Embroidery: You Belong Among the Wildflowers


Someday I will probably do a piece with those Tom Petty lyrics, but today is not that day. For Christmas I made my mom a piece depicting a bouquet with a blue and white (delft?) teapot for a vase. My mom was always into blue and white pottery/stoneware, as many people are, and I used to think it was kind of basic, but now I love and crave it. It's sort of a neutral for a maximalist: the limitation of only only white and shades of blue, but in any pattern under the sun. When I see multiple pieces together, it makes my brain happy.

I've done pieces for my dad and sister (and still working on one for my bro-in-law that he was supposed to get on Christmas--oops), but I'd never made one for my mom, so I decided it was the year. This was a concept that had appealed to me in the past, and it was perfect for her, so I was excited to get started.

There are images out there that are 'flowers in teapots,' but I wanted big flowers with a not overly complicated teapot design. So I searched for bouquets and teapots separately until I found two I liked, and then stitched (ha!) the two images together to create the final design.

I bought several shades of blue floss, because you know me, why use one blue when  you can use 5 or 6? I thought about coloring in the white part of the teapot, but it seemed like a waste of floss, and I imagined the pattern in blue might stick out more left alone. As for the flowers and stems, I did not pre-pick what colors to use, but rather just tried to keep it as balanced as possible when going from section to section, sticking as much as I could to pastels (save for the daisy, of course).

I was so excited about the teapot, I did it first. I do not believe this will be my last blue and white piece!

I had some eager helpers, who always generously provide the cat hair that inevitably ends up caught in the floss of every piece I make:

I gave it to my mom Christmas morning, and she loved it. I'm hoping she'll put it in her cubicle, or her home office.

Currents, December 2016


Drink: Nog me.

Food: Turns out Kroger Simple Truth boxed macaroni and cheese is BANANAS delicious. (Cheese sauce instead of powder, and full-size macaroni. A freaking revelation!)

Podcast: I can't get enough of Beyond Yacht Rock. If you haven't seen the show, you need to. The guys behind it, J.D. Ryznar, Hunter Staire, David Lyons, and Hollywood Steve Huey, started a podcast where they count down music genres they created. Some of my personal favorites: Divorcecore ("80s trend of Boomer artists writing slickly produced hit songs about divorce and lost faith in the ideals of youth"), Hard Organ ("organ-based rock"), Easy Wickening ("songs about the occult that do not rock"), and George Orwave ("paranoid, coke-fueled hits that flooded the airwaves leading up to Orwell's year of 1984").

Celebrity Crush: I had another dream about Milo Ventimiglia, but not because I've been watching This is Us. The pilot was okay, but the second episode had the mom trying to limit her daughter's calorie intake and I am NOT here for that shit.

Book: In my continuing attempt to cause concern for me by the members of book club, I've been devouring Small Sacrifices: A True Story of Passion and Murder by (who else?) Ann Rule and The Stranger She Loved: Dr. Martin MacNeil, His Beautiful Wife, and an Almost Perfect Murder by Shanna Hogan.

Project: I finished my 2016 Christmas card photo, now onto trying to finish my handmade Christmas gifts (my unthimbled thumb already feels like it has a second-degree burn).

TV Show: Watched the most recent season of The Fall (so good), started Westworld (I'm not the biggest ERW fan but they talk about the show all the time on Harmontown so I need to be up to date on the deets), and the new Gilmore Girls miniseries had super high points but also low points for me.

Movie: FBAWTFT was...weird. Super excited to see La La Land and Rogue One.
Obsession: Watching every HD version of the Nutcracker ballet I can find on YouTube, because tickets to the real thing are not in my budget.

Thankfulness: It snowed last week and my heart grew three sizes bigger.

Time-Stealer: Lighting all the tealights in my various Christmas decorations. Maybe it is time to buy fake ones that I can operate by remote. 

Worry: The same worry I have every December, that I won't be able to pack all the Christmas experiences I need to enjoy before the 25th arrives.

Fashion: I got a red beanie that makes me feel like a member of Team Zissou.

Music: Celtic and/or bluegrass Christmas music non-stop.

Wishlist: Up-close tickets to the Nutcracker. Everything was beautiful at the ballet, raise your arms and someone's always there...

Reminder: "My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me, and that what misses me was never meant for me." - Imam Al-Shafi'i

"Not only was she a singularly gifted witch, she was also an uncommonly kind woman."


My friend Kj was in Scotland for four years, working on her PhD.  While there, she was able to visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London in January with another beloved friend, Jonathan. They posted a picture that made my heart full:

I knew the bridge had significant meaning for Kj (Prisoner of Azkaban is in her top 10 films), and the structure itself is beautiful. So for her birthday, I wanted to try to capture the above image, if I could. I had about a week to finish it in time for her birthday!

 In the film the bridge looks very brown, but in the photo of my friends it looked more blue/gray. And because it's me, I decided not to do the bridge all one color. If I'd had more time I would have colored in the shadow/black part of the bridge, but it didn't happen. Fortunately I really love how it turned out, particularly in the amount of time I was working with!

And this weekend I got to take a pic with the inspirations themselves!

Embroidery: Pissing the Night Awaaaaay


This summer my friend Kristen G. (she's definitely one of the top 5 Kristens I've ever met, maybe top 2) commissioned an embroidery piece from me, and it was a blast to bring it to reality with her. I'm nervous about ever doing another commission after this, because I don't know that anyone could ever be as encouraging and excited about a piece as Kristen was about hers!

