Tuesday, February 23, 2010

NTDWL: All in the Family

It is rare that you come across a person who is truly remarkable and perfect and talented in just about every way. And hey, who are we kidding? It's even rarer to come across a person like that and not want to (secretly, selfishly, jealously) kick them in the shins. (Gosh, I'm a jerk!)

Not to brag or anything: I happen to not only know such a rare bird, but I'm related to her!

My favorite person in the world just joined the blogosphere. If you love excellent food, great writing, and beautiful photography, you absolutely need to subscribe to my cousin's blog. My Kitchen Windowsill is brand spanking new and already a work of art. Beth is a rare bird indeed. I'm so excited to see how this blog unfolds.

That being said, I have a very talented and creative family-- wacky though they may be. There's a third Bloggin' Cousin online, and his habit/hobby landed him a feature spot on the awesome, geeky, gaming website The Escapist. The third Bloggin' Cousin is MOVIEBOB whose "Escape to the Movies" videoblogs are hilarious, intelligent, and infused with a really rich knowledge of film history (and often feature NSFW language, be warned!). I'm constantly impressed by his work. He also reviews video games and writes written "Intermission" blogs between video posts.

We are a chatty family. Thanks to our respective folks for encouraging our voices!

Monday, February 22, 2010

An Embarrassment of Theater Options

"Embarrassment" is my favorite collective noun.

And for the next month and a half or so, we lucky Louisvillagers get to enjoy an embarrassment of incredible theater options. I'm so excited that I get downright squirmy if I think too much about it.

Of course the Grandaddy of said theater options is the Humana Festival, which kicks off this week. Every year, I promise myself that I am going to see as many Humana Festival plays as possible, and I've always maxed at out around three. Well, this year I've already secured tickets for four plays, and I have vouchers for two more. This is fabulous news. As always, the offerings for this year's Humana Festival look diverse and exciting, and as I have always said, it's almost impossible to not have a good night at Actors Theater. I'll do my very best to shoot you some reviews as I see the plays.

Seriously, kids. This is a national treasure in our backyard. The premier festival of New American plays ain't in New York or in LA; it's in Louisville. My "theater type" friends from college and high school are jealous that I live here because of the Humana Festival. You're missing out if you don't seize this opportunity.

Another city treasure is Walden Theater. One of my most popular posts on Loueyville.com (which was picked up by the amazing Michelle from Consuming Louisville for her "One Thing I Love About Louisville" series****) was my review-ish thing about their production of My So-Called So-Called Life. This weekend they open When in Disgrace, I Hap'ly Think on Thee . And I am so excited to see it. Listen to this description from their website:

"Inspired by a true story, When in Disgrace (Haply I Think on Thee) weaves a tale of shattered hope and personal destruction as three close friends are torn apart by jealousy, neglect, guilt, and ultimately, love. Combining rock music, iambic verse, and video games, When In Disgrace explores what leads youngsters to extreme acts of violence, and the eerie similarity between teenage melodrama and classical drama."

A student of mine told me today that Walden is the "second-best" young adult theater company in the country. According to him, the BEST is one that has students full-time and charges megabucks for tuition. I don't know how "they" decide the "best" young adult theater company in the country. But I'll take his word for it. He's a pretty reliable chap.

And if that's not enough for you, the always satisfying Pandora Productions has a show opening on March 11. As Bees for Honey Drown (besides having an awesome title) is by the same author as last year's production of Little Dog Laughed. As Bees in Honey Drowned is about "the unquenchable desire for fame," con artists, screenplay writers, and a life of glamor. I'm probably not doing it justice.

I know there's more, based on lurking on the twitterverse. Send me info if you've got a theater production going up in the next six weeks ago, and I'll add it to the list of our embarrassment of theater options. Just one more reason (or in this case, an embarrassment of reasons) to love this city.

*** Sidenote: Y'all know I'm a total fangirl for Michelle at Consuming Louisville. Well, the lovely Miss MJ was named as one of the Leadership Louisville Connectors this weekend. An honor super well-deserved. Squee!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Young Survivor Auction & Benefit

One of the things the self-help books always tell you is that everyone's cancer journey is different. Let me tell you, as a survivor, that's been the hardest part of coming to terms with... being a survivor. Lance Armstrong screwed things up for the rest of us. Utter the words "I'm a cancer survivor" and suddenly folks assume you're strong, you're noble, you're some sort of whackadoo hero.

And no. I'm not. I had cancer. I didn't cure it.

And that's part of the reason I'm taking what I call my "pink hiatus." I spent my first year of cancer-hood jumping feet first into every breast cancer event/support group/conference/walk/talk I could find. And after a year... I was done. I have no doubt that someday I will "pink up" again. But it will be a while. Pink hiatus.

