Thursday, October 22, 2020

I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy's Golden Era


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a must-read for the diehard comedy fan. I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy's Golden Era by William Knoedelseder isn't unputdownable, but it does offer fascinating details if you're obsessed with stories of comedians, comedy clubs, and the particulars of how comics get stage time and hone their craft. 

It also feels like a history of The Comedy Store in particular rather than a history of comedy in the '70s in general. But as I knew little of the history of The Comedy Store and how much it shaped comedians, comedy and even comedy clubs for years to come, I was perfectly happy learning about this iconic club and how it both nurtured comics and abused them financially. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Shine, Pamela! Shine! by Kate Atkinson

Shine, Pamela! Shine!

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This short story by the author of one of my favorite books, Life After Life, is part of the Out of Line collection on Amazon, which is free to read for Prime members and $1.99 for the rest of you lot who haven't caved to Jeff Bezos' domination of the world. (Full transparency: I subscribe to Prime.)

The series of shorts is described by Amazon as "an incisive collection of funny, enraging, and hopeful stories of women’s empowerment and escape. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting."

Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This followup to My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante held up in book two of the four-part series, even if it felt more disturbing with the growing realization of the situation Lila was in and her continued destructive tendencies, and how Lenu's life and decisions were still as affected by her friend as the tides are by the moon.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

What to Watch October 2020


You'll get an eyeful of great new series, documentaries and movies coming to streaming in October, crowned by new episodes of The Mandalorian on Disney Plus.

As always, I've made a list of shows I'd like to see that drop on streaming soon, and I'm sharing it here along with links to everything coming to streaming services so you can go through and pick your own must-watch shows.

And away we go!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Cool Stuff to Watch (and Listen to!)


I need lots of comfort viewing (or listening) lately, and can never seem to find enough good options. Luckily, I found a few things in the last week that fit the bill and thought I'd share.

Maria Bamford: Weakness is My Brand. Bamford's hilarious, offbeat style is just what I needed. I laughed a lot while watching her latest comedy special, and couldn't we all use a little more of that in our lives? If you have Amazon Prime, you can check it out for free.

Lucy Worsley Audible interview. Worsley is my favorite British academic who regularly gets TV specials with the BBC. This interview is just 12 minutes, but it's a delight, especially for fans of Jane Austen. "I don't think she was just an important writer, she was an important human being," Worsley says. Why, you may ask? For that you've got to invest 60 seconds times 12. The interview is free on Audible.

Biography: I Want My MTV. A&E's look at how MTV came to be barely scratches the surface, but it did lightly scratch an itch for this Gen Xer who loves all things '80s music and videos. For a real deep dive (and loads of stories about rock stars), pick up one of my favorite oral histories, I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution.

Friday, September 18, 2020

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up My Brilliant Friend a few years ago, read a chapter or two, then dropped it again. It just didn't spark my interest.

Cut to last year when I decided to watch season one of the HBO series based on the book. It was dark, grim, hard for me to watch at times. But the friendship between the two girls was mesmerizing, and I hung in there. By the time I'd finished binging the series, I was in love.

I still didn't go back to the book, though. The memory of bored disinterest kept me away. Season two aired, and again I was enthralled. Finally, I recently decided to pick the book up again on the chance I'd merely tried it at the wrong time, when the mood wasn't right, when the muse of all printed things was pointing another direction at the moment. And this time, I loved the story, the writing. Everything.