Let’s cut to the chase: we recorded this one in person! What a treat that was, even if we didn’t get E Street Band/Springsteen levels of close to the mic, so our audio is a bit mixed, but whatever. You’re not here for the production value; you’re here for the pure, unadulterated friendship. *High Fives*
Neither of us has been particularly into spy movies, so it was no surprise that we hadn’t seen Mission: Impossible until now. Adri had seen every other M:I movie in the series and this was Pay’s first entry into the series. Considering it’s a huge franchise that continues to get green lit, it seemed time to finally sit down and see how it all started. With some snacks and drinks ready to go, we got down to it.
The movie started off strong with a mid-mission scene and the introduction of three (three!) whole lady characters (even if that didn’t last long). But not gonna lie, we were both pretty lost during this movie. There was a lot of “Wait, what? How’d he know that?” but eventually (with some help from Adri’s partner, who kindly explained scenes that were just over our heads) we realized the answer was, “Because he’s Ethan Hunt.” This sort of movie is more of a superhero movie than a whodunnit, where everyone is just trying to catch up to Ethan’s greatness, yet continually denying that he is the better spy.
That being said, it was a pretty fun watch. There was a certain soap opera campiness to the movie (certainly helped by Brian De Palma’s direction. Yep, the same guy who directed Adri’s favorite movie) so there were several good-natured laughs along the way. And there is something just so gosh darn charming about Tom Cruise. He is a true movie star and you just want to watch him run at full speed through the rainy streets of a European country. No wonder they’re still making these.
What milestone did Pay recently hit?
Did we guess any of the movie’s twists?
What movie does Adri closely associate with Pay?
How long did we spend trying to understand the fake CIA security measures in this movie?
Yowzah! Seems like it’s always a wild time when we post a new episode, but guess that’s just the way it is in Unprecedented Times. We’re officially in year three of this podcast (!), so hope it continues to be a nice distraction in the meantime.
We’ve mentioned our love for Avatar: The Last Airbender before. Neither of us had seen the live action movie, but had heard all The Things about that movie, were fully aware the subsequent sequels were cancelled…and yet…with that 5% Rotten Tomatoes score, we were convinced it had to be So Bad It’s Good…right? Well, joke’s on us because sometimes a bad rating just means a bad movie.
Oh, boy. Where do we even begin? Adapting a beloved series will always be difficult because the criticism and comparisons to the original will be impossible to avoid (e.g., the recent Cowboy Bebop live-action adaption, which for the record, Adri enjoyed), but boy howdy did The Last Airbender take us by surprise. It has been a while since we’ve seen something we’ve enjoyed this little. Not to say that there wasn’t a lot of effort made overall (movies are hard to make, so we’d never say people didn’t do their jobs), but this movie was so hard to follow. Honestly, if you haven’t seen the original, the movie would make no sense! Such strange storytelling choices throughout, and absolutely no fun or joy to be seen. This is a Nickelodeon movie…for kids…right? Not sure the film knew that.
Anyway, it was kind of cathartic talking about how baffled we were by the choices made in this movie. So at least it gave us that! Save yourself the $3.99 rental, and just listen to the episode instead.
What have we watched recently and actually enjoyed?
Fall is here, and with a new season comes a new episode. Well sort of. We just do these whenever now, really. This is another fun one, but it is worth mentioning that the conversation does bring up sexual assault and how it is used/portrayed in books, movies, and TV. It’s not a huge focus of the episode, but if that’s something you’d rather not hear, you might want to fast forward through those bits or skip this one. Totally understand.
In the words of Ms. Frizzle, you gotta take chances and make mistakes! A new hobby, a relationship, bangs! Some things aren’t worth retrying (the people who can pull off bangs already have bangs, do not give in to the temptation!), but there are plenty of failed experiments that are certainly worth a second chance. That’s exactly what we did this episode, revisit something we first tried over ten years ago.
