The pandemic is a year old… The podcast is a teenager! Does this mean it will start being a cranky, moody, butthole? Maybe! The world seems to be that way, so why not the podcast? We jest. It’s been another wild few months and here we are trying to provide some low-key, easy-to-handle entertainment to distract us all for an hour.
We. Love. Scams. Well, we like hearing about scams and all the ways people take advantage of the basic desire for human connection. (Please don’t try to scam us.) There have been many great scams over the years, but we really enjoy ones that go after the people up top. That’s right, talking about scamming rich people.
At Pay’s suggestions, we watched Sour Grapes (2016), a documentary about the wheeling, dealing early-2000s and the person who made millions by auctioning fake rare wine. Neither of us really realized how big of an industry wine-collecting was, and how much it exploded thanks to the nouveau riche coming out of the tech bubble.
This one was interesting on several levels: why people collect wine, why this scam worked so well, and the shock in the wine-collecting community when the scam was revealed. Did he do it alone? It seems impossible! He’s out of prison and we still don’t know all the details. Come on Rudy, sell your story! Making money from it is the ultimate scam!
Also the only reason he got caught was because there was big money involved. If he’d been scamming regular folks, would the FBI have bothered getting involved? Probably not.
The movie is currently available on Kanopy and Hoopla, should your interest be piqued by our ramblings.
(This isn’t the first time we’ve suggested these services. Have you checked whether your library subscribes to them? Go do it now! It’s so worth it. Libraries are great.)
Are either of us willing to pay big money on wine?
What solid advice does Pay give about how not to usesneakers?
How long does it take for Degrassi to come up…again?
Who were our favorite characters?
Scam Goddess episode about this particular scam (behind a paywall)
We’re a dozen episodes in, even it doesn’t seem like it (curse you lost episode 10 *shakes fists*), which means we’re two years into this. Commitment! Nothing else really to add here. It’s month nine of the pandemic. It’s too cold to eat lunch outside. Everything is still a mess. But at least there’s hot cider and cocoa to keep us toasty.
This episode really gets at the spirit of the podcast. Adri heard about this thing when it first came out, multiple people recommended it over the last eight years, and despite living in a house with the entire current collection of issues, she still managed to never get around to it. Honestly, there was no excuse and it was time to change that.
Plus our original idea fell through, so we had to pick something quick and easy to get our hands on. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Welp, however we got here, we finally started reading Saga (2012-), the fantasy space epic by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. Adri certainly had Saga in the back of her mine (and her bookshelf), but Pay wasn’t as aware of the series coming into this, seeing as the last comics she read were either for work or Archie comics as a kid. But she has been trying to find more fantasy content to get into as she’s really discovering she likes parallel universes and magic in her stories.
We both enjoyed the first volume, and definitely plan to keep on reading. (Adri’s already up to issue 18 and counting…) It’s everything you want a comic to be: intriguing, page-turner of a story, and eye-catching art. We seriously loved Fiona Staples’s character designs throughout the series. They are unforgettable, and can really make you go from “Aw!” to “Ew…” to “Argh!” in just a matter of pages. While we are looking forward to reading more, knowing that the series is on hiatus is a bit of a bummer. Once we get to issue fifty-four we’ll be in the same boat as every other Saga fan.
Like we said, we had originally planned to read something else, so we get into discussing why things went awry there, our current reading habits, and an unexpected tangent about movie adaptations. So it’s a long one folks. Then again, aren’t they all? Hope you’re not tired of our nonsense. There’s plenty to go ’round!
Oh and before we forget:
What book did we originally plan to read for this episode?
Is Pay close to her GoodReads goal? (Spoiler alert: not really)
Does Adri manage to remember the word “animatic” by the end?
Oh hey, it’s still a surreal time isn’t it? If you’re in the U.S. and haven’t already, make sure you’re registered to vote and figure out your voting plan. VoteSaveAmerica.comis a good place to start.
