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What We're Loving: Archive Obsession, Target Exclusives, Winter Weather, Fake Real News

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison thinks he's better than you, Jonda Robinson has her spandex ready, Rachel Hall drops some truth for men , and Ryan Callahan steps in a pile of Sorkin. Original_New_Yorker_coverThis week I’m loving something that I’m embarrassed to share. Embarrassment is a very difficult emotion for me to feel, because I unabashedly love most pieces of pop culture for which others hide their adoration. The inspiration for this feeling comes from the fear of coming off like an elitist asshole, so before you continue, please remember that I am one of you and not a snob. Do you forgive me? I need to know that you do and that you won’t judge me before I share it. Promise? Promise me! OK. This week I’ve spent a lot of time reading the archives of The New Yorker. The reason I’ve waded through the backlogs of such a fancy publication isn’t to find black-and-white pictures of interpretive dance, instead the goal of the dig was to find every single thing that my new favorite writer, Simon Rich, has ever created. And it was worth the effort because he is phenomenal humorist.

Simon Rich has the cliche resume for a great comedic writer: he once worked at Saturday Night Live and was president of the Harvard Lampoon. You can check out the archive of his creative writing for the New Yorker here, but before you click the link, prepare to lose the rest of your afternoon. Rich does an amazing job of creating realistic outcomes from an absurd premise. The best example of this talent is seen in "Guy Walks Into A Bar," which is an amazing continuation to what happens after a standard guy-walks-into-a-bar joke comes to an end.

So do yourself a favor and check out the writing of Simon Rich, partially so you can enjoy his work, but mostly because I don’t want to be the only one obsessively searching through The New Yorker’s website. - David Allison

taylor-swift-1989-deluxe-album-coverYes, I do own Taylor Swift’s newest album, 1989. Yes, I did buy it the day it came out. Yes, I did go to Target so I could get the deluxe album with bonus tracks. So what? Listening to T-Swift bumpin’ and blarin’ through the Bose system in my sweet sedan makes me feel like I’m hanging out at a super wholesome club—which, if you know me at all, if “wholesome nightclubs” were a thing, I’d be there, sporting a cardigan and dancing awkwardly to “Blank Space” while it plays at a level that is both respectful and responsible.

Don’t worry—1989 is not what I’m here to talk about this week. The thing I want to present to you, in case you haven’t enjoyed it yet, is the aerobics video that pairs perfectly with the first single off the album, “Shake It Off.” If you’re in a bad mood, watch this. The outfits! The moves! The happy, fit people! They’ll get your endorphins going by just watching them shake it off.

If anyone wants to collect enough people and spandex to re-enact this, I’m in. All in. -  Jonda Robinson

wintersocksThe temperature today and for the rest of week is set to be in the mid 40s. Nothing to rejoice over for northerners, but here in Texas it means two extremely important things: 1) Finally a season other than summer has begun, and 2) ladies can stop shaving their legs.

That’s right, it is officially the most wonderful time of year. Sorry to break it to you guys, but us woman folk look forward to this all year long. The summer months are very unforgiving, and as women, we are constantly reminded to look beach ready. That means sun-kissed skin, fresh out the water hair, and shaved legs. But who needs those things when it’s 50 degrees outside? NOT I SAID THE FLY. The fall and winter months bring so many options for the unshaved leg. Boots of all heights, tall schoolgirl socks, maxi skirts and dresses, and oversized everything are all on trend for the upcoming months. Fashion camouflage for those who may be scared of looking frumpy is a thing so go out and explore your favorite stores because you have options.

This is our time. Whether you are single, dating, or married, know that you’ve worked hard this year making sure your legs were looking great and now nature is telling us to take a shave-cation. Retire that razor, because that’s why God invented tights! No more need in feeling self conscious because you forgot to shave one day; take solace in the fact that the only thing you have to maintain are your eyebrows. You deserve this. TREAT YO’ SELF! - Rachel Hall

newsroom3Two years ago I gave The Newsroom a chance, mostly due to my undying love for The West Wing. I did not like what I saw. The show was the worst of Sorkin: excessive pratfalls, smugness, and the belief that smart people show their smarts by speaking in lists. One scene in particular, which featured Jeff Daniels and his news team discussing the jersey scene in Rudy, so irked me that I took to Twitter to ask if Aaron Sorkin has ever spoken to real people or been in a room with real people or watched real people from across the street. You could say this particular scene struck me as phony.

