Friday, October 20, 2017

Movie "Gaga: Five Foot Two"

Image found here
I've been working really hard and long hours recently, so I treated myself to a Netflix movie night recently to relax and unwind. The new documentary about Lady Gaga called, "Gaga: Five Foot Two," came out a few weeks ago, so I thought I'd watch it.

Here are my main take-aways:

1. The title comes from an old Art Landry song:

2. Like most celebrities, Gaga has a lot of issues. She's been in the spotlight for so long that her reality is quite warped compared to the everyday person. She's got anxiety: from dealing with paparazzi to worrying if fans will like her new music, she's anxious about a lot of things. I also didn't know that she broke her hip a few years ago, and it still bothers her to this day, which of course is huge for such a physical performer. Several times during the movie you see her getting massages, going to the doctor, getting shots/injections, etc., all to deal with the physical pain she's in, not just from her hip, but the pain she feels as a result from her mental state.

She's dealt with her fair share of drinking, doing drugs, going through depression...she's a very emotional person, and cries throughout the entire film (both happy and sad tears, but still, it was a little overboard just how many tears were shed). AND on top of it all, her love life has been rough, including a broken-off engagement. At one point in the movie she is sobbing, saying that she can never get it all right; when one part of her life is going well, like her career, another part suffers, like her relationships with men. But she must realize that this is true for a lot of people. You can't have it all; you can't have your cake and eat it, too. She complains about how she is surrounded by people all day, talking to her and touching her, but at night, she's alone. Welcome to reality, Lady Gaga. Anyone who isn't married or living with a significant other feels that way (including me). But she does emphasize family (You get to "meet" her dad, mom, sister, grandmother, etc. in the film; you even get to watch a baby family member being christened!), so she must know she isn't truly alone.

3. She appreciates all the people around her. Even if I felt like she was kind of being a drama queen at times, she always acknowledged how helpful the people were around her, and how much she needed them to get her through things. I enjoyed hearing her pep talk to her back-up dancers for the Super Bowl performance, and thanking all of the people who made that performance possible. And of course she talked about how much she loves her fans (something she's definitely known for). Even her new album is named after her family member Joanne, who died at the age of 19; Gaga wrote a song about her, and wrote it for her dad and grandmother. She doesn't take people for granted, which I really appreciate, especially for someone famous who could take EVERYONE for granted if she wanted.

4. Gaga compared the Super Bowl half-time show to a lifetime achievement award, which I thought was really interesting. I don't know if I ever had really thought about it, but it truly is one of, if not the, biggest stage for a performer. And those of us who watched that performance in February know that she KILLED it. I loved reading tweets during it that said things like, "Why is there a football game going on at a Lady Gaga concert?" So true! That was by far the best half-time show I've seen. Let's watch it again!

Image found here
5. I need to buy her album Joanne. Now. Gaga talks a lot about how, with this new music, she is showing her fans a more personal side of herself. She feels more like a woman now who knows who she is, and she doesn't need to make herself heard or noticed by wearing meat dresses or making other crazy fashion statements. She's wearing plain t-shirts, she's singing songs without a lot of electronic beats...she's a new Lady Gaga, but is being more true to herself now. We all already love "Million Reasons." Now we want to hear and see more!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

BUSY: Concert at the Anthem, Capitals hockey game, and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw concert!

Last week was such a busy week for me! I was planning a gala for work for Saturday, but even with that big event coming up, I still found time to relax and have fun. Here's what I was up to:

Cymbals hang from the ceiling in the entry-way of the Anthem. How cool is that?
Not a bad seat in the house!
1. Concert at the Anthem: The Anthem is a new music venue that is in the same company family as the 9:30 Club, a well-known music venue in D.C. This new sister venue is near the newly renovated and up-and-coming Southwest Waterfront in the District, now called "The Wharf." As part of the 9:30 Club's "Friends with Benefits" program, I was able to score free tickets to the second soft opening of the Anthem before its real grand opening. The venue is huge, holding 6,000 people. And it was LOUD! No matter where you were standing/sitting, the sound was overwhelming (and not just because the band that was playing, Andrew WK, was kind of angry, screaming/yelling music). I could definitely see myself buying tickets to see shows there in the future. Read more about the venue and its soft opening here.

Here are some other photos:
The balconies look like they have strings of pearls lighting them up.
Everyone got a ticket for a free Pacifico beer. I'm not a beer drinker, but I liked this van-bar thing.
Creepy merchandise from the band. What's up with the nosebleed?
There's a balcony where you can stand behind the Anthem lettering on the building. I couldn't believe no one was smoking!

Great new season ticket seats!
2. Capitals hockey game: My dad invited me to see the Washington Capitals play their rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, at the newly named Capital One Arena (previously known as the Verizon Center, and the MCI Center before that). The Caps had been doing great, and Alex Ovechkin had been on fire recently. But of course the Caps choked playing against the Penguins as usual, and we lost. Boo.
This guy's jersey says "PENS SUCK" on the back. My sentiments exactly.
Highlight of the night: when McGraw came down the stairs right next to me!
3. Faith Hill & Tim McGraw concert: I bought these tickets more than a year in advance. I love country music, and these two are the golden couple of modern country music. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw both have so many great songs, and I was excited to see them perform together. I will say that in the end, the show was a bit anti-climactic. They didn't sing all of their biggest hits, and some of the songs they would only sing one verse instead of the whole thing! I talked to other attendees, and they felt the same way. But I am still glad I got to see them live.

