March Round Up

Oh March, you topsy turvy month of lions and lambs, sunshine and snow, steaming hot lattes and iced coffee on the rocks, you really took us for a roller coaster ride. We’ve been busy of late — with work, with friends, with life — and your ups and downs left us feeling discombobulated at times, unsure of where we stood or, on a more practical note, what on earth to wear when we walked out our doors. The highlights? Zelda celebrated her college bestie’s impending wedding with her first ever bridal shower (and a huge Long Island one at that — she required several days to recover). Scout cheered on her Cats to a…on second thought let’s not talk about that. And in the most exciting event of all, we both made it back to our beloved Ville, and for an overlapping 24 hours no less, during which we fêted the universally beloved Gaga and her 85 years on this earth, checked out our newly renovated hometown museum, drank Easter beer in a converted church served by a bartender dressed like Jesus, and snagged some of Louisville’s best chocolate chip cookies . It was a sorely needed home fix and family fix for us both, and we made our way back to New York decidedly sleep-deprived, but ready to face April — or, as we like to call it, pre-Derby. Stay tuned, y’all. It’s about to get real.

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What We’re Doing: This month on the blog, Zelda made her 2016 Broadway wish list, checked it twice, and prayed to the Hamilton gods once more that they, in their infinite wisdom, might grant her a seat in the room where it happens. Scout taught y’all how to speak Southerner, using the true language of 2016: emoji. In the newest addition to our GRITS series, Zelda profiled Tennesseean, retro style maven, and vocalist extraordinaire Rachael Price of one of our favorite bands, Lake Street Dive. We both shared some of our favorite podcasts, the things we listen to when we just want some non-musical education, amusement, or both in our ears. Scout reflected on just how small New York City sometimes seems. And of course, we rounded things off with a playlist (wordless, a first for us), a little inspiration (for the ones with wanderlust), and an “Eat This, Drink That” with eyes toward spring, and our favorite springtime holiday — the Kentucky Derby.

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What We’re Listening To: We decided to separate music and words this month. First, we brought you a playlist of our favorite instrumental songs — the ones that help us stay productive, provide moments of zen, and provide the score to the movie in our heads that is our lives. And then, just for fun, we gave y’all a bonus list of our favorite podcasts. These shows have all the good parts of talk radio and none of the actually-needing-to-have-a-radio parts. Genre-wise, they range far and wide, from the meme-inducing, enthralling, must-binge Serial to the sports-nerd-celebrating, WWI-poetry-loving, soccer-talking Men in Blazers and tons of chuckles and good vibes in between.

We also love: This A+ project in which many people of note each read a chapter of the great American novel, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Featuring Tilda Swinton, Chad Harbach, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry, and many more. Also available in podcast form. And Zelda has fallen head over heels for 26-year old dishwasher-turned-gospel/soul-singer Leon Bridges and his album Coming Home. She realizes she’s a bit late to the party (said album came out last June), and as with most new music, she has her younger and far hipper siblings to thank for bringing her up to speed.

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What We’re Watching: If you aren’t watching the joyous celebration of a show that is the CW’s Golden Globe-winning “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” you are the insane one. It’s fun, and it’s poignant, and it has Santino Fontana, and, oh yeah, it’s A MUSICAL. Seriously, you need to be watching this, like, yesterday. A rap song about being a Jewish-American Princess? Oh we have that. A sexy song about the pain we go through to get ready for a night out? We’ve got that too.  A song legitimizing and celebrating bisexuality without fetishizing it, in the style of Huey Lewis and the News? SIGN US THE F*** UP.  Seriously, GO WATCH THIS SHOW NOW.

We also love: This Tiny Desk concert by our favs, Lake Street Dive, courtesy of NPR. This TimesTalk with composers and writers Jeanine Tesori, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Danai Gurira and Artistic Director of the Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, about bringing off-Broadway shows to the Great White Way and breaking all sort of barriers in the process. The women of Hamilton — Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jasmine Cephas-Jones, and Phillipa Soo — rapping and singing feminist quotations in honor of Women’s History Month (Werk!)This video in which Hank Green breaks down the politics of our favorite fictional Indiana town, Pawnee, and the unlikely but strong friendship between Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson. And finally, this new HBO documentary about our personal hero Nora Ephron, and her philosophy that everything is copy.

