Hannah Wallace, Associate Editor
My couch time has been a trippy, brightly colored love-fest with Pushing Daisies, the complete series on DVD. Even seven years since its brief run ended in 2009, it doesn’t disappoint: A fairytale love story about Ned (the unbelievably attractive Lee Pace) who uses his secret supernatural power to bring his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles (the delightful Anna Friel), back from the dead—but he can never touch her again or she’ll be dead for good. It’s incredibly sweet without being saccharine, and incredibly quirky without sacrificing its heart, with a to-die-for cast—including Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth and Swoozy Kurtz—spouting funny, rapid-fire dialogue. Sarasota’s own Paul Reubens makes a few appearances, too. (And once you’re hooked, do yourself a favor and listen to Anna Friel discussing the show in her native Manchester accent—it’s everything.)
Cooper Levey-Baker, Associate Editor
One perennial pleasure of hip hop is the way the music's samples throw you back into decades-old jazz, funk and soul records. The Beastie Boys lead you to Jimmy Smith. A Tribe Called Quest to Ronnie Foster. A whole ton of artists to the Incredible Bongo Band. The genre's habit of nicking bits of old tracks, re-contextualizing dialogue from movies and stealing snatches of past rappers' best lines makes it pop music's most historically connected and self-aware style. A perfect example: De La Soul's third and best LP, 1993's Buhlōōne Mindstate. The tracks flow with effortless bass and guitar hooks, seductive horns and hip-shaking drum patterns, while layered samples provide depth and complexity. "It might blow up, but it won't go pop" is the album's stated mantra, and it's true: You'd never mistake any of these songs for possible radio hits. But Mindstate has endured in a way more popular albums from 1993 haven't. It doesn't sound dated, and it never will.
Pam Daniel, Editorial Director
I spent way too much time a few years ago reading all of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones books, and I’ve been equally addicted to the TV series. It’s done such a great job of recreating the mythical world Martin imagined; the costumes and other production values are phenomenal; and the cast of characters is even more enthralling than the intricately plotted action. I especially love Tyrion, played by Peter Dinklage—he is such a terrific actor and his character is so brilliant, flawed. noble and complex. Plus there are so many powerful and pivotal female characters, from arch-villains to outcast queens. So I was on my sofa pumping up the volume on the remote control for the season opener on Sunday night, and I will probably watch that—and every other episode—more than once over the coming weeks. Now if only Martin would finish writing the final book in the series!
Savannah Handerson, Editorial Intern
As a fourth year student at New College of Florida trying to complete her senior thesis project, it's a miracle if I can even perform daily tasks. I hardly ever have time to find new music, so I just let NPR's "All Songs Considered" podcast do the work for me. I'll never forget the time I accidentally dozed off to their review of Grimes's new album Art Angels. I woke up in the middle of her song "Belly of the Beast" and I thought I could have run a marathon off the energy of that track. Seriously, the album carried me kicking and screaming across the finish line at NCF. Every song on the album has a relentlessly driving bass beat and spunky, almost cheerleader-style lyrics. Layer over that an ethereal synth dreamscape, and you will feel like you've fallen down Alice's very productive rabbit hole.
Kay Kipling, Executive Editor
I’m really looking forward to watching season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. I loved the first season and can’t wait to gobble up the second very soon. But I’m also caught up right now in the current season of Call the Midwife on PBS, set in 1961 and taking on some pretty tough subjects like abortion and thalidomide, and about to wrap up season 2 of Grantchester, which is set in the 1950s and has a great police inspector/vicar crime-solving duo with Robson Green and James Norton. I love me those British imports.
Ilene Denton, Senior Editor
I’m looking forward to expanding my musical horizons at the “East Meets West” concert Saturday night at USF Sarasota-Manatee featuring Bangladeshi vocalists (and brothers) Ritu and Prithwi Raj. Here’s a sample of their music.
Jenna Greenfield, Editorial Intern
A year ago, I wouldn't have believed that the hottest ticket in the country in 2016 would be to a musical that features the founding fathers debating about debt plans via rap battle--but now, it’s hard to imagine a world without it. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-winning musical Hamilton has taken the Broadway and hip hop worlds by storm, thanks to its quick-witted lyrics and heart-wrenching, wildly entertaining story of an orphan immigrant and America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. I listened to a Hamilton song on a whim for the first time last October and haven't stopped playing the soundtrack since. The 46 songs are a whirlwind of of hip hop, rap and show tunes, all blended together into a story that both reveals an often-forgotten piece of U.S. history and gives everyone who listens something to relate to. I’m a little embarrassed to admit a big part of the reason I’m excited to attend college in New York City next year is that I’ll be able to enter the lottery for a $10 ticket every day. Until then, I’m content blasting the soundtrack in the car, watching videos of the cast, and longingly dreaming of a front row seat.
Megan McDonald, Web Editor
Beyoncé caused the Internet to explode this weekend with the release of Lemonade, her hour-long HBO special and surprise album, and the Beyhive has gone crazy, talking about everything from Queen B's commentary on the state of modern womanhood to her fashion and hairstyles to the status of her marriage. If you're a Beyoncé fan--and, honestly, even if you're not--Lemonade is worth the watch; the songs are emotional and personal, and the visual storytelling is stunning. Also of note: the smart, entertaining think pieces Beyoncé and Lemonade have spawned. This one in the New Yorker and this one from NPR are two of my recent faves.