Then the other day a TV blog I read praised the first episode of the new season. I'm nothing if not suggestible, so I gave the show another shot. The third season premiere was quite good. Good enough that I decided to go back to the beginning and give the show a chance. I watched the first season over the past two nights and have already finished the first two episodes of the second season.

Either time has been kind to the show or I have mellowed over the past two years. I found the show fun, witty, and full of all kinds of good Sorkin bits, like people being really sarcastic and people being really honest about their flaws. And it has Sam Waterston, and Sam Waterston is probably the best person ever. Sure, there's still all kinds of bad Sorkin, like the casual misogyny, the romantic subplots that no one could possibly care about, and the sudden tonal shifts. But when the show is good, it is very good, in a very West Wing kind of way. The Osama Bin Laden episode and the Gabrielle Giffords episode in particular got me all choked up. And the Rudy scene wasn't as bad as I remembered either. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Apologies, Honesty, Logging Towns, Not Using Your Hands

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison makes up with an old friend, Jonda Robinson might be the voice of her generation, Molly Jakkamsetti sleeps with the lights on, and Ryan Callahan catches an international disease. WEEZER-2014Imagine one of your favorite friends. Got one? Ok, good.

Now, imagine that you first became friends like 15-20 years ago. You used to hang out all the time, you’d introduce them to your friends, you two were inseparable. It seemed like they just got you. Still there?

Next, picture that like ten years ago, this friend started acting really weird. They began to hang out with a different crowd, acted differently, and just seemed like they were more interested in their new friends than you. Imagine that feeling of weirdness, of betrayal.

Lastly, visualize this friend showing up this week, back to being the cool friend that you remember from twenty years ago. HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE? Years after you’d written them out of your life, because of choices they made, they came back with something that said they’re sorry and that they understand the mistakes they’ve made. Not only would you be able to enjoy their current company, but you’d be able to look back on all of the other memories you shared over the years in a completely different light.

This is my relationship with Weezer. If your story with them is anything like what I’ve just described, then you should check out their new album Everything Will Be Alright In The End. It’s not Pinkerton or Blue, but it’s still really good, mainly because Rivers Cuomo spends the first half of the album apologizing. Don’t believe me? Start with “Back to the Shack” and enjoy them again. - David Allison

urlIf I’m being honest, the thing I’ve been loving since we stepped into the month of October is candy corn. I can’t explain it, especially considering all the other superior Halloween candies out there (shout out to Reese’s Pumpkins), but those tri-colored triangles have become my drug of choice lately, and my local Walgreens is my dealer. I don’t want to make this whole thing about candy, though, so I’ll tell you about the book I’ve been reading while feeding my addiction this week, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl.

The book is a work of nonfiction consisting of essays Dunham’s written about different areas of her life in an effort to “tell you what she’s ‘learned,’” as the tagline reads. While I’m not a fan of everything she does, I respect her work, and I’m slightly fascinated by the fact that we are so similar. For example: she was born in 1986, and so was I; she created, writes, and stars in her own popular show on HBO, Girls, while I created a Tumblr where I post my own stories that are popular with my best friend; she is dating Jack Antonoff, lead guitarist for Fun., and I have listened to Fun. on more than one occasion. I know, right--it’s crazy!

Lena brings the same raw honesty to her book that she incorporates into her work on Girls, so if you’re a fan of the series you’ll enjoy her essays. While in life she may have always been scared of everything (see her essay entitled “Therapy & Me”), in her writing and performing she comes across as unafraid and unapologetic for who she is and the the things she has to share. I appreciate that about her, and I thank her for inspiring me to give myself permission to do the same. - Jonda Robinson

638cde9b3752a092c559747fcf184a27Twin Peaks is coming back, and I’m not talking about the Hooters-rip off restaurant! Can you tell I’m excited?! I remember watching the original, yes in 1990. Boy was I a fan. I bought the Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. I had the soundtrack on a cassette tape. I even tried to tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue (that’s from season one). I was all in.

I liked the goofy characters, especially FBI special Agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle Machlachlan. Something about his straight laced persona offset by his weird fascination with coffee and jelly donuts… oh I’m sorry what was I talking about? Oh yes, the show, of course. I can’t talk about it without a minor spoiler alert- the evil Killer BOB. (If you have to ask why he is called Killer Bob, well that’s the spoiler). That character still freaks me out. There is one scene where he just sits at the edge of Laura’s bed, doesn’t say anything, he just sits there. DAMN! Now I have to sleep with the lights on.

