The NY Times Spelling Bee game is THE MOST ADDICTIVE THING ON THE PLANET! It’s a word jumble game—make as many words as you can out of 7 letters, with 1 letter common to all of them. I’ve gotten my entire office on board.
Quick P.S. I want to apologize for my lack of acknowledgment of the current political…kerfuffle. I’m personally staying away from the news for my mental health. I keep apprised of the highlights, and I act with my vote and my dollar. This blog, for the past three years, has been a spot of light and love in my life, and I intend to keep it that way.
I started this post months ago. I’m not 100% sure what my overall argument is, just that I’m a mad, mad girl. In the time elapsed, the incomparable Take My Wife has been released on iTunes and via Starz. Busy Phillips got a late-night talk show. Things are happening. But we’re still stuck. Perhaps one day I’ll finish this piece. But until then, enjoy some wine-fueled ramblings from last winter.
I want to preface this by saying RIP to The Mighty Quinn, the show that Jen Kirkman sold to ABC that unfortunately didn’t go to pilot. Also, RIP to NBC’s Whitney, which lasted 2 great seasons, Comedy Central’s Sarah Silverman Program, which lasted a mere 32 episodes, Hulu’s Difficult People, which was cancelled after 3 seasons despite being one of the most well-written shows of its era, and potentially, NBC’s Great News. If you’re a comedy neophyte, you may not know what these series have in common. Thematically? Nothing. Because “woman” isn’t a genre.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past 50 years, you know that women have been changing the comedy game since the day they were first allowed on stage. From Moms Mabley, to Phyllis Diller, to Joan Rivers, to Carol Burnett to contemporary performers like Silverman, Kirkman, Alice Wetterlund, Phoebe Robinson, Cameron Esposito, Rhea Butcher, Naomi Ekperigin, Sam Jay (Chelsea, stop listing people you’re obsessed with, it’s thirsty af), women are and have always been a vital part of the standup scene. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel isn’t falling on deaf ears. (P.S. Bravo to Brosnahan for such incredible delivery.)
Male-led shows about comedy (I’m dying up here notwithstanding since I haven’t seen it) tend to be funny by virtue of the fact that they star male comedians. Watch an episode of Louie (in secret, lest anyone find out you’re supporting the Infamous Masturbator), and note the jokes. Outside of the scenes where Louis is performing standup, are there any? C.K.’s series makes a concerted effort to be #deep regarding body image and race, but it’s not funny, per se. Maron‘s final season is fucking depressing—he goes to rehab, fathers a child with whom he’s not allowed a relationship, and absconds to rural California in ruin. Crashing starts with a man-child cuckold without the slightest ability to care for himself. Women-led comedy series, however, don’t have the luxury of leaning on the fame (or notoriety) of their stars. They just have to be fucking funny. So funny, in fact, that they’re often too funny for a general audience used to pratfalls and “Bazinga!”s.
Say what you will about Fey & Carlock’s 30 Rock [insert objection to Alec Baldwin’s existence], it is one of the best pieces of television in the medium’s history. It is expertly written, by a fairly diverse staff of writers (Tracey Wigfield and Donald Glover are notable alums). The main plot of 30 Rock, at least at its inception: Liz Lemon and Jenna Maroney spearhead The Girlie Show, a women-led comedy sketch series, at NBC. Due to low ratings, a GE executive (at the time, GE owned NBC—now Comcast does) Jack Donaghy decides to add Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) to the cast, due to his popularity with the 18-24 year old male demographic. Hilarity ensues.
30 Rock, despite consistently low ratings, survived seven seasons, a milestone that many woman-run series never achieve (holla @ Gilmore Girls). 30 Rock, for a long time, filled an essential gap at the time—it portrayed a flawed woman in all of her glory, a flawed woman whom the audience is supposed to root for. It’s not perfect (Twitter hates Tina Fey because she made a couple of shitty off-hand comments about stripping over the years), but it’s of its time and essential to a contemporary audience attempting to understand the history of women in television. Bush was still President when this show was airing! God, remember him? We hated him so much, the war criminal, but we had no clue how bad it could get. Bring back Bush/Cheney if it means North Korea won’t take out my California family.
Digression aside, apart from Queen Regent Shonda Rimes, there truly are not that many female showrunners (or for that fucking matter, trans or gender-fluid TV showrunners) in the biz at the present moment, so we millennials have to give respect where it’s due.
