Extremely Cool and Incredibly Current

*Spoilers abound, but bear in mind I’m only on season 5.

*

I wanted to be too cool for Game of Thrones. I envisioned Game of Thrones the way I envisioned Dungeons & Dragons—sweaty nerds circle-jerking to a DVD of the extended version of The Fellowship of the Ring. It even has some of the same dudes*! And besides, some of the media that I relate to (like the incomparable Sutton Foster-led Younger), openly mocks it, its hypersexualization of women, its rape fetish. I’m not out in these streets trying to watch dozens of rapes, gleefully and exploitatively filmed.

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I was nineteen when Game of Thrones began its eight-season run on HBO, and at the time, becoming deeply invested in a fantasy series was fairly low on my list of priorities**. When GoT first came out, it seemed beautiful, but boring. There’s no denying that the sweeping shots of Northern Ireland, et al are stunning—the series is beautifully filmed, elegant. But I barely remembered who half of the characters in Harry Potter were (Slughorn? Is that a guy?); there was only so much room in my brain. Plus, as the series progressed, the common refrain was, “Don’t get attached to any of the characters! Everyone dies!” Everyone bloody dies? So you’re going to kill off the hot dad, Ned, his hot son, Robb, his hot son, Jon (everyone on this show is very hot, fwiw) and expect me to take that lying down? No!

Eventually, I caved and watched the first season, maybe a year or two late. I liked it fine, but it was a distracted viewing—I’d put it on in the background as I sketched, or fiddled with a guitar. When I started season two, it didn’t grab me, and I abandoned the pursuit. Sure, that scene where Daenerys doms Jason Momoa was ferociously sexy, but I mean, the show kills Khal Drogo immediately, so what was my incentive to keep watching?***

Soon, my knowledge of GoT came purely from Tumblr and Twitter—screengrabs of Joffrey’s bloated, purple face, OMG reactions to the Red Wedding. I thought, with all these spoilers, I already know what happens. No need to devote tens of hours of my life to this, a thing that seemingly everyone likes. How mainstream.

Fast forward several years—for me, a move, two degrees, a marriage, a few garbage jobs and one good one—I’m in a very different place in my life. For years, my husband and I have kept a running list of TV shows we’ve watched together, are watching, and plan to watch. Game of Thrones has been sitting atop it, since its inception. We’ve made it through countless series, but, due to my predilections and my title of Foremost Comedy Scholar in the Greater Boston Area, alarmingly few have been dramas. Six Feet UnderDexter (because Michael C. Hall is *bites lip and closes eyes*), Breaking BadStranger ThingsTwin Peaks (we are…white). That’s in nearly 6 years, at a rate of at least an episode every day. Every time we finished a series, my husband would timidly ask, “Game of Thrones next?” And one day in March 2019, I finally said, “You know what? Sure.”

And I kept my promise! I figured it was this or he’d force me to sit through a movie^,so I’d better strap in for the ride. We’ve watched nearly 5 full seasons in *checks watch* three weeks? We’re clocking about 2 hours of Thrones time a day. I have always been very comfortable admitting when I’m wrong, and boy was I wrong about GoT. As of this writing, we’re almost through season five, and every episode has me yearning for more.

It is hard, though, watching human beings get torn to pieces by zombies and watching characters you’ve grown to love being sexually abused. Watching a little girl get burned alive. This is not a light-hearted show! But it’s thought-provoking, beyond such thoughts as, “If an American wrote these books, and two Americans adapted the series for television, then why is everyone on the show British except Dinklage++?” I think it provides a stunning (and deeply negative!) commentary on religion, particularly the separation of church and state (turns out—it’s important!). Moreover, in an era where the political circus distracts us from far more pressing issues (the Flint water crisis isn’t exactly the same as an undead army bent on world domination, but it’s still fucking important), it’s a mirror, as all good art should be. Even the worst part of this series, the aforementioned “gleeful”  depictions of rape, the incessant violence and cruelty, serve as barometer of just how much we want to see; they expose the inherent (dangerous?) voyeurism of American media culture.

