My Unedited Thoughts On ‘Stand. Up.’

I was so lucky to see Michael Kimmel’s new play Stand. Up. in a pre-production stage on Monday night. You can read a more formal review here, but for my blog, I want to talk more in-depth about the characters. This is not a spoiler free review. This is also not proofread by any means. Just me and word vomit, the usual.

In this reading, there were five characters seated across the stage. From left to right were Tommy (Michael Cyril Creighton), Lance Banks (Zachary Levi, light of my life), Frank Patton (Ben Shenkman), Donald (Graham Rowat), and Mara played by the wonderful Quincy Tyler Bernstine. As the scenes play out, they each take to a music stand and read from a script. It was so incredible to see. I had never seen anything like this before. Very cool. Anywho.

As I stated in my review, these characters all have depth. They are all main characters with storylines that unfold throughout the play. Of course, Lance and Frank have the most complex dispositions as the play’s center roles.

Frank Patton is a character I relate to emotionally. He’s a two-time divorcee in AA (not me), struggling to keep his sobriety through life’s curve balls, aka depression (me). He’s hilarious as he degrades himself (me) and uses his self-hatred as his muse for his art (also me). But it’s not easy for him. He’s constantly facing triggers as he meets with talent agent Tommy, who carelessly offers to buy him a drink at every rendezvous, or at comedy clubs where he performs in front of an audience that probably has a healthier relationship with alcohol than he does.

It’s a persistent fight, but he continues to give it his all throughout the entire play, which is so inspiring. He rebuilds his career through his podcast and even scores a late night talk show gig. As the play closes, however, he’s faced with the trigger of losing control over his material–thus, losing his ability to write his own bits in exchange for a career. The play ends with Frank debating his eventual relapse into alcoholism. And I love that. I love that it’s not easy for him, that it’s depicted as a goddamn hardship in his life because it allows the audience to feel sympathy for him. To understand his addiction and depression, and empathize with it.

I loved seeing that on stage. Real, raw, explicit.

On the opposite side of the spectrum sits Frank’s best friend, Donald. I think of Frank and Donald like Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World. If Frank/Cory is the main character with the main plot, Donald/Shawn is the comedic relief, the sidekick. Donald’s character has flawless comedic timing. He’s vulgar when he insults Lance, calling him a prick or motherfucker in almost every scene. He’s dramatic and angry, and it drives the play forward and gives it a kind of humor that’s different from what Frank gives. He’s relatable because he only wants basic things in life: a career that’s blossoming, some sex from Mara, and enough money to live on easy street (which he gets by opening for Lance’s comedy tour). He wants happiness, ultimately, and you know, for motherfucking Lance Banks to admit to stealing his jokes. Prick.

Speaking of Lance Banks, the failing, but extremely arrogant movie star. Despite having a really hard surface, even Lance has some amiable aspects, especially when it comes to Mara, his ex-girlfriend. When he’s with Mara, there seems to be a crack in his hardass shell from which rainbows and cupcakes seep out. Sure, there’s tension between the two, but he’s vulnerable with her. She knows him better than most people (except he would never talk about the damn accusations, stubborn man) and she can make him open up, if even for a moment. In those sincere instances, the audience has a chance to sympathize with him.

Lance’s agent, Tommy, even has some underlying issues the play touches on briefly. While he’s extremely outgoing when talking with potential/established clients, and especially when talking about his job and what he does, there’s a sliver of anxiety that shows through sometimes. He can be easily intimidated by anger, but he ultimately regains the upper hand by remembering that it’s his job to make his clients successful. Without him, they’re nothing. Toward the end of the play, the audience also learns that despite having a seemingly glamorous occupation, Tommy does struggle financially.

Personally, my favorite character was Mara. This is coming from somebody who stans (see Stan by Eminem) the absolute fuck out of Zachary Levi’s ass and worships the ground he walks on. Mara is a hardworking woman who loves sex and loves comedy, but hates love, stating blatantly that she’s committed to comedy. She embodies feminism in such a beautiful way. She is confident about her talent and has learned how to be tough in order to get where she is as a female comedian, to be taken seriously in a profession made up of mostly men. I’m unsure if it’s Bernstine’s portrayal of her, or the character herself that’s so charismatic and endearing. Mara is a character that helps normalize independent and successful women in today’s society. SO IMPORTANT.

