Archive for April, 2009

30th April
2009
written by Steph

I'm so happy I could sing!

I'm so happy... I could sing!

This past weekend, Tony and I walked over to our local indie theater that has been showing various classic musicals over the past month.  While we didn’t make it out for Guys & Dolls or An American in Paris, we were deadset on seeing a showing of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  When Singin’ in the Rain got held over for a second weekend due to its popularity, we decided to make a day of it and see a double-header. A little background on me: I LOVE musicals.  To me, they are an inextricable part of my childhood.  While most kids in the '80s were spellbound by E.T., Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, and The Princess Bride, my brother and I were brought up watching Oklahoma!, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, The Pirates of Penzance (technically an operetta, I know, but operas were in no short supply in our household either), and Into the Woods.  To cap it all off, we watched a lot of these flicks on Beta and LaserDisc…  I can recall countless New Year’s Eves and Saturday nights where my brother and I, along with our parents, would marathon classic musicals into the wee hours.  When we’d go to the videostore, more often than not we wound up in the musical section, always trying to find something new to watch.  Plus, my parents always took us out to see the shows live whenever they were touring (one production of Showboat stands out particularly, as a rogue bale of hay took out an unsuspecting piccolo player in the pit…). Over the years, my love for musicals hasn’t really waned, and I even own a few of my childhood favorites on DVD.  A couple of months ago, Tony and I started watching the few that I do own, including Seven Brides, which has always been one of my favorites.  When we saw it was coming to the Belcourt, we knew we couldn’t pass up the chance to see it on the big screen.  Although Tony might not love musicals to the extent that I do (who could?), he’s always been very good about supporting me in this vice – we went to see HMS Pinafore when it came to town, and were both enamored by the more contemporary Avenue Q as well.  Heck, when I first came to Vanderbilt, I made a bunch of my friends go see the on-campus production of Brigadoon for my birthday (it was everything I hoped it would be)!  But to see one of the golden classics in a real movie theater?  Who knows if/when that chance would ever come again. (more…)
29th April
2009
written by Steph
Well, I certainly did like it!

Well, I certainly did like it!

Remember a while back when I read In The Woods and really enjoyed it… and then fell into a deep reading funk?  I blame Tana French.  Only in the best possible way of course, but it’s still her fault I haven’t really been able to pick up a book since then.  Certain books are just so engaging and engrossing that when they’re done, you feel bereft and have a hard time switching gears and starting something new.  Plus, when they’re as good as In The Woods, finding another book that will stand up to what you’ve just read is pretty tough. I think part of the reason why I’d been dragging my feet to read a new book is because immediately upon finishing In The Woods, I wanted to start French’s follow-up novel, The Likeness.  And you should all have your ears prick up at this, because you know I tend not to go on author-related reading benders, no matter how much I like said author's body of work.  In this case, I didn’t own The Likeness so I couldn't just dive right back in.  And my local library branch’s copy was out, meaning that after I put a hold on it, I had to wait for it to get transferred in from some other branch.  And then when it showed up, I had already started reading another book that wasn’t working for me at the time (I think because I was mentally holding out for this book), and then I had my top secret reading project that had to have top priority, so The Likeness sat on the floor in our front hallway for almost two weeks before I could give it the time of day.  Let me tell you, the wait may have been long and tortuous, but it was totally worth it because The Likeness absolutely delivers. (more…)
27th April
2009
written by Tony
Graham Greene

Graham Greene

I finished this novel quite a while ago, and while I haven’t actively avoided writing this review (I’ve been snowed under at work and it leaves very little mettle for things like this when I get home) I haven’t really felt as though I can do this book justice. There is far more to this book than my limited perspective can grasp on one reading, and it is one of the few books in recent memory (The Master and Margarita being the other) that I immediately felt I needed to read again in order to fully appreciate its subtleties. Touted as Greene’s masterpiece (by none other than John Updike) this is a sparse, short, and searingly raw tale of the exile of an unnamed Catholic priest who is on the run from a fascist and anti-religious government. The novel centers on the revolution in Mexico through the late 1920s that viciously suppressed any and all religion on the order of then president Plutarco Elías Calles. The doctrine was especially brutal in the state of Tobasco, where this novel takes place. There is no use denying that this novel traverses some difficult territory and deals with the human condition in a way that is at once honest and often disturbing. (more…)
24th April
2009
written by Steph

