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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Tidings and a Fun New Website

It's getting close to Christmas (and Hanukkah!) and for the past two Christmases I've written something for MFT to celebrate the year. In 2009, I shared a quote from It's a Wonderful Life and in 2010 I posted the closing scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

This year, I'm going to do something a bit different and let you know about a cool website that has just launched. As you all know, I love Glee and the actors involved with the show. Dianna Agron, who plays Quinn on the series, and some of her friends started a project called You, Me & Charlie.

You, Me & Charlie could be described as an online literary magazine that developed from Dianna's wonderful imagination. It consists of artwork, photos, videos, and writing intended to make a difference and bring the community together. Some of the posts are emotional, others light, yet they are all intended to inspire us.

To quote the lovely Dianna:
All of you lovely, magick, wonders of this world, the ones that correspond with me in such unbelievable ways…this is for you. Without the arts I would not wake up each morning with the joie de vivre that encompasses my entire being. I would feel flat as a pancake. Because of the work I do, I get to hear some of the most moving stories, moments of your life…things I am grateful to hear from you, share with you. It blows my mind, each and every time. To know that the show I’m on helps so many people get through hard moments in their life? To hear that people like seeing what I’m going to post and often discover new artists? I never could have dreamed how lucky I would be, as I am, today. I want you to join me now. Let’s share this space as an art collective. There’s enough negativity in this world to smother all of us into a state of infinite sadness. Why not counter that? That’s what this site is for. I hope it just does that.

Thank you all for your constant love and support. Thank you for embracing the moments where you can simply LET LOVE IN and BE LOVE. (x)
The arts have helped me, too. (x)

I love that a website like You, Me & Charlie has a place on the Internet and in our culture, and that people like Dianna, Chelsea and everyone involved with Charlie live out its message each day. I've enjoyed setting aside a few minutes each day (sometimes more!) to take a break from our crazy world and reflect on what really matters.

I hope you enjoy the site as much as I have and that you enjoy the last weeks of 2011 in whatever way you choose. Though I'm not an actress in the public sphere, I too have been able to know some amazing, creative people and I thank all of you for your friendship.

Yours always,
Sarah

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

First Times, On Glee and Beyond

As I’m sure many of you know by now, last night featured a Very Special Episode of Glee. Yes, every Glee episode is Very Special, but this one in particular centered around the stories on four characters, three of them virgins, considering the decision to be intimate with their partners for “The First Time.” As the show tends to do, it got me thinking about my own identity and values, and so I'm back again with another blog entry.

The show has addressed sex previously, most notably in the first season’s “The Power of Madonna” and the second season’s “Sexy”, and more generally, the role exploration and experimentation play in growing up (“Blame it on the Alcohol”). Of all of these, “The First Time” was the most emotional and presented a viewpoint on an adult issue the most effectively.

In writing about this show, I’ve always connected it back to my own experiences - namely, as someone in my twenties, far enough removed from my high school experiences to reflect on them objectively but close enough to remember how I felt going through them. In watching “Blame It on the Alcohol” for example, my view of the episode was shaped by my own views of and experiences with alcohol consumption. In the case of this episode, I’ll just say there are other things I didn't experience while in high school and maybe still haven’t. But that’s not my point. How I have grown up is in my evolving ability to accept myself and make choices based on what I think will impress others.

Returning to the episode, its premise revolved around the school’s upcoming production of West Side Story with director and self-perceived relationship expert Artie suggesting that perhaps Rachel and Blaine should consider exploring their sexuality in order to more effectively convey the yearnings of Maria and Tony. I find this idea a little disturbing, if only considering that I first saw the 1961 film version of West Side Story when I was four. More seriously, Glee continues to present this problematic idea that we need to experience rites of passage with sex, drugs, and rock and roll in order to become credible artists and, worse still, well-rounded individuals. This message is nothing new in the media but definitely worth pointing out whenever possible. I’ve told you a bit about my experiences, and I know they’ve shaped my voice as a writer and a person. I’m sure you’ve picked up on that. I also know that if my life experiences do change, my writing will likely evolve too. That said, just because my life doesn’t always resemble a story from Catcher in the Rye, for example, doesn’t mean I don't have stories worth telling. I relate to Holden Caulfield, and Rachel Berry, and many other characters in complex ways.

I’m also a little bothered by the fact that basically all of the major (student) characters on the show have lost their virginities now. Though I didn’t have a lot of friends to speak with about these issues with in high school, I don’t buy the notion that all everyone has their first time before graduating high school or college or any time after that. As I've gotten to know the people in my life, I have some ideas of what types of experiences they've had, some of which I'd actually prefer not to know about. Because if those people are truly worth having in my life, those experiences won't take anything away from their relationships with me.

