‘Sup, y’all? It seems like spring is finally creeping its way in…in Massachusetts we get like 9 months of winter, about 2 days of spring in early May, and then oppressive summer for the rest of the time. It’s so great! #thxglobalwarming
Also, it’s the end of the semester, so things are peak stressful. Here’s what’s up.
2017 is over and frankly, BYE GIRL. What a rough year. I went from severe election depression, to a Mexican vacation, to not knowing WTF I was doing with my life, to going to grad school. The transition was rough, but not just for me. This year has also, obviously, been an actual trash-fire for the entire country.
But apart from praying for mercy from our overlords, there were a few enjoyable things about 2017. I went to Cancún and Atlanta for the first time, and got to spend two weeks in L.A., which I proudly yet undeservedly consider my homeland. I dove even deeper into my comedy obsession, and turned it into a final paper on feminism and comedy writing (in which I got to use the quotation “Men are a cancer! God made a mistake!“). I binged so much TV that it should be considered a crime against (my own) humanity. I started therapy and got back on meds. Actually, if it weren’t for the backdrop of constant nuclear panic, 2017 might have even been a good year.
Luckily, even in the darkest timeline, artists gonna art, so there was a barrage of dope shit released this year. Here are the things that really stood out in my 2017:
Literally everything Roxane Gay has ever written is perfect, so it was a no-brainer that this incredible book would be on my “Best Of” list. This book is so powerful and emotional; I cried reading it. Hunger is, genuinely, a memoir of her body—unlike so many other books written in a similar vein, this one has no self-help aims or “happy ending.” It is a raw, honest rendering of past and present traumas, and though Ms. Gay’s journey is unique to her, her writing speaks to the universal truths familiar to all those who inhabit bodies and navigate the world. For six months, the words of Hunger have stayed with me, like a haunting presence.
I haven’t finished this book yet, so no spoilers! (lol)
Part of me loves this book so much merely because I love Secretary Clinton and want to push back against the haters that think, for some reason, that it’s unacceptable that the first female presidential candidate of a major political party should write a book chronicling her experiences. I know this about myself. What I didn’t expect, upon beginning to listen (I’m checking out Audible this season), is how deeply First Lady Clinton’s words would affect me. She gets pretty real about her journey, and doesn’t shy away from being honest about the present danger in which America finds itself. But it’s never sad. In What Happened, hope eclipses sadness and darkness at every turn. It doesn’t hurt that Senator Clinton is funny as hell, either. Listening to What Happened is like inspiring meditation for all of us who were deeply hurt last November.
So, if Popular Vote Winner Rodham Clinton wants to hit me up for a glass of Chardonnay, just DM me @highwaytochel, bby.
Just realized I keep switching up her name! I guess she just has so many accomplishments that I’m not even sure what to call her!
This list was getting pretty heavy, so I had to turn up the levity to 11.
Matt Bellassai is a national treasure. I first heard of him on Throwing Shade, so I’m a bit of a late adopter, but as soon as I heard him on TSPod, I sought out his podcast Unhappy Hour, which led me to his book, which I scored, again, on Audible. I knew the book would be funny, but I didn’t think it would be laugh-out-loud-like-a-maniac-alone-in-my-car funny. The writing is so, so good. He has such a clear, distinct voice that it’s shocking he’s only my age. It’s so powerful, in fact, that I find myself relating on a deep level to a chubby, sheltered, Midwestern, gay, cis-male child, most of whose adjectives don’t describe me at all! I rarely advocate for audiobook over real book, but hearing Bellassai’s delivery is the icing on the cake.
Amy Sherman-Palladino has blessed us once again! The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which Jen Kirkman consulted on, nbd) is my favorite new show of the year! I’m not even that bitter about the fact that the lead actress, Rachel Brosnahan, is the same age as me!
The MMM tells the story of Midge, a 26-year-old mother of two in 1958, going through a separation following her husband, Joel’s, infidelity. Joel had been fervently pursuing a stand-up career (i.e. plagiarizing one), but it turns out that his wife is the real natural. Coached by Susie, played by the incomparable Alex Borstein, Midge begins to perform, to varying degrees of success. Oh, and Lenny Bruce is a character.
In true ASP fashion, the dialogue is fast-paced, joke dense, and sensational. If there had to be an heir to Gilmore Girls, this is indeed the one. I just watched the series but might start it over and force the huz to watch it with me. 10/10
Is Get Out the best movie I’ve ever seen? Strong possibility. Give Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya and Betty Gabriel all of the Oscars!
