Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Week in review

Last week, that is.  I returned from Pennsylvania on Monday.

Picked up bridesmaid dress from the seamstress.  Then, David Sedaris at the Overture Center.  I enjoyed myself right from the opening selection, a preview from his upcoming book of fables.  Or, as David said, not fables - since fables have morals.  He also read a story I'd seen last year in The New Yorker, "Laugh, Kookaburra."  I liked it at the time, but hearing him read stories brings them to a whole new place.  There were more anecdotes and stories, a brief mention of genocide in Rwanda (so that some college kids who attended could get credit for the talk) and a book recommendation: Irish Girl by Tim Johnston.  David mentioned that the title story had been included in a compilation he edited some years ago.  Proceeds from the book went toward ... toward ... "It was for fucked up kids.  I don't remember what was wrong with them.  I did it so I would seem generous."  I love you, David Sedaris.

Wisconsin Film Festival!  I saw The Exploding Girl at the Chazen Museum.  I liked the movie, though it moved very, very slowly and not much happened.  The lead actress reminded me of a young Kristen Schaal, though her character was nothing like Kristen Schaal.  I thought the film did a surprisingly good job of building a tense, suspenseful mood throughout what was actually a not-too-suspenseful plot.

Wisconsin Film Festival official opening night.  Some friends and I saw The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls at the Orpheum.  Lynda and Jools Topp are lesbian twins who have a successful comedy and music act in New Zealand.  The documentary was top-notch.  I was completely unfamiliar with the Topp Twins beforehand, but I came away with a great sense of their personalities, their history, and social and political issues in New Zealand.  It was both entertaining (I think my favorite Topp Twins characters are Camp Mother and Camp Director) and unexpectedly touching.  Director Leanne Pooley answered questions after the film, and said that Jools and Lynda will be performing in San Francisco when the film screens there this year.  I'll continue to dream of them playing our local county fair.

Harmony and Me at the Union Theater.  A comedy set in Austin about a young, quirky, recently-broken-up, sometime-musician guy with oddball friends and family.  Much of the movie was improvised, and as a veteran of seven 24-hour improv benefits since 2003, I could tell.  In a good way, mostly.  The film was very funny in many places, although as you might imagine from the description, it was also a little ... overly self-aware ... at times.  Regardless, I enjoyed it.  The director, Robert Byington, came out for a Q&A session afterward.  Byington also played Harmony's older brother in the film - one of my favorite characters.  It was a nice ending to my 2010 film festival experience.

Gina's bachelorette party in Chicago!  I checked into our kick-ass suite at the Dana Hotel and Spa before my facial.  It was a actually more than just a facial (that sounds dirty) - there was also a massage involved, and lots of heavenly scents and creams and aromatherapy.  The only part I didn't enjoy was when the esthetician did the "extraction of impurities," at which point I swear to god she started beating me up.  Maybe not quite, but holy crap!  My nose!  Was not expecting that!  Anyway.  Overall, it was great.  I want to live at a spa.  Or at least get treatments for an entire weekend sometime.  Which would cost seventy-eight bajillion dollars, but might be worth it.  While the others got their spa treatments,  I had enough time to Brown Line it over to Laurie's Planet of Sound to celebrate Record Store Day with Sam and co.  I picked up a CD, and - find of finds - spotted the book David Sedaris edited for fucked up kids in a used book box!   Score.  As a bonus, I heard ten minutes of DJ Pat Sansone spinning some sweet tunes before heading back to the Dana.  Drinks with the ladies at the hotel bar, dinner at Nacional 27, liquor store, back to the suite.  Mindful of lessons learned last summer at the hands of Europeans and patxaran, I suffered no ill effects from drinking.  It was just a really fun night.  Hooray for Gina's waning days as a bachelorette!

A short, brisk morning walk made me realize that I could live in a high-rise on State and Erie in downtown Chicago and be perfectly happy for a long time.  Sunny, early spring days obviously strengthen that impression, but really.  The area is bustling with activity, grocery stores and restaurants and shops everywhere, close to the CTA, view of the lake.  Quiet on the twenty-third floor.  And I could take public transport to parks or the 'burbs if I wanted, right?  So when I come into a ton of money, it's settled: I'm moving into the spa at the Dana.  Brunch was at Cuatro in the South Loop (shared coconut milk pancakes! chilaquiles!) and afterward it was time to head back home.   I can't wait to see everyone again at the wedding in less than two weeks OH MY GOD.    

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