Pay revisited Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, a book she first bought at her college bookstore. Like a lot of folks, Pay first become aware of the book when it became a Broadway hit, and the revisionist take of the Wizard of Oz sounded like a cool concept. The first time she gave it a go, it ended up back on the shelf, partially read. When she started reading it again for this episode, the reasons she didn’t finish it the first time popped up again.
It’s a bit dense and disjointed and would skip over parts of the story that sounded more compelling than what you actually get to read. The story is told from different points of view, but rarely from Elphaba’s perspective, which makes it difficult to really connect with her. That’s not to say that using other points of view is not an effective literary device in general, but it just didn’t seem to work as well here as it does in other books. Also, there was much more political intrigue than Pay was expecting. So while it has its fair share of fans, it just wasn’t up Pay’s alley.
Adri has been baking and making mistakes for most of her life at this point. She’s also been a fan of pro wrestling for almost just as long, give or take a few breaks in between. So when in 2008 Kate told her about a wrestling-themed baking competition, Adri was up for it! And she made the ugliest cookies inspired by Bret Hart and took the ugliest pictures of those cookies.
While she appreciates beautifully decorated cookies and has purchased several, Adri just doesn’t care about doing it herself. She’s more of a flavor/texture focused baker, so this kind of cookie was a strangely ambitious choice. And honestly she hasn’t done much decorating of this kind since, but it seemed worth a shot to try again. She almost left these cookies undecorated after the thought of decorating them felt daunting, but in the end stopped stressing and had some fun with it! And while they are still far from perfect, they are much better than the first time.
Is there anything you tried and gave up on? Maybe it’s time to give another go! Or trust your gut! We don’t know!
What animated show do we discuss almost as thoroughly as our episode topics?
What other books have we left half-read?
What show did Pay watch all the way through, only for the last season to ruin it all?
What bad movie does Adri wish she’d walked out of?
What life lesson do we realize is the true message of the episode?
So we’re vaccinated now and you know what that means? It means we spent time together without the expectation of having it recorded because it turns out we’re actually friends and have been for a long time. But now that we’re on separate coasts again, it’s time to get back to the podcast, baby! It’s a bit rough and rocky at the start, but we got back into the rhythm of things. It’s good to be back, and hope you enjoy the new one.
For a couple of indoor kids, neither of us has been a very big gamer. Sure, we had access to Super Nintendos, Playstations, and GameBoys, but it was never something we really got into. Cut to 2020 when we were all stuck inside because, y’know. As more people started getting into Animal Crossing as a replacement for real world socializing, it was a reminder that video games are the perfect way to keep our butts indoors. Pay asked her brother for a recommendation, and he suggested The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a game that is apparently loved by everyone who’s played it.
Most of our past video game experience was on the lighter side, more along the lines of racing games, simple side-scroller adventures, and Rock Band. This sort of combat-heavy, open world game was really new to both of us. Even though we both play on the easiest mode available, we have found the game to be hella challenging. Definitely had to look up a few things before getting past some of the game’s hurdles.
That being said, the story is intriguing and we’ve both put in several hours into the thing, so safe to say The Witcher 3 is fun and worth the effort. We both plan to see the game through. There are little things that bring us unexpected joys, like doing some of the menial in-game stuff that more experienced players asked why we bothered with it, or the odd glitch here and there.
We don’t go into much in the episode, but it really is a great looking game and one that isn’t bad to watch someone else play, if you’re not one for playing it yourself. This next set of screenshots were from when Adri’s partner played, and frankly it was kind of nice to have that visual in the background while reading or doing other things.
All-in-all, we play this game in a way that makes it fun for us, which is what matters. But it would still be nice if we could pet the animals or feed Roach some apples.
What tips do we have for not getting murdered?
What reality competition shows do we wish we could be on but know we’d be terrible at?
What menial video game task do we both find fun/useful when in a dark room?
Is there any strategy to our combat style?
Did either of us have Geralt engage in any romance?
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?