My Favorite Podcasts

PodcastNow that I am a bonafide podcaster with THOR: The Lightning and the Storm (two more episodes to record, sob!), I have been listening to a lot of podcasts–and I love it!

I was never really much of a podcast listener before (except for my very favorite, Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men), but I started to explore different shows to get a good idea of what I did and didn’t like–and what I thought worked well for the listener and didn’t.

What surprised me was the difference in approaches and, frankly, quality. Nothing is more disappointing than finding a podcast whose topic seems tailor-made for me, and whose hosts seem really enthusiastic, only to find that the execution totally turns me off. It’s rare that I’m willing to wade through 20 minutes of aimless chit chat before they get to the meat of the topic–unless I really love the hosts–and a lack of knowledge that is easily Google-able irks me. Also, there are a lot of podcasts that are an hour (or longer!) that would be better shorter.

But! I’m not here to bitch about podcasts I don’t like, I’m here to talk about the ones I love! So without further ado, in no particular order . . .

Gilmore Guys: This was one of the first non-X-Plain podcasts I started listening to, around the time the Gilmore Girls revival aired. Now remember when I said there are a lot of hour-plus podcasts that could easily be half an hour? Many of Gilmore Guys‘ episodes hover around three hours. Their discussion of “Fall” is five hours and forty minutes. But I love it! Hosts Kevin T. Porter (a longtime Gilmore Girls fan) and Demi Adejuyigbe (a newbie who watched as they recorded) have put together an enormously entertaining show with great guests and fantastic features (for example, playing the original WB promos for each episode and checking Television Without Pity‘s forums to see what viewers thought when it originally aired), and it’s just fabulous. This is definitely for hardcore Gilmore Girls fans–it’s simply too much of a time commitment otherwise. They’re now covering Bunheads, another Sherman-Palladino show I never even watched, but I’ll probably listen to all of them.

Titan Up the Defense: Yes I have guested on this show, but I already loved it. Hosts Hub and Cory alternate covering issues of New Teen Titans and Defenders, and it is hilarious and delightful. I enjoy their format: first Hub does a brief recap to begin the episode, and then he and Cory discuss. They end with “Minutiae” (complete with a peppy song) where they select the “best” insult, fashion, characters, etc. It helps to have some knowledge of the Titans and Marvel, but you don’t need to read along to enjoy this podcast (I don’t). Episodes are about an hour long.

Dirtcast: I have a confession to make: I love celebrity gossip. I used to love Perez Hilton, and I read Crazy Days and Nights every day. Dirtcast is hosted by Jezebel‘s Madeleine Davies, and what I love most about that show is that it’s an hour-long mix of current and “vintage” gossip. I mean, celebrity gossip was so much better before social media happened and every minor celebrity could posts tons of garbage photos on Instagram, amirite? Recent episodes explored Twin Peaks set gossip from the ’90s, the cult of Gwyneth Paltrow, and how most celebrity couples are actually PR contracts. Fascinating.

The Four Top: I originally learned about host Katherine Cole when I was researching Portland wine tastemakers for a client I was working with. Cole not only wrote the Oregonian‘s wine column for 13 years, but she’s published the books Rosé All DayHow to Fake Your Way Through a Wine List, and more. Now she’s the host of OPB’s The Four Top, which is a bi-weekly round table discussion during which culinary media insiders tackle all kinds of savory topics in food and beverage culture. It’s divided into “courses,” ending with “dessert”–whatever each guest is currently enjoying. Recent episodes have covered the evolution of grocery stores (which is my jam), whether cannabis will destroy the restaurant industry, and undocumented labor in kitchens. I love this podcast because not only do I enjoy eating and preparing food, but food is so important that its issues affect all aspects of our lives–financially, politically, and ethically. Episodes are typically under an hour, which makes them perfect to listen to while cooking dinner.

Four podcasts seems like a pretty short list, but that’s really all I have time to listen to! What do you like (or dislike) in a podcast, and what are your favorites? Post below!

Twin Peaks: Life Is Not a Problem to Be Solved, But a Mystery to Be Lived

SPOILER-FREE!

[Editor’s note: I have a guest blogger today, and it’s my husband, Scott Allie, editor of such comics as Hellboy, Fight Club 2, and Umbrella Academy. He loves Twin Peaks and David Lynch with a mad, passionate fervor, and Episode 8 of the revival spurred him to write about art, storytelling, and his old friend the One Armed Man. Enjoy!]

