relationships

Book Review: "Modern Romance" by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg

Modern RomanceAziz Ansari’s book, Modern Romance, came out this past Tuesday—something I’ve been anticipating since watching a commercial for the book on YouTube two weeks ago (watch it here). “Hi, my name’s Mike, and if you’re sitting there watching this tape smoking your cigarette, well, hit the fast forward button ‘cause I don’t smoke and I don’t like people who do smoke.” Sold.

Anyway, as Aziz says in the commercial, Modern Romance is not a book of humor essays, but something “much deeper, much more engrossing.” And honestly, it was so gripping that I read most of it on my way to a wedding this past weekend (appropriate, I know). Aziz teamed up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg of NYU to compile a huge body of research, gathering interviews, focus groups, and empirical data from other researchers to analyze love in this technological age. They explore romance in different areas of the world as well as online dating, texting, sexting, the paradox of choice, cheating via technology (shout out to Anthony Weiner!), and much more. Also, there are graphs! Lots of graphs!

Not only is Modern Romance incredibly well researched, as evidenced by the citations at the end of the book, but it is also hilarious. I could only read it in Aziz’s voice: “Unlike phone calls, which bind two people in real-time conversations that require at least some shared interpretation of the situation, communication by text has no predetermined temporal sequencing and lots of room for ambiguity. Did I just use the phrase “predetermined temporal sequencing”? Fuck yeah, I did.” There is room for both academic terminology and jest, which is seriously awesome and doesn’t make the book some droning research paper that no one wants to read.

Admittedly, I felt a bit self-conscious reading this book in public because of big bold letters of things like “ARE WE 'HANGING OUT' OR GOING OUT ON A DATE?” and “THE PROBLEMS WITH ONLINE DATING.” It was like a marquee screaming READ ME! I’m sure someone saw one of these section titles and thought, That poor girl is reading a self help book about romance. I hope she finds someone someday.

It never crossed my mind that I could read this book and it would give me some things to think about in my own dating life, as I was really just interested in the social science of it all, but Modern Romance has given me things to consider. I think so many people should read this book—fans of Aziz, fans of Klinenberg, anyone looking for a lover in this day and age (or just connection in general), pop scientists, Millennials, everyone. Not everyone actually, but still, I really want you to read this book.

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 3 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.

What We're Loving: Branching Out, Lessons for Kids, Collaborating and Listening

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison wishes Bruno never returned, Jonda Robinson discovers the right time for treats, Molly Jakkamsetti waxes chumps like a candle.  urlIt’s always a strange feeling when a creative person, whose work you enjoy, decides to branch out and try a different medium. For some, like Donald Glover and Hugh Laurie, it works really well. For others, like Bruce Willis, IT DOES NOT WORK. You’ll notice that I put a portion of that last sentence in all caps, which was intentional as I was trying to reinforce just how much it doesn’t work sometimes. Even worse, these ventures sometimes ruin how much you’re able to appreciate the talents that drew you to them in the first place. It was with that level of trepidation that I decided to check out the band comprised of Harris Wittels, Paul Rust, and Michael Cassady. Individually, the three have done some fantastic work (Wittels-Parks & Rec/Humblebrag, Rust- Comedy Bang! Bang!/Arrested Development, Cassady-Earwolf/UCB) so on one hand, it seems like combining their talents had to work. On the other, they’re comedy writers/actors, so the idea of them starting a band is pretty terrible. So how did it end up? I really liked it! I’m rating the work of the band “Don’t stop or we’ll die” as WHAT I’M LOVING THIS WEEK (Note: This instance of all caps was to remind you of the title of this weekly piece).

Now I’m not here to tell you how to spend your money; I’m not Suze Orman. Plus, the production quality isn’t always the best. But you should at the very least check out these songs, and then, if/when you enjoy them BUY EVERY ALBUM THEY’VE EVER CREATED (Caps for commerce). Here are some of my favorites.

Once In A While -Proof that they can play and sing music!

Lectric Roller Skates -The classic tale of the folly of man.

