Wednesday, November 11

lately in entertainment.


Miranda Lambert's "Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars" Tour at the Berglund Center - Mr. Q surprised me with tickets to this concert, which featured a lineup of all female country artists including my favorite pink guitar player. Opening acts were Courtney Cole, who reminded me of a country Zooey Deschanel but whose voice I didn't love, and Clare Dunn, who has a powerful Bonnie Raitt style voice and rock sound - she plays a Fender, so I loved her pretty much automatically. The first headliner was Ashley Monroe, who is in the Pistol Annies with Miranda, an amazing songwriter and a great singer in her own right - she has a delicate sound like Emmylou Harris or Allison Krauss. Miranda and Ashley brought out Angaleena Presley for a few Pistol Annies songs, and Miranda's other special guest was Patty Loveless, who was pretty much my country superhero growing up. The concert was about a week after the news about Miranda's divorce from Blake Shelton made headlines, and she did make a few short comments to thank the audience for supporting her, but otherwise she rolled through her set, and I thought her voice sounded fantastic.


Paper Towns by John Green - After reading and enjoying (and by enjoying, I mean weeping over) The Fault in Our Stars and its movie adaptation, I wanted to check out more of John Green's work. Paper Towns has a lovable main character and quirky cast of minor characters all searching for the elusive and exciting Margo Roth Spiegelman, who turns out to be (spoiler alert!) not that great of a person. For me, Paper Towns was just okay - a few great John Green lines surrounded by a lot of pee humor. I might have liked this one more if I'd read it as a high school senior.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - I was really looking forward to Harper Lee's original novel until all of the "Atticus Finch is racist" stuff hit the fan right before its release date. This is another book I might have appreciated much more during another season of my life - particularly my third year of college, when my total daddy's girl self was grappling with the fact that my father's bad habits were literally killing him. To me, Atticus' backwards beliefs about race weren't all that shocking - I've heard many an ostensibly wonderful Southern person spout ignorant trash as they got older. My favorite character in Go Set a Watchman was Uncle Jack, who I didn't remember at all, and who gave Scout the same advice I often need to remind myself about making a life in the South: "the time your friends need you is when they're wrong, Jean Louise."

Warrior, Scoundrel, and Rebel by Zoe Archer - And now for something completely different: I read a review of the Blades of the Rose series on a friend's blog and thought it sounded fun, and then saw that all of the books are free on Kindle Unlimited. These books are like a cross between The Mummy and The Mortal Instruments - The Blades of the Rose is a society of scholars, inventors, and adventurers who travel the world saving precious magical relics called Sources from the Heirs of Albion, who want to use them to make Britain the most powerful empire in the world at the expense of native cultures. Each book in the series focuses on one of the Blades and his or her love interest as they face all sorts of death defying dangers, and there are some very steamy romantic scenes - I thought Outlander made me blush. It's not without its flaws and cliches (I almost gave up on the whole series when the Native American character turned out to be a shapeshifter), but the stories are a nice escape from reality.


Ant-Man - Y'all know by now that new Marvel movies are basically a religious experience in the Quinn household, and since we are trying to save money for a house we're visiting the theater very rarely. Ant-Man was definitely worth the trip - I wasn't sure I could buy Paul Rudd as a superhero, and even though I never forgot it was Paul Rudd onscreen I still kind of fell in love with his character's storyline. I also really loved Evangeline Lily as Hope Van Dyne, a strong kick-ass scientist businesswoman whose father, it turns out, has a very legitimate reason for not wanting her to become a hero in her own right. The final fight scene was absolutely awesome, there were plenty of Marvel Easter eggs, and Michael Peña's character Luis provided just the right amount of comic relief.

Only Lovers Left Alive - I felt like watching a vampire movie right around Halloween and stumbled across this total gem starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as beautiful creatures of the night who are trying to survive without killing humans. The problem is, pollution and disease have rendered most human blood poisonous to vampires, so they have to be very careful about where they get their "good stuff." It is very much an art-house take on vampires, with lots of scenes that are just weird music playing or Tilda and Tom's characters (Eve and Adam, natch) staring at each other. I was totally okay with that. They're busy being ridiculously good-looking and reminiscing about knowing Byron and Shelley when Eve's train-wreck sister Ava (played by Mia Wasikowska, perfect casting) shows up - ravenous for human blood. Also, Christopher Marlowe is a vampire and he's Eve's BFF, so if you were ever an English major who smoked clove cigarettes this is probably the vampire movie for you.


Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp - How did I miss out on Wet Hot American Summer the first time around? After finally getting on board via Netflix, I knew I wasn't going to miss the series. This movie has everything: bad wigs, Jon Hamm, send-ups of every 80's teen movie, good jokes, puberty, Chris Pine acting out the plot of The Doors, and the talking vegetable can's origin story (RIP, Gene).

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is better than ever right now - Iain De Caestecker could basically play James Bond after his performance in the season premiere, I truly believe that Elizabeth Henstridge should win some sort of Emmy for her portrayal of Agent Jemma Simmons trapped on a hostile planet in "4,722 hours." This show is at it's best when it's totally fun one minute (Agents May and Morse planning an attack in Mandarin) and totally angsty the next (that character the other characters and/or the audience has grown to love and trust? Always going to turn out to be evil).

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - If you are not watching this show yet, get on Hulu and catch up RIGHT NOW. The main character, Rebecca, has a (there's really no other way to put this) mental breakdown where she starts taking advice from a butter commercial, quits her Fancy New York Lawyer job, and moves across the country to the California suburbs after running into her summer-camp high school boyfriend Josh Chan. Aside from the fact that she's basically a stalker, Rebecca is making new friends and finding a happier life on the West Coast. Did I mention it's a musical with numbers like "The Sexy Getting Ready Song" and "Settle for Me?" I love shows that don't take themselves seriously at all.

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