What We're Loving: Fluids, Families, and Bad Boys

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison considers how loss affects our lives, Jonda Robinson contemplates closure, and Jason Hensel can't seem to get it right.  water

This week, I was reminded of how difficult loss can be. There are countless things, places, ideas...people, that we encounter on a daily basis and we expect their status to be static forever. They have been part of our lives for so long that to think of living without them is impossible to comprehend. This past week, I was reminded of how hard loss can be, so I’m going to dedicate my space here to talking about all the good times we had. What I’m loving this week is water.

Hey water, it’s me. I’ve missed you. You know, ever since my apartment complex had to turn you off for a couple of days due to construction, I’ve been thinking back on all of the amazing memories we shared. I thought about a couple of weeks ago, after I had just finished a jog and you were there to help me cool down. There was that time at Wet N Wild, oh, we were so young, when we slid down The Black Hole together. Remember when I drank you?

Now I’m forced to carry on without my partner in hydration. I’ve been lucky enough to share my life with water for 28 years, but, oh, what? They turned the water back on? Ok, cool. -- David Allison



Parenthood is back! This means that at least once a week I will have an epic cry on my couch while I watch the saga of the Braverman family unfold. I’m excited for its return, but also sad that the end is so near, as this 13-episode, sixth season will bring it to its conclusion.

Now, don’t let my “epic cry” scare you, as the show is not intentionally sad. It just seems to find a way to use the dynamics of life and family to tug on your heartstrings almost every episode. If you’re up-to-date on the show, you’re probably thinking some of the same things I am:

1. What, if anything, will finally bring Bubba* and Berneice* back together? 2. What does this pregnancy mean for Bobbie Jo*? 3. Yay for Ray Romano still being around! 4. Man, Drew sure reminds me of my little brother. (OK, so maybe this one is a stretch, unless you know my little brother.)

This TV drama is based loosely on the 1989 movie of the same name, which starred Steve Martin and and was directed by Ron Howard. Howard also serves as an executive producer on the show. Its theme song is Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” and that’s just the beginning of all the great music that has been featured throughout its seasons. If you haven’t seen it then go get a box of tissues, make your way to Netflix, and enjoy watching three generations of Bravermans navigate their lives with help from one another. You can catch the current season Thursdays at 9 pm on NBC.

*Note: Pseudonyms have been used for some of the characters in an attempt to avoid any spoilers. -- Jonda Robinson


Bad Boys - SNL

Ryan Callahan, who normally curates this series, is out this week. I'm covering for him, and usually in this spot he discusses a book or author he's loving. I feel like I, too, should write about some book or author that I'm loving. But you know what? There's not one. I'm currently between books, and honestly, nothing I've read this year has wowed me.

Hold on. Let me pull up my spreadsheet of this year's readings and double check that.

Thanks for holding. Actually, there are some books that were pretty good. There was that one by Mindy Kaling that caused me to laugh a couple of times. Revenge by Yoko Ogawa was really interesting and well-written, and The Razor's Edge made me seriously consider quitting my job to become a worldly nomad.

I'm totally not doing this right, am I? I'm suppose to pick one thing. Fine, then. Go watch the "Bad Boys" sketch from Saturday Night Live's season opener. That's what I'm obsessed with. This pre-recorded sketch clearly raised the grade of what turned out to be a sub-par episode overall. I don't want to tell you too much more about it, because I don't want to oversell it and you end up thinking, "Man, that wasn't as funny as you obsessively claimed it would be."

Sorry. I know I'm not doing this right. Ryan will be back next week.

Check ya later, dudes. -- Jason Hensel

(water photo credit: estherase via photopin cc)

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