The Ballad of Bird and Fox -A dramatic take on the parental responsibilities of a bird and fox in a crumbling marriage

- David Allison smart-kidsI read an article this week from Time entitled “How To Make Your Kids Smarter: 10 Steps Backed By Science.” Initially I overlooked it because I don’t have kids, and I enjoy naps too much to want any anytime soon. Then I thought about my students, and also myself, and decided that maybe this article could have something that I could use in my own life. Here is the list, along with my translation of what I’m actually hearing them say for my own life:

  1. Music Lessons (Translation: Dust off the guitar that you bought after an inspiring live performance by Sheryl Crow and finally learn how to play “My Favorite Mistake.”)
  2. The Dumb Jock Is A Myth (Translation: Never stop looking for a smart, athletic man to marry.)
  3. Don’t Read To Your Kids, Read With Them (Translation: Kids better start pulling their weight.)
  4. Sleep Deprivation Makes Kids Stupid (Translation: You SHOULD take all those naps. And sleep in when you can!)
  5. IQ Isn’t Worth Much Without Self Discipline (Translation: Get grits...er, I mean, “grit.”)
  6. Learning Is An Active Process (Translation: You should read on the treadmill.)
  7. Treats Can Be a Good Thing--At The Right Time (Translation: It’s ALWAYS the right time for a treat.)
  8. Happy Kids = Successful Kids (Translation: Choose to be happy, so you can be successful. To reference Sheryl Crow again, “It’s not having what you want/It’s wanting what you’ve got.”)
  9. Peer Group Matters (Translation: Hang out with people who are smarter and cooler than you so you can become smarter and cooler.)
  10. Believe In Them (Translation: Believe in yourself! If you don’t, how can you expect others to?)

In closing, I offer you this quote from the article: “Intelligence isn’t everything. Without ethics and empathy really smart people can be scary.” So get out there, smarty pants! You’ve got so much to offer--use these tips and put those smarts to good use! - Jonda Robinson

mqdefaultIt’s been a rough week in Dallas, amirite? Let me take you back to a simpler time, all the way back to 1999, when MTV aired a special called 25 Lame. It was the 25 lamest videos as chosen by then-MTV viewers. The network vowed that once these videos were played on this special, they were never to be seen on MTV again. (Insert your own comment on how they ‘never play videos anyway).’

The hosts were 4 well known comedians: Jon Stewart (He may have just started hosting The Daily Show), Janeane Garafolo (who is seen smoking on set - no e-cigs back then!!), Denis Leary (sardonic as ever), and Chris Kattan (yeah, he was on SNL then). They watched each video and mocked them as they aired, a la Beavis and Butthead, and at the end they would “destroy” the tapes ( I remember one ended up in a blender).

As you would expect, most of them were one hit wonders (The Macarena, Milli Vanilli, and Rico Suave to name a few) and failed attempts by celebrities to launch singing careers (Eddie Murphy and Don Johnson were in the top 5).

The most uncomfortable moment was when Vanilla Ice made a special appearance to destroy his video for “Ice Ice Baby.” The hosts all acknowledged how awkward it was for them to mock the video while Ice is sitting right there. When they give him the chance to destroy his video, he takes a baseball bat and starts swinging around the set, almost hitting the hosts. I’m not sure if it was all staged, but I remember Kattan looked genuinely frightened. You can hear someone off set saying “that’s enough” so I think maybe it was a planned stunt that Vanilla took too far.

If you search “MTV 25 Lame” on You Tube, you may only find this part of the special. I hope you watch more of it, their comments are still pretty funny. Denis Leary describes Four Non Blondes “What’s Up” as the same thing he hears from a lady sitting on a street corner in New York, screaming “HEYY YEAAH YEAAH YEAH”… - Molly Jakkamsetti

What We're Loving: Movies That Age Well, Adult Contemporary Television, Finding True Love, Chilly McFreeze Audio

imageEach Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison travels to childhood and back again, Ashley Bright cries at work, Amanda Hahn finds her husband, and Ryan Callahan has baffling expectations.  MV5BMTgzNzk3OTg2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMTIyODc5._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_I’m a relatively sentimental person. Whether it’s looking at old Facebook photos or just finding smaller shirts that used to fit, I enjoy looking back at the past. But when it comes to movies, I rarely take the time to revisit films I used to love; I’ve been burned too many times. For example, did you know that Blues Brothers isn’t that good? I know you’ll say that it’s sacrilegious for me to say such a thing on a comedy website, but it’s kind of boring and doesn’t hold up. Hell, most movies don’t hold up because they were made for a certain era that’s now known as bygone. Recently though, I had a breakthrough. I found a film that I loved as a child and I continue to love as an adult. That movie is Drop Dead Gorgeous. Released in 1999, Drop Dead Gorgeous is a dark comedy about a teenage beauty pageant in Minnesota. If you haven’t seen it in a while (Or, heaven forbid, if you’ve never seen it) you probably don’t recall how deep the cast of characters for this film is. I love how many memorable performances there are in such a small movie. I mean, you could probably remember that Kirsten Dunst and Denise Richards are battling it out as likeable/unlikeable caricatures. But you need to revisit this film to rediscover the adorable/hilarious trailer park friendship Ellen Barkin/Alison Janney. You need to watch Will Sasso dangle from a car door. You need to watch Adam West host a pageant. You owe it to yourself. - David Allison