We started with her idea: lyrics from "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba with the four beverages mentioned in the name: a whiskey drink, a vodka drink, a lager drink, and a cider drink. I tried to find glasses/bottles that worked for the drinks, and asked her pertinent questions like "Rocks in the whiskey?" and "What kind of cider are you imagining?" Then I showed her different fonts, and with her approval, I moved forward with the design we'd picked! I've never made something with this level of customization before, and it was so fun to collaborate!

It's tough to stitch liquid--much less clear liquid like vodka, but I'm really pleased with the final result, and I think Kristen was too!

Currents, September 2016


Movie: People keep asking me about seeing the new Pete's Dragon because it got good reviews and people have been loving it, but I've yet to talk to someone who loves the 1977 original AND this new one. I doubt many of the original film's themes made it into the new one, like child slavery or lovable alcoholics, and is the new one a musical? I'll probably stream it someday and live-tweet my reactions.

Food: My go-to dinner later has been pancakes with strawberries on top.

Celebrity Crush: I'm loving the chemistry between Sharna and James Hinchcliffe on the current season of DWTS. I was NOT expecting to love an INDYCAR driver but he is just too charming and an awesome dancer!

Podcast: I'm all up to date on Last Podcast on the Left, re-listening to My Favorite Murder (and ordered one of their t-shirts), starting Sword and Scale, and still sharing horrific true crime facts and stories with friends and loved ones--usually against their wishes.

Book: I've discovered poet Nancy Pagh, and I've ordered all her books from the library. Also, Bruce's autobiography came out and I neeeeeed it.

Indulgence: Is keeping overdue library books until I'm done reading them an indulgence?

Thankfulness: I know it's strange to be thankful for something that happens every year, but the lack of bugs, sweat, oppressive sunshine, and body hair maintenance that comes with Fall makes being a human more than a little bit easier for me.

Music: I've been so podcast-heavy lately with my listening, but to fall asleep at night I've been loving the Jazz24 app.

TV Shows: Apparently it's going to be eligible for the Best Documentary Oscar, even though it's a 7.5 hour docu-miniseries that aired on TV (after it went to Sundance), but I'm allowing OJ: Made In America to be listed under my current TV show. I was still in grade school when the trial was going on, and I remember it being everywhere, but I don't remember any specifics that weren't parodied on SNL at the time. The context of the case is just as fascinating and relevant as the evidence itself, and this documentary was so well executed. Had the murder and trial taken place in a few years later, or even just in a different city, the verdict would likely have been different. If you get the chance to watch it, do it. (I watched it on Hulu). I mean, the shoes and the arthritis medicine! The 9-11 calls! Gah, just watch it already! (Be warned: they show very graphic crime scene photos. You could argue that this was unnecessary to the story, but the gruesome severity of Nicole's wounds show that they were most likely inflicted by someone who had strong, personal feelings about her--therefore not a stranger or hired gun.) 

Project: I'm working on my first ever paid embroidery commission!

Achievement: I'll be coasting off this one for awhile:

Wishlist: My Shark Navigator cordless vacuum is a giant disappointment, so I'm longing to go for the gold and get a cordless Dyson. A girl with 4 furry pets can dream.

Reminder: "I remember understanding what love really is. It didn't hurt; it didn't ignore your prayers, didn't seem to not care that your mom was dying. It didn't leave you wondering what you did wrong. Love tried to make you happy, even if it was useless. Love would do you anything to make you happy.” ― Jackson Pearce, Purity

I Photographed My First (And Probably Last) Wedding!


I'm a long-time admirer of professional wedding photography. I love seeing the creative ways photographers put different spins on traditional shots, or try new things that push the limits of what we consider 'wedding photography.' The mastery of light and camera technology required to compose those one-in-a-million pictures has never been something I've possessed. But some friends asked me to photograph their wedding, and even with my disclaimers of amateurity and lack of experience, they kept asking me, and I said yes. (I decided I didn't want them to pay me for it because a) they're dear friends and b) then they couldn't be too mad if the photos sucked.)

It was a loooong day, where I pretty much only sat down when nature called. My thighs were crazy sore for almost a week. I admired wedding photographers before, but now even more so. When I got home that night I wanted to fall in bed, but not before I uploaded all the photos to my computer. While skimming through the pictures of the ceremony I saw a jump from a shot of the rings exchange to the recessional. Because I was exhausted and hysterical, I didn't feel I could rely on my hazy memory of shooting THE kiss. Had I actually missed it? I thought, "If I missed it, I'm human garbage."

But as a newbie I'd forgotten that I was shooting with two different cameras during the ceremony, and the kiss was captured in multiple frames on a different card. Over the last week, I somehow managed to reduce my 3,921 buttload of photos down to 391 of my favorite ones that told 'the story' of the day as truly as possible.

Here are a few of the ones I'm most proud of. And when I say 'proud' I really mean 'gobsmacked that the elements converged and worked with the high quality camera with little to no help from me to make a semi-decent photo'!

My favorite way to learn history


Waaay back in 2011 before I traveled to London and subsequently took a break from all things British (spoiler: I didn't have a great time), I published a post about the show Horrible Histories. Now 5 years later, I discovered that the whole series is available as part of my Hulu subscription. I think I'd only made it through season 3, and they ended up making 2 more that I never saw, and my love is now rekindled. This summer has been weird and full of self-pity and self-loathing, so having this little show available to make me laugh has been a gift.

