan to assume state debt
and establish a national bank.
Secretary Jefferson, you have the floor, sir

JEFFERSON:
‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’
We fought for these ideals; we shouldn’t settle for less
These are wise words, enterprising men quote ‘em
Don’t act surprised, you guys, cuz I wrote ‘em

8th I made it so we could wear tight jeans

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

JEFFERSON & MADISON:
Oww

JEFFERSON:
But Hamilton forgets
His plan would have the government assume state’s debts
Now, place your bets as to who that benefits:
The very seat of government where Hamilton sits

HAMILTON:
Not true!

JEFFERSON:
Ooh, if the shoe fits, wear it
If New York’s in debt—
Why should Virginia bear it? Uh! Our debts are paid, I’m afraid

Don’t tax the South cuz we got it made in the shade

Oh niggas must think I’m not petty cause I’m the best that’s ever made music

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

In Virginia, we plant seeds in the ground
We create. You just wanna move our money around

14th Nigga it’s called creativity #youshouldtryitsomeday

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

This financial plan is an outrageous demand

Second, your first single was corny as fuck and most there after

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

And it’s too many damn pages for any man to understand

3rd no one I know has ever listened to one of your albums all the way through

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

Stand with me in the land of the free
And pray to God we never see Hamilton’s candidacy
Look, when Britain taxed our tea, we got frisky

7th I am your OG and I will be respected as such

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

Imagine what gon’ happen when you try to tax our whisky

6th don’t ever come out the side of your neck at me

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

WASHINGTON:
Thank you, Secretary Jefferson. Secretary Hamilton, your response

HAMILTON:
Thomas. That was a real nice declaration

Welcome to the present, we’re running a real nation
Would you like to join us, or stay mellow
Doin’ whatever the hell it is you do in Monticello?

If we assume the debts, the union gets
A new line of credit, a financial diuretic
How do you not get it? If we’re aggressive and competitive
The union gets a boost. You’d rather give it a sedative?
A civics lesson from a slaver. Hey neighbor

11th I showed you respect as a man when I met you

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

Your debts are paid cuz you don’t pay for labor
“We plant seeds in the South. We create.”
Yeah, keep ranting
We know who’s really doing the planting

Bro first of all you stole your whole shit from Cudi

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

And another thing, Mr. Age of Enlightenment

Don’t lecture me about the war, you didn’t fight in it

10th don’t you ever in your fucking life speak sideways about a nigga that’s fighting for us I do this for all of us

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

You think I’m frightened of you, man?
We almost died in a trench

maybe I couldn’t be skinny and tall but I’ll settle for being the greatest artist of all time as a consolation

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

While you were off getting high with the French

15th Nigga I tried to call you and you changed your number

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

Thomas Jefferson, always hesitant with the President
Reticent—there isn’t a plan he doesn’t jettison
Madison, you’re mad as a hatter, son, take your medicine
Damn, you’re in worse shape than the national debt is in
Sittin’ there useless as two shits
Hey, turn around, bend over, I’ll show you
Where my shoe fits

Don’t ever ever ever come out the side of your mutherfucking neck bro or bruh or however you say it Mr. Waves

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

WASHINGTON:
Excuse me? Jefferson, Madison, take a walk! Hamilton,
take a walk! We’ll reconvene after a brief recess. Hamilton!

HAMILTON:
Sir!

WASHINGTON:
A word

MADISON:
You don’t have the votes

JEFFERSON/MADISON:
You don’t have the votes

JEFFERSON:
Aha-ha-ha ha!

JEFFERSON/MADISON:
You’re gonna need congressional approval and you don’t have the votes

JEFFERSON:
Such a blunder sometimes it makes me wonder why I even bring the thunder

MADISON:
Why he even brings the thunder…

WASHINGTON:
You wanna pull yourself together?

HAMILTON:
I’m sorry, these Virginians are birds of a feather

WASHINGTON:
Young man, I’m from Virginia, so watch your mouth

9th me and Cudi created this shit

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

HAMILTON:
So we let Congress get held hostage by the South?

WASHINGTON:
You need the votes

HAMILTON:
No, we need bold strokes. We need this plan

WASHINGTON:
No, you need to convince more folks

HAMILTON:
James Madison won’t talk to me, that’s a nonstarter

WASHINGTON:
Winning was easy, young man. Governing’s harder

HAMILTON:
They’re being intransigent

WASHINGTON:
You have to find a compromise

HAMILTON:
But they don’t have a plan, they just hate mine!

You have distracted from my creative process

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

WASHINGTON:
Convince them otherwise

HAMILTON:
What happens if I don’t get congressional approval?

WASHINGTON:
I imagine they’ll call for your removal

HAMILTON:
Sir—

WASHINGTON:
Figure it out, Alexander. That’s an order from your commander

Made in ’86

I usually don’t like announcing this, but today is my birthday. I have officially existed on this earth for 30 years. Hold your applause. 30 is supposed to be a milestone birthday – and it is – however I don’t really feel any different than I did yesterday (do we ever feel different when we celebrate a birthday?). It’s like prom – you build it up in your head for years, then you get there and realize it’s just another lame school dance. Do I feel young? Yes. Do I feel old? Yes. I feel all the things, y’all. But I want to share this day with you, our precious, noble, land mermaid readers, who should be able to feel all the feels I’m feeling and feel them deep in your soul. What am I even saying IDK I’m senile now.