MV5BMjExNzA1ODMxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjY4MjQ2OA@@._V1_SY317_CR15,0,214,317_AL_I like some neat things like Japanese metal, Bukowski, and zines. I've drank David Lynch coffee. I like Avon more than Stringer. I've bought speakers from a fella off Craigslist. I need you to remember this when I tell you about what I'm loving this week. It's not underground. You've likely heard of it. It's adult contemporary television on network TV, and I love it. I love the Braverman's. Every week, I sit at my desk and cry at least once while watching (mostly just listening to) Parenthood. This week I teared up three times. Three separate times at my desk. At work. In front of other people. Listen. I'm not ashamed. It's a great show. It's a bit hokey at times and you'll feel things, but it's great. I want to be Camille Braverman when I'm in my twilight years and have a backyard just like that. Lord, bring me a Zeke Braverman to marry when I grow up. You'll laugh when watching it. You'll become invested in the characters. And that's the thing with this show, it's lead by the characters and not the plot. I started watching it as a brain rinse after watching Breaking Bad. I'd watch one or two episodes of each. I got hooked. There's some actors from HBO lining the cast if that gets you going: Peter Krause from Six Feet Under and Wallace from The Wire popped up in a few episodes in season two. Sure, it gets sappy and hits topics like cancer and having a child with autism. But its set in Berkeley and there's some pot smoking, that's cool, right? Most seasons are available on your streaming service of choice. Watch it and let's you and I chit chat about some family drama. - Ashley Bright

WWL HahnEveryone, I’m glad I have your attention. This is a very special “What We’re Loving” post for me. Today, I would like to introduce you all to my future husband, Bridger Winegar. He’s worked as an intern and production assistant for The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and he’s the most consistently funniest person I’ve ever internet-stalked. So…no, I’ve never met him, but I know he is my one true love. Everything he has ever said or posted on any medium has made me laugh. Since it’s no longer 2010, I know it’s strange to still be obsessed with someone’s Twitter feed. But you guys, I’m obsessed with his Twitter feed right down to his bio. It says nothing but “Here we are on our third date,” and it tickles me to my core. If you ever see me spacing out or there is a lull in our conversation, there is a 95% chance that that sentence is running through my head. His weirdness is so creative, and he’s bold with his moves. The strange things you daydream of doing or posting, but never follow through on, he’ll do. His Pinterest boards are a perfect example. They make me cry from laughter. There’s an entire board with nothing but George Lucas’s neck. Another is devoted to pictures of his knee. If you decide to check out any others, be sure to take a peek at his Amazing Vocalists board. He’s goofy, strange, and delightful. I have no idea what he’s currently working on or doing, but he deserves more fame, and I’m making it my life goal to spread the word about him. So if you’re in the mood to meet someone that will make you think, “Wait what why?!” Bridger Winegar is your guy. But back off, ladies. This psycho is mine. - Amanda Hahn

