Black History Month: Dear White People

TV recommendations seem to be as popular a part of small talk as the weather and traffic patterns. People tend to recommend hour-long dramas, but what I want are 20- or 30-minute comedies, something funny, smart, and thoughtful. The Netflix series Dear White People, based on the movie of the same name, is all those things. If we’re talking and we’ve covered how rainy it’s been and how crowded the Tube is, expect me to bring up this show.


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Taking and Making: January 8

Today, I took in: 

the rest of the first season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Katherine Anne Porter’s “The Cracked Looking-Glass” in 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories


I made:

perhaps a bit of a stretch, but I bought and assembled some file drawers, and organized a large corner of my room into a usable office space — this was most of my day, really

music with my community choir

Taking and Making: January 7

Today, I took in:

“Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories

new episodes of my current favorite TV shows: The Good Place and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

oh geez, four episodes of Person of Interest (they’ve really got me with their surface-level engagement with issues of privacy, security, and civil liberties)


I made:

small progress with 15 minutes of Spanish practice on Duolingo

Taking and Making: January 3

Today, I took in:

Susan Cooper’s novel The Dark is Rising (a classic YA fantasy I’d somehow never even heard of, let alone read, and perfect for this time of year as it’s set between Midwinter and Twelfth Night — so far I’m really enjoying it)

James Blake’s album The Colour in Anything (some good tracks but overall uneven)

Julie Byrne’s album Not Even Happiness (lovely songs sung in a lovely voice)

Ernest Hemingway’s “My Old Man” in 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories

The Doctor Who Christmas special (byeeeee Mark Gatiss and Stephan Moffat, you’ve definitely overstayed your welcome)

An episode of Godless (not inclined to watch any more of that)


I made:

some headway practicing 10 minutes of Spanish on Duolingo

the start of a poem (not a good one, but my first in nearly a year and therefore a good start)



Community, Where My Ladies At?

Community is coming back! After a hiatus that had comedy nerds across the country weeping along to Arrested Development reruns in an attempt to fill the void, the show is back on March 15. I love this show for so many reasons: the jokes, the musical numbers, the complex callbacks, Donald Glover. It’s also a show with an uncanny eye for detail. Community subverts the conventions of any genre it tackles, while simultaneously celebrating those conventions. Characters wear ridiculous outfits, stories hang on the thinnest of premises, and yet the intricate plotting and consistent character development means that we wind up caring a great deal about what’s going on at Greendale Community College.

we all wish this was our college crowd

So it struck me as odd when I realized that with all the care that’s gone into creating and embellishing this fictional world, one aspect is severely underdeveloped. I’m not talking about the fact that we haven’t seen Shirley’s children outside of that one episode in Season 1, or that it’s Season 3 and Jeff isn’t even pretending to try to get back into his law firm anymore. It’s a sitcom; some facts just aren’t as important as the overall story and the jokes. No, I’m talking about the lack of ladies on the Greendale campus.

We’ve got the seven main characters (4 men, 3 women), two secondary characters (2 men–the Dean and Chang), and several tertiary characters (all men). I wouldn’t for the world suggest we lessen Dean Pelton’s presence, because Jim Rash’s portrayal is one of the funniest things on TV in the last decade. And it looks like they’re finding a balance with Chang, which is good, because a little goes a long way with that one [insert Chang’s self-referential joke about “the Chang” here].

The show does a good job of having characters recur in the background, to make the Greendale world feel more complete. But women outside that crowd show up as one- or two-episode love interests for the guys in the group, and then disappear. Tertiary characters: Duncan, Star-Burns, Leonard, Magnitude, Garrett, Neil… see a pattern here? Sometimes Vicki shows up, but she never gets much to say, whereas Magnitude has a catch phrase, Garrett plays pivotal production roles in Greendale promo videos, and Leonard is a well-known old crank.

C’mon, Dan Harmon et. al., let’s liven things up with some wacky women as regulars on the Greendale campus! Lord knows there’s plenty to be found at that wild and wonderful place.


I Started a Tumblr: Crappy Editings

I started a very specific Tumblr last week: Crappy Editings, for fans of the TV show “Happy Endings” who just want the writers to at least Google some stuff if they’re going to pretend the show is set in Chicago.

Mlle. O’Leary and I enjoy the rapid-fire dialogue and ridiculous situations of this show, but it seems every time we talk about it, we find another aspect of Chicago life that the writers got wrong. Surely someone on staff must have lived in Chicago once upon a time? So many comedy writers and actors do start out here, after all. It’s such a great city! So many of us live here and are super defensive about it! Maybe just hire a fact checker now and again, or call up your cousin living in Lincoln Park to get just a hint of some local color.

Anyway, if you want to check it out, head on over. Screenshots and snarky text abound.