Sometimes a movie is so ingrained in the culture that it’s very easy to assume we’ve actually seen it. And heck if that’s not what happened here. While Pay knew she hadn’t seen The Matrix (not for lack of trying), Adri could have sworn she saw it years ago. But turns out, that since The Matrix is the quintessential cyberpunk movie and became such a huge part of the pop culture consciousness, it just seemed like she’d watched the dang movie. Just think about how many times the Bullet Time scene has been parodied and imitated in the last 21 years.
Now that we’ve actually seen it, we gotta say, we dig it! Can definitely see why this was such a big movie when it first came out and why it’s considered a cyberpunk classic.
How much time to we spend talking about going to the dentist and doctor?
Who wins Best Smile of the Movie?
How do we feel about all the leather and latex? And those sunglasses?
Which actress was Pay very sure was in The Matrix who definitely wasn’t?
What country singer does Adri have a beef with (with good reason!)?
A new episode is in the works. Pay’s got plenty of editing to do, so hopefully the Technology Fairies keep their tricks at bay. One lost episode is cute; two would be a sign. In the meantime, here are a few things Adri checked out in the last few months. Let’s get to it shall we?
Woof, this year really keeps going doesn’t it? Well one good thing about quarantine and working from home is more time to catch up on my sky-high To Read pile. This might be the first year I actually reach my goal for the year.
I’m putting these together because they all exist in the same extended universe. I first saw The Wedding Date as a staff pick at one of my local bookshops and was immediately drawn in by the cover. (BTW “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a not a great saying. Any book designer worth their weight will tell you they put in effort to tell you what kind of book to expect. Also a good cover is just *chef’s kiss* Gimme something nice to look at!)
Anyway! I didn’t get it that day because I was shopping for other people (I know; so humble, so selfless), but it’s been on my to-read list for a while. When I finally put in a book order with another local shop a few months ago, I misremembered the title and ordered The Wedding Party, which I soon realized was the third in the series. (I do this pretty much all the time when starting a series. I can’t explain my brain.) I still ended up reading them in order thanks to my local library, but let me give a quick shout out to good romance series writers. It takes a lot of skill to be able to write stories and characters in a way where you can pick up any book in the series without getting confused about who is who and how they are connected. It’s something I wish other genres (fantasy in particular) would do a better job at doing. I suppose you could argue that there is less world building in romantic comedies, but it’s no less skillful.
I enjoyed all three of these books. So far each book in this series has hit the right Romantic Comedy beats with some good ol’ sexiness, but I think The Wedding Party is my favorite so far. Usually, the closer I feel to knowing a character the easier it is for me to cast my Mind Movie ™, and The Wedding Party was the easiest to cast. Decided to take a break for the sake of branching out to other authors for a bit, but definitely plan on getting around to the other ones soon.
Also also, I loooove when cute stories center around BIPOC folks. All the lady leads are Black women and the fellas are white, Latinx, and Black respectively, and from what I gather that continues through the series. Too often in “mainstream romance” when a lead is BIPOC that is The Plot rather than just one aspect of the character. While that can be a good story, sometimes I just want to read a book about people to look and live like me and the people I know. Guillory does a great job of interweaving cultural specificities without it being the dramatic center. Ultimately the center is always the characters as a whole and their love story. And boning. Did I mention there is boning? Because there is.
This is the first non-fantasy YA novel I’ve read in a while, and I really dug it. Alberta and Edie are our titular Black girls, living in a not-so-diverse beach town in California, trying to deal with the dramas of middle school. Alberta is a life-long beach lover and surfer, and going through that phase where it feels like everyone is growing up faster than she is, and starts to feel like she’s dressing and perceived like a baby. Edie is a new transplant from Brooklyn living her best tough goth girl life on the outside, and her heartbreaking sad goth girl life on the inside as she tries to deal with her parents’ divorce and feeling like an outsider in a new town. There’s a mystery woven in to the story that I figured out fairly quickly, and the right middle schooler may figure it out before the reveal too, but I don’t think knowing it takes away from the story. The maze of 7th-grade friendships is really the center of this book.