This play is so much more than just a story about some washed up comedians. I cannot wait for it to move into a final presentation stage so I can see it again. I tend to obsess over shows I see, so this should be entertaining in the months to come.

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Walker Stalker Con: Atlanta 2016

This post is in no way revised. I simply wrote my experience and I don’t plan on proofreading this. Enjoy ❤

One of my absolute favorite television programs is AMC’s The Walking Dead. I’ve been a fan of the show since 2011 and if you’ve never seen it or have no idea what it’s about, I advise you to get your butt on Netflix right now and just give season one a try. Trust me, you’ll be happy that you did.

This isn’t a review of The Walking Dead, though, so I’ll keep my opinions on the horrific season seven premiere to myself.

About four years ago, a group of TWD fans got together, talked with AMC, and started a Kickstarter in order to put on the very first Walker Stalker Convention (WSC). In short, it’s a convention much like Comic Con, but for all things Walking Dead. The founders have coined it a convention that’s “for fans, by fans.” Just like Comic Con, you can find artists, vendors, panels, photo ops, autograph booths, and even cosplayers at WSC. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime to meet your favorite cast members, make new friends, and nerd out on all the zombie apocalypse universes from The Walking Dead comics to Zombieland.

I have personally been to four Walker Stalker Cons now, and each one continuously gets better. However this past weekend, I went for the big one in the heart of where the show takes place: Atlanta, Georgia.

My sister Nikki and I have dreamed for years of making the trip down south for the biggest WSC. Atlanta is the only city that some of the cast members including Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, and Melissa McBride (just to name a few) will go to. The convention spans from Friday to Sunday, with the last day being the very busiest day. Nikki and I drove into Atlanta on Thursday morning and attended the con for all three days with VIP passes.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28

Nothing much happened on Friday. The vendors and artists are setting up their booths. The panels are small and usually not interesting enough to attend. If there are any cast members present, they are minor characters because the major ones are still filming for the show. In fact, my sister and I went simply to get a feel of the floor.  We physically mapped out where the panel stages were, where photo ops would be, which vendors we’d like to go back to the following day, and most importantly, where the food stands were set up. Nikki and I had the option of moving two of our photo ops to Friday, but we decided against it.

Instead, we headed into Senoia, Georgia, which is where season 3’s Woodbury was filmed. Right beside the town of “Woodbury” is Alexandria (another filming location for the show). And cops were everywhere. We later learned while enjoying dinner in the Woodbury Coffee House that they were filming within the walls of Alexandria. So, we were sorta present for filming. In a Can’t See Anything, Can’t Hear Anything, Just Know It’s Happening kind of way. But it was still so magical.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29

Day 2 was a much busier day. Nikki and I got to the convention by 7:30 am in order to get in line for Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s “It’s Negan!” panel at 10:45 am. I actually had to miss most of the panel for Emily Kinney (Beth Greene) photo ops at 11:25 am (WHICH I WAS EXTREMELY LATE FOR).

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Because I was late to photo ops, I was slipped into the general admission line and given exactly 27.4 seconds to ready myself before the picture. Photo ops are quick because the actors are always on a tight schedule. But…the actors are always accommodating for that, too. While the Celeb Photo Ops team tells you not to waste time, all of the actors will thank each and every person for coming. They’ll make small talk despite their schedules being strict.

So, I walked in breathless after speed-walking 3 miles from the main panel stage to the photo ops area, greeted Emily with a smile and a ‘how are ya’, got my photo taken, and left. It’s that quick, but it’s almost always so worth it.

Just two awkward white girls tryna look nice #wscatlanta

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After meeting back up with Nikki, we went to our Austin Amelio (Dwight) photo op, and then got right back in line for our Jeffrey Dean Morgan photo op. And again, even though the photos are quick, JDM still made conversation. He commented on my sister’s bag and thanked both of us.

TAKIN IT LIKE A CHAMP 😅😅😅 #wscatlanta

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Then we could breathe. Because of the tight schedules, some of our photo ops overlapped, like JDM’s and Austin’s. The volunteers and the team at Celeb Photo Ops are so conscious of this happening that they will make it work for you no matter what. I was actually signed up to volunteer for the Philadelphia con in 2015, so I know that the volunteers’ #1 goal is to make everyone at the convention happy. That is literally Rule #1.

