Rant: “The Kids in the Hall” + “Comedy Punks” (2022)

Dave Foley in "The Kids in the Hall" (S6) (2022)

Back in May, cult/classic/iconic Canadian sketch-show The Kids in the Hall returned for a new (sixth) season, after an absence of, uh, almost three decades now (not counting the 2010 mini-series, Death Comes to Town)! Thankfully the “Kids” themselves were the first to make jokes about (and scream in horror at) how much older they looked now, because it was kinda jarring… though, to be fair, I’ve been watching Mark McKinney in Superstore for the last couple years, and Dave Foley has popped up plenty times in various projects, including a cameo in the final season of his old pal’s sitcom.

Aesthetics aside, I did notice a slight, uh, sagging of the manic energy they displayed in their younger days, but the ideas/characters were as “out there” as ever, and they all seemed to be having a great time working together again, and were still willing to strip bare-ass-naked for the sake of a (lengthy) sketch, which certainly shows commitment! My personal faves include the one with Shakespeare’s bust, the one with the imaginary girlfriend, the one with the murderous cats, the one with the stuck gate, and the one with the “drop average”. I’d forgotten how much fun it is seeing Foley playing a “bad doctor”, so blithely proud of his own incompetence! And he’s still a real eye-catcher when he dresses up in drag, so who knows what that will awaken in newbie viewers…?

To accompany the series, Amazon also gifted us with Comedy Punks, a two-part biography of the group featuring plenty archival footage, as well as contributions from “The Kids” themselves, and several famous fans including Janeane Garofalo, Lauren Ash, and Julie Klausner. Possibly the most shocking part for me was realising how eloquent writer Paul Bellini is when he’s not on-camera mutely holding up a towel! Meanwhile, Slate magazine published a retrospective article by Tabitha Vidaurri, explaining “what The Kids in the Hall taught me about feminism”, which is well worth a read/mull…

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R.I.P. Julee Cruise (1956 – 2022)

Julee Cruise as ‘Roadhouse Singer’ in “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me” (1992)

I was already familiar with Julee Cruise’s indelible/invaluable contributions to the Twin Peaks franchise, where she not only lent her ethereal vocals to the soundtrack, but also appeared on-screen in both the TV series (1990-91 + 2017) and its big-screen spin-off, Fire Walk with Me (1992)… and I knew she’d released several solo albums over the years (Floating into the Night (1989), The Voice of Love (1993), The Art of Being a Girl (2002), and My Secret Life (2011))… but it wasn’t until I read her obituary this morning that I discovered she’d also toured with The B-52s, subbing for Cindy Wilson throughout the 1990s! According to her husband, Edward Grinnan: “She left this realm on her own terms. No regrets. She is at peace… I played her [the B-52s song] ‘Roam’ during her transition. Now she will roam forever.” Sounds like a damn fine way to go, if you ask me…

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (5/22)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Chloe Fineman as 'Elizabeth Olsen' in "Saturday Night Live" (ep #47.19) (5/22)

Chloe Fineman flexed her mimicry skills in ep #47.19 of SNL, claiming to serve as a full-time understudy for the other female cast members! Besides her regular colleagues, the skit also featured cameos by host Benedict Cumberbatch and his MCU co-star Elizabeth Olsen!*

Natasha Lyonne hosted the season finale (#47.21), but was kinda side-lined so that departing cast members (including Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon) could get their goodbye-bows in… to the extent that she actually spent one sketch playing a lifeless corpse for 5mins! Meh. Still, when they did let her build up some momentum – as in the “’50s Baseball Broadcast” where she played an announcer who’d just been prescribed “a new medicine” that made her hyper-chatty/gossipy – she really knocked it out of the park (pun!). A couple cut-for-time sketches were eventually released, including one about a cigarette-themed talk-show filmed on a park-bench near (but not too near) the hospital where its smoke-spewing hosts (Lyonne and Fineman) worked as nurses!