Here's a round-up of the songs I've had happily stuck in my head for the last month. Unfortunately the CBBC has really been cracking down on illegal videos of the show, so most of these are missing their hilarious sets/production/actors. Really, you should just get a Hulu subscription. This show alone is worth it!

RAF Pilots (as Take That)

Mary Tudor (as Kate Bush)

Aztec Priests (as The Bee Gees)

The Thinkers (as The Beatles)

Charles Darwin (as David Bowie)

Charles Dickens (as Morrissey)

Vikings (as Simon & Garfunkel)

Victoria & Albert

The Emperors (as Michael Jackson)

#151: The B-52's by The B-52's


The B-52's by The B-52's (1979)

Favorite Tracks: "Lava" and "6060-842"

Thoughts: The B-52's! This is their debut album, and it's pretty much exactly what I expected a B-52's album to be. I'm only really familiar with "Love Shack" (which isn't on this album) so this was an opportunity to get to delve into their music in a way I haven't up to this point. I liked it, but it also didn't blow me away. I think I could enjoy hearing this album while at a dive bar or even showing up in a random party playlist, but it's definitely not something I will be going out of my way to hear.  For me, they're iconic for sure, but not essential.

Is This Better Than Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy?: Not to me.

Somebody somebody somewhere keeps me in mind


I mentioned in a recent post that I've become addicted to the 'comedy' podcast My Favorite Murder with comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. I'd followed Karen for ages on Twitter, and I highly recommend following her because she's hilarious:

In an effort to be more vulnerable today I chose jeans that make me look like a lost baby (x)

You always know a girl wants a serious relationship in a movie if she rides a bike to work (x)

My therapist is out of town so if you see me I'd appreciate it if you'd make a sad face, hold both palms out and say "That's a lot to hold." (x)

When I was finally able to distinguish Georgia's voice from Karen's, I realized I really, really, really like hearing it. It's kind of raspy/scratchy, and it's lovely (though of course today I learned from the most recent episode that she smokes!). So out of curiosity to match a face with a voice, I searched for videos of her on YouTube, and found out she's a singer-songwriter! Which is basically the best result when you love hearing someone's voice.

So I decided I wanted to share some of my favorite songs of her's I came across.

"Solid 9"

If only life was like a sitcom
If only I could play the husband
Then I could just be fat and funny
and you'd be hot, and shut your mouth 

But we all know our roles 
it's impossible; it never will be otherwise
Men fall in love first through their eyes
And second through their...eyes

"Jesus Walks"

Jesus lived then he had to die
Because of your sins
Because of how much you lie

"Gimme Mine"

I'm holding out for that old-time feeling
And I just wanna know 
Somebody somebody somewhere keeps me in mind
It's a heavy load
But it's worth repeating
Everybody got some
Gimme gimme gimme gimme mine

A live album featuring these three songs is available on iTunes, titled Live at the Bootleg. More recently she seems to be working with a guy named Drennon Davis, and here they are performing "The High Song" on Conan. (They also have an album together on iTunes called I Don't Care I Like It).

#152: Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest


Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

Favorite Tracks: "Buggin' Out" and "Verses From the Abstract" and "Show Business" and "What?" and "Scenario"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I was quite young when A Tribe Called Quest was in their hey-day, and I heard about them, but never connected their name to what type of music they made. The name alone made me guess funk or reggae. But now I find out they're hip-hop! And there's only three of them? I pictured a much more populated group to make up a 'tribe.' Wu Tang Clan's had at least, what, 10 members? Anyway, now I've been set straight.

Low End Theory is the group's 2nd album, and according to Wikipedia, "Engineer Bob Power has been quoted numerous times calling the album, "The Sgt. Pepper's of hip hop."" High praise! Let's get listening.

(Post-Listening) As rap albums go, I really liked this one--impressive rhymes and enjoyable beats (the whitest description in the world). And so delightfully 90s--I think I counted at least 3 Arsenio mentions.

Is This Better Than Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy?: Not to me, but very good.

#153: Moanin' in the Moonlight by Howlin' Wolf


Moanin' in the Moonlight by Howlin' Wolf (1959)

Favorite Tracks: "How Many More Years" and "I'm Leavin' You"

Thoughts: Confession: I thought that Howlin' Wolf was a band, not a person, probably because I was conflating the name with Steppenwolf. I know, very embarrassing. This album is Howlin' debut, and it's straight-up classic American blues.

Is This Better Than Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy?: Not to me.

Currents, August 2016


Drink: Our family's newly bottled (as of this weekend) 2015 Pinot Noir!

Food: My mom's fresh-made pesto on anything. (Can you tell I went home this weekend?)

Podcast: I've been racing through My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.

Celebrity Crush: I'm back watching Star Trek: The Next Generation again and the answer is always Patrick Stewart.

Book: I just finished Emma Rathbone's Losing It. I hope she writes more, I like her style.
When was the last time you wanted something? Wanted it so badly that the very grip of your wanting seemed to prevent you from actually getting it because you were throwing things off with your need, holding too hard, jarring things out of joint?
Project: I am just a few steps away from having some kind of catio situation for the cats. It's gonna blow their tiny minds.

TV Show: I've started Stranger Things, it's awesome so far.

