“Joanne” by Lady Gaga:
I love Lady Gaga. Jessica and I stalked her all over Paris years and years ago (God, we’re ancient) and then we went to the album release party at the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Élysées. That was a wonderful night. The lookalikes were terrible, though. To this day, whenever I hear the songs on Born This Way, I’m back in Paris, stomping the streets at night, jamming out with Gaga. I was saddened by the lack of sales for her follow up, Artpop, but I totally get why. She can do whatever she wants, though, and I will support her, so I was delighted by the release of her new album, Joanne. To be completely honest, the reason that it thrilled me so much is because Gaga wears a pink cowboy hat on the cover and looks like a woman I sat near at the Dolly Parton concert in London.
That was a wonderful evening, and that pink-hatted woman was the very definition of TURNT. So I was a fan before the first single. And the singles are fine, “Perfect Illusion” is fun to sing along with, but the singles are never the best tracks, they tend to be the ones that don’t make it to the radio. My favorite at the moment is “Grigio Girls,” which is about drinking wine to get over the frustrations and miseries of the world and it contains my favorite lyric of any album she’s ever released, “We’ll have our sixth Spice Girl in this bitch!” Is that not amazing? “Joanne” is the most beautiful ballad for the dead. “John Wayne” is probably the only thing featuring that name I’ve ever liked. And “Come to Mama” is the best call to change the planet since Michael Jackson’s released “Heal the World.” The entire album is about coming together, chilling, and making life a better place for all those in it. It’s beautiful, somewhat melancholy, and inspiring. And her sound is fabulous. I am living for Gaga-gone-country. It’s everything I want out of her. It’s everything I never knew I needed. I felt that way when she released her jazz album with Tony Bennett, even though I had predicted that one after her Christmas EP. I mean, reader:
Lady Gaga is truly one of the most gifted musicians of our time. I am blessed to share the planet with her and Beyoncé and Dolly Parton. Oh god, they should do a song together.
“Lifting the Veil” by Anthony Sattin:
At this point, you are all well aware of my intense love for Egypt and archaeology. One of these days I’m eventually going to go to school for an Egyptological degree and spend the rest of my able days gleefully sifting sand and analyzing scraps of papyrus. That’s still going to take some time, but it’s nice to finally know what I want to do with life. It’s probably a pointless degree and I’ll never get a job, but it’s going to be so rewarding to take classes at UCLA or the University of Chicago or even the University College London (which would be a treasure — it’s the first school that ever offered a degree in this study). In my old age, I’ll curate a museum, or just enjoy the Luxor sunlight and everything will be fine. I have a particularly obscure interest in this field, and that is the history of the study of the history of ancient Egypt. Does that make sense? I like to learn about the first excavators and their lives. I like to know about Egypt in the Victorian era. Of course I love learning about Akhenaten’s theological divergence from the polytheistic norms, but I also love reading about Flinders Petrie’s excavations in the heretical pharaoh’s new city. This doesn’t seem to be something that a lot of people study or find interesting, but I finally found a kindred spirit in Anthony Sattin. He is an historian and travel book author who writes enchantingly about the lives of travelers to Egypt. He is the first person that ever told me that Florence Nightengale made a voyage up the Nile and that she sat alone in the beautiful Temple of Seti I and loved it. I did the same because of her, and I loved it, too, and what a marvelous place that is still. It will be a treat for all eternity. But, anyway, I have just started this book that he wrote, and I am already charmed by the diverse characters and their thoughts about Egypt. You see, reader, Egypt doesn’t change all that much, and a line he wrote totally captivated my imagination. Maybe it will yours, too? “People are attracted…to the exoticism of Africa and the call of Islam, to the beauty of the landscape, to a different life, to a better life than many could live at home, and to a unique combination of past and present.” That is the perfect description of the land I love so much. I can’t wait to devour the rest of the book.
Gilenya Co-Pay Support:
When I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I was really annoyed. I mean, I was glad I didn’t have a brain tumor or something that was going to immediately kill me, but it was still a huge irritation to have an incurable neurological disorder. If you don’t have something like this, you don’t really understand. You can be empathetic and sympathetic, which is so appreciated, but you will never really be able to grasp what it’s like. Having a disease, even when you feel fine for the longest time, is like having a rock in your shoe that you can’t get rid of. It rolls around, and you can walk for miles and be fine, but then it slides under your foot and you feel it every time you step. Then, even when you aren’t in pain, you know it’s there, waiting to annoy you. Multiple sclerosis is like that for me. It’s been over half a year since this crap began, and I feel fine now. I’ve felt fine for awhile. So that’s great. But the knowledge that it exists lingers. I take my medicine every day, which has responded fantastically well to me. It made me lose a bunch of hair at the beginning, but it seems that this has calmed down. And thank god, because I refuse to not have hair. You should have seen me manically refusing to brush my hair in Turin this summer and screaming when I washed it. I can’t imagine going bald. To me, it would be like not having hands and more inconvenient. Anyway, unless I have a case of benign multiple sclerosis, the medicine apparently has worked well. But the price is shockingly high. I have insurance from work — thanks, Obama…seriously, I love you, SO MUCH — so I only have to pay the copay. Without insurance, the annual price for a prescription of Gilenya is roughly $54,000. That’s not a typo. With insurance, my copay is only $135 a month. That’s much better. And, to my great shock and delight, Gilenya offers a copay support program. You send in the receipt for your prescription, and they send you back a check for the charges. So, I technically pay absolutely nothing for my expensive drugs. And that is just such a great blessing. I received the first check yesterday, and it was just so wonderful to see that money. Like, I’m appreciative for every nickel I’ve ever received, let alone $135, so it was a great trip to the mailbox. I hate having a disease, but I like paying nothing for medicine that keeps me feeling like myself. Many people aren’t so lucky.
