Issyk-Kul and Fairytale Canyon, Kyrgyzstan
I had a lot of fun days this past year, mostly because we traveled SO MUCH. But one in particular comes to mind. Day 4 of our tour through Kyrgyzstan was my favorite because fun things just kept coming at us! We made our favorite piece of art; we explored the amazing Fairytale Canyon; we went swimming in Issyk-Kul lake; we had a nice time in a guest house; I got to shower and pee indoors. Great success! Click on the link to read all about it and see all the many pictures! (Obviously I’m not counting days where I sat on a couch with my doggie or played with my nephew that wouldn’t be fair to the others.)
Most amazing sights
3. The Alhambra in Granada. It was hot as balls and took days to see (not days) but it was so worth it. What an amazing place.
2. Honestly I’m forgetting a lot – we saw A LOT of shit this summer – so what immediately comes to mind is the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens in Funchal, Madeira (which I haven’t written about yet but it’s coming soon!). I was so surprised at how much I loved this place and how peaceful it felt. It’s not as famous or as recommended as the other Botanical Gardens in town, but it’s 100x better – and so much bigger! You could get lost in there for a whole day.
Favorite surprising place
Nanxun was such a surprise! We stopped at this little-known (and little) water town outside Shanghai because we wanted to see a water town and heard this was nice. I didn’t expect to completely adore this gorgeous place! I mean we know I like water but this water town was on a whole other level. Amazing!
Come on! Is there any question? I wuv you Fraser Suites Chengdu! I wuv you!
The best thing I ate, Savory Edition, was my dinner at Jujubeetree Vegetarian Lifestyle in Chengdu. This is where I ordered a dish that sounded super gross and still have no idea how or why that happened, but it was some otherworldly magic that made me do it because it was the best dish oh my goddd and the best meal in all of China, which has the best food in all the world (at least where I went this past year) and now I want Sichuan food.
Oh man, the tahini milkshake from Goldie in Philadelphia is insaaaaaane! It is like liquid halva (but not too liquid – they know real milkshakes need to be thick!). It’s so amazing that I tried to recreate it, and I did a decent job which you can find the recipe for at the above link. I’m also fo sho making it tonight to ring in the new year!
"How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"
This tiny little production at Wilton’s Music Hall – not exactly the West End – put on one of the best productions of the year, mostly because of its attention to detail and its milking of every single possible drop of humor from the script. It was hilarious and so well done.
Most fun at the theatre in New York
"Once On This Island"
I can’t believe I knew so little about Once On This Island before seeing the new Broadway revival, but I am in deep now. It was so delightful and I was enraptured, on the edge of my seat and forgetting everything except what was going on in the sand pit in front of me. This glorious show deserves a long run…and with my main man Norm Lewis joining the cast soon, it deserves repeat visits! I cannot wait for the cast album. I imagine my 2018 will be spent listening to it nonstop.
Funniest Things of 2017
3. I'm a terrible person I know and I still crack up at all the tee shirts I saw in China, and so many of the signs, especially the fake New Balances that don’t know what they want to be. Loves it! (at end of post)
2. "The Good Place" Season 2
I had NO IDEA how they would move on from that killer ending of season 1, just really no idea, so it’s good I’m not writing for this show because they moved on and it’s even better than it was before. Such geniuses! Every episode has like five quotes that have become permanent fixtures of my daily speech, and if I wanted to keep typing with my arms that end in stupid sticks, I would say more, especially because I have no idea what’s going on but everyone is talking and I think I should too. But nothing beats this product of the genius of all geniuses, Megan Amram, as she shared all her ideas for the ever-changing food places in the neighborhood. CAMEMBERT-BIE LET’S GO PARTY????? HAHHHHHHHH!
Who would have thought this disgustingly raunchy cartoon about kids going through puberty would be the funniest thing ever? Oh it’s from Nick Kroll? And has Maya Rudolph and John Mulaney and JASON MANTZOUKAS?? Yeah, it’s the funniest thing ever. So gross, so inappropriate, and so f-ing genius. Below is my favorite song, courtesy of the goddess among us mortals, Maya Rudolph.