Movie: Saw the new Ghostbusters (not as bad as it could have been, but wish it was better) and Star Trek Beyond, which I loved. 
Poetry: I love this excerpt of Marge Piercy's "The Sabbath of Mutual Respect":
Fertility and choice: 
every row dug in spring means weeks of labor. Plant too much and the seedlings choke in weeds as the warm rain soaks them. The goddess of abundance Habondia is also the spirit of labor and choice. In another life, dear sister, I too would bear six fat children. In another life, my sister, I too would love another woman and raise one child together as if that pushed from both our wombs. In another life, sister, I too would dwell solitary and splendid as a lighthouse on the rocks or be born to mate for life like the faithful goose. Praise all our choices. Praise any woman who chooses, and make safe her choice.
Fashion: Oh my gosh, guys, it's August, we're thisclose to sweater weather again. I'm ready to ceremoniously burn all my tank tops and shorts.

Music: The Smiths, on repeat. (AKA God, when will this interminable summer end?) 

Reminder: "How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved." - Sigmund Freud

#154: Pretenders by The Pretenders


Pretenders by The Pretenders (1980)

Favorite Tracks: "Precious" and "Up the Neck" and "Tattooed Love Boys" and "Space Invader" and "The Wait" and "Stop Your Sobbing" and "Kid" and "Brass in Pocket" and "Mystery Achievement"

Thoughts: The Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde were always in the background of my musical upbringing, mostly with their hits "Don't Get Me Wrong," "Back on the Chain Gang," and "I'll Stand By You," "Angel of the Morning," and a song from this, their debut album: "Brass in Pocket." These songs showed up not only on my radio, but in movies and TV too (remember when Chrissie was on Friends?). But beyond their big hits and general pop culture presence, I've never gotten the chance to dig much deeper, but I'm excited to today!

Pretenders opens with "Precious": sassy and playful and sets a fun tone for the album. "The Phone Call" was a little too weird and sporadic for my taste, but the next track, "Up the Neck" had a fun, almost Bowie-ish quality to it. "Tattooed Love Boys" is a manic rock song, reminding me of glam rock. "Space Invader" (instrumental) had me rocking in my seat, and wishing it were longer than three and a half minutes. I couldn't really tell what Chrissie was singing in "The Wait" (were parts of it actual gibberish?) but I loved every second of it.

"Stop Your Sobbing" is a cover of the Kinks song from their debut album, and I loved it. It was one of the more sweet, romantic songs on the album. In contrast, "Private Life" is a dark, reggae-ish ode to not wanting to hear about other people's problems. Yes, your marriage is a tragedy but it's not concern. Of course "Brass in Pocket" is singularly perfect, though I still don't know (do I want to know?) what having 'brass in pocket' means.

Is This Better Than Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy?: I would say it's as good, easily!

#155: Paul's Boutique by Beastie Boys


Paul's Boutique by Beastie Boys (1989)

Favorite Tracks: I liked the samples towards the end of "Hey Ladies" (when they'd stopped rapping) and the female vocal at the beginning of "Shadrach" (before they'd started rapping)

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) This is our second and final Beastie Boys album on the list, after License to Ill at #215. I don't recognize any of the song titles except for "Shake Your Rump" because the Goldberg kids performed it in an episode of The Goldbergs. You can tell how high my excitement level to listen to this album is considering I haven't done a review since....January.

(Post-Listening) *Shrug emoji* I mean, it was okay? I'm just not into this kind of music. There's no denying these guys are talented at what they do, but it leaves me bored.

Is This Better Than Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy?: Nope.

Currents, July 2016

Project: I'm trying to build up embroidery calluses, so I've been stitching up a storm

Movie: I watched Spotlight while tagging/editing my photos of the gorgeous cathedrals I saw last year in Italy. It was strange and disturbing (which is good, everyone should be very disturbed by that movie/story).

Food: Soft pretzels with honey-curry mustard. 

Podcast: I've been enjoying Doughboys with Nick Wiger and Mike Mitchell, which features in-depth reviews of chain restaurants. The craziest thing I've learned so far: Taco Bell was started by a guy named Glen Bell

Celebrity Crush: I've been re-watching Frasier and the David Hyde Pierce/Niles Crane feels are all too real.

Obsession: Downloading fun fonts from and using them for all my work-related documents, and my embroidery!

Book: I've been loving Ruth L. Schwartz's poetry lately.

Thankfulness: So far this July has been rainy, cloudy, and cool compared to most in this region. I'm in heaven. September will be here before I know it!

Fashion: I found a Free People dress (on super clearance) that is covered in lovely embroidery! Hoping to wear it to one of the weddings I'm attending later this summer.

TV show: Maria Bamford's excellent Lady Dynamite, the silly-fun Korean drama Noble, My Love, and I'm starting Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries!

Music: My favorite songs from Waitress: The Musical are still on repeat.

Wishlist: I'm a big fan of this bleeding heart mirror.

Reminder: "Each moment accommodates an eternity. See it as a small room with two doors. Someday we will enter to find the second door locked against us." - Stephen Dobyns

Embroidery: Seriously, I Have Too Many Issues


I don't like to reveal too much personal information about myself on this blog ("HA!" laughed every reader who read even one of my medical history posts), but I wanted to make an embroidery piece for my new cubicle, and suffice to say, I work in the magazines/journals industry. And I'm a mess of a human being, so the natural choice for my piece was the phrase:


I mean, it's perfect. But I didn't want just typography, so I googled vintage Vogue covers to provide a background for the phrase. When I came upon the following issue from Feb. 1, 1964, I knew I'd found the winner:


If my internet research is correct, the model is Wilhelmina Cooper and the photographer was Bert Stern. Unfortunately, the phrase I'd picked wasn't going to work with the Vogue title being at the top of the image. I needed it to be at the bottom, so I moved the lettering down and added the rest, with the photo 'behind' it:

I loved the blue of the model's coat, so I picked varying shades of blue for everything but the title itself:

Then I filled in the letters and got started on the face:

To use the full number of strands of black thread for the mascara, the lashes would have been too thick, so I removed 2 or 3 to allow more lashes to fill out the eyes. It's tough for me to figure out how to fill in faces this big, so I decided to leave her skin 'empty.' 