– Hulu released a teaser trailer for the forthcoming Predator prequel Prey (love that alliteration!), which is set “in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago”, and boasts a “cast comprised almost entirely of Native and First Nation’s talent”, including Amber Midthunder… though it seems the dialogue will be in English? Either way, the movie starts streaming on August 5th, so get hyped for that!

Josie Totah as ‘Titi B.’ in "Mr. Mayor" (eps #2.8-10) (2022)

Josie Totah guest-starred in a couple eps of Mr. Mayor (#2.8-10) as ‘Titi B.’, a criminally self-involved and money-hungry mega-influencer, who carelessly crashes her car into the eponymous Mayor of Los Angeles’s (Ted Danson) vehicle, then mobilises her devoted fan-base to bully him into apologising to her. Sadly, just a couple days after her first ep aired, Peacock announced it was cancelling her Saved by the Bell reboot, after two critically-acclaimed, award-winning seasons. Boo! Then, just a couple days after her second ep aired, NBC announced that it was cancelling Mr. Mayor as well… which just seems vindictive, frankly.

– The Letterman YT channel posted a vintage Late Show interview with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (from May 7th 2000), which segues into a surprise musical number! Apparently she was there to promote Geppetto, a live-action TV-movie produced for The Wonderful World of Disney series, in which she played the ‘Blue Fairy’ who brings ‘Pinocchio’ to life!? Ana Gasteyer also had a small role as a school-teacher (‘Signora Giovanni’), so I’m kinda tempted to watch it… someday… but for now, here’s a clip of Louis-Dreyfus duetting with Drew Carey (‘Geppetto’) on a song called “Just Because It’s Magic” (which could really be the theme-song for any Disney movie, or fairy-tale in general)!

– The official Star Wars YT channel posted a heart-warming clip of Kelly Marie Tran and Billie Lourd being interviewed (together) on-stage at the “Star Wars Celebration” convention, in which Tran neatly sums up why ‘Rose’ is one of my fave characters (i.e., she’s a working-class rebel/hero, not another princess or space-wizard).

Aina the End as 'Janis Joplin' in "A Night with Janis Joplin" (2022)

Bish released a colourful, mildly-vandalous video for their new track “Lie Lie Lie”, which has become a total ear-worm for me. Meanwhile, Aina the End is apparently going to be starring in a Japanese production of the Broadway musical A Night with Janis Joplin, in the title role! I was already having a hard enough time wrapping my mind around that casting when I discovered that iconic African-American singers such as Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, and Etta James would also be appearing in the show played by Asian performers, which… uh… seems kinda iffy, dunnit? Of course, I’d still love to see Aina belting out some classic Joplin tracks, so hopefully it will be popular enough for someone to post a couple clips online…

Stranger Things cast-members have been doing the rounds recently, to promote the show’s new (fourth) season: Joe Keery, Natalia Dyer, Maya Hawke, and Joseph Quinn reacted to “fan theories” for Vanity FairSadie Sink, Noah Schnapp, and Gaten Matarazzo braved the “Wired Autocomplete Interview”… and then Sink went solo to model “every outfit [she] wears in a week” for Vogue!

Jessica Reynolds as 'Wee Deirdre' in "Derry Girls" (ep #3.5) (2022)

– PunkWatch: Ep #3.5 of Derry Girls (“The Reunion”) featured an extended flashback to the “mammies” at their school leavers’ party back in 1977, when the teenage version of Michelle’s mother was a potty-mouthed punker (aka “Wee Deirdre”) played by Jessica Reynolds… who kindly posted this photo (and other behind-the-scenes snaps) on her Insta. Apparently Reynolds had a recurring role in the latest (sixth) season of Outlander, and also starred in the historical horror flick The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (2020), as a young woman suspected of dabbling with witchcraft and unleashing a plague! Oh-noes! [Disclaimer: I’m aware that a mini-series about the Sex Pistols (directed by Danny Boyle) just started airing, and I know that features plenty old-school punks (including Talulah Riley as fashion-designer Vivienne Westwood, and Maisie Williams as the recently-deceased model/actress “Jordan” (aka Pamela Rooke) (R.I.P.)), but I hate biopics as a rule, and the reviews for this one have been pretty “mixed”, so I doubt it’s going to lure me in…]

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Times (link), Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Jon Bailey‘s Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!

