POPs

Before I get into my little weekend recap post, I just wanted to take a second to pay homage to the tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, CT. I would feel like an a-hole if I said absolutely nothing, but, of course, there’s really nothing I can say. It’s a horrific tragedy, and I just… there are simply no words. Anyway, I’m not trying to be a downer, I just think that a tragedy of this magnitude deserves acknowledgement and, of course, remembrance. Not for the monster that did this, but to commemorate and celebrate the lives that were taken.

Okay. So. Now to pluck myself out of the doldrums again, very awkwardly and non sequitur…ly. Eeeeyeah.

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Thanks to my book release as well as the birth of one pretty neat older brother, this weekend was full of little celebrations. Friday night, my boyfriend Sean took me on a date to my beloved Sweetwater Tavern to celebrate the book, then Saturday we had a birthday potluck in honor of Ben’s 29th birthday at the house! Sadly, I took absolutely zero photos of either event. Womp womp fail.

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What I *did* take photos of was Sunday’s excursion. Also, many vain outfit shots. Heh. My whole family gathered together to go see the National Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday POPs concert at the Kennedy Center! Naturally, I found this the perfect excuse to bust out one of my Oh-em-gee-this-dress-is-only-$9-but-when-am-I-ever-going-to-wear-it purchases from when I decimated the Leesburg Outlets with my friend Holly back in October.

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I love a good reason to get dressed up! We had dinner at the Terrace Restaurant in the Kennedy Center before the show, which was delicious and extravagant.

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I started with a salad that had bibb lettuce, blue cheese, candied cashews, apples, and an apple vinaigrette (and helped myself to not a small amount of Sean’s seafood chowder, hahaha). I got the mussels & frites for my entree, which was actually listed as an appetizer so I got an OBSCENE amount of mussels. Not that I’m complaining. But yeah, literally, I had a cauldron full of mussels. Om nom nom.

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Then it was time for the show! The concert itself was wonderful. It was a lot more jazzy than I expected — the NSO collaborated with an a cappella quartet called “New York Voices” and the result was a lot of complex harmonies and jazz interpretations of our favorite traditional holiday tunes.

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Okay, fine, it was mostly Christmas tunes (they even had Santa come out at the end, haha), but they DID play one non-Christmas song (O, Chanukah) so I guess that’s what makes it a “Holiday” concert, hahaha. Either way, it was super enjoyable, very impressive, and really got my holiday gears cranking (’cause… you know… I have such a difficult time getting excited for Christmas… lololol). GUYS. THIS IS THE LAST WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS WEEK. AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!

What’s your favorite thing about the holiday season? You know, pre-actual Christmas, what’s your favorite thing about this Decemberiffic time? The decorations, the baked goods constantly available, the tacky sweater parties…?

PS: Quick note. Just in case any of you are looking for me on Twitter moving forward, I’ve updated my handle to @gretchenpowell!

Weekend Update: Kristin Chenoweth Edition

Good Monday, e’rrybody! How was your weekend? Mine was filled with a lot of lounging, laughing, and Ms. Kristin Chenoweth herself.

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She is so utterly fantastic I can’t stand it. Her show was AMAZING. She’s a firecracker, is so hilarious, and I don’t really even need to get started on her voice. Oh, that voice… how does such incredible sound come out of such a little body? (She’s 4’11”!) My dad got the tickets for my mom, my sister, and me as a birthday present back in April (thanks Daddy!!), and it was so, so enjoyable.

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Her show was a variety of songs, home-bred Oklahoma stories, and a few sketch comedy acts thrown in. There was an especially hilarious little skit utilizing Lucy T. Slut and the Bad Idea Bears from Avenue Q. As for the songs themselves, she sang a selection of Broadway tunes, popular songs, and a few songs from her various albums. The song list included “Popular” and “For Good” from Wicked (duh), “Bring Him Home” from Les Mis (freaking amazing), “One Less Bell To Answer/A House is Not a Home” (you might recognize it from Glee), “Enough is Enough (is Enough)”, “I Will Always Love You” (the Doll Parton version, natch, which was her encore song), and “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret, which she also sang on Glee. After performing that last one, she went on to say the following:

“I sang that song on a show called Glee. It’s a good show… it’s a better song. (Laughs) That just slipped out.”

And in doing so, she made me fall in love with her even more. Nothing like a star who can poke a little bit of fun. She also had quite a few things to say about the recent cancellation of her show “GCB”, which were kind of hilarious.

