2016 Reading List #23: Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

I feel slightly ashamed that it’s the first of May and I’ve only completed 23 books this year. I guess I should preface that by saying I’m a fairly accomplished reader, but the need to teach freshman English and finish my MA thesis and take an oral exam kind of got in the way of my normal reading time. My lack of literature classes is also a player in this–no required reading means fewer books read, but freer time to spend.

Since finishing my thesis defense about 5 weeks ago, I’ve been working my way though Voyager, the third book in the Outlander series. I’ve hit the 500 page mark, but since the book caps out at 870, I’ve still got plenty to read. And since this is such a long book, I think it fair to supplement my reading with other things, which is why this post is even happening.

Since I’ve been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack repeatedly for months now, I figured preordering Hamilton: The Revolution was a smart idea. The book contains the show’s libretto accompanied by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s annotations and supplementary interviews and text detailing the preproduction process and insight into the show and the people who’ve made it happen.

I made an odd decision (not sure if I’d call it a mistake, but I was annoyed with myself) to send the book to my home address, where I wouldn’t be going for nearly 2 weeks, so the poor book lay untouched. Once I got home to it, though, we instantly bonded, and I set aside all other reading projects in favor of this one.

The book delivers everything you could ask for in terms of the behind-the-scenes knowledge of the show (it could only be more perfect if it was accompanied by a DVD of the full Broadway production). For whatever reason, I cried like every five minutes of reading. There are certain times when such a reaction is expected (like from the middle of Act Two to the curtain call), but I was oddly emotional for the whole experience.

And experience really is the right word for what this book offers. We don’t all have the luck (or money) to attend the hottest-ticketed show on Broadway, but offers like this one give a glimpse into the world of Hamilton. Now that I’ve finished reading it, I’ll resume my enjoyment of the soundtrack, and continue to hope I’ll win the lottery and afford great seats to this show.





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Though November is pretty much my favorite month of the year, it’s also an undoubtedly busy time. I’m eleven weeks into the semester, which means that things are generally winding down, but also that finals and exams and presentations and papers are all happening. This is really the first time I’ve been behind in any classes, which is a pretty good accomplishment (and probably a reason why I shouldn’t be sitting here writing this instead of reading Hamlet). Sometimes you just need a break.


TV  — Thankfully, I’ve still managed to keep up with my pop culture fun to a certain extent. On Monday, I finished my viewing of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” because Netflix was kind enough to add the ninth season just a few days after I finished season 8. I thoroughly enjoyed myself watching thisshow, and I’m very excited FX is already showing a preview for next season.



As for my other TV viewing habits, I’m just trying to keep up with the influx of fall shows. I’ve only added two new shows to my schedule this season: ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” and The CW’s “Jane the Virgin.” “How to Get Away with Murder” provides the same melodramatic fun that I love about “Scandal,” and “Jane the Virgin” is adorable and funny and totally worth watching. I’m also keeping up with returning shows like “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” “Scandal,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “Reign,” and “America’s Next Top Model.” I’m waiting until Thanksgiving/Christmas break to binge the new season of “Homeland” with my mom. We’ve seen the first two episodes, but decided it would be easier to wait than to try to catch up little by little, so don’t spoil things, please!

Movies — As of yesterday, I’ve completed my goal of watching 125 new movies in 2014! I haven’t seen many in theaters recently, apart from Gone Girlwhich you really all should have seen by now because it’s wonderful. I’m definitely looking forward to the onslaught of awards season movies that are starting to roll out now; I’m specifically excited for Birdman, Nightcrawler, The Imitation Game, Foxcatcher, Wild, Into the Woods, and seeing Whiplash again. As for the movies I have seen recently, some favorites have included Obvious Child, In A World…, and Scream 1, 2, and 3. Netflix doesn’t have Scream 4 right now, which is fairly frustrating. I also had the distinct pleasure of watching the notoriously bad Showgirls recently which was certainly an experience.

Books — Most of my reading has been focused on completing my reading assignments for class, which is pretty understandable considering I’m in an English Master’s program. My biggest projects there have been Hamlet (which I’m behind on) and Antony and Cleopatra (which our professor removed from the reading list, but since I’m already three acts in, I want to finish it). I’m also working away at reading lots of Edgar Allan Poe short stories since I have a class specifically dedicated to Poe. For my final class, most of my reading has been from a very helpful book called Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide that goes in-depth on various critical theories used to analyze literature. It’s great for lit nerds, not so great for the casual reader.