Here are some things you may or may not realize are sharing the same milestone with me (and Molly) this year. So get in your Urkel time machine and travel back to 1986 with me, won’t you?

Pixar Animation Studios open

Pixar’s been making you laugh and cry simultaneously for years, but it officially started in ’86, when the Graphics Group, part of the computer division of George Lucas’ Lucasfilm, parted ways and became its own corporation with Apple. 20 years later, Disney bought it for about $7.4 billion. BILLION. Pixar’s first short film was Luxo Jr., which features one large and one small desk lamp, which might look familiar to you because they’re now Pixar’s logo. Luxo Jr. even became the first CGI film to be nominated for an Oscar, and is still better than a lot of movies I’ve seen in the past few years *ahem*Focus*ahem*

Geraldo Rivera Gets Mooneshine’d

I don’t really know why I thought this, but up until just before typing this sentence, I totally thought in my head Geraldo opened Al Capone’s tomb. All these years, I thought he went to his underground grave (?) and discovered nothing? Well opening Al Capone’s Secret Vault makes SO much more sense than opening Al Capone’s Grave. Anyways, Geraldo hosted this two-hour live TV special that got a lot of hype before it aired. Geraldo was expecting a treasure trove of items, and maybe even bodies (seriously, there was a medical examiner there) or piles of money. However, when he got into the secret vaults, the only things inside were dirt and several empty bottles – including one with moonshine (which makes sense, since he was a total rebel during the Prohibition Era). Even with the epic fail, it became one of the most-watched syndicated TV specials in history with about 30 million viewers tuning in to see an empty vault.

L. Ron Hubbard Succumbs To Lava

Note: L. Ron Hubbard didn’t actually die in lava, he had a stroke and died a week later. LRH had a whole shitload of health problems towards the end of his life, including weight gain, chain smoking (his teeth were disgusting), a “prominent growth on his forehead”, and suffered chronic pancreatitis. Actually, he was struggs real hard starting in the 1970s, when he faced a bunch of legal trouble, including in France, where he and the French Church of Scientology were convicted (in absentia) of fraud and customs violations. He went into hiding, living in disguise in New York then on his Sea Org fleet, and spent the last two years of his life in a luxury motorhome on a ranch in California. If you have time, just do more research on his life. It’s facsinating. He also had a son who committed suicide??

Tom Cruise Debuts Top Gun

Unrelated from Scientology, Top Gun was the top grossing movie of 1986, making over $353 million in the box office. It also marked Tom Cruise’s mark as a superstar in Hollywood with a blockbuster movie. I saw this for the first time last year and I totally got why he became such a huge heartthrob and bonafide movie star with Top Gun. Despite how kuckoo banana pants he may be now, this movie is prove that he deserves to be a star.

Disney Channel Kicks Off

It’s weird to think about now, but there was a time when TV networks just stopped progamming in the middle of the night because no one watched it, thus they saved money this way. The Disney Channel started as a premium cable network (like HBO, Showtime, etc.) in 1983, and in 1986, it went from having daily programming from 7am to 1am to 24 hours a day. That means more Disney movies, DCOMs, OG shows like Kids Incorporated and The All-New Mickey Mouse Club (yes, that MMC with Brit, JT, Ryan, Xtina, and more). I didn’t get DChan in my house until I was in middle school, which explains why I retroactively liked “kids” shows as a 13 year old.

Oprah Winfrey Begins Her World Domination

Oprah’s talk show roots started with a morning show in Chicago, and it became a hit within the first month. Oprah herself became popular thanks to her role in The Color Purple, so the network decided to take advantage of that and onSeptember 8th, 1986, her The Oprah Winfrey Show went national for the first time. That was the start of what became The Oprah Winfrey Show that went on to become bible for the next 25 years. Fun fact: the topic for Oprah’s premiere should was “How to Marry the Man or Woman of Your Choice”, notably much more different than the topics in her later years.

First 3D Printer is Built

TBH, I didn’t realize the 3D printer wasn’t a thing that was invented like 5 years ago. But what do I know, this dude clearly has had it down since ’86, and has been making plastic hubcaps ever since.

Hands Across America

So Hands Across America is still… interesting to think about. It was a fundraiser for charities serving those in poverty in the U.S. The idea was for as many Americans to hold hands and create a human chain along a path across the country. There were certain cities along the route, from New York City all the way to Long Beach, California, and some notable names at each stop. I mean from President Ronald Reagan to Michael Jackson to John Stamos to David Copperfield, plus 50 Abraham Lincoln impersonators, 54 Elvis impersonators, 2 Disney characters and 3 Star Wars characters. Like, what?? AND they held hands for 15 minutes. FIFTEEN MINUTES. I had trouble holding hands with people in church during the Lord’s Prayer and that lasts about 30 seconds. Do you even talk? What do you do after? Give a slight squeeze then call it a day? So many questions. Either way, the event raised $34 million for charity, and that’s all that matters right?

