travel

The Five People You Meet in Heaven (While Flying on Spirit Airlines)

airline passengers You jet first class when you fly to Paris with your Louis Vuitton luggage. You’re a member of the Admiral’s Club and wouldn’t be caught dead sitting in an airline boarding area. Richard Branson is on speed dial and you’re weighing a trip into space. Flying for you is like brushing the face of God with your immaculate manicured fingertips.

But, you’re Harvard educated and trained to be curious. You wonder, “How do the poor folk fly? Those wretches you read about in the Wall Street Journal. The ignominious 99 percenters.” Let your inner anthropologist be satisfied. As a graduate of one of the lesser Ivies, I will share with you the five people I met in Heaven, while flying on Spirit Airlines.

Mr. Nike. Mr. Nike is in the aisle seat. I can’t avoid noticing that he is apparently allergic to deodorant. He is all knees and elbows, mostly in my rib cage. He kicks off his Nikes, which he may have purchased at Goodwill after the 1988 Olympics, and a mysterious odor tantalizes my nostrils. The smell plays with me, taunting me to identify it. Sulfurous rotten eggs? That takeout container I found in the back of the fridge? My great aunt’s gefiltefish? I double check to make sure my seat is equipped with a motion sickness bag. This may be a discount airline but they don’t want me vomiting on the carpet.

Grandma and Mr. Wickams. Grandma is already wedged into the window seat, a Vera Bradley vision of Paula Dean at a Weight Watcher’s convention. Did she have an industrial accident with her dollar store eau du toilette this morning? Within five minutes, I am developing a migraine. Grandma has photos of her 27 grandchildren? And, Grandma has Mr. Wickams. He is such a good kitty. He is such a beautiful kitty. He is such a brave kitty to fly on such big plane with Grandma. Is it the flying or Grandma’s nauseating flattery? Mr. Wickams has diarrhea 30 minutes after take-off. Have you ever smelled cat diarrhea? Thank God for the motion sickness bag.

Super Mario. Kids take to planes like ducks to water. If you know how to wrangle them. Super Mario has a hand-held game that boops and beeps incessantly. He kicks the back of my seat the entire flight. I hate to complain and seem anti-child. On a discount airline, they don't enforce the headset rules. The flight crew is too poorly paid to care if rules are followed or passengers are comfortable. Super Mario has a tantrum worthy of an Oscar when he has to turn off his game for take-off and landing. This is one child I would leave behind.

Charlie the Tuna. Yes, fish is good for you. Yes, fish oil reduces cholesterol and can be part of a heart-healthy diet. But, no, a tuna-and-onion sandwich do not belong on an airplane. Enough said.

Spanky and the Gang. As soon as the seat-belt sign goes off, a large horde of children who have been plied with caffeinated beverages and sugary treats take over the back of the plane. Oblivious that we are in hurtling through space in a small enclosed metal capsule insulated with hard plastic surfaces, they begin rambunctious games that involve high-pitched squeals of delight for the next three hours. They run up and down the aisles, spilling snacks and elbowing passengers in the aisle seats. The flight crew is too busy charging folks $5 a bottle for water and making sure we don’t congregate at the lavatory to stop the shenanigans. 

Yes, this is how the 99 percent fly. Enjoy first class. If we hit Mount Everest, you die first, a crystal goblet of Moët & Chandon in your manicured hand.

Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blog www.PotatoNationUSA.com. She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.

(Image: Manonthelam.com)

My Trip to Chicago and That Time I Called a Flight Attendant “Mom”

Chicago River Last week, I took a short trip to Chi-Town for my b-day (because sometimes you just got to treat yo self) and it was amazing. So, for this week’s blog, I decided I would give you cool cats a little recap of my travels and encourage all you comedy lovers to hop a plane and head out to the Windy City sometime, too.

Ah, Chicago: a land of windy days, deep dish pizzas, and awesome Midwestern accents. It’s a magical place where hot dogs live on poppy seed-speckled buns and improv comedy resides on every street corner and seedy back alleyway. Seriously, with iO, The Second City, Zanies, The Annoyance Theatre, and a slew of others, it's no wonder why Chicago is largely considered America’s comedy capital. Thus, I was super pumped to be spending a few days there.

