Emily M. DeArdo

writer

musicals

Seven Quick Takes No. 116: My Country Tis of Thee

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment

linking up with Kelly and the gang

I. 

Ok, first: What You Might Have Missed This Week

The Fight for Joy

Summer Scribbles No. 4: The Summer After High School

II. 

Since it's the Weekend of the Fourth, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about Our Peculiar Form of Government! So gather 'round for a Civics lesson, cats and kittens!

 

III. 

OK, the first thing y'all need to know: Things in the U.S. are done in threes. There are three branches of government. There are three levels of government. 

The three branches of government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial.

The three levels of government: local, state, federal. This is called Federalism. (More on that in a bit) 

Every level of government has the three branches of government. 

So, your town has a mayor (executive), a city council (legislative), and a mayor's court (judicial). Or something like a mayor's court.

A state has a state legislature, a governor, and a state supreme court. 

The nation--the United States-- has Congress (legislative), a president (executive), and the Supreme Court of the United States (Judicial). 

IV.

Each branch of government has its specific functions. 

The legislative branch makes the laws. (This is your local council, state legislature, or the U.S. Congress.)

(For how this works at the federal level....)

The executive enforces the law. This is the mayor, the governor, the President. (You hear the president say he will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America when he's sworn in on Inauguration Day. That's part of being an executive.) 

The judicial branch interprets the law. (It's not supposed to make law, but you know....) 

Each branch has powers over the other branches of government, so that one branch cannot become too powerful. This is called checks and balances. For example, a governor can veto a bill--but the state legislature can override the veto. A supreme court can declare a law unconstitutional, and so forth. 

V. 

Got that? 

Back to Federalism. 

The idea behind Federalism (or at least, American Federalism)  is that what can be decided by the states, should be. The Constitution gives us this in the 10th amendment. 

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.[5]

Keep in mind that, before the Revolutionary War, the colonies were governed by the British King. As in, the King thousands of miles away. Who knew nothing about them or what they were doing or what they wanted. Hence, the idea that government that is closest to the people should make most of the day to day decisions for the people in that area. From the beginning, everyone agreed that there should be levels of government--but who does what? What should the Federal government do? What should the state governments do? Etc. 

You can still see that we have a divide in our country about what the Federal government should do and what it should not do.  But the general idea was that government closer to home is better at knowing what the people need in a particular area, and that the federal government is good for things that affect the nation as a whole. (i.e., the military, building roads, the mail service, etc.) 

VI. 

Having said all that

People do not seem to understand these ideas. 

Here are two examples. 

1) When I worked in my congressman's office (Congress being the legislative branch on the Federal--national--level), people would call and complain about the local sewer service. Or trash pickup in the city where the district office was located.  

This is not something you call the federal government about. This is something you call the local city/township/village about. 

2) When I worked in the state senate, people used to call and ask for federal senators. As in, senators from other states. Note that I worked in the state senate. As in, all of our senators represented different parts of Ohio. Not different states in the nation. 

You may remember that the Democratic Nominee for President is 2004 was Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. That fall, I worked for State Senator Jon Carey, who represented part of the state of Ohio. 

Can you guess what happened in our office nearly every day? 

That's right. People called looking for Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts

Yes, they were both senators. And yes, their names were pronounced the same way. 

But guys. One is a federal senator. As in, he works in Washington, D.C. and represents the people of an entire state--which was not Ohio.  

One is a state senator. He represents significantly fewer people.  And he's not running for president. 

VII. 

If you learn nothing else in any civics class, ever, please learn the difference between the branches and levels of government. Don't say that a state representative is getting the same great paycheck/benefits as his federal counterpart. Don't call the mayor to complain about the president (and definitely not vice-versa). Don't expect the Supreme Court of the United States to care about broken city ordinances in Smalltown, U.S.A. (I mean, sometimes they do. But that's another kettle of fish.) 

And now I shall leave you with the Schuyler Sisters. 

 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 102: Seven Great Cast Recordings

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment

We're doing something a little different this week. I'm sharing with you seven of my favorite Broadway Cast albums, for either your edification, or to serve as a "what to buy" for the Musically Inclined on your Christmas list (or for yourself!) 

These are not in any particular order, except for 1 and 2, because 1 and 2 are freaking indisputable

I. 

he Phantom of the Opera: Original Broadway Cast Recording. 

It's the best selling cast album of all time. So, you know. It's also the Cast Recording that made me fall head-over-heels in love with musical theater. You really cannot know awesomeness until you have this cast recording. The great thing is, it's almost the entire show. (If you want the whole show on disc, you want the 25th anniversary cast, but that's not as good, vocally, as the original. So if you're only getting one, go here.)