These feelings expressed, the show made a decision, and I understand and respect that choice. Moreover, given the creative choice made, I think “The First Time” handled that very topic well. In the end, Rachel and Finn and Kurt and Blaine made decisions about what felt right for them as individuals and as couples, even if they came to those revelations conveniently in the last minutes of the episode, and in parallel with Rachel’s and Blaine’s moving rendition of “One Hand, One Heart.” Notably, I interpreted Rachel and Blaine as having performed the song before their real life moments of intimacy - they ultimately drew on their experiences with their loved ones - not the experiences society expected them to have - as inspiration for their art. And while the final shots basically implied that both couples had sex, we honestly don’t know for sure, which ties back well to my earlier comments about how what actually happened actually shouldn't matter to the audience. I’m happy to read that several critics and fans were pleased with this depiction as well. Best of all, I came away the episode feeling comfortable with the choices I’ve made over these years, even if they haven’t necessarily unfolded the way they did in the story.

I’m not quite sure what the long term implications of this episode will be. I’ve considered ending my run with the series here, with my own conclusions about what has happened and will happen in the future. Yet it’s exactly episodes like these that remind me of why I keep coming back every week - I wouldn’t want to miss out on another experience like this one. As for my own life, I guess I can say the same.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Maybe Glee really does need saving.


Will you learn from your mistakes? 
When I last wrote about Glee, I wished my beloved characters well in their senior year and expressed my overall hopes for them this season - to continue developing the heartwarming bonds they’ve forged over the past two years and leave William McKinley High School having learned more about each other, and more importantly, themselves, than they ever could have imagined.

Three episodes into the third season, this vision is still attainable, yet at the same time, I feel many aspects of the show that have spoken to me in the past have fallen away. It is what it is, and perhaps the bittersweet truth is I've already moved on from these characters. Still, it seems that many fans and critics also wonder where a world that resonated so personally with them went wrong.

Over the summer the writing and marketing team behind Glee framed this season as "Back to Basics." This choice is an interesting one because it suggests acknowledgment that the show veered off track at some point between the Pilot and second season finale, "New York." If you are a devoted Glee fan as I am, you are likely very familiar with every major criticism the show has endured - and are probably tired of hearing of them - so I'm not going to repeat them too deeply. Honestly, I think that's half the problem. As I wrote in my previous post, I feel I've just moved on from Glee - even though I still watch weekly and share thoughts about the show frequently - and that's a loss in and of itself. Still, I can't do anything other than stick with the show through this season, and it may seem contradictory for me to be writing about the show when I made that conscious note that I wouldn't do so until the end of season three. Yet I feel the show is lost, and it's important to express that perception in order to keep this blog (somewhat) grounded and relatable.

Today, it was announced that Glee may be bringing back prior cast member Chord Overstreet and his character, Sam Evans. Sam was written as having moved out of the state after his father, who had been out of work found a job in another state. While Chord and the show's producers failed to negotiate over contract issues this past summer, the story of Sam moving actually worked quite well. Chord made the most of his season on Glee and seemed to connect with the rest of the cast, but Sam Evans brought up a lot of the storylines that were the very ones that didn't work - dating Quinn, dating Santana, emulating Justin Bieber. So while I felt badly about how Chord's departure from Glee unfolded over the summer, I wasn't too bummed to see his character leave McKinley.

My concern is that bringing Sam back to Glee will disrupt the remainder of the final season we have left with the original characters - in a sense, forcing me to say goodbye to them earlier than planned. His return to the show could work, but I think it's an ambitious undertaking on the writers' part when they already have enough material to fine-tune. I know I'm going to have to readjust my expectations as a viewer for the rest of the season.

As I was discussing with fellow Glee fans today, I’m sure we’ll still get our feel-good graduation songs and scenes in this year's finale. But will the journey there be primarily frustrating or enjoyable? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Watching the Wheels: Where I Still Am

Songs will always be interpreted differently by each listener. Sometimes, one particular interpretation will develop within culture that actually quite different than the one the artist intended. Yet art is intrinsically subjective, and the emotions we first feel when listening to a song, watching a film, reading a book, or looking at a painting will probably shape our perception of that work for years to come.

I say this because of my love of all arts, especially those that inspire me. Sometimes creative works serve primarily as a fun break from the responsibilities of our everyday lives, but the best ones do more - they draw upon those life experiences and resonate with us for that very reason - these works are the ones I strive to make, if only to help one person better express what he or she is feeling.

A song particularly striking a chord with me at the moment is John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels." My understanding of the one time Beatle and his career and life as a solo artist are fairly general, yet I can sense that he was probably a troubled man - one whose feelings we never had the opportunity to fully comprehend, unfortunately. Because if there's an image that resonates with me, it is certainly the idea of feeling stuck moving in circles doing the same things day after day. Even if Lennon wrote the song to express contentment in being where he had gotten, "Watching the Wheels" is equally moving to someone as myself looking for something more in my life.

