she liked Imaginary Men best of all


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An Ode to Dave

In my early teens I developed an obsession with Late Night with David Letterman. I’m not sure how I discovered it but it must have coincided with when we got a VCR which allowed me to tape episodes (given that 12:30AM was much too late to be up on a school night!)

For much of my teen years I was an avid fan and would record a week’s worth of shows and then spend the weekend watching them. I even kept a notebook with a dedicated pen to write down my favorite quotes and skits that the show did. There was “Bridget Jackson’s TV Nest Egg” where he had a staffer who was getting married come on and perform to earn different amounts of money towards her wedding (for example, $600 for doing a puppet show); during a writer’s strike Dave had a fountain built in front of his desk that he called “The Dancing Waters” and every night he’d introduce it and Paul would tinkle on the piano and they’d light up the fountain – and – that was it. That was the bit! When he tired of that they changed it up and added various other liquids (milk or Windex) and re-named it “The Prancing Fluids”; there was his crush on Connie Chung (one of my favorite bits was him spending the day running errands with her and deriding her need to get “shoe trees for Murray” – her husband and Dave’s romantic nemesis Maury Povich); there was the woman in the building opposite 30 Rock that he started calling randomly and chatting with; or yelling demented things through a bullhorn at an annoyed Bryant Gumbel as the “Today Show” tried to shoot.

Dave was absurd, irreverent, caustic, snarky, hilarious and sharp. He made me realize what made me laugh the most and what I wanted to emulate in my own humor were those very same qualities. I truly idolized David Letterman and that notebook was my way of keeping track of what it took to BE David Letterman. In all honesty I wanted to grow up and inherit his show when he retired. With that deadline looming TONIGHT I clearly did not reach that particular goal. I could have possibly come close at one point: in college I was looking for summer internships and found one on The Late Show. By then my Dave Worship had dwindled but seeing that there was a possibility that I could actually WORK on his show pulled me right back in. As I scanned the requirements I found I did not meet an important one: I was not a Communications major therefore I couldn’t receive credit which was required as part of the Late Show Internship program. Once again, my Dave Dreams were dashed.

So Dave was a big part of my formative years and he was also strangely a comfort during a particularly rough time in my life. When I was 15 and my parents told me about their separation I went numb and curled into a fetal position on my bed. I remember them gently asking me if I would like the TV moved into my room so I could “watch Dave” and I nodded and the TV was set up next to my bed where I watched with glazed over eyes and willed Dave to make me forget what was going on outside my door. I don’t remember anything about the episode other than being grateful for the familiarity of Dave doing his monologue when everything else had just been turned inside out.

But their eventual divorce did lead me to another grand plan and that was to get my mother to marry Dave and have him adopt me, therefore making me an actual, legitimate heir to his talk show crown. My mom however, didn’t warm to this plan citing Dave’s cigar smoking as a deal breaker (around the same time Letterman had an actual stalker who was always claiming to be his wife so it is likely this particular plan would not have gotten very far.)

Last year when he announced his retirement I realized that I probably wasn’t even going to fulfill probably the easiest Dave Goal to reach and that was to go to a taping of his show. The last few weeks I’ve been DVR’ing the Late Show and getting very nostalgic and even weepy about my youthful adoration of Dave and all his silliness. In recent years when I’ve caught the show he seemed bored at best, cranky at worst. In this home stretch he’s loosened up considerably and it’s reminded me how funny he is and how big a part of my life he’s been these last thirty years.

Late night TV is a changed landscape and now the entire point of a talk show seems to be getting a good clip that will go viral the next day – the Jimmy’s are the co-kings of this. But Dave is still old school and I’m sure CBS is a little relieved he’s decided to go and that the more viral-friendly Stephen Colbert is coming.

Just watching the final Top Ten lists has made me a little weepy so I fully expect to be a sobbing baby when I watch his final show. I truly feel it’s not just a man who is retiring but an entire form of entertainment – the last original late night talk show. He’s going out with a lot of accolades and deserved thanks from comedians and other hosts who would not have careers without the goofy and hysterical path he paved. But to me he’ll always be the guy who made me want to be as funny as he was when I was still finding out who I was.

