July 31, 2014


We were checking our college P.O. boxes one spring day our first year when he looked at his box, sighed, and commented aloud -- to no one in particular -- about never getting any mail.  That's when I piped up.   I asked him his name and told him I would send him something.  That was how Andy and I met, and it's still one of the best origin stories I know.  Well, perhaps I'm biased.

After that moment, Andy and I exchanged a few cards.  I took his polaroid portrait.  Then we hung out a few times last summer.  Last fall, we had an epic exchange of Emma Stone & Andrew Garfield couple pics.  (We crafted witty captions and everything.)  He drew me a beautiful drawing of a cat turning into a panda for my birthday.  This summer, I had an incredible time visiting his Wisconsin hometown and we spent five hours driving back listening to Lana Del Ray and talking about our lives.  Then there's all the other small moments that we've shared that I'll hopefully never forget.  I am lucky to have this goof in my life. 

But today, he and I said goodbye for six months.  He's off to China soon to visit a mutual friend and then he's traveling to his study abroad program in Japan.  So yesterday, when he was visiting Mac one last time, I asked if he would be in a video with me.  As one last hurrah.  And given the awesome, tolerant friend he is, he said yes.  It's a miracle I edited these down from the raw 30 something minutes of footage to five minute videos.  Enjoy!

(Stretched these out over two days because I thought I would have to babysit tonight.  I'm loving this video-a-day project.  Gonna keep it going!)

July 29, 2014

Campus dance.

Compiled from mostly familial footage, here's my take on Providence, RI  -- and particularly Brown University's campus dance -- in May.

So far I'm two for two.  I know it's okay if I miss a day, but I'm appreciating the consistency for now.  I am realizing how much one needs the stability of something after your grandmother dies and you can't be there to say goodbye.

July 28, 2014

July 25, 2014

Film Friday: Director Richard Linklater

In anticipation of seeing his film Boyhood this evening, I wanted a space to ruminate on the work of Director Richard Linklater.

Perhaps best cited for his 90s film, Dazed and Confuzed, Linklater has made his name known in the independent film circles.  I have not seen that film, though, so it's on my to-watch list, along with his animated film Waking Life.  Hopefully that doesn't make me unqualified to talk about how his work has affected me.

Because honestly, if they are anything like his "Before" trilogy, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, I might just be in for something great.  This series of three films stole my heart this summer.  They effortlessly captured a "truth," that may seem overwrought in some audience members' eyes, but which spoke deeply to me about how random life can be -- and the benefits of being susceptible to said randomness.

The premise of Before Sunrise (1995) intrigued the hopeless romantic in me.  Boy meets girl on a train.  Girl does not go running and screaming in the other direction.  Boy and girl spends day wandering and talking together in a European city.  Throughout its duration (conveniently the time before midnight), I am cheering for the two leads to fully experience their evening together.  The location and glorious settings are merely backdrops for the couple, who remain a pinnacle focus for the entire film.  As such, audiences can connect deeply with their dialogue.  This fact proves the skill of Linklater's writing and gall to think that a film like this would be entertaining enough.  All the other elements are spot-on.  The ending was slightly gimmicky, clearly angling for a sequel.

But my complaining stops there, since Linklater's Before Sunset (2004) was an excellent follow-up to the first.  As soon as the two leads share the screen, we are presented with a similar engrossing technique that is just as successful the second time around.  Linklater shows he knows what he's doing. I hungrily listen to the stories that Jesse and Celine tell, trying to fill in the seven-year-long blank that Linklater created between the two installments.  The characters become even more fleshed out through the details they reveal (and those they don't).  This style once again could be perceived as boring and unimportant, seen as having no place in a film.  Yet from my perspective, it was a smart and realistic approach to telling a story about life and two strangers who are pulled together in life's current.  The banter feels authentic, and the steadiness of the camera on Jesse and Celine, both simultaneously engulfing the frame with their ideas, passions and compassion for one another is excellent.  Linklater had a clear vision and his artistic genius cannot be questioned.  But can he do it a third time?

