Category Archives: Arts & Culture

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5 Things I’m Looking Forward to This Summer | BEDA Day 27

Summer is nearly upon us, my friends. While I’m more of a spring gal, I still look forward to all the travel and outdoor fun summer brings. Here are five things I’m particularly looking forward to this season.

  1. Vidcon! Vidcon is always a staple of my summer. It’s become this annual pilgrimage where I’m reunited with old friends, surrounded by likeminded people, and have the opportunity to learn new things about the always #changing face of #newmedia. While the conference has grown substantially in the last few years, there’s still something great about spending 3+ days with people who share your passions. I’m incredibly excited to go back for my fourth year.

  2. A Return to LA – I’m planning on spending a few days in LA ahead of Vidcon to catch up with friends and eat a ton of In-N-Out. I have a bit of a fraught relationship with the City of Angels, but I always enjoy my visits. I know I’ll be spending at least some of my 36 hours in town listening to Kanye in my rental car and drinking iced coffee from Intelligentsia, so it’ll be just like the summer of 2013.

  3. Central Park Hangs – Central Park is a bit of a trek for me in the winter, but I’m so looking forward to spending plenty of weekend afternoons there this summer. I bought a picnic blanket last year and used it all of two times, so I’m determined to get more use out of it in the coming months. I also have a ton of reading to catch up on. Maybe I’ll actually finish The Catcher in the Rye this year (don’t judge).

  4. Shakespeare in the Park – This is the year, guys. One of these weekends, I’m going to wake up super early, bring my aforementioned picnic blanket to the park, and camp out outside the Delacorte for free tickets to one of the Public’s productions. I’m particularly excited about the all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew running in May and June. Donna Lynne Champlin is in it. What more do I need?

  5. Governor’s Ball – So I did that thing a few months ago where I bought a pass without asking any of my friends if they planned on attending. As such, I’m facing the prospect of going to (what used to be) the New York version of Coachella by myself. The lineup is way too good for me to pass up, though. Between The Killers, Haim, Chvrches, and Death Cab for Cutie, I’m pretty much in musical heaven. Now to find someone to tag along…

What are you looking forward to this summer? Let me know in the comments!

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How to Survive Convention Season | BEDA Day 17

Summer is an exciting time to be a nerd. We have more time to catch up on the movies, video games, and books we’ve been neglecting all year. Summer also brings something many nerds like myself look forward to all year long: Convention Season.

San Diego Comic Con, GeekyCon, Vidcon, Anime Expo, PAX Prime, Dragon*Con…a nerd can rack up some serious frequent flier miles in the short summer months. Attending lots of conventions in a short period of time is awesome, but how do you avoid feeling totally burnt out by Labor Day? As a (somewhat) seasoned con attendee I’m here to share some of my tips and tricks for avoiding TCSE – Total Con Season Exhaustion.

First off, pace yourself. Try not to attend two conventions back-to-back if you can avoid it. Give yourself at least two weeks between conventions to recover and ready yourself for the next round. At each con, don’t run from one panel to the next. Take plenty of breaks just to sit down and get away from the crowds for a few minutes. Go to Starbucks and get a cup of coffee or go take a power nap in your hotel room. If you schedule your breaks well you won’t miss anything important.

On a similar note, SLEEP. Sure, you want to party in your friend’s hotel room all night, but you probably won’t have any fun at the con if you’re a zombie the next day (unless you’re cosplaying as that chick from iZombie). No amount of coffee can measure up to a good night’s sleep. Try to get at least 5 hours of sleep in a bed. Your back and your brain will thank you for it.

Pack accordingly! You will probably be on your feet for most of the day at any given convention, so comfy shoes and clothes are necessary. If you’re cosplaying, keep an extra pair of shoes in your bag in case your platforms give out on you or your ankles need a break. Also, bring plenty of snacks that will hold up well in your bag. This will save you money (food on the floor can get pricey) and will keep you from trying to eat the person in front of you in line Walking Dead-style.

