In these fractious and trying times for the country, in which even chicken sandwiches have become symbols for cultural and political division, I have turned to the simple things to keep my spirits up. The videos have put a grin on my face over the last week:
Buster Bluth on Cartography Seeing evidence that perhaps the funniest show of the last decade, Arrested Development, is going to be back as a movie has made me nostalgic for some of the show’s funniest moments. The cult favorite featured absurdity like this, from one of the best characters, Buster:
Aaron Paul on The Price Is Right
There is nothing more life-affirming and Americuh-affirming than Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul’s way-back-when appearance as a contestant on The Price Is Right. Bob Barker was still hosting and Paul seems like he’s on meth as he makes it all the way to the showcase showdown.
Steve Carrell and Ellen Play Charades I used a clip from Ellen’s show in my All Things Consideredpiece a few weeks ago, and in scanning her YouTube channel stumbled upon this gem. It had me cracking up uncontrollably at my desk.
“This is the season when a clutch of successful women—who have it all — give speeches to women like you and say, to be perfectly honest, you can’t have it all. Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind.”
This is amazing. In advance of the premiere of his new show, someone took the time to cut together all the dialogue writer Aaron Sorkin recycles from his television shows and films. Zeke Miller at BuzzFeed called it “heartbreaking.” I am just really impressed by the supercut. Gathering all these video snippets must have taken forever.
That show was Tuesday night. The band delivered. And that was probably the “hippest” show I saw all week.
Heard it From a Friend Who Heard it From a Friend
B y Friday we were at a performance by 1980s monster ballad makers REO Speedwagon and Styx, thanks to our boss Joel. Joel’s little bro Todd Sucherman is the drummer for Styx and we’ve been wanting to go see him for as long as we’ve known that bit of trivia. It finally happened, and it was magical out there in the Virginia ampitheatre, in perfect 70 degree weather, eight rows back from the stage.
After the show we went backstage and met the members of Styx (including the few remaining original members) and Drummer Todd cracked us up with his almost total recall of Arrested Development scenes. That guy is rad.
Four: Repeat Steps One Through Three
Capped the week off with 1990s R&B great Brian McKnight. This was basically an impulse move. Sometime at a bar last week, I was telling friend Ian how much I loved 90s R&B, especially artists like Brian McKnight. Ian thought he had heard McKnight would be in DC and sure enough, the crooner was set to perform at the historic Howard Theatre on Sunday night. We bought tickets right then and there. Some photos:
About a year ago, when I ran into my DC-based writer pal Robert Draper while he was on his way to interview someone for his book, I told him that whenever the book came out and he got invited to go on The Daily Show, I wanted to go along.
The book — Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives — came out this Tuesday, and Draper actually remembered my request. He invited me to join his brother John, girlfriend Laura and longtime pal Colin in attending the live taping at the small Daily Show studio (CAMERAS VERBOTEN!) on the Upper West side. (I tried to hear any distinctive laughter from our little group, but it’s all pretty muddled.)
The latest trailer and New York Magazine’s cover story have sufficiently sold me on a show that I’ve yet to see. “An upcoming HBO comedy about four women trying to make it in New York that’s as raw and bruised as Sex and the City was aspirational…”
There are places I remember in my life (though some have changed). The time I spent in South Carolina and Texas happens to overlap neatly with that of Rob Teter, Marshall Hood, and their band(s). It wasn’t until young Rob was in DC over the weekend that I realized how much that overlapping influenced my larger journey.
I met teenagers Rob and Marshall — and their pal Jeff Brown — in their last year of high school and my first full year in Spartanburg, SC, their home town. I was doing a story on the minor musical resurgence of Spartanburg, and the boys, who were 17-year-olds playing old Americana tunes as The DesChamps Band, were abuzz. They performed for the photog and me on Marshall’s parents back deck, and I turned a quick story, below. (This is embarrassing, as I was age 23 and sounded like a 12-year-old.)
A year later, I started my new TV job in Austin and the boys had disbanded to attend college, but never stopped playing music. Marshall had moved to Austin, too. That’s where he met Phoebe Hunt, an Austin native and one of the most talented young fiddlers around. A few months later, Rob and his buddies from college in New Orleans joined up with Marshall and Phoebe to jam, and through circumstance and serendipity (a spot opened up at MerleFest), they became The Belleville Outfit. The boys took a break from college, converged in Austin and followed their musical journey. (Spoiler alert: It worked out for them. The band was not a flop.)
Because I found them for that story when they were so young, I feel a real familial kind of relationship with some of those guys. I got to know Uncle Seth and Cousin Warren and moms and dads. Rob and I reminisced about the fall night in 2007 when the band came over to Casa Hu-Stiles at 3am after a “meh” gig to help finish off the beer and food from a party we threw earlier that evening. Queso-blurred memories.
For Christmas, Matty got me a set of Chuck Klosterman Hypothetical Cards. (If this sounds lame, he did get me other stuff, too, like a TripIt PRO account! I was most excited about that and promptly started updating my TripIt on Christmas morning.)
Anyway. There is one hypothetical on each card, and they involve situations like what you’d do if you came home to a trashed house and Shaquille O’Neal was in your shower, or whether you’d own up to the fact you accidentally got selected to be saved from a meteor crashing to earth. Stuff like that. Every time we’ve been in the car since I got the cards, we have chosen one hypothetical to talk through or argue about.
“This question raises a larger point about everything we pretend to understand about relationships, and particularly what we assume we understand about monogamy (and when infidelity technically begins). So while your answer to this question might seem unambiguous, the criteria you use to reach the conclusion are generally more important than the answer itself.”
If you haven’t considered this one, read it through. Once you’re done, we can have a conversation about it sometime over food and beverages. Regarding whose side I’m on, I’ve consistently held my position and am happy to defend it. Then again, if you’re a friend of mine that goes drinking with me, you probably already know whose side I’m on.