Episode 13: Wining, Dining, Scamming, and Jamming

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.)

Episode Highlights

  • Are either of us willing to pay big money on wine?
  • What solid advice does Pay give about how not to use sneakers?
  • How long does it take for Degrassi to come up…again?
  • Who were our favorite characters?

Further Watching/Reading

Episode 11: There is No Spoon

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.com is 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.

Episode Highlights

  • 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!)?

Further Watching

Between Things: Technology Has Betrayed Us

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)

A TV show that’s based on a movie that’s based on a book that’s about real life. Layers.

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.

Various Dillon residents assume various power stances/squats/sits

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!

Episode 08: Smorgasbord Sound Off

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.

Croissant sandwich with boiled egg, lettuce, vegan bacon.
Extra toasted, it made a great breakfast sandwich.

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.

A burger and fries

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!

Episode Highlights

  • 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?

Further Watching

Episode 07: The Last and the Curious

Alpha, a gray tabby cat, sits in front of a microphone
Alpha was very helpful during this recording.

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!

The Fast and the Furious poster
This movie has been stolen from at least two branches of Adri’s local library.

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.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift poster
This movie was stolen from at least one branch of Adri’s local library.

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?

Episode Highlights

  • Whose future grave did Pay visit in New Orleans?
  • How many candles are too many candles for a bro party?
  • Whose accent was very distracting?
  • Will Pay or Adri watch any more Fast movies?
  • Did these movies age well?

Further Reading/Watching

Between Things: Duck, Duck, Goose…and Cake

Pay’s working hard on editing the next episode, so here are a few Things Adri’s been up to since the last one.

Sophisticated goose mood
Baby goose mood
Fuck the anti-goose establishment!

Untitled Goose Game

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!

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

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

If I had thought ahead, I would’ve staged this with the Bravetart book, and not the Complete America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook. Ah well.

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?!

Episode 06: A Tale of Two Christmas Carols

Title page: "A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas."

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.

Such Christmas, such cheer. This pocket copy of Dickens’ Christmas stories actually fit in Adri’s pocket. ~Magical~

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?

One of the oldest surviving adaptations. Gotta respect those effects.

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.

This DVD doesn’t include Belle’s song. Shame!

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.

Episode Highlights

  • 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?

Further Reading/Watching

Between things: Gobble, Gobble, Y’all

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)

Lady Bird movie poster
Shout out to Kanopy for giving Adri a way to stream this. Libraries ftw.

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

Shout out to the public library for having all four seasons of Korra on DVD. Libraries ftw x2.

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?!

Episode 05: Bite Off

It’s October, y’all. And you know what that means: time for all things spooky. This episode, we aimed for spooky and accidentally got very specifically spooky. Our penchant for an unintended Double Theme struck again, and we picked not one, but two vampire movies. Apparently the vampire craze is far from over for the two of us.

First, we chat about A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014), an American, Persian-language, vampire western. (Bet you’ve never seen that combo in a movie description before.) Written and directed by Ana Lily Amapour, this modern black and white film tells the story of a lonely vampire, the titular Girl, who stalks Bad City at night.

This one caught Adri’s eye in a magazine write-up a few years ago, but she hadn’t quite gotten around to seeing it yet. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was creepy, atmospheric and moody, with a few moments of solid dark humor. This is one to have on in the background at your next pumpkin carving party, for sure.

Next up, we take a trip to New Zealand with What We Do in the Shadows (2014), co-written and directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. This comedic mockumentary introduces us to Viago, Vlad, Deacon and their everyday (everynight?) after-lives as vampires sharing a flat.

It turns out Adri was already quite familiar with What We Do in the Shadows (she owns it), but this is one Pay had been meaning to see for a while. She first learned of Taika Waititi with his 2016 film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and had been meaning to watch some of his older projects ever since. This movie is very hilarious and super fun and would also be good for your next pumpkin carving party.

Look guys, not to toot our own horns, but we just gave you two solid selections for your pumpkin carving party movie playlist. We’re not saying you should thank us… but it wouldn’t hurt if you thanked us.