There’s an argument to be made that I only liked the show because I was a moody teenager who felt like “no one understands me and I want to live in this imaginary world in the Pacific Northwest with dancing midgets.” Yeah, that could be true. To test this theory I went back and rewatched the pilot, and I can report my adult self enjoyed it. It’s a nighttime soap opera for sure, with people cheating on their spouses and trying to screw over business rivals. But with a cop crying at the crime scene and a lady wearing an eyepatch, yelling about hanging drapes, I laughed at the weirdness of it all. I hope the new episodes on Showtime live up to the hype. Mark Frost and David Lynch, I’m thrilled to see what you produce. - Molly Jakkamsetti

Unnews_soccer_virusI have a confession to make. Over the summer I was exposed to a virus from a foreign land. The past few months the virus has grown stronger, as have the symptoms: increased heart rate, sore throat, and chills. Now the virus has taken over. I am highly contagious, and find myself unable to leave the house. Obviously the virus I'm talking about is soccer fever. Did you think I was talking about Ebola? Seriously? It would be in rather poor taste to make Ebola jokes in this town at this time. People are dying.

Unlike Ebola, soccer fever has never killed anyone, as far as I know. (Full disclosure: I've only been paying attention to soccer for a few months. My knowledge is limited.) It has, however, led to the occasional drunken fistful or brawl or riot. Luckily, I watch soccer alone, or with my cat. And she's very small and easily beaten in a fight.

Soccer fever tends to strike me every four years, coincidentally in the months during and immediately after the World Cup. The symptoms usually fade by football season, but this year, thanks to gross administrative incompetence and my dawning realization that men who make millions of dollars to commit violence might not limit that violence to the playing field, I can't have any fun watching the NFL. So soccer it is.

Fun fact: in the rest of the world, what we call "soccer" is called "football."

Follow up fun fact: If you did not know that already, you are too young to read this grown up comedy website.

Thanks to NBC Sports and beIN sports, I'm able to watch or stream many games from the Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A. Apparently these are very important leagues, each with their own stars, styles, and rivalries. As a novice, I really don't know what's going on half the time. I just know that I like watching the pretty goals, and the game doesn't stop every three minutes because someone has a serious head injury. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: The Sports-Comedy Connection, Funeral Planning, Old Virgins, Hard Boils

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison returns with his famous SNL preview, Jonda Robinson knows why there are only one set of footprints, Brittany Smith has some recommendations for your trip back to 2006, and Ryan Callahan is easily upsold. saturdaynightlive-logoSaturday Night Live is back this week, which means it’s time for my semi annual (annual as in yearly, semi as in never before) take on the upcoming season. I really do view each year of SNL like the handful of sporting teams I follow. All offseason long I watch as they release and acquire talent, hoping for the big move that puts them over the top and back to relevance. Also, like a sports fan, go into each year with the blind optimism that this year will be better, before watching my expectations crash back to Earth by Thanksgiving.

Here’s why I’m excited (Bullet pointed lists lead to maximum excitement!):

  • Cast reduction.
    • Fewer players means more stage time for those that remain, which means that we’ll actually get to see their talents this year.
  • Michael Che to Weekend Update.
    • Fantastic writer and proved on The Daily Show that he’ll be fantastic behind the desk
    • His move also removed Cecily Strong from Update. I didn’t mind her, but I like what I’ve seen out of Che better and think that she was better in her first season when simply concentrated on sketches.
  • Streeter Seidel added to the writing staff
  • Fortieth Anniversary
    • It has to be good if it’s an anniversary season, right?

- David Allison

secondcity_grandmasrecordsI have to admit that I don’t use Twitter as effectively as I could. I often forget to look at it, then I become overwhelmed at all the tweets I have missed, then I scroll to the most current ones, causing myself to pass over a lot of 140-character gems. Fortunately this week, even though I probably missed out on a lot of important world news, I didn’t miss out on Aidy Bryant (@aidybryant) sharing one of her favorite scenes from the Second City archives.

The sketch is called “Grandma’s Records,” and while I had read it before, I’d never seen it performed. The set-up is that Mother Superior, beloved nun and music lover, has passed away. Her friends are preparing for her funeral and hope to find a suitable record from her collection to play at the service. As with most things in sketch comedy and life in general, there are some hiccups along the path to completing this task. Seeing it performed brought new life to it for me, and there are some specific things to watch out for:

  1. Rachel Dratch’s retelling of the “Footprints” story is fantastic, and it’s the only way I ever want to hear that story again. Also, it reminded me that my own grandma had this story hanging up in her house for most of my life.
  2. Scott Adsit’s physicality in the scene is great, and watching him react to the songs on the records makes them that much funnier.
  3. The songs themselves will make you laugh, and one will even change your perspective on Herbert Hoover’s “chicken in every pot” promise.