With our spare time between photo ops, my sister and I hopped into Emily Kinney’s autograph line for my friend’s birthday present. Emily is always so sweet when I meet her. She kindly signed my friend’s Bethyl (Beth and Daryl) photo and personalized it to them with a birthday message.

Oh deer!!

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Again, we parted ways as I headed for Denis O’Hare’s (American Horror Story) autograph line and she headed toward photo ops for our Danai Gurira (Michonne) picture.

Denis was very very sweet. I got to talk to him for a little bit before taking a selfie with him. I used Snapchat to take the picture, and he noticed it, so I was like, “Wanna use a filter?” to which he replied, “Oh, no. I’ve had enough dog filters today!”

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As I was in line for Denis, Nikki let me know that they lined us up for Danai’s photo op, so I hurried my short legs to the photo op lines again. Meeting Danai Gurira was so wonderful. She’s so beautiful in person, and so so so sweet. She greeted both my sister and me with a wide smile, making the entire 15 second experience so personal. There’s something about her demeanor that made my nervousness over meeting her melt away. It was on my walk toward Jeffrey’s autograph line that I realized most of the cast members made me feel that way. Comfortable and at ease with them.

#wscatlanta

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My sister and I got into Jeffrey’s line at 4 pm on the dot. We didn’t leave the convention until 8 pm. Even with VIP tickets, which gets us ahead of the general admission line, we had a 4 hour wait. The convention ended at 7 (so all lines were cut off), and Jeffrey stayed until 10 pm signing for his fans. Just like during our picture, he was as genial as ever. He smiled brightly at each and every fan, signed their things, answered questions, thanked them, and finally hugged them. Every single one. Even across the table, his hugs were warm and enveloping, like a sweater. A cozy snuggle to end a perfect day.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30

Sunday, the convention’s final day, started with Nikki and me carrying very heavy groceries for at least 3 miles from our car all the way to Michael Cudlitz’s (Abraham Ford) autograph line. Walker Stalker Con and Michael have been running an ongoing food drive called the Bisquick Challenge, in lieu of one of Abraham’s now-famous lines from the show. While most people bring boxes of Bisquick, my sister and I bought 50 dollar’s worth of non-perishable food. And since Michael was up bright and early, and already signing autographs, we hopped into his line.

Right when it was our turn to talk with him and get a selfie, Scott Wilson (Hershel Greene) slipped into his booth and stole him from us for a good five or so minutes. We didn’t mind at all. We had time before our first photo op, and it was honestly kind of cool to stand there listening to their conversation. Once Scott decided to leave him be, Michael came back to us with an apology and hugs, and during out selfies, he asked Scott to photobomb us. Buy one, get one free. I’ve never met such a loving and giving cast before.

I LOVE DADDY AND GRAMPS #wscatlanta

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After Cudlitz, we went into Christian Serratos’s (Rosita Espinosa) line. As we waited, I told my sister that I planned on asking Christian what lipstick she was wearing during the Talking Dead the week before because it was such a gorgeous color and texture. The moment I greeted her, she gasped and asked me what lipstick I was wearing. I thought it was hilarious because then we gushed over makeup for a few seconds as she signed her portrait. She was wearing Kylie Jenner’s lip kit, and I’m not sure of the shade, but I’m guessing it was Kourt K. And I was wearing Katy Perry’s Katy Kat Matte, shade Cosmo Kitty. I received many compliments on it, actually, and I think it was because my lips were stained with her shade Cat Call from the day before, so the mixture made a very vibrant purple. A vendor actually commented saying it looked different from how it looked on herself. I’m not a beauty guru, though.

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Nikki and I planned to go to Josh McDermitt’s (Eugene Porter) line, but he’d just left to go to a photo op, so instead, we got some food before heading to the most important photo op of the entire trip: Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) and Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes).

I’d met Norman three times prior to that day, so I had a plan to head straight for Andy. Nikki and I decided on our line up weeks in advance, so upon entering the photo op booth, we went directly to our places.

I don’t get starstruck often. The last time I remember being completely starstruck was meeting Norman Reedus the first time. But seeing Rick Grimes in the flesh with only a few inches between us really hit me hard. I felt like a babbling idiot as I said my hellos to each of them and placed myself on Andy’s left. And then he did it. He did the thing I didn’t want him to do. He said something other than hello to me. He commented on my lipstick.