Pop Culture Blind Spots: Yentl

Rosie O’Donnell caterwauling ‘Papa Can You Hear Me’ every time she talked about Barbra Streisand – that’s what I knew about Yentl before this Pop Culture Blind Spots live blog. Considering I grew up loving both musicals and movies set in yesteryear when everyone had long hair and longer dresses, I’m not sure why or how I missed it. Maybe it wasn’t on TV too much in the 90s?

From the shtetl to your computer, come experience the bad haircuts, zany pillow fights, and newsboy hats of Yentl:

  • The setting is Eastern Europe, 1904. First of all, really vague setting. Second, if this was supposed to be part of my Eastern European cultural training my mother failed spectacularly.
  • A peddler calls out “story books for women, sacred books for men” which was like the Barbie/Hot Wheels Happy Meal toys of the shtetl.

 

  • Anyway Yentl (which sounds like a person saying “gentle” with a marked accent, which is very fun) tries to buy the Hot Wheels books. The peddler is like “bitch, I think you know what your place is, and I’m sure it’s gossiping about how old you are at a fish-stall in the marketplace.” Yentl lies and says the books are for her dad. And the peddler buys it, which is TOTAL FORESHADOWING for how all the men in this movie are dummies who believe whatever you tell them.
  • I’ve never seen so many Eastern European noses outside of a family reunion and I feel so alive and whole, accepted and embraced.
  • My favorite Disney princess as a child was Belle, because she liked books. And this is an entire musical about a girl who just wants to read the books she wants and I never saw it?!

    Little town, it’s a quiet shtetl…

  • But to be fair, the books she want to read are like the rules to God and stuff. Yawwwwn.
  • Started watching this via sketchy Youtube copy, and 5 minutes in I decided that the chances were high enough that I was going to like it that I’d rent it on Amazon. Also it was almost unbearably fuzzy.
  • Yentl burns some gross fish while reading. JEWISH PRINCESS BELLE, everyone!
  • Her Papa is Jewish Crazy Old Maurice.

  • Babs wraps herself in a tallit and sings. This may be part of how I missed this one: the tunes aren’t exactly *catchy* in the singable/hummable sense.
  • Papa asks if Yentl wants a husband who will darn her socks and bear her children, which, (A) where do I sign up, and (B), foreshadowing? Maybe? Guys, I don’t really know what this movie is about except that Barbra will sing Papa Can You Hear Me and dress as a man at some point.
  • Barbs has such beautiful, fluffy hair or such a beautiful, fluffy wig. I can’t believe Papa died, though.
  • PLOT. TWIST. She cuts the beautiful fluffy hair into a kicky pageboy. Swear I didn’t know that was going to happen.
  • I wasn’t alive in 1983, but major studios were releasing movies starring a 40-year-old ‘unattractive’ woman who is dressed as a man most of the time, so maybe it was a little better than 2016 in some ways.
  • Again, the main thing I know about Yentl is Papa Can You Hear Me. I know it because Rosie O’Donnell always sang it on her show. It turns out the only words I knew were “Papa, can you hear me/ try to understand me.” Those also might have been the only words Rosie O’Donnell knew.

  • Actually, didn’t Rosie have a button that played “Barbra Can You Hear Me” whenever she talked about her? (I watched a lot of The Rosie O’Donnell Show as a child. Had the koosh slingshot, the Kids Are Punny book, the whole 9.)
  • Not sure what accent Babs is doing in that song, but it’s not “Eastern European.” She’s just pronouncing every word slightly weird.
  • Barbra’s new haircut does not look good. Not even a little good. It’s kind of flobee-esque.

    I mean, Christ.

  • Yentl sails across a small creek (?) wearing the hat from the Funky Hat interstitial from 2007 Disney Channel.
  • Because nobody in 1904 Eastern Europe had seen a woman in pants and a hat before, they don’t realize that Yentl is CLEARLY a woman in pants and a hat.
  • If they saw a man in black and white stripes, they’d probably think he was a zebra or a Hamburglar.
  • Or a guy in camouflage: “Ira, I swear a piece of Outside is MOVING.”

    GET IT TOGETHER, Eastern Europe, 1904.

  • Maybe if Yentl wants people to believe that she’s “Anshel” she shouldn’t giggle when she says that her name is Anshel.
  • Yentl meets Mandy Patinkin (Avigdor)’s bubbe and within seconds she’s like “oh. Anshel. LOL OK.” So maybe only the men in this movie are stupid.
  • Avigdor’s banter with Yentl is very… sexual? … for two young men who are platonically sharing a bed.
  • You know in The Portrait Of Dorian Gray, where he has that portrait that ages for him? I think that’s what Mandy Patinkin’s facial hair does. Underneath it he looks mostly the same, the only difference the beard went from chestnut to gray.

 

  • Yentl’s thoughts sing This Is One Of Those Moments. The level of non-catchiness reminds me of when a Catholic priest is talk-singing and he tries to cram too many syllables into one line.
  • Yentl watches a lot of people talk with their hands. This is the school she wanted to go to really bad.
  • AMY IRVING IS IN THIS?! She’s the star of one of my favorite under-rated rom-coms, Crossing Delancey.