The flowers in her hat were done free-hand by me, which will come as no surprise once you see them. My flowers are sporadic, diverse, and not really in keeping with the laws of the physics you would expect of flowers in a hat shape. 

I decided to start from the bottom sides, and use black centers for the pistil/stamen, like a poppy, in keeping with the original image. 

I tried to keep like-colored flowers away from each other, but didn't always succeed. And I tried to keep to a pink-red-coral-purple-light blue-white motif, also to keep to the original. 

And then the last flowers were complete!

The only issue was that the first three words seemed kind of hard to read. You could make them out, but the colors are a little too close to the flowers. I really like it, but if people can't read it fairly easily, it defeats the purpose of the words altogether, and I could have just done with model and her hat. So I outlined everything but Vogue in black. It makes it much easier to read, even if the black is a little harsh next to all the colors. I also added the outline of the model's coat.

Overall, I'm really pleased with the result, and love seeing it now on my cubicle wall!

I know what's right for me; it's the only thing I've ever (I've never) done


I can't remember exactly when I saw Adrienne Shelly's Waitress (2007) but it was right after I graduated from college, and when the credits rolled my first thought was, "Maryann, if you ever feel even a little bit bad about being single or unmarried, watch this movie."

The main character is Jenna (Keri Russell), a small-town pie-maker whose husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto) is a narcissistic, immature, possessive, controlling (of her time and finances), demeaning, demanding, jealous abuser. She's been secretly saving a portion of her waitressing pay to use to escape Earl, but then ends up accidentally pregnant with his baby after he gets her drunk one night.

Her usual doctor is semi-retired, so when she goes in for pre-natal check-ups she meets the caring, kind & tender (but married) Dr. Jim Pomatter (Nathan Fillion), with whom she starts an affair. But then when the baby comes, she ends things with Earl for good, tells Dr. Pomatter "thank you" but to go back to his wife, and is gifted a large sum of money from the crotchety old diner owner (Andy Griffith) who slipped into a coma that same day. In the end, she owns the pie diner and walks off into the sunset with her young daughter, Lulu.

The film has a sweet but powerful message about female empowerment and independence--showing that having a life with love and family does not have to equal a life under the dominion of a patriarchal, misogynist abuser. Which is a part of why the murder of the film's writer/director/co-set designer/co-costume designer/co-star Adrienne Shelly (Dawn Williams) at the hands of a male construction worker from her apartment building, is so tragic and horrifying. He killed her before the film could open at Sundance the next year, the end of which features her own two-year-old daughter Sophie as Jenna's daughter Lulu. Since then, the Women's Film Critics Circle gives an annual Adrienne Shelly Award to the film that "most passionately opposes violence against women."

Stage rights were purchased in 2007, the creative team assembled in 2013, and the musical opened on Broadway in April 2016, with music & lyrics by pop singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles. I like Sara's music a lot, but it's not my favorite, so when I first gave a listen to the songs I was generally unmoved. But then I saw it was starring Jessie Mueller, an amazing Broadway performer, and kept hearing about how good the show was from people I trust, so I decided to YouTube a song from the show. I started with a 'sneak preview' of the song "Bad Idea," and I was completely hooked. I downloaded the album and have had it on repeat ever since. Here are my favorite songs, from best to also very good.

1) "Bad Idea" by Jessie Mueller and Drew Gehling

I know what's right for me
It's the only thing I've ever (I've never) done
What if I never see myself ever be 
anything more than what I've already become
I need a bad idea
I need a bad idea
I need a bad idea
Just one

2) "Soft Place to Land" by Jessie Mueller, Kimiko Glenn, and Keala Settle

But dreams are elusive
the kind we've gotten used to is 
nothing I can feel
nothing I can hold
nothing I can have
nothing that I know

3) "When He Sees Me" by Kimiko Glenn

I'm not defensive I'm simply being cautious 
I can't risk reckless dating due to my miscalculating 
while a certain suitor stands in line 
I've seen in movies most made for television 
you cannot be too careful when it comes to sharing your life 
I could end up a miserable wife

4) "What Baking Can Do" by Jessie Mueller

Even this...
Even that...
Even as the walls come tumbling down 
Even as I can't stop remembering how
Every door we ever made we never once walked out

5) "You Matter To Me" by Sara Bareilles (Jessie Mueller in the show) and Drew Gehling

You matter to me
Simple and plain and not much to ask from somebody
You matter to me
I promise you do
You, you matter too
I promise you do
You'll see

6) "She Used to Be Mine" by Jessie Mueller

she's imperfect but she tries 
she is good but she lies 
she is hard on herself 
she is broken and won't ask for help 
she is messy but she's kind 
she is lonely most of the time 
she is all of this mixed up 
and baked in a beautiful pie 
she is gone but she used to be mine

7) "The Negative" by Jessie Mueller, Kimiko Glenn, and Keala Settle

Maybe it'll all be fine
Maybe there'll be just one line
Come on, negative

Sorrow for the one I was and had to leave in that place


Words like Fate and Pain

Ostalgia: this strange and perfect word
means bone pain, but it carries my regret,
it is freighted like the word Saudades
Elizabeth Bishop loved, meaning homesickness,
longing for a place, missing your friends.
The word evokes the hospital, lighted up like an ocean liner
bearing me on and on through the dark,
its windows cool to the feverish touch, it calls back
whispered consultations, and a faint throbbing
of engines somewhere deep within the building.
The sound of it brings sorrow for the one I was
and had to leave in that place
as if I were driving away from my friend for the last time,
leaving her standing there, finite and brave,
her body diminishing in the mirror.
It brings the steady ticking of the winter rains,
the water glass beside the bed, your small cool hands
before you left, and the silence.
It conjures for me even the wild panicked smell
of pain too great to bear, when the fragile soul
goes under suddenly, without a word.