“Sunset Boulevard” Revival:
It appears that my spring break trip has been planned for me once again by the gods of theatre. One year, I went to New York to see the fabulous A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. So worth the trip! Another year I went to Washington DC to see my queen, Angela Lansbury, in Blithe Spirit. That performance changed my life, reader, and I’m sure you remember hearing about me jubilantly weeping down Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s still probably one of the best days of my life. Well, reader, something fabulous was announced yesterday and I utterly lost my shit. Sunset Boulevard is coming back to the stage and Glenn Close is going to star on Broadway. Reader…I don’t know if I can completely explain myself to but let’s break it down. The film, Sunset Boulevard, starring the inimitable Gloria Swanson made a profound impact on my personality.
I grew obsessed with the Grande Dame Guignol genre of cinema and with Gloria. I bought her autobiography and devoured it on a balcony in Villefrance-sir-Mer overlooking the Mediterranean. Her genius was underappreciated. Her husband released a book called Sugar Blues that did a lot to lead me on the path to vegetarianism. She wrote her own musical version of Sunset Boulevard called Sunset! but it was never a success, and if I remember correctly, legal troubles kept her from ever mounting her play. Because of all that, I found that Andrew Lloyd Webber had written a version of his own, so I downloaded every cast recording I could find. And reader, I was absolutely blown away. The strings are discordant, haunting, perfect for Hollywood in the Golden Age of Cinema. There are few songs more powerful than “With One Look,” nothing will make you weep more for your dead monkey than “Surrender,” and I can’t think of a song that better describes the melancholy yearning for yesterday better than “As If We Never Said Goodbye.” I’m a ho for this musical, but I’ve never had the chance to see it. In 2009, I was in London when a small production was staged, but it was too late, so I went to see Eddie Izzard do a gig. And really that was worth it since how often do you get to hang with the voice actress who portrays Piglet in Germany? I mean, never, right? I assumed for so long that I would never have the opportunity to see it. But now…reader…I’m on Cloud Nine (what does that mean?)…I finally have the chance. I will do everything I can to go to New York this March. I’ll take that damn train again if I have to. Oh it’ll be a delight. I’ll go back to the Neue Gallery, stay at The Jane, walk through Central Park, eat chocolate chip cookies, stalk Martha Stewart and her bff, Snoop Dogg, and have a beautiful opportunity to be city Ben. And I’ll see Glenn Close! I haven’t felt so excited in so long!
Walmart Clearance Aisles:
I’m a ho for a bargain. I like nothing more than buying things on the cheap. It’s starting to become a real problem. I like that girl in that movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, but I do discount splurges instead of designer. If I had the money for designer, I would absolutely be spending all my money at Saint Laurent and Burberry. I know that someday that will be something that I can do. I meditate on having the life that leads to this. If there is any truth to manifestation and the powers of attraction, soon I will have it. I have already seen evidence of this at work. I mean, just look at my life and tell me that I didn’t will the Universe to make this happen? Is it normal for a child to have an overwhelming passion for ancient Egypt for literally no reason and go on to develop an uncanny understanding of that civilization and then be fully embraced by the natives of the modern country? It’s illogical, but that’s how the world works. And until I can manifest luxury living into my everyday lifestyle, I will shop in clearance aisles. Now, reader, there are no finer clearance aisles than the one at the Walmart in Boone, Iowa. It’s jam-packed with goodies. I have probably ten packages of paper straws with a beautiful gold and white pattern that only cost me fifty cents. I have a dozen packages of my preferred graph paper. They only set me back seventy-five cents each. I have found light mask therapies, vitamins, plates, lotions, and more. It’s fabulous. There’s a Kardashian hair curler that I have been eyeing for a few weeks now. Nobody has bought it yet, and the price is slowly coming down. It’ll be mine, reader. Mark my words. But there is more than just a general merchandise aisle, there are aisle caps in the grocery department. Last night I found some delicious tea for under a dollar. I found my favorite olive oil for three dollars less than usual. I found Arnold Palmer drink mix for a dollar. And I bought everything. It was a delight. Save your pennies and go shopping in the clearance department, reader. It will change your life. (But buy your food at ALDI; that’s still cheaper.)