Well Unpro-ites, if you're in certain parts of the country, it's been a hell of a week. Personally, I'm so over this snowpocalypse and all the other corny names it's been given by Weather Channel reporters who have nothing better to do than sensationalize natural occurrences.
The one good thing about all this freezy precipitation? It's given me an excuse to hunker down with some awesome TV, books and music. Behold, the top 5 bits of pop culture goodness that have captivated my brain, heart, and some other parts of my anatomy of late:
1. Community: "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons"
Each episode of this keeps-getting-better comedy bears the name of a fictional class that ties to the themes of the wacky study group's current adventure. With that in mind, last Thursday's ep could easily have been called "How to Save a Life." The basic plot is this: when Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) becomes afraid for his depressed pal "Fat" Neil (played with downtrodden dignity by Charley Koontz), Jeff organizes the study group in Neil's favorite role-playing fantasy game. But what happens when wily old man Pierce (Chevy Chase) threatens to take over?
Initially I was suspicious of this episode: I've never played D&D in my life, and I was afraid this would be another "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" and sacrifice genuine laughs for the sake of being clever. But that scamp Dan Harmon, once again, made me a believer. From the Cate Blanchett in Lord of the Rings narration, to the too-good-for-TV musical score, to a hilarious mute imaginary sex scene, to the insightful look at complex group dynamics and insecurity between friends, "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" was a winner. It's vintage Community: where you're laughing so hard and smirking so much, then at the very last minute, realize your heart is smiling and hurting at the same time.
2. Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses (Claire Dederer)
I adore yoga and have practiced for almost three years now, but I still don't go a bundle on yoga books. I'm not talking about the instructional stuff, which was very helpful when I was starting out. I'm talking about the Eat, Pray, Love type crap where everyone's all hippy-dippy and faux-spiritual and say things like "journey" and "energy." It's that type of talk that scared me away from yoga for so long.
But Poser is different. I was intrigued by the title and blurb at Barnes & Noble, and in a rare moment for me, bought the hardcover at full price. (In my defense, one does funny things when a blizzard is a-comin'.) Claire Dederer, a Seattle freelance writer who began practicing yoga after the birth of her first child, isn't a long-haired tight-bodied 20-year-old telling you how to live your life. She's imperfect. She's funny. She loves some poses and is skeptical of others. And almost unintentionally, over ten years of practicing yoga she DOES indeed learn to live better.
I loved Dederer's sharp, witty voice and her descriptions of various teachers and studios in Seattle and in Boulder, CO. More importantly, her journey (yup, I use that word now) reflected my own. After years of skepticism, I started yoga as a way of regaining flexibility I'd lost, and in the wake of a huge tragedy just outside my city, to understand why the world was the way it was. And it worked: not only did I feel healthier, I started to realize a recovering Catholic could find spirituality in movement. Whether it's through dance, yoga, or just walking around Chicago, I discovered that being put squarely in one's own body is a religious experience in itself.
3. Nicki Minaj
About a month ago, Bob persuaded me to download Kanye West's "Monster" because Bob had become obsessed with it. I did as I was told and got hooked, in particular on the verse rapped by a sassy Sri Lankan chick named Nicki Minaj. Normally I'm not so into hip hop, but sometimes when I'm angry at the world or I just want to get my groove on, there's nothing like sharp words and strong beats. Also, because it's not my favorite genre, I rarely find a female rapper I can get into.
Minaj rocks my socks: very tough and very feminine at the same time. Plus, she loves pink and y'all know I'm all over that shit. I'm loving her single "Blazin'" (featuring Kanye), and am also getting into her new album Pink Friday. But I keep going back to "Monster." Because, really, when you're pissed there's nothing like mouthing the words, "First things first, I'll eat your brains/then I'mma start rockin' gold teeth and fangs." Aw yeah.
4. Smut, Vol. 1 (Edited by Nerve.com)
In the past year, thanks to my author friend Bryn Donovan, I've discovered romance novels are just damn good. As is erotica, romance's kinkier cousin. I'm way more turned on by well-chosen dirty words than dirty pictures (no matter how gorgeous the latter are, the Catholic schoolgirl in me still wants to giggle and go "ewwww").
I picked up Smut, Vol. 1 off the clearance rack at Borders, and damn if it wasn't the best $1.99 I've ever spent. Written by authors such as Steve Almond, Jay McInerney and Alice Sebold, these stories of all kinds of love and sex are both intelligent reads and totally, completely hot. Let me put it to you this way: I have no desire to procreate. Ever. And yet Paula Bomer's "Fucking His Wife, Four Months Pregnant With Their Third Child" made me want to get married and knocked up. It's that fantastic. (Really glad my mom doesn't read this blog. Watch this be the week she does.)
5. RuPaul's Drag Race
You guys, words cannot express how much I adore RuPaul's Drag Race. It is, quite simply, the best reality show EVER. Ever. Forever and ever, amen. Nothing is more hilarious, touching and glittery than watching a handful of drag queens compete for a cash prize, free makeup for life, and a chance to headline a tour. And in the midst of it all is Miss Thang herself, RuPaul, alternately jumping around like a bald pogo stick in men's suits, and fabulously decked out in glam gowns enhanced by magical boob cutlets. In between silly challenges like dragging up Barbie dolls and turning thrift-store finds into tinsel-rific holiday outfits, there are the queens themselves: men who love dresses, makeup and performing, who often didn't feel they fit into the world until they put on some heels and threw a hearty "fuck you" at anyone who didn't accept them for who they were. No manufactured drama here: the guys/girls bring their own and then some. As RuPaul says: "Gentlemen, start your engines, and may the best WOMAN win!"
RuPaul's Drag Race runs Monday nights on the Logo network, and for free on Logo's website. Also, if you like recaps, you should read mine every week at TVgasm.com (hey, I'm all about the shameless self promotion).
What are YOU obsessed with right now? Any recommendations? Leave a comment!