Ultimately, I’m as much of a voyeur as anyone else, and I love the show. I might even go so far as to avoid eighth season spoilers when it premieres on Sunday. I’m glad that my husband gently nudged me in the Thrones direction. And, as much as I love Daenerys, Sansa better win the Game.

*

Okay, so I do have some grievances:

  • The entire Greyjoy family, and I guess, by extension, the Boltons. Cancel it. Reshoot the series without them. Labored, boring nonsense. Sorry, Alfie+.
  • Real casual attitudes about incest.
  • Not enough dark-haired women. Representation matters!
  • Stop showing me battles! The best part of the show was that we saw the aftermath of fighting, not the fighting itself! I don’t want to waste twenty precious minutes of screen time watching skeletons kill people. I want to see the strategical conversation between Jon Snow and Tormund! You know nothing, David Benioff & DB Weiss!
  • Arya’s whole journey is boring. I truly don’t understand why people like her. Maisie Williams is iconic, don’t get me wrong, but this whole Faceless Man shit better get interesting soon, or, honey, I’m cancelling Braavos.

*Sean Bean is zaddy.

**Admittedly, I did get into Doctor Who shortly thereafter, but you can’t choose who you love, man.

***I made an honest effort to read the books, since I’ve always been a book-first bitch, but I found the writing intolerable. It’s been a minute now, I’m going to give them another try. I mean, I read The Hunger Games series with zero irony—I’m hardly a literary scholar, despite what my literal Master’s degree in literature would have you believe.

^I hate the medium! 2 hours is simultaneously too long and too short a time for a story to be told! Everything should be in a serialized format, television is better than movies, redo movies as miniseries.

+They offered Lily Allen Yara Greyjoy!

++I’ve been playing a game called Guess The Accent with all of the actors to see if I can tell where exactly they’re from. I’m, no brags, amazing at it, although I never would have guessed that Varys is from Northern Ireland. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Northern Irish accents, but they’re…specific! The Scots are pretty easy to pick out, the real treat is pinpointing exactly where in England most of the cast is from (Emilia Clarke is from Oxford, holla). Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Scandinavian accent is, well, hot, and Peter Dinklage, clearly, is from New Jersey. Sidebar: I always knew Dinklage was a fine actor, but I didn’t know he was THE FINEST ACTOR OF OUR TIME. His British accent is so truly awful, and yet it doesn’t matter because he acts his face off in every scene. Tyrion is, in my opinion, by far the best character on the show. I’m borderline upset that my brain hasn’t started cranking out Tyrion Lannister sex dreams. No wonder he has top billing—he’s a goddamn revelation and I think if I’d known just how central he becomes, I’d have stanned this show much, much sooner.

i…was not lying about that google doc
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Shout Out…Tuesday?

I’ve been MIA for a minute, for which I apologize profusely. I’m going to try to get back into the swing of writing, but ask any writer—it’s the hardest thing on earth.

My husband and I went to Syracuse last weekend to see a Bowie tribute show, which is exciting—Syracuse is a really cool city! Every time we visit, we hit up my favorite restaurant, Strong Hearts Café, which is totally vegan! The best part is that they have a huge menu of different vegan milkshakes which are soooo delicious. I mean, it’s always exciting to see our Syracuse friends, but Strong Hearts, tho.

My No-Spend Year is still going strong! The No-Spend has been such an amazing, eye-opening experience. I am so much happier than I was when I was spending frivolously, and I appreciate the things that I do buy so much more. I’ve managed to knock out over $2,000 in debt in less than a month! I honestly don’t even know how that’s even possible since that’s more than I bring home in income! It’s amazing how resourceful you can be when you’re on a mission.

