Fun Friday – Weekend Agenda

The weekend is finally here, which is an excellent development since I’ve thought it was Friday the last two days. There is nothing quite like sitting in a meeting, absentmindedly planning your weekend, and then suddenly realizing that it is Thursday, not Friday. This happened to me yesterday and it is a miracle that I could hide my disappointment from my boss. With all the general excitement of Halloween, it really did feel like yesterday was the end of the workweek.

I’m unsure why I am so anxious for the weekend to arrive this weekend in particular, as I don’t have any major plans. I’ve been forcing myself to not overbook myself so much and to take it a little easier. I love my life and keeping myself busy, but when you run around as much as I do, it can get exhausting.  So I’m in something of a self-imposed “time out” so that when my social calendar kicks into high gear again next weekend, I won’t be too tired to enjoy it.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I won’t still be engaging in a little pop culture exploration this weekend. I may be staying close to home, but there is always stuff to do even if I decide that I don’t want to leave the comfort of my couch all weekend. Here’s what is currently on the agenda:

  • Go to the movies

I’ve fallen a little behind in my movie attendance in the last few months, so this weekend seems as good a time as any to catch up on some new releases. We’re getting close to Oscar season – most Oscar nominees are released in the last part of the year – so the quality of films is beginning to uptick. I already have plans to see 12 Years a Slave tonight, which I have been looking forward to seeing. I’m sure that it will be a challenging film given the subject matter, but it has received so much buzz from the festival circuit that I’m glad that it is finally opening in Albany.


Not the most relaxing start to the weekend, but a film that I have high hopes for.

Also opening this weekend is Ender’s Game (a film that has had some negative publicity given the politics of Orson Scott Card, the author of the book that the film is based on)


The family friendly Free Birds


Last Vegas (which looks like The Hangover for the older set)


  • Aziz Ansari – Buried Alive

I thoroughly enjoyed Ansari when I saw him live back in May. His comedy special based on that tour is being released today on Netflix. There probably won’t be much new material from what I saw – there is some evolution on tours but most comics use the same core jokes – but I wouldn’t mind sitting through it all again as I missed some of his act because I was laughing so hard. If you haven’t seen Ansari live, I suggest checking this special out.


  • The Simpsons

I don’t regularly watch The Simpsons but this weekend I may make more of an effort. There has been a slight adjustment made to FOX’s Sunday night lineup this weekend – the network is pulling a repeat of American Dad (7:30 ET) to replay the classic The Simpsons’ episode, “Bart the Lover,” to honor the late great Marcia Wallace. This is the episode that won Wallace an Emmy in 1992 for her voice work as Edna Krabappel.

A new episode of The Simpsons will follow that tribute and the couch gag this week will be a spoof of The Hobbit:


  • Read a book

I’m in the midst of trying to downsize and one of the hurdles is my collection of books. It has been dramatically pared down from all my various moves, but I still have a fair amount to weed through. I’m happy to pay them forward (anyone want all my Sookie Stackhouse books?), but a vast number of them have never been read. So this might be the perfect weekend to pull one or two off the shelf to read so that they can be passed along to another home. Plus it has been far too long since I just spent some time curled up with a good book.

What’s on your agenda for the weekend? Share your ideas in the comments below. Happy weekend everyone!


Pop Culture Odds and Ends – A.B.B. (After Breaking Bad) edition

I’m still adjusting to life in a world where Breaking Bad is over. I find that I’m having trouble getting into my Fall TV shows – I’ve already dropped Once Upon a Time, Boardwalk Empire and Modern Family from sheer lack of interest and I’m pretty meh on the new pilots (more on that later this week). Episodes of Sons of Anarchy are beginning to pile up as well and I haven’t bothered to watch the premieres of Revenge or Homeland yet, so their days with a season pass may be numbered. The good news is that this general apathy means that I have a lot more time to surf the web in search of pop culture goodness to share. So really, my loss is your gain. Kick back and enjoy the fruits of my labor in this week’s edition of my pop culture round up


  • The cover for the upcoming Ron Burgundy memoir has been released.


  • Peter Dinklage made a stop by Sesame Street:


  • Usher and Dinklage’s GoT co-star Lena Headey also recently made appearances.
  • I am not super impressed with Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience, Volume 2. It just sounds like a lot of songs that were (rightfully) scrapped from the first album.
  • Who doesn’t love a Halloween themed programing? TV Tango has rounded up 360 of them airing this month. That seems a little excessive.