Last night I went to bed with a feeling (and today woke up with that feeling) I’ve had just a handful of times in my life, where I lost track of the line between myself and an experience of art. The first time was when I saw Eraserhead, an experience Mike Mignola has likened to having the flu. I felt it more strongly after I watched the pilot for Twin Peaks in 1990, staring for hours at a bright patch on my dorm room ceiling from a streetlight below. I haven’t only felt this with Lynch’s work. Eyes Wide Shut did it to me. Books by Chuck Palahniuk and Patrick McGrath have done it. I hate to admit that no comic has done it, but it’s the truth, as much as some of them have gotten under my skin. If anything could, it would be Hellboy, if I could experience it more from the outside.

But nothing has affected me as deeply as the first time I saw Lost Highway. The night turned into one of the weirdest in my life, and there are no shortage of weird nights . . . I was disoriented, couldn’t communicate well. The NIN song from the film, “You Are the Perfect Drug,” could’ve referred to the film itself. After freaking out my sister, who I was living with at the time, I went to my neighborhood bar, former Mayor Bud Clark’s Goose Hollow Inn, to find my friends—who immediately shut down any conversation about the movie, which they were going to see in the morning. (I ended up joining them, then seeing it a third time before the next weekend.)

ScottAllieAlStrobel

Me and Al Strobel, Twin Peaks‘s One Armed Man. The moment this picture was taken, I was telling him my grandfather died.

I went to the bar for a pitcher. We all knew everyone in the place in those days, so while I waited for the server, the old guy drinking alone at the bar greeted me. I told him I’d seen Lost Highway and felt unhinged. He said, “Well, David likes to fuck with you,” at which point I remembered this particular barfly was Al Strobel, the One Armed Man from Twin Peaks. Al was there at the Goose most nights in the mid nineties. I’d fanned out about the show a couple years earlier, and had frankly sort of forgotten.

That night Al told me, “David’s a painter.” At the time I didn’t realize that it was more than a metaphor. He said Lynch isn’t necessarily telling a story, but putting something in front of you so you can look at it and experience it, and accept whatever it makes you feel.

A motto I’ve heard lately that I try to live by is that “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.” Art definitely isn’t a problem to be solved. In college, my best friend told me “Perfect art should kill the spectator,” and I’ve always thought he was on to something. When last night’s episode of Twin Peaks, Episode 8, was over, I told my 12-year-old son, Sid (that’s right), “You just saw the strangest hour of television there’s ever been.” A dozen smarter critics than me have said that this morning, and I don’t think of it as a debatable point. I would argue that it was also the greatest hour of TV.

In the early 1990s, Twin Peaks inspired some imitation, but the more lasting impact was the permission it gave talented storytellers to open up the television medium. I like to think cable television will go through another bizarre evolution in the next couple years, taking big chances. I hope the auteurs of this so-called Golden Age of Television get the message: “Trust the audience. Go even farther.” Maybe comics, and even the movies, can do it too.

I’m Starting a Thor Podcast With Miles of X-Plain the X-Men!

Thor Podcast The Lightning and the StormWhoa! Uh, it’s a testament to how busy I’ve been that I’m announcing my new Thor podcast with Miles Stokes, THOR: The Lightning and the Stormafter it’s actually funded. Whoops. In my defense, one of the things I’ve been very busy with includes doing all of the social media for our IndieGogo!

Regular Jeepers readers know my favorite, favorite podcast is Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men–not just because I worked with and know the two geniuses behind it, and not just because I’ve guest hosted with Miles four times in the past two years. It is an amazingly informative and entertaining podcast that is a testament to the hard work and talent of Jay Edidin and Miles Stokes.

They’ve been working so hard, in fact, that they’ve earned a break: they’re taking a breather for three months. And during that time, Miles and I are doing our own limited-series podcast–a twelve-episode love letter to Walter Simonson’s epic 1980s run on The Mighty Thor! Here’s our video:


Check out our full IndieGogo campaign!

Simonson’s epic storytelling and dynamic art redefined both Thor and Marvel’s Norse mythology–making them bigger, more operatic, more dramatic, and more awesome than ever before. Plus, he introduced Beta Ray Bill and Frog Thor. It’s rightfully considered to be one of the best comic book sagas ever, period.

As I said above, our IndieGogo has already funded–yay! However, we’ve added a stretch goal: in addition to 12 episodes covering 48 issues of Thor, if we raise $1,000, we’ll unlock a bonus episode where we’ll talk about Balder the Brave #1-4, an incredible miniseries by Walter Simonson and Sal Buscema.