Guys, I’m so sorry about the dearth of updates, but things have been so crazy here and time has been short for writing.  Turns out that even when you have a low-key wedding in mind, it still requires a good deal of planning – just when you check one thing off your list, a new one pops up in its place.  I think weddings might be the Hydra of social events…  I suppose I really shouldn’t complain as our planning has actually been going quite smoothly – dress shopping, suit buying, venue picking, all of that has actually been quite painless and efficiently completed.  That’s right, I have my dress purchased!  I won’t post a picture of it here, but I will show you the shoes I have decided to wear on the Big Day.  They are super fun AND comfy, and I look forward to wearing them at the wedding as well as many years to come.  I wanted a pair of shoes that were funky and expressed who I was, and I love the little snippets of blue (now I just need something borrowed and something old!):

That's right - I'm going to walk down the aisle in zebra-striped shoes with blue buckles!

That's right - I'm going to walk down the aisle in zebra-striped shoes with blue buckles!

And of course, we also had our lovely anniversary celebration last weekend, which was fantastic.  We drove Pip down to Chattanooga, and stayed in a cozy little B&B called the Chantacleer Inn (True story, though: I could never remember the name of this place while we were staying there, and wound up settling on a rather crude version that I COULD remember, which is really no reflection of the inn itself but rather my juvenile humor… I won’t post the name here, but let’s just say it involved a perfectly correct term for “rooster” (the inn’s logo featured one), thought it’s probably not the term you’d use in polite company… Tony tells me that Chantacleer is the name of a rooster from a fairytale, but if this is true, I never read that fairytale, so that mnemonic was not helpful to me).  We visited the Tennessee Aquarium, which we enjoyed immensely (though ultimately decided we’d rather hold our wedding locally rather than 2 hours away from where we live), and also had a great time dining out at some of our favorite restaurants in Chattanooga (this one place has the best stuffed poblano pepper appetizer on the planet, AND their margaritas are to die for!  I had two!).  I won’t lie, however… as we don’t have cable tv at our place, one of our highlights of the weekend involved simply lolling about in bed watching Animal Planet and HGTV in our room!  Hey, it just shows that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to show us a good time! 😉 So, looking at my reading log, I realize that I haven’t finished a book in about 3 weeks, which is why I haven’t been able to review anything lately!  I think this is largely due to me feeling mentally burnt out (I don’t have exams to contend with as many other people do, but things at work have recently come to a head, and hopefully will improve from here on out) and just being too tired to read most evenings.  I started reading The Master & Margarita, which Tony highly praised on the site, but I soon realized that while it normally would be the kind of book I would love, it just wasn’t the right time for me to read it.  It has a pretty discursive narrative, and my poor tired brain just couldn’t keep up.  I was struggling too hard to turn the pages and remember what the heck had been happening, that I decided to put it aside until my brain feels less sluggish so that I can fully appreciate Bulgakov’s swift wit.  I’m currently reading something for a top secret project that I can’t divulge at this point, which I realize is horridly unfair, but all this is to say that you’ll still have to wait a bit before I’m ready to post any new reviews!  Tony has one book on the roster that he needs to review, but he’s been utterly bogged down at work, so the time just hasn’t been available to write about it, but eventually you can expect a review on Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory sometime this year! 😉  And I apologize for not having recipes either… we took a bunch of pictures a while back when I was cooking up a frenzy, but at this point I’m not sure that I can trust my memory to write down reliable instructions (or ingredients) for the dishes!  It might be time to call it a wash and start from scratch… inevitably I’ll wind up making many of those things again, and hopefully I can keep up with them on the site! Some of you may consider memes a punishment, but I thought that it might be nice to post some actual content here on Steph & Tony Investigate, rather than simply another excuse for our shortcomings of late.  So, I’ve ganked an old meme off of Claire’s site, which she borrowed from Tuesday, and I thought I’d give it a whirl.  It’s supposedly the über meme, so hopefully all of the important bases will be covered!