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* Fun fact: ‘Wanda Maximoff’ (aka “Scarlet Witch”) is traditionally considered to be half-Jewish, so some might argue that Fineman is a better fit for the character/costume than Olsen anyway…

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Rant: Kate Berlant

Kate Berlant in "The Characters" (ep #1.4) (2016)

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to “notice” Kate Berlant, considering how many great shows she’s already been in (e.g. Another Period, The Good Place, and Loki), but suddenly I’m a big fan, and have watched my way through 35+ YT skits… a couple of which also co-star her frequent collaborator/bestie John Early. My faves so far have been: “How To Sit In A Chair” (link), “Beach Painting Club” (link), “How To Make A Reservation” (link), “Paris” (link), “How Have You Been?” (link), “Exploring The Now” (link), “How To Tell Time” (link), “Zoom Call” (link), “The Rock Collection” (link), and a (deliberately) self-sabotaging appearance on The Tonight Show (link). I also found a promo video for a California-based boutique called “The Dog Show”, in which Berlant lip-synchs (sexy-style) to Alicia Keys’s “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart”, and a few (far too brief) snippets of her stand-up act (link and link).

Back in 2016, Netflix “presented” a series called The Characters, giving eight “up-and-coming comedians” (including Lauren Lapkus, Paul W. Downs, and Tim Robinson) a 30min episode each in which to showcase their sketch-writing/acting skills. Berlant and Early both had their own eps (#1.4 and #1.2, respectively), but also swapped supporting roles in the other’s. Of all the characters Berlant plays here, I think my fave has to be the self-consciously “adorkable” YouTuber… on one level it’s a very funny parody, but the sad truth is that if she existed irl I would un-ironically watch those vids every week, and maybe even donate to her Patreon… tch!

Kate Berlant as 'Rachel' in "Rachel" (2019)

Then in 2017, Vimeo commissioned B&E to write/star in an “exclusive” 5x ep “short-form” anthology series titled 555, directed by Andrew DeYoung… who has now posted it for (free) viewing on his own page. Each ep focusses on a different duo, though there is a little bit of overlap between them, as they all ostensibly live in or around Los Angeles, and most of them are (unsurprisingly, given the setting) aspiring performers. Ep #1.3 even features a cameo by Kristen Johnston as “herself”, leading a very intense acting class in which the mains are enrolled! Around the time of 555’s release, the “BUILD Series” hosted a very enjoyable interview with B&E, where they talked/joked about their inspirations for the show, and the origins of their long-standing partnership/friendship. Bless ‘em. Fun fact: At one point Berlant “brags” that she made her (fleeting) on-screen debut in an ep of Lizzie McGuire (specifically #2.12, aka “Best Dressed for Much Less” (2002)), which some kind soul has clipped for YT. Caution: Don’t blink, or you’ll miss her! Oh, and DeYoung has also cast B&E in several unrelated shorts, including the true-life-horror story Rachel (2019), which reminded me of a similar incident from my days living in “student dorms” at university. Shudder.

Kate Berlant circa 2015

More recently, Berlant had a leading (romantic?) role in the old-timey show-within-a-show segments of David Harbour’s 2019 special Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein (co-starring Heather Lawless), which were very enjoyable as a Darkplace-esque spoof of stagey horror movies/shows, though I didn’t enjoy the (Berlant-free) modern-day stuff as much. Looking ahead, B&E have another special (Would It Kill You to Laugh?) scheduled for June 24th on Peacock, and Berlant has a recurring role in the upcoming A League of Their Own TV series (co-starring Abbi Jacobson, D’Arcy Carden, and Nick Offerman)! Just to taunt me, she’s also appearing at the Soho Theatre in London from July 11th – 16th, but I’m too poor/cowardly to go. Boo!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (4/22)

Just a quick note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Josie Totah for "People" magazine (circa 4/22)

Chloe Fineman (link) and Josie Totah (link) both chatted with People magazine (separately), to supplement their photoshoots for “The Beautiful Issue”, on newsstands (and the interweb) now!