There is plenty of good stuff about Louie, Maron, and Crashing. I don’t mean to pick on them, but two of them are goddamn named after their respective creators. Louie is one of the few shows I’ve ever seen to employ obvious race-blind casting. Maron does a good job of painting its central character as the unsympathetic “problem,” and Crashing portrays Pete’s cheating wife with a touching level of sympathy. But each of these show is bolstered by its women, who are subsequently given no recognition for their roles In Crashing, specifically, Jamie Lee has revitalized Crashing in a way I didn’t think possible. Lauren Lapkus was the undeniable highlight of season one, and Jamie Lee is stealing the show in the sophomore season. I love Pete Holmes, so I hesitate to criticize him, but his story as a layabout man-child aspiring comic is far less compelling than the journey of his woman costars.
If we’re going to see gender parity and inclusivity in comedy, we’ve got to give woman-led series a chance to breathe. A chance to grow. It’s time.
‘Sup, y’all? It seems like spring is finally creeping its way in…in Massachusetts we get like 9 months of winter, about 2 days of spring in early May, and then oppressive summer for the rest of the time. It’s so great! #thxglobalwarming
Also, it’s the end of the semester, so things are peak stressful. Here’s what’s up.
Happy Sunday! I have the dreaded task of homework to look forward to today, but hopefully you have some free time to chill out, max, and relax all cool. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about this week.
I’m so inspired by the March For Our Lives. I wish I could have gone into Boston yesterday. Be sure to sign the petition against gun violence!
The Lamplighter, Maria Susanna Cummins—Maybe 19th century sentimental fiction isn’t quite your “thing,” but I am absolutely obsessed with this book right now. The tale of little Gerty is so heartbreakingly sweet. Here’s a link to the Kindle edition, which is free!
Should I do this? It’d be nice to have Spotify Premium again, but I’m so used to that no-commercials Hulu life, that I’m not sure I can go back! It would save me $7/month, and I’d get another service. I’m torn!
This tweetdestroyed me. Bless the person that saw that connection.
I’m so excited to watch Champions on NBC! I’m into anything Mindy Kaling is involved with, and the cast is stellar!
Did you know that students and educators get a discount on digital subscriptions to the New York Times? It’s crazy affordable. I just subscribed and am loving all of this nonstop crossword action!
And, last but not least, John Oliver’s staff wrote a book about gay bunnies getting married in response to Mike Pence’s Marlon Bundo book, and it is truly, truly inspiring. It’s out of stock at the moment, but as soon as it’s back, I’m buying one for my future kid.
This week was Valentine’s Day, and although I am the world’s least romantic person, I got to have Thai food and watch Freaks and Geeks with the bae after a long day’s work—V-Day success! Plus, this is a long weekend, so I am RELISHING the break. Here are a bunch of things that brightened my week (which felt really, really, really long, didn’t it?)
It’s Valentine’s Week, as Logan Huntzberger might say, so the number one thing I love this week is Bae. The only cute bae nickname I can think of that hasn’t already been taken is “The Bae Harbor Butcher,” but that’s a pretty deep cut Dexter reference that no one would understand. Happy belated Valentimes to my hubby.
Bae and I will probably go see Black Panther this weekend—I’m so excited! I’m not a superhero person at all (I basically just likeJessica Jones), but it apparently lives up to the hype! Now if I could only get around to watching Wonder Woman…
Another week for the books! It literally snowed yesterday, because April Fool’s Day is real. I needed my escape, and I found it in memoirs and comedy, by which no one is surprised. These are the things that got me through the hail/sleet/snow hellscape that was this week.
Crashing, Pete Holmes
I cannot even believe that I haven’t written about Crashing yet! Crashing, the semi-autobiographical brainchild of brilliant comedian and beautiful human being, Pete Holmes, is HBO’s newest Sunday night series. It tells the (dramatized) story of Pete’s divorce and entry into the New York City stand-up scene. Guest stars have (thus far) included comedy powerhouses like Sarah Silverman, Artie Lang, and TJ Miller, as well as one of my personal favorites, Aparna Nancherla.