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The only teeny, tiny, most insignificantly unfortunate note of the whole evening was that apparently it is a known fact (that was unbeknownst by me) that Kristin calls up an audience member to sing “For Good” from Wicked with her. I know. I KNOW. Well, had I known this ahead of time, I too would have jumped out of my chair as soon as possible so as to get the opportunity to sing with Kristin Chenoweth. As it was, however, a girl in the 4th row who DID know this ahead of time beat me far and wide to the punch. By the time Kristin had sang the last note of “Popular” (the song that preceded “For Good”), the girl was already out of her chair, jumping up and down like a maniac. So of course, Kristin picked her right away.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I recognize that it was very sweet, having this 16-year-old girl totally freak out: she was asking her friend to make sure he was taping it, she got a picture on stage with Kristin on her iPhone, and she hugged her like a zillion times. She was super nervous and endearingly off-key (well, in hindsight I can say it was endearing, haha). Yes, yes, yes, adorable. Sigh. I know it’s not very attractive of me, but I just can’t help feeling slightly bitter. I know there was like a 1/500 chance that I would have been chosen anyway, I know that. I just wish I had gotten the *chance* to volunteer, you know? Because holy Moses, getting to sing a duet with her is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would most definitely have liked to been able to try for. I even know that song (and the necessary harmonies!) like the back of my hand: I sang Idina’s part of the duet for my 11th grade talent show, hahaha.

Ah well, like I said, it was still an utterly wonderful night. Admittedly, the late-night drive home from Baltimore afterward was less wonderful, but still totally worth it. I didn’t actually end up seeing Snow White & The Huntsman the night before, so the concert ended up being my big thing for the weekend. Sunday mostly involved a lot of this:

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Also, pie.

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Have a great day, friends!

Pre-Party Friday

Happy Friday, friends! The best weekend EVER is almost here, so rejoice! Before the debauchery that will (hopefully) be taking place this weekend, last night Ben, Taylor, and I gussied ourselves up and headed to the Kennedy Center for some real, honest-to-goodness culture.

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Ben’s friend Kristen works for the company that was putting on a concert series in honor of the 100th Cherry Blossom Festival, so it included many famous Japanese musicians. Last night was the last performance in the series, an impressive young pianist by the name of Yu Kosuge. Now, Ben was a piano major in college and is the true musician from the family, so I’m sure he got a little more out of the evening than I did. Still, it was pretty obvious even to me just how GOOD this pianist was, considering the tremendous difficulty of the pieces she was playing (and making it look easy when it was anything but!).

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I won’t try to pretend that classical music is really my thing, but I enjoyed the evening a lot… save for the one contemporary piece she played. I just don’t think I “get” contemporary piano pieces. I can understand how technically impressive it may be, but dissonance for dissonance’ sake doesn’t make any sense to me! Still, it was a really enjoyable evening… and made me feel rather grown up. Maybe 24 is the turning point year after all! Bahaha.

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Of course, that being said, let’s not forget what kind of party is happening in these here parts tomorrow night. Wheeeeeee!! My totally age appropriate Harry Potter birthday party is tomorrow! Wheeeeee!!

We so excited

Hehe, as you can tell, I’m just a wee bit excited for this thing finally coming to fruition. I’ve been mulling this one over pretty much since returning from my epic Harry Potter World trip back in February, so it’s been a long time in the works! My only regret now is that this totally awesome and not incredibly dorky party theme is being wasted on my 24th birthday. 24 is a filler year! 25 is the quarter of the century mark, so wouldn’t you think that deserves the bigger blowout? Oh well, guess that just means I’ll have to come up with something even MORE spectacular for next year… (like holding my very own Quarter Quell, perhaps? Bahaha.)

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Granted, I may have gone slightly overboard in the preparations of this one already. (What, me? Get overly enthusiastic about something? Never!) I’ve been a busy bee over this entire week so that I can concentrate on drawing on the perfect liquid liner forehead scar rather than fretting over party stuff, hehe. The Butterbeer recipe is set, as we already know, but there are still potions to brew, chocolate frogs to make, and Butterbeer Jelly Shots (yes, you read that right!) to mix up. Kekeke.

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He simply cannot contain his excitement.

Oh, it also bears noting that with some help from my lovely roommate, I’ve finally figured out who Daxter is going to be attending the party as!

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Why, with that fluffy white beard and wisdom from beyond the ages, it could only be… Dumbledore! Erin’s making our little Headmaster an occasion-appropriate cape and everything. I love it love it LOVE IT.

I hope you all have an amazing weekend! See you on the flipside, Muggles!