Melissa Bonny reacted to (label-mates) Sumo Cyco’s “Vertigo” video, in honour of the Napalm Records YT channel passing 2-million subscribers! And honestly, every music promo would be vastly improved by in-picture footage of her grooving along to it, imho.

Aubrey Plaza “broke down” some of her most memorable roles for a vid on the Cosmopolitan channel, and also gave a lengthy interview for their magazine/website, which features numerous (glamorous) moving pictures, and another embedded vid where she takes the “Cosmo Quiz” (in audio form, over footage of her rocking various outfits/looks from the photoshoot).

– The third/final series of Derry Girls kicked off with a cameo by Northern Irish A-lister Liam Neeson… who not only played a proper character across several scenes (rather than just being a bait-and-switch “featured extra”), but clearly filmed with the regular cast, and even stuck around afterwards to pose for piccies! Class. Meanwhile, I’d like to state “for the tape” how much I love the faces Saoirse Monica-Jackson pulls as ‘Erin’… and fully support the city of Derry’s decision to immortalise her and the rest of the “girls” in mural form!

Clémentine Delauney in "Melancholy Angel " by Visions Of Atlantis

–  “Symphonic metal” band Visions Of Atlantis released a fantastically goth-y video for their latest single “Melancholy Angel”, taken from the imminent new album Pirates (due May 13th).

– I hadn’t heard of comedy wunderkind Taylor Tomlinson until clips* of her new Netflix stand-up special (Look at You) started appearing in my YouTube recommendations… but after what she modestly describes as an hour of “dick and depression” jokes, I’m fully on-board the bandwagon. According to Wikipedia, Tomlinson began performing comedy when she was 16, in church basements, school venues, and coffee shops… and she’s clearly got it down to an art by this point, with incredible timing, delivery, and “room reading”. In fact, she’s become so adept at “hiding the pill”, that this show somehow left me feeling uplifted and energised, despite the long sequence about her mother dying of Cancer, which (sad to say) is normally the sort of thing that has me reaching for the “off” button. But she kept me watching, and laughing, and rooting for her the whole way through… and now I’m just mad that there’s only one other special (2020’s Quarter-Life Crisis) for me to check out, to keep the high going. I need more “floaties”, dammit!

Regina Spektor shared a lyric video for her hypnotic new song “Up the Mountain”, taken from the forthcoming album, Home – Before And After (due June 24th).

Natasha Lyonne (circa 4/22)

– In anticipation of the new (second) season of Russian Doll, Natasha Lyonne gamely reviewed impressions of herself for Vanity Fair (including one by SNL’s Chloe Fineman), got treated to a “Lady Godiva” hair-style courtesy of Vogue, and revisited some of her most memorable roles with Entertainment Weekly.

– NPR Music hosted another library-based “concert” from The Linda Lindas, as part of their “Tiny Desk” series.

– Comedian Jerrod Carmichael hosted ep #47.16 of SNL, delivering a very topical (but subtle) monologue regarding “The Oscars Slap”, and also appeared in a sketch about a post-lockdown game-show (“Is My Brain Okay?”) presented by Kate McKinnon, with Sarah Sherman and Bowen Yang as his fellow contestants. Then in ep #47.17, host Jake Gyllenhaal starred in a sketch about two cousins with a property makeover show, in which he and Mikey Day slowly reveal how their clients’ dream home has been hijacked by an interfering elderly relative (co-starring Heidi Gardner and James Austin Johnson as the beleaguered couple, and McKinnon as the crazy-old-lady).