(more…)

17th April
2009
written by Steph
Sorry all for the dearth of updates lately, but real life has been quite the beast lately.  Well, I shouldn't suggest that everything recently has been a burden or a hassle, as we've been kept busy with plenty of fun stuff outside of the toil of our jobs (yes, graduate school counts as a job!).  A quick run-down of the good stuff that's been happening lately:
  • April 10 - Saw Flight of the Conchords live at the Ryman.  It was a great concert, filled with lots of laughs and sexy Kiwi accents (Jemaine, call me!).  Although, it seems that increased practice has actually led to poorer guitar playing on both boys' parts?  Best songs of the night: Carol Brown, Jenny, Too Many Dicks on the Dancefloor, Angels, & a special song they did (maybe called Stana?)... Oh and don't forget Business Time!  Really, how can I choose?
  • April 14 - Went out for sushi dinner at our favorite joint (despite being a land-locked state, Nashville has the best sushi I've ever had), Samurai, to belatedly celebrate our engagement with friends (is it ever too late to celebrate)? Yum!
  • April 15 - Celebrated our two year anniversary!
  • April 16 - Saw Demetri Martin perform at TPAC.  He was great live, and we were very impressed with his improv skills.  Also, I liked when he did a short Q&A at the end and talked about the Flight of the Conchords guys for a bit! 😉
  • April 18 - 19 (yes, I'm projecting into the future, now) - taking a road trip south to Chattanooga, where we'll celebrate our anniversary (again?) by visiting the Tennessee aquarium (possible wedding venue?  Hmmmm...), and eating at our favorite riverside restaurant.  Also, we're staying at our first B&B!
Hopefully things will be less hectic when we return... We have a bunch of lovely photos we've taken over the past few weekends around Nashville that we need to get around posting, and Tony has a book review to post.  I have been in a bit of a reading rut lately, but I feel like that's about to change.  To all of you doing Dewey's read-a-thon, good luck and have fun!  Also, if your neck of the woods is experiencing nice weather (as we are here), try to do some of that reading outside!
14th April
2009
written by Steph
Who wouldn't?

This poster comes nowhere near to illustrating the horror that is Jason Segel's hair in the movie proper

I know!  Another wedding movie!  But this one focuses on the groom side of things, and is not remotely depressing, so you can’t fault us for going to this one on a recent date night!  It has Paul Rudd!  And Jason Segel (who we love, if only he could do something about his hair… is he on drugs?  Because he really looks like he is…)!  Truth be told, we would have gone to see this if it were about non-wedding things, like skydiving or grave robbing (or you know, skydiving grave robbers). But as it stands, I Love You, Man revolves around straight-laced but all around nice guy Peter Klaven’s (Rudd) search for a guy best friend so he can have a best man at his wedding.  It’s not clear to me why Peter couldn’t just ask his brother or his dad (or both) to stand up with him.  Also, if his fiancée (played by Rashida Jones, perhaps best known to you as Karen Phillipelli of The Office, who seems like a middle of the road actress but who really needs to not wear bangs as they make her look dowdy) were really so concerned about not having him feel awkward about having a smaller social circle than herself, why couldn’t she have just had her two best friends be her bridal party, rather than having a bridal part of like, 8 girls?  Clearly I have thought about this too much.  ANYWAY, Peter has always been a girlfriend guy rather than a guy-friend guy, so he sets out to rectify this.  It seems as though Lady Luck smiles on Peter because after several awkward “man dates” (and just crippling awkwardness on Peter’s part), he happens to cross paths with one Sydney Fife (Segel) while hosting an open house.  They hit it off, have a series of misadventures, a bunch of laughs, things get rocky, but ultimately both of them learn from the other and become more fulfilled in the process. It’s a fun movie that will make you laugh and will also make you cringe.  The plot is mostly predictable, but there were a few welcome surprises along the way, and really, you’re not going into this movie hoping for something earth-shattering anyway.  Segel is good as Sydney, but Paul Rudd is better as Peter – he plays the straight man really well, and is convincing in his portrayal of Peter as an average guy who’s nice and just a bit uptight and a whole lot of awkward.  In essence, Peter is dorky in the way that all nice guys kind of are (@ Tony: but not you, honey!  Nothing dorky about you at all!).  Particularly enjoyable are the frequent moments when Peter experiences massive verbal diarrhea, whether he’s trying to come up with a good nickname for Sydney, his attempts at using slang or employing any kind of accent, or any moment where he’s trying to come off as blasé, when we all know he’s secretly squealing like a little girl inside.  Segel and Rudd do banter well, and they get a nice synergy going; think Turk & J.D. on Scrubs and you've got the picture. Really enjoyable movie that’s great for a date night out.  You will laugh a lot.  Well worth the ticket price. Rating: 4 out of 5
10th April
2009
written by Steph
Thankfully, a completely different experience (I hope!) from Steph Getting Married