Know where you’re going. Read up on the host city ahead of time and find out where the nearby hospitals, pharmacies, restaurants, police stations, etc. are located. If you don’t have a car, figure out how you’re going to get to and from the convention before you even get on the plane. Program the number of a local cab company and the convention center’s security department into your phone. You never know what’s going to happen while you’re away, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible.

Finally, set a budget for the whole summer and for each specific convention. Between registration, hotels, flights, and all the awesome stuff sold on the floor, cons can get pretty pricey. Figure out how much money you plan on spending ahead of time and keep track of how much you spend when you’re there. This way you’ll get what you want out of the convention without having to hitchhike home.

What are some convention season tips you’ve picked up over the years? Let me know in the comments. Have a safe and fun convention season, and I’ll see you this year at Vidcon!

Five for Friday | BEDA Day 8

I’ll be honest with y’all, today has been hard blogging-wise. I’m kind of hard up for ideas and don’t have a ton of time for a more in-depth post. So in light of this general Friday-ness, here are five things I’ve been digging this week.

Floss Gloss Nail Polish in Honey

Image courtesy of Floss Gloss

I’m an adult with a full-time job, so naturally I decided to throw some glitter nail polish on last night. I like to think I did it in an attempt to manifest the party for this weekend, since I’ve been a bit of a hermit this past week. I picked up Floss Gloss’s Honey last year at the BUST Craftacular Primped event, but I hadn’t actually used it until last night. I’m kind of obsessed now. It took a few coats, but it looks really nice even without another color underneath. Unfortunately, Honey is sold out on their website, but Floss Gloss has a ton of other fun colors to check out. The best part? All their nail polishes are 4 Free (formulated without Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Toluene, Formaldehyde & Formaldehyde Resin) and cruelty free. *throws glitter*

Sephora’s Love Note Shopping Event

Head’s up, makeup hoarders: if you’re a member of Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty program, there’s a sale going on JUST FOR Y’ALL now through Wednesday, April 13th. VIB Rouge members get 15% off with the code ROUGENOTE, VIB members get 15% off with the code VIBNOTE, and Beauty Insiders get 10% off with the code BINOTE. I already stocked up on some dwindling products this morning. So much for saving money this weekend. (P.S., don’t forget to shop with Ebates* for 4% cash back!)

The Path

Image courtesy of comingsoon.net

If you know me, you know I have a (totally healthy) fascination with cults. I find them incredibly interesting from a psychological point of view and have a tendency to fall down a Wikipedia rabbit hole researching cults gone awry. When I first heard about The Patha new series on Hulu about a growing “movement” in Upstate New York (why are they always in Upstate New York?), I knew I had to check it out. The show hasn’t disappointed so far, bringing great performances from Aaron Paul, Michelle Monaghan, and Hugh Dancy. Hulu releases a new episode every Wednesday, so I can’t properly binge it, but I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.

A Few Good Reads 

Bookmark these articles for your weekend reading pleasure.

I Am Begging My Mother Not to Read this Blog: “Sucks to be you, Jyn Erso”
The Financial Diet: “I Don’t Care If They’re Chic: Capsule Wardrobes Stress Me Out
New York Times: “Going From Show to Show No More”

New Blog Features 

If you haven’t noticed (which you probably haven’t), I updated my “About” page and added an FAQ! If you’re new around here, I’d suggest giving them a look-see. I also added Disqus to make comments a little easier.

Speaking of comments, what are you excited about this weekend? Let me know below!

Photo Credit: kev-shine on Flickr

5 Amazing Podcasts for Your Commute | BEDA Day 5

As a fan of funny people talking in my ear on my way to work, I’ve really been enjoying the Podcast Renaissance. So many smart, funny people are launching their own shows on a range of topics. Not only do these shows make me laugh, they are also incredible educational tools that showcase the work of talented up-and-coming writers. My cup (or really, my Overcast feed) runneth over. Here are 5 podcasts I’ve been obsessed with lately.