Thor Podcast The Lightning and the StormThis bonus episode is in addition to the “zero issue” episode (covering the two fill-in issues during Simonson’s run) that will be available to all donors who contribute $5 or more. So really, if you pitch in $5 and we make it to $1,000 in the next two months (and we’re less than $150 away), you’ll actually get two extra episodes. What a deal!

So. Whether you’re a hardcore Thor scholar or you’d like to get some background before Thor: Ragnarok comes out in November, check out (and share!) our IndieGogo campaign, bookmark our Thor podcast blog, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Our first official episode debuts May 7–I will certainly update you. Within a week or two. Ha.

Luke's Diner Popup Portland Oregon

I Went to Luke’s Diner and It Was Magical

Luke's Diner Popup Portland Oregon

My very patient and wonderful family came with me to visit the real star of Gilmore Girls: Stars Hollow.

I need to start by saying that I have a wonderful husband and son. Because they let me drag them to a coffee shop on a weekday at 7 am and stand in line for two and a half hours. For a cup of coffee. My son is 11. He literally took one sip, refused to comment, and laughed with glee that he would be late for school because I couldn’t resist the lure of the Luke’s Diner popup event, a very clever marketing promotion for the upcoming Gilmore Girls revival.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is coming to Netflix November 25, which I’m sure at least 85% of people on social media must know right now, because Netflix’s PR game is tight, and thousands of people (and dozens of local TV news crews) were beguiled by the chance to visit Luke’s Diner right around the corner (almost literally for me: Oblique Coffee Roasters, the only participating location in Oregon, was about 15 blocks away).

I am not a morning person. And I’ve been working in fandom (comics and pop culture) for many years. I’ve worked countless conventions, including the big show, San Diego Comic Con. If anyone should be immune from standing in line for hours for a cheap freebie (for the record, the free cup of coffee was emblazoned with a quote from Lorelai Gilmore and a Snapchat filter code, and wrapped in a Luke’s-branded paper sleeve) and photo op, it should be me. Not only could I not resist, I was all in, because this promotion tapped into the essence of what made GG so popular: the idea of community.

Gilmore Girls is the story of mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Impetuous, irreverent Lorelai became pregnant at 16, severely disappointing her wealthy-yet-emotionally cold parents. Wanting her independence, Lorelai took baby Rory and ran away to the quaint town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, where she found a job as a maid at an inn, eventually working her way up to manager, and building her own family of friends. At the beginning of the series, serious, brainy Rory is 16 and has been accepted to the prestigious–and expensive–Chilton prep school. In exchange for loaning her the money for tuition, Lorelai agrees that she and Rory will join her parents for dinner every Friday. Wacky hijinks and emotional chaos ensues.

I didn’t watch Gilmore Girls when it debuted on the WB because it was on opposite Buffy. But also because I had just run away from home myself, in a way–I ran from a failed marriage and a boring copywriting career to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, a quaint island where I learned to wait tables and eventually build my own family of friends. After returning to Portland in 2005 (and taking a work-from-home editing gig), my homesick self discovered GG on ABC Family and was hooked.

But in retrospect, I realize the main attraction wasn’t cool mom Lorelai or bookworm Rory (who were actually pretty flawed characters, but I like that). The real star of the show was Stars Hollow, the quirky granddaughter of Mayberry, and the Warner Bros. backlot-town that was literally made up of sets that have appeared on countless other TV shows (The WaltonsThe Dukes of Hazzard, and Seinfeld, to name a few). Stars Hollow is the town where everyone knows your name–and what you had for breakfast (probably at Luke’s, since Al’s Pancake House serves international cuisine). Portland seemed uncomfortably large to me, after living in a place where I literally knew almost everyone at the grocery store. Stars Hollow, a place rich in offbeat characters and so many town events and festivals, felt like a warm hug.

The return of Gilmore Girls is the return of Stars Hollow, and Netflix knows this–that’s why bringing Luke’s Diner to the masses was so smart, and so successful. After all, Gilmore Girls fans are already conditioned to love ridiculous events. And standing in line (for hours) with the GG fan community was like one long town meeting in our very own Stars Hollow.

Kicking yourself for missing Luke’s Diner? You can still get your Stars Hollow fix by visiting the “newly recovered” town website (apparently Kirk lost the password in 2007). That’s where I’ll be, drinking my coffee and the GG Kool-Aid, until November 25!

Hail Caesar the Kurgan

Happy Monday! Hail, Caesar and #10ItemWardrobe

Hail Caesar the Kurgan

Yes, that’s The Kurgan on the left! The Highlander himself (Christopher Lambert) also makes an appearance in Hail, Caesar! Photo via Universal Pictures.