This past summer I wrote how Yogi Berra once said to "know where you're going" in order to get there, and how knowing where we are at any given moment in our lives is essential to moving forward. Well, three months have passed since then, and I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round. I may very well be making progress in my life (or so I'm told), but that knowledge doesn't save me from crying myself to sleep sometimes.

What does help? Music, literature, film. So on days where I just have to let it go - I'll put on some music and do exactly that.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Guide to Glee: Senior Year

"If you wanted the sky..."
As many of you know, production of Glee's third season has begun this week. Amid all of the discussions over the class years of the McKinley students and how that will affect the series, the general consensus among the writers, cast and viewers seems to remain that Rachel, Finn, Kurt, Quinn, Santana, Brittany and Puck will be seniors this season, and we will know their class years for certain in the season premiere, which airs September 20th.

That said, I really want to enjoy this season. Therefore, I don't intend to blog about it as frequently as I did last year. For all of the frustrations I felt watching this past season, I thought the finale was great, brought sufficient closure to all of the characters' stories, and set up season three with amazing potential. I am hearing great things about this season, and am not interested in letting all of the speculations of what's going to happen when the characters graduate burden my enjoyment of the time I have left with them. I quote Brittany, "I get to spend another year with the people I love, so I'm good."

I think setting aside my character and plot analyses will also be better in the long run because it will give me three full years of development to critique. I've written some thoughts about Rachel, Finn and Quinn in particular, but the fact is, there's still so much left to their stories that could completely reform my interpretations of them now. I think it's safe to assume that the show has established a niche in pop culture that people will remember years after our beloved characters leave McKinley, and the members of New Directions will be relevant for years to come.

I have some hopes for what I'd like to see happen in season three, but ultimately I want to just enjoy watching, and maybe add some kickass music to my collection along the way. So, I bid you adieu for now, though I'll still be around the blogosphere to follow the season with you. Hopefully, come May 2012, we'll all be sobbing like crazy watching the original club sing "Time of Your Life." Until then.

P.S. If you do want to know what's coming up on Glee, follow the cast on Twitter. They post a lot of fun updates about whom they're filming with, dance rehearsals and studio sessions, and on-set photos. Looking great so far!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dinner Party Questions: #1

If you could borrow any person's iPod for a day, whose would you choose and what do you think would be on it?

It could be anyone, including people who lived in the pre-iPod era. I just think this is a fun topic to think about.

If I get enough answers, I'll put them into a master post!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Glee: Senior Year

gleesubs.tumblr.com
This summer has been filled with often contradictory information regarding the third and future seasons of Glee. In some ways, these discussions haven’t been that different from those of other television series. The goals for those working on a television show within the first couple of seasons are first, to be picked up, and second, establish a niche. Then, if the show is successful beyond that, those involved need to start planning out the third, fourth, and beyond seasons, keeping in mind the legacy they want to create.

When the series is set in a high school environment, an added condition exists – the four year time frame in which students attend the school. Further, because of the need to establish the show’s back-story of each character's place in their high school social sphere, most main characters are often around age 16, possibly sophomores or juniors, when the series debuts. This writing choice cuts this four year time frame down to three or even two years, and is the exact situation the Glee writers currently face in planning season three and beyond.

Within the context of most state’s laws that that children have to turn five by some date within the fall of the school year in order to begin kindergarten, students can be sixteen as early as the fall of their sophomore year until as late as the fall of their senior year – which is generally the case. Thus, there is some room for creative interpretation of character’s grades and ages initially. However, if writers want to establish a character as a junior in season two, for example, they may need to redirect attention toward that choice and downplay evidence that the character could have been interpreted as a junior in season one.

Glee characters Finn and Quinn, for example, could be interpreted as juniors in the show’s early episodes. They are sports captains, among the most popular kids in school - statuses often associated with upperclassmen. On the other hand, both characters also seem to be within the heart of high school experience, with the world outside of McKinley High still distant and ambiguous, so it’s possible that they are only sophomores. Further, having these characters their achievements so early on within their high school life could be viewed as a creative decision - have two characters ascend their high school social ladder with relative ease, only to have it collapse beneath them.

I don’t think the writers developed the initial storylines with a particular grade for Finn, Quinn, Rachel and the other students in mind – and that’s okay. As I described above, few television shows do so. While this summer has been filled with contrasting information about what grades the characters will be in during season three, I see some definite indicators of the characters’ class years.

Foremost, all of the students, with the exception of Sam, will be in the glee club this season. Therefore, if any of them could have possibly been juniors in season one, the writers have established that they were freshmen and sophomores then. Otherwise, they would have graduated at the end of one of the first two seasons. Why no upperclassmen were in the glee club in the first season is a gray area, but plausible given how unpopular the club was at its outset.

