Monday, January 5, 2015

December & Everything After

Happy New Year! Am I still allowed to say that when we are already a few days in? We started 2015 at home, watching TV and drinking wine, which was a welcome break from the holiday traveling that we'd been doing for a couple weeks prior. The cats enjoyed us being homebodies, too.

Instead of a boring and tedious play by play of the past month,  I will give you the highlight reel. In December, we went to UCB a bunch of times before leaving for the East Coast. We saw

  • The Dead Author's Podcast at UCB Franklin, with Paul F. Tompkins as H.G. Wells,  and comedian Hal Lublin as Dr. Seuss. Hilarious, as always. 

  • Slow Down, Raisin Bran at UCB Franklin, with Gil Ozeri and Ben Schwartz doing improv. It was just Hot Sauce without the perpetually busy Adam Pally, which is to say it was excellent. 

  • Broad City Live at UCB Sunset: This show was at 1am, which was rough for us old people, but seeing Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson do comedy in person was worth staying up way, way past our bedtimes. 

  • Gravid Water at UCB Franklin, with Lucy Davis, Stephen Merchant, Scott Adsit, Maria Thayer, Becky Drysdale, Bayne Gibby, Brian Stack, Timm Sharp, Ptolemy Slocum and Thomas Middleditch. 

  • Shitty Jobs at UCB Franklin basically every Sunday...

and finally, 

  • Doug Loves Movies: Twelve Guests of Christmas with a bunch of comedians that you don't know plus Scott Aukerman, Nick Kroll, and Jon Hamm.

Yes, that Jon Hamm. With a beard!

This is our second year attending DLM 12GoC and it is our favorite Los Angeles holiday tradition. I'm sure we will be back for the 2015 edition.

Other notable events from December prior to our travels:

  • We did a super terrible job decorating for Christmas.
  • Simon finished his most recent grad class, and is now officially halfway through his M.S.S.E. degree. 
  • We received our annual tin of homemade cookies from Aunt Lynne and Uncle Dennis, which are always excellent, and really nice to get when you are not living near family. 

  • We saw A Most Violent Year at LACMA with a Q&A with Oscar Isaac afterward. It was ok. 

  • Last but not least, the night before we left for the East Coast, we saw a live read of The Empire Strikes Back at the Ace Hotel. 

The cast was fabulous. Aaron Paul read for Luke, Jessica Alba for Leia, Stephen Merchant for C3PO, Dennis Haysbert for Lando Calrissian, Rainn Wilson for Chewbacca, Mark Hamill for both the Emperor and Obi Wan Kenobi, J.K. Simmons for Darth Vader, Ellen Page for Han Solo, Kevin Pollack for Yoda, and Jason Reitman for all of the stage direction and R2D2.

Rainn Wilson and Mark Hamill were both surprise casting announcements, and the audience went bananas. Everyone gave him a standing ovation (not my photo, but illustrates my point).

Ellen Page made for a very dashing Han Solo, while J.K. Simmons was an intimidating Vader. Honestly, just about the entire cast was excellent. I hope that they refrain from doing more live reads at the Ace, only because it was more expensive and out of the way for us, but they needed the extra space for this one. 

On Friday, December 19th, we flew to the East Coast for a long weekend in NYC, and I will write a separate entry detailing that weekend. I learned a lot on the trip, and since we are eager to repeat it, I would like to be as detailed as possible, which would make this entry way too long.

Monday afternoon, we took a train from Penn Station in NYC to 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, and Simon's parents picked us up for a full week in Reading. 

During that week, we met mom's boyfriend Dan, 

had our annual viewing of The Muppet Christmas Carol

and had Christmas with all of our families. Some snapshots from the week:

Christmas morning at Mom's with Foo, Manders, and Abbey, the Happiest Christmas Jew.

Christmas afternoon at Dad and Laura's:

Christmas dinner with the Morris clan:

Simon watching a movie with Lyra during our mini-road trip to my best friend's house in Parkton, MD. 

One of the many Light family "Christmas Eve" photos from Sara and Cody's house.

With Uncle Bud and Aunt Andrea able to make the trip up to PA this year, everyone was present and accounted for!

Aww, we're cute!

Love this one with all the mommas, including the mother-to-be, Sara!

On Sunday afternoon, we attended Sara's baby shower, and got to chat with our cousins some more before we headed back to LA. 

As usual, all of our families were impossibly kind and generous with gifts and their time. We had tons of homemade meals, got all kinds of useful, lovely presents, and spent time with the people we love most in the world. Not a bad holiday!

Of course, we had a long, long trip back to the West Coast that ended up with us arriving at a car with a dead battery. (I am surprisingly amenable to waiting for roadside assistance at 1am, as long as I am not on a plane). Eventually, we made it home and spent the next couple of days hibernating. We watched TV and played video games, and Simon had a couple of days of work sprinkled in there as well.

On Saturday night, we ventured from our cozy home to The Roxy, a small venue in West Hollywood, to see the band Foxygen. 

We last saw this band in August, and though their onstage antics were so ridiculous that the show was borderline unwatchable, I was really intrigued by them, and wound up falling in love with their latest record.

So we crossed our fingers and hoped for a better show. And while the frontman was still crazy, the show was much improved. 

