THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #198

LOVE:

“Lady Dynamite” Season 2:

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I’m a huge admirer of absurdist humor. In my younger years, I had no time for this. I wanted a simple laugh. But the older I get, the funnier I find absolutely everything. Last year, I stumbled upon Lady Dynamite whilst lying in bed some weekend. It was the first time I had ever had a television in my bedroom, and I was ecstatic to luxuriate. There are few finer things in life than laying in a king sized bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and watching Netflix on an HDTV that hangs from your wall while wood wick candles crackle away. Try it! Anyway, the show was bizarre and I didn’t understand it but then I stopped trying to ‘get’ it and I couldn’t stop cackling. A year later, I was ecstatic when the newest season arrived, so I popped my body weight in popcorn and hurried up to my bedroom to watch all the episodes. (It’s awful binge watching things, by the way. You just sit there for what feels like days as your muscles atrophy and you’re constantly hungry even though you know you can’t possibly be more than peckish. It’s deeply disconcerting. No wonder I’m ballooning lately. I miss my body of August 2015. I think that was my prime. Oh well, I suppose I might get back to that someday. I belong to a gym now, which is an absurdist joke in itself. But I’m blathering on.) The show was great. I was delighted by the plot, which didn’t make any sense — which is kind of the point, I suppose. This time Maria was dealing with living with a boyfriend, being engaged, and trying to make amends with the Filipino culture of Los Angeles. It’s really bizarre how these things all connect together. That might be my favorite part of the show, you have to watch every second of every episode for it to work. If you just start watching in the middle, absolutely nothing is going to make sense. For example, when you see Maria putting a sombrero on a raccoon and feed it enchiladas, you might say, “hmmm, that’s peculiar.” But then if you see Maria in a big blonde wig using a fancy voice and then taking a sword down to the core of the earth to free a trapped queen to bring chaos on humanity, then you might wonder, “What?” Yet, it you watch it all, this makes sense and you understand that this is all a giant and hilarious public service announcement about Bipolar II. The show, bizarre as it is, comes highly recommended from me. Stream, readers!

Coco:

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I don’t really get excited for the movies. I can’t understand why this is, either. I think I really did my mental health a disservice many moons ago when I made that idiotic New Year’s resolution to watch and review a movie every day. Nearly killed me. Since then, I really have had little interest in film. Shame, really, because I love movies. I have longed to be working in that magical industry for the most of my life. I never really longed to be a star; I don’t think I’m an actor. I’m too much myself to ever become another character, you know? But to direct or write or design would be a dream. Many years ago, famed and beloved psychic, Sylvia Browne, told me that my destiny was in Hollywood as a producer. The older I get, the more I see that she was right. I mean, I’m not on a direct path to producing by any means, but my diverse interests have led me down some strange paths that could end there. (Hollywood, I have a dream about a feminist icon in Victorian Egypt. Whiskey and umbrellas and exquisite disguises are involved. Call me. Actually don’t, I don’t ever answer my phone. Text me. Or email me. Or invite me to lunch at the Chateau Marmont.) Anyway, I don’t get excited to sit in the dark theatre. But the thought of Coco thrilled me to my core.

Dreamily, Pixar and Disney decided to make a musical extravaganza all about the Mexican holiday, Día de Los Muertos. I have been captivated by this celebration since my earliest days. I grew up in a town with a huge Hispanic population, so their culture has always been mine by proxy. It’s a unique and wondrous thing. Jessica and I hurried to the theatre the week it opened, and after a dreadful twenty minute Frozen micro-film, the wondrous feature began. Coco takes place in a village in Mexico that was home to the most famous singer in that country. A young boy, Miguel, loves music tremendously, but his family had banned it for generations because an ancestor long ago abandoned his family to pursue music. This is the kind of scenario that can only be taken seriously in a cartoon, but it was rendered beautifully and I was delighted by the story. The main character, Miguel, is followed around by a wild dog with a tongue that seems detached from his mouth. He’s disgusting and filthy and full of love. Jessica and I were cackling because the dog is almost an exact facsimile of one of our cats, Duchess. She lives outside and nobody is really sure how old she is or how she remains alive. By all accounts, it doesn’t make sense. Anyway, Miguel and the dog manage to find themselves in the land of the dead and have to find a family member to give them a blessing to return home. The plot seems obvious, and for the most part it is, but there are certain moments that shake you to your core. At the end, half the audience was merrily weeping. I won’t go into the plot in depth because I want you to go. And I want to go back to see the beautiful animations again, to see the gorgeous skeletons in their wonderful world, and to hear the perfect music. Coco was a delight, and I think it is one of the finest creations to ever emerge from Disney. I loved it. Go.