Best musical theatre albums
I loved this sweet, sad, so important show. It was too good to close as quickly as it did, too special, but luckily we have a cast album and it’s fantastic. Corey Cott and Laura Osnes sound impeccable on their big numbers, and all the emotion that overwhelmed in the theatre is just as strong. I cry just as hard listening to it as I did watching it, and that’s pretty special.
2. "The Band’s Visit"
Holy crap, I have not been able to listen to any other music for the past few weeks, since this album was released. David Yazbeck has created such a lovely, quiet yet gripping masterpiece. Every day I have a new favorite song: Yesterday it was Papi Hears the Ocean, Thursday it was Welcome to Nowhere (that line about Jews OMG), and today is Answer Me. But every day features at least 10 plays of Omar Sharif and Something Different, because the genius of Katrina Lenk, a force of nature in the theatre, shines just as bright on the recording. The emotion here, the humanity, ugh it’s all so good and so wonderful that they were able to capture it.
1. "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812"
My biggest regret of 2017 was not appreciating this show’s brilliance when I got to see it. Actually, I saw it at the very end of 2016, so that’s my big regret of 2016…ACTUALLY, no my biggest regret of 2016 was not locking the people I knew were going to vote for Trump in their homes so they couldn’t vote. Okay that’s not very democratic, to keep people from voting – that’s something republicans like doing. I should have helped drive more people to vote or register or something. Okay I can’t think about that right now, this is supposed to be about fun distractions not sadnesses. So my big frivolous-item regret of 2017 was not seeing this amazing show again before it closed prematurely. But about that first thing- I really didn’t appreciate this show when I saw it, like a fool LIKE A FOOL. There was so much going on, and a lot of the music is hard to love on first listen. The absolute mind-blowing genius of Dave Malloy's score can only be realized once you are actually familiar with it, so this cast album is not only my favorite and the best, but it’s also the most important and necessary. If people listened to this a few times (maybe ten) and learned all the amazing lyrics and orchestrations and all the genres referenced, they would have enjoyed the show more in person and maybe it would have lasted longer. I don’t know, but I know I would have enjoyed it more and appreciated how incredible it is. Thank goodness we are blessed with this original Broadway cast album AND the original original cast album from downtown, with Phillipa Soo as Natasha and Dave Malloy, the composer, as Pierre. I prefer the Broadway version – I think some of Denee Benton’s fun and effective choices as Natasha really come through and it’s exciting to hear, and of course there’s my Joshy G – but it’s interesting to hear the differences in the interpretations of character and the lyric changes that occurred over the years. Both are great, but the important thing is that this show is AMAZING. Was. Tear. (Please come to London maybe they will appreciate you more.)
Things I want in 2018
I want “Once On This Island” to last at least until the Tony Awards and I hope it gets recognized for how genius it is.
I want Katrina Lenk to keep up her momentum for Best Actress because, although I haven’t seen the powerhouse performances to come (I mean we have a Julie Jordan and an Eliza Doolittle coming…and that’s without talking about Frozen or Mean Girls jfc this season is packed), so far she more than deserves it. She’s magicked.
Also most of all I need to see the above mentioned new shows coming! Ahhhh Jessie Mueller in Carousel??? With Joshua Henry??? I faint.
I hope we don’t get heat stroke in Australia. (P.s. we’re going to Australia! IN FEBRUARY. It’s gonna be so hot!). Even more than that I hope we don’t get bitten by all the thousands of millions of deadly animals in Australia.
GIMME AN I! GIMME AN M! GIMME A P! GIMME AN E! GIMME AN A! GIMME A C! GIMME AN H! (DID I SPELL THAT RIGHT?) also please send all of them to jail. ALL OF THEM.
Come on 2018!!! Be good to us!