II.

Les Miserables: 10th Anniversary Concert recording

This is THE RECORDING. I have the "complete symphonic recording" from when I did Les Miz a few years back, and I wanted the whole thing on disc. But the 10th anniversary cast is the creme de la creme. There is no better "Bring Him Home" in the entire Freaking Universe. 

III. 

Titanic: Original Broadway Cast Recording

This is such a fantastic show, and it's much more choral in nature than any of the other choices here. The writing is complex, vivid, and the end of the show is an emotional gut-punch. "The Proposal/The Night Was Alive", "Lady's Maid", "In Every Age" and "Still" are just a few of the highlights. 

IV. 

Parade: Original Broadway Cast Recording.

Yes. It's a show about a lynching and a murder. But man, the music is incredible. Jason Robert Brown is one of my favorite contemporary composers, and what he does here is magic from beginning to end. I was fortunate enough to be in this show several years ago and it is my favorite musical experience to date. 

V. 

he Scarlet Pimpernel: Original Broadway Cast Recording

rank Wildhorn makes my alto heart happyScarlet Pimpernel, a retelling of the novel, is beautifully written, sharp, witty, and has some of the best melodies he's ever churned out, that have never gotten the attention that J&H got. Also, "Storybook" is my signature piece, so I have to include this recording.
 

VI. 

Jesus Christ Superstar: 1997 Revival Cast

Is it wrong that I listen to this every Holy Week? If it's wrong, I don't want to be right. 

VII. 

OK, seven is a tie. I'm sorry. But it is :) 

Fun HomeOriginal Broadway Cast. I love this recording. Michael Ceveris (who is also on the Titanic soundtrack) is in great voice here, as is Judy Kuhn (who is also on the Les Miz recording). The music is written differently, and in new forms,but the end, in particular, is just devastating (in a good way). Great performances all around. 

The Producers: Original Broadway Cast

It's just so funny. This CD brightened many gray winter commutes in my life. And it's much better than the movie version of the musical. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick are in top, top form here. 

 

To round out a "top ten", here's three honorable mentions: 

The Bridges of Madison County: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Sunset Boulevard (really, any recording works. I prefer the one with Judy Juhn as Betty Schaffer.) 

The Secret Garden: Original Broadway Cast Recording

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 101

7 Quick Takes, writing, theater, holidays, behind the scenesEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

First an addition to the Daybook from earlier this week. I don't know what happened to the text, but I'd written a bunch about Hamilton that inexplicably disappeared after I hit 'publish'. So, I'm rewriting it here. :) 

 

Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schulyer Church) in a scene from  Hamilton . 

Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schulyer Church) in a scene from Hamilton

This musical has been getting a lot of positive press, and at first I was skeptical, because: rap? hip-hop? Whaaaa. No. Emily doesn't like that sort of music. But surprisingly, it works really well here, to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton. Most of us know Hamilton because of one of three things: he died in a duel with Aaron Burr; he's on the $10 bill, or he wrote a lot of the Federalist Papers. But he did a lot more than that. He found the New York Post, was the first Secretary of the Treasury, and served with George Washington during the Revolutionary War. 

The musical is sung-through (I think) and covers his life from his arrival in America as a young man, his graduation from Princeton, involvement in the Revolution, marriage to Eliza Schuyler, birth of his son, rise in Washington's administration, and then his political downfall and death. The musical was written and composed by its star, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Some of my favorite tracks are "Helpless", "Burn", "My Shot", "The Room Where It Happens", "You'll Be Back" (a hilarious song for King George III, played by Jonathan Groff), and "It's Quiet Uptown". 

Anyway, all this to say--give it a whirl. It's probably going to kill it at the Tonys and there's even talk of a Pulitzer Prize win. 

II.

I won NaNo! Yes, it's only the second week of November, but I'm over 50K, and I think there might be a sequel to this novel, because I don't think I can do the story justice in one setting. How crazy is that? These characters haven't stuck with the plan at all, but I've never written anything so fast, and as long as what the characters want works with the plot, then I'm fine with them dictating things to me. 

Right now I'm imagining them as YA novels. But of course anyone can read them. 

III. 

The Confirmation last weekend went well. I was proud of my cousin, and glad she picked a real saint--some of the kids just picked their middle names or something. (I know this because I asked one kid who her saint was--I'd never heard of this--and she said "it's my middle name." Eyeroll. Now, I'm sure there is a saint with that name, but come on, guys!)