That being said, cancer does make some people better people. Cancer does change some people's lives for the better. And two of those people are Megan Schanie and Jana Eberle, founders of our local Young Survivors Network. I can't tell you how much these two women helped me in the early days of my cancer. They swooped in and helped me understand what would happen to me, helped me understand that I wasn't alone. They were good friends and great support, and they introduced me to this network of incredible, inspiring women.

So, the only event that would coax me out of my pink hiatus is the annual fundraiser for this group at the Frazier Museum on 2/26. I believe in these women and this cause with all of my heart. Ironically, it's unlikely that I will be able to attend this year. I'm having a cancer-related surgical biopsy the day before and will probably be too bleh to attend. (In my heart, I know if they knew why I wasn't attending, one of them would be at my house that night bringing me leftovers from the event-- that's the kind of awesome people that they are.)

I had a blast last year, and unlike many other silent auctions, most of the stuff at this auction is actually affordable. I came home last year with a gorgeous painting, a set of cocktail glasses, a salad bowl and tongs, and a gift certificate for a car detailing-- and I don't think I spent much more than $100 for all of it. The car detailing alone (oh, my car was so so grateful!) was worth close to $200.

So please go if you can. If I'm feeling the least bit up for it, I will be there. Here are the details.

Friday, February 26, 2010
6:00pm - 10:00pm
Frazier International History Museum
829 W. Main St

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Lenten Promise-- It's all about YOU

Tonight as I was walking home from O'Shea's after having Mardi Gras drinks with friends-- a couple who are now two of my closest friends in Louisville and who I met, basically, through Twitter-- it finally dawned on me what my Lenten pledge should be. Sure, giving up stuff is always a good Lenten promise, but I have very few vices. I ain't giving up booze, and the thought of giving up any other creature comfort this Lenten season is complicated by the fact that I'm scheduled for surgery in two weeks. I already don't eat sweets or drink much soda. I CAN'T give up coffee. And all other creature comforts will be huge comfort to me post-surgery.

The alternative (in my mind, at least) is to make a Lenten Promise.

So here's my Lenten Promise: Between tomorrow and Easter, I vow to do everything that I can to meet, in person, at least ONE person I only know via the interwebs. As of today, I have 467 followers on Twitter and there are a bunch of people who subscribe to my blog. But, I probably only know about a dozen of those people in the Meatspace world.

Let's have coffee. Let's grab a happy hour drink. Let's go see a movie.

A few weeks ago, I met a guy I only knew thru Twitter. He asked me about BBQ restaurants, and we decided to check out the Ol' Hickory Pit together. And it was a total success (foodwise and friendwise). A week later we went to check out ELLA at Actors Theater together, and I'm hoping we'll meet for sushi sometime soon. What a lovely experience. I'd love to replicate it as often as possible in the next 40 days.

So help me make my Lenten Promise work. Email me at lou@loueyville.com or talk to me on Twitter @loueyville. Let's hang out.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras! Late Monday Night Rant

Just a quickie post to say Happy Mardi Gras to y'all. This is my fourth Mardi Gras away from "home" and, truth be told, it gets easier every year. Although this year with the Saints' win... there were some touch-and-go moments to be sure.

And no, Loueyvillagers, I don't see any disconnect between me being on the cheerleading squad for Louisville and still feeling like NOLA is "home." NOT that I am comparing being a Katrina refugee and being a political refugee, but Salman Rushdie wrote an incredible book about the idea of diaspora, called Imaginary Homelands, and in it he posits that leaving "home" under any sort of duress gives you a very fluid idea of home and belonging-- in both a good and bad way. (Gosh, I need to reread that book. I haven't read it since Katrina. I wrote a pretty intense graduate school paper about it and am just now recalling how much I loved it. Even though I had no frame of reference on "diaspora" at the time.)

And happy snow day to just about everyone else in the education community here in Louisville. There are, at cursory glance, two schools in the city that are not canceled/delayed and I work at one of them. I know I have zero reason to gripe-- we've had more snow days this year than I can ever remember having, even when I was a wee lass in school. But it's awful hard to sit here tonight knowing I have to wake up before the crack o' dawn when most of my education kin are sleeping in. More than anything else, I know the chirren will be pissy tomorrow. And I don't feel like putting up with pissy chirren. Especially because I'm a bit pissy myself.

So, what's new Louisville (whoa-oh-oh-oh!)?
  • On the increasingly baffling Hullabalou front, the festival added Sara Evans and Huey Lewis and the News (or as my grandma used to think they were called "Huey Lewis in the Nude) to the line-up. And somehow, in the Bluegrass State, they're having a tough time filling their Bluegrass stage.