I stared out the window, enthusiastic to catch my first glimpse of the city below. I felt like a little kid that received a ticket to Wonka World (obviously, the Gene Wilder version, not the Johnny Depp travesty that will forever be synonymous with shame). I nearly wet myself out of excitement. In fact, I was so excited and caught up in my own giddy thoughts, that instead of saying, “Yes, ma’am” after the nice flight attendant lady asked if I would like something to drink, I replied with a triumphant, “Yes, mom.” Then, I immediately lowered my head in embarrassment and internally told myself to “calm your tits.”

But who was I kidding; I was fired-up and ready to explore this comedy nerd paradise. From the get go, I could tell this was going to be a grade-A trip, mostly because the O’Hare bathrooms had these lovely automatic cellophane seat covers. For me, that was a sign. A sign that the City of Chicago is a city that  knows how to treat a girl, right down to the health and cleanliness of my own derriere, so clearly I would be in a for a good time.

For the majority of my trip, I spent my time putting one delicious thing in my belly after another. I ate, and ate, and ate some more. I believe I started eating as soon as I stepped off the plane and continued non-stop until I got back home to Texas, or shortly before as I realized I’d have to purchase an extra plane ticket for the massive food baby amassing in my abdomen. I think I might have been carrying food twins.

My first food stop: a place to get top-notch pizza. The original Pizano's on State Street has some of the best pizza and pasta you will ever be fortunate enough to shove in your piehole. If you don’t take my word for it, trust Oprah’s, as she fully endorses Pizano's too. They’ve got everything delicious, and cheesy, and Italian, that will make your tummy very, very happy. If you like seafood, head to Shaw’s Crab House. I had a tuna burger the size of my head there, and I ate the whole thing. No regrets. They have a full oyster bar and live jazz music, and it’s a ton of fun. Plus, there’s a karaoke bar right across the street, so your night is set.  From gelato to cheese fries to gourmet popcorn and to a divine French toast bagel with maple cream cheese (try it at Fabcakes, highly recommend), I think I tasted it all.

The second night, I spent more than four hours laughing my butt off at Howl At The Moon, a dueling piano bar that is my new mental happy place. I was thoroughly content with the piano man’s renditions of my requests for "Don’t You Want Me" and "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." Because it was snowy and wet and generally cold out, I opted for more indoor activities. The Art Institute of Chicago is breathtaking and you can spend a full day there. Unfortunately, the Skydeck at the Willis Tower had zero visibility the day I went, but was still pretty cool to check out. It does cost a wazoo to do, but on a sunny day the view may be worth it. Also, it should be noted that the glass doors there are incredibly clean and they do hurt when you walk into them.

The Second CityWithout a doubt, though, the highlight of my trip was seeing a sketch revue at the The Second City Mainstage. As soon as I walked in, I immediately drooled over all the photos of its famous alumni. The faces of Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Alan Arkin, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, John Candy, and so many others adorn the Second City walls. I even touched a picture of Tina Fey’s face in the hopes that maybe it had magical comedy powers that could rub off on me. I also tried uber hard not to break into full fangirl mode and start crying like that one kid did during Sanjaya Malakar’s performance on American Idol (does anyone else remember that?).

The show, Fool Me Twice, Déjà Vu, was incredible. Playing with themes of re-occurring events and time out of joint, for the show’s second half the cast revisits its earlier bits with several hilarious callbacks, twisting the gags and reversing points of view to...wait for it...fool you twice. Selfie sticks, bad bitches, the staying power of Papa Roach, and gluten vs. non-gluten free diets are but a few of the many topics I found myself lol-ing over.  The improv set I stayed to watch afterwards was super impressive and inspiring. How they managed to weave bee farms and arsenic-laced pancakes into hysterical scenes, I don’t even know. I bow down to them. I’m not worthy.

I was sad to have to return to Dallas, but alas my trip had to come to an end. No worries, I fully plan on going back in the near future. Chicago, you have my heart and also a pair of my socks, which I’m pretty sure I left on the dresser in the hotel. With that said, until we meet again, friend.

Have you been to Chicago and have cool stories, awesome trip recommendations, or general fun facts/trivia you’d like to share? If so, put them in the comments section below!

Lauren Levine is currently a Level 4 student at DCH. When she is not trying to come up with witty things for this blog, she is a freelance writer and editor, an amateur photographer, a Zumba-enthusiast, a dog lover, and an 80s movie nerd. In addition, she enjoys all things Muppet-related, the smell after a rainstorm, and people with soft hands.

What We're Loving: .Gif Stories, Street Music, Heart-Breaking Car Rides, French Crime Novels

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison travels the information superhighway, Amanda Hahn pines for Europe, Jonda Robinson dances in her car, and Ryan Callahan revisits a description of violence.  imagesYou guys and gals should check out the popular world wide website named http://www.reddit.com.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, please start here.