  • It’s sort of like a 1900s Jewish Strangers With Candy, where Barbra is very obviously in her 30s-40s (and female) but we just suspend disbelief.
  • Now Yentl’s thoughts are singing about her crush on Amy Irving (Hadass).
  • Yentl flirts with Avigdor in a meadow so maybe the crush was on him. Who knows.
  • There’s a skinny dipping scene and we almost see Mandy Patinkin’s Manhood Pa-tuchus (yep, just zoomed right past dad jokes and landed on a zayde joke)
  • The choreography is the same, so: mashup between this song where Babs is getting handsy in her nightgown and Mama Who Bore Me. OK?

  • Hadass’s Shitty Family calls off the Hadass/Avigdor Relationship and they want to set her up with Yentl now. This is more Three’s Company-style hijinks than I was expecting.
  • Amy Irving’s ruffled blouse and ren-faire hairdo are SUPER 1904-shtetl flirty. She’s making dinner for Yentl and it’s a total come-on. Like that’s just how you DID IT back then. It seems so easy. Just put on your ruffliest blouse and lean your boobs into a guy’s face while serving tea and you’d get a husband. (*Is that how you still do it and is that why I’m single, because I’ll try.)
  • Take one listen to Barbra screaming “nothing’s impossible!” at, like, F5 and tell me how anybody was supposed to think this was anything but a lady.
  • Now Yentl’s getting measured for her wedding suit which is bad because she’s female. In case you missed it, this is why lying doesn’t work. Although how sheltered is Hadass, because maybe Yentl can just kiss her in bed and be like “WELP THERE WE DID IT THAT’S THE WHOLE THING,” because that’s what I thought until I was 7 or 8.
  • If Anshel ISN’T a woman then Anshel is, like, an 11 year old boy and I don’t know why nobody in the village has vetted this.
  • Oh I love these wedding hijinks. Anshel is trying to get Hadass to say she doesn’t want to hook up. It’s like when you don’t want to go to a movie, but you don’t want to say it, so you’re just like “no, I mean if YOU don’t want to see it we won’t see it. I don’t care but if YOU want to do something different, we totally can. Up to you.”
  • Yentl and Hadass have a pillow fight. JUST SOME GALS AT A SLUMBER PARTY Y’ALL. Just gals bein’ pals.
  • Avigdor asks Yentl if Hadass “made sounds” and um is this how boys talk when we aren’t there? If a boy reads this please tell me.
  • Yentl’s thoughts sing about how she loves Avigdor, and Avigdor loves Hadass, and she’s married to Hadass but just for the pillow fights. Yentl. Look at your life. It’s a map full of dead ends, like one of those suburban gated communities. Your haircut is bad. You can read the talmud now but that’s, like, your only thing you’ve got going.
  • LOL forever at Hadass trying to seduce Yentl, an obvious 40-year-old woman. Instead, Yentl tucks her in then sings at a window.
  • I like how Yentl taught Hadass the talmud on the sly while they were fake married. I also like how Yentl finally figured out it’s time to get out of dodge.
  • The lyrics “she’s loving, she’s tender, she’s woman, so am I” probably weren’t meant to be funny? It kind of sounds like it would play over a crunchy 1970s school video about ‘becoming a woman.’
  • I want to see the scene before Yentl makes Avigdor take her to the city. “Pick me up in your cosiest two-person buggy and take me to the nearest metropolis so I can tell you a secret. Haha, no reason, just guy stuff.”
  • Yentl goes to America, which is probably the best solution after you’ve accidentally married a woman and fallen in love with a guy who thinks you’re a man. That’s the moment when, even in 1904, it’s time to cut your losses and move to Brooklyn. Now she’s got to grow out that haircut, though.
  • Yentl sings about finding her corner of the sky, but via a different song that’s way less catchy than Corner Of The Sky.

The Pros and Cons of BroadwayCon

If you’re a true theatre nerd, you know that over the weekend, hundreds of Broadway geeks converged at the Hilton Midtown Hotel for the first ever BroadwayCon – which is exactly what it sounds like. Like other fan-centered conventions, this one gathers fans with actors, creators, and behind-the-scenes folk who make Broadway Broadway. Co-founded by Anthony Rapp, of Rent fame, BroadwayCon featured panels from past shows such as the Rent 20th anniversary reunion, current shows like Hamilton, Spring Awakening and Fun Home, to future shows like Waitress, Tuck Everlasting and Disaster! The Musical. There were photobooth and autograph sessions, fan meetups, master classes, dance workshops and of course, plenty of singing.

Before we go any further, I’d like to make it clear that I was not actually there. I am merely a spectator from the World Wide Web. I saw rumblings of #BroadwayCon on Twitter a while ago, and just thought it was some small event in NYC, but I was wrong. After tracking it online all weekend, I’ve come to this conclusion about BroadwayCon – it seems like a mix of pure ecstasy but also the worst nightmare all in one. A whole room full of theatre geeks!!!! But also, a whole room full of theatre geeks :\ Again, before the haters start to hate, I wasn’t there, so I obviously am not an expert on this, it’s all from what I’ve seen on social media. So in saying there, here are so of what I can tell were the pros and cons of the inaugural BroadwayCon.