steveaustinshow300x300Recently, a few people who would know recommended the The Steve Austin Show, the podcast with former pro-wrestler and current direct-to-video action star "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Even though "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (henceforth abbreviated as SCSA) was the man who brought me back to the pro-wrestling fold after a long hiatus in the 90's, I hesitated to listen to his podcast for the same reason I hesitate listening to any podcast. Most are bad. They feature people who either pepper each sentence with a string of words such as "um" and "like" and "you know" (the vast majority of wrestling podcasts) or who try so hard to be funny that you can feel the flop sweat drip through your headphones (the vast majority of comedy podcasts). Well, it turns out that SCSA, one of the greatest promo guys in the history of the wrestling business, is really good at talking into a microphone. I have no idea why I expected anything different, except for the fact that I am an idiot. The Steve Austin Show is an entertaining listen, and not only during the interview portion when SCSA talks with guests like Paul Heyman and Dave Meltzer and William Regal about the wrestling business, but also during the opening section, when SCSA talks about what's going on in his life and what's going on in his head. Traditionally, this is the section of the podcast I skip. But not on this show. SCSA has the most important quality any entertainer can have: sincerity. I'll put up with a lot of things: self-pity, ignorance, foolishness. But if I think you're being disengenuous, if I think I'm being fed a line, I'll tune out. When SCSA speaks I believe he means what he says. Which probably makes me a mark. But at least I'm a mark with something to listen to when I'm driving. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Scene-Breaking Rap, Sweating Out Our Perms, The Greatest Movie Poster Ever

028_heart-free-vector-lEach Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison gives you a chance to make amends, Julia Cotton annoys her beautician, and Ryan Callahan loses a battle, but wins a war. 

I love alliteration!  In celebration of that fact, I’m creating “Movie Soundtrack March” to showcase great comedy soundtracks that go underappreciated.  The only rule for my weekly pick is that the soundtrack has to mostly be comprised of original music.  

Sometimes, something so important happens it causes you to reevaluate things.  The sheer magnitude of the event forces you to view life through a different lens.  Occasionally, it even demands that you slightly modify the random theme for your once a week blog post.  I know that I’m supposed to focus on movie soundtracks this month, but there was a musical moment in one of television’s best comedies that cannot be ignored.  I tried to stay on track, but there’s no stopping the power of the Dean’s rap on the latest episode of Community.

I know you know what I’m talking about.  If you don’t, then I hate you and the only way you can win back my affection is by putting this 1:11 clip on repeat for the next 72 hours.  I can’t quite pin down exactly why the rap is so funny.  Perhaps because it’s so well written.  Maybe it’s because the man portraying Dean Pelton, Jim Rash, is a proven talent and an Oscar winner.  Who knows, it might be due to the fact that a tiny white man is rapping hard while dressed as a candy bar.  No one will ever know, but it’s impossible to ignore that this clip is the best thing on tv ever.  Still don’t believe me?  Well check out exhibit D, a .gif of Gillian Jacobs, A PROFESSIONAL ACTRESS, barely keeping it together.  It's that funny. - David Allison 

14517_10152631209974056_1575422524_nAin’t no party like a DCH party cuz a DCH party don’t stop!

As much as I love watching and performing in shows, I have the most fun at DCH when performances are done.  There’s bountiful drinking, dancing and singing with abandon, and blatant, unapologetic sweating.  That is a sign of a good time.

I didn’t party much in high school.  I spent my time studying because I understood the importance of education. No. I didn’t get invited to many parties and studying just became a way to pass the time.  That is also a lie.  I didn’t study as much as I figured out different ways to enjoy cheese (best way: just get a plate of shredded Colby Jack & Cheddar and melt that bad boy in the microwave.  Don’t even need the tortilla chips.)

 College parties were still mostly a drag.  I usually went with girls who just wanted to be seen.  They’d spend tons of money on outfits and grooming.  We were always ridiculously late because no one really knew what time “fashionable” really was.  And when we got there, no one wanted to move, because, ‘Do you know how much it took to put this look together?’ - ‘No, but do you know how much cheese I gave up to put this outfit on?’ So, there we were, a group of girls prepared to star in Jay Zs Big Pimpin’ video, just posted in a corner.

 After college… well, I had kids, so parties were few and far between.  Still, I dreamed of a time when I could be amongst people who just wanted to have fun with me.  Like real fun.  Like, I-got-my-hair-did-but-I-fully-intend-on-sweating-out-this-perm-before-the-night-is-over, fun.  That time has come a many a night at DCH.

With the Dallas Comedy Festival this week, it is a party everyday.  I had the pleasure of performing with Dairy Based on Thursday night. Still, I know the best night will be the last day of the festival, when all of the performances are done, the music is blaring and my beautician is annoyed at all of the Facebook pics showing that her work has been destroyed. - Julia Cotton 

IMG-20140321-00279As some of you may know, I moved into a new apartment a few weeks ago. Thanks to the move, I now have my own study, full of books on shelves and books in boxes and books on the floor and WWE action figures on top of bookshelves. Oh, there's also a desk, you know, in case I need to write something. This past week I finally got around to decorating. You see, there had been an ongoing debate between me and my girlfriend over the placement of my Japanese Tango & Cash poster.