Another shout out here, this time for stories about alt BIPOC characters. It is sadly still pretty common to be the only BIPOC in an “alt space” (counting how many other BIPOC I see at punk shows is a “fun” pre-show activity), so growing up I would latch on hard any time I read a book or watched something with any sort of cool, weird or alt kid who wasn’t white (Miranda from Lizzie McGuire comes to mind). Anyway! Would’ve loved this as a kid, and enjoyed it now.
OK, so technically, I haven’t finished this book, but I’m including it on the list because I nursed this one for a while before deciding to put it down. I really liked the first two Bareknuckle Bastards books so I was super excited for this one. Like, chomping-at-the-bit-waiting-for-my-spot-in-the-holds-list-to-get-closer levels of excited. Honestly though it took me so long to get through the first third of the book that I thought I just “wasn’t in a reading mood” but I eventually accepted that it was the book, not me.
I don’t know. I couldn’t get invested in this particular pairing. The first two books did such a good job of building Dahlia up as a bad-ass broad, and Ewan as an easy-to-hate villain, that it was going to be an uphill battle for me to want to see them end up together. I know Ewan disappears for a year and comes back a “changed man” and they loved each other since they were kids, but that isn’t enough for me. Maybe I’ll go back and finish this one because MacLean writes a very good boning scene, and maybe there’ll be a proper redemption for Ewan. What I really want though is a spin-off about the romance between Nik and Nora that plays in the background of the previous book. I always root for my fellow queers, especially when tight breeches are involved.
I’m running out of writing steam, but ending on a high note! Long story short, Lindsey Kelk did not disappoint with her latest book. Another fun, funny, and cute read. It may have also hit closer to home than usual because the lead and her friends are all in their thirties, and while I may never get as nostalgic for my twenties as Ros does, I can relate to feeling like we’re in another transition period and feeling the dynamics of friendships change. Also who doesn’t fantasize about a hot bartender every once in a while? Anyway, I read this one outside in the sunshine during my lunch breaks to briefly distract myself from the politicians trying to destroy our democracy before our eyes. The book was the cool breeze I needed to say the least. Now I’m just waiting for a wrestling-centered Kelk novel. I want to read about a buff broad falling in love! And winning belts!
We finally watched Hamilton! Yay! Wanna know what we thought? Well, you can’t! Apparently, the Universe (aka Pay’s aging MacBook Air) doesn’t want you to hear what we have to say about it and has destroyed our recording. So no new episode at the moment, but thankfully technology hasn’t yet stopped Pay from blogging about TV watching and book reading.
Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)
Lots of folks have told me to watch Friday Night Lights, the critically-acclaimed NBC drama based on Friday Night Lights, the critically-acclaimed film… Which is, in turn, inspired by Friday Night Lights: a Town, a Team, and a Dream, the critically-acclaimed non-fiction book. If you’ve never heard of the TV show, the film, or the non-fiction book, you might not know that they all feature a small Texas town where life revolves around high school football. So, if you didn’t know that before, you do now. This is a place of learning and facts.
In Friday Night Lights, the TV Show, we follow Coach Eric Taylor, the beloved coach of the Panthers, a successful high school football team in the fictional Texas town of Dillon. Although Coach Taylor is at the center of the show, we also spend a lot of time with his wife, Tami, their daughter, Julie, the players and their families.
Although it took a few episodes for it to grab me, I ended up really enjoying the show. At it’s core, it’s a feel-good, optimistic drama, that celebrates family – blood or otherwise – and community. Also it does that magical thing where it tricks you, the viewer who doesn’t care about sports, into thinking you might actually care about sports. But then you realize you’ve just become very attached to Matt Saracen and you want him to be the best quarterback he can be because his home life is hard and he’s so precious and takes such good care of his grandma and is just too good for this world!!!