Pro: The only convention with an opening number

I’ve never been to Comic-Con or any huge convention except for the ATX TV Festival, which is more of a medium sized gathering of TV fans than an exhibition hall filled with thousands of people. But none of these cons have a song and dance opening number. So was I surprised to see that BroadwayCon opened with this? No. My reaction was OF COURSE. I mean, is there any other way to kick off a weekend of Broadway than this?

Con: #TryingTooHard

We get it, all of us are Hamilton fans, you don’t have to flaunt the “secret language” around.

Pro: The Room Where It Happens

Like any other HamiltonHead (is there even an official name for Hamilton fans? I’m sure there is. Kids under 21, get at me), this panel with most of the main cast was the most anticipated one at the con. Here are some highlights during the panel:

If you could change roles with anybody in the show, who would it be?

Daveed: Angelica
Lin: Lafayette
Renee: Aaron Burr
Philippa: Hercules Mulligan
Chris: Jonathan Groff, he’s onstage for five minutes!
Groffsauce: Angelica
Oak: Angelica
Leslie: Eliza
Lin: I think we have our next Ham4Ham.

How Leslie was approached to join the show:

“I got an email from Lin about two-and-a-half years ago, I guess. The subject was ‘Octoburrfest,’ a delicious pun.”

Lin is a rap teacher who gives pop quizzes daily

“At 15 minutes to curtain, Miranda can be seen trotting his iPod from dressing room to dressing room with his speakers blaring a beat challenging his castmates to cypher at his request.”

Freestyle Love Surpreme

During the panel, the moderator asked if anyone besides Lin, Chris Jackson and Daveed had ever rapped before, but the closed-captioning typist accidentally transcribed “have you ever raped before”. It was quickly changed, but Lin managed to incorporate it in his impromptu freestyle:

Werk

The panel ended with a singalong of The Schuyler Sisters, with the cast happily watching the fans from the stage. It was their rock star moment.

Pro: Your obscure Broadway cosplay will be appreciated

Theater nerds, especially actors, will take up any chance for dressing up and what better place to show off your Fun Home costume that you wore for Halloween that no one got than BroadwayCon? The cosplay at BroadwayCon obviously appeals to a v niche group of fans, which is kind of why I love it.

I will never leave you💕🎶 #broadwaycon

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#Repost @playbill ・・・ "We're cosplaying as each other"- @andymientus and @keenanblogger 📸: @humansofbroadway #broadwaycon

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#broadwaycon Elphaba, Mrs. Wormwood and Crutchie share a quiet moment

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Pro: And It’s Beginning ToAnd It’s Beginning ToAnd It’s Beginning to Snow

It’s been 20 years since Rent had its debut, and Anthony Rapp gathered as many friends from the OBC and creative team as he could for the “10,514,880 Minutes: How Do You Measure 20 Years of Rent?” panel, including Daphne Rubin Vega (Mimi), Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Angel) and Fredi  Walker-Browne (Joanne). I watched the first bit of this live on Periscope and teared up a bit just thinking about how much of an impact the show has made on me, but all the other RentHeads and the cast and crew themselves. One emotional moment was when Daphne FaceTimed with Jesse L. Martin (Collins) and there was even a mini reunion between him and Wilson :emoji with heart eyes:

Con: The Wrath of Jonas

As you may have heard, or seen out your window, Winter Storm Jonas hit the East Coast hard over the weekend, with all the Broadway shows even canceling their Saturday performances. This led to the actors/guests scheduled to appear at BroadwayCon to also cancel their appearances, which I imagine is a bummer for those looking forward to attending the Hamilton dance workshop or the conversation with Fiddler’s Sheldon Harnick.

Pro: #BlizzardCon

On Saturday, everyone at the con was pretty much snowed in, so it turned into #BlizzardCon. It ended up being a huge blizzard party in the mainstage, complete with random phone calls with Broadway icons. Among the folks who called in but not limited to:

Literally a picture of Patti LuPone in the comfort of her (surprisingly rustic?) palace, while she talks to the hundreds of peasants at BroadwayCon:

Pro: Broadway Stars Singing Rando Songs

Unlike a ComicCon where actors show up and screen clips or previews of their upcoming films or TV shows, Broadway stars can actually perform and entertain in front of you. Live! There was a fair share of concerts throughout the weekend, including a “Jukebox” in which fans could vote on which songs the stars could sing, and there was also this mad lib situation in which you get to hear Anthony Rapp sing *a slightly different version* of What You Own.

Con: Fans Singing Rando Songs

Ok, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good singalong. I think it would be especially fun if it was from a Broadway show, something like this:

But then there’s the contingent of people, I imagine at BroadwayCon, who are getting up to sing as if it’s an audition. One of the things i dread at events like these are A) stupid comments/questions from the audience and general second hand embarrassment. If I was at this fan karaoke event, I would be anxious every time someone got on the stage, hoping they’d be good, on key and not hamming it up too much. Too stressful. This girl sounds pretty good though!