Reddit is comprised of many popular subreddits (Communities) that normal, well adjusted people would enjoy.  There are also less popular subreddits that cater to internet weirdos that believe sitting on balloons to be sex.  One of the pages that falls somewhere in the middle is r/behindthegifs. And this week that page is, let’s all say it at the same time, WHAT I’M LOVIN’ [Insert raucous cheering].

.Gifs are tiny moving pictures that look grainy and normally involve a dog (This is the world champion).  Part of the appeal of a good .gif is that there is no context.  A funny video is chopped down to like four seconds, sound is eliminated, and it never stops.  r/behindthegifs takes the best abrupt clips and adds an absurd backstory.

You should check out the entire subreddit, but here are some of my favorites that I’ve discovered so far.

There are a trillion great ones, so please check out the subreddit and comment with your favorites.  Let’s create a community of people appreciating this internet community! - David Allison

800_370I love street musicians. I love walking through a park and hearing an acoustic guitar in the distance. On the rare occasion I take public transportation, I love waiting at the stop with a sultry singer banging out a rendition of Summertime. It’s something I rarely hear in Dallas. I hadn’t noticed the lack of street music here until I recently traveled to a popular world continent named Europe. If you’re unfamiliar with it, start here.

Almost every time I stepped out of anywhere to go from point A to point B, I would bump into one or more people performing. Performances ranged from one man and a guitar to a band of young drummers. They’re not always the most talented people, but it’s heartwarming to watch someone do something that they love to do. The only times I can think of that I have thought to myself, “I wish I loved anything as much as that person loves doing what they’re doing” have been when watching someone sing or play an instrument. Street musicians allow me to get up-close and really watch them love what they’re doing. I put some of the musicians I enjoyed watching the most in a playlist that I watch whenever I miss eating gelato and people watching on the steps of an old cathedral.

But this doesn’t have to be something that I miss! Or that any of us miss! So this week, I am putting out a call to action. Musicians of Dallas: Take to the streets! Find a park, find a bench, find a tunnel, an alleyway, a corner, a roof – wherever! Play for us. Please. Play a little soundtrack for our lives. Let us watch you do what you love. We’ll love you even more for it. - Amanda Hahn

17JasonIsbell37This summer has found me spending a good amount of time in my car, traveling here and there. My favorite thing to do while driving is put on some good music, sing along at the top of my lungs, and, when the song calls for it, do just enough car dancing to make other drivers wish they were having as much fun. Lately I’ve had a variety of artists riding shotgun, from Loretta Lynn telling me that I’m not woman enough to take her man (she’s right; I’m not) to Vampire Weekend asking who really cares about an Oxford comma (I do, guys! Use it!). One artist who I keep returning to, though, is Jason Isbell and his album Southeastern. With today’s music, it’s usually hard for me to find an album that I enjoy from beginning to end, but Isbell’s stands out because it’s consistently good. It’s got an Americana/Country sound to it, and it showcases his ability as a songwriter. My hands-down favorite song on the album is “Elephant.” I highly recommend you give it a listen, but I’m also giving you a warning: It’s heavy, it’s haunting, and it’s a heart-breakingly beautiful ride. “Traveling Alone,” “Cover Me Up,” and “Different Days” are some of my favorites as well, and “Super 8” is a fun, upbeat track. Overall, Isbell’s weighty lyrics and stories have been just the break I needed from the sugary summer anthems that radio stations have on heavy rotation.

Next time you’re roadtripping or just stuck in traffic, I highly recommend you crank up whatever your current jam is, sing it like you mean it, and car dance like no one is watching. But trust me, other drivers will be watching--and they’ll be wishing they were half as cool as you. - Jonda Robinson

productimage-picture-the-mad-and-the-bad-376As I've mentioned once or twice, I'm a big fan of crime novels.  This week I dove into the works of French crime novelist Jean-Patrick Manchette.  I was introduced to Manchette thanks to the New York Review Books Classic series. His first solo crime novel, The Mad and the Bad was the July selection for the NYRB Classics subscription series. The novel tells the tale of a immoral industrialist, the mentally unstable woman he hires to babysit his nephew, and the professional hit man  he hires to murder them both. I devoured the novel in two sittings. Not the most impressive feat; the book runs about 150 pages.