The other critical evidence lies in Finn’s comment to Rachel in last season’s finale, “Graduation’s a year away.” This comment, illustrated above, refers to Rachel’s ambivalence about reuniting with Finn given her interest in moving to New York after high school - an interest she is not sure Finn shares - and Finn’s reassurance that she has a year left in Lima before she has to make that decision. While it’s possible that Finn could have been describing Rachel’s graduation being a year away, rather than both of theirs, this seems unlikely. Their relationship is an archetypal one – the unpopular girl and the popular boy, and the idea of Rachel being older than Finn neither parallels that image nor has it been suggested on the show. Furthermore, if Finn was originally written as possibly a sophomore, possibly a junior in the first season, as explained above, it doesn't make sense that he would be a freshman in the first season. Therefore, it’s fair to conclude that Rachel and Finn will both be seniors this season, and most reports seem to support that.

In summary, despite some contrasting information about what is in store for Glee this season and beyond, the characters' grades have been established well enough for the writers to define them in the beginning of the season and proceed accordingly. As long as they do so, developing storylines with most characters’ impending graduations in mind, I'm optimistic that it will be a good year. After that? Maybe I’ll watch, maybe not. Either way, I don’t have any plans until then.

For those interested in further reading (especially for characters not addressed here), I recommend this article from showthemwhat.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Where I am now.

"If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." - Yogi Berra

This is one of those quotes I've never fully understood. Is it about the importance of setting goals and working toward them, or letting life take you for a ride because it's impossible to expect all of your plans to come true?

Whatever Mr. Berra meant by his words, they aren't always comforting to a 20-something trying to navigate adulthood, especially coming from one of the most successful Yankees - and people - of all time.

Still, I do find that I feel most in control of my life when I am reflecting upon how I have handled experiences in the past, how those choices and experiences have shaped the way I feel today, and how I can apply what I've learned to figure out, first, what experiences may make me happy in the future, and second, what I can do to make those things happen.

I started this blog two years ago. I can't believe how far it's come since then. Like the life which it reflects, Mug for Thought has been an exploration of interests, opinions and experiences. Also like my life, it's not quite where I want it to be yet. So, I'm doing all I can, thinking about what's worked, and what hasn't, and how I can apply that understanding to future decisions.

I finally published my About my Work page for the site today. The page, much like this post and MFT overall, is my best attempt at a summary of what I've accomplished so far professionally, personally, and creatively and some of my big picture goals for the future.

I don't know where I'm going, but I'm beginning to learn where I've come from, and where I am now, and for me, that's something.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why Glee?

http://glee-ography.tumblr.com
The television series Glee, more than any topic I've written about so far on MFT, has emerged as a major subject of my blog, from plot analyses to recommendations of other Glee bloggers to song suggestions for future episodes. Some of you may be reading this blog because of your interest in Glee, others despite your lack thereof. I appreciate all of you. Non-Gleeks, I'm definitely working on some other articles for you as well, and I hope you've been able to get something out of my articles even if you don't watch the show regularly. Still, you may wonder why I've immersed myself in this show so much, and as I have some further analyses of characters and scenes planned, I take a moment to reflect on how this show has come to influence my writing so much.

Foremost, I enjoy the show. I love the students. Even when it drives me crazy at times when it's clear these characters would not be considered unpopular in a real high school setting, or I want to tell the characters exactly how to resolve their relationship conflicts so I don't have to watch their melodrama any longer, I always come back each week, and that says something about the group. As Brittany says in this season's finale, “I know that all the kids in glee club - they fight and they steal each other’s boyfriends and girlfriends, and they threaten to quit, like, every other week, but…weird stuff like that happens in families. Family is a place where everyone loves you no matter what, and they accept you for who you are." Like Brittany, and I think all of the members of New Directions, I may pretend to be cool and indifferent at times, but I'm not fooling anyone - I'm sentimental at heart, and Glee brings out my true colors, in my writing and in life.

If I'm a true idealist, I feel my best writing is no different. In an era when popular media outlets from Gawker to Rolling Stone all seem to be brimming with snark, I've often felt self-conscious of my comparably wholesome outlook, and tried to emulate edgier writing styles. Yet it never seems to work, because it's not my voice. I can be cranky, believe me, but at the end of the day, I'm generally an easygoing optimist. I don't feel any need to knock people down for my own amusement, nor do I think enough of myself to think I could actually do so convincingly. Still, this disposition doesn't lend itself well to a lot of commentary on sex or politics - and that's where Glee comes in. The show is often far from wholesome, with major storylines involving deceit, blackmail and infidelity, and almost every character capable of a snide remark. Yet it's the show's ability to balance acknowledgement of these real faults of humanity with wit, heart and messages of being true to oneself that makes it successful (most of the time), and also the perfect topic for me to write about.

I first wrote about Glee over a year ago, right before the second half of the first season (often referred to as the "Back Nine") aired. I had been blogging for about eight months at the time, and this was the first time I felt my blog begin to click, so I continued to write about the show. Often I felt my articles were less than meaningful, but I kept at it, building off of prior writings and rewrites. Now, I feel I have a foundation of work to draw upon when I write, especially related to the series.