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installation at the high museum, atlanta, georgia

Okay, without further ado, here’s the week in Chelsea:

  1. CATASTROPHE IS BACK.
  2. After years and years I finally caved and started watching Game of Thrones with my husband, and I regret to inform you that I love it. I know enough about the series to not get attached to most of the characters, so I feel very prepared to take it on. We’re at the start of season three. I do have some issues with the show (they’re way too exploitative and gleeful about rape, for instance), but it is indeed very entertaining television.
  3. I started the Neapolitan novels! I borrowed My Brilliant Friend while I was in Florida last month and I loved it! I bought the second one on Kindle because I couldn’t wait, but I’m going to check my local library for the other two.
  4. Barry on HBO is back March 31! This is seriously the best new show I’ve seen in years. Bill Hader is truly one of our finest actors. If you haven’t watched it, steal someone’s hbogo password and get on it!
  5. I watched The Feels on Netflix this weekend, and while it’s very poorly rated, it also stars Constance Wu as a lesbian so how could I not have watched it?
  6. I want to watch Leaving Neverland but I’m also afraid that if I do I’ll never sleep at night? I remember, as a kid, when all the Michael Jackson allegations were going on, I found it so completely distressing and disgusting. So many abusers are protected from consequences by their fame or money and it’s a disgrace. Anyone who’d jump to Michael Jackson’s defense can moonwalk the fuck out of here.
  7. This nursery tour is everything. I feel like my whole life has just become a countdown clock to having a baby of my own!
  8. These leggings are great. I love finding good quality clothes at a great price!
  9. The new season of Friends From College is great, btw.
  10. I saved the best for last, kids. Today, not only did my The Home Edit book come today, but JENNY LEWIS’S NEW ALBUM, ON THE LINE, IS OUT TODAY*.

*Okay, so my pre-order just came early and it’s not out until Friday but EITHER WAY!

I hope some of these recommendations freak your week!

-chels

 

Shout Out Sunday

Greetings, people of earth!  In personal news, I’m still adjusting to having a real job. It’s weird…people with “real jobs” work soooo much lesssss than people with service industry jobs. I actually feel guilty! Well, I’d feel guilty if I were making more money. I’m making starter wages for a 21-year-old, hardly (read: not) enough to be financially solvent.

I actually started this post two whole weeks ago, but somehow, time got away from me. I’ve just been working, cooking, spending as much time with my husband as possible, and getting ready for my week-long trip to Florida! We’re doing an overnight in St. Pete and seeing Neko Case in concert! Oh, and the night before I leave, I’m seeing Dawes at the Wang Center! Feeling very blessed these days.

Alright, without further ado, I present my favorites from the past couple of weeks).

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please enjoy this incredible picture of my cat
  1. New season of Schitt’s Creek started!!
  2. I started using DuoLingo and I can’t stop! I’m brushing up on my French, primarily, but I also started courses in Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Welsh, Portuguese, and Russian. I tested into a decent level of Spanish, which is surprising since I’ve never taken a class in it. I can’t believe how much Italian I’ve forgotten—I studied it for over a year in high school. Swedish, however, is by far my favorite. It’s such a cool and logical language. I highly recommend this service to anyone who has an interest in flexing their foreign language skills.
  3. Kevin T. Porter comin’ thru with the updated Marvelous Mrs. Maisel soundtrack playlist!
  4. I know I was sleeping on this, but Lizzo’s new single “Juice” is everything. Also, check out “Scuse Me” which is just a perfect song.
  5. I started meal prepping for the week and it’s honestly changed my life. My digestion has been better, and I have wholesome, healthy breakfasts and lunches prepared every day for work. I was really inspired by McKel at Nutrition Stripped. She recently launched a free e-course on meal planning and it was such a great jumping off point. Gimme all the jar salads and nourish bowls! I have to tell you, jar salads have been a game-changer for office lunch! It’s so much easier to say no to take out when you have a big serving of all your favorite legumes, grains, and veggies waiting for you in the office fridge.
  6. Rob Sheffield wrote an article about Britney Spears’s first album and it is personally so vindicating for me. Fun fact: he’s my 10th grade chemistry teacher’s brother!
  7. I just found out about Unroll.me and I am obsessed! Subscription e-mails are the bane of my existence and this service is my new favorite thing on earth.
  8. Madewell sale is 40% off right now. I got glitter statement earrings because of course I did.
  9. I just bought a tiny humidifier for my cubicle because I am 100 years old.
  10. Can’t get enough of La Neige‘s Water Sleeping Mask and Lip Mask.
  11. I really want to try Purple Carrot but it’s not really in my budget at the moment. I think it would be such a help in getting us to eat exclusively vegan meals.
  12. I’m catching up on back episodes of podcasts and this conversation between Roxane Gay and Cameron Esposito is powerful AF.
  13. I’ve been eating almost exclusively plant-based lately and I’m loving it! I still have the occasional egg and some of my meals include a little bit of cheese, but that’s been it. It’s made my cooking so much more creative. I think I’m going to start posting recipes again, since that was the whole point of this blog in the first place.
  14. Jaboukie Young-White is guesting on Pete Holmes’s Crashing and he’s amazing. I’ve been following him on Twitter forever!
  15. Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, which I’m listening to on audiobook, is so deeply moving that I cry almost every time I listen. It’s somehow even better than I thought it would be. 10/10 recommend.
  16. The Shutdown is (temporarily) over! My heart goes out to the government workers who have been furloughed (without pay) or forced to work without pay. This shutdown was about 15 days longer than any other in history, and the administration should be ashamed of themselves for exploiting workers and neglecting basic services and essential government functions, but they won’t be because they are all chaotic evil. Each and every one of the 800,000 people immediately affected are such heroes.