On Sunday night, we headed to UCB for a doubleheader. First up was Gravid Water, 

with Maria Thayer, Thomas Middleditch, Tony Hale, Stephnie Weir, Brian Stack, Bayne Gibby, Missi Pyle, Matt Walsh, Michael McMillian and Ben Schwartz. 

Afterward, we stuck around for Shitty Jobs, and both shows were super funny. Though we saw some shows at UCB NY (which I will talk about it my NYC post), UCB Franklin is our second home in LA and we missed it! 

Tonight, we are just relaxing at home, since Simon has a 6am presentation for work tomorrow. We are about to eat leftovers from last night - we haven't gotten take out or been to a restaurant yet in 2015, which is (sadly) a great feat for us! Hope you are having a relaxing evening as well. Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Happy December! The past couple weeks have flown by for us; pretty soon, we will be heading to the East Coast once more. Since my last update, we've been doing much of the same old, same old: school work, house work, work work, going to comedy shows, playing videogames, and watching movies.

The Thursday before Thanksgiving, we went to see a live read of the 1982 movie Diner.

The roles originally played by actors like Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser and Mickey Rourke were read by current cast members of the FX show The League like Nick Kroll, Jason Mantzoukas and Mark Duplass. You can check out this post for the full casting info and a short summary. We didn't get a chance to watch the movie before the read, and now that we saw the read, we don't really have a desire to watch the movie. The script was pretty funny, but had a lot of outdated humor, and I can't imagine that the film aged any better visually. I'm still glad we saw the read, though. The guys from The League made even the cringiest parts of the script easy to laugh at, and they all read really well together. Jason Mantzoukas (the guy in the scarf below) was the highlight, and I can't say I am at all surprised by that. The man is a born scene-stealer.

Next month, right before we head east, LACMA is doing a live read of The Empire Strikes Back. They are doing the read in DTLA at the Ace Hotel, which is a bigger venue than the Bing Theater, because of the interest it has generated. We have pretty good seats, and I am anticipating some big names, so we are looking forward to that read.

That Friday night, we went to see Mockingjay: Part One at Arclight. They always have awesome advertisements there, you couldn't have missed Katniss if you tried.

We thought it was good, but definitely a stepping stone to the next (and final) film.

Saturday, Simon worked on his project, and later that night we had Snowpants at UCB Franklin. The improvisers were Ben Schwartz, Horatio Sanz, Zach Woods, and Thomas Middleditch, with special guests Breckin Meyer (aka Travis from Clueless)

and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Y'know, from Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, 10 Things I Hate About You, 500 Days of Summer, 50/50, etc etc.

Yep, that Joseph Gordon-Levitt. 

Even though I expected that he would be a guest for Snowpants soonish, since he and Ben Schwartz worked together on a movie earlier this year, I was still excited to see him do improv. And both he and Breckin Meyer were wonderful for first timers. JGL was a bit over the top at first, but brought it down to a good level very quickly. So glad we got the chance to see the show this month!

That Sunday night, we headed back to UCB for Nate Corddry's Reading Aloud

and Shitty Jobs.

Simon had a school project to work on, so we spent the first few evenings of the week at home. Thanksgiving was the start of a glorious four-day weekend for Simon, and we utilized it as best we could.

We made/bought a giant Thanksgiving feast on Thursday, which we are still eating leftovers from.

It was a casual holiday, but that was okay with us. Of course, we missed our families, but it's our second year of solo Thanksgiving so we've basically gotten used to it.

Friday, we played video games, ate leftovers, and went to see The Imitation Game at Arclight.

The movie is about Alan Turing, a British mathematician who was influential in the creation of computers as we know them today. Simon has been talking about Turing for years, so when we saw that part of his life story was being memorialized on film, we knew we'd have to go see it.

The movie focused on Turing's efforts to crack the German Enigma Code during WWII alongside a small team of mathematicians and logicians. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Turing, and does a remarkable job of making him relatable to a modern day audience. While it's a very conventionally structured biopic, it tells an important story and illustrates the life of a man who contributed much to the world of computing. Simon and I both liked the film a lot, and would definitely recommend it for your future viewing pleasure.

After the movie, we went to UCB Sunset for Your F'ed Up Family,

and then we went home to get some sleep.

Saturday was more of the same - video games, food & improv, this time in the form of ASSSSCAT.

On Sunday, Simon spent most of his day finishing up his final project for the fall semester. Later that night...

And on Monday, Simon was due back at work. All good things must come to an end, even four day weekends.

Monday night, we dropped off my car at the auto body shop so they could repair my keyed up hood, and then went to a double-billed show at UCB Sunset. First up were Erin & Melissa, who we've seen perform a couple times before but still love.

The second half of the show was a 30 minute version of Les Miserables set at a Sizzler, called Les Sizzlerables.

This was absolutely fantastic. They took songs from the show/film, rewrote the lyrics to fit their premise and crammed the entire story into 30 minutes with lots of jokes and references that had me cracking up. This show has hugely talented writers and cast, and I hope that more people see it.

That brings us to last night, when we returned to UCB Sunset for a recording of Lauren Lapkus' podcast, guest starring Horatio Sanz. Lauren is always funny, and they have a great dynamic together, so the show was a good time.

Tonight, we are going to relax at home. Simon is done with his class, but is traveling for work next week, so I am trying to take advantage of his free time. We'd like to wish a Happy Birthday to Mr. Sam Morris! And I hope the rest of you are also doing well, staying warm and getting ready for Christmas. Talk to you soon.