In case you’re still on the fence about whether you should watch it or not, I’ll tell you that Tina Fey plays guitar in it. If you can say no to laughter and Tina Fey, you’re a stronger person than I am. - Jonda Robinson

ElizabethOn a weird whim Saturday night I found myself watching the HBO Miniseries from 2006, Elizabeth I. The drama puts Helen Mirren at the height of her Helen Mirren-est, playing the Virgin Queen, being sassy, and hooking up with dudes 30 years her junior. Basically fulfilling all of my fantasies for post-menopausal life.

The show follows the queen in the later years of her life still trying to find an advantageous suitor in order to keep England as a European superpower. What makes this difficult though, is the love she has for her long-time staffer, the Earl of Leicester. Since she cannot marry him as he is but a commoner, she does what so many of us have foolishly done and asks that they remain friends. Now, I don’t care who you are, beloved sovereign of the most powerful country in the world or not, you can’t be just friends with the person you wanna bone. Then, the Earl dies and his adorably shaggy haired son, (Hugh Dancy), takes his place as the queen’s confidante. Eventually he too falls for the queen, but once again, because he is not royal, the queen will not marry him. He then proceeds to knock up one of her hand maidens and the queen pulls the pimp move of blessing their marriage, only on the condition that Hugh Dancy is still allowed to hook up with the queen. Baller. Status.

If none of this is enticing enough, you also see a young Eddie Redmayne sporting Jersey Shore-level terrible extensions and the queen constantly referring to herself as “we”. So run, don’t walk, to your stolen HBOGo account to watch an 8 year old show about a woman who died 400 years ago. - Brittany Smith

StrandBooks800My sojourn in New York continues. Last week, I covered two of my favorite things to do in the city: Walk and Eat. This week, I'm still loving both activities (in fact, I had a pizza called a "Fraggle Rock" from Roberta's the other night at Madison Square Eats. Mozzarella, ricotta, squash, cranberries. Have you ever wanted to marry a pizza? Because I wanted to marry this pizza), and I have added a third favorite New York activity: Book Shopping.

My nights have been largely free over this past week, leaving me much time to walk around the city and enjoy the many book stores. Over the past few nights I have been able to visit two of my favorite book stores: Strand Bookstore and Mast Books. Strand reminds me of the Half Price Books super store off Northwest Highway, except that the stickers they place on the books come off easily and the staff has no interest in helping you at all. Seriously, every time I have asked someone for help in that bookstore, they respond with a combination of anger and panic, like I'm interrupting them right as they were about to hide a corpse. But The Stand is worth it for the treasures. They have more books about presidents than you can even imagine. And I'm sure you can imagine a lot of books about presidents. (The previous sentence was directed to Ryan Goldsberry.) I could spend several hours in the basement looking through the racks of essays, letters, and biographies. That's not an exaggeration. That's what I did on Tuesday.

From the outside, Mast Books looks like a little museum. On the inside, they have a lot of art books and photography books and used books that cater to the East Village crowd (Bukowski, Fante, Vonnegut). They also have the coolest little collection of crime novels. The other night I found some Black Lizard paperbacks from the 80's that were re-issues of books from the 50's, forgotten hard-boiled works with titles like Bury My Grave Deep and Kill The Boss Good-By. At the register, the cashier pointed out a stack of similar books she had yet to shelve. The stack contained several books by Charles Willeford.  I bought those books. She must have seen me coming a mile away. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: The Mundane, The Dysfunctional, The Delicious, The Discovered

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison catches up on some comedy, Jonda Robinson tries the book before the movie, Brittany Smith listens to people chewing, and Ryan Callahan, in something of a surprise, writes about a crime novel.  etc_critic15__01__970-630x420I’m not always the most timely person (Have you heard of this Bobby Darin fellow?) and that forces me to miss out on meaningful conversation about things I watch way after everyone else. For example, I just watched Road House for the first time like last week, but I can’t talk to anyone about it because then they’d know that I hadn’t seen it before. Thankfully, I wasn’t thirty years behind on my entry this week, because I recently watched Silicon Valley and loved it and must discuss it. This is a tv show that was nominated for an Emmy for best comedic series, so I don’t think that I’m unearthing a cult hit, but it’s so good that everyone needs to take the time to check it out.