The Ensemblist
Want to know what really happens behind the scenes at a Broadway show? Ever wonder what life is like for the ensemble members #werking it in that big musical number? The Ensemblist podcast, hosted by Nikka Graff Lanzarone and Mo Brady aims to give listeners “an inside look at all aspects of being on Broadway.” The show features interviews with seasoned Broadway professionals and newbies alike, with each episode focusing on one aspect of the business of show, such as the unions, being a parent and a performer, and live TV musicals. Each episode usually clocks in at less than 30 minutes, which, incidentally, is perfectly timed to my commute.

You Must Remember This
Guys, WHY did it take me so long to listen to this show? You Must Remember This, hosted by Karina Longworth, tells the secret history of old Hollywood, one episode at a time. I’m a huge nerd for Hollywood History, so I pretty much lost my mind the first time I listened to an episode. This season focuses on the Hollywood Blacklist, a direct result of the Communist witch hunts that took place after World War II. These stories are fascinating and still incredibly important. I’m loving this series so far.

Can I Pet Your Dog?
This podcast from Renee Colvert and Allegra Ringo was basically made for me. Each episode features these two funny ladies talking about their unabashed love for dogs. They also invite awesome guests like Noel Wells, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Lesli Margherita on to talk about their favorite dogs. Most of the time I just want to talk about dogs, so this show is perfect. Also, it’s part of the comedy and culture behemoth that is the Maximum Fun network, so you know it’s good.

Scriptnotes
I’ve been a Scriptnotes fan for going on 3 years now, and it remains one of the most consistently awesome podcasts in my feed. Hosted by screenwriters Craig Mazin and John August, Scriptnotes features conversations on the TV and film industry, writing craft, and basically everything interesting to screenwriters. When I was completing my undergrad program, the podcast was a great supplement to my classes. Now that I’m out of school, each episode keeps me up-to-date on the biz and motivates me to keep working. So thanks for that, John and Craig.

Spirits
Okay, so I’m obviously biased because this podcast is hosted by two of my friends, Amanda McLoughlin and Julia Schifini. However, I’d probably still recommend it even if I didn’t know them. In this podcast, Amanda and Julia enjoy some adult beverages and talk about mythology, legends, and lore. They only have a few episodes under their belts, but I’ve learned more in these episodes than I ever knew before about the myths and legends of Greece, Ireland, and the Philippines. Plus, they’re both hilarious. If you support them on Patreon (shameless plug), you’ll receive drink recipes catered to each episode. Yum.

What podcasts have you been loving recently? Let me know in comments! I’m always looking for new shows to add to my feed.  

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Snapshots | Fall 2015

I’ve decided to try something new. I know you all fear change, but just bear with me. In an effort to put all my recommendations, life updates, and little snippets that don’t necessarily warrant full posts in one place, I’m launching a new series called “Snapshots.” I haven’t decided if this is something that’ll happen every month, every couple of months, or every season, but for now I want to give you a peek into my life over the past few months. This is all heavily influenced by my girl Emily Diana Ruth’s monthly digest, which I adore (along with everything she makes).

Okay, enough disclaimers, let’s do this.

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Queen’s County Farm Museum

In an effort to experience some semblance of fall in the big city, my friends and I ventured out to the Queen’s County Farm Museum for some pumpkin picking. The trip was a bit of a haul from Manhattan, especially without a car, but it was totally worth it. The farm offers pumpkin picking, a petting zoo, a corn maze, and plenty of sweet treats in the fall. Plus we got to hang out with chickens, which is always a good time. I’d definitely go back to the Farm Museum at some point during the warmer months to get my nature on.

 

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Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Eye Gels

Now that I’ve (sort of) passed my acne-prone teen years, I can move on to other skin concerns, specifically protecting the skin around my eyes. I received a few of these eye gels in my Ipsy bag a few months ago, and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since. I can’t really justify spending $30 on a pack of 8, but the $15 pack of 4 I bought at Ulta seemed totally reasonable. I don’t get my logic. Regardless, they take care of my sensitive skin and make me feel nice and refreshed. Maybe I’ll actually spring for the big bag one of these days.

