Episode 181: "STANLEY"

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August 22, 2014


Natasha Lyonne

Origin of the episode title[edit]

Natasha recounts a part of the book 'Sex at Dawn' and describes kind of tribal gang-bang where the woman's next partner is called in from the outside. She and Julie riff on names of these potential partners.


Natasha Lyonne! Natasha Lyonne! Everybody screams for Natasha Lyonne! What a treat, America. NATASHA LYONNE, goddamn movie and television star and wonderful human, is here to chat with us right before the Emmys, kiddos. Enjoy as Natasha explains to us why everything is Hitler's fault, why she hasn't watched OITNB yet in full, how bonobo monkeys are totally passé, the veracity of @UberFacts, whether Diane Keaton could attend an orthodox shul wearing what she usually wears, and that time some girls in sleepaway camp thought she was the devil.

Also- more meditations on disappointment! How you are trapped in the moment when fantastizing just depresses you! The Bourdain-Lite rock 'n' roll anthem that is the HOTEL HELL theme song! What "Soulless" is a synonym for (Unhaunted)! Michelle Williams doing something very weird during CABARET! Ice Water as social media! How the residents of Sweethaven from the film "Popeye" are just big weirdos! And how, if you show your ugly stuff as well as your glittering gold, nobody can "getcha" for being miserable.

Trivia and References[edit]

  • Julie cokesplains the film Popeye.
  • The ALS Ice Bucket challenge is the lowest form of Tzedakah.

Download the Episode[edit]

Episode Link


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Monologue Transcript[edit]

Hello. It's Julie Klausner back for another episode of HWYW.

I'm done. Are you done? Are you sick of everything? Is it time to just wind down? Don't you kind of wish the season was over or the school year was over? Or if you took a long vacation that the vacation was over or your trip was over? Whatever you are experiencing right now, don't you kind of wish it were over? I may kind of be in a negative place right now because I am always in the middle. Even when I am reading a good book or if it is a hardcover you know how you can mark the pages with the back flap instead of the front flap when you are more than half-way done and you think to yourself look at me, I've read the majority of the book. I feel like I am in a place now where I think I have read the majority of the book but I haven't even put a dent in it and the test is Friday. Or you think I have been on the goddamn elliptical for at least 45 minutes and you look and see it's only 5. Are me bones weary? Certainly.

Moreover, it's funny when I used to describe people as middle-aged and now I don't know what that means. What is a midlife crisis? If you die at 60 then it could be 30. Just the idea that if you are lucky you keep reaching your goals but then once you have them you realize you are miserable. You realize, oh no another thing to cross of the list of things that I don't want. There's always, at least for me, I've always been a scarcity-based person but I also oscillate between extreme. It's nothing or everything. So whenever I have another experience of, "Oh! This sucks too." I think to myself, of shit life is going to stop giving me things. If I keep hating everything there will be nothing left to like. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I let something that wasn't shitty slip through my fingers and I should go back and see if I left anything behind although I know deep down, I didn't miss a thing. I know for a fact I'm not one of those people who thinks, "Oh, I let that one get away," whether it's a lovair or a job, an experience, a friend that completely stopped talking to you and wouldn’t tell you why. All of a sudden just stopped emailing you back or texting you back and when you asked her what was wrong she also didn't write back. In no way am I going back and thinking, I wish I had dropped her a few more text messages. No.

I didn't miss a fucking thing. My eyes were open the whole time. I've talked about this before. The great disappointment, at least for me, of turning a corner in your thirties and having, not realization that the "best years" are behind you, but that you used to be confident that they were in front of you and now you don't have faith in that. What was once an escape, for me, in the form of checking out, going into my own head and thinking when I was growing up,"One day I'll have this, and I'll have that. I'll be having sex with this (This? Like I always wanted to have sex with an object? No.)" I'd say to myself, "One day I am going to be having sleeping with this incarnation of Michael Keaton. I'll have that. I'll be on that show. Oh, my god! Did I mention how thin I am going to be? "