Silicon Valley is an HBO sitcom from Mike Judge about a tech startup in modern day California. It was created by Mike Judge (Idiocracy, Office Space, and the still great but not as applicable to this recommendation, Beavis and Butthead), and his ability to extrapolate and heighten humor from the mundane is really fun to watch. Also, the show stars a stable of up and coming comic actors, almost all of which have strong improvisational backgrounds. Thomas Middleditch, TJ Miller, and Kumail Nanjiani all studied improv in Chicago, while Zach Woods has been performing at UCBNY and UCBLA since he was 16, which should give hope to all of us schmucks that love to do make ‘em ups.. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Christopher Evan Welch, a disconnected, cold, hilarious, investor that provided some of the best moments of the series.

It’s only eight thirty minute episodes, so catch up now and we can all watch Season Two together when it arrives next Spring. Like, watch it on time. - David Allison

imgresYou know how “they” say that you should always read the book before you see the movie? That you’re depriving yourself by skipping forward to the film? While I don’t subscribe to this idea on every book-to-movie adaptation, I fell to the pressure recently and decided that I must read Jonathan Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You before the movie comes out September 19. The casting director for the film had me at Tina Fey, and I sure don’t mind sticking around for Adam Driver (not to mention all the other fantastic people I like who populate the film...Jason Bateman, Connie Britton, and more).

I’m glad I read it, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story centers around the Foxman family, and more specifically on Judd Foxman, the novel’s narrator. When we meet him, things are bleak: his wife is having an affair with his boss, his father has just died, and he’s spending the next seven days sitting shiva with his dysfunctional family. That set up begins the inevitable domino effect of family drama, and it’s an enjoyable roller coaster ride. There’s just something I love about dysfunctional families being forced under one roof together by death; this reminded me of a much more lighthearted version of one of my favorite plays, August: Osage County. [Sidenote: Don’t judge August: Osage County by the movie...go see the play.]

Near the end of the novel I was so hyped up on the drama and adrenaline running through the Foxman clan that I felt like I could punch someone if they crossed me the wrong way. If you’re in the market for an enjoyable read, give it a go. Or just go see the movie. No judgment here. - Jonda Robinson

Mike and MikeYou guys, the past two days have been an aural feast in my podcast dashboard. First, Mike Birbiglia has a segment on This American Life. Then U2 finally drops their new album, which ordinarily I wouldn’t care about, but now it ensures more episodes of the strange and sublime U Talkin’ U2 To Me will come out soon. And most importantly of all, my favorite podcast of all time returned from a year-long hiatus, Mike and Tom Eat Snacks is back, baby!

Hosted by Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh, it is the only podcast employing the PER system. They Pick a snack, Eat a snack, and Rate a snack. But that’s not what they’re about, to quote the guys, what they’re about is respect for women, (though it’s not who they are). This week’s snack is hard boiled eggs, and let me tell you, they do not go over easy (you’re welcome). The episode is a solid return for the guys, and if you enjoy this one I’d recommend checking out their Haggen Daas or  Ho Hos episode as a second course.

Broken down to its simplest element, the show is two old friends eating food they may or may not like and joking around, basically your ideal high school lunch table. And much like a high school lunch it clocks in at just over half an hour and it’s suspiciously cheap ($0). - Brittany Smith

41iKVAyB4ML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve been working my way through the collected works of Raymond Chandler over the past month or so but I had to drop all that this week. James Ellroy’s latest book, Perfidia, was released. Ellroy’s books always shoot to the top of the to-read pile, like some kind of rocket ship burning up the sky.

I first discovered Ellroy in college. Having loved L.A. Confidential, the movies I decided to check out L.A. Confidential the book. It was a good news/bad news kind of discovery. Good in that I became so enraptured with the book I read it in a couple of days. Bad in that there were passages of such power and suspense that I knew I would never create anything this great. I've been an Ellroy devotee ever since.

Perfidia is the first book of a planned quartet. In his two previous series, the much-lauded L.A. Quartet (The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz) and the less-lauded-but-much-richer Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy (American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, and Blood’s A Rover) Ellroy examined the intersection of crime and politics in Los Angeles and then the nation from the late 40’s until the early 70’s. Perfidia is set prior to these previous works (the book begins right before Pearl Harbor) but contains many of the same characters.  I’m about 200 pages into Perfidia and I’ll be doing little else but reading it over the weekend.