After reading The Mad and the Bad, I tore through two other Manchette books: Fatale, the story of a cold-blooded  blackmailer and murderess who grows tired of her lifestyle, and The Prone Gunman, about a CIA hit man and his disastrous attempt to return Gatsby-like to his hometown and reclaim his long lost love. Like The Mad and the Bad, both novels are short and well worth your time.

I consider Manchette a kindred spirit with American crime master Jim Thompson (The Killer Inside Me, The Grifters). Both write with  a lean, straightforward style that perfectly captures the pitch black comedy of their borderline absurd situations. Manchette's characters are broken people doing bad things, unable and unwilling to stop themselves. Like all great noir, his characters are on a one way journey to the abyss, and they have a sense of humor about their fate.

Manchette's terse, propulsive style creates some of the finest action sequences I have ever read. There is one particularly impressive sequence in The Mad and the Bad. A confrontation in a department store leads to some impromptu arson leads to a bloody shootout in the street. I found myself rereading the passage over and over again.

Reading those Manchette books had me so jazzed, so in love with the possibilities of the crime novel. It is my favorite genre, by far. After finishing those books, I found myself stuck on what to read next. Ultimately I settled on tackling an author I have long neglected, Raymond Chandler. You can expect to read more about him next week. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Returning Shows, Food in New Places, The Joys of Womanhood, The Dickens of Detroit

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison makes bold predictions, Ashley Bright admits her bias, Julia Cotton feels like a natural woman, and Ryan Callahan works on his greatest goal in life. vibe-new-orange-is-the-new-black-season-2-shots

Time is crazy y’all! I am writing this in a world where season two of Orange is the New Black has not been released. But, dear friend, you are currently reading this article in a world where season two of Orange is the New Black is available on Netflix. Like right now! Currently, I’m watching another episode of it as you take in our picks for the week, but I already know everything that’s going to happen this season. How? Past tv tropes. Shows tend to follow patterns, so it’s easy to hazard a few guesses. Maybe ten? Yeah, I’ll go with ten. Here are ten things that will happen this season on Orange is the New Black:

1) New friends will be introduced, probably with an inspirational speech, a loud argument or intimidating silence. 2) We will learn more about old friends. Don’t worry, their past transgression(s) will be justified. 3) A character that was once trusted will no longer be able to be trusted 4) Said characters breach of trust will be explained in an intimate conversation, probably at the edge of a bed, a stroll in the yard, or in an arbitrary church. 5) People will totally do it. Like, woah, doin’ it. 6) Someone will attempt to murder someone else, a move that will change EVERYTHING 7) The murderee will survive, thus negating the potential change and keeping things as they were. 8) The recovery of the murderee will be slow at first and then within a week, he/she will back to 100%. 9) I will participate in about fifteen conversations with people who watch the show, the thesis of each will be “Yeah, that security guard is played by Lauren Lapkus, she’s a really great improviser, they should use her more.” 10) Prison will continue to take some getting used to.

Orange is the New Black is a consistently fun show to watch, even if it is a bit formulaic. So hurry up and finish reading what the lovely ladies, and lovely Ryan, are recommending this week so we can talk about this show over the weekend. - David Allison

595e5a2f-c809-48bc-9441-bf1680134724_800I may be biased because I'm a Tony Bourdain fan, (See? I called him Tony instead of Anthony. Fanship confirmed.) but I've really been enjoying his CNN show Parts Unknown, which you can find on Netflix. If you've watched his No Reservations then you pretty much know what to expect because Parts Unknown is not much different. It's Tony hanging out with people, eating food, and exploring cool places. He's going to a bit more dangerous places like Libya, the Congo, or Jerusalem. In the Libya episode, he visits the ruins of Qaddafi's palace and the danger was palpable. The rebels running that area were not fans of Westerners scooting around with video cameras. But even among the danger, he is graciously welcomed to share a meal. In Myanmar, he talks with people who openly share their feelings on the state of their nation; people who had spent many years in prison for talking about their government. He goes to the Gaza Strip and eats with both Jewish folk and Palestinians. He eats at a restaurant run by a Jewish woman and her Palestinian husband. She is the only Jewish person in her community. Amid the tension and seemingly unsolvable issues, people are just people. They just want to be happy, let their kids be happy, and be free to travel to whatever territory they want.