Letterman Final

 


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“This is the story of four vampires who live in a flat and have their eternal lives taped…”

Last night I saw What We Do in the Shadows which is a HYSTERICAL “vampire reality TV documentary” (should such a thing actually exist!)

Here, just watch this:

I haven’t laughed so much at a movie in ages. It is so funny, so clever, so ridiculous that afterwards as I was trying to fall asleep I literally burst out laughing remembering one of the scenes. Just the idea of vampires having “chore charts” when one roommate isn’t pulling his weight or tricking people into thinking their spaghetti is worms because they learned it from The Lost Boys (!!!) is so brilliantly demented.

If my gushing hasn’t sold you – how about the fact that it’s by the same lunatics behind Flight of the Conchords? Or that Jemaine Clement stars and Rhys Darby has a supporting role as the alpha of a rival gang of werewolves (not “swearwolves” because they watch their language, OK?) Why don’t you watch this and remember how on-the-nose these guys are at parody and then go see the movie?


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Band Dynamic Documentaries

Tonight VH1 is premiering the Backstreet Boys documentary Show em What You’re Made Of and I think you should watch it. I say this not as a BSB fan but as a fan of anything that involves uncovering the fascinating world of band dynamics.

I recently read Mick Fleetwood’s autobiography Play On: Now, Then and Fleetwood Mac because for my money there is no band with more incredibly complex, deranged inter-band dynamics then Fleetwood Mac. Marriage between members? Check. Affairs between members? Check. Break-ups between members who then make the person they dumped sing songs about how awful their break-up was on-stage to thousands of fans? CHECK. Their episode of Behind the Music is well worth 45 minutes of your life.

Less romantically tangled but just as fascinating to this U2 fanatic is the near destruction of the band pre-Achtung Baby detailed in Bill Flanagan’s U2: At the End of the World and explored further in the band’s own documentary on the experience in From the Sky Down. Coming off of a decade of unparalleled success the members find themselves on opposing sides when it comes time to define themselves for the 90’s and nearly fall apart until they stumble into One.

And the king of all band dynamic documentaries is surely Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster which details abrupt departures, rehab stints, long buried animosities, and the band partaking in some of the craziest “group therapy” you’ll ever see. I am not a Metallica fan but I was enraptured by this film and the exploration of the complexities of being in a band and staying in a band, sharing your life, livelihood, emotions and talents with multiple other people who may not always have the same agenda or investment.

Which brings me back to the Backstreet Boys and their documentary detailing the making of their latest album In a World Like This and the subsequent tour. I watched it on VOD when it as released a few months ago and it hits all the sweet spots of a good band dynamic documentary: the camaraderie and frictions, the long-standing tensions and love for each other and the music. There was always a lot of backstage drama with BSB – the contract lawsuits, Brian’s heart problems, AJ’s addictions, Nick’s arrests – they were basically a documentary waiting to happen. The group visits to each member’s childhood home reveals a lot about each guy not just to the audience but to their other band members (the one to Nick Carter’s elementary school and his reunion with a teacher who supported him is heartbreaking as Nick’s very raw breakdown at the memory of what a lonely little boy he was and what kindness and faith this woman showed him is difficult to watch.)

So I don’t think you have to be a fan of a particular band to find their story and their relationships interesting. In some cases seeing the non-glossy, not-so-glamorous reality of what being in a band is actually like makes me appreciate them in a way I wouldn’t have if it was just about listening to their music. Check out any of these docs I’ve mentioned and you can start tonight on VH1 :-)


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Movies I Will Never Get Sick of

You know when you are flipping channels and you see a movie from the 80’s or 90’s and no matter how many times you’ve seen it you have to watch it again — or when you’re home sick and you want something silly and familiar to distract you — or just have that one movie that you can’t. stop. quoting? Well here’s a rundown of mine:

Parenthood: Steve Martin has a lot of siblings and a lot of kids. Wackiness ensues

Favorite quote: “I’m too young to be a grandmother. Grandmothers are old. They bake, and they sew, and they tell you stories about the Depression. I was at Woodstock, for Christ’s sake! I peed in a field! I hung on to The Who’s helicopter as it flew away!”