If you don’t yet know the delightful Pete Holmes, well, you should. He briefly hosted his own talk show that aired weeknights after Conan, The Pete Holmes Show, hosts an interview podcast called You Made It Weird that never fails to get spiritual, and landed an HBO special called Faces and Sounds that dropped in December. He’s a hometown hero, hailing, like myself, from Metro Boston (I think Somerville or thereabouts). Pete Holmes truly has one of the most unique voices in comedy—his relentless optimism and winning smile make jokes like calling himself “Lesbian Val Kilmer” all the more powerful. Crashing chronicles Pete’s days as a fresh-faced comedy newbie; now, though, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
This week I’ve been devouring this amazing book of essays by comedian and author Sara Benincasa, and it’s been an emotional journey. I finished it on my lunch break today and it took everything I had not to publicly sob. I hesitate to call this book “self-help,” but if you read it, you will help yo’ self. For real. The words of wisdom in this book range from “brush your damn teeth” to “treat your vagina like the magical temple that it is.” I’m paraphrasing, but you get it. Benincasa gets very frank about her own struggles with mental illness but never fails to be disarmingly hilarious. As someone who aspires to a reasonable facsimile of this incredible woman’s career, it is inspiring beyond belief to read of someone rising from the ashes of her own self-destruction and kicking major ass purely through hard work and talent. 10/10, read this f***ing book.
I’ve already ordered one of her other books, Agorafabulous!, which I can’t wait to start reading!
Check out her short film, The Focus Group, on Vimeo.
*The kindle version of Real Artists Have Day Jobs is only $1.99 right now, my dudes! Go forth and read!
Pizza Mind, Sasheer Zamata
SNL cast member and jumpsuit messiah Sasheer Zamata just dropped her very first stand-up special on the incredible comedy streaming service, Seeso. The stunning and brilliant Ms. Zamata tackles race, feminism, and being named after Star Trek like a gotdamn professional. Topics of discussion include “resting bitch face,” her brief employment at Disney world, and the (very f***ing true) fact that white girls are constantly shedding hair all over the place. The special is hilarious, but it’s also a thoughtful, educational experience. Sasheer Zamata does not care if her material on race makes you uncomfortable. That’s on you.
Pizza Mind is must-see TV. If you have a spare hour, give it a watch. You will be rewarded with a magical cartoon adventure and a show-stopping finale number #nospoilers.
Watch her bit about her tricky-to-pronounce first name here.
I upgraded early and got an iPhone 7 this week! I almost went Plus, but I tried out my husband’s 6+ for a little while, and the damn thing’s just too big! I like being able to rock the one-handed text. But don’t text and drive! Do as I say, not as I do! The transition from iPhone 6 to 7 has been like night and day! It’s faster, there are two speakers, and it’s PINK. I know I’m predictable and basic, but the more pink I can get in my life, the better! I also got the 128G model (4 times the storage of my last phone!) so that I could combine the functions of iPhone and iPod (I’ve been using my iPhone 4 from many years ago as an iPod—the thing was begging to be sent to a farm upstate, it was dead and buried). Despite the foolish amount of music I’ve put on it, I still only seem to listen to Hamilton…
We got a shipment of phone cases from The Casery to my work, so I also treated myself to this amazing case. Kendrick Lamar fans, unite! This isn’t a sales pitch for my work or anything, since y’all don’t know where I work, nor is it an ad for The Casery, but seriously, you guys, these cases are the absolute best. The designs are the cutest I’ve ever seen (donuts! sushi! cacti!) and the cases are super well made. I’m obsessed…I might need to get this one next, in honor of the little cat that started it all—Della!
I’ve been playing Stump! Trivia for ten whole years, since way before it was appropriate for me to be hanging out at a bar on a weeknight. I’m not actually sure it’s even appropriate now. But alas, such is my addiction to trivia and other brain puzzles—every Wednesday night for the past year (and many Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in years past), my father and I have ordered a round of drinks and a basket of french fries and challenged ourselves to a battle of wits in the quest for a restaurant gift card.
Stump! is arguably the best trivia game in the Boston area (it was started in Marshfield), but it’s now a nationwide company that offers fun, challenging trivia and Questionnairey (a Family Feud-style game) at bars and private events. Long story short, I am a huge, huge fangirl, and a frequent player. So, the other night, after a particularly exciting win at our local pub, I applied to be a host.
I had applied years and years ago, but was likely much too young to be considered. Doesn’t super make sense to hire an underage girl to work in a bar—I don’t hold the lack of response against them. But this time, I heard back via email almost immediately and set up an audition!
