Everybody’s Favorite Little Human Trafficking Musicale.

9 Oct

Nestled in a beautiful corner of the American west, the stage is set for a ‘beautiful morning’. Instead, open on a band of sex-starved brothers who live in a cabin in the woods (Unibombers much?). In a charming adaptation of everyone’s favorite tale of Roman pillage and plunder, the brothers kidnap six girls they’re crushing on from a nearby village (the oldest brother managed to get a lady to actually agree to marriage), they trap them in their hilltop shack and force them into marriage.

It’s Broadway baby!

Why am I writing about this goofily sexist product of an earlier age?

I’ve recently been experiencing a resurgence in affection for classic Broadway standards. I have a not entirely unabashed affinity for these classic songs. High school musicals were the cultural events of the season in my childhood and adolescence, I was raised on the Sound of Music and I can belt out OH what a beautiful morning with the best of them. While I have occasionally felt the urge to commit to an indie-band public listening persona, it would be dishonest to imply that I didn’t binge-listen to Les Mis on occasion.

Anyway, so I’ve been listening to some oldies lately. I’m not talking West Side Story, and certainly not Wicked. I’m talking 42nd Street, Guys and Dolls,  and my all time favorites from Cole Porter, Rogers and Hammerstein, Gilbert and Sullivan etc. In a thirst for more music, I was trying to remember musicals I’d seen as a kid, and I remembered watching ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ on a family road trip.

So I revisited it.

Various Artists – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Well, obviously there’s some problematic misogyny  issue happening here. Actually, it goes way beyond misogyny and doesn’t just verge on but walks right on into full-on human trafficking issues. But it’s still a little bit charming…right? The thing is though, this ultra-macho story of forced marriage is presented in technicolor. The songs are bouncy and catchy, the dancing is really great,  the costumes are cute and the setting is America at its most beautiful.

Which must be the reason that this retelling of Plutarch’s “Rape of the Sabine Women” (See track 6: Sobbin’ Women) is still somehow not absolutely repulsive. Granted, it’s a somewhere between a little and a lot repulsive- but I don’t feel the need to burn every DVD copy in the real-fire kind of way. I’m even feeling a little drawn into the world of swinging axes and gingham skirts.

I mean, I’m probably being dramatic, it’s not like these women are in chains- they put them up very nicely in their mountain cabin and they do after all, kind of like the brothers. The story ends as a love story, albeit perhaps made possibly only via Stockholm syndrome.

Another possible reading is that it’s a story of the desperate sexual politics of the American frontier, where the male to female ratio was far too high. So, I get that joke…but ladies of the old West, the joke’s on you.

Either way, it’s the plot of a Roman tragedy with a uniquely American ultra-masculine ethos, lit like a My Little Pony dreamscape, punctuated with song, dance, lots of fringe and ending with a group wedding.

The moral of the story: We’ve produced some super weird cultural relics over the years, and Broadway is a prime culprit. Don’t even get me started on Brigadoon (which is more awesomely weird than sexistly weird, but still)…

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Help Me Build an October Playlist!

8 Oct

I once heard somewhere that in this cultural moment, curating has become the mainstream form of self-expression. That articulation has stuck with me- because I feel like that’s what I’m always doing when I’m online. We’ve created this network where we can store and share information, so it makes sense that via collaboration, we have all become digital age librarians of arts, culture, politics, really of everything.

I’m not sure how I feel about that, I guess it is what it is.

Regardless, here’s something I’d like to curate together. I’ve created a collaborative playlist on Spotify called “That Curious Love of Green: October Playlist”- add whatever songs you’re listening to right now- I’d love to have a listen.

That Curious Love of Green: October 2012 Playlist

I’d like to highlight one of the tracks I’ve added to the playlist. Paper Bird is a band based on Denver, CO. Full disclosure, I became familiar with the band because two of its members are second cousins of mine (oh, the perks of having a big old Irish Catholic Midwestern American family).

The track I included on the playlist, “Firenze” is my favorite off their new album. Their older stuff is much more bluegrassy, and I would most definitely add those albums to a summery playlist or a hit-the-open road playlist (warning though, it will make you want to move out west). But I have loved listening to their new album “Carry On” as its gotten colder this year.

I saw the group live in September, and I realized how much their sound seems to have evolved from their earlier work. I’m a fan of both styles, each suited to different moods/moments.

So, if you’re in the mood for a good autumnal album to study to, give “Carry On” a listen.

ALSO, this is so cool: The band did a collaborative event with the Denver Ballet this past September, which looked like it was so awesome.

Hm. Denver Calling?

