Rachel Hall

What We're Loving Year-End Spectacular (Part Two)

We've loved many things this year - books, movies, tv shows, websites, people - but these things we loved the A-Number One Best. U-Talkin-U2-to-Me-HiIn 2014, my favorite thing in comedy was the Dallas Comedy House. No doubt about it. But since this blog belongs to them, it would make me feel like a total sell out if I just wrote about how much I love that place. AND I’M NOT A SELL OUT. I streamed a Dead Kennedy’s album this week!

What I’ve loved this year more than anything else has been the Earwolf podcast U Talkin’ U2 To Me? Somehow, I didn’t write about this show once in any of my fifty (I’m the Takashi Miike of What We’re Loving) entries into this blog in 2014. That changes today.

U Talkin’ U2 To Me? is a podcast with a simple premise; Scott (Aukerman of Comedy Bang Bang) and Scott (Adam Scott of Parks & Rec and Party Down) sit down to discuss the work of the band U2. Originally, they were going to record the show for a month or two in advance of the release of the 2014 U2 album, but when it was delayed for months they decided to keep recording. And they created some of my favorite audio I’ve ever heard.

The lesson that I’ve drawn from U Talkin’ U2 To Me? is something that I’m going to try and apply to my work even more in 2015. Their show is technically really bad. They don’t stay on point, they record in the middle of the night so they’re delusional, and with the work schedule that both of them have, they are usually exhausted. The thing that makes their show special is that you can tell they legitimately love what they’re doing. There are so many important elements to performance but they’re all pretty meaningless if you don’t have fun and enjoy it. This podcast reminded me of that and thus, was something that I truly loved this year. - David Allison

images2014 is almost over you guys! How excited are you to just end this mess and start fresh in 2015? Personally, this year has been crazy trying for me. Between family issues and life smacking the crap out of me; emotionally I am drained and January 1 cannot come fast enough. Despite it all though I’ve had some pretty fun experiences and learned some junk about myself.

So this post of “What We’re Loving in 2014” is completely about me. Yup! All me, me, me.

Growing up I was never much of talker. If I ever had to get serious about something I would just write it out in order to avoid the awkward conversation. Talking sucked. Back then writing came easy and that was my outlet. That was because I wasn't aware of the rules of writing. Honestly, I am still unaware of the rules of writing. I often joke around and ask real writers what an adverb or adjective is and I always get a good chuckle from it. But seriously, what are they? I have no clue. It is in my complete ignorance that I find myself most proud.

I didn’t start writing articles and blog pieces until this year because I was embarrassed by my lack of skill and knowledge. I just didn't want anyone to see me as not all that smart or funny. Mainly the latter. Don’t get me wrong, as a actor and a comic I’ve written plenty of things but they were and are more of a ramble than a structured piece. It wasn't until my friend DeAndre decided to start his own blog driven website that I considered writing. He asked all of my friend if we wanted to write and being the supportive person I am I said sure. Did I mention my lack of basic knowledge in the rules of writing? Well, after months of stalling and all my friends writing awesome pieces about various topics I bite the bullet and wrote a fun piece about Girl Meets World - that is sequel to Boy Meets World that follows Cory and Topanga’s daughter Riley. (By the way, the show is terrible. Save yourself and your childhood memories by not watching it) Needless to say I was extremely scared to submit that piece for fear of what the person editing my little article would say. In fact, below is the warning I placed at the beginnning of the article to absorb any potential judgement:

Hey so before you make this bleed with your red pen there are a couple things you should know. I am not a writer and I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m just a girl who is sometimes funny, hears voices in her head, and thinks it’d be interesting to write out the conversation they have. Please don’t jugde me too hard.

Yup. All that lovely insecurity came directly from me. Truth is I’m extremely insecure about everything. Why else would I want to be an actor? Submitting any sort of work for other to read or view is terrifying to me so the fact that I do this for a living is pretty scary. I don’t like talking to people after shows and I feel like I’m being a jerk imposing my thoughts and ideas on random strangers. In my heart of hearts and deep down in my cold cold heart I know that is not true but who listens to the voice of reason? Ultimately, I just want people to like me and the crazy things I have to say.