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What We’re Reading: This BRILLIANT Tumblr that chronicles the travails of the first-ever muggle to work at Hogwarts, and his half-blood partner in wizarding IT. This ode to the most important meal of the day, and our favorite genre of eats: breakfast (The New York Times). This latest piece of brilliance from Zelda’s fav Adam Gopnik, whose title says it all: “Straightened Out Croissants and the Decline of Civilization” (The New Yorker). This profile of badass  Kentucky crooner, and GRITS profilee, Loretta Lynn (The New York Times). Speaking of Ms. Lynn, this list of a baker’s dozen of Kentucky’s greatest musicians, herself included (Kentucky for Kentucky). This peak behind the curtain (pun intended) at the life of theatrical godfather and master of the Public, Oskar Eustis (Vogue). This conversation between delightful Africans (and humans in general) Lupita Nyong’o and Trevor Noah (The New York Times). This valiant defense of the great pun power of William Shakespeare, and why modern English speakers should be fighting to put the funny back in Falstaff (The Atlantic). This list of 28 reasons we’re so lucky to be alive right now, in what may be the newest Golden Age of New York theatre (Vulture). This trip to an alternate reality in which Donald Trump reviews classic works of literature instead of making us want to put our heads through our desks, a truly delightful work of satire for the Twitter Age (BuzzFeed). This essay by the delightful Caitlin Moran about the things human women won’t tell you about being a human woman (Esquire UK). This musing on the challenges of navigating feminism and emojis, featuring our favorite of all the pixelated bunch — the flamenco dancer (The New York Times). This defense of the pronoun America loves to mock but secretly really needs: y’all (The Atlantic). This tip of the hat to our hometown art museum, the Speed, and the awesome work they’re doing to increase diversity among their leadership (The New York Times). This profile of budding Broadway composer and pie enthusiast, Waitress’s Sara Bareilles (The New York Times). This take on everyone’s favorite hapless diarist, Bridget Jones, as the original millennial (The New Yorker). This profile on art collector and generally rad dude, Al Shands, whose existence we discovered during our visit to our recently re-opened hometown museum, The Speed (Hyperallergic).  And finally, our dear friend Jason has embarked on a new project wherein he writes every day about a song by one of his (and our) favorite bands, The Mountain Goats. It is thoughtful and funny and all around great, much like Jason himself. We highly recommend you check it out.

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What We’re Eating: We’re gearing up for Derby celebrations here at the Z&S homestead, so this month, for our Eat This, Drink That adventure, Scout tried her hand at the Kentucky staple benedictine. This is one of many recipes we’re looking to perfect before our Second Annual Zelda and Scout Derby Party, and our version turned out pretty tasty, if we do say so ourselves — refreshing and just the right consistency. It will definitely be making a reappearance come the first Saturday in May. And of course, no trip home is complete without good eats. Scout hit up Holy Grale for Easter Brunch, to much success (Cider-infused rabbit pâté, hash browns and fried eggs, plus avocado bacon sliders? Home Sweet Home). Zelda went gaga for August Moon‘s crab meat and goat cheese wontons, Please and Thank You‘s chocolate chip cookies, and Havana Rumba‘s everything (plus her mama’s home cooking, of course).

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What We’re Drinking: Spring has tentatively sprung in these parts (and then run away, and then come back, and then disappeared in a whirl of snow, and then come tiptoeing back in again). Zelda got in the spirit with this month’s ETDT cocktail, a vernal twist on an old favorite she picked up during her European travels — ooh la la! The Bee’s Knees is a refreshing gin cocktail, traditionally made with lemon and honey. Zelda added fresh lavender in a twist that delighted our taste buds and made her feel like a bona fide mixologist for the afternoon. In other drank news, we’re both loving Birrificio del Ducato’s Baciami Lipsia, a gose made with pink sea salt (and a host of other delicious flavors) that we sipped courtesy of, you guessed it, Holy Grale.

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What’s On Our Wishlist: We’re always praying for spring weather and tickets to Hamilton, but there are a few more concrete items on our wishlist this month as well. Zelda’s got her eye on these rocks glasses (in the Louisville pattern, of course). And Scout is dreaming of finally upgrading  from her twin bed, which was all that would fit in her first apartment here in the city. She’s looking to IKEA hack something useful as well as ornamental. Suggestions and tips welcome.

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images via: HULU, BOURBON AND BOOTS

Little Big City

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to grow up in a small town. I don’t mean the relative smallness of my hometown as compared to the city in which I currently live. No, I’m talking a truly small town, like the one where my mother grew up — a rural Kentucky hollow whose population currently hovers around 1800: less than half the number of people that work for Zelda’s employer, probably about the same number of people that worked with me at my last job, and roughly the amount of students, professors, and staff at my tiny liberal arts college. I find myself daydreaming about what that would have been like, being able to walk from my house to the store and recognize every face along the way, greeting each one with a smile and a “How ya doin’?” as I make my way.