Sandy Honig, Mitra Jouhari, Alyssa Stonoha were interviewed for Paste magazine, to promote the new (second) season of Three Busy Debras, and rather shockingly revealed that Honig had never heard of “index cards” before working on the series!? Thankfully no one held it against her, and they still let her direct an episode (as well as the trailer, I believe…?).

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Times (link), Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link) (which also have their own channel now?), Star Wars Explained (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Jon Bailey‘s Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (co-written by Meyers) (link)!

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* The peanut-butter line makes a lot more sense in context, I swear!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (3/22)

Just a quick note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Chloe Fineman as a “boss ass bitch” in "Saturday Night Live" (#47.14) (2022)

Chloe Fineman took inspiration from Netflix’s Inventing Anna (based on the true-life story of convicted Russian-German “con-artist” Anna Sorokin) to remodel herself as a “boss ass bitch”, and assert her wonkily-accented dominance over the rest of the SNL cast and crew (#47.14). Meanwhile, a beautifully perverse sketch about inflatable toilets (co-starring host Oscar Isaac) was cut for time, but lives on in the YouTubes! Then Zoë Kravitz hosted ep #47.15, which included some great sketches, such as the one with wary shoppers trying to wrap their heads around the concept of “grab-and-go shopping” (link), the one with a hole-obsessed quiz-show contestant (link), the one with a highly disturbing “Maid of Honor” speech (link), and the (cut-for-time) one with some raggedy gas-station “Romeos” (link).

– The 25th season of South Park was kinda short, at only 6x eps (not counting the Covid specials), but still surprisingly funny and thought-provoking after all these years. Having cruelly ignored the show for so long, I wasn’t 100% up-to-speed on all the characters and settings, and some of the voices sounded a little “off” in the opening ep, but that old Park magic shone through all the same, with jokes that swung joyously between the topical and the surreal, the silly and the satirical, the cute and the contentious. Happy Anniversary, you guys!

Patti Harrison on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" (#9.73) (2022)

Patti Harrison appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers to talk about her new movie The Lost City (co-starring Sandra Bullock), and to bravely speak out against reading as a pastime.

Lupita Nyong’o got a little more coverage from the Oscars than she may have been anticipating, as an unwitting front-row witness to the now-infamous altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock, co-starring in the clips which have been playing on a non-stop news-loop ever since. Meanwhile, Amber Ruffin lost her mind while recapping the events for Seth Meyers.

Karen Gillan braved the “Wired Autocomplete Interview”… presumably to help promote her new movie The Bubble, although she doesn’t really mention it at all. Oops!

– Watching that David Byrne interview last month inspired me to search out NPR’s recording of his 2012 concert with Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), in support of their collaborative Love This Giant album. The staging starts out a little basic, but pretty soon they’re dancing in-step with their eight-piece brass section, casting a spell with their strange, juddery choreography… and their singing’s damn fine, too!

Róisín Murphy performed a live acoustic version of (Moloko’s) “The Time Is Now” on The Late Late Show with Jamie McCredie, in aid of the Irish Red Cross’s fundraising appeal for Ukraine, which raised over €2 Million.

Alyssa Stonoha as 'Debra', Mitra Jouhari as 'Debra', and Sandy Honig as 'Debra' in "Three Busy Debras" (S2) (2022)

– Adult Swim posted a trailer and a little clip from the forthcoming (second) season of Three Busy Debras (written by and starring Sandy Honig, Mitra Jouhari, and Alyssa Stonoha), dropping April 24th. Squeee!