Ellroy’s novels are famous for their rough, staccato style, and the way he intertwines dozens of fictional and historical characters in massive, complex stories. But it is the simple moments that make his work memorable. Ellroy is at his best when he writes a man or a woman, alone, making a discovery, often a violent, horrific discovery.  In these scenes of silence and suspense, the inner monologue churning while the eyes peep clues, Ellroy shines. These scenes reveal much more than the truth about a mystery, they reveal the truth about people, the painful, regrettable truths that everyone wants to hide. – Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Mertz Jigs, Trash-Talking Puppets, Incidental Comedy, Book Shelf Documentation

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Ashley Bright needs your help, Julia Cotton sets the hoop on fire, Tim Brewer leaves his preconceptions behind, and Ryan Callahan corrects a false assumption.  i-love-lucy-logoMy entry this week is a bit of a selfish plea for help, but I'll get to that the end. Because they say the end is typically the best place to put a call to action. And by they, I mean high school English teachers.

Years ago, I was with a really good friend of mine in a hotel room. I don't recall the context or location and that's unimportant. What is important is that we were watching I Love Lucy.

I am a huge fan of I Love Lucy. I grew up watching it on Nick at Night and I'd watch it early in the morning before I went to school. I even enjoyed the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, when the whole gang moved out to Connecticut. Of course, I was a huge fan of Lucy herself. But I am and was a huge Fred Mertz fan. I loved Fred's sass. I loved his switch between childlike giddiness to old man grump. And let's not forget that William Frawley had the voice of an angel.

Let's jump back to the night in the hotel room. I cannot for the life of me remember the episode that was playing. But Fred had a hat. He tipped his hat and did a jig. It was one of the best jigs I've ever witnessed. That 15 or so second scene has replayed repeatedly in my mind since that night.

But I haven't been able to re-watch it because I do not know what episode it's on. I suppose the diligent thing for me to do is to watch every single episode in order. Maybe I will do that.

But for now, I'm putting out a call to action: if you are ever watching I Love Lucy and Fred Mertz is standing near a fireplace, tips a bowler hat, and does a very funny jig, please note the episode and immediately let me know. Thank you. - Ashley Bright

timthumbSo, the Spurs won the NBA Championship this year...and I don’t care. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been more indifferent about an NBA season than this year. Perhaps this is just another sign of me getting old. I remember when I first fell in love with the NBA, though. It was around the time I fell in love with real boys (by “real” boys, I mean my older brother’s friends) who loved basketball. That time was the mid 90s. That was the best era of the NBA for me for many reasons: Hip hop became super influential (all the way down to the uniforms); My home town Rockets got to win a couple of championships while Jordan played baseball; NBA Jam allowed you to break the glass goals, set the nets on fire, and put Robert Horry and The Fresh Prince on the same team; Jordan made a triumphant return leading the Bulls to three-peat championships...and also Space Jam.

One of the best products of the NBA in the mid 90s, though...was Lil’ Penny.

Lil Penny was Anfernee ‘Penny’ Hardaway’s loud mouthed, wise cracking puppet side-kick voiced by one of the greatest stand ups during the mid 90s, Chris Rock fresh off of the success of his Bring the Pain HBO special .

Watching the YouTube replays of these commercials made me remember when I cared about the NBA and would actually tune in every season. I’ve only been disappointed by it more and more each year. Turned out “real” boys were still just boys. My kids play video games that are way more complicated and less fun than NBA Jam. Basketball goals aren’t even made of glass anymore. Will Smith makes movies like After Earth. And, NBA players try to manufacture three-peats by negotiating trades to get themselves on teams with other high profile players. It’s cool, though. It has left room for me to be more and more excited by comedy each year. While the Spurs were blowing out the Miami Heat in the finals this year, Chris Rock announced his next comedy tour, Black Plague, will begin later this fall. - Julia Cotton

Screen-Shot-2014-05-01-at-12.36.22-PMI am obsessed with ridiculous, offensive rap. I am also a comedy geek. That being the case, I cannot stop listening to Riff Raff’s debut album, Neon Icon. Riff Raff can be very confusing for many people - Is he a rapper? Certainly. Is he a comedian? Perhaps incidentally so. Regardless, with Riff Raff, it’s best to leave your preconceived notions aside.

If this article is your introduction to Riff Raff, AKA Jody High Roller, AKA Rap Game James Franco, you are either one of those fancy “adult” types, or have a particular aversion to Youtube. I highly suggest cutting your teeth on my favorite song of his - “Bird On a Wire” featuring another "underground" favorite, Action Bronson.

