music videos

What We're Loving: Long Descriptions, Short Descriptions, Pre-Teen Interests, Teen Interests, Our Lying Brains

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison shares his inspirations, Jonda Robinson rules middle school, Sarah Wyatt is mesmerized, Amanda Hahn reignites her passion, and Ryan Callahan plows ahead.  P1-AT967_RADIO_F_20100224175520Terry Catlett and myself have been hard at work for a while trying to figure out what sort of written show we wanted to bring to the DCH stage. This week, we’ll finally be putting up the fruit of that labor with the show David and Terry: Portrait of a Crime. It’s a radio play, complete with live sound effects provided by Colten Winburn and Daniel Matthews. In honor of that upcoming show, I wanted to share a couple of clips that inspired the production.

The first idea for the show came about when I randomly heard WC Fields’ “The Day I Drank a Glass of Water” and played it for Terry. It’s super dumb and terrible, but you can check out the ten minute piece here. Favorite part would be the long, drawn out description when he finally goes to take a drink. The sheer absurdity of how they over explain it really spoke to us. After listening to this, and similar radio plays, we realized the sort of show that we wanted to do.

Our primary inspiration for the style of humor would be everything The Smothers Brothers did. If you’re not familiar with them, The Smothers Brothers were a comic singing duo that hosted a variety show in the 1960s. They created these happy, upbeat, clean, folk songs that still hold up today (Especially if you liked my piece on A Mighty Wind.). I love the dynamic between the straight and absurd players, something that is especially evident in “Boil That Cabbage Down.” Check it out here.

So if either of those billion year old clips, or my normal shows with Terry, are to your liking, we’d love to have you join us on 8/31 at 8:30 as we debut the radio play! - David Allison

Middle SchoolIt’s been a big week for students, parents, and teachers around these parts, as school started back this past Monday. Because of this, the thing I’m loving this week is hanging out with middle school kids. No, it’s not a creepy thing--I’m a “highly qualified” teacher by Texas standards, so it’s not only something I enjoy, but it’s something I get paid to do.

The first week is filled with lots of emotion. Crying, complaining, wondering if you’ll make any friends--and it’s pretty rough on the students, too. I teach both 6th grade and 8th grade, so I get to see both sides of the spectrum, all the way from the eleven-year-old on the verge of tears because she can’t get her locker open to the smooth 8th grader who has gotten as good at this middle school game as he did at [insert title of popular video game all the kids are playing these days]  over the summer. I’m only three days in, and I’ve already had had one sixth grader ask me if she could read Milton’s Paradise Lost, another tell me that when he grows up he wants to be “a problem, so people throw money at me,” and a group of 8th graders who have declared an “anti-spork” movement in our classroom, proclaiming the superiority of the spoon and hoping to get #antispork2014 trending.

If you get ever get the chance to hang out, work with, or mentor some middle school students, go for it. It will open up the door for some memorable conversations, you’ll get to make a (hopefully) positive impact, and you’ll also be reminded that even on your worst day, you can be thankful for the fact that you never have to be that awkward thirteen-year-old version of yourself again. - Jonda Robinson

nicki-anaconda-previewOh. If I could sum up Nicki Minaj’s music video for her latest single, “Anaconda”, in one word, it would be “Oh”. It’s a non-stop barrage of ass, sex, glistening skin, and Sir Mix-a-lot doing more work than Miss Minaj. And I kind of love it.

I thought I’d check it out while I was writing, foolishly thinking that it would just be background chatter. I was mesmerized from the first image. Oh. “What is this?? No! Why can’t I turn away??” It’s so much writhing, so much skin, so much Nicki. I mean, there’s no way everyone on set didn’t see her sorganz (my new slang for sex organs, try it out) well enough for a police sketch artist to use in court.