- Karen Fisher (x)

Currents, May 2016


Drink: Rekindled my love of chocolate milk. Because who doesn't up their dairy beverage intake as the weather gets warmer?

Food: Nobody's more surprised than me that my current favorite pizza combo includes green peppers. (And I don't even pick them off!)

Podcast: Sometimes I have to take breaks from my weird but strong true crime obsession. But that break ended and I'm back in the depths of human depravity. Winning gold: the weekly Australian Casefile True Crime. It's so well produced and narrated, I eagerly look forward to the newest episode every Saturday (they're all winners but do NOT I repeat DO NOT listen to Case #11 unless you're ready to hear audio clips from a real-life exorcism, which it turns out, I was not). Coming in with the silver: True Murder: The Most Shocking Killers in True Crime History and the Authors That Have Written About Them. This appears to be a real radio program in Canada hosted by author Dan Zupansky, which means the quality is a bit sub-par compared to most podcast recordings, but the stories are excellent, and there's a backlog of episodes back to 2010, so you can really get your fill of horrifying true stories! Dan interviews the authors who wrote books about the crimes/criminals, so the level of knowledge is high, but unlike Casefile True Crime, it's in a kind of awkward interview format. And finally the bronze goes to Criminal, an NPR-style mini podcast that doesn't just cover heinous crimes, but all types of criminality.

Celebrity Crush: Oh God, Prince. Prince, Prince, Prince. I keep trying to formulate my thoughts on his loss for a blog post but at the moment it's just an voice recording of me sobbing along to "Take Me With U."

Book: Regulating Desire: From the Virtuous Maiden to the Purity Princess.

Project: I want to make a seat cover for my office chair but I might just break down and buy one.

TV Show: The Real O'Neals (surprisingly fantastic), Batman: The Animated Series (reliving my childhood--turns out this always and always will be my favorite depiction of the character and the world of Gotham), Avatar: The Last Airbender (yes, I'm on an animated binge--but this show is even better than all the hype could have prepared me for--it's storytelling is tremendous), Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (I wish it was nightly instead of weekly), Angie Tribeca (warms my Airplane-and-Naked Gun/Police Squad-loving heart), Please Like Me (so, so, so, so good), Happy Valley (so good and so, so, so upsetting), and I'm delving into a new TV genre: Korean drama! My first is Beating Again.

Movie: In keeping with the True Crime theme: Josef Fritzl: Story of a Monster.
Obsession: Going on Ebay to find PVC figurines I had as a kid to put in my cubicle. Or, if they're too rare (read: hard to find/over $30) to put in my home.

Thankfulness: It's been rainy/overcast all week!

Time-Stealer: Trying to get my old, tired brain to understand how Snapchat works.

Worry: Bug-free™ season is over and I am Afraid (x)

Fashion: Tunics for summer! Somehow, I'm still living like I'm trying to win a modesty competition, even though I'm reading books with titles like Regulating Desire.

I mean....

Wishlist: Fan of these earrings.

Reminder: "She was beginning to realize that people could survive most things. Not because they were brave or strong, but because there wasn't any choice." - Candace Proctor, Night in Eden

Maryann the Bad Feminist: Part 1 in What I'm Sure Will Be Like a 400 Part Series


Today's instance of bad feminism can be classified as a guilty pleasure, which I suppose all feminists are allowed, but I still feel a little weird saying it: I love James Bond movies.

Finding a Bond film that isn't rife with sexism, racism, or homophobia is all but impossible in the Bond films--particularly those earlier than Casino Royale (2006). And not only do they not pass the Bechdel or Mako Mori tests, they smack them on their asses and call them "good girl."

But like many fans, my own shameful love affair with 007 began long before I even knew the meaning of the words 'misogyny' or 'patriarchy.' I'm not sure when or with which movie, but my dad was most likely the first person to show me a Bond film--a Connery one I'm fairly sure. Growing up I was a horrible snob about James Bond based off a) what I'd been told: Timothy Dalton was the worst, and b) what I'd observed: Roger Moore looked and dressed like my grandfather. And any knowledge of George Lazenby escaped me completely.

But my interest was re-piqued when I listened to an episode of Dead Authors Podcast (I can't recommend it enough), where comedian Matt Gourley's impersonation of James Bond creator Ian Fleming had me in stitches. I've listened to his episode more than 10 times. I can't even breathe watching this:

When I learned he had a James Bond podcast, I hoped it meant hearing more from him as Fleming, and I was not disappointed. Matt Gourley hosts James Bonding, with fellow super-fan Matt Mira.  They did one episode per movie, starting at both ends and meeting in the middle (so they went Dr. No then Skyfall then From Russia With Love then Quantum of Solace, etc.). I could only remember seeing 10 of the films: Dr. No and Goldfinger, and then all of the Brosnan and Craig installments.