 

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Forever Twenty Somethings

I’m happy to announce that I’m now contributing to Forever Twenty Somethings! FTS is “an on online magazine that helps millennials navigate life in their twenties as they endure the “quarter life crisis.” Their content is fun and informative, very much in the vein of Thought Catalog and HelloGiggles. My first three posts are up now! Give them a read and check out some of their other content while you’re at it.

My School Had A Quarter System And It Prepared Me For The Real World

The Pros & Cons Of Being An Only Child In Your 20s

50 Thoughts I Have During Zumba Class

 

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Must Reads

It’s almost the holidays, which means you’ll have plenty of time to dedicate to those longreads you’ve been saving for later. Here’s a few more pieces to peruse while you’re avoiding your family (and their political opinions).

Racial Profiling on the Main Line  – Philadelphia Magazine

How I Plan to Spend No Money This #NoSpendNovember  – The Financial Diet

Which of Your Favorite Websites Have Money And From Where – The Billfold

The Movie That Taught A Generation of Misfits To Let Their Freak Flags Fly – Buzzfeed

 

Fall Playlist

Traveling to visit family for Thanksgiving? You’ll need some tunes. Here are a few song I’ve had in heavy rotation over the last few months. This playlist includes some Grimes, some Carly Rae Jepson, and some Jesus Christ Superstar. Clearly my musical taste has been a little all over the place this season.

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5 Amazing Moments from Nerdcon: Stories 2015

After 6 Vidcons, I can count on Hank Green and his team to run a great conference that caters to both fans and creators. Their events manage to be equal parts variety show, public forum, master class, and party, which always leads to a good time. While Vidcon centers around the more specific world of online video, Nerdcon: Stories tackles storytelling, an artform as old as…well, people. I was curious to see how this event, the first of its kind, would play out, so I bought a pass and headed to Minneapolis.

What I experienced at NC:S was a celebration of how stories are created and how they connect us all. “We are all made of stories,” was the general refrain of the weekend, and both attendees and presenters brought stories to share. I left on Sunday feeling emotionally energized and inspired to create, albeit physically exhausted from three days of walking around the giant Minneapolis Convention Center. Here are some of my favorite moments from this year’s conference.

Paul Sabourin’s Opening “Why Stories Matter” Keynote

Throughout the conference, several special guests were invited to give their take on why stories matter. Paul Sabourin, one half of Paul and Storm, kicked off the first morning session on Friday in his hilarious and high-energy fashion, running through a (very) brief history of storytelling. Sure, it mainly focused on storytelling in western civilization (as most history classes in America do), but it gave us all a good idea of why stories have been so prominent throughout history. Ultimately, we tell stories to feel less alone in the world, to relate to each other. Whether their true or not, stories have the power to connect us. 

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Leslie running the story circle like a champ.

Leslie’s Story Circle

Have you met my friend Leslie? Aside from being a fabulous human and great friend, Leslie created and curates “One Time Stories“, a storytelling web series in the vein of The Moth and StoryCorps. It’s truly amazing and I suggest you check it out and submit if you’re so inclined. As a featured guest (#proudmama), Leslie hosted a storytelling circle on Friday night which drew a huge crowd. People shared heartfelt and hilarious stories of firsts: first kisses, first times crying in public, first poop explosions (go with it). There’s something so simple and great about just sitting in a huge circle, kindergarten style, and listening to people sharing their truth.

“Honing Your Craft” Panel

As a writer, I’m always looking for ways to embetter my word-doing, so I jumped at the chance to listen to a panel of great writers talk about their process. The panel featured several novelists who write across several genres – including Lev Grossman, Stephanie Perkins, and Nalo Hopkinson – whose processes are as diverse as their writing styles. They were each brutally honest about their struggles to get words on the page. Nalo spoke in particular about working with ADHD, which was incredibly important to me. Once again, I had a moment of feeling less alone.

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From left: Paul Sabourin, Paul DeGeorge, Cecil Baldwin, Sarah Mackey, and Leslie Datsis on the “Communities and Fandom” Panel

Dylan Marron’s “Why Stories Matter” Keynote

Speaking of representation, Dylan Marron’s take on why stories matter was one of the most powerful moments of NC:S. Marron, known for his “Every Single Word…” video series and for playing Carlos on Welcome to Night Vale, touched on how storytelling helps us build empathy by showing us how we fit into the world. When we tell universal stories with only white faces, we essentially deny the existence of people of color. The fact that hundreds of (mostly young) people got to hear this in the convention center’s main auditorium gives me hope for the future. You can check out a video of the speech here.