I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t know it would be that good. I only just watched Get Out this fall, since I am horror-averse to the extreme, but I already know it will be one of my life-long favorites. Unfortunately, to write pretty much anything about it would spoil the majesty, and for once, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I was shocked, despite waiting months to watch it, and I wouldn’t take that experience away from anyone.
Jordan Peele is a genius. The film is aesthetically gorgeous, socially aware, hilarious, and terrifying. It’s a horror film, and a comedy, and a documentary.
P.S. I had the unique privilege of writing one of my final papers about Get Out, which I’m submitting to conferences!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
If you didn’t like this movie, please eject yourself from planet Earth. I won’t spoil it for anyone (it was spoiled for me by my brother), but it was a joy and a pleasure. I gasped in surprise or glee multiple times, and I got to experience the entire thing sitting between my husband and my best friend—best combo ever. I’d write more about how much it rocked my world, but I’m busy going to see it again.
I finally discovered the true, unadulterated joy that is Hallmark Christmas movies. I watched Christmas in the Air*, which only made me thirst for more**. These things are a bright spot in an increasingly dismal world. Plus, where else will you experience the true joy of a 49-year-old, childless female lead? Hallmark doesn’t even know that it’s feminist!
*I will say, specific to this film, that it espoused one trash value, which is that messiness and imperfection is acceptable. You should have let her clean your office, dude. You’re not a creative genius—you have untreated ADHD.
**There’s an upcoming one starring Candace Cameron Bure and Marilu Henner!
I. Love. St. Vincent. I finally got to see her in concert last month at the House of Blues! I’ve liked her for years, but I have to admit, when she started getting super high concept, starting with Strange Mercy and continuing even stronger with St. Vincent, I really became a superfan. Masseduction doesn’t disappoint for a second—it’s got killer visuals, tight tunes, and her sexiest sound yet. Go purchase this album with human currency!
As if The National could put out a bad album. I’ve been waiting for what seems like decades for new Ntl jams, and finally, my prayers have been answered. Sleep Well Beast is everything I dreamed it would be and more. It has more tech-y, electronic-y moments (please, don’t be intimidated by my vast knowledge of music) than previous releases, but it works. Get on this album, my dudes.
I know. I’m going back on years of hating on T. Swift. I can admit I was wrong! In my hour of darkness she was standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, so let her be.
Reputation is bops for days. I adore it. I’ve listened to it more than the previous 2 albums combined, which severely deducts cool points from my street cred. But I don’t care. I even like “Look What You Made Me Do” which was pretty much universally panned. Highlights are, for sure, “Endgame (feat. Future & Ed Sheeran),” “Ready For It,” and “I Did Something Bad,” but basically every song is great so just go listen to it? T. Swift redeemed.
Guys, I got to actually go to PYHT in Hollywood! It was probably the craziest night of my entire life—maybe I’ll share the story someday—but it was an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. The whole drama is recorded on the podcast, so if you’re a listener, you may know what I’m referring to. It was definitely a…teachable moment.
Cam & Rhea, thanks for being the moms we all need, and being genuinely the warmest and best people I’ve ever met.
My ABM ladies started a natural beauty line! Lipstick, lip gloss, and essential oils, oh my! I am obsessed with clean beauty products (#backonmyhippiebullshit), so these gems were a total godsend. I took advantage of all of the launch and holiday sales, so I, of course, have the full lip collection. They go on smooth, hydrate, last, and bonus: the lip gloss smells like yummy vanilla!
It’s official! Nice weather is back. It was 80 degrees and sunny today! I live for shorteralls, so this is very good news!
I didn’t have to work today (praise), so I stayed in pajamas until almost 2. When I finally worked up the motivation to shower and put on clothes I had to rush out the door to cash in our cans before the redemption center closed. I know. Exciting life!
I bought this denim jacket about a million years ago at Old Navy. I don’t shop there anymore because working in retail has made me a little snobby, but this jacket is my absolute favorite. It goes with everything. It’s like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Jacket.
My fiancé is an inch shorter than me (much to both of our chagrin), so whenever he’s not around I make sure to rock platforms like it’s my job!
