Posted in Miscellaneous

Katherine Ryan’s “In Trouble”

I set low expectations when I sat down to watch Katherine Ryan’s In Trouble. I am a student of the genre and I like to think I’m open minded, but there’s a quiet sexism that’s embedded in us all. Still, I like to give everyone a chance, and especially the few women who find success in such a male dominated industry. The thing is, In Trouble doesn’t need my condescension. It’s brilliant, maybe the best performance I’ve seen out this year.

Image result for katherine ryan in trouble

There isn’t a flat moment in the whole special, but Ryan’s clear strength is in story -telling, and form. She connects all of the threads of her story, working her jokes in with grace and dexterity. Her delivery is spot on, and her crowd work is the best I’ve seen in years. I saw a similar attempt in Michael Che’s Michael Che Matters last year, but like a lot of comics, Che used the audience to bounce jokes off of. That’s fine, and it works. But Ryan, ahhh. Her crowd work is a conversation, with the audience and the viewer. It makes her stories more vibrant, she brings us into her vision of that moment. The moments when she talks to the audience, listens and then responds to them, are some of the best in the hour.

 katherine ryan GIF

Ryan doesn’t overshare, her personal details are relevant and funny, and her description of her family is a winning bit. Ryan describes her family with a degree of empathy, and manages to describe their peculiarities with a tone of semi-tolerance. She manages almost the impossible, acting authentic in some places and exaggerated in others. Her racial humor is hilarious, without offending this Jew, and her jokes about Canada and America were spot on. When Ryan talks about the women from her hometown who tormented her when they were young, you see them. You know these women, they’re from your hometown too. Her description of her relationship with her sister is sweet, and funny. Their closeness leaves plenty of room for comedy and jokes about the middle child, which were everything.

If you’re a fan of comedy, watch this. If you’re a fan of women, watch this. If you’re a fan of humans, watch this. Just watch this. It’s available on Netflix, and it’s worth your time.

Posted in Miscellaneous

“The Thrilling Adventure Hour” A Star-Studded Adventure

While the Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast has been ongoing since March of 2005, they have only recently been posting their segments to iTunes and the Internet, and have quickly become quite popular. The podcast is initially recorded monthly, and then released online weekly as separate segments. These include Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars and the fan favorite, Beyond Belief. Typically, every show includes Sparks Nevada and Beyond Belief, and an additional segment, such as The Adventures of Captain Laserbeam, Amelia Earhart: Fearless Flyer, Desdemona Hughes, Diva Detective, or Jefferson Reid, Ace American. The format of the old-school radio show lends itself well to short stories featuring the recurring characters fans love.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 11.27.25 AMWhile the show has not had a lot of press, many stars have lent their talent (and voices) to its stories. Some guest stars have included Amy Acker (Dollhouse, Much Ado About Nothing), Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Angel), Emily Blunt, Misha Collins, Jorge Garcia (Lost, Once Upon a Time), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), Colin Hanks,  Neil Patrick Harris, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Aimee Mann and even the great Weird Al Yankovic. One of the best known frequent recurring guest stars is Nathan Fillion, who voices the titular Jefferson Reid in Jefferson Reid, Ace American,  as well as characters in Beyond Belief and Sparks Nevada. Fillion is a critically acclaimed actor for his role in Firefly, various other Joss Whedon productions, and Castle, on which he plays the titular character. Patton Oswalt is another frequent guest on the show, the comedian has played a few different characters on Beyond Belief, including a hard-boiled detective known as Pterodactyl Jones.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 11.27.46 AMAside from a host of incredibly talented guest stars, the show regulars are simply delightful. The dashing Paul F. Tompkins and  lovely Paget Brewster play the hilarious duo of Frank and Sadie Doyle, Park Avenue residents who are just as comfortable with the affairs of high society and the nether realms. Brewster and Tompkins are simply hilarious as the married mediums, who solve paranormal mysteries, although they would prefer their own company and that of alcoholic beverages. Beyond Belief is by far the fan favorite segment of the show, though Sparks Nevada, covering the adventures of a space cowboy, is also a funny and interesting journey. His relationship with his martian companion, Croach the Tracker, is an ongoing joke by the writers, and they are not afraid to tackle the sexual tension. The show is breath of fresh air, and a great listen. Since podcasts have come back into vogue, hopefully The Thrilling Adventure Hour will become better known.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour does monthly shows, for tickets go to their website, thrillingadventurehour.com. A concert film is currently in post-production.

 

 


 

Posted in Miscellaneous

Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale is an ongoing podcast from the mind of Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, a bimonthly podcast in a radio show format. The “voice of Night Vale” is Cecil Baldwin, a radio host who gives Night Vale‘s fans the details of the unusual happenings in the desert town. As this show has recently had its second birthday, and the fan base is only growing, I thought I would make a list, in no particular order, of great things about this show and why you should love it.

Mine Welcome To Night Vale animated GIF

1. Prominent and active female characters

Although the main character is Cecil, there are a lot of really compelling female presences on the show, including the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, Intern (now Mayor) Dana, Intern Maureen, Tamika Flynn, and Old Woman Josie. These women take action, have positions of power, and have gripping narratives. They are all voiced by interesting and talented actresses.

2. Celos or Carcil? (Carlos/Cecil)

The Carlos/Cecil ship is too amazing to sink. It also was the plot catalyst for one of the best episodes, “First Date” (episode 27.) Cecil and Carlos have an adorable and mutually supportive relationship that is seen in multiple episodes to be just the cutest thing. Also, they are a great representation of a biracial relationship in popular media.