Before Midnight (2013) opened and poured salt in wounds in me that I didn't even know I had.  Picking up nine years later, we get to meet Celine and Jesse as a committed couple.  In the very beginning, they are less of the focus, until the car scene in which their infamous back-and-forth exchanger resume.  The interactions now seem tinged with an even more "this is life, beautiful and messy" tone.  Hmm, that feeling may too intangible to describe.  The last act of the film echoed some of the conversations that my parents have had, and there's almost nothing as surreal as practically seeing someone you know and their habits being portrayed on screen.  Although there are other nitpicky comments I could make about this third film, I disagree with Shelby that it was negative for negativity's sake.  The way it crescendos mirrors life's fluctuations and I think it's a breath of fresh air knowing that not everything is coming up roses, even when you are sharing the journey with someone who understands you, cares for you and longs for you.

Falling in love with these films, with a story that nearly destroyed me and my spirit, makes me unbelievably excited to see what critics are claiming is his masterwork tonight.  I have a strong sense it will get under my skin…in the best way possible.

July 04, 2014

Film Friday: Netflix Picks

Happy Fourth of July, American readers!  Any exciting plans for the long weekend?  Watching Netflix?  When I did a Netflix free trial a few summers ago, I did my best to milk it for all it was worth.  Of course, this was a time before shows like Orange Is The New Black made exclusive releases to the site, and before there were a million OTHER ways to stream thousands of movies.

For this installment of Film Friday, I thought it would be fun to share a few picks of what I've watched and enjoyed on Netflix.  In no particular order:

Breaking Bad (2008-2012)
So this still makes the top of the list.  Sorry not sorry.  All five seasons are now available to stream.  I might have to marathon the series again.  I may be able to skip the first season, though.  Goodness knows I've seen that alone at least 10 times.

Friday Night Lights (2006-2010)
Full disclosure, I have not finished watching this entire series.  However, I am convinced the first two seasons are most worth watching anyway.  Written by an alum from my college, I think this does a good job with character development.  Plus there are actors that it's hard not to love, like Connie Britton.

Parks and Recreation (2009-current)
Need I blather on about how fantastic this show is?  I am probably preaching to the choir.

Rita (2012)
I had no idea what exactly I was getting myself into with this foreign drama series from Denmark.  The gorgeous title sequence exuded promise.  I immediately liked how sassy the protagonist is, even though I'm not sure I would've liked her as my schoolteacher.

American Psycho (2000)
This was a movie I had always heard about, perhaps even had seen a few stills from, and yet still never quite understood what it was all about.  After viewing this grotesque 2-hour character case study, I still don't know how to coherently explain it.  Yet if you're looking to go on a terrifying ride, look no further.

C.O.G. (2013)
Jonathan Groff surprised me in this.  Although the story wasn't particularly new -- and I'm not sure how I felt about the ending -- this thoroughly sucked me in for its duration.

Tabloid (2011)
I stumbled upon this earlier this summer purely by chance.  This tells the story of a woman who was arrested in Britain for kidnapping and raping the love of her life who had been sent there for mission work with the Mormon church.  The entire movie seems nearly unreal and -- without spoiling anything -- shocking.  This made me think more critically about who is telling what story and for what reason.

Frances Ha (2013)
This film and I have a very special relationship.  It's filmed in black-and-white with the backdrop of NYC.  The main character, Frances (Greta Gerwig), is a 27-year-old aspiring dancer still figuring out her life.  Filled with comedy, drama, genuine emotion, captivating dialogue and entirely relatable moments, the movie oozed life.  I swear it is part of my soul now.  Just go watch it already.  If you don't think you'd like it, then at least watch this scene.

Bo Burnham: what.
I can see why some might find Bo's brand of comedy offensive.  I would go so far as to say he is one of the best comedians of our generation.  He understands the way we operate nowadays and mocks it brilliantly.

Let me know what you've watched!