Tag Archives: soundtrack

Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read


“The very thing that makes you different in high school is the thing that makes you exceptional as an adult.” — Lin-Manuel Miranda

I’ve written about the “It Gets Better” videos before, but this video — created by (the awesome) Susan Blackwell, (the rock star) Hunter Bell and (Bird Bird II) Matt Vogel — deserves to be plugged because it addresses bullying across the spectrum, not just LGBT. Almost everyone who is different is bullied, verbally, physically, emotionally. Every teens deserves to have someone tell them it gets better. Also great about this video, it gently reminds adults to be proactive, to keep their eyes open, their ears and mouths ready to respond, and to listen.


I keep a list of the songs I write by, which was inspired by a writer-friend who keeps her soundtrack lists on her website (Update: They’re MIA on Catherine’s site now, but email her, if you’re curious). Every piece I write has a different soundtrack. When I’m on a writing binge I get stuck on one artist, whose songs I have memorized, and play them on repeat. After a while I don’t hear the music anymore, but there’s something about the rhythm and having a soundtrack by which to write, that’s important to me. I’ve been listening to a lot of Adele lately. This particular song, “Cold Shoulder,” works nicely with the play I’ve been working on about relationships, finding them, losing them, etc.


Life Interrupted by Spalding Gray

“A man tells a story over and over so many times he becomes the story. In that way, he is immortal.” -Big Fish

Spalding Gray‘s name is scribbled all over my work notebooks from 2002-2004, but I did not know who he was or what he did. I never met him in person, but I will never forget his voice, with that thick, New England accent. I first talked to Spalding in 2002, when he would call the office where I interned to talk to my boss, who was a friend of his and had directed one of his monologues. My boss would always take Spalding’s calls with enthusiasm, happy to talk to him until work interrupted their convivial conversation. As the years went by, I noticed Spalding’s voice developed a heaviness to it that hadn’t been present before. He had had an accident. It was clear that he was depressed. He still called the office where I worked, but I began to take messages instead of connecting his call immediately. Sometimes, Gray talked to me beyond the scope of the message. I listened, not always certain if he was telling me a story with an ending or simply rambling till I found a way to beg off the call.

I remember passing newsstands when Spalding was missing, his face on the cover of the Post and the Daily News. A few months later, his face appeared on the covers again, when his body was pulled from the East River. This is when I discovered Spalding Gray. I borrowed his filmed monologues from my boss and watched them one after another. I read the transcripts. I was blown away by how one man, sitting at a desk with a single glass of water as a prop, could navigate an audience to places as far away as Cambodia and as close as New York City, piloted only by his words.

His last monologue, “Life Interrupted,” published posthumously, was unfinished. It was also one of his best. There’s a darkness, a light, a hope, a humor, a sadness, and a beauty to it that no other written work I have come across has ever captured quite so intimately. I can’t imagine how Spalding would have finished this monologue or if he would have at all. There’s something about an unfinished work; a sense of incompleteness, of restlessness; that allows a writer to continue living in our minds, giving us the freedom to compose an ending worthy of his singular voice.


Whip It: Kicking Ass & Taking Names … all to a Killer Soundtrack

6a00e55007daf088340120a5e482e1970c-320wiDrew Barrymore’s directorial debut had been something that many critics claim they did not expect. But honestly, critics, what were you thinking? she would just stop at the actor-producer hyphenate and call it a day? Why?

Luckily, Drew Barrymore thought why not? when it came to shepherding Shauna Cross’ novel, DERBY GIRL to the screen. D.B. produced the film, called the shots from video village, and even took a supporting role as Hurl Scout “Smashley Simpson.” Her multi-hyphenate efforts paid off. “Whip It” is a fun and exhilarating romp around a derby track matched with an equally thrilling soundtrack (thank you, Randall Poster!) featuring everyone from The Ramones to Tilly and the Wall, Jens Lekman and even Dolly Parton. The tunes provide the perfect segue way into the fast-paced competition sequences. Though not perfect in execution, watching these actors whip around a track allows the audiences a slick view of the action, leaving them just shy of a sensation of having eight wheels laced on their feet.

Ellen Page’s Bliss Cavendar/Babe Ruthless provides us with a newcomer’s look into the sport and an honest portrayal of a teen who doesn’t quite fit in with the popular tribe of girls, but doesn’t try to either. She embraces her lack of confidence and finds something she’s good at, roller derby, and with that, her tribe. Page, screenwriter Shauna Cross and Barrymore all deserve credit for staying true to the look and feel of the kind of teenager many of us were: decent kids, always in our heads, a little self-centered, but mostly just looking to belong to something bigger than ourselves.

Perhaps the biggest standout performance in this crew of derby girls, (which includes an awesome performance by Juliette Lewis as rival roller girl, Iron Maiden, and Alia Shawcat as Bliss’ best friend, Pash) is Kristen Wiig as fellow Hurl Scout, “Maggie Mayhem.” Wiig shines whenever she’s on screen. You want to know more about her both on and off the track. She gives us a sense of Maggie’s past (though she is furnished with a tiny back story, unlike most of the other girls) that she plays solidly throughout the film. She is the grounding force in the derby and a perfect foil to Bliss’ mother, Brooke Cavendar, played beautifully by Marcia Gay Harden. Maggie Mayhem tells Bliss what Brooke Cavendar cannot seem to handle telling her own daughter, “Put on some skates and be your own hero.”

“Whip It” reminds us all to look past some of the ridiculous movies that will define this generation of teens (High School Musical, Hannah Montana, etc) and see there is finally a soul akin to John Hughes. If “Whip It” is any indication, and I think it is, in Drew Barrymore we will finally have a director (and a woman at that) with enough sensitivity and candor to reflect images of our teen selves back at us, and who encourages us to find our inner Bliss.