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
My friends, I’m attempting another Goodreads Reading Challenge this year. I’m only doing 12 books this time because I’m a woman who learns from her past mistakes and knows not to repeat them.
One of the books I’ve read this year is The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. A couple years ago, I made it a goal to read more fantasy and sci-fi by women of color, especially black women. A lot of my Googling “black woman fantasy novel good ones where to start please help” led me to N.K. Jemisin. So on my list she went.
This novel, the first in a trilogy, tells the story of Yeine, who is summoned to the capital by her estranged grandfather to compete for his throne. The story itself is fairly contained, but there are large scope things like captured gods and religious propaganda and the mystery of the falling out between Yeine’s mother and her grandfather.
This was a fun read. When I finished it, I did feel like there was something more I wanted from the story but it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly that was. Despite that, once things got going, and Yeine started unraveling some interesting mysteries, I was along for the ride.
As I understand it, the sequel leaves Yeine behind and focuses on another character in this world. Jemisin has some cool and unique world-building here, so I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy at some point. And a lot of people recommending Jemisin seem to really like her later series, so I look forward to reading those as well.
Please Like Me (2013-2016)
I don’t think I actually knew anything about Please Like Me when I added it to my Hulu watchlist some time ago. But I added it and then I guess I forgot about it? I don’t know. My mind is a mysterious thing.
Thankfully, I was reminded of its existence when the show’s creator, Josh Thomas, created another show called Everything’s Gonna Be Okay. At the recommendation of a friend, I watched a few episodes of that but decided I just had to see Josh Thomas’ first creation first.
PLM is quintessential dramedy. It’s funny and witty and absurd but also – watch out! – you could be crying any minute. I liked this one a lot. I was constantly impressed by the weird ways they weaved in poignant and moving moments. Also watching a coming out story that isn’t fraught or dramatic is always refreshing. Thomas does not shy away from showing men loving on and being sexual with other men, which I think is lovely. I also loved that one of the core relationships of the show is the strong friendship between Josh and his best friend and roommate, Tom. Men! It’s okay to love your male friends a lot!
Anyway, watch Please Like Me.
Just because there’s no new episode this week, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye/ear out for the next one! You better subscribe so you know when it’s coming! Or why not even suggest a thing? Do it! We dare you!
Our experiences as Black and Latinx women frame our conversations on the podcast. We create this show for our own entertainment, but know there are others listening who may expect us to talk about the fight to end police brutality against Black Americans. For many reasons we do not delve deep into the real world parallels of today’s episode topic, not least of which is the fact that we recorded this before the current Black Lives Matter protests across the country.
It feels surreal that people still need to hear this: Black. Lives. Matter. No ifs, no buts, no “perfect victims.” Every Black life matters.
We hope this episode offers a brief escape from the onslaught of news, if you need it. We also hope you, like us, are keeping informed, and listening to local and national community leaders on how to help dismantle the system built to oppress Black people.The resources are out there. Find them. Use them.
The thing about prestigious institutions is that they usually cost money. That holds true not just in universities but also in TV viewing opportunities. Seeing as neither of us has had regular access to HBO, it’s no surprise that we had never actually watched some of the most well-regarded television shows in recent history.
In this episode we discuss the first episode of The Wire, one of the most compelling shows to showcase the relationship between Black communities and the police, and a two time-Emmy winning drama. As Maryland natives of a certain age, people were generally shocked when we would say we had never seen the show.
We both could see why this show is so well-regarded and agreed it is well worth finishing the series. Though considering the heavy, realistic subject matter, it’s not something we can just pick up on a whim. We’ll have to be in a the right mindset to be able to watch it all.
Next we watched Veep, the multi-Emmy awarded comedy. Seeing as this show came out shortly after college when we were both severely underemployed, it’s not much of a shock we didn’t have regular HBO access.
As fans of British comedy, we could see the similarities to the original British material. Even so, this first episode didn’t really grab Pay at first, but by the end of the discussion she was convinced to give a few more episodes a try.