So I followed along with the Matts from film to film, and enjoyed their critiques, behind-the-scenes knowledge (Sean Connery is wearing a wig in all of them! Most Bond themes had alternate versions! Pierce Brosnan was meant to be Bond after Roger Moore but couldn't get out of his Remington Steele contract!), and general love of all things Bond--no matter how awful the movies got.

I think it was good for me to experience Roger Moore films with fans who find him endlessly endearing, as I'm not sure I could have made it through all of his films without their commentary. Anyway, here is my blurb about each film, followed by some top 5 lists!

1) Dr. No (1962)

This is Sean Connery at his most stunning.

Podcast quote (Paul F. Tompkins): "Is Sylvia Trench the cleanest James Bond girl name? Or the dirtiest James Bond girl name?"

2) From Russia With Love (1963)

Robert Shaw's henchman is classic, and the projected title sequence is stunning. Also, our first time with Desmond Llewellyn as Q! This film looks gorgeous, and I find it Connery's most watchable.

3) Goldfinger (1964)

Have you heard Anthony Newley's rendition of "Goldfinger"? Because you should. Apparently he helped with the lyrics along with Leslie Briscusse (Goodbye Mr. Chips!) and composer John Barry.

Podcast quote: "When that's the...most relatable part of the film, is like getting a bucket of chicken. You're like, "Done that." Everything else you're like, "WTF, man."


"This is what incenses me about this: ...if misogyny weren't such a big deal currently, then this film wouldn't piss me off so much."

4) Thunderball (1965)

The movie is sort of slow and to quote Matt and Matt: "the rape-iest movie ever", but I never tire of watching Sean Connery's legs when he's swimming. I enjoy the theme song by Tom Jones (rumor has it he fainted at the end of the final note), but through the podcast discovered that there was an alternate song recorded by Shirley Bassey and then Dionne Warwick! It's called "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and it's super groovy but it was cut due to the lack of the word 'thunderball' in the song:

I also learned from the podcast that Johnny Cash wrote his own theme song for the film, and it's...well...very Johnny Cash, if you're into that sort of thing.

Podcast quote: "You're only 4 movies in, they haven't run out of clever ways to kill James Bond, you don't have to use a sex-stretch-death-machine."

5) You Only Live Twice (1967)

I'm super into the font used in the opening titles, and I of course recognize the song from Robbie William's sampling of it (rumor has it he's such a big fan he owns every single car James Bond drove). Other fans of the theme include Coldplay with their bland cover and...Bjork's.

This is Sean's last film in his 'officially' recognized tenure as Bond, and he goes out in spectacular sexist and racist fashion! Direct quote from the wikipedia page: "Bond is disguised as an Oriental" and direct quote from the film: "In Japan, men come first and women come second." A sentiment brought to us by screenwriter Roald Dahl!

Podcast quote: "This sounds like what a cowboy wants to hear at a massage parlor."

6) On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

George Lazenby, we hardly knew ye. Which is okay, because your one installment in the series is actually pretty great! Bond in the Alps, Bond getting married, the shocking finale, it all sticks out (except for maybe that gripping xerox scene). I remember more of this movie and it's plot than any of the other 1960s Bond films--which is saying something. Is George Lazenby an iconic Bond? Hardly. But Diana Rigg is divine and while long, the film is gorgeously shot.

7) Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

I am DOWN for this theme song, and classic Vegas is a trip. But ultimately the moment at 0:12 in this video is proof that DAF is unbelievably amazing in the worst way:

8) Live and Let Die (1973)

Roger Moore does NOT look 45 in this movie, and that's how old he was when he started being Bond. Connery was only 41 in Diamonds Are Forever!  Did you know the alligator jumping scene was with REAL ALLIGATORS? The stunt guy did and it's amazing (though I hate the idea of the alligators being tied down and forced to endure this--which would never be allowed today):

9) The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

The Queen Anne Liner as the MI6 headquarters in Hong Kong is super cool, and Christopher Lee is a treat, though the whole third nipple thing is weird and random. Mostly I love the theme song and score. Those horns are killer. The only part of the score that fails is the moment of the most perfect car stunt set to film (done in one take!):

Podcast quote: "The fight where we're supposed to believe Roger Moore can physically take Maud Adams."

10) The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

The real stars of this film for me are Egypt and Italy. The acting is...rough. Barbara Bach especially is one of the most unlikable Bond girls. Though we do meet one of the more fun henchman, Richard Kiel as Jaws, and the musical marriage of Marvin Hamlisch and Carly Simon is right in my bailiwick:

Podcast quote: "They put track lighting in an ancient ruin!"

Random trivia: Stanley Kubrick did uncredited lighting work!

11) Moonraker (1979)

Yikes. The worst Bond movie ever? At least A View to A Kill has Grace Jones.

12) For Your Eyes Only (1981)

This is the Roger Moore movie that ALWAYS seemed to be on cable. I remember thinking as a teenager about how old he looked in his blue ski suit. I also might have been super grossed out by Roger Moore and Carole Bouquet's 30 YEAR AGE DIFFERENCE. Yuck. But highlights include: Topol, the cold open ski jump stunt, and all the pretty scenery.

13) Octopussy (1983)

This one didn't strike my fancy. Louis Jordan is a fun villain, but the circus and the train and clown suit...not one of my faves.

Podcast quote: "The title sequence is Nip City, population: Bond."

14) Never Say Never Again (1983)

Connery's 'back' and this un-official-ish movie was more enjoyable than I thought it would be. The podcast episode is super delightful thanks to Matt Gourley's impersonation of the film's director, Irvin Kershner. My biggest critique? This movie needed SO much more of Rowan Atkinson's Small-Fawcett.