I’ve probably been on a subway train with 1800 people before and not known a single one of them. New York is a city of nearly 10 million now, and many of us come here seeking a degree of anonymity. There’s something appealing about the degree of invisibility you can maintain here. We want to be able to walk down the streets with our heads down and not have to converse about someone’s family or job or the mayor or the local football team. But part of me is curious about what that would have been like, the kind of unity growing up somewhere that size might bring to a community. It makes me wonder: Does geographic location foster a stronger community than one might find in a city of millions?

I would, in my gut, say yes. My mother tells stories about people from her childhood as if every single one of them is a long lost member of our family (I swear if any of you makes a hillbilly incest joke as you read this, I will hunt you down). She talks about neighbors and friends and people I’ve never heard of like they were just in our house yesterday. From my secondhand point of view, it seems like it would have been pretty nice, idyllic even — although surely not every hamlet can be Stars Hollow. Some of them have to be that town from “The Lottery” (these are obviously two extreme ends of a spectrum, but you understand what I’m saying). I don’t know if I could have grown up like that. I definitely couldn’t live in that town now, though that has more to do with the fact that it lies in a dry county than its size.

This struck me particularly hard this week when I was sitting in Purim services in Park Slope with some friends. Purim is an interesting Jewish holiday — not the most important, but definitely one of the most fun. The main event is the reading of the megilah, which basically involves getting dressed up, telling a story (sometimes simply a reading, in our case performed by willing volunteers), raising hell at appropriate plot points, and drinking…a lot. The congregation we celebrated with shared its space with a church, in a very Stars Hollow-esque arrangement where the crucifix and Star of David were interchanged depending on the day of the week. It struck me that the synagogue I sat in was maybe a quarter of the size of my congregation back in Kentucky. See in Louisville, a city with a population somewhere between 700,000 and 1.2 Million (depending on which lines you choose to acknowledge as borders), including (last they counted) 8500 Jews, there are maybe seven synagogues to choose from. In Brooklyn, the ratio is definitely nowhere close to that, with both way more Jews and way more synagogues at their disposal.

So growing up, I knew much of my Jewish community, from Hebrew School or cotillion or the Kommors’ Annual Hamantaschen Party, but to say I knew all of them is a bit of a stretch. But these people, here in the heart of Brooklyn, all knew each other’s names and faces, their children’s names, etc. It was like they had their own little town, right there in the midst of the metropolis. And it made me think that despite our need for anonymity, our desire for crowds and noise and the teeming masses, even here in this giant melting pot most of us flung ourselves into by choice, we still tend to gravitate toward the small. We seek out these insular pockets of comfort in this crazy place. We look for the spots we can go where we recognize the faces and the names, where we feel safe and comfortable. We look for a place that feels like home.

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It’s not quite the same, I know. My son or daughter isn’t going to walk into my neighborhood bar in thirty years and have the bartender go, “Hey, you’re so-and-so’s daughter, aren’t you?” (Note: This actually happened to me in a restaurant in my mom’s hometown).By that point, he bartender probably won’t be there any more: Hell, the bar may not even be there. But for now, I’ve found ways to create my own slice of small town idyll. I find it in a warm greeting when I walk into my homes away from home, spots like The Sampler or The Way Station. I find it in a hug from my coworker in greeting at the beginning of every week. I find it in dancing the hora with a bunch of Park Slope Jews, in a church, on Purim. New York is, in many ways, the smallest big city ever. Maybe you come here for anonymity, but no one I know has ever really achieved it. We run in the tiniest of interlocking circles, a spiderweb of cracks in the facade of our anonymous lives. In this city, every gathering is spent playing six degrees of separation as we find the spots where our personal bubbles bump up against each other.

And eventually, if we’re lucky, we cocoon ourselves in a blanket of familiarity, creating our own little hamlets — at least psychologically, if not physically. So maybe the friends and neighbors we love and trust are down the block and not next door. Maybe they’re a bus or a train ride away. But the point is we find them, we hold fast when we do, and we carve out our niche among millions of others…and even when there’s a subway to escort us over the county lines between New York, Kings and Queens Counties, we still complain about having to drag ourselves over the line to get a drink,

Like the Radio, But On Demand: Our Favorite Podcasts

We’ve made a lot of playlists on this here blog, talked about the bands we love (Southern or otherwise) and the songs that speak to our souls. But what about when you want some old-fashioned radio in your earbuds, just some dude or lady (or dudes and ladies) talking and providing you with education, amusement, or all of the above. Especially in this city of long commutes and reception-less subway time, podcasts can be a godsend, with their endless hours of free entertainment. In no particular order, here are some of our favorites that we’ve been queuing up as of late.