One of my favorite scenes was while he was eating with a table of elderly ex-pats who had been living in Tangier since the 50s and 60s, when beatniks, writers, musicians, and artists flocked to the city. He asked them, "who at this table smokes hashish?" and most, if not all, of them raised their hands. You have to see it to really appreciate it, but it was a table of Judy Dench and Ian McKellan lookalikes. I just found it cute that they all raised their hand to that question. But to be fair, I bet both Judy Dench and Sir Ian McKellan probably throw down on some hashish themselves.

This show is great for learning about history, culture, and even current events. But the thing I most enjoy is just watching human beings be human beings. Most of us are prettydamn cool. - Ashley Bright

A lady never kisses and tells.  But, a real woman forsakes being a lady in the name of good comedic storytelling ...and sisterhood.

9780810989023_p0_v1_s260x420Growing up a “lady” in a fairly conservative household, conversations of dealing with the opposite sex were very limited.  Many of my friends grew up the same way, so we seldom even talked about boys amongst each other.  This left us to fend for ourselves, rather ill equipped, into the wild of men that inhabit the world outside of our shielded upbringings.  Needless to say, we each have had some horror stories dealing with the men types… stories that none of us would ever tell each other, until I listened to this one interview with Allison Brie.  I forget which one...maybe a Nerdist podcast??  They were going on about how Brie often plays characters that seem so wholesome and refined (see Community and Mad Men), but then they came across a rather graphic tale that she contributed to the book Worst Laid Plans about a very awkward sexual experience.

Worst Laid Plans began as a comedy show performed at UCB L.A.  Women would do stage readings of sexual-encounters-gone-wrong, all of which are hilarious and terrifyingly relatable.  Guests have included the great Amy Poehler, Janeane Garofalo, Laraine Newman, and many other comedic writers/performers.  A few of these monologues have been published in book form.

Brie scoffed at the idea that she would a)not be capable of having a weird sexual experience and b)not be willing to tell about it.  After all, we tell stories so that we are able to relate to one another.  Why should stories of this nature be any different? Because we are ladies?

Listening to this audiobook made this lady feel more like a natural woman than I ever had before.  My friends and I have become much closer having shared delightfully awful casual hook-up stories of our own.  We bellow over in laughter not only at the tragic tales, but also understanding that many of them may have been avoided if we’d just been talking about it all along. - Julia Cotton 

Elmore LeonardElmore Leonard wrote over 40 novels in his lifetime and I’ve made it a goal in life to read every one. Each year I knock out two or three. Last week I finished Maximum Bob, his early 90’s novel about a human peacock in a judge’s robe and the oddballs, misfits, criminals and crime fighters he sends careening into each other like billiards balls with a few and arrogant and selfish decisions. Right now I’m reading LaBrava, his 1980 novel about a Secret Service agent turned photographer and the oddballs, misfits, and criminals who careen around him like billiards balls after one selfish and arrogant decision.

You might notice that Leonard’s novels have a certain formula to them. In addition to the plots, which are often so similar, you can count on a certain set of stock characters. There's the pair of mismatched lowlifes planning a crime, in over their heads and hating each other. The drugged out rich boy, usually confined to a house, who begins as a benefactor to the lowlifes and eventually becomes their target. There will be a young blonde who plays with men like G.I. Joes or an older brunette who’s struggling to earn respect in the male-dominated world of law enforcement. And there will be a charming, laconic, graying at the temples dud, sometimes a cop, sometimes a crook, who romances the heroine, knocks around the lowlifes and gets what he wants in the end. The ending will feel abrupt and end with a joke. And the whole thing will be so damn much fun that you’ll want to pick up another book right away.

Leonard wrote with a grace and clarity that you will not find anywhere else. He believed in leaving out the parts that readers tend to skip. His books are marvels of precision. He moved his stories along so fast, and moves in and out of all the different point of views so well, that it feels like you watched a movie in your head.

With so many books, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. My top two favorites are Swag, the story of a used car salesman and a car thief who team up to making a killing in the armed robbery business, or The Hot Kid, Leonard’s late-career masterpiece about a U.S. Marshall in the 1930’s. After that try something gritty, like Killshot, or witty, like Get Shorty. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of them. Just start reading. And let me know what you think. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Good Things Ending, In Car Giggling, Mile High Shopping, Fictional Assistants

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison faces mortality, Ashley Bright laughs at absurdity, Amanda Hahn explores the free market, and Ryan Callahan shocks the world. hqdefaultI’m terrified of death and want everything to go on forever. There, I said it! If I had my druthers all things that I enjoy would continue and it would be the law that they exist forever, or at least until I’m tired of watching them (RIP my interest in Dexter after Season Four). I was confronted with this existential crisis this week when I realized that a web series I’ve recently come to enjoy, Chicago Rats, is coming to an end after only three installments. Looking back, I should’ve realized that the warning signs were there all along. I mean, incredibly talented people like Saturday Night Live’s Mike O’Brien and Tim Robinson don’t waste their time on YouTube clips forever. And there wasn’t much of an arc that needed to be completed. And the first and second installments were literally labeled 1 of 3 and 2 of 3, but still, staring down that 3 of 3, knowing that something I enjoy is coming to an end, was not a fun realization.