*one-dimensional female character from a male-driven comedy*

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.)

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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.

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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.

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There is plenty of good stuff about LouieMaron, 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.

Sunday Kind of Love

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?)

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image from vox
  1. 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.
  2. Have I really never linked to the incredible Etta James song that is the inspiration for this series? Shame on me.
  3. Kehinde Wiley & Amy Sherald’s portraits of President and First Lady Obama are gorgeous (and historical!) 44 for life.
  4. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is going on tour! I must, must, must see this in Boston!
  5. I literally do not understand how I haven’t discovered Out of Print yet. These Composition Notebook leggings are giving me heart palpitations. C’mon with this tote bag. And this shopper! Poe-ka Dots is the cutest pun ever. I need these pins. And someone please, for the love of all that is holy, get me this shirt. And this necklace.
  6. Throwback to Rap Lyric Valentines!
  7. Madewell sale is an extra 20% off this weekend, and I need this jumpsuit, like yesterday. And I don’t need this bag, but that’s never stopped me before.
  8. I’m excited to start watching this show. According to Julie Klausner, who blessed us with an episode of How Was Your Week for Valentine’s Day, it’s beautifully moving.
  9. I just got this audiobook and I am so, so, so excited to listen! Lindy is the G.O.A.T.
  10. 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 like Jessica Jones), but it apparently lives up to the hype! Now if I could only get around to watching Wonder Woman

Enjoy your short week next week!

xoxo,

c

Kool Things V

I’m a little light this week on recommendations because, well, I’ve been busy AF. I’m finishing the last bits of my grad school application, working full time, and committing to my Trivia host side-hustle. The WordPress drafts are getting out of hand! But here’s what I’ve been up to in my spare time.

Life in Pieces on CBS

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The first season of Life in Pieces  recently went up on Netflix, so I’ve been bingeing it, hard. Fig and I finished Breaking Bad and moved onto a 30 Rock rewatch, so I needed my own personal binge show for when our schedules don’t overlap (this is often). I’m trying to wean myself off of watching Gilmore Girls in an infinite loop, so when I saw LIP advertised on Netflix’s home page, I knew it would be a perfect fit. The cast of this show is bananas. Personal faves Zoe Lister-Jones (from Whitney) and Colin Hanks (from everything + being Tom Hanks’ son) join Betsey Brandt (from Breaking Bad), James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, and the stupidly handsome Thomas Sadoski in this light-hearted comedy told in 4 vignettes per episode.

The guest cast is insane—Martin Starr plays an exterminator, Jordan Peele makes frequent appearances as Colleen’s crazy ex, and apparently next season Mullally and Offerman have roles!