I aspire to write about subjects more important than Glee, or at least improve my ability to analyze the social issues Glee addresses, namely adolescence, relationships, and social and gender roles. After all, Glee's role as a springboard for these discussions is another reason I enjoy the show. Additionally, I want to explore other works in popular culture and develop my thoughts on them. While I strive to make this blog more well-rounded, I'm not ready to close the books on Glee just yet. After all, graduation's a year away.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Final Words for New Directions Before They Own Nationals

I know I said I wasn't going to write another Glee analysis until after the end of this season, but my favorite characters are headed to Nationals in New York this week, and I think that warrants some reflection.

When I last checked in with the kids of McKinley High, it was right before this final stretch of episodes leading up to their big night. Since then, Kurt has returned to New Directions (thank goodness!), life has gone on after prom night, and Finn and Rachel have remained unable to shake their feelings for one another.

Tuesday is the Season Finale, Nationals in New York City - everything the club has been working toward since Day One. The promos look great. Whatever happens, I'm excited to see it.

The best Glee episodes are the ones in which everything aligns perfectly and further words are neither necessary nor capture the magic of the show. Let's hope for that.

I'd like to wish the dearest New Directions well before they take on the Big Apple. Break a leg, own the night and light up the world!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Before we return to our regularly scheduled programming...

I would like to share some final thoughts on how Glee's second season has unfolded, as we anticipate what the kids from New Directions will take away from this school year and what we will conclude as an audience.

The team behind Glee has a knack for taking its viewers along on an emotional roller coaster. I don't think anyone quite knew what to expect after the show moved past its groundbreaking first season, and I'm not sure the cast and crew did either. A lot of the initial storylines seemed to dissolve - Finn's and Rachel's relationship, Quinn's dating Sam and becoming Cheerio captain once more - and new ones emerged - Kurt's transfer to Dalton, Santana's realization of her feelings for Brittany - and we were left wondering where the plot would go next.

When we last saw our Gleeks, Rachel learned that original couple Finn and Quinn had reunited, channeled her angst into the heart-wrenching "Get It Right" and opened up to her teammates more than she ever had before. The club worked together to express their own frustrations through the empowerment anthem "Loser Like Me", win their first regionals title, and share a bonding moment with Rachel, their chosen MVP. "Original Song" was the strongest episode of the season and the strongest of the series since last year's finale. It was the first time this season I felt that everything I'd been watching this past year might be able to come together. "Original Song" was an emotional payoff for all of the energy I'd invested into the show over the year, and it gave me hope for the show's future.

Tonight the final series of new episodes this season resume. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Glee team members integrate the stories they've established this season. I know I've been critical of their choices in the past, but I'm going to try and just enjoy the ride they've created for me. Reflection and analysis can wait until summer break.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Further Thoughts on my Relationships with Writing, Writers and the Internet.

Rachel pours her heart into her blog, but not with the outcome she'd hoped for.
Earlier this month I wrote a post entitled "I Know Now that There's Nothing Here for Me Anymore." It was difficult to write, involving some revelation of emotions I've been grappling with. Like all of my posts, I wrote it to clear my mind and develop my sense of self and beliefs, yet also with the hopes that *perhaps* it would lead to some renown, with the article going viral and everyone identifying with it. Hence, even though the post was about my assertion that I don't need to win anyone over, I still hope to do so, and here I am, sharing my vulnerabilities with the Internet once more.

First, I clarify that I have never received hate mail or comments in response to my work. I say this particularly because those of you familiar with this photo of Rachel Berry know it is from the Glee pilot scene in which she reads hateful comments Quinn and Santana have posted on her MySpace page. In posting the photo, I have no intention of implying I have been cyber-bullied, nor of diminishing the pain of those who have been. I chose the photo because I do relate to how it feels to want and dream and feel there is no social outlet in which to release those emotions.

Second, I have received support for my work from people I've met on- and offline. One of the closest friends I've made online reached out and told me she liked "Nothing Here for Me" and its ending. I am so appreciative of her and everyone who has reached out and taken an interest in what I have to say.

Still, it's hard not to feel like I'm in countless others' shadows, including the writer I refer to in "Nothing Here for Me." She receives messages about her brilliance and how she articulates what others are feeling perfectly. It seems anyone who has a credible interpretation of a movie or television show shares it with this girl for her thoughts. And rightfully so, hell I've written much of her fanmail. It's just - am I shallow for wanting that for myself? For hoping that people would relate to me and my deepest longings and wishes and that maybe they'll tell me that, even though I would never wish my anxieties for anyone?

