Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison celebrates anachronisms, Ryan Callahan digs up literary treasure, Amanda Hahn avoids playgrounds, and Ashley Bright gets emotional about strange grandmas.
This past Sunday I had the pleasure of checking out The Benson Interruption of Jurassic Park: The Lost World at the Alamo Draft House Richardson. If you’re not familiar with the concept of the show, standup comic Doug Benson (Doug Loves Movies, Super High Me, Last Comic Standing, w33d) invites comics to join him to provide commentary on a film of his choice. Really fun show and I would highly recommend checking it out the next time he comes to town. BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS WEEK. If you’ve ever been to any Alamo Draft House, you know that instead of mundane movie trivia, they generally show a collection of shorts beforehand that ties into the film they’re playing. And it was during this preshow programming that I was reminded of the most fantastic song; “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was).
Was (Not Was) was (is no longer) a band consisting of David and Don Was that created such forgotten songs as “Robot Girl,” “Oh, Mr. Friction,” and, I’m not kidding, six different songs that include the word “freak.” “Walk the Dinosaur” was their opus and they respected it as such by selling it out to any and every movie that had even a tangential connection to dinosaurs. The Flintstones, Theodore Rex, Dinosaur, Super Mario Brothers, and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs all included the hit in one way or another. There are many parts about the tune that I enjoy, but far and away my favorite is the blatant disregard for any sort of timeline. Let’s take a look at the following verse:
It was a night like this forty million years ago
I lit a cigarette, picked up a monkey, start to go
The sun was spitting fire, the sky was blue as ice
I felt a little tired, so I watched 'Miami Vice'
I’d let the reference to a cigarette slide (Addicts, find...a way) but Miami Vice? Why is that a thing? But dropping in modern verbiage isn’t just a one off occurrence:
I met you in a cave, you were painting buffalo
I said I'd be your slave, follow wherever you go
That night we split a rattlesnake and danced beneath the stars
You fell asleep, I stayed awake and watched the passing cars
Where did cars come from? I’m not a songwriter, but I believe that you could probably find another word to rhyme with stars.
One night I dreamed of New York
You and I roasting blue pork
In the Statue of Liberty's torch
Elvis landed in a rocket, rocket, rocket ship
Healed a couple of leapers and disappeared
But where was his beard
I think they gave up by this point, so I’m going to give up making light of it. I genuinely think I put more work into this article about the song than they put into the lyrics. In closing, go to the Alamo Draft House in Richardson for the movies, get their early because the shorts they find are dumb, but great. - David Allison
A few months ago, I recommended the latest issue of McSweeney's, which featured sci-fi and mystery stories culled from anthologies edited by Ray Bradbury and Alfred Hitchcock. Thanks to that anthology, I have discovered the joys of reading Jack Ritchie. Mr. Ritchie (I don't know him well enough to call him Jack, with him being dead for 30 years I probably never will) wrote my favorite story in the McSweeney's anthology, "For All the Rude People," a wickedly delightful tale of a man driven to murder by rudeness. His books are out of print and hard to find, but I was lucky enough to find a collection of his stories at Half Price Books.
Mr. Jack Ritchie's stories are a boon for anyone who seeks to write stories or tell stories or be involved in stories of any kind. He is a master of economy. He can cover more narrative ground, with more wit and vigor, in 1,000 words than most writers can in an entire novel. And his tone! He tells stories of the highest stakes, stories of blackmail and murder and betrayal, and fills them with dry, sardonic sentences like, "It was another ten minutes before Francis was quite dead," and "He was, of course, referring to the body of my wife." The stories themselves read like crime stories created for The Twilight Zone. Nothing is what it seems, and there's a twist waiting at the end. If you're ever in a used book store and find a collection of Jack Ritchie stories, do yourself a favor and pick it up. You won't be disappointed. If you are disappointed, keep it to yourself. Nobody likes a whiner. - Ryan Callahan
All things involving David Mitchell and Robert Webb are so jaw-droppingly creative and enjoyable that each deserve their own 1,000 word post. But this week, the thing that I am loving the most from them is Peep Show. At the recommendation of a friend, I watched this British sitcom obsessively in college but only recently rekindled my passion for it. In Peep Show, the camera angle is always from the perspective of a character in the scene. This allows you to get the best possible view of everyone’s reactions to the awkward, petty, immature main characters and roommates, Mark and Jeremy. Mark’s dry cynicism foils Jeremy’s innocent optimism, but both men are horrifyingly relatable at times. In one episode, Mark gets repeatedly bullied by children in his neighborhood. They yell at him, calling him a pedo, as you hear his inner monologue reminding himself, “You’re definitely not a pedo.” I, myself, avoid jogging by playgrounds in case any bold children decide to call me a fatty as I pass, and I think of that episode every time I do.
When watching, you’ll want to repeat scenes to revisit all the exclamations and facial expressions you missed when laughing the first time around. I have never paused and rewound anything as often as I do when watching Peep Show. Sometimes it’s for a longer scene where Mark decides that leaving a drawing of a swastika on his crush’s desk at work would be funny. Sometimes Jeremy has a mental breakdown and pisses himself. Sometimes it’s just for one, short line (“for better or for worse, the 60’s happened, and now sex is... fine”). But regardless of how absurd it can get, Peep Show is so smartly written and acted that it still feels realistic. The characters, as juvenile and selfish as they are, will grow on you and warm your heart. You’ll laugh when they (frequently) fail, but you’ll still cheer when they win. Waste no time! The entire series is available on Netflix and for free on Hulu.
For more David Mitchell and Robert Webb, watch the phenomenally clever sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Look (also free on Hulu). For a quick work/study break, watch clips of David Mitchell being snarky on the game show, Would I Lie to You? - Amanda Hahn
I'm what the internet folk call a "cord cutter." I have not had cable for many years. I'm not always hip to the know on new Comedy Central shows unless they're available online. I have my mom's HBO Go login and her Netflix, so I'm current on HBO shows, but behind on most everything else. I have my own Amazon Prime, which I use mostly to stay current with Mad Men. I'd buy each episode the night after it aired. Because I'm afraid of the word torrent. This week I've used my Amazon Prime too much. I've went on a Chopped spree. I wake up in the morning and I watch an episode while I get ready. I watch an episode while I'm winding down for bed. I have judges that I love (Jeffrey Zakarian, Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli) and I get overly excited if all three of them are on the same episode. I have judges that I dislike (Amanda "Fartbag" Freitag - I wish I could take the credit for that nickname, bald man that is so awful that I care not to learn his name) that sometimes I feel tempted to end the episode if there is a concentration of bad judges. I never do. I am way too invested in the basket ingredients. I immediately start thinking about what I would make. I love curve ball ingredients like gummy teeth or cheese doodles, but I prefer a well-balanced basket because I prefer to see good meals come out. My blood pressure starts rising when it's down to the clock. Though I'm certain some of the clock closeness is just editing. I get very upset when someone doesn't get their food on the plate. My emotions are far too invested into a cooking competition. I recently watched an episode where all four of the contestants were grandmas. I cried. Actual tears touched my cheeks. I cried watching an episode of Chopped. Oh boy. - Ashley Bright