Episode Highlights

  • What shows do we need subtitles to watch?
  • What was Adri’s favorite shot in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night?
  • What was Pay’s favorite scene in What We Do in the Shadows? Was it this one? Or maybe even this one?
  • Guess what? That show we said we’d watch actually exists!
  • Why did we start talking about Chris Hemsworth?
  • What kind of horror movies are we into?

Between Things: A Rom-Com, Dystopian Novel and Sci-Fi Film Walk Into a Bar…

Our next episode is right around the corner, so it’s time for a little update on what Pay checked out since the last one. Buckle up!

JK, you don’t need to buckle up.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

So I got ambitious this year and made my Goodreads Reading Challenge 24 books. I was like, “Two books a month? That’s nothing!” Guess what?Turns out it isn’t nothing! For me, at least. Anyway, one of the two books (eek) I’ve managed to finish this year is Crazy Rich Asians. I’m sure you’ve heard of it since the film adaptation was a huge deal last year. I’m often curious about the source material when I find out a movie is an adaptation, so I decided to pick up this one. It’s about a Chinese-American economics professor, Rachel, who accompanies her boyfriend and fellow professor, Nick, back to his native Singapore for the summer. There, she’s surprised to find that his family is stupid rich and none of his snotty relatives think she’s good enough for him.  

I generally liked the book but it wasn’t the page-turner I was hoping for. Kwan includes a lot of helpful cultural context, but those notes could be a tiny bit distracting at times. And there are like, a million characters. At some point I just gave up trying to keep track of who was related to whom, and who had done what to the other, and why this person didn’t want this other person to marry that other person. Having said that, the side characters ended up being more interesting to me than Rachel and Nick – something that was more noticeable in the novel. Also, the novel highlighted just how shitty it was for Nick to not give his girlfriend any warning about his upbringing. It made me hate him a little. Anyway, the book was alright but I don’t think I’ll read the other two in the trilogy. But you better bet I’ll be watching the sequel when that comes out. The first film made me really want to go to Singapore.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Wow, “Fahrenheit” is a hard word to spell. I very rarely pick up a classic, but I’ve always been intrigued by this one. It’s about a dystopian future where books are outlawed and firemen burn books instead of putting out fires. Our main character, Montag, starts questioning his job and embarks on quite a ride because of it. 

It was kind of a slow start, and even though it’s short, it took me a while to get through. But after a certain point, things start to pick up and it ended up being more exciting than I thought it would be. Now I’m curious to check out the HBO movie (staring two different Michaels – B. Jordan and Shannon). I haven’t heard great things about it, but you know what? I’m gonna watch it and form my own opinion, dammit! 

Sorry to Bother You (2018)

I’d been meaning to watch Sorry To Bother You (dir. by Boots Riley) since it came out last year and I just got around to it. I was immediately drawn to this movie thanks to what I thought seemed like a random cast. The most important member of that cast being Steven Yeun, who alone is enough to make me want to see a movie. He has great cheekbones and seems very delightful and if you like to smile, you should watch him go to a Korean spa with Conan. (Actually, anytime he’s on Conan is fun.)

Anyway, the movie. It was… very weird. I think I liked it? It’s a sci-fi comedy about a guy named Cassius (LaKeith Stanfield) who starts to rise in the ranks at a telemarketing company by using his “white voice” (voiced by David Cross). A bunch of stuff happens and then he stumbles upon some truly wild shit that I won’t ruin because really, you should go watch it yourself. It’s not at all what you would imagine. But if you do watch it, and that is what you imagined, let’s talk. Because your brain is just as strange as Boots Riley’s and I’d like to know what other weirdo thoughts you have. 

The movie did have some interesting things to say about race and labor and I liked the use of surrealism and comedy to talk about those things. But when we hit the wild shit I mentioned before, I got a little bit confused by what we were supposed to take away from the movie. When I think about it a little more, I think it still makes sense? But honestly, who knows? Either way, I did enjoy watching the movie and would recommend it. Mostly due to the aforementioned wild shit.

Keep an eye/ear out for our next episode, which drops in August. In the meantime, have you subscribed? Or maybe even suggested a thing? If not, what the heck are you waiting for?!