Just so we’re clear, the poster is not an advertisement for some sort of Japanese knock-off of Tango & Cash starring Sonny Chiba and Takeshi Kitano, (although that movie would be awesome,) it’s the real thing, a poster for the 1989 action movie Tango & Cash IN JAPANESE. The whole poster is in Japanese, except for the word “Tango” the word “Cash” and the phrase “Let’s Do It!” which is apparently a catchphrase from the movie. I had no idea.

My girlfriend failed to appreciate the greatness of this poster and the greatness of Tango & Cash in general. You see Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell play two LA super cops who are framed by crime lord Jack Palance and sent to prison. One super cop is enough for me to drop everything, push old ladies out of the way, and run to the closest theater. Tango & Cash has TWO super cops. And one of them iss Kurt Russell of Big Trouble in Little China fame. And the other is Rambo Balboa. When they write the definitive history of the late 20th century, Tango & Cash will play a prominent role.

My girlfriend was moved by exactly none of my arguments. So instead of the Tango & Cash poster having place of honor in our living room, it now hangs in my study. Where it belongs. Let's do it! - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Unconventional Law Enforcement, Music With a Heart, Dining on Classics, Modern American Mythology

photoEach Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Julia Cotton finds character best taught with an axe, David Allison teases desert island possibilities, Ashley Bright binges on Italian, and Ryan Callahan finds inspiration from an unlikely source.  

axecopThey say not to let television babysit your kids. Well, whoever “they” is has never volunteered to babysit my 1st and 4th grader for free. Television gets the job done while I do important things (like search for cheap tickets to sold out Beyonce concerts online). My kids have stumbled upon two shows that I am proud to have as my Mrs. Doubtfire, as they both highlight creativity, imagination, and exploring life’s capabilities. They are Disney’s Phineas and Ferb ...and Fox’s Axe Cop. I won’t go on much about Phineas and Ferb. It is hilarious, very well written, and those two little boys get more accomplished in one day than most adults get done in a lifetime. I am sure you’re more concerned that I allow my kids watch TV-14 rated Axe Cop. “Mom. He is a cop, but instead of a gun, he uses an axe!” They are genuinely drawn to the unconventional nature of Axe Cop. And, sure an axe yields just as much (and perhaps more gruesome) damage as a gun, but, beyond the violence, there are prominent themes of loyalty, accountability, service, tolerance, and innovation. Axe Cop is voiced by the epitome of manliness himself, Nick Offerman. Full of the Ron Swanson “no nonsense” gravitas, this hero has only one passion: killing bad guys. My kids’ favorite episode is when Axe Cop simply draws a picture of a magical land and is able to transport there. It is a land full of formidable bad guys that need slaughtering. It is his dream land. If you still have reservations about my 7 and 9-year-old watching this ‘Animation Domination’ program, consider this: the show was created by a 5-year-old. Axe Cop is the brainchild of actual child-child Malachi Nicolle. My daughter’s reaction to this news was much like my reaction when I remember that Beyonce and I are the same age. “Mom. I’m already 7! What have I been doing?” After watching either of these shows, my kids are motivated to stop watching television for a while to try to create something of their own. This inevitably tears me away from searching for Beyonce tickets and my babysitter’s job is done. - Julia Cotton

A+Mighty+Wind+Motion+Picture+Soundtrack+A+Mighty+Wind++All+on+StageI love alliteration!  In celebration of that fact, I’m creating “Movie Soundtrack March” to showcase great comedy soundtracks that go underappreciated.  The only rule for my weekly pick is that the soundtrack has to mostly be comprised of original music.

With Spinal Tap, Waiting For GuffmanBest in Show, and A Mighty Wind, Christopher Guest and his core group of creators experienced an amazing run by producing four amazing comedies.  I could wax poetic about each of these films, but you could easily find breakdowns of them by writers far more talented than I am.  Instead of that, I’m going to focus on the soundtrack of A Mighty Wind because of it’s combination of catchy, fun songs with genuine heart and emotions.  I know this is a collection of tracks created to score a mockumentary, but this is one of the three albums I would take with me on a desert island.  Heck, it might be my number one (Please don’t send me to a desert island and make me choose).