No I don't check out anymore because those fantasies are just depressing. They are not an escape. It's play, which is a word that has always made me uncomfortable. I feel like imagination is faith in a lot of ways. Faith requires a suspension of disbelief. Sometimes when you're so weighed down with everything that is observable you have a hard time shedding that in order to think what if...? Anything is possible. Let's pretend. Things that a lighter person could absorb themselves with the possibility of I might just be one of those people that, I don't want to say can't experience joy, but maybe there's a ceiling on my possibilities. I don't know. I don't want to say on my happiness. I don't know why I don't want to say that. I just don't. Happiness is very private isn't it? The only thing more personal than talking about your happiness is telling someone what you ate this week--everything you ate. People need to stop asking other people what their diet is like. That's really an intimate question.

I was going to say I am sorry to start this podcast off on a negative note, but I'm not sorry. I'm really not. Although I am considering taking next week off. If I took next week off by the way, if we took next week off. If we did not release a new podcast next week, it'd be the first time we will have missed a week. Maybe we will, maybe we won't. I don't know. I'm going to go to the beach next weekend. It's going to be a beach.

In regards to happiness, even the word makes me go 'ugh'! I've already said lover and play and yet the word happiness is giving me the jeebers. The harshest judgment you can have on another when you are trying to say, "I really hate that person. I'm the good guy in this situation," is, "He's a very unhappy person," or, "She's miserable." That's so mean. It's mean in a traditional sense. There's nothing new about taking pleasure in the misery of an enemy but to gloat on your own conclusion that somebody else's unhappiness is the result of some sort of karmic backlash is sort of medieval. It certainly is not very sensitive to mental health. I am very aware of that.

Honesty trumps all. If you talk through what you feel about who you are honestly, there's nothing anyone else can have on you. There's nothing anyone else can say where you'll think touché. He won. You'll always win if you show the ugly stuff alongside with your glittering gold. Then what do people have on you? To say someone is miserable, see that person is miserable, I'm right. That implies their misery is a secret. If your misery is not a secret and you can talk through it because you're trying, you're still in the game then bring it on bitches.

I'm not going to talk about Henry Rollins. I have never talked about Henry Rollins on this podcast, maybe I have. I don't know. He's an intense one, that sort. He's an intense sort. What he said about Robin William's [1] was shockingly crass. On the subject of Robin Williams’ I did want to mention that Popeye and World's Greatest Dadare both on Netflix streaming. They are wonderful films to revisit. I saw Popeye again this weekend. I hadn't seen it in ages, since I was a little kid. My family really liked that movie and treated it like it was a normal family movie which it very much isn't. Not to say it's inappropriate for children, although I remember being very creeped out by it. Even more so when I visited it on Sunday because I'm not sure, I know but I don’t know, the game, to put it in UCB terms, of the people of Sweet Haven.

If you have seen the movie you'll know that the plot is that Popeye the Sailorman washes up on the shores of Sweet Haven and he is looking for his Dad, Poop-deck Pappy. As soon as he banks, parks, embarks, docks he takes a trip through the town. It's in the tradition of a standard movie musical where the people in the town sing about who they are, what they're about and what a typical day is like in an optimistic way to return itself after the conflict back to its state of normalcy. In the case of Little Shop of Horrors, Les Miz the opening number will shine light on the direness of the conditions. Anyway the people of Sweet Haven sing an odd Harry Nilsson song. I know to say that something is a very odd Harry Nilsson song in the context of talking about Robert Altman's Popeye via Robert Evan's septum and Jules Feiffer too, I'm really doing some coke'splaining here. It's a weird song about weird people. You are not quite sure about how they are weird. What's the game of the people of Sweet Haven? Are they poor? Are they unhappy? Nope, they're just weird. Ok. What do they want? We don't know. Some of them want different things. That guy wants hamburgers. Bill Erwin wants his hat, I think. I think he's the one always chasing his hat. Bill Erwin is in it. So is Linda Hunt, tragically not very much, as is Dennis Franz.