15) A View to a Kill (1985)

If you happen to listen to the podcast and you are even a little bit of a fan of Brosnan's films, this episode is sweet retribution, where the comedians of the podcast How Did This Get Made? roast the hell out of A View to A Kill in front of a live audience, while long-time Brosnan-hater and Moore-apologist Matt Gourley helplessly stands by.

Gross trivia: Tanya Roberts MOTHER is younger than Roger Moore.

Podcast quote: the whole conversation regarding the butterfly performance.

18) The Living Daylights (1987)

Timothy Dalton! I like him. He's got a sweet, quieter charm than Connery or Moore. The Bond girl in this one--I'm not even going to look up her character's name--is a wooden bore. If only Rosika Miklos has been his partner...

19) License To Kill (1989)

Timothy Dalton's second and final Bond film. Oh Tim, we hardly knew ye.

20) GoldenEye (1995)

My Bond! Well, my Bond Mitzvah as the podcast guys say. My first Bond. Now I would argue that Craig is 'my' Bond, as I was a hair too young to really appreciate Brosnan's tenure. (I remember being excited about his movies coming out, but Craig's are awaited with bated breath). Pierce is unbelievably dreamy in this one, and it features one of the best Bond girls, Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova. And I love the plot of another 00 agent turning against Bond and MI-6.

Podcast quote: "There's only one rule in all the James Bond movies: the only person who can hit a James Bond. Or another woman."

21) Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

This is--I think--the first Bond movie I saw in theaters? If not this then The World is Not Enough. Another one of the best Bond girls (thank God it's the 90s): Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin. The worst part is this outfit that some evil person put Pierce Brosnan in:

I know it was the 90s but you DO NOT put James Bond in loose fitting shirts and slacks, much less linen. Thank God this was rectified with all of Daniel Craig's tight Tom Ford goodness.

22) The World is Not Enough (1999)

Remove Denise Richards' Christmas Jones from the film, and you've got one of the most watchable Bond films! Sophie Marceau and Robert Carlyle bring such good acting to the table that Denise Richards' performance is all the more painful. What I remember most from this film is how madly in love I was with Sophie Marceau's wardrobe.

23) Die Another Day (2002)

Yes, this movie is over-the-top. Brosnan's last Bond film definitely pulls out all the stops, even the nonsensical ones. Ice palaces, DNA replacement, invisible Aston Martins, John Cleese's Quartermaster, it's desperate to top them all.

Podcast quote: "This movie opens like most do: surfing to North Korea."

24) Casino Royale (2006)

The first Craig movie breaks the mold and reboots the franchise with Bond's origin story. It's hard-hitting, low-on-quips, stunt-heavy, and possibly the most grounded of all the films. I love that they kept the continuity of Judi Dench as M (and forwent Cleese as Q). And oh my God, don't get me started on the shower scene (a sentence that would have read as 'cause-it's-sex-ay in any Bond film previous to this one).

25) Quantum of Solace (2008)

Widely considered Craig's weakest film--which is largely due to the 2007-2008 writer's strike. It takes place almost exactly where Casino Royale ends, so it's recommended to always watch them together. I find Camille, the main Bond girl, entirely forgettable, but I do like that she's the one Bond girl who refuses to sleep with him. The real gem of the film is how it looks and its locations: Siena, Haiti, the Bregenz festival in Austria.

26) Skyfall (2012) 

We had to wait (relatively) forever for this one, but it was oh so worth it. The highest grossing Bond film ever, Skyfall goes all out, and gives Judi Dench's M a great send-off. Plus, we get a Q and a Money Penny!

27) Spectre (2015)

The OPENING SEQUENCE. I mean, what a beautiful film. I loved Monica Bellucci playing the oldest Bond girl yet, and Bond back the snow! Loved it.

And to round out the post, here are a few top 5 lists for fun!

Top 5 Favorite Bond Theme Songs I'd Never Heard Before I Started The Podcast

5) "Thunderball" by Tom Jones

4) "You Only Live Twice" by Nancy Sinatra

3) "The Man With the Golden Gun" by Lulu

2) "A View to A Kill" by Duran Duran

1) "Diamonds Are Forever" by Shirley Bassey (I could NOT stop listening to this for days.)

Top 5 Bond Theme Songs Overall

5) "Nobody Does it Better" by Carly Simon

4) "Diamonds Are Forever" by Shirley Bassey

3) "The World is Not Enough" by Garbage

2) "Live and Let Die" by Paul McCartney with Wings

1) "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey

Top 5 Bond Girls

5) Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) in From Russia With Love 

4) Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

3) May Day (Grace Jones) in A View to A Kill

2) Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) in Goldeneye

1) Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) in Tomorrow Never Dies

Top 5 Bonds

5) Roger Moore

I find him endearing in a grandfatherly way. I see ZERO sexual chemistry with his co-stars, but he's a fun--the fun Bond.

4) Timothy Dalton

Say what you want about his two films, but I find him much sexier than Lazenby or Moore. I love that his Bond seems much less lech-y than the rest.

3) Pierce Brosnan

He's my Bond! He over-acts sometimes, but he clearly loves playing Bond, and his Bond girls tended to have brains and dimensions (even Denise Richards).

2) Sean Connery

Yes, he's the most misogynist of them all, but he's iconic!

1) Daniel Craig

The full package: dreamy, physical, flirty but respectful, AND he falls in love!!! Heart eyes.