Zelda’s Picks

Serial: I’m going to start this off with a really obvious one. Like millions of other people, I fell head-over-heels in love with the first season of this true crime journalism experiment from Sarah Koenig, This American Life (another podcast favorite), and WBEZ-Chicago (which is a strange sentiment to describe one’s feelings about the murder of a high school student and the culpability, or not, of her boyfriend). Season Two has taken a very different scope and tone, delving deep into the story of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American POW in the War in Afghanistan, who was freed from the Taliban in May 2014 in a controversial prisoner swap. While it doesn’t have the same intimate feel of the first season — you felt like you were in a secret club with fellow listeners, in which code words like “the Nisha call” could unlock hours of enthusiastic analysis and speculation — it is compelling in an entirely different way. But really, if I’m perfectly honest, I could probably listen to Sarah Koenig read her grocery list and still feel like I was learning something. Find it on iTunes or at serialpodcast.org.

Dear Hank and John: It’s a comedy podcast, about death! Scout and I are both nerdfighters, big fans of John and Hank Green a.k.a. the vlogbrothers, and this podcast is basically a long-form audio version of their popular YouTube videos. They take questions from listeners, offer dubious advice, share the latest news from A.F.C. Wimbledon and the planet Mars (respectively), and dabble in some short poetry. There are occasional guest stars (Note: I originally typed that as “death stars.” I swear on Princess Leia’s buns. Clearly this podcast about death has gotten into my brain…), usually from the world of YouTube. It is by turns funny and thoughtful, tackling questions big (Who am I? How do I figure out what I want from life? How do adults make friends?) and small (Is it acceptable to put water on one’s cereal?), all infused with brotherly camaraderie. Find it on iTunes and SoundCloud. You can also support it on Patreon!

Not Too Deep: Speaking of YouTube, this podcast, courtesy of funny human lady and big sister to the internet Grace Helbig, is another of my favorites. Grace interviews other people from #TeamInternet, mainly from the world of YouTube but occasionally from Vine or other platforms as well. As the name of the podcast might suggest, her questions are decidedly on the silly side, and absurd and hilarious discussions always ensue. She has also led me to contemplate how I would answer one of her go-to questions, which she asks every guest: If you could throw cold spaghetti in the face of any human, who would you pick? Food for thought (pun 100% intended, Hannah Hart style). Find it on iTunes and SoundCloud or at nottoodeep.com.

Another Round: A newcomer to my podcast rotation, but quickly becoming one of my favorites! This podcast comes to us courtesy of Buzzfeed’s Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton. I came for the in-depth discussion of all things hip-hop, musical theatre, and Obama’s musk with Lin-Manuel Miranda, and stayed for Heben and Tracy’s hilarious quips and easy banter. These ladies are smart, funny, feminist, and decidedly woke, and they bring equal parts sass and intellect to their weekly chats with guests from Uzo Aduba to Melissa Harris-Perry to Ta-Nehisi Coates. Also they give career advice and discuss collective nouns. It’s super funny. You have to listen to believe it. Find it on iTunes and SoundCloud, or via BuzzFeed.

Dear Sugar Radio: You know those books that come into your life at just the right moment, that speak to your heart, shine light into your dark corner, and make you feel less alone in this great wise universe? That’s what Tiny Beautiful Things, the compilation of Cheryl Strayed’s “Dear Sugar” columns was for me. I devoured it — on the subway, in the park, curled up in bed — and was devastated when I turned the page on the last shimmering chapter. Luckily for me, while “Dear Sugar” no longer continues in print form, its spirit lives on as a podcast hosted by Strayed and her Sugar predecessor (and originator of the moniker), Steve Almond. Much like the Rumpus column, the Sugars take listeners’ questions and dispense advice (which is decidedly less dubious than that of the Green brothers). It’s like a shot of sunshine and empathy, straight to your eardrums, told with all the honesty and love that made me love the book. Find it on iTunes or via WBUR -Boston.