I probably will always feel insecure of myself and my thoughts and opinions, yet I'm developing a new mindset. Rather than submitting my ideas to someone to see if he or she agrees with them, as if that were a form of validation, I'm going to just write them down. If I'm not as smart as any pop culture critic or social commentator, I'm certainly just as dedicated. My analyses or opinions may pale in comparison to others out there, but at least they're mine, and no one can take that from me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Glee Ideas, Volume Two

Last summer I wrote a list of songs and storylines I would be interested to watch on Glee. Some of these ideas actually took place, or are likely to occur in future episodes, which has been fun to watch. I have wanted to write a follow-up list of what I'd like to see next for some time now, a further development of the original list. After many musings I have come up these choices.

“If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It” from The Producers, by Brittany. I want to see Brittany perform a solo outside of dance club fare. Heather Morris has a knack for comedy that’s not being showcased in the solos she has received. I think this song would spotlight that humor and is a good fit for Heather's voice and Brittany's character. I’d like to see characters besides Rachel and Kurt, and to some extent Mercedes and Tina, discover a love for Broadway, and this is one suggestion.

Group/Competition Worthy Performances:

"I've Seen All Good People/Your Move" - A great classic rock song, and a mash-up to boot. The subtext of the song describes a chess game as a metaphor for life, which is a good message for high school students to learn. Don't surround yourself with yourself.

“Pressure” - Again, isn’t this something everyone identifies with, especially in high school? Performing this at a competition would provide an added subtext of the pressure of the competition itself.

“The Stranger” - Once more, this song is the show, and high school, and life: the roles people assume to survive. The line “I used to believe I was such a great romancer, then I came home to a woman that I could not recognize” is Finn’s story. He broke up with Rachel and reunited with Quinn for all the wrong reasons, without really thinking about these decisions, which is something he needs to do. Perhaps singing this song would help him realize that.

Which leads me to:

“Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry/Get Away” by Finn and Rachel. The lyrics address their on-again, off-again history, a history that needs to be addressed for a successful reunion, quite well. I'd love for this song to bring these two back together. Also, it's another mash-up.

Group - Moving On/Graduating:

The Glee writers have confirmed that original cast members' graduations will begin at the end of next season, and I would love to for them to bid us adieu with these songs:

“On My Way” - I mentioned this song in my previous suggestions post. Tina, Santana and Kurt would own solos within a group performance here.

“Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” - This would be a great song for the Glee club to sing to Rachel to show their appreciation for all she has done for them over the past few years. The lyrics remind me of Rachel:

“And while she looked so sad in photographs
I absolutely love her
When she smiles”

Don't we all?

Finally, just for fun:

“Relax (Don’t Do It)” - I got this idea after seeing the T-shirts the group will wear when they sing "Born this Way." An 80’s history lesson, for those who may need it: A “Relax” series of shirts similar to the “Born this Way” ones (white with black writing) became popular when the song did. Also, "Relax" is just a great song that would make for an awesome group performance. Besides, New Directions invented the piano key necktie.

I also want a school assembly performance that’s not presented as a joke. I love this recurring gag but I also want the school to see how great New Directions really is - to see what we see as the audience. “Relax” could work here.

These are my suggestions for now. The final stretch of season 2 episodes is about to begin, and I look forward to seeing what happens next. I always love discussing song and plot suggestions, so feel free to share your thoughts!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

As this performance never makes me less than completely giddy -

I share it with you here.



Enjoy the empowerment, everyone!

"I know now that there’s nothing here for me anymore."

"Now I’m free to pursue my dreams without anything holding me back." - Rachel Berry, Glee ("Silly Love Songs", 2.12)

Whether this quote holds true for Rachel and Finn in the long term has yet to be determined. I have a lot of criticisms regarding the creative decisions made regarding Finn's and Rachel's relationship on Glee, as well as how audiences have responded to the couple and said decisions. Yet, the fact remains, whether I'm happy about it or not, Rachel and Finn are not together right now, and while I'd love for them to reunite by the end of the season, they still have a lot of issues to work through.

I bring up the Rachel and Finn storyline, because I have come to realize my need to distance myself from some of the bloggers I've interacted with, specifically those who discuss Glee and pop culture more broadly.

The fact that neither social media platform Twitter nor Tumblr require reciprocal relationships (followings rather than friendships) has led to a lot of angst in situations where I've followed people who indeed do not follow me back for various reasons. I clearly don't expect my favorite entertainers to follow me back, yet when some individual bloggers around my own age have not followed back, I've shed a lot of unnecessary tears over those whom I may never even meet. To be fair, I do not always reciprocate followings, so I understand the reasoning behind selecting whom one follows online. If anyone has been hurt as a result, I apologize and invite them to reach out to me. At the same time, I have no impressions of myself as anyone more than a 24-year old using writing and social media as tools for self-discovery - I certainly don't expect anyone to follow my work unless they'd like to.

Nonetheless, there are a few bloggers in particular whom I admire and have wished would follow me back - I won't name anyone. I chose to stop following some of these bloggers because they were having discussions with one another right in front of me, and I felt excluded. Others I still follow because they are good writers from whom I can learn as I aspire to improve my own work. Yet in order to continue following them without adversely affecting my sense of self, I need to be realistic about our relationships, if they can even be called such.