What I discovered that I love this year is my courage. Like I said, I’m terrified of everything and that one silly little article showed me that its okay actual try something and put yourself there. You see I don’t know what I’m doing and I okay with that. I think that is what makes this whole writing thing that much more fun. Since my Girl Meets World review, I’ve writing a bunch of stuff including some fun bloggy pieces for the world famous Dallas Comedy House. You may have heard of it. It’s important for me to mention a couple of things about my new found courage though

1) I will still never ride a rollercoaster. 2) Yes I’m still super insecure but at least now I can deal with it. 3) Make like Nike and Just Do it. You never know what you’re awesome at. 4) I still have no clue what an adjective is and I don’t care anymore either.

- Rachel Hall

20141125_RawGOTN_articleMy favorite thing about 2014 was Concessions Kane. I thought it was a funny idea and it made me laugh. - Mike Corbett

 

 

 

 

personalgrowthFor me, 2014 was a year of tremendous growth – of facing discomfort and stepping outside my comfort zone to grow as a person. There were plenty of tears, heartbreak, and misery in 2014 for me, as tends to the be case in life. However, there was even more laughter, joy and friendship throughout the year.

A lot of times we feel like growth has to come dramatically, from some stirring New Year's resolution to hit the gym for two  hours a day. We slink into feelings of failure when such grandiose dreams fail to come true. I’ve learned that it takes no such lofty ambitions to achieve great rewards. Seven years ago as a High School senior, I had to eat lunch in the bathroom because I was too terrified of people to actually sit in the Cafeteria. Even though I’ve come a long way, getting to know so many people at DCH was still a daunting task.

My growth came in small moments – sometimes doing something uncomfortable in improv and getting to know classmates and troupemates. More often, it came from deciding that I needed to hang around the bar at DCH and make myself talk to people, despite the utter discomfort and initial hours spent lurking in the corner trying to pretend I was texting someone on my phone. I would rather have gone home and played Assassin’s Creed from the comfort of my couch, but that wouldn’t help me grow as a person. So I stayed, endured the awkwardness, and somehow managed to not only feel comfortable around lots of people, but to make amazing friends and enjoy myself. I’m so thankful for the opportunities that were given to me, and I intend to make the most of them! I forced myself out there, and eventually....slowly....it paid off! – Ryan Vicksell

american-music-pop-music-collage-2014In the year 2014, I became a year older. My legs, my arms, my lungs, my brains, etc. all became a year older. That is no surprise, of course, but the one thing that is really shocking is that my musical taste in 2014 became much younger. So, what happened? Well, if you are like me, then the music that you were loving in 2014 was fresh and alive and brimming with……youth!

This is the year that Lenny Kravitz released a CD that never charted in the US, Green Day put out a collection of “greatest hits” that no one wanted, and U2 gave every iTunes customer a free album, which we promptly complained about and deleted from our libraries. Instead we bowed at the throne of Lorde, tickled our “Fancy” with Iggy Azalea, and were “All About That Bass” with Meghan Trainor. I literally own sweatshirts older that all of them, yet they have somehow managed to craft music that is sticking with me far better than many of the heroes of my past these days. Heck, the band whose sound that I am crushing hard on right now are the “Cool Kids” of Echosmith…….and two of them are still in HIGH SCHOOL!

It took a little getting used to, especially when I attended The Neighborhood’s show this summer and realized that I could possibly be the oldest person in attendance not chaperoning a child. Slowly but surely this year’s catchy hooks infiltrate your brain, however, and eventually grab a hold of your heart. American Authors are there to make sure I have the “Best Day of My Life. “I Wanna Get Better” thanks to Bleachers and Fall Out Boy inspires me to rise like “The Phoenix” and aspire to be known for “Centuries”. Suddenly those old limbs seem revived and able to run longer when attached to an iPod full of 2014’s glorious earworms.

I don’t know what 2015 has in store, but if it sounds anything like 2014, then I am all ears. - Glen Smith

1505644_10152390427495350_581480141263445905_nReview on Comedy Central was the best TV show I saw all year, Guardians of the Galaxy was the best movie, and Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely was my favorite read of the year, but the one thing I love over and above everything else was the Dallas Comedy House. I'm not afraid to be a sell out.

I started taking classes here at DCH in October of last year. A year ago around this time I had my Level One Showcase with a little group known as Canadian Tuxedo. Never in my life has I felt such joy. I came to DCH expecting to find a whole bunch of comedy nerds who were bitter and judgmental and mocked me for being so sweaty. Instead I found a whole bunch of cool people who were creative and fun and welcoming. Over the past year I moved through the levels of improv and sketch, joined a few improv troupes, collaborated on some sketch shows, and made some of the best friends I've ever had. For the first time in a long time I found a place were I felt like I belonged. For the first time in a long time I found a place where I could be myself.

