I am a huge fan of history and comedy, so Christopher Miller’s book, American Cornball: A Laffopedic Guide to the Formerly Funny, was right up my alley. In it, Miller uses an alphabetical or enyclopedic approach to breaking down what has been funny in American history, and places within the context of that time. He also explores the curious notion of how comedy tend to be very culture and context specific, and does not tend to hold up well over time. It’s a fascinating (and hilarious) look at American history through the lens of comedy. Chrisopher Miller is a professor at Bennington College in Vermont and is also the author of Sudden Noises from Inanimate Objects, which won the Seattle Times Best Book of the Year award.
As a The Brady Bunch fanatic, I was thrilled to interview former child actor Robbie Rist, who played Cousin Oliver on that show. He is now a famous voice actor known for parts in Doc McStuffins and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He is also a musician and had a cameo in Sharknado. Above all, Robbie is hilarious, smart, and talented. You’ll love him!
Hope all my Pittsburgh friends (and fans!) will join me for a live taping of my podcast, The Meister Piece, featuring guest comedian, Davon Magwood. We will also have some surprise guests as well. The Arcade Comedy Theatre is BYOB and tickets are only $10. So come down to the theatre this Friday, January 2, at 10pm! Buy tickets here.
As the mama of a toddler, I kept hearing about Pamela Druckerman’s book Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. I was skeptical because I have an aversion to the fetishizing of the French, especially among women, but I was intrigued all the same. The book was wonderful in part because it provides insight into how Americans have come to parent, and why it often inadvertently holds them hostage. It’s also wonderful because it offers hope for those parents who feel imprisoned by the job and experience a loss of identity in the midst of child-rearing.
Since that book became an international best-seller, author Pamela Druckerman followed up with French Children Don’t Throw Food and Bebe Day By Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting. A combo book of Bringing Up Bebe and Bebe Day By Day is available now in paperback.
Here we talk about her books, what she’s learned about parenting, and the differences between American and French parenting. Check out her website here. Enjoy!
I recently saw the phenomenal, Academy Award winning documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom about the lives and careers of back-up singers. You must see this film. The voices, stories, and people in this movie are absolutely compelling and captivating. In addition to documenting the life of a back-up singer and what that career can be like, the film shows the way session groups sang back-up on almost every song from the 60s and 70s (think: the Gospel back-up sound on “Sweet Home Alabama” or the ladies who sang “Da-Doo-Run-Run”).
One of the stars of the film was the incredible Darlene Love who is most famous for the vocals on He’s a Rebel (which I sillily referred to as “She’s a Rebel” in my intro here! Oy), Be My Baby, The Monster Mash, and dozens more. Her voice is stunning and her effervescent personality is contagious. The film is a masterpiece and ends with her being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Bruce Springsteen watching on proudly.
This year she is releasing her first full length album this year, there is a biopic starring Toni Braxton as Love to be aired on Oprah’s OWN network, and she will be making her 28th and final Christmas appearance on David Letterman’s Late Show this year. Visit her website for more on tour dates and news.
I was truly honored to speak with this inspirational and talented woman. Below is a clip of her SINGING her acceptance speech at the Oscars and enjoy my interview below that.
I love the Letters From a Nut book series. These books compile bizarre and hilarious letters that Bruce Baum and his writing partner at the time, Barry Marder, sent to businesses (and their responses). They were authored under the pen name Ted L. Nancy. Jerry Seinfeld wrote the forewards to these books, and now there is some controversy about who the true author(s) are. Bruce claims he is one of the two authors while Marder (with Seinfeld by his side) has taken sole credit. He is working on a documentary about this controversy and a pilot for a show called Clear My Name dealing with people who feel they’ve been denied credit for their work or were unfairly besmirched. Check out the video below to see him tell his side of the story and listen to my podcast interview beneath that for more. Also, visit Bruce’s website for tour dates and more.
I’m easily annoyed. I hate loud noises, babies crying, women chattering, the sound of football on television–I don’t like any of it. The worst part of it, though, is that I seem like I LOVE all of it. This is my cross to bear. I seem super perky, but in reality I’m a grouch. In sum, I’m the worst kind of person. I’m Elaine Benes who seems like Kelly Ripa.
I’ve been diagnosed as a “Highly Sensitive Person,” which sounds like a joke, but apparently is a thing where you have greater sensitivity to noises, textures, and other sensory experiences. Being a Highly Sensitive Person really just means I have high highs and low lows, and translates into me being overjoyed or devastated.