I have specifically written to one writer on multiple occassions, trying to build common ground until I recently developed the courage to swallow my pride and ask her to follow me back. I explained that I had made an effort not to put her on the spot, that having her read my work would mean a lot to me, and that I thought she'd genuinely like what I had to say. I got a decline - a polite, understandable one - that she doesn't follow others back in the interests of time. Yet, a decline nonetheless.

I refer back to the "Firework" scene in Glee: Rachel is hurt, yet she has the answer she needs (again, at least for this particular moment), to move on. She can stop second-guessing herself. Likewise, I thank the blogger in question for giving me the strength I need move forward, even when it hurts the most.

I relate to Rachel Berry because she grapples with a lot of the insecurities and loneliness I have experienced. I believe in the validity of wanting to win over someone who has either rejected you in the past, or in my case, simply has no logical reason to take an interest in me. The movie Mean Girls, and, to some extent, Glee, are built upon this premise - this longing to fit in. Even the Seinfeld characters make reference to the notion that someone who doesn’t like you is someone to whom you wish to prove yourself. At the same time, I acknowledge that, in these fictional works as in life, efforts to do so are typically unproductive. Why should I care so much about those who aren't interested in getting to know me? Especially in knowing that I do have support in my family, friends, and coworkers - and bloggers as well. To all of you, I have sincere gratitude. The rejection I recently experienced hurt me, but now I focus on those who accept me for who I am.

Last week I revealed my most recent favorite quote: "Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down." I've come to learn that no one is responsible for my happiness except me - if I want to be happy, I need to make that happen. Therefore, while I don't expect anyone to go out of their way to reach out to me, it means the world to me when they do - and doesn't go unnoticed. I thank you.

A final note to this blogger in question, I wish you all the best. 'Cause I know one day you'll be screaming my name - and I'll just look away.

That's right.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

“Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out...

...but to see who cares enough to break them down."

I've seen this quote attributed to a variety of individuals. I'm not sure who said it, yet I know for certain and from experience that it's true.

Here's to everyone who's ever broken down a wall, especially those who've reached through to me. I can only hope I'm doing the same.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Mash-Up of All Mash-Ups: 5 Seconds of Every #1 Song Ever

BuzzFeed: 5 Seconds Of Every #1 Song Ever (Through 1992)

This is one of the greatest music compilations I have ever heard. Can it please be released as an album now?

I recommend setting aside an hour of your time to listen to this masterpiece. It's worth it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

These Just In! Glee Original Songs

I've been critical of Glee as of late, yet as soon as I learned the cast would be performing original songs in this year's Regionals episode, I decided to put my faith in the songs' abilities to make me believe in the series again. As I read articles about how the songs would be grounded in the show, such as this Entertainment Weekly article, I got more and more excited that the music would end up in the league of Glee classics like "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Somebody to Love."

The songs premiered this morning, and my initial verdict is, they did not disappoint! Without further ado:





I can't wait to see New Directions perform these songs at their Regionals competition in the Glee episode airing Tuesday, March 15th!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blame It On My Insecurities.

I need to say something about last night's Glee episode, as it addressed a social issue I'm quite passionate about: the glorification of excessive alcohol consumption in our culture, particularly its depiction as a rite of passage for teenagers.

I think that everyone is going to view this episode differently based on their views of adolescent drinking, binge drinking, and alcohol in general. I personally have a lot of opinions on both sides of this debate, but for now, I'm going to stick with my reactions to the way the episode presented the issue.

I didn't drink in high school, and it was something I was really insecure about then. I’m 24 now, and I still don’t drink very heavily. I’ve come to feel comfortable with my choices and respect that others may approach alcohol differently as they grow up (and as adults), but my insecurities still exist. Thus, seeing the Glee club and teachers, ahem, experimenting with alcohol, as entertaining as it was, brought out a lot of those feelings within me that I’m less of a person, or haven’t lived because I don’t drink heavily, and I’m not happy about that. Even though the episode showed the consequences of excessive drinking in a refreshing way, this is a show that supposedly speaks to viewers who have felt outcast within the high school experience and the world-at-large, and I can't deny that it made me feel insecure this week. I realize this is just a television show, yet I’m still really relieved to be watching it in my twenties, post-college rather than in high school or college.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This Performance Made Me Really Happy Tonight.

"Firework" - Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), as featured in "Silly Love Songs," Glee.

video

(Video courtesy of Alanna Yao.)

That's all for now. Rachel Berry, thank you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl Commercial Round-Up: My Top Three



What's Mug for Thought without a Glee update in some form? The show was a major theme of this year's Super Bowl, from Lea Michele opening the event with her stellar rendition of "America the Beautiful" to "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle" episode which followed the game, resuming the show's second season. This full commercial actually aired during Glee rather than the Super Bowl, yet was promoted throughout the game and was nice to see after all the typical, male-targeted commercials. In reading a review of "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle," I learned that the commercial was also a homage to a classic 1950's Chevrolet advertisement.