Which one of us got a quarantine home hair cut?
How much time do we spend talking about Idris Elba?
Welp, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, aren’t we? We are doing our part, social distancing and self-isolating. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. It’s gonna be a long ride.
But we’re not here to talk about the real world and how society may well soon be on the brink of collapse. No. We are here to chat about some random shit. That’s right. We’ve got ourselves a smorgasbord of topics for our latest episode, so let’s hop to it, shall we?
The first theme we have going is Food. An incredibly vague theme, but there were a few things we’d been meaning to do in the food world. First up is Adri’s adventures in croissant making. If you know anything about baking or have watched at least one series of Great British Bake Off, then you know laminated dough recipes are all about skill and precise temperature. You may also know that making croissants is an ambitious task. So of course Adri decided to try making some in her too-hot kitchen.
Well, it certainly could’ve gone better. At least it was still edible. Moving forward she’s going to stick with practicing some easier recipes, maybe a rough puff pastry, and work her way up to croissants.
Over on the other side of the country, we are talking burgers. L.A. is a pretty good food city, and it has more than its fair share of good burger places. Pay, resident burger enthusiast, likes to keep her eye out for new places that pop up to try. This time around, she went to HiHo Cheeseburger. They already had a Santa Monica location, but c’mon, even a burger can’t convince Pay to make the trek. Luckily they opened a location on Wilshire, so after a day at the salon, she checked out this location.
The burger itself is really good, nicely seasoned. Fries are an essential part of a burger joint, and these didn’t disappoint in their supporting role. The experience was marred by a few awkward situations, so Pay didn’t get to savor the meal as much as she’d hoped, but y’know what, it was still delicious.
After that, we took a ride down Pop Culture Lane and chatted about music and movies for a bit.
Adri finally purchased two albums she’s been listening to over the last year: Walk Through Fire by Yola and Pony by Orville Peck. Both are great country albums, and both artists are a joy to watch perform. If you somehow don’t know about these two albums already, absolutely check them out.
Pay finally watched Logan, and really enjoyed this take on superhero movies. We really appreciate a superhero movie that takes the story in an interesting direction. Getting to see these characters be physically vulnerable is certainly different, and we are here for it. Also if you are or know a fight choreographer, get in touch! Because you’re cool! And impressive!
How to we feel about hugs?
What GameCube game helped Pay learn about social distancing?
What is Adri’s favorite movie fight?
What very important opinions so we have about french fries?
Sometimes there is a franchise that makes a huge impact on society, and it just manages to pass you by at 160mph. The Fast and the Furious franchise is so huge that it’s a wonder neither of us had seen a single installment. Many people in our lives insisted that if we were to watch just two, it would be The Fast and the Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. To better guide us on this new journey, we invited our longtime pal, Sara, to sit in on the episode. Hooray!
First, we talk about the original, the classic, the one that started it all. When you look at the levels the franchise now goes to (at least what we can tell from the trailers…), it’s almost startling to watch the first and see how grounded it is. Sure, it is absolutely a hetero dude dream sequence, but the story and action are still rooted in something believable. We both enjoyed this one overall, and could see how it would inspire droves of people to think they could be drag racers.
But never would we have guessed it would have turned into an extensive series with a messy, twisted, timeline. Why so messy? Well because of Tokyo Drift, the third in the series. Sara’s expertise really helped us understand how this standalone fit in the series and why the creators were bending over backwards so they could include the most (only?) charismatic character from this movie into future Fast films. Adri watched this one under the influence and with a group which made it a fun watch, but Sara and Pay both found it boring to watch all the way through. Truly, when a whole movie is based on one move (drifting), one flaw (dude can’t turn well) and absolutely minimal plot (he learns to turn), it gets tedious.
It was an interesting ride to delve into this franchise, one about fast cars and family bonds. This franchise is also as old as our friendship, and what are old friends if not family?
Whose future grave did Pay visit in New Orleans?
How many candles are too many candles for a bro party?