Women of the Hour: I am not Lena Dunham’s biggest fan (although I do not harbor the same level of antipathy towards her as Scout, who, among other reservations, has been told one too many times, “You look just like Hannah Horvath!”). I enjoyed her book, for the most part, and have dabbled in “Girls,” but to me she is generally one of those over-hyped, over-exposed, uber-zeitgeisty warriors of millennial culture that I just don’t quite get. So I was skeptical of this project, a mini-series of a podcast, in which Dunham planned to showcase some of her favorite women and delve into the issues that most affect all of us who identify as female. And then I listened to the first episode. To my surprise, I was captivated. The show is thoughtful and funny, with a bangerang cast of guest stars that ranges from Amy Sedaris to Ashley Ford to the fantastic duo of Emma Stone and June Squibb, who get their own advice segment every episode in which they answer listeners’ questions. From friendship and work to love, sex, and more, this podcast is like a slumber party in your ears, with all your coolest and most empathetic friends. A+. Find it on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Scout’s Picks

You Must Remember This: I’ve been on a historical non-fiction podcast kick lately (to be fair, I’m generally on a historical non-fiction kick — it’s kind of my jam. See: Sarah Vowell). But since starting my new job, I find that the long days staring at a computer pass by a lot quicker with someone droning along in my ears. So I reached out to my friends to see what I should listen to. On the top of my pal Jason’s list was You Must Remember This, in which host Karina Longworth guides listeners through “the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century.” I blew through the entire archive in a week. I laughed, I cried, I learned. Karina is engaging and as interested in her subject as her listeners are, if not more. She does limited series of loosely connected subjects, my personal favorite being Star Wars, which chronicles Hollywood’s biggest names during times of war (I dare you not to cry at the story of Carole Lombard and Clark Gable). She does the harrowing and shocking story of the Manson family justice, and is currently diving into Hollywood’s Red Scare and the Blacklist. I’m having some withdrawal symptoms since I no longer have anything to catch up on. Find it on iTunes or at youmustrememberthispodcast.com.

Lore: A recommendation from both my roomie Stephanie and my podcast guru, Jason, Lore is hosted by writer Aaron Mahnke, who maintains that “the truth is more frightening than fiction.” Mahnke tells scary stories from history; he delves into vampires, werewolves, and, in what was honestly the scariest one for me, creepy dolls. I’m not generally one for horror, but this kind of storytelling frames the tales as both a scary story and a history lesson, the latter of which I appreciate somewhat more. The cadence of Mahnke’s voice is very specific, but it provides an atmosphere that is perfect for the stories he tells. It’s entertaining, interesting, and educational — everything I’m looking for in a podcast. Find it on iTunes or at lorepodcast.com. You can also support it on Patreon!

Presidential: From the Washington Post, Presidential is a limited-series podcast specifically for this election year — and before you write it off as a bunch of political pundits discussing the upcoming elections and run screaming for the hills, despite its timeliness, that is NOT what this podcast is. This is me, blatant hater of contemporary politics (but avid participant, because DUH). No Presidential takes the 44 weeks in the year before the presidential election to profile the men that have already been president, and that is my jam. Starting in January with Washington and exploring one president a week until November, reporter Lillian Cunningham uses a combination of interviews, storytelling, and multimedia to explore the men who have run our country. She’s interviewed Pulitzer Prize winners and Library of Congress librarians (who, I must say, are highly entertaining). She took a couple of episodes to hit her stride, but now that she has, I’m totally hooked, and I count the days until I get to hear the next chapter in our illustrious history. Next Up: Kentucky’s own, Zachary Taylor. Find it on iTunes or via the Washington Post.

Men In Blazers: Changing speeds totally, let’s talk about sports! We’ve established that I am a nerd, and if being a nerd means the ability to be unabashedly enthusiastic about stuff, then sports fans are really just sports nerds. And Rog and Davo of Men in Blazers are the ultimate sports nerds. I credit a lot of different people with getting me into soccer — my friends Jess and Eric, John Green, Megan Rapinoe, my unabashed patriotism during the World Cup and the Olympics — but I think listening to this podcast is what cemented my love for the beautiful game. Rog and Davo are funny and irreverent, have respect for their listeners, feature great guests, and offer pretty solid soccer commentary. They understand that being a fan is an integral part of your being: It’s a piece of your soul that you pledge to your team. They understand the joy and the hurt. Plus Rog enjoys World War I poetry, which I also enjoy so, you know, I connect with them on a deep level. And as if I needed more reasons, I like listening to British people talk. They also introduced me to the concept that in soccer, and in life, you are either a blue person or a red person, which if you grew up in Louisville, KY, rings entirely too true (#bluepeopleforlife). Find it on iTunes or SoundCloud, or at meninblazers.com.