Con: Like Sutton Foster, BroadwayCon is Younger

Based on what I’ve seen, in looks like the demographic for BroadwayCon are teens in high school and musical theatre majors in college. These are the folks who are excited about seeing the people they’ve been listening to on repeat, seen from the rear mezz, met briefly at the Broadway Flea Market and made fan art for on Tumblr. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, because I was like this as a teen, but as an almost 30 year old, I just can’t. The idea of being around that much energy 24/7 seems exhausting, and I’d just feel out of place. Recapping on my blog from the comfort of my bed 3,000 miles away is just fine by me.

Pro: There’s A Place For Us

In saying that, I think that BroadwayCon itself has been an event a long time coming. I always thought that being a theatre kid meant not being popular or not in the zeitgeist. I certainly didn’t feel like a cool kid at the theatre table during lunch in high school. But when I found out Comic Con was a huge thing for comic book nerds, I saw a whole bunch of different people gather for something I wasn’t particularly interested in, but acknowledged that something portrayed as geeky kind of seemed cool. Now, seeing photos and videos of #BroadwayCon make me think it’s so crazy that people are just as (probably much more) insane about Broadway than I am. These are the nerds who I sat with in the cafeteria. And those teens and MTs need something like this event, where you can connect, learn, and grow a deeper passion for Broadway and the arts in general. So keep up the great work, I can’t wait til next year – I’ll be here trolling the Internet like an old lady.

ICYMI: Boppin’ to the Top

This week marked the 10th anniversary of the first High School Musical premiere, which made you feel even older than you already do.

High School Musical: 10th Anniversary Rewatch

On January 20th 2006, High School Musical was released to the delight of millions of tweens and also some 19-year olds (us, at the time). It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years, but we’re all in this together. A whole decade has passed since back when there was me and you, watching a musical Disney Channel Original Movie that we were far too old for. I didn’t see HSM until several months after it came out because I was studying abroad that semester, but when I came home and spent the summer working with elementary school kids who wouldn’t stop talking about it, I realized that Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and the gang were just what I’ve been looking for. (By the way: those elementary school kids I was old enough to be in charge of must be in their late teens to early 20s now; yikes; ouch).

This post is not the start of something new. Rather than breaking free from our typical format, we have chosen to stick to the status quo. Here’s a live blog of my tenth-anniversary rewatch of High School Musical, so queue it up on Netflix and getch’a head in the game, because we’re about to bop to the top.

1:00 Character establishment: Gabriella is a goody-goody because her mother has to draw her away from her book to attend a Teen Party, which is one of those alcohol-free, drug-free highly-supervised youth events that youths don’t really go to.

WHOLESOME AF.

Troy is playing basketball and has proto-Bieber hair. This is all you need to know about either of them for the rest of the movie.

Also, it’s New Year’s Eve. They’re at a winter version of the resort from Dirty Dancing.

02:35 Am I am old lady who misses her glory days of 2006, or do Troy and Gabriella’s outfits look (dated but) cute? Troy’s panicked face as he sings karaoke looks like when that girl (Bethany Byrd?) starts singing along to Jingle Bell Rock after the music cuts out in Mean Girls.


HSM reinvigorated the popularity of DCOMs, and paved the way for a new era of Disney starlets. Here’s a look back at some of the best DCOMs in the channel’s history.

Si Se Puede! The Best of DCOMs

dchan

a horribly photoshopped shot of my head on la laine’s body, living out my dream of doing the dchan bumpers

I have no shame in saying I love the Disney Channel. Back in the day, having it was a luxury, since it wasn’t part of the regular cable lineup. Finally, it became part of the regular cable package sometime around 2001, and because this one time unattainble network was at my fingertips whenever I pleased, I became obsessed. Also, I got into it at a fairly older age, which explains why I dressed up as the Miranda to my friend’s Lizzie for Halloween like, freshman year of high school.

Anyways, as many of you know, Disney Channel Original Movies (or DCOMs, as the cool kids call them), hit the height of their popularity around the early 2000s. Hit after hit after hit, these gems would be a good reason to stay in on a Friday night. Or if you were me, I had no social life so I justified spending time with Hilary Duff instead. Here are some of my favorite DCOMs, that were totally my jam. Spoiler: There is no Zenon, Halloweentown, or Brink! on this list. You’ve been warned.

Ed note: I had Tia and Tamera’s Seventeen Again on this list, but upon my research found out it was not a DCOM but in fact first aired on SHOWTIME. Boy has their programming changed.

Wish Upon a Star
This movie was made in 1996, but I obviously saw in when they re-aired it in the 2000s. Starring a young Katherine Heigl and Danielle Harris, this was a Freaky Friday-esque movie where two sisters magically swap bodies because of a wish they made on a star. Hilarity ensues. For the longest time my only reference to Katherine Heigl was this movie. Right when Grey’s was becoming popular, I was always like, ‘that’s the girl from Wish Upon a Star!’ I was the coolest.