IV. 

My Christmas cards are  done! Yay! I always love doing the Christmas cards. I usually start sending them out the first week in December, because some of my friends are in school and go home for the holidays, and I want them to get it before that happens. And I also love sending real mail to people. 

V.

I also binge watched Starz's Flesh and Bone this week. I wish the ending would've been more concrete, since the series isn't being renewed, but I guess it was probably shot before that decision was made? I love anything that has to do with ballet, so this series, which focuses on a fictional ballet company, was something that's like catnip to me. There were several great plot lines. (And also several tired plot lines--crazy artistic director, back-stabbing catty corps dancers, etc. )

VI. 

I'm moving on in Sketchbook Skool, too. Right now we're doing continuous line drawing ,which is something that I definitely need to work on, because my drawings looks crazy right now. Our assignment is to do one, two, and three objects this way, and then do one three object drawing and watercolor it. I'm a little afraid of that assignment. 

VII.

How are you guys doing on your holiday shopping/preparation? When do you put up your decorations? I Usually start the day of the OSU-Michigan game, which is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. 

 

 

 

Daybook No. 111

Daybook, current projects, writing, books, fiction, Tidying UpEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Gray and rainy, sort of windy. The last few leaves are clinging to the trees and it really feels like fall out there. Not that I mind. I'm ready for it, because I do love my sweaters, tea, books, and blankets. As long as it's not snowing (heaven forbid), I'm fine. 

(It's actually not my window. I'm at Starbucks, writing and getting lots of stuff done with a Peppermint Mocha to hand.) 

Wearing::

jeans, navy blue flats, fake diamond studs, and a sweater from Lands End that's "vicuna" (that's what they call this sort of creamy khaki color) and black stripped. It's super cozy and perfect for today. 

Reading::

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell; The Betrothed for Facebook Catholic Ladies' Book Club; The Fiery Cross (again). I've also got one more Neapolitan novel to read, but I think I'm going to wait to pick that one up. It's the last one, so savoring is appropriate. I'm also re-dedicating myself to finishing City of God sometime in the near future. It's just sitting on my "to read" pile and mocking me. 

Writing::

So, NaNoWriMo is still off and running, and man, I am writing fast, but the book has changed a lot from my initial conception. I've changed the title, I've changed the plot--basically, the characters have told me that they want this story. Forgiveness is a major theme. I'm wondering if this should even be--gasp--a series. Because it might be too long for just one book. I can certainly write them as two. 

Julie (My protagonist) is a fascinating character to write, because she's really not like me, and that's a first. Most of my protagonists, up until now, have had some basis in myself. But not Julie. This is also a YA novel, and I've never purposefully written one of those before. 

I'm really excited about this project, which is funny, because at first I wasn't sure if I was going to Do NaNo at all--but now I've got characters that are really clicking, and a long-winding plot that might go for two books. I should hit the "winning" total- 50K- by the end of this week. 

Creativity In Other Areas::

My friend Sarah is going to help me master the art of knitting and purling in the same project! So we're going to hopefully have a yarn along update for you guys tomorrow! I'm also working on a bunch of new blog post ideas, including the return of the Food Stories posts. 

Quick Movie Review::

spectre-poster-black-white.jpg

I saw Spectre with my brother last night, and it was better than I thought it would be. I don't know if it was as good as Skyfall, but it's really close, in my opinion. I love how the writers drew all of the Daniel Craig Bond plots together into a cohesive web. I don't know if we needed the car chase through Rome, but "reason not the need", as Lear says. Daniel Craig is great as Bond, and I love Ralph Fiennes as M (although I miss Judi Dench!). 

The ending was a bit abrupt and left me wondering what the next movie will be like. Speculation on the Interwebs is saying that movie will be out in 2017, so I guess I don't have too long to wait. 

(Although, one thing--can we stop with the efforts to dismantle the 00 Program, please? I mean, how many movies do we need before the British Government realizes that it's a very bad idea to do away with Bond and his ilk? Come on, guys!) 

(I also now feel the urge to watch all the Craig Bonds in succession. Maybe I'll do that after I finish writing today.) 

Tidying Up::

I have just about reached the end of the categories! The next step in the book is "finding a place for everything", and that might take some time. I'm going to re-read that section and try to get an idea of a game plan. 

Kondo talks about a "click point"--as in, you'll know when you're reached the optimal number of things you need in a category. I don't think I've hit it yet with my books or DVDs, so I'm going to keep culling. 

Listening To: