Classics & Cocktails: Citizen Kane & Rosebud

My husband and I were discussing movies and realized that there is basically a laundry list of them that we should have watched by now according to everyone. So that is exactly what we’re planning to do in 2015. We thought it would be fun to invite anyone who wants to come over and pair each film with a classic cocktail. And because we (meaning me) are total dorks, we’re giving this viewing experience a name: Classics & Cocktails.

We began our deep dive into classic cinema last Friday with Citizen Kane and the “Rosebud” cocktail.

Citizen Kane is widely regarded as the best film of all time. I took a few film classes as electives while earning my undergrad degree, and each professor just assumed that, as students interested in film, everyone had already seen it. And it seemed that most had.

It was written by, directed by, and stars Orson Welles as Charles Kane, an arrogant press tycoon whose death and last word, “Rosebud,” prompts an investigation into his life in an attempt to better understand his elusive character.  But as one of the men perusing his belongings says, “I don’t think any word can explain a man’s life.”

The word “Rosebud,” it turns out, would be a great place to start, though the investigation ends without anyone figuring out what the word meant to Charles. We learn about his interminable rise to wealth from an impoverished childhood, his marriages, his business, and how he became increasingly reclusive as he aged. And we learn at the end of the film that Rosebud was the name of the sled he was playing with the day that he was permanently taken from his childhood home against his wishes. A gold mine was discovered on their property and his mother sold it, set up a trust for Charles to receive when he is 25, and sent him to boarding school so that he could be properly educated.

“Rosebud” is a symbol to Charles, the same way that the green light is a symbol to Jay Gatsby. Both represent what could have been if the circumstances of one’s birth were different. Both signify that despite eventually coming into great wealth, some of the most basic things germane to hope and happiness remain elusive throughout ones life because they cannot be bought and cannot be obtained again.

I enjoyed Citizen Kane very much and am really glad I finally watched it.

Next up: A Streetcar Named Desire

Podcasts I Love: Judge John Hodgman

I decided to check out the Judge John Hodgman podcast after the Pop Culture Happy Hour folks giggled uncontrollably while discussing an episode they referred to simply as “Bats.”  And man, I’m so glad I did. At least once per episode, I find myself saying aloud “God, I love this podcast.”

Brought to us by Maximum Fun, Judge John Hodgman adjudicates lighthearted disputes among friends, family members, and people who don’t take themselves and their disagreement too seriously (for the most part.) John Hodgman (who you may recognize from numerous appearances on The Daily Show, many NPR shows and other podcasts, and whose work you may have read in The New Yorker) presides over both sides’ arguments and delivers a verdict that both agree to adhere to. Jesse Thorn (from the Bullseye podcast) is usually the bailiff (though sometimes guests take over his duties).

Some of my favorite episodes are:

  • TL:DNR, where two friends argue over whether a promise to read a several thousand page book series by a specific date should be upheld.
  • Amicus Grief, wherein a pair of acquaintances or friends (depending on which you ask) argue over a rather intense theory regarding the concept of friendship.
  • Wake Me Up Before You Go, Bro, which I related to only too well because my husband and I have the same dispute. Two brothers live together. One has a harder time waking up than the other, and relies on his brother to wake him up in the morning. The early riser thinks his brother needs to get an alarm clock and depend on himself.
  • The Perp Walk, where a couple argues about the dangers of jay walking.
  • God Save the Teen, wherein two American brothers argue over whether the younger of the two should study abroad at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Die Flederhaus, or the aforementioned episode affectionately known as “Bats.” Two brothers live in a ramshackle house infested with bats and argue over who has the better method of removal. This episode made me laugh until I cried.

It’s often hilarious, but usually thought-provoking as well. I find myself giggling throughout the arguments and gleaning wisdom from John Hodgman as he explains his verdict at the end of each episode. I don’t always agree with his decision, but I am always glad that I listened.

New episodes are posted on Wednesday, and you can listen from the website or subscribe via iTunes or whichever podcast app you like best. (My personal recommendation is Downcast.)

Link Love

Here are some of my favorite things I found around the internet this week:

  • I was perusing the Rookie archives and stumbled upon this article, which struck such a nerve. I find my confidence only grows as I get older, particularly when it comes to the way I dress and the things I like, but I still struggle to share my work and to be openly creative. I love to read others’ perspective on this and find that (as is pretty much always the case) I’m not alone.
  • If you’re a fan of Serial, you’ve probably read The Intercept’s interviews with Jay Wilds and prosecutor Kevin Ulrick and are aware of the controversy drummed up by the bizarrely adversarial tone of the interviewers and their petulant reaction to criticism on Twitter. This article sums up my reaction quite nicely.
  • Linda Holmes wrote a hilarious summary of the trailer for the upcoming J Lo flick, The Boy Next Door. 
  • I read Still Alice a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. This profile of the upcoming film based on the novel has me really excited to check it out.
  • Miranda July has a new book coming out!
  • I’m a sucker for any article that links Fraggle Rock to literature.
  • Not something I found, but something happening this week: A couple weeks ago my husband and I were talking about classic films we really should have already watched and decided to make that a thing in 2015. I bought him this book for Christmas last year and we have yet to really try out any of the concoctions, so we decided to pair the two and host weekly movie nights for us and anyone else who would like to partake. We’re calling it “Classics & Cocktails” and tonight is the premiere! Our first selection none other than the crème de la crème of cinema, Citizen Kane.

Happy perusing and happy weekend!


The world is a wonderfully weird place, consensual reality is significantly flawed, no institution can be trusted, certainty is a mirage, security a delusion, and the tyranny of the dull mind forever threatens — but our lives are not as limited as we think they are, all things are possible, laughter is holier than piety, freedom is sweeter than fame, and in the end it’s love and love alone that really matters.

- Tom Robbins

Book Review: How To Tell Toledo From the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer

how to tell toledo from the night sky book lydia netzer review

Here’s the description from the publisher:

“Can true love exist if it’s been planned from birth?”

Like a jewel shimmering in a Midwest skyline, the Toledo Institute of Astronomy is the nation’s premier center of astronomical discovery and a beacon of scientific learning for astronomers far and wide. Here, dreamy cosmologist George Dermont mines the stars to prove the existence of God. Here, Irene Sparks, an unsentimental scientist, creates black holes in captivity.

George and Irene are on a collision course with love, destiny and fate. They have everything in common: both are ambitious, both passionate about science, both lonely and yearning for connection. The air seems to hum when they’re together. But George and Irene’s attraction was not written in the stars. In fact their mothers, friends since childhood, raised them separately to become each other’s soulmates. When that long-secret plan triggers unintended consequences, the two astronomers must discover the truth about their destinies, and unravel the mystery of what Toledo holds for them—together or, perhaps, apart.

I enjoyed this book immensely. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am always a sucker for a love story, and this one didn’t disappoint. I liked Irene and George separately and together. I laughed out loud throughout the story, and blew through it in two sittings (it would have been one if I started it earlier in the day, but I stayed awake as long as I physically could. Have you ever fallen asleep while reading and dropped a book on your face? Fun stuff.)

I was a bit confused about the relationship between their mothers.  Their plan seemed strange not only because…well, it because it is a strange idea, but because it meant voluntarily separating from each other when they seemed to be inseparable for years. I also didn’t really understand why their feud lasted as long as it did.

All in all, a really fun book that I recommend reading.