 

I Love You to Death: Kevin Kline cheats on his wife and she plots (badly) to kill him for it

Favorite quote:If we keep shooting Joey, don’t you think he might get suspicious?”

 

Postcards from the Edge: Meryl Streep is an actress in recovery with a challenging mother

Favorite quote: “Well, maybe I was an alcoholic when you were a teenager. But I had a nervous breakdown when my marriage failed and I lost all my money…Well, I got over it! And now I just drink like an Irish person.”

 

Soapdish: Sally Field is a soap diva whose life on and off her show is one big melodrama

Favorite quote:That’s depressing and it’s expensive, two words I hate. You know the words I like? I like the word ‘peppy’ and the word ‘cheap’. Peppy and cheap.”

Overboard: Goldie Hawn is a rich diva who gets amnesia and is led to believe she’s a housewife

Favorite quote: HOW CAN I CHOOSE!?!? As my mom puts it, “there’s an ‘Overboard’ quote for everything!”

“A falsetto child?”

“I’m a short, fat, slut”

“You shot a chicken?”

“It’s not us dad it’s Roy”

But darling, if you have a baby, you won’t be the baby anymore.”

“Eat your checkers!”

Oysters in a cold ocean at night? That doesn’t sound like me!”

Ahhh so many laughs — so many terrible trailers :-)


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Doctor of Gossip

A few weeks ago I made a discovery. An awesome, fascinating, is-this-real-life? discovery. That discovery is named Anne Helen Petersen. “Who is Anne Helen Petersen?” you may ask – well let me tell you – she is my new idol. She is a doctor…of GOSSIP!! Not just gossip but CELEBRITY GOSSIP!! Only one of my favorite things ever!!

Me making my new discovery (reactiongifs.com)

I have a bachelor’s degree from a fancy college and that’s about all the academia I could handle. However, if someone had ever said to me in my youth, “Oh you like gossiping about celebrities and critiquing pop culture? Well you can get a doctorate in that” I may have done that very thing! People think gossiping about celebrities is frivolous but doing it with a PhD? Well that’s a prestigious career my friend.

Since this amazing, time-sucking, enthralling discovery I have been combing the internet for her work like the extremely focused lady I am. Thankfully she is very prolific online writing for Hairpin and Buzzfeed (where her piece on the birth of TMZ contains a fascinating backstory on the demise of the old Hollywood studio system and rise of the celebrity gossip industry.) And she’s just published a book about classic Hollywood scandals!!

So speaking of that, I LOVE OLD HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS!! I have been obsessively reading her pieces on Errol Flynn, Warren Beatty and, oh god the Hedy Lamarr one is just insane (you know, just your typical beautiful rich girl becomes poor, stars in the most provocative movie of the early 20th century, marries a millionaire Nazi who locks her in a castle, then escapes to Hollywood to become a movie star and six husbands and several shoplifting charges later is discovered to hold the patent for the technology that is the basis for the cell phones we all use today story. YOUR MOVE JENNIFER LAWRENCE.)

I love Petersen’s writing because it is accessible and not so stuffy academic that a few lines in you get bored because you don’t know what the hell the author is talking about. In this interview she explains her background in Cultural Studies (again, why did I not know I could study this stuff?? Career Development Office FAIL!) and why it’s valuable to study pop culture and be able to present it in an intellectual manner but without the requirement that you already have a PhD to understand it.

Her writing is smart, funny and very “chummy” as in she feels like your girlfriend who is gossiping with you about cute famous boys of all eras which, Hey Anne! I do that all the time! I love Cary Grant movies, Hollywood glamour and handsome dead actors. We should be besties :-)

SO HANDSOME!

SO HANDSOME!