The past few months took me away from Dallas and way from the Comedy House. I miss it every day. Right now I'm working at what is essentially my dream job. There's no way I would be here if not for DCH. There's no way I get this job without saying "Yes, and" to life. There's no way I can even do this job without the ability to dive into writing a scene or a sketch and write improvisationally. My 2014 was spent largely at DCH. I was creatively transformed; rebuilt and made better, as a writer, as a performer, and as a person.

Thanks to everyone at DCH who made this past year so wonderful. I'd thank people by name, and highlight their awesomeness, but I'd inevitably leave someone out and Mike Maiella would get mad at me. (In this scenario, Mike is the one I leave out. And we all know how he gets when he's riled up.) But I really couldn't end this without saying to the assembled members of Canadian Tuxedo, Johnny Soso, H.A.M.F.I.S.T., Chili's to Go, our Level Five Class Whose Troupe Name I Forgot, Finale, Primary Colours, Duck Duck Pants, Awkward Silence, Neapolitan, Sketch One, Sketch Two, Charles Dicken's Great! Expectations, and the assembled cast and crew of The Investment, The Theft, and Boost!, I love you all and miss you all so much. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Aural Pleasures, Pleasant Surprises, Overwhelming Choices

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison drops science, Jonda Robinson makes a shocking admission, Rachel Hall can hear words, and Ryan Callahan sets a hook for next week. radio dial with lightsWell my name’s rapping David And I’m here to say I like listening to rap music on the radio like e-ver-y day

Oh, didn’t see you there! Sorry about that, I was just trying out the new skills I’ve earned after listening to rap on the radio for the last week and a half. For all you uncool listeners still checking out “rock and snore” music on the other stations, let me tell you about the awesome music of 93.3 and 94.5. What they do is take a fresh beat, lay down an informal poem, and voila, rap music!

Radio stations 93.3 and 94.5 changed their programming on 11/15 to exclusively play hip hop from the nineties, aughts, and today. Obviously hip hop stations have been around forever, but this is the first one that I’ve seen that combines the nostalgic fun of listening to songs from your childhood and rap. I’d highly recommend giving the station a listen.

So next time you’re in a car check out rap music it’ll take you far- away from here back in time to a yesteryear so just to recap my name’s David I like to rap and realize nothing rhymes with David - David Allison

bb9271ceee885807c899b0a98b406f3b[1]I’m about to use a phrase I don’t get to use very often as of late: I really enjoyed the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live. This season has been a little rough, but I faithfully tune in, like a sports fan who knows her team will probably blow the game but watches anyway, hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Well, this past Saturday the team at SNL pulled out a win in my book with their Thanksgiving episode, featuring Cameron Diaz as host and musical guests Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.

First of all, anytime Lil’ Baby Aidy is on the scene, I know I’m going to enjoy it. She and her girls were back with “Back Home Ballers,” touching on all the perks of coming home for the holidays--having access to a stocked fridge because your mom went to Costco, doing a load of laundry for just one sock, and your mom putting out “bowls, bowls, all type of bowls.” My favorite part is when Aidy has to deal with the neighborhood paparazzi and make small talk with Jean, because her reaction is about the same as mine in that situation.

Another highlight for me was the “High School Theater Show,” and I can’t even really explain why. Maybe it was the fact that it reminded me of the seriousness with which I took not-so-serious things in high school. Maybe it was the biting commentary on the death of Main Street, censorship, and our addiction to social media. Or maybe, just maybe, it was all those boxes. Either way, it made me laugh, and I enjoyed seeing so many members of the cast on stage together.

I enjoyed a lot of other parts of the show as well--the "School House Rock" cold open, Kate Mckinnon’s Angela Merkel on Weekend Update, Kenan’s poetry interpretation of Friends, the Night Murmurs ladies, and the always entertaining Bruno Mars. If you haven’t been checking out SNL lately, I’d recommend you give this one a chance. - Jonda Robinson

Innovo_Audio[1]Growing up I was always very voracious reader. Getting me to read was never an issue for my parents. I always read above my reading level, and by the time I was in seventh grade I had already Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Twice. Not to brag (even though I totally am) but I was incredibly smart. My parents never forced me to read so I’m not sure what fueled my adolescent love of hard books and libraries but I think I’ve narrowed it down to two extremely important moments in my life.