If for some stupid reason you’re not aware of the random thing that I love this week, let me introduce you. Chicago Rats comes to us from The Above Average Comedy Network on YouTube. You may remember the online conglomerate as the same page that brought you Mike O’Brien’s  Seven Minutes in Heaven celebrity interviews these past few years. The same no budget production style is employed in these videos, the best of which is "Condo Nights". Nights is batting in the Empire Strikes Back slot in the lineup as the second of three and pits O’Brien, Robinson and fellow SNL writer Shelly Gossman as three clueless porn actors forced to improvise dialogue. Their cluelessness is perfect. The other two clips are worth checking out too, but realize, THERE ARE ONLY THREE. So if you want a reminder of your impending demise and the finality of all things, check out the entire three part series. - David Allison

Charles-Bukowski-Uncensored-CD-Bukowski-Charles-9780694524228I have not refreshed the stock of CDs (compact discs with audio files for you youngins)  that I keep in my car in quite some time.  I either hook up my phone, listen to 90.1, or select from the same slim rotation of CDs.  I'm simple and I have a short commute these days.  Heavy in that slim rotation is a Charles Bukowski Uncensored CD that I found at a yard sale a couple of years ago.  And when I put this CD in, I usually listen to the same two tracks on repeat.  The tracks are of him reading his poem, "The Genius of the Crowd."  First, I'll explain why I love this poem and then I'll explain why I listen to it repeatedly.  Aside from when he tells us to beware of folks who constantly read books, he strikes a lot of truth chords with me.  "Beware of the knowers" may be my favorite line because I am always leery of people who are strictly black and white with their beliefs - people who know what's right and wrong.  "Beware of those who are quick to praise for they need praise in return."  Not an absolute truth, but something that's true most of the time.  "Beware of those who detest poverty or those who are proud of it."  Again, he strikes on the absolutes. But here's the real reason I listen to this on repeat.  On the first reading, he pronounces absurdity as 'absurbity.' They let him read through without interrupting him. The next track they ask him to re-read it, but this time pronouncing it correctly.  He tries and keeps saying 'absurbity.'  He can't hear the difference.  Finally, his wife or ladyfriend attempts to walk him through the phonics.  He can do it slowly, but mispronounces it again when he tries to read the whole poem.  They all break up laughing.  I giggle every single time I listen to it.  A hard, raucous, alone in my car. giggle every single time.  If you ever want to listen to it, skip your Uber and I'll drive you home, and we can giggle together. - Ashley Bright

skymall3This week, I traveled out of town for work. Mid-flight on the way out of Dallas, I noticed something in the seat pocket in front of me that I had forgotten existed. It was the most entertaining magazine in the whole world. It was the SkyMall shopping catalog. I love SkyMall so much and laugh out loud every time I flip through it. I’m convinced the creators of the items look through the decoy gift boxes from The Onion and base actual products on those. Compare the pictures below. Based on the products themselves, it’s hard to tell which item is from The Onion and which item is a real product that you can actually buy with real money from SkyMall.

HahnWWL1

I’ll admit that some of the products are actually somewhat useful, just overpriced. However, most are ludicrous. Of the ludicrous, my two favorite categories are: 1) Tricking old people and 2) Is this for real?!

“Tricking old people” includes cleverly worded products (usually electronics) named to be appealing to old people that can be purchased far cheaper elsewhere. For example, you can buy a “VHS to DVD converter” (it’s a VHS/DVD player, and if you’re under the age of 75, you knew that already) for nearly $300 from SkyMall. The same thing can be purchased for about $200 less at…anywhere else. Don’t forget about the “Picture Keeper,” available for about $60. It’s nothing more than an 8 GB USB drive. As malicious as this trickery is, it has allowed for my favorite hobby of pointing at products with my mouth agape, looking around at my fellow passengers, mouthing “are you kidding me?”