For my own funIMG_0667.JPG reading, I’ve only done three noteworthy reading projects of late, but all of them are worth mentioning. Early in October I bought and read Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, which I enjoyed (if you’re interested, I’m on Dunham’s side in this “sexual abuse” situation, but I also don’t want to start a debate). Though it wasn’t my favorite read ever, there were many laugh-out-loud moments and I thought it was a very true representation of what Dunham has always claimed to be. I also read Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot in October in my quest to read all the important drama literature. The play is frustrating and sad, like lots of those written in the absurd style. Currently, I’m reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Pleasewhich is of course entertaining and funny. I expect to finish it this weekend, so look out for a post with my review.IMG_0683.JPG

And to cap it all off, Taylor Swift’s newest album, 1989, was released last week, meaning that I won’t really be listening to any other music until at least January. My favorite songs at the moment are “Blank Space,” “Style,” and “I Wish You Would.” But I basically adore the entire album because Taylor is a goddess and I’ve worshiped her for six years.

Now, back to the real world. It’s the weekend and after spending the afternoon at our homecoming football game, I know I should be thinking about completing the homework that’s been accumulating on my to do list. Right now, though, the idea of curling up in a blanket on the couch watching movies for the rest of the night sounds so, so much better. A girl can dream, I guess.






Let me indulge — the end of the Jonas Brothers

Okay, readers, it’s highly likely that this post will be uninteresting to you, but I kind of don’t care. This is more for me than it is for anyone else because I’m feeling sentimental and emotional and I need to put it somewhere.

The Jonas Brothers announced yesterday that they’ve officially split as a band after canceling a tour a few weeks ago just days before it was meant to begin. This announcement wasn’t altogether unexpected, but to those of us who’ve stayed (Nick Jonas and the Administration, anyone?) since the beginning, it’s still a heartbreaker.

I first saw those Jonas boys on February 24, 2008 with my best friend and two other good friends. I bought tickets to the concert knowing enough about the band that I went out bought the CD “Jonas Brothers” and listened obsessively until the show. I called myself a fan, but that night changed things. It became a real thing in my life. I cared about these boys. I knew them. I never picked a favorite because I felt that it would be unfair. I suddenly became an expert on Type 1 Diabetes because Nick has it (yeah, it’s weird, I know). They changed me.

That first concert (and the planning leading up to it) brought my best friend and I together. We’d been good friends before then, but this bonded us in a new way that I’ve never shared with anyone else. We spent far too many hours discussing the Jonas family, imagining what it would be like to meet them, how we would fall in love and everything would be perfect. We were the craziest of sixteen-year-old fangirls, and we loved every minute of it.

Katie and I also suffered because of our devotion to these boys, but I think it only served to bring us closer and make us more loyal to the band. We quickly became ostracized when we started wearing skinny jeans and talking about the Jonas Brothers all the time (yeah, I think we were probably kind of obnoxious, but we also were totally on top of the skinny jean trend, so take that, bullies). As far as I’m concerned, other people could hate us all they want to if their only justification was our infatuation with a boy band. High school is a cruel place, but we had something that made being made fun of totally worth it.

Our second Jonas show was July 23, 2008, when I was fortunate enough to win a meet-and-greet pass. Katie didn’t get to come with me, which is probably the biggest regret of this whole experience, but it was a magical moment. It all happened so quickly but I loved every second of it. I have a hard time imagining that there will ever be a time when my photo with the Jonas Brothers won’t be on display at some location in my home.

From that point on, we were just known as the Jonas girls, which was totally fine. We flipped out any time the boys had new girlfriends (sorry, Selena, we totally hated you) and obsessively watched their live chats and YouTube videos. We spent hours on Jonas secrets. We hung their posters on our walls. We bought and memorized their new albums immediately. We even went to school on the day “A Little Bit Longer” was released wearing the exact same outfits (Jonas concert Ts, skinny jeans, and green converse — sorry, world).

It seems like 2008 and 2009 were filled with Jonas moments, whether in our own discussions or going to concerts or watching them on TV. In 2010, we saw Nick on his solo tour and the Camp Rock 2 tour, after which the boys took a long break to pursue different aspirations. But fear not, world, we didn’t give up on them; Katie and I drove to New York City last summer with my mom to see Nick on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and we finally got to live out our fantasies by sitting with the H2$ softball team at a game and going backstage after the show to meet Nick. Obviously, our dedication didn’t falter.

When the boys announced this spring that they’d be doing another tour together, I was ecstatic. Because we’re growing up, though, Katie spent the summer across the country interning, so I bought myself a ticket to see the tour in Indianapolis where I could join up with friends I’d met thanks to my beloved band. Being in that environment again after three years brought all those old emotions back; I was once again the crazy fangirl I’d been at sixteen, but I was disheartened to see the venue so empty compared to the shows of a few years ago. Most fans have stayed loyal, but there was definitely something lost in their years away.