I wasn’t looking for a second job, and the extra few bucks a week won’t make a huge difference to me financially, but the public speaking experience is priceless! The whole gig is essentially an improv performance—something I’ve been anxious about for years! I recently admitted to myself that my dream is actually to be Conan O’Brien (or a reasonable lady approximation)—writer, performer, icon. Okay, I’m joking about the icon part, but in order to achieve even a tiny sliver of my dream, I’m going to need to get better in front of a crowd.
If you’re in the Boston/South Shore area, come support me here!
Thanks for letting me blab about my obsessions for a month straight! What are you obsessed with lately?
*as usual, all of the images via google or the sites linked in each description!
Welcome back to another installment of Kool Things, a series in which I blab about the handful of things that brought sparkle and shine to my life this week. Let’s dive in!
This Comedy Special
Remember how, in the first installment of this series, I said, “Get you a Netflix special that can do both”? Well, here’s another one, coming at you. Amy Schumer serves up some realness on her latest, The Leather Special, which has, like all specials released by women, been ratings-trolled by the same MRA garbage piles that do things like, I assume, picket Planned Parenthood and still bring up Bernie Sanders all the time.
Amy’s stand-up is not my absolute fave (we all know I’m a Jen Kirkman stan), but her show, Inside Amy Schumer, has done some really important work, tackling topics like gun violence, online harassment, and sexual assault in the military, among others. The show was even given a Peabody! The special was no different—it’s mostly her trademark “blue” comedy, but she devotes a portion of the hour to discussing the insane gun loopholes that allow the severely mentally ill, domestic abusers, and suspected terrorists to legally purchase guns in the U.S. At a 2015 screening of her film, Trainwreck, two young women, Mayci and Jillian, were fatally shot, inspiring Schumer’s dedication to sensible gun law advocacy. The special, and a portion of Amy’s book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, are dedicated to the memory of the two women.
It’s the particular burden of comics and artists, at least in my opinion, to simultaneously distract and delight us in the ever-darkening political landscape and to raise awareness about social and legislative issues in a way that politicians are failing to do. It is clear from The Leather Special and Inside Amy Schumer that Amy takes the responsibility of her platform seriously and is using her voice to spark positive change. So, if you live outside of the glorious liberal havens known as “blue states”, call your Congressperson and demand gun regulation! Amy Schumer even prints a list of the Congresspeople who receive NRA money in her book—what a handy guide!
Two-fer this week! Jerrod Carmichael’s latest special, 8, is currently streaming on HBO and it is wild! I watched it today, on the heels of badass news about his returning NBC sitcom, and I’m glad I did. I’ve really enjoyed his sets on late night shows, so I was super pumped to check out the special, which was directed by my fave, local hero Bo Burnham.
Carmichael’s performance was atypical of what we expect from such a high-profile special. HBO! He appeared to be performing in the center of the room, as opposed to from a giant theatre stage, and his delivery was slow and deliberate. The material itself was, as expected, controversial, but the takes were refreshing and unexpected. I can’t believe a comic got me to laugh at the fact that he doesn’t care about global warming! I plan to watch this special again with my husband—maybe I’ll devote a whole post to it then!
A note: post-watching the special, I read a bit of the press on the special and was really surprised to hear some of the criticism. For example, he got called out on doing divisive rape material, but the material itself seemed (at least to me) to be drawing attention to the issue of consent, and how the culture surrounding sex in this country discourages an open dialogue surrounding consent. So, I guess I’m gonna throw a trigger warning on my recommendation to watch this? I encourage everyone to feel their own feelings about the material.
Relatable pull quote: “I’ve got a lot of fears…I’m afraid of going bald before I fuck Rihanna.”
The live action Beauty and the Beast is out! I went to see it yesterday with my dad (cuz we cute), and it was a visually spectacular delight!
Obviously, as a feminist, I have a lot of issues with the content of this and other fairy tales. Narratives like Beauty and the Beast can have really damaging consequences on malleable young minds, and if I have children, I plan to allow them to watch these films with a side dish of discussion on consent, agency, and whack societal norms. I went into this film prepared to love it, but willing to be critical. Also, just FYI, I 100% agree with Dana Schwartz’s brilliant Observer piece, “Why Belle Should Have Chosen Gaston”.
Also, while it was super important for Disney to announce that it would include an out, gay character (Le Fou, played by Josh Gad), the “exclusively gay moment” amounted to little more than cheeky innuendo. The portrayal of Le Fou, and the “Musketeer” that he eventually dances with at the end of the film, leaned very heavily on outdated gay stereotypes, like the assumption that all gay men harbor a secret desire to dress in drag. Drag is a magical, beautiful art form, but not all gay men are drag queens and not every drag queen is gay. I shouldn’t have to explain this to filmmakers in the year of our Lord 2017. To clarify, I’m happy that Disney is finally taking baby steps towards inclusivity, I was just deeply underwhelmed.