“Is this for real?!” includes things like: boxes that are programmed to say “Lookin’ good, Bob” when opened. Or this giant gorilla statue surrounded by cheerleaders (it’s unclear whether cheerleaders are included with your purchase).

HahnWWL2

There is also this creepy bag that winks while you walk (it’s unclear why, why, why, why, why on Earth anyone would want this.HahnWWL3

Ladies and gentlemen, do not despair thinking you can only experience the joy of SkyMall on an airplane. I am happy to say that you can browse the SkyMall catalog online or have delivered right to your door, free of charge. If I haven’t convinced you to order it, then let the sole online review from six years ago do the talking: 4-stars from a guy with the username “justdoit.” And he recommends the catalog. - Amanda Hahn

clash18We've grown close enough over the past few months, dear reader, me sharing my thoughts on pop culture, you reading and occasionally acknowledging what you have read, that I'd like to think I can talk about professional wrestling again without fear of mockery or recrimination. Cool? Great, because the WWE Network now has every Clash of the Champions available for streaming.  Cancel my two o'clock, Miss Fletcher, I have some old wrestling to watch! (Miss Fletcher is the fictional assistant I pretend to call with the fake phone on my desk when I want my imaginary car brought around or I need to place a call to President Bartlet. Miss Fletcher is the best assistant a guy could have: smart, loyal, dedicated, and good with her fists. She's saved my life on more than one adventure. It's such a shame to see her slowly turning into a weremole.)

What was I talking about? Right, pro wrestling. For those who don't know, Clash of the Champions was an occasional live tv event put on by WCW from the late 80's through the mid-90's. They were  like Pay-Per-Views, but instead of having to spend twenty or thirty bucks to see them, you could watch for free. Simply amazing that this company went out of business. For my money (which is again, no money) the Clash shows are the most enjoyable wrestling broadcasts in history. They offer the full spectrum of the rainbow that is professional wrestling. There are all-time great matches (the Ric Flair vs Terry Funk 'I Quit' match from Clash 9), all-time terrible matches (Ric Flair vs Junk Yard Dog from Clash 11), hidden gems with wrestlers who never really got their due (Brad Armstrong, Butch Reed, Silver King), and, most important, some of the dumbest gimmicks and worst ideas in the history of storytelling.

I'm talking about the Ding Dongs, a pair of masked wrestlers, their costumes covered in tiny bells, who would ring a giant bell in the corner for motivation. (You're probably wondering, Did those tiny bells sewn to their costumes fall off all over the ring during the match? You bet the did!) I'm talking about the Master Blasters, a Road Warriors-knock off featuring Kevin Nash in a red mohawk and suspenders. And I'm talking about the Shockmaster.

If you've never heard about the Shockmaster, do yourself a favor and watch this clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7Q4EVpIFIk

That, dear reader, is the most famous flub in the history of wrestling. But it's not just the falling through the wall that makes the scene so wonderful. Every terrible part, from everyone standing with their back to the camera, to Sting's "shock the world" introduction, which someone thought was a good idea, to the mistimed explosion, to the fall through the wall, to the Shockmaster meekly grabbing his glittered  storm trooper helmet and putting it back on, to Booker T's "oh God", to the way time stands still while everyone wonders what to do, to the way the Shockmaster's movements do not match the piped in promo in any way, works together to create a magically awful whole. And now I can watch it over and over again.

Miss Fletcher, cancel my three o'clock with Leo McGary. And for the love of God, please stop tunneling through the office.  - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Watchable Improv Videos, Suddenly Necessary Information, Fictional Fishing Trips

image (2)Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison digs for gold in a dumpster fire, Amanda Hahn decreases your productivity, and Ryan Callahan celebrates the return of the greatest thing ever.

Perfect Harold

Three facts regarding the last twenty years:

1.) An influx of new theaters has created an opportunity for more improvisational comedy performances than ever before.

2.) Websites like YouTube and FunnyorDie have made it easy to consume entertainment anywhere.

3.) The steadily decreasing cost of technology has made it possible for anyone to afford to create/upload videos.

Because of those points, it would make sense that the internet would be overrun with super funny clips from improv shows.  So much hilarity is being created every day on stages all over the US and the increased ease of posting these shows eliminates the excuse that improvisers are just lazy. People should be sending each other emails with subject lines like “Hey Auntie, check out this great organic opening by this team in Des Moines!”

Why doesn’t this happen?