Even though I’m irritated by the slightest volume increase (which should make me unable to function in an MTV Challenge house), I am an extrovert, and desire human contact. On one hand, I make every effort to avoid eye contact with people when I’m out in public, but I simultaneously crave attention and interaction to a degree that is probably unhealthy.
This is why social media is a dream come true. I can post an observation, picture, or joke and have people acknowledge (and often validate) me, but I don’t actually have to talk to them. The problem, of course, is that we all still have to go to the supermarket, mall, and doctor’s office, and that’s when I would really appreciate you letting me scroll through my Facebook newsfeed in silence. It’s not you, it’s me. You’re probably delightful. I’m the worst, and I can’t listen to your tales about the weather, local sports, or pumpkin spice lattes.
And, listen, I get that when you’ve been on reality TV that you should be prepared to discuss it at all times, but let me just clear up the three questions people seem to have, for the record, once and for all: 1) Yes, it was fun, 2) Yes, I keep in touch with SOME of “those people,” and 3) No, I don’t think I’m going to do “that” again.
Also, the fact that I have a kid and you have a kid and we happen to be standing in the same checkout line does not mean we need to be friends. In fact, I think it means that neither of us are in the mood to have a chat because we both have toddler at our heels trying to rip into a Snickers bar that has not yet been paid for.
So know this, I’m both annoying and annoyed, so, whatever you do, don’t bug me.
If you grew up in Pittsburgh and have ears, you’ve heard the voice and impressions of legendary radio personality and comedian, Jimmy Krenn. He ruled morning radio for 24 years, and caused a stir when was abruptly fired from the DVE Morning Show. In this Meister Piece exclusive, Jimmy opens up about that controversy and tells us what happened from his point of view. He also shares how he got his start in the business and how he began doing impersonations at a young age. You can hear his hilarious podcast at jimkrenn.com and he’s back on the airwaves every week on KDKA Fridays between 8-9am with hosts Larry Richert and John Shumway. He is one of the nicest guys in the city, and I’m proud to call him my friend. I hope you enjoy the interview–he’s so much more than just a pretty voice.
If you’ve ever proclaimed your nerdiness, you’re probably not a nerd. I hear a lot of girls saying they’re nerds because they “love to read” only to find out their definition of a bibliophile is someone who read Fifty Shades of Gray or The Notebook. If that’s the kind of book you’re into, more power to you, but you’re not a nerd.
I recently finished my PhD in Religious Studies, and even I’m not a nerd. I’ve been forced to navigate a weird in-between world due my dichotomous identity as both scholar and reality star (I’m using the word star very loosely). Almost every day I have to explain that a PhD in Religious Studies means that I am, in fact, a doctor. I’m not a minister, nun, missionary, or even faithful (depending on the day). I study religion. And, yes, I am on reality television, which isn’t exactly a bastion of intellectualism, so I understand the confusion, but c’mon. What’s a girl gotta do to get a little respect around here?!
I realize, of course, that my long blonde hair and ever-present stiletto heels can be confusing for those who think all the smarts wear glasses and pocket protectors. Don’t let my fake eyelashes fool you, though–I love documentaries, non-fiction, crossword puzzles, and TED Talks. Like most people, though, I appreciate a nice break from the ivory tower. My definition of a good dissertation is a done dissertation. I delight in watching Top Chef and Dancing with the Stars. I like dick jokes. And, if I’m honest, I only made it through about ten minutes of Cosmos.
Despite my dubious nerd qualifications, I look forward to a day when people stop asking me if I’m a “real” doctor or, “What do you do with a doctorate in religion anyway?”. So, let’s say we make a deal where you quit pretending you’re a nerd because one time you had braces, and I won’t make you call me Dr. Meister.
Gabrielle Glaser’s book, Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink and How They Can Regain Control, will undoubtedly resonate with many women who have asked themselves if they drink too much. In this insightful book, Glaser describes the relationship women have had with alcohol over American history, and discusses issues of gender, women’s rights, and depression along the way. She, perhaps controversially, disagrees with the way 12-step programs are seen as the catch-all solution for addiction and abuse, and argues these programs are not the sole solution in helping people struggling with alcohol abuse and/or over-drinking. Among the fascinating elements in her book is her discussion of how women have taken on jobs outside of the home without gaining much relief from domestic duties. These added stresses contribute to women self-medicating and de-stressing through alcohol. Glaser provides an abundance of information about women and alcohol, and also offers alternative methods for curbing over-drinking as a means of stress relief. Please pick up her book here–it’s a tremendously interesting and fascinating read.