– I belatedly binged the first season of Dicktown (2020), in preparation for the new season that aired on FXX throughout March. This “short form” animated sitcom is written by John Hodgman and David Rees, who also voice the main characters (‘John’ and ‘David’), a pair of high-school-enemies-turned-best-friends/private-detectives, solving small-scale mysteries in their eponymous hometown. The character design recalls classic Scooby-Doo cartoons, though this series is aimed squarely at adults, with plenty of cussing/drinking/sexual-references, and ongoing friction between the “middle-aged” heroes and their “millennial” client-base. The humour is a low-key combo of witty, satirical, silly, and crude, with occasional moments of genuine sweetness and pathos. I dig it. Recurring guest-stars included Heather Lawless as ‘Jen the Waitress’ (eps #1.6-7/9-10), Obehi Janice as John’s longtime crush (and actual cop) ‘Heather Culbreth’ (#1.7/9), and Anna Akana as “vintage” video/vinyl-store clerk ‘Meg’ (#1.2/5). One-time voice-artists included Zach Galifianakis (#1.1), Kristen Schaal (#1.8) (as a witch!), and Janet Varney (#1.8).

– I “discovered” a new singer/songwriter going by the unassuming name of “Gayle”, via an inferior cover of her hit single “ABCDEFU”… which is a laidback-but-sweary kiss-off to an unworthy ex, taking the time to scorch their “art” while sparing their blameless dog. Bless.

Caitlin Doughty in a “Spirit Photograph” (circa 03/22)

Caitlin Doughty exposed (pun!) the Victorian “grift” of so-called “Spirit Photography”, and even modelled for a couple shots herself, using authentic old-timey equipment (courtesy of NYC-based artist & forensic photographer Jolene Lupo).

The Linda Lindas released a super-fun black-and-white video for their latest single, “Talking To Myself”, which sees the band being stalked by lookalike dolls intent on taking over their lives. Oh noes! They’ve also sat for several interviews, and appeared on the cover of Kerrang! magazine, to promote their hotly-anticipated debut album Growing Up, which will finally be unleashed on April 8th. On the down side, I was disappointed to discover they’d collaborated on a “limited-edition clothing capsule” (!?) with the fashion brand/store Opening Ceremony, which sells T-shirts costing $180! That’s not a typo!! ONE-HUNDRED-AND-EIGHTY DOLLARS!!! FOR A T-SHIRT!!! WTF!!!???

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Times (link), Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link) (which also have their own channel now?), Star Wars Explained (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Jon Bailey‘s Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (co-written by Meyers) (link)!

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P.S.A.: “Come Together” For Ukraine

“Come Together” by Lifeline International (3/22)

Lisa Kekaula (of The Bellrays) has contributed her distinctive vocals to a collaborative cover of “Come Together”, in aid of the people of Ukraine and Eastern Europe (via UNICEF). The international ensemble also includes Julia Sanina (of Ukrainian rock band The Hardkiss), Richard Kruspe (of Rammstein), and Chris Connelly (of Ministry/Revolting Cocks). Aside from the fact that 100% of the artists’ proceeds go directly to a great cause, it’s also a banger in its own right, and should really be topping the charts for weeks on end. Meanwhile, and I really can’t stress this enough: NO TO WAR!!!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (2/22)

Just a quick note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

The Linda Lindas (circa 2021)

– NPR’s World Café channel posted a live 4x song set by The Linda Lindas, recorded last month, featuring tracks from their hotly-anticipated debut album Growing Up, which is due to drop in April.

– I found The Book of Boba Fett pretty unsatisfying, not least because the title-character’s story was rudely shoved aside for (roughly) 2x of its 7x “chapters”, so that the writers could shoehorn a couple extra eps of The Mandalorian in there instead! Still, the reason I bring it up here is that it did lead me to discover the wonderful Star Wars Explained channel, which helped to fill in the backstory and identify the “easter eggs” that I (as a casual fan) was otherwise oblivious to. Bless!

Jenny Slate and Charlie Day braved the Vanity Fair “Lie Detector Test”, in order to promote their new rom-com, I Want You Back.

Róisín Murphy posted a triple-helping of endearingly-eccentric acoustic performances (“Incapable” (link), “Murphy’s Law” (link), and “Something More” (link)), featuring rather distracting Groucho-esque eyebrows!

Sarah Yarkin as 'Melody' in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2022)

Sarah Yarkin gave a great (lead) performance in Netflix’s new Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) sequel, then did a bunch of press for the movie (including this video-“chat” she had with JoBlo), and also released her debut single, “Rosy Glasses”!