Here are some photos I took during the show:

Sorry it's blurry. Those lights moved over and around the couple. Very trusting!

Faith didn't have too many wardrobe changes, but I liked everything she wore. And her outfits were age-appropriate (as opposed to when I saw Shania Twain two years ago who wore essentially a leotard!).
 Here are most of the songs they sang that night:

Felt Good on My Lips

It's Your Love

This Kiss

Shotgun Rider

I Like It, I Love It (He only sang part of this song. Hmpf!)

The Way You Love Me
 Let's Make Love

 Mississippi Girl

Real Good Man

Like We Never Loved at All

Something Like That

Wild One

Angry All The Time

I Need You

Where the Green Grass Grows

They each have some "message" songs, and while they are good songs, it was kind of annoying to listen to all of them back-to-back to each other.

Live Like You Were Dying

Speak to a Girl

 Humble and Kind

 And here are A LOT of their big hits that they didn't play, which really disappointed me (although I realize they can't play everything!):

Down on the Farm

Don't Take the Girl

Better Than I Used to Be

It Matters to Me

Not a Moment Too Soon

Let's Go to Vegas

 She's My Kind of Rain

My Little Girl (I always imagine this would be the song my dad and I would dance to at my wedding. If I ever get married...)


 Just to See You Smile

I Can't Do That Anymore

Indian Outlaw (maybe not the right song to sing in D.C. with the Redskins' name controversy?)

 The Cowboy in Me

Someone Else's Dream

If You're Reading This

My Next Thirty Years

The music was still great! I was also surprised by how futuristic the set was. It was almost too sci-fi, and especially weird at a country concert. At one point the background image was supposed to be a stained-glass window of a church, but to me it looked like the Star Trek symbol. Like this:

Here's a psychedelia video from the concert, just for fun:

And a random photo: did you know that the people who run the spotlights sit up in a weird swing thing near the ceiling?!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Recipe: Peanut Butter Banana Cookies

I think we all consider making banana bread when we've got a banana that's a little too ripe. But I didn't want to make banana bread. I wanted to try something new! So I found this recipe on Gimme Some Oven online.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium banana)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Heat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, baking soda and cinnamon until combined. Set aside.

3. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add peanut butter, egg, banana, and vanilla, and continue mixing on medium speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

4. Measure out a rounded tablespoon-full of dough, roll it into a ball, then place on the baking sheet. Use a fork to press down the top of the ball and make a criss-cross pattern. Repeat with remaining dough.

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges. Cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I baked mine a little longer until they were a little past golden. They are crunchy on the outside but still a little soft in the middle. I'm almost tempted to dip them in peanut butter as I eat them! This is an easy recipe with ingredients you probably always have in your home, so definitely one to keep in your recipe book!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Kevin James Comedy Show

Image found here
In late September I went with my dad to see comedian Kevin James perform a stand-up routine at the Warner Theatre. I had seen him previously (probably in 2012, since I don't have a blog post about it), and I was excited to see him again.

The first opener was Michael Aronin. He has a physical disability, but makes it a part of his act. For example, he said to the audience, "Let's just get this out of the way. How did I get like this? Well, I was on a United flight..." I thought it was clever to wrap his own personal issue into his comedy, especially since everyone in the audience was certainly wondering about it. Here's a video I found online from a previous show:

The second opener was Chris Roach. My favorite joke he told was about visiting a spa for a full day of services: his face was wedged into what looks like a narrow toilet seat; his massage therapist was a big man; next he was naked in a hot tub with other men (although he couldn't remember when he took his underwear off); then he wondered why anyone would want to do a couple's massage, since you're trying to relax and escape reality ("Why don't we bring the kids, too?"). Here's a video from a different performance:

Then our headliner Kevin James was on. I love his comedy because it's so relatable and clean. You don't have to drop the f-bomb every other word to be funny. Some of my favorite jokes included:

-Complaining about people with food allergies, particularly the lactose intolerant, "Gluten Douche," and Nut-allergy Guy. I hate picky eaters to begin with, so those with food allergies who make a big deal about their issues and even impact the eating habits of others are very annoying. James joked that these issues all seemed to come up rather recently. "Remember seafood allergy guy?" he asked the audience, talking about how that was the hot issue in the 70's/80's; that guy would never last in a competition against today's food allergies.

-Loving the people mover at the airport but feeling super-lazy using it (along with the fact that you're trapped on it as the moving sidewalk passes a Cinnabon; he suggested people movers should all meet together at the end inside of a Cinnabon, like baggage claim for fat people).

-Appreciating the imagination of children, specifically how his daughter entertained herself in the doctor's waiting room by licking the air around her hand claiming it tasted like Rice Krispies.

-Talking about tattoos. He asked people in the audience if they had tattoos, and one guy (Keith) near the front had ELEVEN tattoos. So Kevin James was making jokes on the fly about this guy's tattoos! I'm always impressed by improv or ad-lib jokes like that.

Of course I love all the food jokes: we can all relate to food! But I usually think of Jim Gaffigan as the "food comedian." Even he has already done a Cinnabon joke:

Kevin James' "Sweat the Small Stuff" special is one of my favorites. Here are some clips from that:

Such a fun night! I already know I'll get tickets to see him again the next time he's in D.C. And you should go, too!