BECAUSE IMPROV VIDEOS ARE TERRIBLE.  Like can’t watch past the introduction of the team terrible (BTW, no one wants to watch this segment, not even your parents).  I don’t understand how a festival organizer can sift through hundreds of videos in this dumpster fire of a genre. They’re the real heroes here.  With that said, there are a handful of good videos of improv shows that you can find online.  They’re passed amongst friends and fellow performers like a secret handshake.  “Oh, you’ve watched The Reckoning’s perfect Harold, you’re cool” or “Man, it sure was nice of that Ted Tremper guy to post all those great Middle Aged Comeback shows.”

Today, or whatever day you’re reading this (Time is CRAZY), I would like to introduce another entry into the pantheon of watchable improv videos.  In fact, I’m actually going to add a whole channel of videos.  The channel is NY Comedy and it’s a collection of great improvised sets from all over New York.  Most of them are good enough, but the real treat is watching the latest cagematch videos from UCBNY.  Cagematch is a weekly show in which two teams perform a set and the strongest one survives to perform the next week.  I’d recommend starting with the groups What I did for Love and F*ck That Sh*t because the confidence and true decisiveness with which each group plays is truly a pleasure to watch.  With a little hope, they’ll be more great videos where these came from. - David Allison

InternetThis is my fourth week contributing to this blog, and I feel like you’ve gotten to know me and my interests pretty well. You know I like awkward moments, learning, and weird people. So enough about me. What about you? What are you into?

…Okay, reader, no matter what you just answered, I have a website for you. One single website for anything you love. My dear reader, this week I am loving Internet is Useful (internetisuseful.com). In fact, right this very moment, I am loving this website. I just discovered it a few minutes ago, and I am already obsessed. Internet is Useful is simply a website to help you find other websites, organized by category. I’m finding websites I didn’t even know I wanted. No… needed.

- Want to find bands and artists that are coming into town and potentially discover new music? Check out gigfi.com. Just type in your city name, and it creates a Spotify playlist of artists that are coming to your city.

- Like documentaries? Find a bunch to stream at documentaryheaven.com.

- Want to know how to get one material stick to another material? (and freaking stay there!) There’s an entire website for that! thistothat.com

- And hey, are you a nerd?? Specifically, are you a nerd that wants to take a day trip?! Well, you’re in luck! Head over to nerdydaytrips.com. You can find a place travel back in time to the Victorian era. Or discover open stages for a variety show of magicians, comedians, dancers, and jugglers.Or you can keep it simple, and just remind yourself of all the Dallas museums you’ve been forgetting to check out or revisit.

Thanks to Internet is Useful, I have wasted so much time tonight bouncing from site to site, ranging from apartment finding websites to fitness websites to intentionally useless websites. Yes, many of the sites listed on Internet is Useful are already popular, but I am positive that you will find something new and helpful (or at least amusing) related to one of your interests. I’m so sure you’ll find something new, that if you don’t, I promise you one nerdy day trip – gas is on me. - Amanda Hahn

Gone FishinLet’s talk about something important. The NBA Playoffs are here, which means  the return of the greatest, most significant, most life-changingest television segment in the history of sentient thought: Gone Fishin' on Inside the NBA. It's back, guys! It's back!

For those unfamiliar with the segment, here's how it goes. When a team has been eliminated from the playoffs, the Inside the NBA broadcast crew (EJ, Kenny, Chuck and Shaq) send that team, and the city it represents, on a fictional fishing trip to signify the start of their off-season. EJ starts the boat, everyone puts on fishing hats, (EJ wears the captain's hat, Shaw a swim cap). They grab fishing poles and introduce a cheesy vacation photo which shows members of the eliminated team and celebrities and from that city, and Kenny Smith, always Kenny Smith,  packed into a boat.

The idea that all these people would actually go on a fishing trip together, all cramped into one little boat, fills me with such joy that I become a child again, giddy and happy, excited by the possibilities of the world. I am literally giggling right now as I type this. I am not kidding. That’s how much I enjoy this segment. I stay up late to watch it. I record it if I might miss it. I get excited right before they show the photo, wondering who will make the  cut.

The best part of the whole segment is that the guys have no idea who or what will be in the picture. Watching them see it, and figure it out, and get the jokes, is fifty-five percent of the fun. The other day, the Chicago Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs. Do yourself a favor and watch.

Between now and Monday six teams will be eliminated from the playoffs. That’s six boats. Six fishing trips. I haven’t been this excited about anything, ever, in my life. - Ryan Callahan