In a Perfect World, I’d Be Reading These Books This Fall

7 Oct

MAGGIE’S AUTUMNAL READING LIST

Long Live All Things Bookish

(If you’re reading along on an e-book, I forgive you and we can still be friends)

Making a full list for the remainder of this season is not only possibly but almost certainly too ambitious, but I just have to keep the dream alive. Someday there will be ample room in my life for reading for pleasure. The similarly ambitious among you can attempt to read along- check out the “currently reading” widget on my sidebar to see what’s currently on the docket. I’ll be sure to give some recommendations along the way. So, here it is, Maggie’s (in-a-dream-world-there-would-be-hours-to-spend-curled-up-with-these-books) Autumn Reading List:

1. The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling (currently reading)

2. The End of Men – Hanna Rosin (next up)

The following are in no particular order:

3. Freedom – Jonathan Franzen

4. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Dai Sijie

5. Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace (so this is how you know I’m being too ambitious)

6. Crazy Salad – Nora Ephron

7. A Visit From the Goon Squad – Nora Egan (Recommended by: YourHarto)

8. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

9. NW – Zadie Smith

10. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

11. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

12. Saturday – Ian McEwan

13. The Love of a Good Woman – Alice Munroe

14. The Clear Light of Day – Anita Desai

15. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

The BEST place to access these books is of course your local public library because…

But if you’re looking for a good place to buy books, try to bypass a big box store (we’ve all seen ‘You’ve Got Mail’- we know that even though Tom Hanks is awesome, bookstore chains are the worst) in favor of an independently owned new or used bookstore.

The latter is SO MUCH cheaper and the former keeps your money in the local community.

If you’re in Chicago try: Open Books off the Chicago Brown Line Stop- one of so many wonderful used bookstores, but the added social mission makes it extra-awesome) or The Book Cellar– in Lincoln Square for new books!

If you’re in Toledo try: Ukazoo Books – near UT and close enough to the flashy new Barnes and Noble for you to flaunt your used book store bravado as you drive on past.

If you’re somewhere else- what’s your favorite local bookstore? What brings you there? Comment below and share the love!

Also, if you have more book recommendations, comment below and more love will be shared.

And We’re Back.

6 Oct

Hello tiny readership of my rinky-dink little personal blog. It’s been awhile.

Where have I been? Well, for one thing: Switzerland. (http://mavieensuisse2011-2012.tumblr.com). I studied en Suisse this past year and cheated on Love Of Green with my sultry little Tumblr travel blog.

But, we’ve reconciled, don’t worry kids, mom and blog are not getting a divorce, we were just temporarily separated.

What am I doing now?

Well, it’s year 4 at DePaul and I am diving right on in. This quarter I’m taking two International Studies classes, an Honors class on race and an Intro to Journalism class.

Which leads me to my big shift, which has been the pivot to center stage of my journalistic ambitions. Cue ode-singing to NPR and Twitter stalking of The Atlantic’s staff writers. Foreign correspondent, staff writer, assistant editor are all very attractive sounding job titles.

This doesn’t mean I’ve decided against NGO/non-profit/fair trade/teaching English abroad/opening a book store slash coffee shop where people read thick books and fall in love, ambitions. It just means, there’s another item to include in ‘all of the above’

You can follow my progress in byline-collecting and other journalistic pursuits here: http://margaretdziubek.wordpress.com/ (updates coming soon)

I’ve been writing for the DePaulia (DePaul’s student paper), have some ideas in the pipeline for stories with some other blog sites, and as of about an hour ago applied for a freelance position at How Stuff Works. If anyone is looking for a writing or interested in a blogging collab of any sort, shoot me an email at mzoobek@gmail.com

Anyway, I decided to return to this blog at long last, because perusing its archives reminded me how much I liked sharing my thoughts and interests with my dear friend the internet (and hopefully also with some real people on the other side of the most supreme internetwork).

So, movie recommendations, book lists and my general thoughts du jour are on their way. If that sounds like something you’d like to add to your to-read list, I’d be more than delighted.

 

My Kind of Town

3 Apr

Hello from the Windy City! It’s finally warm, sunny and wonderful Spring Quarter and I am SO ready to explore the city of Chicago to my heart’s content before I pack up and head for greener pastures for the summer. Having resisted the feeling of cabin fever while I was actually cooped up for the winter, I’m realizing retroactively how cooped up I actually was. This week has been 40s-50s and it has felt practically tropical.

On Thursday night, after my weekly dose of NBC sitcoms (reruns, unfortunately), I decided to officially ring in the new quarter with a walk down to the lake to take a look at the skyline from Fullerton Beach.