  • And oh, sweet baby king cake Breesus, poor Zach from Louisville.com has been getting his ass KICKED for daring to cast dispersions on Richard Marx. Kicked by the entire Marx fan club. Kicked possibly by Marx himself. Read the comments!

  • If you don't live in a cave then you know what I mean when I say the whole "Save Ear X-tacy" news conference has me a bit... meh... Truth be told, I go there maybe 4 times a year. And I have only bought two cds there-- after I saw the movie "Once" at Baxter, I rushed right over and bought the soundtrack and a cd by the Frames. Let it be known, however, I buy way less music, I'd imagine, than most people my age. I am just not a big music consumer. I have, however, bought two pocketbooks and TONS of Christmas tchotchkes there. I guess I just wish there'd been more ideas bandied about (and granted, maybe lots of ideas have been bandied about and we're just not privy to them). Like how's about charging a little entrance fee for those great in-store appearances? I'd gladly pay $5 to see a band I liked, especially if the entrance fee meant maybe it wouldn't be so crushingly oppressive in there when good bands showed up. I hope they stick around, even if they have to move or downsize.

  • I wasn't here for 4th Street Live's big Mardi Gras bash (I shudder as I type that), but it featured the band EVE 6. It makes me wonder whether someone at Cordish confused "L.A." with "La." Really? There was NO touring Louisiana band you could have gotten for the bash? No Gulf Coast/Swamp Rock/Jazz Funk band you could have tempted to come up here and put on a REAL Mardi Gras experience? Shit (pardon my Cajun), down in NOLA we've even come to accept that KC and the Sunshine Band is honorary Mardi Gras quality due to the sheer number of times they've ridden in Mardi Gras Krewes. EVE 6? Don't think so. Next year, Cordish, please try to get a real New Orleans band-- preferably a brass band like the Soul Rebels. If not, at least a NOLA rock band like Better than Ezra (who have played 4th Street before).
Well, so much for the quickie post. But this Lou has to go to bed because she-- unlike the rest of Louisville's academia-- has to work tomorrow. All day. No delay.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bonnaroo 2010 Line-Up Announced: It's (Stevie) Wonder(ful)!

You know how Mama loves her Bonnaroo. Personally, I think if Bonnaroo had a contest for "most strident fan," I'd have a story that would make the top ten. In 2008, I had a bilateral mastectomy twelve days before Bonnaroo... and went anyway. Everyone thought I was nuts. My surgeon tried to outright forbid me to go. But Roommate realized that I was determined... that it was in some ways symbolic to me... and he got in touch with the Bonnaroo folks, secured us handicapped status, and made all kinds of preparations for three nights of camping with a desperately hurting, somewhat disabled, but very determined fan.

I went to Bonnaroo 2008 drugged up on a buffet of painkillers and with every kind of anti-bacterial crap available. I slept in a tent that was wall-to-wall pillows. We had handicap proximity camping and handicap seating at the big stages. And I had the time of my life. Or I think I did. I honestly don't remember all that much about Bonnaroo 2008, thanks to the copious (but very legal) drugs I was taking.

The one thing I remember, clear as a bell? Seeing Pearl Jam, one of my favorite bands, for the first time, and feeling like Eddie Vedder was singing "Alive" just because I was there. It chokes me up just thinking about it. It was a transcendent moment.

But this year, Roommate is running his workshop (www.writersretreatworkshop.com) during Bonnaroo. Speaking of crying, I nearly cried when he told me he wouldn't be able to go to Bonnaroo 2010. I kind of think of it as "our thing." The 2008 experience really cemented that in my noggin. So I said this year that I wouldn't go without him unless one of my Big Three were headlining: U2, REM, or Leonard Cohen. (In my head, I sort of also added Prince, Madonna, and Tom Waits.)

But this year's line-up, while lacking my Big Three (or Medium Six), is pretty drool-worthy, and I'm rethinking my vow (he WANTS me to go, so it's not a betrayal!).

Here's the line-up. There's sure to be a few more acts announced.

