Well lookie here, it’s The JP Pick Vol. 10! For vol. 9 click here.
This time, we’re a day late and detailed descriptions short but it doesn’t mean you parents don’t love you! We just have other boring adult things to do. Here, take these handful of suggestions to distract and delight you and tell your Nana you love her.
TV to Stream
This is a show about a nice white lady. If you are a nice white lady, you may enjoy it. Sometimes, she talks to other people who are nice non-white non-ladies. They help her “build a company” of which the precise product is never explicitly mentioned. Sometimes there’s a competition element to it. Sometimes there is not. She is worried about “breaking out on her own” with this new company. But we all know that she will thrive. Partly because of her nice white lady-ness, but also because Gwyneth Paltrow gave her advice on-camera. It is the TV equivalent of taking the half-Xanax you found at the bottom of your purse and letting the soft digital breeze of the ASOS sale take you away.
Podcast to Play
Reply All is one of our great American podcasts. Even though this week’s episode is a replay, it’s one of those timeless ones — perhaps uncomfortably so. PJ highlights a man who scammed the globe with his crackpot pseudo-medicine back in the early 20th century and mostly did it through his larger-than-life character, his popular radio show, and all the other blustery things guilty men do when they wanna steal the public eye. Even though this can be added to a greater pantheon of “hint-hint Remind you of someone?” Trump-era content, the story alone is compelling and the gang at RA are good at their goddamn jobs.
Movie to Watch
Buckle the fuck up, par’ners. I just learned of multiple dance-themed documentaries and intense ballet-focused dramas on the horizon and ya’girl is absolutely helpless in their presence. Is it because of the intensity of the aspiring dancers’ focus? The hardships endured both short-term (getting into the company!) and long-term (ruining your body forever!)? Is it because of the end result, making it all worth it? When the red curtains part and the toe shoes dust the stage and everyone is quiet and calm — if just for a moment.
Dance Dreams mostly delivers on all of the above, with a special twist of having it also be a documentary about Debbie Allen (just seeing photos of her in her twenties is tah-die-for). She runs a different kind of dance company. One that’s more all-inclusive, but not skimping one second on aiming for perfection. It’s this kind of focus — she believes — that can transform an aimless kid without a community into a star. And she’s right. We see it in this show over and over and over. Hear it from interviews of both current and former students. And though this entry into the vast subgenre of “intense ballerina show” skimps on the sweat but more than makes up for with the heart, I enjoyed it just the same. It’s a perfect co-view with family when you’re staring at the walls, waiting for Christmas day.
TV to Stream
WATCH BIG MOUTH. Watch Big Mouth.
Books to Read
I Like to Watch by Emily Nussbaum, Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino, The Chris Farley Show by Tom Farley Jr and Tanner Colby, Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career by Kevin Rafferty
I’ve been reading a lot (through Libby! The LAPL free Kindle-like app). Reading a lot of books that aren’t necessary current or edgy or fressssh in a way worthy of their own section in a recommendations newsletter, but I loved them nonetheless! Below is my rapid-fire review of my handful of reads:
I Like to Watch. This is a collection of New Yorker TV Critic Emily Nussbaum’s reviews (as well as some original essays!). She is so smart and so great and so worthy of being girl-crushed on in the same way you’d pine to have a cool conversation with your older sister’s coolest best friend. The #MeToo essay just about gutted me. The Joan Rivers one is great too. They’re all great.
Trick Mirror. Very very similar vibe to Emily’s, but all original essays. Jia’s our hip elder millennial at The New Yorker and she’s smart as all hell. This book is a ride through the various things that make her tick in a decidedly un tick-y way. She’s a skilled tour guide and we are her doting passengers.
The Chris Farley Show. An oral history of Chris and everything within the orbit of Chris from childhood to death, with some of the more incredible stories happening during the High School chapter. I particularly liked whenever Bob Odenkirk popped up and talked shit about the other SNL oral history book. Talking shit between books should be more of a thing.
Magic Journey. Kevin was the mind behind Tower of Terror (and so many other things, but most importantly) — he — was — the mind — behind — Tower of Terror. This is a positively delightful read ripe with Dad jokes and a couple of insane “you can’t write this” stories that I’ll forever be laughing at. For those who are fascinated by the Imagineering life but can’t draw for shit, this is a great POV into the world of the theme park “Show Writer” and why I should probably quit now and change careers before the quar is over.