Listen, you've probably seen Popeye. You know its deal. You know it came out of Robert Evan's being mad that he lost the bidding war for Annie and decided to make what he thought was, not the equivalent, but a comic strip musical too. It was toot toot up the patoot. You really didn't know what coke could do until you saw Popeye. I know that He needs me is heartbreaking and beautiful. It also was brought back into the conversation by Paul Thomas Anderson. I have to say He's Large is one of the best musical comedy moments/song. It's perfect and then there is an extended sequence with an octopus. Everything is fine.

Then I watched The World According to Garp, which was a lot. That was a lot. That was like Wastopia. Do you know what? That was too much. I shouldn't have watched that this weekend and every episode of Hotel Hell. Hotel Hell is hosted by Gordon Ramsey, about whom I really have no feelings. I never really watched Hell's Kitchen. The only thing I watched was that thing everyone was talking about online--that insane couple, Amy's Baking Company or something. I watch him being horrified that the ravioli was frozen. I saw that he was hosting a show about horrible hotels. That’s kind of my favorite genre of things, whether it's an article, or surfing a trip advisor webpage about the worst hotels, or reading people’s reviews. Hotels to me are nightmare places. Most of them are haunted. The ones that aren't tend to be soulless which is just a synonym for un-haunted.

In Hotel Hell Gordon Ramsey travels around the country. It really is a Reganite screed against small businesses when you think about it. He visits hotels run not by corporations. He sleeps there. He tastes the food in the restaurants. They are always serving him frozen food. He is always shocked, shocked! He says, "This menu is so big. How can you serve all of this food fresh?" "It's frozen sir." "Frozen!?!" Then he's like a doll on a pull string, he'll bleat a British turn of phrase that is downright Mary Poppinsian. It's just offensive. I'm not an English person. I'm far from it. If I were watching show where every ten minutes they made the guy from England says 'Blimey!' I'd be offended. Honestly that's all I could be offended by because the world would be mine. The sun never sets on a white blond European. Anyway, he apparently has terrible skin and that is why he's wearing five inches of pancake makeup in each shot that you see. It's a great show.

I really recommend starting with one where the woman wouldn't stop singing. She was in New Mexico and had this horrible place that's he'd done in an Etruscan theme. Gordon Ramsey likes to tell people, "You're in New Mexico. This is paradise. People want to see... Celebrate the area!" Don't tell me. There is one episode where a guy, who our friend Jason Woliner pointed out, had obviously murdered his wife. He had an older wife who had died and left him the hotel. Then he bought a bunch of vintage cars and became an alcoholic. He was drunk the whole show. He was now dating and elderly woman wearing a very fetching wig. Gordon Ramsey kept mentioning it in the voice-over. He'd eat at the restaurant and order the artichoke dip, he was using his chip to demonstrate how gooey and 'gross' it was. It looked good to me. Honestly if I were Gordon Ramsey I say, "This is terrible," then I would finish it. He always sends it back. This is awful! This is dreadful! This is disgusting. I would be finishing it. It is food, technically. He was demonstrating the consistency of the dip and said, "The dip had the consistency of one of Philip's girlfriends," because he dates old women who don't have teeth. It's a great show. I know I'm not describing it terribly well, but it has a fun theme song that sounds like a song that will be performed by Denis Leary's character Johnny Rock on the new FX series Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll' about Johnny Rocker. The theme song is like (plays music from Hotel Hell and sings) If you think the beer is rotten you should see the clientele, Hotel, Hotel Hell. It makes the No Reservations theme song sound very subtle and artistic.

Oh my goodness. I saw Michelle Williams in Cabaret this week. I went to see Cabaret with my friend Chiara Atik. It is a fabulous show. Cabaret does the best job of turning Weimer Berlin and the rumblings of the Third Reich completely absorbing the country into the horror movie that it deserves. There are moments of pure horror where even though you know they are coming they just make your heart tremble. This production does a really good job of it. I had seen Alan Cumming in the role before. He was wonderful. I have no earthly idea of what Michelle Williams was doing. She was acting crazy. She was acting like that dummy in the Twilight Zone episode about the dummy. She was talking like this (in affected accent) and she's say, "If I were to pain my toenails green and you would ask me what I thought of my toenails being green, I'd say I think they're pretty." She was acting like an insane chattering broken box. I couldn't understand a fucking word she was saying. Her diction was off. The notes she couldn't hit that were too low, she didn't even do the sexy Liz Phair thing. She kept trying to pluck a string in her vocal chords that wasn't there. Then she'd imbue these turns of phrase with odd emphasis as if she were somebody learning to speak English and putting emphasis on wrong syllables. It wasn't that she was a bad singer. She actually can sing, but she just made choices that were insane. They didn't make any sense. It was frustrating. You were wondering what was wrong with what she was doing. Onward Emma Stone do what you will.