1) Watching I Love Lucy for the very time as a kid. The very first episode of Lucy I ever saw was “Lucy thinks Ricky is trying to murder her.” In this episode, Lucy is captivated by the murderous novel she is currently reading. She gets so caught up in the book that her reality becomes distorted causing her to believe that Ricky is trying to kill her. Being that into a piece of literature, minus the part where you think your husband is going to kill you, is pretty awesome. If you haven't seen this episode immediately drop what you're doing and do so; or stop being my friend.

2) I really wanted to be a lawyer. Again, I have no clue why but it even at the tender age of four I knew being a backup dancer for MC Hammer probably wasn't going to happen.

Unfortunately around the time I became a teenager, joined the band, discovered Saturday Night Live, and realized that the no one would ever love me the way the Backstreet Boys would, reading fell by the wayside. In fact, if someone told to read a cool article in whatever girl magazine was popular in the late 90s or early 2000s , I would proudly proclaim I didn't know how to read. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read a few since then but it’s definitely not something I make a habit of. I am not proud this at all. I’ve admired those with bookshelves full of worn books due to the amount of times their owner has read them. My bookshelves are just full of DVDs, vinyl records, and textbooks from school. Not cool.

This would have remained true if it wasn't for a very late, but oh so on time, discovery. Books on tape. Where have they been all my life? For the record, I know audio books have been around for quite some time; I just never paid it any attention. Books on tape have shown themselves to be the greatest invention since the scrunchie. Yes, I believe the scrunchie is up there with wheel, fire, and the stoplight. If you’re a girl/boy who has long hair, has ever had long hair, or a man with daughters, you will agree with me. Books on tape are the equivalent to that strange piece of advice you get from an uncle but always brushed off until something big happens and you realize he was right.

Who came up with this beautiful idea? Does he or she have a Pulitzer or whatever other great literature awards there are yet? They should. It is because of this super hero of knowledge that I have “read” the most amount of the books ever. Literally, I feel like I have listened/read so many books right now that I could successfully take down Ken Jennings in double Jeopardy. Three-to-five collective hours of listening to someone read to you throughout your drive to work, getting ready for the day, or preparing for sleep and you’re done. This is amazing. Never again do you have to worry about having the proper lighting or your eyes getting tired. Audio books are the answer. Now all I have to do is buy the actual book to place on my bookshelf. That way I’ll have a visual representation of how learned I am. - Rachel Hall

100bullets[1]Choosing only one thing to love this week is simply beyond my abilities. There are too many entertainments pulling at my heart. The penultimate episode of Sons of Anarchy was so good that I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat. Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice beguiles me with its flaky charm and barrage of jokes,. The comic book adaptation of Frank Miller's Robocop 2 screenplay has kept me company on a few cold New England nights. A visit back home for Thanksgiving rekindled a passion for Azzarello and Risso's 100 Bullets and led me to their other works, like Spaceman and Jonny Double. To praise one would be to slight the others.

December also brings the annual tradition of best of lists. Also know as "Hey, Ryan, here's a bunch of stuff to buy. Immediately. Why are you waiting?" These lists often serve to remind me of all the great things I've read and watched this year, while simultaneously shaming me for not having watched or read everything that someone might be considered good. You know, in case someone mentions a book or movie at a party and they ask what I thought of it, and I have to say I don't know of it, like a idiot. I live my life to avoid moments like that. Not-knowing is the worst. I can only assume you live the same way. That's why, starting next week, and for the rest of the year, What We're Loving will take a look back at 2014. Hopefully we cover all the bases of goodness so you won't be left feeling like an idiot on New Year's Eve because you never heard of Elect H. Mouse  State Judge. - Ryan Callahan

 

What We're Loving: Prepared Material, True-Crime, Fake Crime

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison can handle the truth, Jonda Robinson likes it real, and Rachel Hall assigns homework. 10270314_10152469666271935_5549480507233317716_nAs someone that performs comedy at the theater for which this Internet page exists, I have been known to use this weekly space to talk up shows that I’m doing. This week, I’m breaking all the rules, because what I’m loving is a show at the Dallas Comedy House THAT I AM NOT IN. I know, I didn’t think it was possible either. What I’m loving is !Cambio Cambio!, the latest sketch revue at DCH.