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

Sometimes, you have to fly to the midwest and attend a major conference to see a show that’s performed twice a week in your own city. Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind is an ever-changing show by the New York Neo-Futurists, in which a group of actors attempts to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. They introduce new plays each week, and the order of plays is determined by the audience, so you never know what you’re going to see. I was incredibly excited to see TMLMtBGB, and the Neos did not disappoint. Each play managed to be poignant, true, and funny within the limited time. Above all, the Neos are genuine, and I love that. Kevin R. Free is a delight. I want to be best friends with Desiree Burch and Kate Jones. And Jeffrey Cranor brought me close to tears more than once over the weekend. I’m now determined to get to a Neos show in New York before the year is out.

It’s safe to say I had an amazing time this weekend at NerdCon: Stories. I’ll definitely be back next year, hopefully with some stories of my own. In between all this awesome, I learned that Minneapolis is a wonderful city that we should all move to (6 months out of the year). Stay tuned for more on my Minneapolis adventures next week!

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The Incredible Motivating Power of Hamilton

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with running. In elementary school, I dreaded running laps in gym class, and tried to come up with as many excuses as possible to get out of the mile run test. The first time I finished the test without stopping, I thought I was having a heart attack. I avoided running as much as possible from then on. Still, I’d always get a little envious of my friends on the cross country team. A nice run in the woods after school seemed appealing, but at what cost? I knew I was never going to be a runner, so I never actively pursued it.
Until last week.

Last Friday I woke up early and went to the gym, as I usually aspire to do 2 to 3 times a week. As most of my usual cardio machines were taken, I went for the treadmill. I started running. And then I kept running. After a while I realized I had run a full mile, and I didn’t feel like I was about to collapse and die. “Who am I?” I thought. “Are we in the end times?”

This dramatic change of character was all (well, at least 80%) thanks to the release of the Hamilton original cast recording. As I made my way through each brilliantly-written, produced and performed number, I just wanted to keep going. I was involved in the show, reliving each scene and step in my head. Once I finished up my whole walk/run cardio portion, I actually felt really good and ready to take on the day. Weird, right?

There’s something about this show that makes me want to do something. Alexander Hamilton, or at least the version portrayed in Hamilton, was incredibly prolific throughout his relatively short life. He was always working on something, writing like he was “running out of time.” He wrote 51 of the 85 essays that make up the Federalist Papers, over the course of six months. That amount of writing of that caliber blows my mind. I’ll be impressed if I write that many blog posts over the next six months.

I first saw Hamilton in previews at the Public Theater back in January (#humblebrag). I cried profusely at the end, which almost never happens. It is amazing to watch something come together over 6 years, even if it’s just as a bystander on the internet. But I didn’t know it was going to be that good. More than that, it came into my life at a time when I really needed it. I was just starting out in a new job and wasn’t sure where it was going to take me. When a new assistant position opened up, “My Shot” started playing on a loop in my head and I knew I had to go for it. And I’m incredibly glad I did.

So thank you, Lin-Manuel, for sharing this story. I know I’ll keep coming back to this cast recording for years when I need a kick in the pants, words of comfort, or just something to dance around to in my apartment. And, of course, it will always be in heavy rotation at the gym.

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Broadway Christmas | Broadway Flea Market 2015 and Elsie Fest

I’ll admit to being a little skeptical when Elsie Fest was announced for the same day as the annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction. Two major Broadway events in one day? Won’t one take away from the other? Despite this, I found the idea of a “Coachella for showtunes” intriguing to say the least. I decided to go for it. Take my money, Darren Criss.

Broadway Bears from Fun Home, The King & I, and Hand to God for auction.

Broadway Bears from Fun Home, The King & I, and Hand to God for auction.

