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?
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)
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!)?
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!
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?
Thanksgiving is tomorrow, so Pay and Adri are both sharing what they’ve checked out since last episode. Let’s do this!
Lady Bird (2017)
Oh boy. Watching realistic movies/tv shows about being a teenager can be tough. Adult me sees the sacrifices movie parents make and thinks the kid is an ungrateful brat. But my brain reminds me how much I was that brat, even if I never dared to yell at my mother. Always makes me cringe, remembering what it was like. But the real clincher is watching something that reminds me how much I took my family** for granted because I was centered on my own shit. It’s too bad it usually takes putting thousands of miles between you and family to notice how much they really mean to you, but better late than never. Anyway, I definitely cried and Laurie Metcalf is a treasure. Also high school plays are excruciating to watch as an adult. Bless any parent that sits through a high school production of Grease. – A
* Have you tried watching A Goofy Movie as an adult? Goofy is such a good dad and Max is a real shit! Powerline remains perfect. **Vin Diesel voice
The Legend of Korra: Seasons 1-3
As a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I was well aware of it’s follow-up series, The Legend of Korra, and had every intention of checking it out at some point. But when the show came out, I didn’t really have a way to watch it. So it continually fell through the many cracks in my brain until my brother’s constant reminders to watch it finally sunk in. And I’m happy they did. I’ve only watched three out of the four seasons of Korra, but, so far, I am enjoying it a lot. Just like Avatar, the world-building is so meticulous and well-done. I appreciate that they weren’t lazy and didn’t just do a retread of Aang’s characterization with Korra. They get a lot of real estate in making her both a girl and a teenager, but even then they weren’t lazy and made sure she was a very different character with her own motivations, instincts and flaws. The villains are surprisingly scary and believable threats. And the writers do an excellent job of making me “accidentally” watch four episodes in a row so I can see what’s going to happen next.
I just got season 4 from the library, and even though I’m sad to be on the last season, I am looking forward to circling back to where it all started and finally giving Avatar another viewing. – P
Keep an eye/ear out for our next episode, which drops in December. In the meantime, have you subscribed? Or maybe even suggested a thing? If not, what the heck are you waiting for?!