  • The opening credits for American Horror Story: Coven has been released and they are unsurprisingly terrifying.


  • Game shows are becoming sticklers for pronunciation – contestants on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune were both penalized recently.
  • A new film starring Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Alexander Skarsgard and…..Taylor Swift? Be afraid, Skarsgard. Be very afraid.
  • It’s been far too long since we’ve had a new Britney Spears video. The wait is over:


  • Construction has resumed on the monstrosity of a home that was featured in the documentary Queen of Versailles. Excellent film if you haven’t seen it.
  • I was a big fan of ALF back in the day. Watch him sing “Berzerk” by Eminem:


  • The Avett Brothers played some Metal on Fallon:




Breaking Bad in over *sob* but that doesn’t mean I still don’t have some links

  • Sadly, I did not win tickets to the Breaking Bad finale viewing party. These photos from the event make it look like I missed a hell of a time.
  • This one is for my friend Brigette:


  • Aaron Paul lends his vocal talents – and his catchphrase – to the single “Dance Bitch”


  • I would totally read this book:


  • My pals over at Grantland put together an In Memoriam video for BB’s fallen:


  • See how you do on the Breaking Bad superfan quiz (I got 43/50).
  • A Breaking Bad tribute set to Green Day’s “Good Riddance”


  • Glee’s Naya Rivera was a proud sister when her brother scored his first touchdown in the NFL:


  • You can read an edited excerpt from Dave Eggers’ upcoming new novel, The Circle.
  • Watching Conan play Grand Theft Auto V had me literally laughing out loud.


  • The Atlanta Braves did a “Blurred Lines” parody:

I enjoyed it, but I’m still not rooting for you in the playoffs. #TeamDodgers

  • For those of you who don’t normally watch baseball but want to get into the playoffs, GQ compares playoff teams to pop culture to help. Ha – the Red Sox are the Lannisters!
  • I may have to buy this Friday Night Lights fanzine just for the Tim Riggins paper doll.
  • Kelly Clarkson lost her fight for the Jane Austen ring that she won at an auction.
  • Watch The Hound from Game of Thrones sing the Rolling Stones. Wait – what??


  • The new Sleigh Bells album is streaming over at Rolling Stone.
  • Characters from Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy and American Dad got Simpsonized:



Stop! Trailer Time!

  • HBO’s new comedy, Getting On:


  • A new trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:


  • The latest from Chris Lilley, Ja’mie King: Private School Girl (I can’t wait!!):


  • Aziz Ansari has a special coming out soon on Netflix:


  • A Case of You with Justin Long, Sam Rockwell and Peter Dinklage:


  • This guy at a Willie Nelson concert apparent subscribes to “dance like no one is watching”


  • Guillermo del Toro made the couch gag for this year’s The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror.

As always, we wrap up with the mashups and supercuts

  • A mashup of MacGyver and Archer:


  • A mashup of Breaking Bad and Need for Speed:


  • Who can resist a Sesame Street mashup? Certainly not me.


  • “Get Lucky Wit It”


  • And finally – the cast of Breaking Bad sings the N’Sync classic, “Bye, Bye, Bye”

Aziz Ansari – The Palace Theater, Albany, NY – 5/14/13

I don’t know what has caused the change, but Albany is suddenly getting a lot of top tier comedians passing through the city. We always got a few big names – I saw both Seinfeld and Louis C.K. here – but it was usually more sporadic. 2013 has been different; there has been a steady stream of funny people making a stop in our fine city. As a stand-up comedy fan, this has been heaven for me. Since the beginning of the year I have seen Demetri Martin, Marc Maron, Lisa Lampanelli, Amy Schumer and John Oliver. That’s not too shabby for only being May. I also have tickets to Kevin James, Bill Maher and Brian Regan later in the year, so it’s shaping up to be the year of comedy for me. I think the only person disappointed by this turn of events may be my financial consultant. I need to start figuring out how to get to these shows for free.

Last Tuesday night, I added another comic to the list when I went to see Aziz Ansari perform. While his roots are in stand up, he’s probably best known as playing Tom Haveford on Parks and Recreation or from his roles in the films Get Him to the Greek, 30 Minutes or Less and Funny People. I had been really excited to see him back when I bought the tickets, but the night of the show I was a little tired and my enthusiasm had waned a bit. You are far more pumped up for a comedian on a Friday or Saturday night than on a Tuesday. It wasn’t a reflection on Aziz, but after a long day of work I wasn’t super psyched to have to schlep back downtown and try to find a parking spot.