A montage of scenes from my favorite television shows will always win me over, no pun intended. Note another Glee reference here.

Best of all:



Who didn't want to be a kid again after seeing this commercial? The television spot definitely succeeded in tapping into my emotions, and someone who has always been interested in advertising, I know that to always be a sponsor's primary goal.

I hope you enjoyed these commercials as much as I did. May the Force be with you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Poll: Did you cry seeing 'Toy Story 3'?

Poll: Did you cry seeing 'Toy Story 3'?

Of course I did.

Note: I know the timing of this post is somewhat random, but I found it in my draft bin this weekend and wanted to share it with you.

Also, the movie is nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Animated Feature Film, and I predict is a lock to win the latter honor.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Interesting Reads: How to Get Over Your James Franco Complex

From The Hairpin, this article hits home for me completely. I'm sure those who read this blog have figured out by now that I'm always in awe of smart, creative, accomplished people.

Now I just need a guide on how to get to over my Dr. She Bloggo complex.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Interesting Reads: What Your Favorite TV Shows Say About You

I love the psychology that goes into advertising content and platform choices, so this article particularly interested me, even with its disclaimer:
(A caveat: Yes, we know and agree that many humble people adore "The Office" and plenty of agenda-following realists love "Mad Men." The study, and story, are about statistical group tendencies; that is, the increased likelihood that a group of people who watch a particular show will tend to have one or more similar personality traits. It is not saying that every individual watcher of "Glee" is open-minded and longs to buy a Volkswagen.)

I like to think that I'm creative, open minded, and someone who lives life to the fullest. And let's be honest, I probably do have a superiority complex - one this blog may even be bringing to the forefront.

And I would buy a Volkswagen.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards and a Nostalgic Highlight from Last Year's Ceremony

The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards take place tonight: An annual tradition in which the Hollywood Foreign Press Association honors outstanding work in both film and television, and an event which award show die-hards like myself know is commonly referred to as "the biggest party in Hollywood." As I get excited for this year's festivities, I keep remembering my favorite memory from last year's show.

One year ago, the Glee cast and crew won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy. At that point in time, only the first 13 episodes of the show had aired, making the win a particularly special achievement for the cast and crew. The win was also a particularly enjoyable moment for me as someone who had recently discovered the promising show. More important, it was this first memory of seeing the cast out of character, at one of their first red carpet events, that solidified my support for them and their work. Following is a video of the Glee cast with creator Ryan Murphy accepting their award and a photo of them posing with the trophy after the ceremony. Look at them and try not to smile.


On this night, I saw a group of my peers, who had until that point lived relatively typical childhood through 20-something lives, assume their well-deserved places on Hollywood's A-List. It was a story not all that different from the one for which they had won this very award, or the story of the small town girl and city boy who took a midnight train toward a better life.

A significant percentage of the Glee fan community considers the original "Front 13" episodes the show's best. They may very well be right. Yet rather than consider what happened after this night, I end my story with this moment, the one in which I knew I was a Glee fan.

You can watch this year's Golden Globe Awards tonight at 8 PM Eastern on NBC. The Gleeks will be back in full force, with 5 nominations including another for Best Television series, and a complete Nominees List is available at http://www.goldenglobes.org/.

I wish all of my favorite entertainers luck on their special night and more important, I hope they have fun. Fellow entertainment fans, I hope you enjoy watching as much as I do and welcome your comments throughout the festivities!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This Week on the Web: Tumblr 101

Tumblr was voted one of Time's Best Websites of 2010, and for good reason. The Time staff reports, "Tumblr can make even the most mundane updates look visually stunning," and I could not agree more.

A quick reminder I have a Tumblog, http://meticulouswhimsy.tumblr.com/, where I follow a few of my favorite Tumblogs:

http://entertainmentweekly.tumblr.com/

http://felldowntherabbithole.tumblr.com/ - Created by Dianna Agron! Compelling playlists and photography.

http://ordinaryheroes.tumblr.com/

Editor's Note: On January 29, 2012 I changed my Tumblr username and address to match Mug for Thought. The Tumblr blog is now titled Mug for Thought and located at http://mugforthought.tumblr.com.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 - And I'm on my Way to Believing.

Hello everyone! Happy 2011. I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and New Year's holidays as much as I did. It feels good to have a new start.

I'm currently listening to "The Only Exception." I start the year with this song because at its core it's about letting go of things that have upset you in the past and allowing yourself to have hope in a brighter future. Life might not be exactly what you want it to be right now, but it's still important to hold on to your dreams. I'm posting the original Paramore song and a link to Lea Michele's cover because both capture this inspiring message.