Riff Raff grew to fame circa 2007 starring on shows such as MTV’s From G’s to Gents, and being associated with Andy Milonakis and Aziz Ansari. These days, however, Riff Raff is probably most famous for being the most enigmatic, polarizing figure in music. Everything about him has the ability to make people turn away in disgust or become entranced and fascinated. His hair is often in corn rows (he’s white), his facial hair is almost always cut in the tackiest pattern imaginable, his voice makes most cringe upon an initial listen and he has an affinity for enormous Flava-Flav style chains that feature everything from a jewel encrusted Slimer from Ghostbusters to Tony the Tiger. His track titles only compound the confusion, divisiveness, and hilarity (see: “Versace Python”, “Kokayne”). Even his real, legal name, Horst Christian Simco, is unbelievable.

Riff Raff is often dismissed by most people as a joke, and has been accused of parodying rap culture as a whole. But what I love about him, is that even if he is a parody, he’s so unapologetically so. From a comedic perspective, what makes him great is that even if you wanted to make fun of him, you’d have to outdo him in ridiculousness, which is simply not something that can be done. A lot of people say they “can’t tell if he’s serious or not”, but fans of Riff Raff know that it’s exactly his blurring of so many lines which makes him magnetic. It’s best to appreciate Riff Raff in a state of suspended disbelief and just bob your head and laugh. - Tim Brewer

20121118-095356Do you ever have something in your life, something that you make part of your daily routine, something that is so ingrained in your life that you assume it is familiar to everyone else and you don’t have to bother talking about it because doing so would be redundant, akin to talking about how the day is brighter than the night or how we’re always breathing oxygen? For me, Biblioklept.org is that kind of thing. I assume everyone knows about it. It only occurred to me today that you might not.

Biblioklept is an art and literature blog created and curated by Edwin Turner. The site features curated short stories, poems, pieces of art, daily pictures or paintings of people reading, videos (sometimes whole movies), as well as original, non-fiction pieces. The curated work, most of which is new to me, offers endless inspiration throughout the day. A visit to Biblioklept and a scroll down the page feels like a visit to a quirky museum that I have all to myself. The original pieces appeal to the book lover in me. The “Books Acquired” feature, in which Turner writes about his recent purchases, always features some cool new book that I’ve never heard of but now need. His “Riffs,” basically stream of consciousness reviews of books, usually written as he’s working his way through them, offer idiosyncratic and personal takes on well-known and obscure literature. My favorite recurring feature of all was Turners fifty-three part book shelf series, which featured photographs off all the book shelf sections in his home, each accompanied by a short essay.

If you’re a fan of books, or words, or ideas, or art, you’ll probably find something on Biblioklept to enjoy. If you’re like me (and I pretty much assume you all are), you’ll find yourself visiting the site three or four times a day, dipping in whenever you need a break from all the noise and junk on the internet. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Airplane Safety, Independent Women, Pratfalls in Prose, Pratfalls Repeated

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison fears for the sanity of flight attendants, Julia Cotton goes to the movies, and Ashley Bright & Ryan Callahan share a love for pratfalls. Earworm alert! This week, I just can’t get the latest hit single from Virgin America Airlines out of my head. You know Virgin from their past successes such as: flying airplanes, landing airplanes, and failed music stores. Now they’re back and better than ever with their hit “Safety Video.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtyfiPIHsIg&feature=kp

“Safety Video” is a five minute long song created to get you outta your seat and dance! Strike that, they made it to tell you how to buckle your safety belt. That’s right, every flight you take on Virgin America Airlines now begins with a big budget music video directed by Step Up 2: The Streets’ Jon Chu. I could spend the rest of my life talking about how ridiculous the entire production is, but instead I’ve simply boiled it down to the three most fascinating things:

  • The oxygen mask rap
    • This segment is delivered by a little girl who had never been on camera or rapped (Please see bullet point three if you don’t believe me). Also, if the cabin loses pressure, that’s a pretty dark scenario wherein you have two minutes, max, to figure out the oxygen masks or you will pass out. That’s a bleak reality for a rapping kid to spit at you.
  • They missed stuff
    • You can use your seat as a flotation device. An important fact that is inexplicably skipped over. Then again, they didn’t have time for it because they had to spend a full minute showcasing another singing child who reminds you that smoking on planes is still illegal. I know that no one under the age of forty remembers a world where smoking on a plane was allowed, but we better make sure everyone is aware by dedicating 20% of the run time to it.
  • The making of video
    • It’s 6:12 and fascinating. The work that went into this boggles the mind.