The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry: Speaking of listening to British People talk, this podcast was one of my own discoveries. I appreciate the BBC’s dedication to educational programming; it’s one of the reasons I want to move to Britain so badly some day. They gave me QI, The Supersizers, and Back in Time For… (“Dinner” and “The Weekend”). I just really love a good dose of history with my reality/comedy. This podcast from BBC Radio 4 features Drs. Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford investigating various listener queries, those big and little questions that bother all of us: Why do traffic jams happen? Are gingers actually dying out? The only issue is that so far it seems to be updated at random, but it’s pretty new, so I have high hopes. Find it on iTunes or via BBC 4.

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The Memory Palace: Another one for the single-voice-storytelling-whose-drone-comforts-me club (see above), The Memory Palace’s Nate DiMeo tells short, true stories from every facet of history. Each episode ranges from three to twenty minutes. Sometimes he recounts how a slave escaped to freedom, sometimes he tells of child prodigies who never amounted to what everyone thought they would, sometimes he tells us about the people our memories have forgotten. It’s sort of a combination of history and spoken word poetry — storytelling as an art, memory as medium…it’s kind of beautiful. (Fun fact: Nate DiMeo actually co-authored Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America, so he’s got that going for him as well). Find it on iTunes or at thememorypalace.us.

The One We’re Both Excited For


The West Wing Weekly: How do we even find the words to describe how much we love “The West Wing”? It is, in a word, the finest muffins and bagels in all our land. So we were over the moon to learn that former cast member Joshua Malina (he of the Will Bailey glasses) was embarking on a series rewatch, accompanied by his friend Hrishikesh Hirway, and would be breaking down and commenting on each walk-and-talk along the way. Each of the 156 episodes will get its own…episode, with guest spots from other veterans of the show — cast members, writers, and more. Victory is ours, victory is ours. You know the rest.

photos via: Deadline, iTunesPodcasts, Podcastles, KQED Arts, WNYC, Stitcher, RememberThisPod, LorePodcast, The Washington Post, ESPNFC, Charlie Clift, wikipediaJoshua Malina

GRITS: Rachael Price

This article is part of our series “GRITS: Girls Raised in the South,” in which we profile some of our favorite Dixie ladies and the things that make them awesome. Got an idea for a fabulous femme we should feature? Shoot us an email at zeldaandscout@gmail.com! (Alliteration optional.)

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Name: Rachael Price

Hometown: Hendersonville, Tennessee

Profession: jazz vocalist, lead singer for Lake Street Dive, badass

Reasons she’s awesome: Rachael Price is an old soul. The daughter of Australian composer Tom Price, she came into this world equipped with musical bona fides, but soon proved her chops as a musician in her own right. At 17, she received an honorable mention at Montreux Jazz Festival’s International Jazz Vocal Competition. At 18, she was the youngest competitor in the history of the Thelonious Monk Institute Vocal Competition (and a semi-finalist to boot). At 20, she won an Independent Music Award for Best Gospel Song. And in the same year, while a student at the New England Conservatory of Music, she would co-found the band that would bring her smashing onto the world stage and into our hearts: Lake Street Dive.

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A four-piece consisting of Price, drummer Michael Calabrese, upright bassist Bridget Kearney, and trumpetist/guitarist Mike “McDuck” Olson, Lake Street Dive started out as a “free country band.” But the quartet soon found their groove playing retro tunes that defy categorization. A little bit rock, a little bit folk, a little bit funk, and a little bit soul, it’s a sound Calabrese described as, “like the Beatles and Motown had a party together.” The group gained national attention for the covers, particularly a version of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” performed around a single microphone on a Boston street corner, as well as for their original songwriting. After two self-releases, they decided to commit to the group full-time, signed with Signature Sound, and dropped their self-titled album in November 2010. An EP, Fun Machine, followed in 2012; a second album, Bad Self Portraits, dropped in 2014; and last month the band released their third full-length offering, Side Pony, with new label Nonesuch Records.