“Nice lipstiiiiick.” A drawn out vowel in a soft English murmur. I was all smiles, a cheese fest as I thanked him and the flash blinded us. The four of us exchanged our words of gratitude and as I left, Norman held out a hand for me to shake. Our eyes met, he thanked me and called me sweetheart, I looked around for the cameras because I was sure this entire moment was straight out of a movie.

#wscatlanta

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Immediately after Norman and Andy, we had Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene) and Tom Payne (Jesus) photo ops. Between those and our last three, we met Camille and Kennerly Kitt, YouTube musicians, and Katelyn Nacon (Enid). Our final photo ops were with Melissa McBride (Carol Peletier), JDM (but my sister went alone for that one), and Josh McDermitt.

#wscatlanta

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Our lord and savior, Jesus. #wscatlanta

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😍💕🎵🎶🎵💕😍 #wscatlanta

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😍😍😍 #wscatlanta

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I CANT BELIEVE HOW BEAUTIFUL SHE IS IN PERSON #wscatlanta

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And that's a wrap! Thanks @joshmcdermitt and #wscatlanta 💕

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During the con, I learned that Andrew Lincoln will only do Atlanta’s con, and will only do it for one day because all of the money he makes off of it goes to charity. So the percentage he makes off of his photo ops, and autographs, and entry to his panel goes completely toward his charity. Which I think is really admirable.

The convention was so worth all the money we spent on it. It was worth the 13 hour drive from New Jersey. It was worth the blisters and heel pain. It was worth the time spent waiting in lines. It was worth everything. I never have a bad experience meeting the Walking Dead cast members because they are all so genuine and kindhearted. I will never stop going to these conventions as long as they’re still happening.

Change Is Good.

If you Google the definition for evolution, you’re given two different denotations. The first explains how organisms evolve or change over a vast period of time; and the second takes a more broad approach, explaining instead the development of a single being within no time limits.

ev·o·lu·tion
evəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/
noun
1. the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.
2. the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
When a dedicated fan asked why she chose the word evolution for her second album’s title, Sabrina Carpenter tweeted a simple reason in response:

While she is obviously writing about how life changes and her personal evolution here, it’s evident that her music style has its own evolution as well. With the release of two singles from her new record, it’s clear that Carpenter is experimenting musically and lyrically.

Sabrina’s first album Eyes Wide Open, which she released through Hollywood Records when she was 15 years old in April 2015 had an acoustic pop vibe to it. Many of her songs felt unplugged as they were created using only non-electric instruments including the guitar, ukulele, and piano. She drew from two major singer/songwriters and producers, Meghan Trainor and Chris Gelbuda, for this album, both of which are well-known pop and country enthusiasts. Trainor herself plays ukulele and co-wrote two songs on Eyes Wide Open.

As many artists who are just getting their toes in the sands of the music industry, Carpenter’s first album was almost completely written for her, with only a handful of songs actually co-written by the singer herself (four out of twelve, to be exact).

EVOLution, however, has a completely different sound so far.

Sabrina’s first single “On Purpose preserves the singer’s previous style as it opens with a strong piano instrumental through the first verse. As the song crescendos into the bridge, a vocal effect is added, giving the song an echo-y and rounded sound that’s best listened to through headphones. With the chorus comes a fabricated symphony composed of a few synthesizers acting as strings, drums, and percussion instruments. The song continues down an electronic path away from Eyes Wide Open and into the mind of an evolved 17 year old Carpenter.

“All We Have Is Love” which is the second single from EVOLution, mimics the first one as it uses strictly electronic instruments and a pulsating beat that’s hard not to dance to. There’s a layered effect to her vocals that gives the song volume and an overall techno energy. This song could easily be heard on the radio between Nick Jonas’s “Close” and Demi Lovato’s “Confident”.

Along with her sound development, Sabrina Carpenter was more involved with this album, having written and co-written more than half of the record.

Like most artists, Sabrina is using her medium to tell her story, show her growth and maturity, and evolve into the singer she ultimately wants to be. Because with life comes change for everyone and change is good.

EVOLution is set to release on October 14 along with the addition of two more singles out on September 30 and October 7. You can pre-order her album on iTunes and through her website! Be sure to check out Sabrina on tour this fall!