Well hello, folks! How was your weekend? Mine was great–I went to a birthday party for my Dad and saw my second movie of the year in the theaters, Hail, Caesar (the first movie was Deadpool, of course)!

When I first started dating my now-husband, I had pretty much given up going to the movies. I had lived for many years on an island that had two theaters and a total of three screens, which meant Movie A would play Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and Movie B played Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I worked nights waitressing anyway, but if I happened to have a free night and thought about going to a movie, the one I wanted was never playing.

Cut to dating my husband. He loves going to the movies. Especially horror films, which was never my bag. But I gamely went to movie after movie, and soon realized that I wasn’t just being a good sport–I was enjoying myself (and loved horror movies–turns out they aren’t all gore fests!).

Having a baby changed a lot of things for me, but one thing I didn’t even think about was going to the movies! I kind of went back to my default position. But now that Sarah is almost 18 months old we have a babysitter, and I’m finally swimming back up to the surface and checking things out. Who am I? What do I want to do now? Turns out I wanted to go to the movies. So this is a ridiculous, boring anecdote, but going to the movies was a surprisingly Big Deal last night, and I enjoyed the hell out of Hail, Caesar, and hanging out with my husband, so I’m feeling good.

Links!

Entertainment

Hail, Caesar is a love letter to the movies of the 1950s, but did you know the main character, fixer Eddie Mannix (a highly fictionalized version played by Josh Brolin), who runs around hushing up the potential scandals of actors and directors, was a real person? Den of Geek has the real history of Hail, Caesar and Eddie Mannix.

Speaking of Hollywood scandals (and relating to one of the fictional storylines in Hail, Caesar), did you know that actress Loretta Young adopted her own baby to avoid the scandal of an illegitimate, out-of-wedlock child? The father? Clark Gable.

Mike Mignola has decided to end the amazing Hellboy in Hell series, and did an interview with Entertainment Weekly that reveals the cover of the final issue!

Fashion

We’re leaving for Massachusetts this week to visit my husband’s family! Much like I did last year, I’ll be taking pics every day of me in my 10-item wardrobe and posting them on Twitter with the hashtag #10ItemWardrobe. Follow me here!

Speaking of fashion, I have a problem. I have fallen in love with all of the cute, high-quality, organic cotton baby and toddler clothes at Hanna Andersson. It’s a problem because they’re a lot more expensive than Carter’s–but at the same time, they last much longer, too. I’ve found help, however! Our local Hanna Andersson outlet store has everything at a 20-40% discount (or more). You can find your Hanna Andersson outlet here. We’ll be shopping here until I maneuver Sarah into a gig as a baby model. I’m not a paid endorser or affiliate of Hanna Andersson. But I am willing! Call meeeee!

That’s all I got today. What are you enjoying? Have any tips on transitioning from being a 24-hour milk machine to an actual human woman? Post them below!

 

Geek Mentor

Profiles in Geek Mentors: Cousin Danny

Geek Mentor

Cousin Danny: Portrait of the Geek Mentor as a Young Man.

I grew up geeky: comic books, sci-fi movies and television, the works. It led me to a career marketing comics and enjoying conventions of all stripes. However! While it is good to be a geek these days–with mighty Marvel movies making mucho moolah at the multiplexes and darker DC dramas dominating the (television) dial–back in my day (the halcyon ’80s) we had it tougher. I mean, I had to walk five feet across shag carpeting both ways to turn the channel to catch reruns of The Incredible Hulk!

But in all seriousness, geek culture was not as prevalent or accessible when I was growing up, so as a mature adult, I feel the need to thank and recognize the geek mentors who nurtured my nascent nerdiness along the way, and I’m starting with one who is significant to both my brother and me: Cousin Danny.

Uncle Bruce is my mother’s older brother, and six years after we relocated from California to Oregon (stow it, haters), he moved himself and Aunt Judy to nearby Gladstone with sons Danny and Bryan. At the time, I was six and Danny was nine–impressively older, but not terrifying like 13-year-old Bryan (I’ll be writing a separate tribute to Bryan in a future installment). So when we got together for holidays and whatnot, Danny was leader and playmate to me and my little brother BJ–young enough to enjoy a game that included spinning around his dad’s pool table while listening to “Beep Beep” by the Playmates on the record player, but old enough to transfix us with his genius.

Mild mannered and round cheeked, Danny was perhaps an improbable genius. I have to admit that he played the accordion. But! In his room (where we loved to hang out), he had all of the books to solve all of the different Rubix cubes–extremely cool to us–and even more impressive, he had a Commodore 64, a futuristic device that allowed him to type to other people across the country, in real time! It was like having a pen pal–without having to wait for the mailman!