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Lake Street Dive is an ensemble, it’s true — a finely tuned collaboration of musicians who blend classical training with boundless enthusiasm and a taste for old-school jams with contemporary sass. But Price’s voice is the star, with her unique sound pulsing through every track and infusing every pop note with her jazz roots. The gal who never imagined herself as a rock star has found herself the epitome of cool, stepping into the spotlight at Town Hall alongside Jack White and Joan Baez for an Inside Llewyn Davis concert or filling in for Grace Slick at a Jefferson Airplane reunion performance. The group is embarking on a world tour in support of Side Pony, so it’s the jet setter’s life for Price for the time being. The grand finale is a headlining performance at Radio City Music Hall this October, which will surely lay any lingering rock star doubts to rest. Consider our calendars marked.

Favorite tunes:






images via: IGN, L.L.BEAN BLOG, JEFFERSON THEATeR

Eat This, Drink That: Benedictine and Bee’s Knees

The weather has finally warmed up here in the city, and we are SO EXCITED. Accordingly, for this month’s Eat This, Drink That, we decided to fully embrace the impending blooming season and cook up some food and drink to refresh and renew us with the flavors of spring.

On the food side, we’re running headlong into peak Kentucky season. March Madness approaches, and Derby is just around the corner, so for our leisurely afternoon Scout decided to cook up a traditional Kentucky party spread: benedictine. Invented around the turn of the century, benedictine is a cucumber and cream cheese spread that was originally intended for tea sandwiches, and these days is more often served with crackers or as a dip.

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Benedictine, like beer cheese, is a staple at any Louisville grocery (we like to dip things in cheese, so sue us). The local grocer across from our high school, the late Burgers Market, carried a pre-packaged version in its deli. Their version was a beautiful minty green and tasted like heaven on a cracker.

So Scout had to try her own hand at this much-loved snack; she took this recipe courtesy of “A Taste of Kentucky” and modified it slightly. For her take on the classic, you will need: one 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened; two finely chopped green onions (also known as scallions); a dollop of sour cream; one cucumber, grated and drained; and green food coloring. Story time: Zelda made some benedictine for our Derby party last year, and it was a big hit. But she forgot to drain the cucumber, so it turned out a bit soupy, and more like a dip than a spread. You live, you learn, and our non-Louisvillian friends didn’t know any better. But Scout was determined to avoid repeating past mistakes, so first things first, she grated and drained the cucumber.

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Once your cucumber resembles a ball of splotchy vegetable Play-Doh, combine it with the cream cheese and green onions, and add a dollop of sour cream (the recipe originally called for mayonnaise, but mayonnaise in any quantity larger than one of those little fast food pouches freaks Scout out, and Zelda hates condiments, so we decided to do a switch). Mix well, until the mixture is a thick, even paste. Add as much green food coloring as desired to reach the grade of verdigris you require. Spread on a cracker and dig in!

The verdict? Professional-level benedictine unlocked! Perfect consistency, our spread tasted good on fancy water crackers and Ritz alike. With just enough of that cucumber freshness and cream cheesy goodness, it paired well with Zelda’s boozy (and also spring-themed) contribution.

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On the cocktail side, Zelda decided to dredge up an old favorite. When she was a young teacher in Paris, she and a friend took a brief jaunt to Vienna (as one does). Her friend had a college buddy who was living there at the time, and he squired them around town, showing them his favorite haunts and hidden corners. One night, after a delicious Spanish feast (and many, many glasses of wine), they ended up back at his apartment, a relic out of the 60s that he had procured through a friend of the family deal. Surrounded by shag carpet and mirrored walls, he proceeded to whip up three Bee’s Knees for the gang. One sip of the gin, honey, and lemon goodness, and Zelda was hooked.

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This variation, courtesy of Epicurious, adds a lavender twist to the classic drink (because in Zelda’s drink, adding herbal flavors to a cocktail is pretty much always a good idea). Mix ¼ cup of hot water and 1 teaspoon of dried lavender blossoms (which you can procure at any fancy health food store or, if you’re Zelda, from Amazon) and let steep for 5 minutes, whilst you dream of road trips with the windows down through the fields of Provence. After a good steep, whisk in ¼ cup of honey and strain your simple syrup into a separate bowl or pitcher. Then, in a shaker full of ice, combine 3 tablespoons of your honey syrup, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, and 6 tablespoons of gin (Note: The first round of these left Zelda disappointed, and dismayed at how little cocktail it produced. Then she realized she had been using the teaspoon measures on her jigger instead of the tablespoons. Do not make this mistake). Shake until combined, strain into a chilled martini glass (ideally — we opted for room temperature champagne flutes, because that’s what we had). Garnish with a few lavender blossoms and enjoy!

