Two of my favorite books read in 2016 were celebrity memoirs. I read them both after I left Kansas City, one while I was in Madison for the summer and one after moving to Singapore, but both still stand out to me a year later.
I admit I’m not a die-hard fan of stand-up comedy, but there are a select few comedians that have reached me through their work—Marc Maron, Trevor Noah—and Tig Notaro ranks highly. I watched her great Netflix special Tig in 2015, and have been following her since. While much of the material in i’m just a person is familiar to fans from Tig and her stand-up routines, this raw, personal memoir is still worth a quick read. She talks more about her childhood and 2012, her horrible year battling disease and dealing with a breakup as well as her mother’s death. I was really inspired by her tenacity through tragedy, and how she makes her painful stories and vulnerabilities relatable and entertaining. [Read in July 2016.]
I’ve loved The Roots for a long time and I had been meaning to read this one for a while, and with all my newfound free time in Singapore last year I finally got to it! I found Questlove’s Mo’ Meta Blues just a delight. Questlove is more charming, humble, and thoughtful a human being than I ever realized. He keeps this book light while still deep-diving on certain topics at the same time. His philosophical musings about the states of pop culture, hip-hop, and music criticism are intelligent and spot on. I loved that he started each chapter with a question, and I think my favorite parts were his recollections of certain critical albums in his life. [Read in November 2016.]
I needed something short and sweet for my recent rehearsal commutes, and If You Ask Me by Betty White fit the bill in spades. From Goodreads:
Drawing from a lifetime of lessons learned, seven-time Emmy winner Betty White’s wit and wisdom take center stage as she tackles topics like friendship, romantic love, aging, television, fans, love for animals, and the brave new world of celebrity. If You Ask Me mixes her thoughtful observations with humorous stories from a seven- decade career in Hollywood. Longtime fans and new fans alike will relish Betty’s candid take on everything from her rumored crush on Robert Redford (true) to her beauty regimen (“I have no idea what color my hair is and I never intend to find out”) to the Facebook campaign that helped persuade her to host Saturday Night Live despite her having declined the hosting job three times already.
Betty White might be one of the most likable celebrities ever. Her recent memoir If You Ask Me is a somewhat random collection of brief essays touching on topics from her career to her work with animals. Though it mostly focuses on the last 10–15 years of her career, she does talk about her youth a little bit and her family life as well. The audiobook was wonderful, hearing White read her own stories was so engaging and endears her even more to the listener. I’m not sure I would say I’d have preferred the paper book over audio—honestly I probably wouldn’t have thought to pick this up on paper—but I do feel like I missed some of the experience without any photos, which I understand are plentiful in the paper book.
If You Ask Me is a fun little tome worth the couple hours (or less!) it takes to get through.
Listened to audiobook from February 19 to 29, 2016.
It’s Monday, what are you reading? I’ve sort of been reading. I listened to Missoula by Jon Krakauer on audio this week (review coming soon). I am DNFing Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance. Other than that I’ve been dabbling a bit with a few books: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, and The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood (but I had to return my library copy before I was done, tears!)
I also have a couple audiobooks on tap next for our Thanksgiving travels: One More Thing by B.J. Novak and Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (a reread for me, new for Nick). Looking forward to that one ready by Tony himself!
We’ve been getting out and about a lot since Nick’s last trip. We hung out in the 39th Street restaurant row area last night, and today we had lunch with friends at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que (Nick will insist it’s “Oklahoma Joe’s,” forever and always… but I like the name change! anyway). Last weekend I played a Civic Orchestra concert, and we saw comedian Chris Hardwick perform live at the Midland. He’s the host of Talking Dead and The Nerdist Podcast, and we especially love him on @midnight. We had fourth-row seats—awesome to be so close! I had never seen stand-up before. It was really great and hilarious! At one point, Chris was talking about the Walking Dead at one point and I was laughing out “haha no! haha”… I caught his attention and he asked me “No? What no?” uuuhhhhh…. I was reacting to something about Glenn’s fate and Maggie being pregnant, and I yelled out something stupid about it, of course…! It was ridiculous and I loved it.
Anyway! What are you reading this week? Happy Thanksgiving!
Whew! It was another whirlwind of a week with the KC Fringe Festival. I scaled back my coverage a little bit from last year (14!)—that was nuts, I couldn’t possibly do that again! But just because I scaled back to nine total this year, doesn’t mean KCMetropolis.org scaled back. In fact, we exceeded our record, with more than 50 articles covering or related to Fringe. It was an exciting if exhausting week! We had a blast. Here are the direct links to my reviews:
Companions … A recluse becomes entirely too attached to her television.
Criteria … 300 years in the future, SSNs are the new segregation marker in the US.
Well, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks here at mylittleheartmelodies, starting July 18. I drove Nick out to Columbia for the Mizzou International Composers Festival, and as soon as I got back to Kansas City it was time for Fringe Fest! This year, Fringe’s 10th, I was ridiculously excited for some reason and wanted to beat my personal previous coverage records (3 in 2013, 4 in 2012, 3 in 2011). I did—a few times over, even! I saw 15 shows, reviewing 14 of them. I’m also really proud of KCMetropolis.org and my cohorts there—I believe we had some of the best coverage in the city. It was a great way to spend my week but there was no way I could do it all and keep up with my blog posts. Life is a little more back to normal for a while here, so expect to see more from me in the coming days!
Here’s a complete list of my reviews of Fringe Fest shows. Click the links to read the full text over on KCMetropolis.org!
Bad Auditions … An absurd, completely hilarious slice of theatre life!
Green Fish … Four one-acts on pregnancy, parenthood, and the feelings therein.
Jelly Rose … Young, über-talented local singer-songwriter. This girl’s got PIPES!
Intermission … Two broken people keep meeting “between acts” at the theatre.