It wasn’t until I arrived at the theater (after thinking I lost my tickets only to remember I had to print them out) that I realized my ticket was for the front row, which is a dicey endeavor for almost any stand-up comedian. By sitting in the front, there is a tacit understanding that you may be forced to interact with the stand-up and that you may become a part of the show. That interaction will differ based on the comic – it is almost always good natured, but some stand ups are more likely to make fun of you than others – but sitting down there puts you in play. Ansari didn’t have the reputation for being an insult comic, but anytime I sit that close to the stage I wind up being a little apprehensive (which, of course, raises the issue as to why I bought those tickets. I have no answer for that other than I much not have been paying attention). Add in the fact that I wound up parking in one of the sketchier areas of Albany and all the ingredients were there for this to be a really off night.

However, I am delighted to report that Aziz Ansari was so fantastic that any reservations or crankiness that I had going in to the show were complete obliterated. I really can’t remember the last time that I laughed that hard for that long. He was absolutely on his game and had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. He didn’t quite surpass Louis C.K. as the best comedy show that I’ve even been to, but he came darn close. I left his set exhausted from laughing; my face literally hurt when the show came to an end and on more than one occasion I had tears streaming down my face. To say he knocked it out of the park is to put it mildly.

Ansari covered a lot of material during his set, but focused a lot of attention on having children, marriage and dating. Ansari is single and has no children, but now that he is in his thirties he has hit the point in his life when most of his friends are getting married and procreating. He made some great observations about how becoming parents has changed his friends – parents of a newborn now muster as much enthusiasm about a night out at Applebee’s as a single guy does about having a threesome. He also touched on how scary it must be to be a parent and worry about your child all the time, which led to one of his funniest bits about how he was so cute as a kids that he actually intimidated pedophiles; like a hot girl in the bar, the molesters couldn’t work up the nerve to offer him candy so he escaped childhood unsullied. His material also covered internet dating, the inherent lunacy of marriage (“I want to hang out with you until one of us dies”), the rise of sexting and how the weird extremes of the MTV shows Teen Mom and My Super Sweet Sixteen. His thoughts were smart and relatable and his delivery alternated between manic and relaxed.

Some of the biggest laughs of the night came when he interacted with the audience – after Ansari said that a marriage proposal was one of the few big moments in your life that you could really prepare and telegraph, the man sitting directly behind me was called upon to tell his engagement story. You knew it was going to be a funny moment when the man revealed that the proposal happened in Cincinnati and Aziz was so tickled by the way the man said that they went out for “a nice Chinese dinner” that he kept coming back to that phrasing throughout the night. This exchange was a cool moment for me as it kept Aziz at our end of the stage for quite a while; it isn’t very often that you are five feet away from an actor on one of your favorite TV shows and get to make eye contact with them. For their part, the (young) audience was extremely well behaved. Only one person yelled anything and was shot down quickly and efficiently. Ansari gave people five minutes at the beginning of the show to take pictures to get it out of the way and people mostly complied. Aziz’s set lasted about 80 minutes, so we definitely got our money’s worth. As far as I could tell, all of Aziz’s material was new to the Buried Alive tour; I didn’t recognize any of the bits and he didn’t bring out his character “Randy” at any point.

His opening act, Moshe Kasher, was also quite funny. His 20 minute set dovetailed nicely with the material that Aziz covered and at some point this weekend I am hoping to sit down and watch Kasher’s standup special that is currently streaming on Netflix. He’s someone I will be keeping an eye on.

If Aziz Ansari comes to your town, you should absolutely go to see him. I really can’t recommend him highly enough; I walked out of the show in a completely different mood than when I went in and felt like I had just witnessed something pretty outstanding and special. Two of Aziz’s comedy specials are also streaming on Netflix and are worth a look, though I don’t know that anything can compare to the live experience. He is without a doubt the best comedian that I have seen in 2013 and his show last week is in my top five standup shows of all time (he’s in good company with Seinfeld, Louis C.K. and Jim Jeffries). Everyone I talked to who was at the show loved it as much as I did. It was such a great night of comedy that it still brings a smile to my face a week later.