Life in Pieces is the perfect binge show for the lover of light-hearted comedies and accomplished casts. Highly recommend! Come for the famous actors, stay for the amazing kids! The kid who plays Sophia is the next Shailene Woodley or whatever, for real.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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The book, I mean. Everyone’s been pestering me for weeks to start watching the HBO miniseries, Big Little Lies, starring literally every famous actress. Until last week, I didn’t even know it was based on a book, but as soon as I saw it, I recognized its candy-colored cover. I’m a moderately strict book-before-movie person, so when offered the ebook for free, how could I refuse?

At first, I was a bit dubious of the quality of the writing—it’s certainly not the sort of thing I’d typically pick up at the bookstore. But within a few pages I was hooked. I think I’ve thrown off my circadian rhythm staying up way too late reading it. I was almost less interested in finding out who the murderer/murder victim is than I was of learning about Jane’s mysterious past or the inner-workings of primary school politics.

The book is very, very different from the HBO miniseries of the same name, but I truly can’t choose which is better! They both bring so much to the table! I highly recommend both, book-before-miniseries, of course.

I’ll follow up in the next Kool Things.

The Far Field, Future Islands

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It is no secret that I am f***ing obsessed with Future Islands. They are an amazing Baltimore-based synthpop band that brings me life. I first heard of them during college (Part I) when they put out their album In The Evening Air. All I had was a crap-quality (illegal) mp3 download of it, but I listened to it on repeat for months. I took to including “Long Flight” on every mix CD/playlist I made. Now that I am a grown-ass woman and pay for my music (thankyouverymuch), I’ve since remedied this earlier discretion and made sure to follow the band’s incredible career. 2014’s Singles was a revelation, and this year’s The Far Field is a fitting follow-up.

Lead singer Samuel Herring had one of the most unique and strange voices in all of music—he’s like the second coming of Mike Patton. He transitions from beautifully melodic and clean to heavy metal screaming with effortless ease. He’s also apparently a rapper (?!) which somehow I’m only just finding out about. You think I’d have such important info about my #mancrusheveryday.

This band is so ahead of the damn curve. They put out a sign language lyric video for “Cave”! “Shadows” even features actual icon/goddess Debbie Harry! The Far Field is the best use of your Hamilton ($10), trust. Future Islands is/are a big f***ing deal. Get into it.

Listen to “Ran” and “Cave” on Conan.

Bread & Butter Wines

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I always love trying out new wines, but as someone who hasn’t yet read Marissa A. Ross‘s forthcoming book yet, I’m often at a loss for where to begin as I peruse the racks at my local wine shop. I’m a bit of a white wine junkie (basic white bitch, party of one!), so I absolutely love a Chardonnay, and am always looking for one that tastes better than the well swill they’ll serve you at restaurants if you don’t specify.

I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the older I get, the more I realize that that’s a bullshit adage. When it comes to products, the cover (or label) actually says quite a bit! Small businesses that really believe in their product tend to pay greater attention to aesthetic details, like graphic and web design. I was drawn to this particular bottle because of its clean, minimal label—the website is no different. Bread & Butter only produces two very highly-rated wines out of Napa, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (which, incidentally, are my go-to white and red).

Bread & Butter Chardonnay ran me about $11, which, imho, is just about right for an everyday wine. I can’t wait to try their Pinot Noir! I’ll definitely be buying this wine again!

***

Well, those are the highlights of my week! What’s up with you? Any new fave wines or murder-mysteries to share? Sound off in the comments!

Kool Things IV

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.

This Show

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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.

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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.

*Crashing airs Sunday nights at 10:30 on HBO.

This Book

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Real Artists Have Day Jobs, Sara Benincasa

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!

This Special

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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.

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DID I GODDAMN MENTION THE JUMPSUIT, THOUGH? My ladies who art in comedy are KILLING it in the wardrobe game lately.

Watch her bit about her tricky-to-pronounce first name here.

Watch her in “Black Jeopardy”, one of SNL’s finest skits. Here she is with Drake, Tom Hanks, Louis CK, and Elizabeth Banks.

*Pizza Mind is now streaming on SeeSo!

Dis Phone

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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…

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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!

This Game

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Stump! Trivia

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!

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Thanks for letting me blab about my obsessions for a month straight! What are you obsessed with lately?

—DellaBites

*as usual, all of the images via google or the sites linked in each description!