When I saw the trailer for Untitled Goose Game, I was on a mission to tell everyone I knew about it. I needed to plant as many seeds as possible so someone would get it and let me play. Lucky for me, I have some very nice pals and family who cut out the middle man and gifted us the dang goose game. And hell if this game wasn’t everything I wanted it to be.
I. Love. Being. This. Goose. Something very calming about low-stakes hooliganism in a village. Highly recommend this one. Now I’m just waiting for the sequel where I get to be a raccoon in the city. Let me eat some trash!
The only Beatles movie I had seen up until a week ago was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is absolutely bananas in the best, ’70s way possible. A Hard Day’s Night is of a very different vein. More of a cute romp with shenanigans rather than a drug-fueled fever dream. (Though I assume there were drugs here too.)
I thought it was a pretty fun movie and held up almost 60 years later. I’m also a fan of The Monkees*, and while I knew the show was inspired by the Beatles, it wasn’t until watching this that I really saw the connection.
Oh, and now I know I am definitely a George Harrison kind of gal.
*Semi-related story: I once told a Trader Joe’s employee I was more of a Monkees fan than a Beatles fan. Boy, did that really dampen her mood. Might be the only time someone was rude to me at a TJ’s.
A Proper Layer Cake
Y’know, after decades of baking, it hit me that I had never really made a proper layer cake. I learned how to pipe and decorate as a kid, but now I’m more of a flavor-over-look kind of baker. So when it comes to cake, I keep it simple: sheet cakes, bundts, cupcakes, that sort of thing. I received Stella Parks’ Bravetart as a gift about a year ago (same folks who gifted the goose game, so double thanks there), and had not ventured to try any of the more elaborate layered cakes. When I saw the red velvet and cream cheese frosting recipes, I knew I wanted to make it for a special event in my D&D game. The group avoided the special in-game dinner where I would’ve served this cake, but I decided to make it anyway.
Hot damn was it good. I don’t like traditional cream cheese frosting that much, but this one was essentially pastry cream whipped into butter and cream cheese, so call me a convert. The decorating could’ve gone better. I didn’t have the buttercream at quite the right temperature when I started putting it all together, and I’m pretty sure I over whipped it. Still looks alright, I think. Wish I’d taken a picture of the inside to show the dark burgundy sort of color. Did I mention there is half a bottle of red wine in this sucker? Yes, please, and thank you.
Keep an eye/ear out for our next episode, which drops in February. In the meantime, have you subscribed? Or maybe even suggested a thing? If not, what the heck are you waiting for?!
What’s this? A chill in the air? Jingle bells off in the distance? The scent of snow (or rain or some kind of weather)? That can only mean one thing: it’s holiday story time! More specifically, A Christmas Carol, arguably the quintessential Christmas tale.
First, we talk about the original story (novella?) by Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol is so ingrained in the pop culture consciousness that Pay and Adri were both very familiar with the morality tale about Ebenezer Scrooge and his four spirit visitors, yet had never actually read it. But does the original hold up? Why is it that we all know about humbug and Christmas goose? Why does it get adapted over and over again?
Speaking of adaptations, Pay had never seen A Muppet Christmas Carol. Never! It is such a regular in Adri’s holiday viewings and another movie with great songs by Paul Williams, so it was very important for Pay to see it. Sure, you can’t force people to like things, but thankfully Pay liked the movie, so friendship may endure.
One of the surprising things was how close the Muppet adaptation really stuck to the original material. Most of the dialogue matched word for word, and even a few lines Adri thought were Gonzo-isms turned out to be straight from Dickens pen. A true sign that Gonzo is a genius.
Another holiday, another solid set of entertainment we’ve suggested. We should become party planners at this point.
What did we think about the latest season of British Bake-off?
What is the source of the duo’s patriotism?
Where does Charles Dickens end and Gonzo begin?
What are our other essential Christmas movies?
What vintage commercials did the Muppet Christmas Carol DVD have?