The Color of Friendship

Friendship is colorblind, y’all! This movie was based on actual events about a girl is from a wealthy (white) family in an apartheid South Africa, and goes to Washington D.C. as an exchange student. She slowly but surely forges an unlikely friendship with her host sister (who is black) and they learn about the real color of friendship.

Tru Confessions

One of my faves, this is seriously one of Shia LeBeouf’s greatest roles. No, really. He plays a mentally challenged kid, and his twin sister, who is the only one he really trusts and confides in, makes him the focus of a documentary film she’s making. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

Gotta Kick it Up!

SI SE PUEDE!!! Before there was Bring it On, there was Gotta Kick it Up. Before Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, there was a young America Ferrera. A fun and inspiration movie about young Latina girls who aspire to win their dance team championship. Literally like Bring it On but with Spanish.

Cadet Kelly

Hilary Duff goes to military school and proceeds to learn how to do color guard stuff with rifles. Also starring Even Stevens’ Wren and an Ashmore brother.

Get a Clue

A young and innocent Lindsay Lohan (RIP) plays a Harriet the Spy type girl who attempts to solve the mystery of one of her missing teachers. Also, Alfalfa is in the movie, and it was initially jarring to see him all grown up, since the last time I saw him it was on my personal VHS copy of Little Rascals. But Bug Hall grew up like the rest of us and is now randomly BFF with David Henrie from Wizards. I know too much.

Princess Protection Program

I ship Delena, IDEC. Demi plays a privileged princess of some random ass country and has to hide out in the States with tomboy Selena in rural Louisiana.  I remember thinking the casting was weird, bc obvi Selena would be the princess, but I guess it worked out. They just need to be BFFs for life.

Saturday Spotlight: Winter Storm Jo-Bros

THIS WEEK

Some advice to all of you in Winter Storm Jo-Bros, from somebody from one of the snowiest cities in America:
  • Keep kitty litter, sidewalk salt and a shovel INSIDE your house. There are always those bozos snowed in because their shovel is in the garage and they can’t open the door (my region gets 5-foot lake effect drifts, I know what I’m talking about). You don’t want to be that bozo.

ETC.

Seriously, everyone in the storm’s path, stay safe and warm. I know how scary it can be driving on slick roads even if you’re used to it, and how disheartening it can be to shovel for hours only to find the area you cleared out is covered in snow again. Up here, we never panic about snow because we know we can handle it. Maybe that’s the best advice there is: know that you’re stronger and smarter than Winter Storm Jonas Brothers, and you’ll be just fine.

What I Think Happens In The 2016 Best Picture Nominees (I Haven’t Seen Them)

With a little over a month to go until the 2016 Academy Awards, I haven’t seen a single Best Picture nominee.  I’m not too worried about seeing all of the nominees, though, because four of them will be released on DVD before Oscar night. Still, I thought it would be fun to take inventory of what I think these movies are supposed to be about before I’ve seen them.

By now we know that all of the 2016 Best Picture nominees are about white people, but what kind of white people? What are the white people doing? What are the white people’s goals, dreams, and obstacles? I don’t know, maybe this stuff:

The Big Short

Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, and Steve Carrell star as white men who – in the grand tradition of white men – were put in charge of important things, causing the sub-prime housing crisis that precipitated the Great Recession. It was 2007, the economy was going down the crapper, and skinny jeans were just starting to become REALLY popular so we were all a bit under-confident about what sort of pants we should be wearing and how long our shirts had to be.

There are a lot of heated phone conversations using old cell phone models that you’ll recognize from when you were in college. Maybe one of these guys – money’s on Carrell, but just kidding, I don’t have money because the economy collapsed – tries to do the right thing and thwart the Great Bubble Bursting of ’08. All of the characters are the intelligent-yet-hopelessly-flawed wealthy types that Academy voters LOVE. Finally, a human face on the credit default swap market.

There’s also a Regular Working Man, maybe a non-white person who serves coffee near their workplace, or a down-on-his-luck cousin who is a mechanic in New Jersey, who symbolizes the real people who were affected. He loses his house and Ryan Gosling thinks LONG AND HARD, oh yes he does.

I can’t picture what Brad Pitt does, sorry.

Bridge Of Spies

It’s the Cold War, and it’s New York City, and everything is filmed in dark, almost sepia tones. A Russian spy gets arrested and it’s up to a down-to-business, gruff yet noble American lawyer to get him out of trouble. The lawyer is Tom Hanks, playing someone more or less Tom Hanks-y. But the whole country is in a Red Panic and doing nuclear bomb drills under their school desks and blacklisting Lucille Ball or whatever, like they are WORKED. THE HELL. UP. about it, so NO, gruff NYC lawyer, they do NOT want to free your Russian spy.

Anyway they want to straight-up Rosenberg him, but then something happens and Tom Hanks has to go to Russia, where more than 25% of the characters are wearing those big fur hats. People wearing shades of brown intercept coded messages on radios left and right. Finally, there’s a big standoff on a bridge in Russia with Tom Hanks, the Russian spy, an American official who doesn’t trust Tom Hanks, a scrappy young pilot, and some Russians or Germans. But who is the real spy? Is he on the bridge? The bridge … of spies? (Yes).