I appreciate what Virgin America is trying to do, it’s a nice idea. Instead of forcing the crew to begrudgingly deliver a safety presentation, again, they’re creating something more consistent and memorable. That’s cool. But, I genuinely worry about the mental stability of Virgin's employees. Yeah, something like this is really cute and refreshing the first time, but a year from now? They’re going to go searching for the air marshal to put them out of their misery before the plane leaves the gates. - David Allison

MV5BMjAwMzAzMzExOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTcwMDA5MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_My little girl is the girliest of girls. She loves to dress up. Loves her nails painted. She says “so cu-ute” much more than I’m comfortable with. And all of the pink! SO MUCH PINK!!! She loves the fellas, too, and understands that a batted eye and a bowed head or look of confusion will yield her whatever she wants (which so far has merely been more pink things). Lazy feminism would have me believe that my daughter was going down a horrible path that would result in a life submissive weakness. Then we went to go see Maleficent, and I realized that my daughter had never seen Sleeping Beauty.

In fact, my daughter knows very little about the plots to most princess themed movies made before she was born. Therefore, she is not so familiar with ideas that more recent movies have seemed to set out to dispel: a lady is utterly hopeless and helpless and Prince Charming is the only one who can save her as he is the bearer of true love. Oh, and true love is INSTANT. Cinderella literally just danced with dude, left a shoe, he sends out a massive search and then... marriage. That carriage ride at the end of the movie was really more like the last scene of The Graduate. Lately, movies have begun with that ‘true love’ scenario in the first few minutes and then almost immediately call out the absurdity of falling in love with the first handsome man that comes around (see Frozen and Enchanted). The movies also offer that romantic love is not always the truest. In Maleficent, young handsome Prince Phillip does not bare the kiss to wake Sleeping Beauty and actually, he is barely even a part of the story. There are more solid journey stories with female heroines learning lessons that have less to do with finding happiness with a boy and more to do with finding strength and purpose within yourself (also see Brave and Tangled).

My daughter may wear a lot of pink dresses, but her legs underneath are full of scrapes and scars from climbing trees and hanging from monkey bars that she was once afraid of. She is indeed the girliest of girls. - Julia Cotton

9780241951590I haven't read the book in at least three years, but for the past week or so, I have repeatedly thought of a scene from A Confederacy of Dunces. Overall, the book is pretty darn funny, but there is one scene in particular that I remember making me heartily laugh out loud. If you're unfamiliar with the novel, it centers around a portly ass of a man named Ignatius J. Reilly. He works with a senile, old woman who always calls him Gloria. Because she thinks he is a woman named Gloria. In the scene that I've been thinking about, Ignatius falls down. Being the ass that he is, he makes a big production about being hurt. He doesn't want anyone to touch him in case his back is broken. Finally, the senile gal sees him and runs to help "Gloria." She insists on helping, but ends up falling down on top of Ignatius/Gloria.

I'm not doing the scene justice, but the first time I read it, I know that I laughed out loud. I may have clapped. Not a roaring applause, but one solid, happy clap of my hands. I do that when I really enjoy something. Sometimes I say "weee!" in my head when I'm really enjoying something. But I rarely say it out loud. Anyways, this book is quite funny. Particularly, this pratfall-ridden scene. - Ashley Bright

The deadline for DCH internships came and went this week. As part of the application, potential interns must name their favorite television show of all time, and explain why. The application states that this section might be a deal breaker, should the an applicant chose poorly. Each term, I name the same show: Mr. Show with Bob and David. Each term, I give the same two reasons: 1) Mr. Show is the sharpest, craziest, most absurd, best structured, and most influential comedy show of my lifetime. 2) Mr. Show created the single greatest sketch in tv history, "The Story of the Story of the Story of Everest" AKA "The Thimble Sketch." I can remember watching this sketch for the first time in college, literally doubled over with laughter, tears streaming down my face. I remember watching this sketch when I bought the Mr. Show dvds, and laughing so hard that my roommate lost control laughing at me. This kind of infectious comedy, that can reduce two grown men to rocking, snorting, crying, quivering mounds is the apex of comedy. It is what we all hope to accomplish. If you haven't seen the sketch, I suggest you take a gander. You do like things that are the best, right?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyrM7GxyzGg&feature=kp

Someday I'm going to live blog this sketch and annotate it second by second. I could write 500 words alone on Bobe Odenkirk's line reading of "Three times!" But for now I'll leave you with this fun fact: The live crowd HATED that sketch. The crew needed about twenty minutes to reset the thimbles between takes and the crowd had to sit there and wait, only to see them knocked down again. And again. And again. And again. And again. - Ryan Callahan