The tracks of A Mighty Wind are provided by the three fictitious bands profiled in the film.  You’ve got The New Main Street Singers (Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, and John Michael Higgins, among others) a group that sounds and looks like what would happen if the Polyphonic Spree created 60s folk.  Their interpretation of The Bible in “The good book song” is fantastic.  The Folksmen (Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Michael McKean) are a trio, much like the Kingston Trio of real life folk music fame, who create great harmonies in their patient, laid back tunes.  They provide the only cover on the album, a stripped down version of The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” that showcases the absurdity of the original lyrics.  The true superstar group of the album is Mitch and Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara).  Their music isn’t funny. Sorry.  But it’s beautiful and earned the film an Oscar nomination for “A kiss at the end of the rainbow.”  Here’s a great clip of Levy and O’Hara performing it live at the Academy Awards.  The whole album is streaming on most music services. - David Allison

James GandolfiniSometimes you find yourself in an unintentional onslaught of some theme or person in the things you're watching or reading. During the Ice-mageddon a few months ago, my roommate and I accidentally binged on John Candy. This past week, I've consumed a lot James Gandolfini. I've been watching the Sopranos for my first time and I'm now on the 5th season. I see now why they say the Sopranos kicked off this new era of TV drama: Tony Soprano certainly opened the door for Don Draper and Walter White to lead shows as men very much in the gray area of good or bad. But the heart attack jokes about Tony are plentiful, sad, and uncomfortably on the nose. A couple of days ago, I fed my hankering to re-watch one of my favorite movies, True Romance; Gandolfini is in one of my favorite scenes. Oh, sweet Bama. And last and possibly least, I watched Enough Said, the somewhat underwhelming rom-com staring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Mr. Gandolfini. Avert your eyes now, if you are troubled by spoilers, but I'll try my best not to ruin any future viewing experience. I have no problem being left with questions after a movie except when I feel like the answers to those questions would have made for a stronger story. In Enough Said, we find out that Gandolfini's character archives old television shows and has watched them all repeatedly along the way. I felt like this was never really explored. In fact, the whole movie felt a little lopsided because I don't think his character was ever fully explored. I'm not good at Internet research so I cannot confirm that his untimely death impacted the movie, but it kind of felt like it did. Despite all of that, Julia L-D's performance and their chemistry make it worth watching. Although, if you've never seen True Romance, watch that first. - Ashley Bright

TV After OprahSo Ellen Degeneres hosted the Oscars. I figured I’d write about her and the way she influenced my personality when I was a nothing but a teenager making sarcastic jokes in class: her cadence, her optimistic deadpan demeanor, and the way she could deliver the most horrible news in the most casual, and cheerful manner.

After that I’d I’d dip into the Oscars, and write about watching for 25 years and not caring as much anymore, but watching out of habit, and still kind of caring because it’s still the Oscars.

That’s when the truth hit me. I had been living a lie.

Ellen is great and the Academy Awards are a fertile ground for pop culture discussion, but I’m loving one thing and one thing only this week. And that one thing is Rick Ross.

rick_ross_bet_hip-hop_awards_-_h_2012

I feel so much better having said that.

For those who don’t know, the Rick Ross story goes like this: William Leonard Roberts II was a former college football player and corrections officer who appropriated the persona of noted cocaine kingpin “Freeway” Ricky Ross and parlayed his new image into a rap empire. He’s the real life version of Gusto from the oddly-forgotten Chris Rock gangster rap satire CB4. I’ve been listening to Rick Ross in my car all the time all week. Even when I have no place to drive.  The music is pure capitalism: Make money, spend money, make money, spend money. It’s basically propaganda. And nothing inspires me more. Each time I hear “Hustlin'" I get excited and sometimes begin to dance or hop around (my form of dance,) and sing the first three verses. That music revs me up. I know it’s fake and I know it’s deeply wrong on a moral level, but dang it if it doesn’t lift my spirits without fail.

I grew up in a small New England village. We lived near the woods and sometimes saw bears.  We're run and play outside, with sticks and Jarts, all summer and fall. It was a safe, beautiful, and undramatic place. I grew up without religion. I didn’t read Tolkien. My tales of morality and adventure, my escape, came from professional wrestling, from comic books, and from gangster rap. NWA’s Straight Outta Compton was the first tape I memorized front to back. From there it was Ice Cube, and The Geto Boys, CPO, and 50 Cent and G-Unit. And Rick Ross.