Sitting at the end of a practically empty Lake Shore trail, I was struck once again that I LIVE four blocks from… that. In fact, I live IN that. A big beautiful city where all kinds of big and little exciting things are happening. Over the past year and a half I have done a whole lot of exploring, but I still feel like I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg that is Chicago. I decided that this quarter I would make exploring new parts of the city a priority. It’s so easy to slide into a routine and forget to get out there and, well, you know: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLbWYHA5eUE&feature=related

So, wasting no time, I seized Saturday and did something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. In the fall, I picked up a copy of Time Out Chicago, Student Edition, which is a great listing of cheap, fun things to do in the city. They had a great series of articles on CTA city walks. The idea is, take the El to a stop, get off, follow the walking directions to landmarks, cool shops, little bistros and eventually back to another CTA stop. Brilliant! 1. Free 2. A perfect way to get to know a new neighborhood.

This week: The Gold Coast. The Fanciest Neighborhood of Them All. Red Line Clark/Division to Chicago.

The Gold Coast really is gorgeous. It’s a little bit nauseating to see 26 room, opulent mansions on prime real estate overshadowing areas of extreme poverty, but there is no denying that those 26 room mansions are beautiful to look at. C’est la vie, I suppose. Anyways, I really did love the walk. Tree-lined streets, beautiful architecture, and my handy-dandy page from Time Out Chicago to guide me. And perfect weather to boot! Here were some highlights.

The Charnley-Perksy House, an early collaboration between Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright

The Patterson-McCormick Mansion, designed by Stanford White a notorious womanizer who also designed Madison Square Gardens.

The Archbishop's Residence. Complete with 19 chimneys!!

Unfortunately, at this point my camera battery informed me that it was ‘exhausted’. So I don’t have pictures of the original Playboy mansion or Bernie Sahlin’s (cofounder of Second City) residence.

These were definitely the most imposing of the homes in the area, but really each building was something to see. The area has a very old-fashioned feel to it. I could just picture 19th century up-and-comers strolling down Astor Street, parasols and canes in hand. There was even one working torch-lit street lamp, which really set the mood.

After the residential tour I was lead down to the ritzy Oak Street shopping district. This is no ordinary mall. Think Prada, Harry Winston etc. very fancy schmancy. These are places I will only ever window shop. Although I did make one key purchase, macaroons from a Sarah’s Chocolate shop. Delicious!

Oak Street leads right out to Lake Shore, so I savored my chocolate macaroon as I strolled along beautiful blue Lake Michigan before turning down Chestnut through downtown to the Chicago stop (of course making a required stop at one of my favorite bookstores Europa Books, which is right off the El). All in all a fabulous day!

The Best Craftsmen in France

14 Mar

You know that moment in a documentary when you’re so invested that suddenly you are devastated that Philippe’s sugar sculpture shattered. Kings of Pastry takes you there. While I don’t necessarily recommend viewing this documentary during a Lenten swearing-off of desserts, as it could cause extreme pangs of regret for that foolish promise, I do recommend it in general.

Now, this Spring I have to visit the Chicago French Market to try some macaroons and cream puffs.

Rushdie and Naipaul

10 Mar

This quarter I took a class on V.S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie, which has kept my reading load for class high and my pleasure reading time correspondingly low. Luckily, these were books were more than pleasurable to read, so I hardly felt the loss of my own curl-up-with-any-book-you-want time. I am so glad to have been introduced to these two splendid authors, and really I recommend all their work highly, but here are some of my favorites:

NON FICTION:

In particular, if you are in the mood for some enjoyable, diverse,  interesting essays check out Salman Rushdie’s Step Across This Line, written during the ten years he was on the run with a price on his head due to a fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini. The topics range from 9/11 to the Wizard of Oz to Bono, and they’re all pretty great.

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If you’re looking to read some Naipaul non-fiction, I would try A Turn in the South a collection of essays written on the American South around 1989. Naipaul writes more like an investigative journalist than Rushdie, whose essays read like a column. Someone in my class described the two as opposite uncles, the lovable curmudgeon and the fun uncle you wish you could get drunk with. While Naipaul is a bit caustic, curmudgeonly and definitely politically incorrect, his subtlety won me over. While Rushdie is more exciting and fun to read at the outset, Naipaul has some really interesting things to say as well.

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FICTION:

I’m a sucker for allegory, and this is one of the, if not the most well-crafted allegories I have ever read. In Midnight’s Children, Rushdie’s second novel, the life of the protagonist, Saleem Sinai is allegorical with that of the independent Indian nation. I love finding the parallels between the two levels of the metaphor, which I was able to do for the most part thanks to some previous knowledge of Indian history and help from my professor for this class. If you want to really appreciate the novel, I would at least Wikipedia contemporary Indian history just to at least get the gist.

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A House for Mr. Biswas is a semi-biographical novel based on the life of Naipaul’s father (Naipaul himself also makes an appearance as Anand, Biswas’ son). Naipaul’s grandparents came to Trinidad (in the Carribean) from India as indentured servants, forming a large Indian diasporic community on the island. Where Rushdie is exuberant, Naipaul is snarky, so if you like snark (or dry humor in general) Mr. Biswas is your guy. Also, I love this cover art- mine is way less interesting.

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