There’s such a build up in this video to her actually dancing but she never really does. Her back up dancers kill some moves while she pats their asses and twerks a little on a chair. Oh. There’s a section of the video that consists of cuts between her suggestively eating a banana and spraying herself with whipped cream and lots and lots of butt.

I’m not feeling it. But I could hear the sound of thousands of young boys closing their bedroom doors while I was watching it. And if that wasn’t enough, the bridge (???) is a scene of Nicki giving Drake a lap dance so good it seems to be a religious experience. I think we sometimes forget that he started as an actor because that lap dance looked weak as hell to me. This whole thing probably sounds like I hated the video. I did. I love that I hate it. I hate that I love it. I love it. Oh. - Sarah Wyatt

pomerantzThe new school year started up again this week. That doesn’t make much of a difference for grad students since our schooling is year round, but this marks the beginning of my third year in grad school, with about two or three more to go. This summer, for the first time since I started doing research almost 5 years ago, I started getting bored with what I do. I cared a little less about my ongoing studies and results. I spent less time playing with my data (usually a favorite hobby of mine). I stopped reading the RSS feeds of science journals I follow. I just wanted to lay in the sunshine all day and do comedy all night. I needed a kick in the pants. You guys. I got it. I got my kick in the form of this video by Dr. James Pomerantz.

Even if you’re not interested in neuroscience, I highly recommend watching it. Dr. Pomerantz was the PI of the lab I volunteered in after college, and he always demonstrated an amazing ability to explain such a vast array of different topics so simply, clearly, and interestingly. In this 8 minute long video taken at colloquia at Rice University, he does just that. He describes how we perceive, and essentially recreate, the world around us. As Dr. Pomerantz puts it, “when our neurons and the external world disagree with one another, the neurons win every time as for as our experience is concerned. We are all prisoners of our neural architecture.”

That applies to everything we experience. If you have vertigo and your neurons are firing in a way that says the world is spinning, then to you, the world is spinning. If you’re depressed, it doesn’t matter how many people tell you cheer up and that they love you. You’re going to be depressed until your body corrects itself or you seek help. Knowing why our brains don’t always mirror reality can help inform solutions. It can change lives. In the meantime, it’s just really, really cool to learn about. To all of you who are going back to school too: let’s learn the crap out of this weird little world we live in, shall we? Bring it on, year three. - Amanda Hahn

urlOver the past few weeks I have been working my way through the novels, stories, and other writings of Raymond Chandler. Okay, I haven’t read any of the stories yet, or the other writings, but I have finished the first two novels, The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely.

Both of these novels, in fact all of Chandler’s novels, star world-weary, hard-boiled, heavy-drinking, quip-ready private detective Phillip Marlowe. Chandler writes in the first person, allowing the reader to see the people and places of pre-war Los Angeles through Marlowe’s point of view, alternately sardonic and empathetic.

It is this point of view that makes the books great. The plots are nothing special; they’re often needlessly complicated. The mysteries are either incredibly obvious or impossible to sort out. It is the words, the tone, those descriptions – "She was thinking. I could see, even on that short acquaintance, that thinking was always going to be a bother to her.” “Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead.” – which will keep you turning the pages.

I enjoyed Farewell, My Lovely more than The Big Sleep, likely due with my familiarity with the plot of the latter thanks to the Humphrey Bogart film version. Farewell, My Lovely also benefits from a virtuoso chapter in which Marlowe wakes up in a locked room, having been drugged, and struggles to regain his senses. It’s a terrifying flirtation with madness, made all the more effective by how grounded the character is the rest of the time.

My adventure through the Chandler bibliography shall continue. There are only dozens of stories and four more novels to go. After that, I can rest easy. Until I move on to the complete works of Ross MacDonald. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Dinosaur Sonny Crockett, Murder Jokes, Awkward Reactions, Competitive Grannies

imageEach 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. 

Was_(Not_Was)_-_Walk_the_DinosaurThis 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

anewleafA 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

urlAll 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

chopped-logo1I'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