I started out my day in Times Square, navigating the throngs of shoppers at the Broadway Flea Market. I look forward to this event every year. Much like your average flea market, you never know who you’ll run into or which hidden treasures you’ll find. If, in your mind, hidden treasure equates to vintage Playbills from the original Broadway production of Chess, then this event is for you. I shared my haul from this year in the video below. I’m particularly excited about the shot glass.

The Broadway Flea isn’t just an amazing fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. It also acts as a massive gathering of the theatre community. Stars, community leaders, producers, and fans alike get together to celebrate the new season and our favorite shows. I saw lots of friends reunite, taking a break from their busy schedules to scour the tables together for the perfect find. It all makes for a super-fun (albeit sweaty) day out in midtown.

The Hudson from JBL Live.

The Hudson from JBL Live.

After a few hours, I tore myself away from the flea market and headed over to JBL Live for Elsie Fest. I really didn’t know what to expect heading in, but the set-up was similar to many outdoor concerts I’d been to before: stage, merch booths, porta potties. In addition to the standards, Darren Criss & Co. brought in a couple of food trucks and set up beer garden/piano bar on the opposite end of the bar (sponsored by the legendary West Village haunt, Marie’s Crisis). My friends and I scouted out a spot in the back where we could lay down a picnic blanket and set up base camp for the day.

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Tiny Aaron Tveit

Bringing showtunes out of the theatre and into a concert setting like that of Elsie Fest is tricky, but I think everyone pulled it off really well. Some of the acts seemed more tailored to a smaller venue like 54 Below, but most adapted to the huge stage pretty well. Aaron Tveit opened his set with a rocking rendition of “I’m Alive” from Next to Normal, Leslie Odom Jr. turned “Cheer Up Charlie” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory into a soulful R&B ballad, and Darren Criss closed out the show with a punk cover of “Cabaret.” Plus, the whole Starkid gang got together to perform numbers from the hit parody musicals, most notably “Gotta Get Back to Hogwarts” from A Very Potter Musical.

When you go see a show, there’s really no opportunity to get up and dance to your favorite songs like you might at home (unless you’re seeing Mamma Mia). Elsie Fest gave us theatre dorks the opportunity to do just that, to relax and celebrate our favorite shows and performers. One of my favorite parts of the day was bonding with a bunch of rad ladies in the food truck line over Hamilton and more. That’s really the best part of any fan gathering and why I keep going to them. I’m sure Elsie Fest will be even better next year. I know I’ll be back.

Image via saccodent

Five Reasons Why Fall is the Superior Season

I have a confession to make. I, Charlotte Dow, am a basic fall bitch.

Tomorrow is the first day of fall and I couldn’t be more excited. Don’t get me wrong, every season has its perks. My fragile constitution just can’t handle the extremes of summer and winter. I much prefer the more temperate, in-betweeny seasons of spring and fall. Since spring comes with allergies that have me sniveling for weeks, that leaves fall as the supreme. I feel like fall never really got the respect it deserved until recently. Now every #brand cashes in on the change of seasons well before the calendar even turns to September. I don’t even mind the fall-sploitation. Bring on the pumpkin-flavored everything.

Not convinced? Here are five reasons why fall is the superior season.

1. New TV Shows! New Theatre! New Everything!

The drop in temperature gives us all plenty of excuses to stay inside and enjoy an avalanche of new entertainment. September and October are chock full of season and series premieres on TV. I’m particularly looking forward to the returns of The Leftovers and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Luckily, they both air on Sundays, so I can balance the completely grim with the completely silly. Plus, as I mentioned in my Broadway on a budget post, the new theatre season has plenty to offer. Between Allegiance, Spring Awakening, Fiddler on the Roof, and King Charles III, my sippy cup full of theatre wine runneth over.

2. Dat Fall Foliage, Tho

While I still live in the northeast, I feel like I haven’t seen fall in its full glory since I moved to the city. The lack of trees is a bit of a problem and I haven’t had a ton of chances to go frolic in a pumpkin patch (or whatever it is that country folk do this time of year). This year, I’m determined to get in some quality time with the changing landscape. The vibrance of the fall colors up here make the brutal winters almost worth it. Almost.