All of that being said, I loved this movie. I started tearing up during the opening musical number, “Belle”. Beauty and the Beast and all of the (now) classic animated Disney films, like Aladdin, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, came out right around the time I was born. I must have worn holes in my VHS tapes watching them. I was shocked at how much emotion hearing those songs again brought back. The whole film is visually stunning (I’m sure it will be up for an Oscar next year for costume design or visual effects), Emma Watson holds her own with the singing, and hot British men abound.
Dan Stevens, who I loved on Downton Abbey and still haven’t forgiven for leaving the show, looks exactly like the cartoon prince/Beast in the animated film. It is uncanny! And Luke Evans as Gaston—dear God, that is one beautiful Welsh man. The cast for this film is insane—you spend the whole film internally screaming, “I KNOW THAT VOICE!” whenever you hear Cogsworth, Lumière, and Mrs. Potts speak, and lo and behold, it’s Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor, and Emma Thompson! Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci as the wardrobe and the maestro was simply inspired casting. We were also graced with the presence of Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who is so beautiful that, upon her transformation from feather duster to human, I nearly had a stroke. I hereby demand that all movies be remade with her as the lead!
The new songs were, well, underwhelming, as they always are in these circumstances (“Paris of My Childhood” is never taking off), but the old songs hold up beautifully and were nearly shot-for-shot the same as the animated film. Notable exceptions are the line, “Marie! The baguettes!” which is the best moment in the original film, and “every last inch of me’s covered with hair” during “Gaston”. Did we not, as audience, deserve to see Luke Evans shirtless, Disney?
Run, don’t walk, to go see this lovely film. I will fully be buying it on Blu-ray as soon as it comes out!
Watch Ariana Grade & John Legend sing the theme song here. Listen to Queen Céline’s new BatB ballad here.
This Tote Bag
I have been to the mountaintop, y’all. The JCrew All-Day Tote in Aqua Haze is where. it. is. at. I’ve been dying to get one of J.Crew’s gorgeous leather bags for ages, and I finally took the plunge this week. Why the hesitation, you ask? Well, price point for one. I have a lot of designer bags (ugh, you rich bitch) that I’ve gotten during sales or at similar price points, but those have the added bonus of resale value/demand, so they’ve been (somewhat) justified purchases. But you’ll have to pry this one out of my cold, dead hands. No resale, just love. *very Stefon voice* This bag has everything: pebbled leather, interior slip pockets, an exterior slip pocket that would fit a novella, a sweet little exterior buttoned pocket the size of a credit card, and a cute little hang-tag. It’s the perfect bag for school or work—it easily fits my MacBook!
Basically, I’m obsessed. I recently read this amazing article on Racked about the surprising inclusivity of handbags, so lately I’ve been super appreciating my growing collection.
Right now this bag is on sale in three colors, with an extra 30% off with code “HAPPYSPRING”! Happy shopping!
Wow, really, Chels? Following up a call for sensible gun law reform and a Disney movie with a beverage referenced in a System of a Down song? #priorities
But who cares—I love kombucha! Every time I bring up the ‘buch, I feel like that scene in Annie Hall where Alvy orders the alfalfa sprouts and mashed yeast in L.A. However, I’ve recently started drinking kombucha on the regs and I really love it! The American diet is appallingly lacking in probiotics, so ‘buch is a fun and delicious way to up your daily dose. I haven’t tried making my own yet, but I plan to get a kit soon.
My local Wegman’s (shout of to Wegman’s, the best grocery store ever) has an entire cold case devoted to the stuff, and after weeks of lusting after it, I decided to grab a few to try. KeVita has a bunch of amazing flavors that make the idea of drinking fermented mushroom tea a little bit more palatable. GT’s sells them by the case—I highly recommend “Trilogy”.
I am officially a kombucha convert—come join my club!
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m pimping my own recipe from earlier this week. But this series is about my favorite things, damn it, and corn chowder is the best! Haters, make the Beyoncé song and exit to the left. This soup is vegan, contains six different vegetables, and tastes like summer cookouts in a bowl. I’m so into it, I might make it twice this week!
Thanks for listening! Check out some of my other weekly faves here and here!