3. Racial Diversity

While people like to ignore the white-washed TV shows that are still very prominent, Night Vale takes this problem on by creating compelling characters of multiple races. Tamika Flynn is an interesting, driven and intelligent African-American woman, played by an African-American woman. Carlos is a bright latino scientist played by a latino actor. While race isn’t a huge factor in the show’s plot, it’s still really important to have a diverse and representative cast.

4. Sexuality

While shows like Glee have more than a few characters that have huge plot points revolving around their sexuality, Night Vale is far more casual. Cecil Palmer, the main character, is a gay man. He works in a professional environment, has a steady relationship and is a productive member of society. The show doesn’t march out with confetti cannons about it, but it makes it very clear that Cecil’s sexuality is part of who he is. AND THAT’S DAMN BEAUTIFUL.

5. The Weather

A creative excuse to play interesting and usually unusual musical selections. What’s not to love? Also, it makes the live shows more interesting. The weather is never anything you would hear on the radio, and is one of the most popular segments of the show.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 11.12.13 AM6. Merch

A lot of shows just do merchandising to make money, but Night Vale subsists mostly on money donated by listeners and money from the numerous tours. The merchandise is awesome, from rotating shirt sales to a Night Vale flask.

7. Live Shows

I personally have attended one of Night Vale‘s live shows with a close friend, and the atmosphere was amazing. Everyone was incredibly friendly, the sheer amount of cosplayers was unbelievable, and the show was pure genius. While listening to the show is great anywhere, there is nothing like the joy of being surrounded by a crowd laughing just as hard as you are. It was totally worth it, and I highly recommend going to a show if there is one in your area.

8. The Fans

Initially, as the show is free on iTunes, Night Vale was completely supported by its listeners and creators. Now that its popularity has skyrocketed, the show is more financially secure, and the community made up by people who love it has only become stronger. Fans cosplay, make Tumblr pages and write great fanfiction. Building an organic community like this one is an unusual and special phenomenon, and just one of the reasons why Night Vale is so awesome.

Welcome To Night Vale animated GIF

9. Supernatural phenomena

One of the most compelling facets of the show is the tenuous balance between fiction and reality. The coolness of  five-headed dragon running for mayor cannot be quantified. The Glow Cloud (ALL HAIL) is hilarious. The mixture of scientists and random supernatural events is one of the best and most interesting parts of the show.

There are a bunch of tour dates in the near future, so if you haven’t seen them live yet, you should definitely see if they’re playing in your area. http://commonplacebooks.com/live-events

Posted in Books, Miscellaneous

12 Essential John Green GIFs

While I have no official stance on the Gif vs. Jif battle, GIFs are one of my favorite new forms of punctuation. Most of the popular GIFs are cats or sports, but some of the most precious GIFs are of the fantastic John Green.

For the few who are unaware of John Green, a nerd icon for the digital age, he is primarily known for quotes from his books appearing on tumblr. These books include Looking for Alaska; An Abundance of Katherines; Will Grayson, Will Grayson; Paper Towns and, most recently, the New York Times best-selling The Fault in Our Stars. The Fault in Our Stars, commonly abbreviated to ‘tFiOS’ by fans, has recently been adapted for film starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, both also stars of Divergent, another YA blockbuster adaption.  John Green is a winner of the Printz Award, The Edgar Allan Poe Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and numerous others.

However, John Green is perhaps even better known on the Internet as one half of the “Vlogbrothers,” a YouTube channel  with more than 2.2 million subscribers. (As of July 2nd 2014.) He and his brother, the musician and entrepreneur William “Hank” Green, are the masterminds behind Vidcon, a yearly convention based on online video; the Project for Awesome (abbreviated to P4A) an annual charity project taking over YouTube for two days; and Crash Course, an educational YouTube channel that covers World History, US History, Literature, and more. The Vlogbrothers have tackled so many interesting and educational projects that just listing them would construct multiple blog posts.

Back to GIFs! John Green, aside from all of his other achievements, also is extremely GIFable. You’d be surprised. So collected here are the GIFs you need to express the full range of human emotions.

1. Hunger, or, alternatively, adorableness

John Green Vlogbrothers animated GIF

2. Winning!

John Green animated GIF

3. Giant Quid of Anger

Dftba Giant Squid Of Anger animated GIF 

 

4. Frustration

John Green Life animated GIF 

 

5. Anxiety

Esther Day 2010 John Green animated GIF

6. Terror

Art & Design Dftba animated GIF 

 

7. Sexiness (or an attempt)

Blue Steel Crash Course animated GIF 

<!– –>8. Public Drunkeness

Crash Course Drunk animated GIF
<!– –>

John Green Ok The Quality Was A Lot Better On Photoshop animated GIF

 

 

9.  Euphoria

Brotherhood 20 Dftba animated GIF 

 

10. <!– –> Failure

Yesssss Dftba animated GIF 

 

11. Happy Dancing

Dance Party Happy Dance animated GIF
Dftbyay John Green animated GIF

 

 

John Green Juries animated GIF 

 

12. Pride

Exams Hank Green animated GIF

Best wishes! Also, John was on the Colbert Report recently, if that’s interesting to you.

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/full-episodes/fiofma/june-23–2014—john-green