Sketch comedy is something that the Dallas Comedy House put a lot of effort into teaching in 2014. There is now a three-level program in place, from which you learn what it takes to put on a sketch show AND you get a four-week run for whatever revue your class created. In this case, the class put together a smart showcase that does a nice job of mixing funny moments in with truth. A favorite scene was where a pig must leave it’s owner to live life on its on terms.

Once this goes up, you’ll have two remaining opportunities to see the show (12/4 and 12/11 at 8pm). And once you check it out, sign up for the sketch program! You’ll learn a new craft and grow as an actor.

OH! And if you want to sign up for sketch or improv classes, then take advantage of the Black Friday sale coming up. You save $50 off of any class at the Dallas Comedy House if you buy them the day after Thanksgiving. Do it! - David Allison

serial-social-logoI have always been a fan of true crime stories. As a teenager I was fascinated by Ann Rule’s book, The Stranger Beside Me, in which she recounts her true story of working on a crisis hotline with serial killer Ted Bundy and slowly realizing that he was the murderer everyone was looking for. Later it was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood that drew me in with its beautiful prose and ghastly tale of murder in a Kansas farmhouse. Nowadays, If I run across Dateline telling the sordid details of some relationship gone wrong, I can’t pass it up.

Considering all of this, the currently popular podcast Serial is right up my alley. I started listening to it this week, and I’m so intrigued by all the details. The podcast features host Sarah Koenig (producer for This American Life) investigating the details of a true story over the course of a season. Currently she’s looking into the 1999 murder of high school senior Hae Min Lee in Baltimore. Hae’s ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was 17 at the time, is currently serving a life sentence for the crime. As the story unfolds over each episode, new details are unraveled that call in to question what really happened. Is Adnan really the killer? Did the jury really get all the information? There are lots of twists and turns along the way that so far have provided more questions than answers. I’m really, really hoping we get answers by the end.

I highly recommend checking out Serial on your daily commute, or run, or lunch break, or whenever you preferred podcast time is. If you’re anything like me, you’ll move quickly through the episodes in search of answers, making your own assumptions and hoping that truth will be found. - Jonda Robinson

TheFollowingNetflix is awesome! Duh. Nothing new there, Rachel. Yes, we all know Netflix is awesome until it isn't. Who hasn't discovered the greatest show of all time, binge watched all seven seasons in one week, then the complained about how dumb Netflix was because there is nothing to watch! Well, I am here to fix your Netflix blues with the current greatest show of all time—The Following.

Not to long ago at work, I stumbled into a conversation that was not Game of Thrones, Scandal, or The Walking Dead related; these are all shows I started and am now hooked on due to peer pressure and a need to feel like I belong. The show they were discussing was called The Following starring Ren McCormick (a.k.a. Kevin Bacon). It centers around a extremely handsome and british serial killer named Joe Carroll and his cult of aspiring killers. Essentially the show goes like this (don’t worry there are absolutely no spoilers, so please continue reading). Years ago a detective, Ron McCormick, looking to make a name for himself in the FBI, devotes his a career to catching a serial killer who is terrorizing a college town. The killers’ victims are all women in their early 20s, the weapon used is a knife, and the signature of the killer is removing the victim's eyes. Did I mention this show is normally aired on FOX? Through some great TV detective work, Ren learns that the serial is in fact popular English professor and failed writer, Joe Carroll. Also through the discovery, Ren is almost killed and Joe Carroll is sent to prison. Super long story short, Carroll—with a lot of help—breaks out of prison, and serial killing terror begins to reign over the U.S.

Shonda Rhimes has nothing on the writers on this show. Never in my life have I actively been nervous and a little scared to watch a TV show. Not even that crazy clown on American Horror Story disturbs me like The Following does. Allow me to channel my inner Stefon and say this show has everything! Love, murder, action, mind tricks, Kevin Bacon, and excellent fitted jeans, hot British guys, adorable man ice. What’s adorable man ice? It's that thing where Shawn Ashmore, Iceman from X-Men:Days of Future Past, makes you feel all the feelings. This show will have you distrusting everyone and full of anxiety. In fact, I may have had an anxiety attack watching this! In all seriousness, The Following is the most suspenseful show on FOX and on TV.