The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino conducted a fantastic interview with Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell, touching on everything from the author’s early aspirations and struggles, to her opinion of the SatC TV series and its recent reboot/sequel. I was intrigued to discover that she was directly involved in shaping the first two seasons of SatC, which may explain why ‘Carrie’ (Bushnell’s self-insert character) is so much more likeable in those early years, and why they’re vastly superior to anything that came afterwards (especially its movie spinoffs). There’s a lot of juicy stuff in this article, but my fave quote was Bushnell’s response to being asked how her vision of happiness had changed over the years: “It’s really what it’s always been. Having a roof over your head, having something to write, and not having to worry.” Ditto!

David Byrne sat for a highly entertaining and informative Wired “Autocomplete” interview (which includes a gratifying shout-out to St. Vincent).

Kat Dennings shared her “luxurious yet simple” skincare routine with Harper’s Bazaar (Spoiler: She’s not a big fan of sunbathing).

Miku Kobato (aka "Cluppo") (circa 2/22)

Miku Kobato (of Band-Maid) posted a third promo video (“Pogo!”) from her solo project Cluppo, and also celebrated “Twin Tail Day” (which should really be an international holiday, imho) on her Insta.

John Mulaney returned to SNL for his fifth stint as host in ep #47.13, delivering a confessional opening monologue, and starring in the brilliant “Monkey Trial” skit. Fellow five-timer Paul Rudd also returned, to gripe about his own celebrations being truncated by a Covid-scare, alongside Tina Fey, and Elliott Gould (allowing for an amusingly dismissive call-back to Mulaney’s critically-reviled 2014 sitcom, in which Gould also appeared). Sadly, a satirical sketch about a disgruntled man (Mulaney) receiving a toy “podcast set” (to help him vent his frustration without getting “cancelled”) was cut for time, but lives on via YouTube!

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Time chats, Ryan George‘s Pitch Meeting skits, Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams, and Screen Junkies/Jon Bailey‘s Honest Trailers!

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Rant: “Peacemaker” S1 (2022) [SPOILERS!]

Jennifer Holland as 'Agent Emilia Harcourt' in "Peacemaker" (S1) (2022)

When I first read that John Cena’s character from The Suicide Squad (2021) was getting his own eponymous spin-off series, I was pretty apathetic about it… but the movie was so much fun, I figured it was worth watching at least the first episode, just to be in-the-know. Pretty soon I was addicted, and literally counting the days between fixes. Writer/director James Gunn has a remarkable gift for milking/manipulating my emotions, from laugh-out-loud comedy beats, to adrenaline-pumping action sequences, to heart-tugging betrayals/bondings… I mean, the guy even managed to wring a couple tears out of the pay-off to a running-gag about ‘Economos’ dyeing his beard, which simultaneously humiliated Steve Agee while also showcasing his acting chops! Kudos.

The main story arc was somewhat similar to the plot of the S-Squad movie, with a rag-tag band of “black ops” agents attempting to bring down an alien menace intent on brain-jacking the human race, but there were plenty of surprising subplots and new character dynamics to differentiate it, and make for a much deeper and richer narrative… in particular the way we got to explore ‘Peacemaker’s self-loathing/guilt/insecurity, and the hope of catharsis offered by a belated face-off with his hideously abusive (and super-racist) father, played by Robert Patrick.

The show also boasted an incredible ensemble cast, with Cena, Agee, Danielle Brooks, Freddie Stroma, Chukwudi Iwuji, and Jennifer Holland swapping snippy banter in the office, and rocking out together in the car/van. Still, my fave character would have to be the snarky police detective ‘Sophie Song’ (played by Annie Chang), who was investigating the team’s shady activities, and getting in waaay over her head… I was genuinely gutted when a “Butterfly” made her its new host, and snuffed out her original personality, even if it did mean that Chang got the chance to play the alien “queen” for the final few eps, which was probably a fun change of pace for her.