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Erroneous measurements aside, we were very pleased with these cocktails. They are potent, to be sure, but the flavors are subtle and blend together well, with the lavender in particular coming out on the second or third sip. Best of all, they taste like spring — sunshine lounging in Prospect or Prater Park and the romance of a gentle breeze in your hair, bringing you the smells of grass and earth that you hadn’t realized you were missing during those long winter months.

How To Speak Southerner In Emoji

Sometimes we Southerners get told that we “talk funny” — that we use outdated words and phrases, that we speak too slow or too low, that we just plain can’t be understood. And I get it: I’ve been known to do a little code-switching myself around my Appalachian family. But I love the way Southerners talk. I love that we’ve got our own language, and I love that it continues to evolve. Originally, this article was meant to be a follow-up to Zelda’s 20 Emojis that Every New Yorker Needs, Southern Edition (and believe me, there are plenty of emojis we denizens of Dixie require). But while riding the train with my oft-idiom dropping Momma, I decided that we had a more pressing mission: to teach a whole new generation how to speak Southerner, in a modern, accessible way. So here they are, a few key Southern colloquialisms, as translated into emoji.

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Bless Your Heart: A classic saying, and a way to show your distress/pity/disdain for people who just don’t get it. Roughly translates as, “God you’re an idiot, but it would be hateful and rude to say so outright.” A simple set of emojis for a common saying.

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Cattywampus: Crooked, not straight, awry, askew. Can relate to a physical object or the general state of things. “The pillows are a bit cattywampus on the couch,” or “Things have been a little cattywampus lately.”

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Fixin’ To: A phrase used by every Southerner at one point or another, indicating the intent to do a thing in the near future. “I’m fixin’ to take out the trash.” (Whether or not the thing gets done is irrelevant). See also: Fixins. Noun. The works, having a dinner with all the fixins, 

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Cornbread: Manna from southern heaven. The best type of bread around, what we want all the time but can’t seem to find (at least not the real deal) here in the big city.

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Moonshine: High proof corn-liquor, also called white lightning. A pre-product of whiskey that often connotes an illegal brew from dry counties in the Appalachian hills. See also: Moonshiners.

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Like Lipstick on a Pig: You can dress an ugly thing up all you want, but it’s still an ugly thing. Similar to: “You can’t polish a turd.” In essence, dressing up a product or idea can’t hide its true nature. A stinker’s a stinker, y’all.

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Mad as a Wet Hen: Really really angry. Hens won’t budge from their eggs until they hatch, so in order to get the hens laying more eggs, farmers would pull them off their nests and dunk them in water, two or three times, until they got really angry and started laying eggs again.

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All Hat and No Cattle: All talk and no action. See also “donuts for dinner,” “all sugar no substance.” Big man rolls through town looking like a well-to-do rancher, because he’s got a big ol’ hat and big ol’ talk, but he doesn’t have the cows to back it up.

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Good Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise: I love this saying because it does what Southern idioms do best: complicates a very simple idea. The idea? “If all goes well, we’re good,” or “It’s all up to fate now.” The phrase is a staple in classic country music, a favorite saying of Hank Williams and the title of a song made popular by Johnny Cash.

 

Inspiration Tuesday: Roll On Little Train

March roared in last Tuesday in a whirl of meteorological confusion, giving us sunshine and snow and the drizzle of rain all in the span of one week. The atmosphere can’t seem to settle down, pick a lane (or a season), and this topsy-turvy clime has got us feeling antsy, too. We’re itching to climb in a car, board a train, strap on a backpack, hop on a plane, and see what this world has to offer beyond the limited skyscrapered horizons of the city. There’s a big ole globe out there, full of billions of people with rich stories to tell, and a life spent in one place, even one as teeming as New York, is a small one. Now our ability to actually embark on any grand adventures in the immediate future is limited at the moment, work schedules and limited funds standing cursedly in our way. So if you, like us, find yourself consumed with wanderlust and daydreams, these bits of inspiration are for you. There’s a train somewhere that we’re vicariously riding, through rolling Appalachian hills or wide Western prairies. And our next adventure is just waiting to begin.

Art: “Gare Saint-Lazare,” Claude Monet (1877)

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Poem: “Travel,” Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Book: A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, Bill Bryson

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Song: “Blind Man in Amsterdam,” George Ezra

Video: “Older Than Gravity In Bruges: Thoughts from Places,” vlogbrothers

Quotation: “I am not born for one corner; the whole world is my native land.” — Seneca

images via: WIKIPEDIA, PINTERESTAMAZON