Episode after episode, I watched Ren put clues together, and episode after episode, I was genuinely shocked at what I saw and what would come next. Unlike most shows where you learn its formula and eventually stop watching - I’M LOOKING AT YOU SCANDAL - this show will have you guessing and thinking well after you finish it. Just give it a chance, you guys. Go watch the first episode and then tell me what you think in a week. I say a week because you get hooked, call in from work, and binge watch this show. Kevin Bacon has never given us a real reason to distrust him; look how he convinced an entire town dancing was the answer. Oh, and at no point during the show does Kevin Bacon shout “LET’S DANCE” while chunks of glitter fly in a old building on the other side of the tracks in a red velvet tux. Sorry. - Rachel Hall

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

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

ashleydoesn'tdieLast weekend, the Maestro returned to DCH. The Maestro is not a man, nor a troupe, but a competitive improv format. For those foolish enough to miss the show, Glenn Smith offers a first hand account of the battlefield. It all started innocently enough. I volunteered to play in this fun little game called “Maestro” on a Saturday night. “It’s a great opportunity to play with new people and experience a new format”, I thought. What transpired was completely different, unfortunately. Although the world of improv is generally known for its supportiveness and for getting each other’s back, I quickly realized that the Maestro I signed up for was actually a bizarre, comedic Hunger Games.

When I walked backstage, I immediately encountered an amazing array of assembled talent, all sharpening their killer instincts by flinging coat hangers at the rafters and cheering lustily when the neck of one would get stuck, as if fastened by a noose. There was the fiendishly handsome Rob Howe, the wily and witty Amanda Hahn, and the agile and fearless Jua Holt, to name a few. Each portrayed a warm inviting smile, but also a subtly sinister twinkle in their eye that suggested their desire to strike at any moment. In my head I could hear Elizabeth Banks’ voice saying “May the odds be ever in your favor” but I knew they would not. As much as I wished to be the Katniss Everdeen in this arena, I knew that I was instead going to be the poor slob from District 9, who would bend over to tie his shoe just as the games begin and get slaughtered by a Cato or Glimmer in horrifying fashion.

The Hunger Games comparison is immediately realized as we begin by being paraded in front of the unruly crowd, and then are instructed to square off in a slow-motion Samurai simulation. This incites bloodthirsty screams from surly spectators. On stage there is a blur of swords, stabbing, and then stillness. Somehow, I am still standing. “Could it be that I actually won?” I say to myself. As that last syllable escapes my lips, I am suddenly sliced from behind by the stealthy Jason Hensel, who celebrates while I slump over on to the stage. He is awarded the first point and I feel my first sting of defeat.

Next we are presented with the promise of attaining points through group scenes based on audience suggestions. The audience seems testy from the cold and rain and, despite host David Allison’s best efforts, they insist on seeing bathroom scenes and people stricken with disease. As I feared, I am not up to the task and my feeble attempt to create a marijuana farmer worthy of admiration makes me the first to be escorted from the stage, along with Jared Berger, whose only fault was simply being too nice a guy for these conditions. Depressed and dejected, I sulk off licking my wounds and prepare to watch my fellow combatants fight the elements and each other.

Jason Hensel and Ryan Callahan valiantly try to make an AIDS suggestion funny, while the audience asks Jua Holt and the sharply-dressed Sean McEwan to take selfies on the toilet. When the warm and wonderful Ashley Bright and her sharp-witted partner, Rachel Hall, are asked to play waitresses at the breastaurant, Twin Peaks, things begin to look dim, but Ashley alertly sees a silver-lining and plays a Laura Palmer angle. She then creates a “special” relationship between the two women and the masses turn in her favor. She ultimately rides this wave into the final, where she eventually wins everyone over with a clever infomercial selling light bulbs, complete with outrageous customer testimonials.

So, as midnight draws near, Ashley Bright stands atop the stage and is crowned victorious as defeated performers flock each side of her and bow with respect. The rumble of thunderous applause fills the room and for a brief moment, everyone is happy and the weather has been forgotten. I drove home and nursed the substantial wounds sustained by my fragile ego and vowed to never do something stupid like that again. Yet, as I reflect on that evening and ponder how fulfilling that moment of victory must be, a twinge of desire resurfaces. Maybe I can endure a few more shots to the heart in hopes of someday being the one leading the celebration. We are not finished yet, Maestro! Not by a long shot!

Glenn Smith is a DCH graduate, who originally hails from Disneyland. He can be seen in Juan Direction and an upcoming, secret Ewing troupe. He likes baseball, martinis, and Pawnee, Indiana.