Lynn recommends a spine-tingling episode from one of her favorite podcasts:
I am addicted to The Memory Palace. In the past, these nugget-sized, beautifully told historical stories have made me laugh out loud on the subway platform and, yeah, fine, tear up a little at my kitchen table -- but this episode is the only one (so far) to send a cold shudder of fear down my spine. What you do is, wait until everyone in your house is asleep, then sit down next to a dark window, put on your headphones, and listen.
If you catch a chill (from spooky tales or blistery weather), Andy's got a warming antidote:
Since it is autumn, I’d like to share my favorite seasonal beverage.
What you'll need to make it:
The graveyard has been calling to Sean...
In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d proffer my new favorite webisode series called "Graveyard." It’s not what you think.
Lil’ context: a bunch of us at the show are big fans of TJ & Dave. You may have heard of these guys. They improvise an entire, 50-minute, one-act play without stopping to sold-out crowds in both Chicago and New York. Just the two of them -- no script, no plan, no audience suggestion -- playing all of the characters for almost an hour. It’s a feat of theatrical acrobatics (aka “theacrobatics”).
Both TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi are successful actor/improvisers in their own rights, with their hands in a lot of performance pies. You may have seen TJ and Peter Grosz in those ads for Sonic Drive-in (two guys sittin’ in a car, crackin’ wise, eatin’ burgers). Dave came up through Second City in Chicago and does a lot of film, TV, and now… internet. "Graveyard" is a series of short, web-only video vignettes staring Dave and Christian Stolte, and when I first happened upon a random episode I had no idea what was happening. Dave sits behind the security desk at an office building. Christian is wearing a janitor’s uniform. Christian asks Dave a series of “this or that” questions out of a glossy magazine: chocolate or vanilla, red or blue, big girl or skinny girl, and so on. Finally Christian says “God or no God?”
“God,” Dave says. And then “Uh, no, no, no God, no God.”
Christian: No God.
Dave: I’m sorry. God. God.
Christian: Meat or fish?
The entire thing lasts one minute and six seconds. 28 seconds of that are credits.
It was only after watching a second episode that I figured it out. Dave and Christian (or Damon and Pete as their characters are called, respectively) are working the graveyard shift in an office building. Every night, they’re the only ones there. Or put another way, they only have each other. Because it’s late, and because they’re alone, all of the workaday existentialism comes out. Is there a God? What’s it all for? They’re don’t propose any answers. In fact, they barely realize they’re asking such significant questions. That plan could easily yield something dark, or at least pretentious. But in Dave and Christian’s hands, and those of director Ron Lazzeretti, it’s face-breakingly hilarious. I’m sort of describing this backwards, though, because the brilliance of "Graveyard" is that it’s a comedy first, Trojan-horsing lots of the problems of being a person. That tension is my favorite aspect of TJ & Dave too. In fact, it’s my favorite aspect of Waiting for Godot. I sound a little hyperbolic I know. (I’ve had a lot of coffee.) But, like Waiting for Godot, "Graveyard" mirrors our daily, and nightly, lives in one significant way: nothing happens, but so much is said.
Here's episode #1 from Season One:
Chris is reading up on a subject that makes his skin crawl:
Nothing freaks me out more than taxidermy. It's weird - why do we stuff and mount animals as though we have conquered them? There's a fascinating new book by Rachel Poliquin called The Breathless Zoo that looks at how taxidermic history says a lot about our culture's relationship with nature. It also posits that taxidermy says a lot about how the West has historically viewed the rest of the world. For example, in the colonial era, much of taxidermy showed dangerous animals pouncing, to underscore how "risky" and "exotic" colonized nations were perceived to be. It's an unsettling read.
I've been on a Netflix rampage with the BBC's "Life of Birds" series. I'm not especially into birds, but like many nature-lovers I feel a peculiar affection for David Attenborough. I'll watch anything he narrates. This series was made in the late 90s, so it's not hi-def and not widescreen. Yet it's still completely mind-blowing, and not merely because birds are, in fact, amazing.
The series has made me appreciate how lucky we are to live in the age of slow motion filmography. To slow down time to watch a hummingbird's frenetic fluttering or an albatross running to take off for flight -- we can see each ruffle of the feather, the look in the animal's eyes, the mastery it has over its body. I wonder, if Thoreau and Lord Byron and even John Muir were as enraptured with nature in times when you only saw it at blurred distances in far country, what would they think of it as we see it now? The best guess at an answer I've heard comes from a friend of mine: "Audubon, etc., would have had an aneurism."