Thankfully, a completely different experience (I hope!) from Steph Getting Married

I swear that our recent engagement has not inspired me to rent every movie that Netflix offers with the words “Married” or “Wedding” in the title.  This one has actually been sitting on our side table for a few weeks, I think – I’m pretty sure it entered our house pre-engagement.  We’ve been putting this one off because even though we’d heard it was supposed to be excellent, we had also heard it was a bit of a downer and neither of us has really been in the mood for depressing movies lately.  Watching this not long after The Squid & The Whale definitely packed a pretty hard one-two punch. The movie theoretically revolves around the weekend of the wedding of a young woman named Rachel, but it really focuses more on her sister, Kym, who has struggled with drug addiction for most of her life.  In fact, in order to attend the wedding, Kym is given but a temporary leave-of-absence from the rehab facility where she is currently receiving treatment. (more…)
8th April
2009
written by Steph

When this movie first came out, I distinctly recall it being billed as an indie comedy of sorts.  Not your slapstick Judd Apatow humor, but something a bit more wry and erudite.  Either I am misremembering this appraisal, or else the publicity people got it wrong, because while The Squid & The Whale has a few instances of biting humor, it’s really not a funny movie.  Given that it revolves around the dissolution of a marriage between two writers living in Brooklyn and how this, as well as their insane battle to share their children equally, affects their two sons, you can see how this movie might be of a more serious and somber tone.  In fact, it’s pretty depressing. (more…)
7th April
2009
written by Tony
This could almost be the title of a book by Jimmy Buffet... if that weren't so repulsive.

This could almost be the title of a book by Jimmy Buffet... if that weren't so repulsive.

A warning: parts of this review may seem a bit obtuse if you have not read this book. So. Go, read this book. You will love it. Then come back and read this review and you can see how smart I am and how much you agree with me. Really! Manuscripts don’t burn. So says Satan to Margarita late in the tale. Thus, Satan reveals a truth that Bulgakov found in his own life and brought to this book. The many meanings of this simple phrase offer an excellent metaphor for the novel itself. Quite literally, the notebooks in which writers of the day put their writing were not easily burned. But, of course, more than that, once something is written it takes on a life of its own, and is never really forgotten, and that is the true value and message of this tale. Bulgakov burned the first copy of this book after the failure of another of his works, only to resurrect it years later. In fact, the novel would not have been finished at all if it were not for Bulgakov’s wife. Bulgakov died before he could finish the masterpiece and the last portion was written by his wife. In this way the relationship between the Master and Margarita (our title characters) seems eerily prescient, and is almost certainly an allusion to Bulgakov’s relationship with his wife. (more…)
6th April
2009
written by Steph

Yes, we realize these are traditionally wedding bands, but we exchanged them in honor of our engagement

Yes, we realize these are wedding bands for most, but not for us!

Who: Steph & Tony

What: Got engaged

When: April 2nd, 2009

Where: Racquetball Court #1, at the Downtown YMCA (Seriously.)

Why: Because we love each other! (Awwww)

Lots of people have asked if it was surprise, and while in a way it was, it also wasn't.  I've always thought it was weird when people said they never saw the proposal coming, because it's a pretty big step, and it seems to me like spending the rest of your lives together would be something you'd want to talk about and make sure you're on the same page, but to each her own.  I certainly didn't expect to be proposed to on a racquetball court, but it's nice to find the romance in every day life (plus, not many people have that story, I'm betting).  It would have been nice if Tony had managed to work in a little Pride and Prejudice into his proposal ("You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you..."), but I'm not really complaining! 😉

We thought long and hard about the right way for us to symbolize this step forward and ultimately decided that we wanted to wear matching bands during our engagement, which we will customize/engrave when we actually get married.  For now we still don't have a date or any specifics set.  We're just going to take some time to enjoy this special time and revel in being engaged!

Squeee!

By the lake at Centennial Park

By the lake at Centennial Park

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