I haven’t really gotten into the enamel pin trend, and now with the Spending Fast, I don’t have the option, but when Cameron Esposito put out her last special, Marriage Material, she had some pins available as merch. This one says “Breast Stroke Specialist” and the other (on my opposite lapel) is a Chinese food take-out box filled with sperms. It brings me soooo much life.
The other button is handmade merch from the NAF/M. Ward show at Royale last weekend (which was amazing).
I’m hoping that the beautiful weather brings me more energy! I have been dead tired for weeks—I think it’s a side effect of spring allergies.
2015 has been a landmark year for music…and going to amazing shows! We started the year off slow, with back-to-back of Montreal and Father John Misty shows at the Paradise in March. Apparently, Josh Tillman had just filmed the Master of None episode when we saw him, because he referenced joining the ranks of “fake TV bands” such as the Shins on Gilmore Girls. I finally saw the episode the other day and it was so fantastic. Congrats, Aziz Ansari, on a different (but still very awesome) type of show.
We were treated to a Phish concert at Shoreline in the Bay Area in July. We never go to huge arena shows like that, so it was an awesome experience, even though I previously knew nothing about the band. Phish fans are hardcore. Matt, the husband of the cousin that took us to the show, has seen the band over 150 times! And, according to Instagram, Regina Spektor (who I saw in ’09) went to see them a day or so after we did (yeah, we’re cool like that).
The Sinclair in Cambridge has been THE place for shows this year. In the past 3 months, we’ve seen Chelsea Wolfe, John Grant, and Natalie Prass there. There’s no bad view at the Sinclair, so no matter what time you arrive, you’re guaranteed an incredible show (and Insomnia Cookies after the show).
We were lucky enough to win tickets via Facebook to see Nicole Atkins & JD McPherson at the Royale last month! Meeting Nicole was such an insane privilege. She’s one of my favorite singer/songwriters and easily one of our generation’s most remarkable talents.
Another “surprise” show was Dengue Fever at Brighton Music Hall. We didn’t get tickets until the last minute and I’m so glad we did. Nimol is an international treasure. The Dengue show might have been one of the most joyful experiences of my life. I don’t understand how this band hasn’t taken over the world.
My father and I went to see John Cleese at the Cutler Majestic Theatre on tour for his memoirs, So Anyway…
I can’t wait to read the book! It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to go, so I didn’t have time to read it prior to the show, but regardless, Mr. Cleese was an absolute treasure, as expected. This clip of Cleese on Conan is a great little taste of what my experience was like.
Last Friday was a twofer: it was my first time at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) in Boston and it was my first time seeing John Zorn in person! He didn’t perform, since the concert was for his “heavy metal organ trio”, Simulacrum, but it was still amazing. I wore earplugs, something I have only done once before at a local hardcore show.
Sunday, the 15th, Fig & I were treated (by my dad) to tickets to see Bill Maher at the Providence Performing Arts Center. It’s so life-affirming that someone with such a wide-reaching voice shares (99% of) your opinions. It was also my first ever comedy show—HOLLA.
Tonight we’re seeing Cameron Esposito at Brighton Music Hall. Another stand-up, who you might know from Maron or the Meltdown. She’s one of my absolute favorites right now, and I was super stoked when Fig impulsively bought tickets to see her while we were at the Dengue show.
We’re capping off the year with Joanna Newsom at the Orpheum on her Divers tour. This is the first time I’ve ever seen Joanna live after nearly a decade of rabid fandom, so I’m pretty excited. Fun tidbit: Michael and I had our first actual date at the Orpheum–he took me to see Neko Case as a belated 22nd birthday present. It’s the first time we’ve been back together since then (I went back a few months later for Neutral Milk Hotel).
One show I’m bummed I missed was Eisley with We The City and Copeland. I’ve never heard the music of the latter two bands, but this is the second time I’ve missed Eisley in the past two years—a major, major bummer because they’ve been one of my favorite bands for years. They’re currently on tour with only 1 original member (Sherri), 1 established member (Garron) and a whole crew of fam & friends. It would have been amazing to see, but as I’m already having Stacy and Chauntelle withdrawals, so it might have sent me into a spiraling depression.
Also, the Decemberists, Belle & Sebastian, and the New Pornographers all rolled through town this year, but they’re big enough now to play the House of Blues which is not our fave venue.
I hope we have as fruitful a 2016 as we did 2015. Amazing new music hasn’t ceased for a second (you can check my Modern Music page for updates on new releases).