Brooklyn

I’m 1/3 of the way through Colm Toibin’s book, but who cares, here goes. Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) is a young Irish girl who goes to Brooklyn by herself to get a job and gets homesick. But her homesickness is abated as HELL because she meets the hot Italian. This was in 1950 or so when Irish people and Italian people were pretty much different races. Eilis has to learn how to do cool new cultural things like eat food with garlic in it and argue about feelings instead of swallow them under a glut of boiled potatoes.

When Eilis’s mother falls sick, she is called back home … but WHERE IS HOME? Suddenly the town Eilis grew up in feels foreign, sort of like when you get back home from your semester abroad. And just like when you get back from your semester abroad, nobody really gives a shit that Eilis’s whole worldview has changed, and they only have a kind of middling interest in her stories. Ultimately, Eilis must decide whether to return to America to continue building her new life or stay in Ireland. She gets a tender, sentimental letter from the hot Italian and it makes her realize where her heart really lies.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Okay. So. First of all, this is a stand-alone movie, not a sequel to something from 2010 like I keep thinking it is. Well, everyone is in the desert after a major war that wasn’t 100% apocalyptic or anything but was pretty bad. It’s the future, but not so far in the future that people are named things like Glorg. Besides, thanks to the really bad war there’s not a lot of awesome technology or anything. Everyone looks sort of District 12-ish, if you will. They all have dirt smudges and torn clothing, like the Tina Majorino character in Waterworld. There are no superheroes (another thing I keep thinking), but there are humans.

Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy have to escape from someone, so most of the time they’re driving really fast to get away and throwing things at other vehicles, too. Lots of explosions. They pick up some other escapees on the way (after arguing about whether they have enough resources or if the people are secretly bad guys), so it’s like a roadtrip film-meets-action film-meets-dystopian desert film. Think Chris Val Allsberg’s Just A Dream + Hunger Games + The Giver + The Fast And The Furious + Syriana.

The Martian

In this movie, which is not a comedy but maybe you’ll chuckle a few times, it turns out Mars is way more habitable than we thought. You can’t hang out in street clothes or anything, but you could take a spaceship there for sure. Matt Damon is one of those spaceship guys, but he gets Kevin McAllister-ed for some reason and he’s on Mars by himself. He has to get to earth really fast but he’ll have to MacGuyver his spaceship in order to do it. Most of his interactions occur over radio to NASA HQ. Matt Damon has a sweet, teasing relationship with one of the scientists there (Kristen Wiig maybe, but probably someone younger because she’s only 3 years younger than him). During a harrowing moment they confess their love to each other.

In the meantime, Matt Damon has to turn Mars into a home. All of the other scientists must risk their careers and their lives to save him, but he’s Matt Damon, America’s Golden Child, so they do. There is a touching moment with an international (maybe Russian) astronaut and another touching moment viewing Earth from afar. It will make you feel small because the universe is so big; but it will also make you feel big because you matter to the universe. For this one, think Interstellar + My Side Of The Mountain + Castaway.

The Revenant

I heard one side of a phone conversation about this on the bus, so I’ve got this in the bag. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a man from the 1800s who really existed. He gets left for dead in the wilderness but was ALIVE. Then he has to live through so many shitty things that you almost wish he had just died. He gets attacked by a bear but not raped by a bear; no, Drudge Report, no siree he does not.

There are a lot of men wearing animal furs. Lots of giant fuzzy hats, even more than Bridge of Spies. Everyone’s on mountains being rugged. There are gross things Leo has to do to survive, like eating things that aren’t food, probably. It’s got to be way too cold to undress so he probably just pees himself the whole time. They may not show that, but just realize that it’s happening when you’re watching.

Room

Brie Larson, who is not Alison Brie, is locked in a room a la the Josef Fritzl victim or Elizabeth Smart or those girls in Cleveland. She has a son, for whom she creates a stable and comfortable life. When they escape, he has trouble integrating into society – but so does she. People are insensitive and do things like assume she’s turned all Stockholm Syndrome-y or ask why she didn’t get out sooner. At some point she sees an inaccurate tabloid report and that’s pretty upsetting. Her childhood bedroom is a shrine to her former self. One of her parents died, or her parents got divorced, but either way life is totally different. At some point she stares hollow-eyed as her former friends have a giddy, happy gathering. Will she ever make it out of ‘the room’? Yes, because of the triumph of the human spirit.

Spotlight

In Boston, a news reporter is an Irish Catholic guy who went through parochial school and is from Southie and always has a niece’s First Communion or whatever to go to. When he’s assigned to investigate priest abuse, he feels like he can’t do it – but also like he has to do it. After hitting numerous roadblocks, this guy – along with some other reporters – meets a victim who’s willing to talk. The story grows and grows, and the team realizes they’re not dealing with a few bad priests but an elaborate coverup. Eventually they get a sit-down with a high-ranking official who knew about it and he seems repentant but also has that annoying “what can you do” attitude. I’m going to cry though up to 80% of it.