The stories and images of gangster rap shaped my understanding of what material success means in this country. Also, they fostered my interest in conversational dynamics. Every rap song is a monologue. Every argument has a winner.

In conclusion, here’s Ellen Degeneres talking about bees. (jump to 15:55) - Ryan Callahan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWOdNSh3W3U

My Eighth Move in Five Years - A Live Blog

photo 1Last week, thanks to the sudden availability of a larger apartment in our complex, and the need for more space, my girlfriend and I moved. It was my eighth move in the past five years. What better way to celebrate such an historic occasion that with a live blog? 11:00AM Receive keys for new apartment, which is two buildings and about three hundred yards away from our old apartment. Both the old and the new apartments are on the third floor. There are no elevators in the complex. Nor are there escalators, despite my many strongly-worded letters sent to the management company.

11:05AM When it comes to the matter of carrying things, I am strongly opposed. Lifting, holding, pushing, and bearing are also activities I consider unacceptable. But my desire to have my own study in our new apartment outweighs my hatred of physical labor. I begin to pack.

12:15PM Continue packing. As long-time readers of this column know, I own many books, a large percentage of which I have never read. Books are heavy and take up a lot of space. They also collect a lot of dust and serve as constant reminders of every begun-but-as-yet-uncompleted task in my life. Yay! Books!

12:43PM The packing and the piles of empty boxes cause our cat to freak out. She runs around the apartment like a crazy person, jumping high and low, running into doors and hiding under chairs. Her behavior is understandable. The last time she left the apartment, we took her to a team of strangers who sedated her and removed her reproductive organs. I would behave the same way.

IMG-20140219-002421:45PM Carry my first load of books down to my car. I managed to clear one shelf of one bookcase. There are 9 bookcases in my apartment. This will be a long day.

2:21PM Heart pounding, breath short, hair and back wet with sweat, I lay on the floor of our new apartment. The boxes I used to transport the books were rather large and thus heavy and thus I feel like I am going to die. I'll just lay her for a while and wait until my heart stops hurting. Yay. Books.

3:00PM Movers arrive to carry the larger pieces. I notice their silent judgment of me. I can sense that these men consider me weak for my anti-carrying bias. They no doubt size me up and consider me no threat in the coming apocalypse.

3:30PM While moving the couch, the movers joke about the lack of an elevator. In an attempt at camaraderie, I mention the shocking lack of escalators. There is a long, awkward silence. I pretend to answer an email to avoid further eye contact.

6:00PM The movers finish their work. All the big pieces - couch, bed, dresser, desk, entertainment centers, TVs - are in place. The movers are tired and sweaty, but they have a glow about them, a kind of serenity. I wonder if a life of vigorous physical activity, say a job in construction, would fulfill me on a spiritual level and ease my constant anxiety. More importantly, will I lose all the shows on my DVR when I move the cable box? I still haven't watched last week's True Detective.

photo 26:05PM With the movers gone, all that remains are small personal items, like books, and Blu-rays, and clothes, and books, and knick-knacks, and books, and toiletries, and books, and our cat, who has barricaded herself in the bedroom and refuses to leave. She appears to have mastered some rudimentary ranged-weapons, which will make extraction difficult.

7:07PM More boxes of books down the stairs, up the stairs, over and over again. I feel like Sisyphus, except that I've done nothing to deserve this. And I'm pretty sure Sisyphus had an escalator. Yeah. Books. 9:45PM All the books and bookcases have been moved and set up in the my new office. All that's left to move are clothes, most of which belong to my girlfriend. I don't understand why I should have to help her with those. It's not like she helped me with my books.

9:47PM My girlfriend reminds me that she helped me with my books.

11:00PM Finished. Everything is in the new apartment, including our cat. Her strategic entrenchment was no match for a mouse with a rattle in it.

IMG-20140219-0024011:10PM The new place is still a mess. Boxes and frames and clothes and lamps everywhere. But my study is in good shape. All the books are on the shelves. The desk sits before an large window. And I was able to use the remaining space in the room to construct a small talk show set. My first guest will be my cat. The first topic: The Alarming Anti-Escalator Conspiracy in Dallas. I'd say it will be a good show, but my cat is a difficult interview.

Ryan Callahan is a current DCH student who loves crime novels and pro wrestling. He’s the brains behind WikiFakeAnswers.