It was Danny who showed us movies like Gremlins, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and War Games, all on VHS tapes copied by Aunt Judy super-long-play style from cable (they had HBO!). But even better: Cousin Danny was the person who showed us Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back for the first time.

Now, would I have watched Star Wars and Empire without Cousin Danny? Of course. Would I have watched them repeatedly until I actually paid attention? Perhaps not. You see, as a young girl (around seven or eight), I initially dismissed them as “boy movies.” It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth time that I suddenly realized, “Hey! I like these movies. These aren’t boy movies at all!” And I was ready to see Return of the Jedi in the theaters. When I saw The Force Awakens this year (with my brother), I thought of Danny and smiled.

Danny also gave us our first taste of freedom: I vividly remember my brother and I being allowed to go see a double feature of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and The NeverEnding Story with just Danny–no grownups. I was nine, with money in my pocket to go buy a second round of refreshments during intermission. Truly a heady experience.

Unfortunately, Bruce and Judy moved to upstate New York in 1988, with both cousins eventually joining them, before the whole clan settled near Atlanta, Georgia. However! I was reunited with Dan (Danny no more) a few years ago at–where else–Dragon Con, one of the biggest, craziest geek conventions on the planet.

DanFrame

Cousin Dan today: geek mentor and Dragon Con master!

While Dan has grown up to work in software development (of course), he still books a room at the Dragon Con host hotel every year, and he’s an integral part of The Outworlders, Atlanta, a “science fiction, fantasy and horror fan group that supports and promotes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender themes within these genres.”

So I salute and thank you, Cousin Dan: hero, genius, geek mentor, and master of my old Speak N’ Spell. I hope you know you’ve made our lives much more interesting and entertaining, and may the Force be with you!

Prosciutto, leek, and gruyere quiche

Happy Monday! Holiday Recovery and Resolutions

Prosciutto, leek, and gruyere quiche

Prosciutto, leek, and gruyere quiche–so good I forgot to take a pic before we ate.

Happy Monday! How were your holidays? Mine were busy, fun, and full of mishaps. Case in point: I stumbled on the stairs and hurt my (already injured) wrist/thumb severely, which makes it super hard to type. I’ve been dealing with “Mommy thumb” (tendon lining inflammation) and this is finally pushing me to make a doctor’s appointment. You know, after being in pain for 10 months. I’m a genius.

But! Links!

Entertainment

I finally got to watch Fargo Season 2, and oh wow. It was amazing. I was a pretty spotty watcher of Season 1–I followed recaps and watched the occasional episode–but Season 2 was instantly addictive. Kirsten Dunst was incredible. All the actors were. But the writing and plotting were right there with them, and the balance of menace, absurdity, humor, and pathos was perfectly Fargo.

And the soundtrack. Here’s my favorite song from this season, Blitzen Trapper’s cover of “Man of Constant Sorrow,” which brings me right back to my early childhood in Southern California:

This trailer for Fargo Season 2 gives me the shivers:

Cooking

We actually got snow in Portland! Well, maybe an inch of snow, but enough to stick and freeze, turning our neighborhood into an ice skating rink. So I’ve been going through our cupboards and using up holiday leftovers to feed us:

Prosciutto, Leek, and Gruyere Quiche. I used Julia Child’s base recipe for Quiche Lorraine (this one’s from The Foodies’ Kitchen), except I made a 9″ crust and used 2 cups of heavy cream and 4 eggs. To make: split two medium leeks in half and slice the white and light-green parts. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan and add the leeks and one clove garlic, minced. Stir and cook until leeks are translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add 3 oz chopped prosciutto and cook 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle 3 oz grated gruyere in a partially baked pie crust. Add sauteed veggies and meat, top with custard, and bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes. Eat warm or cold!

Spinach and White Bean Soup. I basically followed the recipe, except I used 10 oz frozen spinach, chicken broth (instead of veggie), and about 2/3 cup of ditalini pasta. It was satisfying, tasty, and made me feel healthy.

Resolutions

I’m serious! For sure. Here they are:

  1. Create an editorial calendar for my blog–I’d like to blog more regularly, which means for planning!
  2. Get back to planning meals on a monthly basis–not only does this usually save me time, but it saves money, and I generate less garbage. I’ll put it on the calendar and blog about it (see resolution #1).
  3. Spend less time on my phone. I’m going to keep library books at close hand. And oh yeah, the faces of my children. Of course!
  4. Paint my kitchen!

So what are your resolutions? Favorite TV shows? Clean-the-kitchen recipes? Don’t leave me hanging!