I'm not even going to treat this ice bucket water discussion with any respect by mentioning it, or speaking about it at length. I will say that I think the reason why this ice bucket--Lou Gehrig's Disease nonsense has caught on is because Americans only like charity when their names are in lights and the notion of celebrities tagging other celebrities with the ice bucket thing adjacent to it...the reason why I think this is popular is because it is a new form of social media and I think people like videotaping themselves and telling the internet that they have friends or that they can reach others. If the people see them they can say, "Hey Kim Kardashian you do it." The people other's are calling out are absurd. It is a way for celebrities to be cozy with each other. It's what we did when we discovered social media in the first place. At least we didn't do it under the guise of giving charity to diseases. We weren't full of goddamn lies. My impression of this ice bucket situation is...

Hi Jimmy. Aw, there's my joy boy. Hi handsome. Hi handsome, are you going to sit on the couch with Mommy? There you go. There you go.

My impression of this ice bucket hoo-ha is that you can either pour yourself with water or you can give money to charity. All of these dummies who are pouring water on their keppes are saying, "I'm not going to give to charity--your turn Willie Nelson." Here's the thing, if they are going to give to charity in addition to throwing water on their faces they are going to make a point of saying, "I'm going to give anyway," at the end which is not the highest form of tzedakah. If you are a Jewish person who learned about charity in Hebrew School, or as I know it tzedakah--my favorite tzedakah was Neil Tzedakah. There are different scales of charity giving. Rabbis were the original Buzzfeed. They loved listing things. They would say, "The highest form of tzedakah is if somebody gives and the person who gets it doesn't know who gave it and the person who gave it doesn't know who gets it. The lowest form is when you make sure the getter knows you're the one who gave it. Enjoy your ice buckets America.

What the hell is going on? I know it is mid-August, but really is this all we have to watch? Thank god for Hotel Hell. Nathan For You is over. Going Deep with David Reese is over on Monday. This is all we have? Buckets? Buckets of water on heads? That's no good. It's garbage. Burning Man is happening. That's not even connected to the water but it is happening and it bothers me.

The dog that lives next door to me sucks. I think he's a fucking loser and I hate him. Here's the thing, if I see the dog and he comes up to me and is nice, I'll love the dog. But every day when I come home or leave the dog screams, howls, and barks and is really rude. I think that dog sucks and is a loser. That's all. I had to get that out. Honestly no one loves animals more than me, maybe Alicia Silverstone does. She's an odd bird. She's got other stuff going on right? I feel like Alicia Silverstone is someone that wears a nursing bra all the time. When her kids are 25 she'll say, "It's just more comfortable."

For those of you who ordered T-shirts we have great news. We have more T-shirts coming in Monday. That is the work of Ryan Hotlips Houlihan who ran to Brooklyn. Ryan lives in Harlem. I live in Manhattan as well; do you know what we did? We went to Brooklyn to get them. We approved them. They are beautiful T-shirts design by Michael Kupperman. If you ordered them in the past couple of weeks, or however long it has been we're going to get them in on Monday and hopefully send them out to you before Labor Day.

Holly Schlesinger won an Emmy which is wonderful new. Holly is one of my favorite human beings that have walked the face of planet Earth. Holly works for Bob Burger's and she wrote an episode called, "Mazel Tina" That she was generous to cast me in. I played the mom of Jenny Slate's character. Bob's Burgers won Best Animated Series at the Creative Arts Emmy's this year. I guess every show submits an episode to represent the series. They submitted Holly's episode. It won. I am so proud of her. I am so happy. She has an Emmy now. She deserves all of the good things.

We are going to start the show. We have one guest...