But let’s get back to the old scandals for a moment because they are often far more fascinating (and crazy) than anything that happens in today’s celebrity realm. Brad leaves Jen for Angelina. Snooze! That is nothing compared to the Elizabeth Taylor-Eddie Fisher-Debbie Reynolds-Richard Burton square of sex, cheating, death, alcoholism and really enormous jewels! (and guess who wrote about it?) Or one of my personal favorites after reading two Frank Sinatra bios earlier this year – the Ava Gardner and Frank Saga that involved adultery, affairs, abortions, suicide attempts, bullfighters (!!!) and one of the best things I have ever EVER heard in my life – per Ava herself from her bath as Frank stormed out after a fight:

Okay! If that’s the way you want it. I’m leaving. And if you want to know where I am, I’m in Palm Springs, fucking Lana Turner.

YOUR MOVE CHANNING TATUM.

(from Giphy.com)

And if old timey movie stars behaving badly isn’t your thing, Petersen writes about current celebrities weaving together pop culture and feminist theorystarlets and classicism and a topic that consumes us all as a nation: Taylor Swift’s love life! It’s all so interesting and explores celebrity in ways that often get ignored in our fast-moving-social-media world. She is basically what I aspire to be if I had any drive to be further educated and the ambition to be paid for thinking/talking/writing about things I love for a living. Hence, why she is my idol.

You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll just be over here reading all her stuff – probably when I should be working at my job or on my life (which is why I do NOT have a PhD in Celebrity Gossip!)


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James Dean is Still Cooler Than You

Today is the 59th anniversary of James Dean’s death. The man would be 83 years old now and who knows what he would have done with his life and career had he survived a car crash. He may have gotten fat or bald, made terrible movies or been hawking products in TV commercials. Instead he is frozen in time just like this:

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Eternally young, handsome and cool. Recently my boyfriend and I watched East of Eden because we were going to the central California coast where the movie is set. I watched Dean’s movies a lot when I was a teenager and spent most of that time alternately swooning and grieving that he was so stunningly beautiful and so tragically dead. Watching it now with an adult perspective I really appreciated how incredibly talented he was and how he certainly was one of the first true archetypes of the Wounded Misunderstood Man Child Who Just Wants to be Loved that so many of us are drawn to (paging Dr. Doug Ross, looking at you Tim Riggins.)

On our trip we drove out to Cholame where Dean died and is memorialized around a shady tree next to a diner right out of a movie set. The first time I saw it in the early 90’s there had been small sort of cameos of his face as part of the memorial that had been filled over with plastic to keep them preserved. But over the years fans had chipped away at the plastic attempting to get to the image underneath. Those were no longer there and I figured that this long gone, not many people stop there to see the memorial anymore.

Inside the Jack Ranch Cafe next door with its walls covered in Dean memorabilia, country music playing in the kitchen and warm cherry cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream we learned from our waitress that every single day people still come in there because of James Dean. EVERY. DAY. That’s some pretty amazing longevity for someone who is probably more well-known by Kids Today for merchandise with his face on it rather than his film work or cult of celebrity.

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So rest in peace James Dean – nearly six decades gone and we’re still watching you, talking about you and looking for you.


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“The Era of Boy Bands Never Ends”

Heaven knows I love Boy Bands and I especially love when Boy Bands mix it up to form Mega Boy Bands. Well now to add to the mix we have a new Boy Band duo Nick & Knight!:

I’m loving the album and also enjoying the PR Tour the boys have been doing this week. They’ve been pretty tireless on TV and even in fancypants Time Magazine! And I love this bit on CNN because presenter Lisa France knows her stuff and has a quote I want embroidered on a pillow:

The era of the Boy Band never ends – it just ebbs and flows

Hell yeah! (and BTW the dude interviewing her is such a dick. Don’t give me the dismissive, “they don’t play instruments” line – WHO CARES! They DANCE which takes a whole lot of talent and they have had far longer careers than many instrument players!)

I’m really excited to see them in October and the show should be awesome with the new songs which are great for dancing, some Backstreet and New Kids stuff and a whole lot of nifty dancing from two of the best dancers in their respective groups. Plus they seem to be having so much fun together and you can really see they have a great chemistry and are excited about doing something different. And they are really good sports about some of their less cool history!

You can follow the Boy here and the Kid here (and obviously they need no introduction if you’re reading this blog ;-) )

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