3. HALLOWEEN

I mean, this should be reason enough to love fall. Yeah, putting together a costume (and plans) for Halloween tends to stress me out, but the night is so fun that I don’t even care. I’m not a huge fan of horror, but I love getting a little spooky. I’m so ready for some witchy-themed drinks, Hocus Pocus reruns, and thinkpieces on the occult. Plus, adorably-packaged candy never really gets old.

4. Peak Sweater Season

Once we hit about mid-October, I start rocking my cold-weather uniform: boots, leggings/pants, and a comfy sweater. I’ll admit, this ensemble does kind of lose its charm around February, but fall is a time to enjoy the novelty of being fully-covered and cozy. After months of freezing in my over air-conditioned office, I can wear something warm without sweating through my commute. I truly thrive in jewel-toned cashmere.

5. Pumpkin. Beer.

Do I really need to justify this one?

Now that I’ve convinced you all of autumn’s superiority, what are you looking forward to this season? If you’re in New York, Buzzfeed has compiled a list of killer fall activities in and around the city.

I have truly proved myself basic. Pass me a PSL.

The 3 Best Indie Albums…Of My Middle School Years

 

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The ladies who taught me all I know about music.

The majority of my favorite musical acts were most active around 2003 and 2004. When I was in middle school. What does that say about me? Don’t answer that.

I spent a lot of time on my own in my early teens, lost in the world of my headphones. I spent my afternoons combing through iTunes, looking for my new favorite musical act. They couldn’t sound like the pop artists and emo bands the rest of the school was listening to, but they still had to be palatable for my 13-year-old brain. I was in a band with a group of awesome, tuned-in girls who would make me mix CDs and lend me copies of SPIN magazine, turning me on to the next big thing. I was far from cool, but at least my iTunes library didn’t suck.

I kept looking for new music as I got older, but I’d always come back to the indie hits of the early aughts. I still do. I hate to sound like an old fart but music was just so good then. The acts that debuted around then are also still active and making great stuff. I mean, have you heard the new Brandon Flowers album? It’s amazing.

In honor of my decidedly dated taste in music, here are some of the albums Middle School Charlotte was rocking out to from 2003 to 2006.

Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand (2003)

If my memory serves me, I believe I first heard Franz Ferdinand in the car with my dad, heading home from a day at Coney Island. I could just be combining formative memories here, but bear with me. “Take Me Out” was unlike anything I’d ever heard before, but still sounded so familiar. Between me and my friend group, this album got a ton of play. We giggled over “Darts of Pleasure,” danced like crazy to “This Ffffire,” and commiserated over all the boys and girls we hated to “The Dark of the Matinee.” I’ve since seen the Glasgow boys play four times in three different countries. My love for this band has outlasted a good portion of my relationships. Good choice, Middle School Charlotte.

The Killers, Sam’s Town (2006)

Technically, this album came out when I was in high school, but I hadn’t matured that much upon entering freshman year. We’ll count it. Sam’s Town was actually the first Killers album I bought and I drained my iPod battery more than once listening to it on repeat. At the time I really clung to the album’s strong theme of growing up in (and getting out of) a small town. Today, I love how big every song on this album sounds. I can’t really find a better way to describe it. Sam’s Town didn’t get great reviews when it first debuted, but now it’s popping up on all these “underrated album” lists. Welcome to the party, people. Glad you’re coming around. Have some guac.

Arcade Fire, Funeral (2004)

I will never not love this album. If you told me today that Win Butler sacrificed a cage full of bunnies during the recording process, a) I wouldn’t be entirely surprised, and b) I would still be obsessed. Arcade Fire can write songs that are perfect for tiny basement hangs and huge stadium concerts at the same time. This has to be some kind of dark magic. Funeral totally blew my middle school mind, and I find something new every time I give it a listen.

It’s one thing for me to rave on about these tunes, but I’d rather just let you hear them for yourself. Check out the Spotify playlist below with some of my favorite indie jams of middle school. Share some of your favorites songs of yesteryear in the comments!