The worst part of that show, though, was experiencing it without Katie. Before then, we’d been to six Jonas-related events together, and considering all we went through together for this band, it felt a bit surreal to be doing it without her. For the first time I cried at a Jonas concert, multiple times. I’ve never been a crier, but seeing them again coupled with missing my best friend brought out my emotions. (I was kind of a hot mess during “When You Look Me in the Eyes.” I don’t want to talk about it.)

Despite my emotions, it was so exciting to see the boys performing together again, and the promise of an upcoming album made it seem like I could relive some memories that have been the best experiences of my life. The announcement of the band’s split killed those hopes, though I don’t blame the Jonases for this decision. It makes sense that they’d go their separate ways, but did it have to happen at such a promising time? The sixteen-year-old in me is still hurt.

With the knowledge that these boys are done (for now) making music together, I just have a few things to say. First, thank you to my mom, who spent far too much money helping me live out these dreams. You never acted like I was crazy for wanting to follow a boy band around the country, so thank you. I absolutely wouldn’t be the same person without these experiences.

Katie, thank you for being my best friend and experiencing this all with me. Sometimes I can’t believe all the embarrassing things we did for these boys (remember the scrapbook? And the “green” photoshoot?), but I’m so glad we did. When we celebrate our best friend-iversary on February 24, we must toast to all those crazy decisions we made for this family. These boys will always be what connects us, and for that, I’m very grateful.

Finally, to Kevin, Joe, and Nick, thank you thank you thank you. You boys gave me my best friend and some of the greatest time we’ve ever had together. You inspired a sense of adventure in me that has changed the way I live and allowed me so many life-changing experiences. My memories of you may fade, but the feeling I get when I look back on all of this will never go away. Thank you for shaping who I am and giving me the best childhood I could have ever asked for.

My reunion with the Jonas Brothers

It’s safe to say that a large portion of my life has been devoted to my love for the Jonas Brothers. In high school, my best friend and I were ostracized for our love of our favorite boy band, but we really didn’t care. They were the group that brought our friendship to a new level, and it turns out, I was much happier being made fun of for loving those boys than being stuck in friendships with lots of catty girls. (Thanks for that, Jonas family.)

So, in honor of seeing the Jonas Brothers in concert for the first time in three long years, I’ve decided to make a list of my very favorite Jonas memories. Excuse me while I indulge in my fangirlness.

1. My first Jonas concert

Overall, the concert I attended last week was my eighth encounter with the Jonas Brothers in one form or another. My first Jonas concert was February 24, 2008, a day that probably changed my life more than I was aware of at every time. Clearly, we went all out with our homemade t-shirts. It was a very important day in my life.



2. Meeting the Jonas Brothers

After that first show, it’s safe to say that I became a true fangirl and my obsession reached a new level. I spent the rest of that spring obsessively researching these boys until it was kind of impossible to During the summer of 2008, the Jonas Brothers toured again, and I was lucky enough to win a pass to the meet and greet, which was probably the greatest thing that could have possibly happened to me at that time in my life. (And yes, I did indeed meet the Jonases in a homemade shirt, which was not the same as my other shirt. Yeah, I needed more of a life.)



3. Jonas and Friends concert in Nashville

I’ve been to a LOT of concerts in my life, but this one still takes the cake. This show was not part of a tour, just a small show at the Ryman Auditorium (one of my very favorite venues) in which the Jonas Brothers brought out guests to sing with them that included Brad Paisley, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Honor Society, and Jordin Sparks. If only this wonderful night could happen again.



4. Seeing Nick Jonas in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway

I have been lucky enough to meet to of my favorite celebrities twice thanks to a friend of my mom’s who worked in the costumes on this show. Last summer, we once again ventured to NYC to see this lovely show on Broadway, and we were again successful in getting backstage. Such a lovely way to meet a celebrity.


5. Jonas Brothers Live 2013 Tour

This tour was totally worth the three year wait. I had never before attended a Jonas show without my best friend at my side, so that was a very strange experience, and it may have contributed to my emotional state. I’ve never been the type of fan who cries during a concert, but that changed a bit. I got rather emotional during the opening, and then kind of lost it during “When You Look Me in the Eyes.” Probably the saddest part was how empty the venue was; there’s a noticeable difference in the number of fans at a Jonas show from the past. However, if you’re a Jonas fan, I absolutely recommend trying to get to a show. It’ll probably bring back memories that you’d forgotten. You’re never too old to return to your fangirl roots.