Annie Chang as 'Detective Sophie Song' in "Peacemaker" (S1) (2022)

Back in the day, a friend of mine was heavy into “Glam Metal”, so a lot of the music on the show’s (admirably consistent, and character-driven/diegetic) soundtrack was very familiar to me*… and I couldn’t help “dancing”/“singing” along at times! The opening theme song, “Do Ya Wanna Taste It” by Wig Wam, was new to me, but it’s been burned deep into my brain now… and the dance sequence that accompanied it was a true work of art, with the cast hoofing their way through the ridiculous choreography in stone-faced solemnity. It took a continual, daily effort to restrain myself from watching the online version, separate from the show itself… but I held strong, dammit! At first I just thought it was an attention-grabbing gag, but in later weeks, as the story unfolded, I began to realise that it also echoed what the “Butterflies” were doing to people in the show itself, turning them into impassive puppets who “dance” to the aliens’ tune… so it’s actually kinda symbolic, as well as super-creepy!

Anyhoo, I’m glad to see that this series has been picked up for a second season, and hope they win all the awards they’re eligible for when the time comes around!

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* In fact, I still have the 12” vinyl of Tigertailz’s “Love Bomb Baby”, which closed out ep #1.1, along with the LP it was taken from (Bezerk (1990)).

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (1/22)

Just a quick note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Stockard Channing as ‘Penn Parker’ in “Death to 2021” (2021)

Death To 2021 followed the pattern established by its predecessor pretty closely, with some great turns by Diane Morgan (as an “average” British woman), Lucy Liu (as a cynical journo), Cristin Milioti (as an uber-“Karen”), and Stockard Channing (as a slightly drunker cynical journo). My only complaint about this special is that Channing’s character was so sharp/funny I want her to exist in real-life, and have her own late-night talk-show! Gah!

Sandra Bernhard posted a new song to Instagram, co-written with long-time musical collaborator Mitch Kaplan, in lieu of playing her traditional “NYE extravaganza” at Joe’s Pub, New York. To quote the accompanying caption: “Let’s step into 2022 with our heads & hearts high, and open to all the promise of what can be”. Amen!

Will Forte returned to Saturday Night Live in host-form, bringing Kristen Wiig along for a bunch of demented Country duets, and a trio of topical MacGruber skits (with a cameo-ing Ryan Phillippe!). He also helmed a hellish children’s game-show, co-starring Aidy Bryant as the unlucky contestant/victim.

Caitlin Doughty posted a humorous (where appropriate) exploration of “skin books” (i.e., books bound in human skin) (aka “anthropodermic bibliopegy”) on her Ask a Mortician channel.

Helena Bonham Carter in “Return to Hogwarts” (2022)

– The Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Reunion special (aka “Return to Hogwarts”) had some very sweet moments, even if it did get a bit maudlin and repetitive towards the end. The scenes with Helena Bonham Carter and Daniel Radcliffe catching up were a ton of fun… though it’s bizarre to me that the revelation of his (past?) crush on her received so much press attention when this special aired. I mean, how could anyone not have a crush on her!? The tributes to Helen McCrory and Alan Rickman were also much appreciated… watching the clips of them and HBC in character almost made me want to revisit these movies…

– Japanese idol group Bish (aka “Brand-New Idol Shit”) have been releasing a slew of videos, including one-take dance performances, to cushion the blow of the recent announcement that they will be “consciously decoupling” in 2023… amusingly they’ve chosen to title their first farewell single “Final Shits”! Bless ’em.

– I was excited to discover that all three series of Limmy’s Show! (2010-2013) are up on the Beeb’s iPlayer again (for at least another nine months), including ep #2.1, which features possibly my fave comedy sketch of all time: “Kill Jester” (co-starring Kirstin McLean).

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Time chats, Ryan George‘s Pitch Meeting skits, Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams, and Screen Junkies/Jon Bailey‘s Honest Trailers!

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