Dave Matthews Band • Kings of Leon • Stevie Wonder • Jay-Z • Tenacious D • Weezer • The Flaming Lips with Stardeath and White Dwarfs perform "Dark Side of the Moon" • The Dead Weather • Damian Marley & Nas • Phoenix • Norah Jones • Michael Franti & Spearhead • John Fogerty • Regina Spektor • Jimmy Cliff • LCD Soundsystem • The Avett Brothers • Thievery Corporation • Rise Against • Tori Amos • The National • Zac Brown Band • Les Claypool • John Prine • The Black Keys • Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers • Jeff Beck • Dropkick Murphys • She & Him • Against Me! • The Disco Biscuits • Daryl Hall & Chromeo • Jamey Johnson • Clutch • Bassnectar • Kid Cudi • Baaba Maal • Kris Kristofferson • Medeski Martin & Wood • The xx • GWAR • Dan Deacon Ensemble • Tinariwen • Wale • Deadmau5 • The Melvins • Gaslight Anthem • Miike Snow • The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band • Dr. Dog • They Might Be Giants • Punch Brothers • Isis • Blitzen Trapper • Blues Traveler • Miranda Lambert • Calexico • OK Go • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue • Martin Sexton • Lotus • Baroness • Dave Rawlings Machine • Mayer Hawthorne and the County • Japandroids • Jay Electronica • Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros • Ingrid Michaelson • The Dodos • Manchester Orchestra • The Temper Trap • Cross Canadian Ragweed • Big Sam's Funky Nation • Carolina Chocolate Drops • Needtobreathe • Tokyo Police Club • The Entrance Band • Local Natives • Brandi Carlile • Mumford & Sons • Rebelution • Diane Birch • Monte Montgomery • Julia Nunes • The Postelles • Lucero • Here We Go Magic • Hot Rize • Neon Indian • B.O.B

Monday, February 8, 2010


So, it was the best Super Bowl ever.  Right?  I mean, come on... even my Colts fan friends-- including Roommate-- loved that game.  That two-point conversion.  The interception.  And Drew Brees holding his itty bitty Little Brees with those itty bitty headphones... just thinking about it makes me tear up.  The awesome realization that the Saints-- the SAINTS!-- won the Super Bowl.  Sean Payton saying today that he slept with the trophy and maybe "drooled on it a little."  

The only thing cuter than the new gorilla that was born at Louisville Zoo this weekend is mini-Brees.

The reason this post is so choppy-- I haven't had a coherent thought since last night around 10p.  Seriously.  I am stoned on disbelief.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Nearness of You: ELLA! at Actors

Back when Lou was in college, it was hip to like Billie Holiday. We lived a block from Harlem and a subway ride to the best jazz clubs north of the Mississippi (of course back then, we believed they were the best jazz clubs on earth), and Lady Day was "in" with a certain faction of the college crowd.

But me, I always preferred Ella Fitzgerald. At my apartment parties, my mix tapes (yes, I'm that old) always nestled her vocal stylings between those of Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley (we were a subdued crowd... if we really wanted a party we shuffled disco, George Michaels, and Madonna).

I loved Ella. I must have owned seven or more cds. And for that reason, I left Actors Theatre's production of ELLA! elated and scatting and feeling like I'd experienced the next best thing to going to see the real Ella Fitzgerald in concert.

Because, seriously, Tina Fabrique, the woman who plays Ella in this music-packed production, is a treasure. Her voice, her mannerisms, and her bearing all deliver the iconic jazz singer with clear and heartbreaking honesty. If she'd done nothing but sing, I would have watched rapt. The stage "banter"-- which is the driving device of the bio part of the show-- is almost a distraction. (Ella, the character reveals at the beginning of the show that she's been told that she needs to incorporate more "banter" into her productions, thus giving her the opportunity to try out various stories on the audience.)

Backed by a masterful five-piece band, Fabrique sings 23+ partial and full songs from Fitzgerald's repertoire, from the fun and silly ("A Tisket A Tasket"-- a song Grandma Lou used to always sing to me) to the overwhelmingly beautiful (Porter's "Night and Day"). The show runs long-- at least two hours, maybe two hours fifteen-- but I could have stayed all night listening to her. Heck, in college, it wasn't uncommon for me to put an Ella cd on repeat and listen all night while drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes by candle light. I guess that would be called "emo" now.

Honestly, I think this production is one NOT to miss. It's simple yet dazzling. It's charming and heartbreaking. It's a piece of musical history too many people are missing. I wish I could drag every teenager I know to the show. But if you go for one reason alone, go because Tina Fabrique is a treasure.

I went to the show with a new Twitter friend. And as we walked to our respective cars, we started a conversation that we didn't finish. We both loved the show. We both were moved and thrilled. But... we both also questioned whether or not this is "theater." What makes this theater? The banter? The bio parts? The second half is nearly all music, very little story. And what-- besides quality, because I've already established that Fabrique is a mess of talent-- distinguishes this show from "Celebrity Impersonator" shows in Vegas? The good ones. The quality, artistic ones. How is ELLA! theater, and not a top shelf, artsy, thoughtfully presented impersonator show?

Without going too far down the rabbit hole: How do we define theater? ELLA! is a freaking fantastic evening of entertainment with a tremendous amount of heart. But is it theater? If so why? Discuss.

ELLA! runs through 2/20. Go. You'll love it.