Teavana Perfectea Brewer:

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I go through phases with tea. Sometimes it’s all I’ll drink, others I’m very ugh about it. Because of this, I have a huge variety of loose teas sitting forgotten in drawers and cupboards. I haven’t been making much lately, but that all changed when I went into Teavana. Going there was shock enough since I thought that they closed all of their locations after they were bought out by Starbucks. Guess not. I went in to get my mother a birthday gift. She is now very old, reader. Very, very old. And I’m so young. So, so young. Anyway, she was interested in getting into tea brewing, so I went to get one of those mesh metal balls that you can dunk in a teacup. These make me laugh because you get to say ball, and because I am so terribly young, this amuses the juvenile sense of humor I’ve redeveloped. In the shop, a ball was not to be found, so I looked into the various little devices they sell to brew tea. Because of the nearness of the Holidays, there were tons of sales, and the tea making kits were buy one-get one. So I got two. Didn’t really think I’d use the extra one that I kept for myself, but when I got around to it, I screamed in delight. The device is a small plastic container that has a mesh bottom. You toss in the loose tea leaves, any sweetener you like, and then top it with water. (I recently discovered how important the proper temperature is for tea. What a fool I was before. Can you imagine me making mint tea with boiling water. HOW DUMB I WAS!) Anyway, I stared mesmerized at the steeping leaves, impatiently waiting for the timer. This is when it got good, reader. Instead of pouring out the tea or yanking out a dripping ball (*cackling*) or a wet teabag (*weeping hysterically*), you sit the tea maker on top of your cup and then it all drains through straight into you cup. It was magic. It was delightful. It changed my life. It’s so much fun. I’m drinking tea all the time, now! Almost time to go to Paris and buy more. I will only drink tea hand bought from Paris, by the way. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

At Home With Amy Sedaris:

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I consider any celebrity I have been in close proximity to a dear friend. That’s why Angela Lansbury, Prince Charles, Anne Rice, Dita Von Teese, every major 90s country singer, and the famous Sedaris siblings are all dear friends of mine. (Oh, let’s never ever mention the recent news story about my beloved Angela Lansbury. I can’t believe that happened. When I saw that she was a trending topic, I freaked out, assuming that she died. Turns out, she made a comment about sexual misconduct that is so out of touch with her character that I struggle to believe it’s real. I can’t ignore it and pretend it never happened, but I want so much to do that.) I met Amy Sedaris years ago when she gave a talk at Iowa State University.

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I found the fact that this happened odd and bizarre. It was a magical night, I asked her an iconic question, “How do you spell victory?” And she said, “Hobocamp,” and it completed everything in my life. I was ecstatic to find that she had a new television show that seemed to be Martha Stewart’s old show on drugs. Amy sets out to host a dinner party, but everything inevitably goes wrong. Sometimes the comedy is deeply uncomfortable, especially a recent segment on sexual abuse. But it’s a commentary that’s needed, and if the lens of absurdist comedy can get it to readers, then that’s a success. At other times, she’s lost in the woods or recovering from injury or cutting her fingers off. It’s bizarre. In addition to herself, she plays several other characters on the show, all of which are hysterical and strange. Her well-to-do neighbor is my personal favorite as she tries to better Amy’s character by demeaning her. The comedy is insane and sometimes cruel, but at the end, you always laugh. And laughter is so important in today’s world. We live in a world where nuclear warheads might start hitting us at any time, where the president is a bumbling fool who denies his crimes, where I just keep gaining weight, and where everything costs so much money. At times like these, At Home with Amy Sedaris, is exactly what I need. I worship comedy. It’s my religion, I think, as this program fits right in with what makes me joyous and purposeful. Give it a try, reader, the holiday special just aired and it is the definition of INSANE.  

“Princess Cora and the Crocodile” Book:

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For the longest time, I have had a great interest in children’s literature. In the past, several ideas have fluttered through my mind for my own elementary book. I have an idea for one about a beautiful cat who gets repeatedly lost in lovely and exotic locations. It’ll be marvelous. Coco will be lost in Mexico City and Cairo and Tokyo and Paris. If I had a kid, I would surely want my child to be read a book about a cat with no sense of direction and a proclivity to winding up in glamorous locations. I’ll get around to that eventually, I’m sure. For one of my final projects in a class I took ages ago, I wrote a children’s book about a camel who was worried about global warming. It was, if you don’t mind my humble bragging, a masterpiece. And ever since taking a class on Children’s Literature, I have been really more and more intrigued in Newbery and Caldecott Medals and the world of children’s literature. You can tell such wondrous stories. My sister recently found me a new publication by Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca that seems to have emerged fully formed from my head — like Athena bursting from the brain of Zeus. It’s called Princess Cora and the Crocodile and everything about it is complete perfection. It tells the story of a young princess who is sick to death of her daily princess duties. In frustration, she writes a note to her fairy godmother and asks for a pet. She assumes she will get the dog she talked about, but she fails to specify this in her note. Instead, she receives a giant and kind crocodile. I was so happy! You all know how crocodiles are my third favorite animal, right? (1. Cats of all kinds, 2. Camels, and 3. Crocodiles.) Look at me holding a baby Nile Crocodile here:

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I have rarely been so happy since. But back to the book! I devoured it in minutes and then spent considerable time looking at the illustrations, which are divine. The entire book was marvelous, and I loved it, and it should be a full-length feature film. I mean, reader, who would not go to see a movie about a kindly crocodile who had a passion for helping children and devouring chocolate covered creme puffs??? That reptile and I have so much in common, especially one passage where he says, “You’re mean. Mean, mean, mean. You told me not to eat anybody, and I didn’t. Even though I’m starving to death. And you said I could have cream puffs, and I haven’t had any, not one single cream puff! I wish I was dead!” If that ain’t me, reader. And if you have a kid, expect a copy of this marvelous book from me!

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