My 10 Favorite Golden Girls Episodes

I still remember what I said on the occasion of the DVD release of the first season of The Golden Girls back in 2004: “Eat your heart out, Ozu.” Here is the result of an email volley with another cheesecake-eating friend of mine.

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01. “Till Death Do We Volley” (S4, E19) — A lot of my choices have some dramatic or emotional heft to back up the punchlines, but this one is just a classic piece of sitcom writing from start to finish, with a perfect series of one-ups between Dorothy and the somewhat terrifying woman who was Dorothy’s rival in high school (Anne Francis, in full ’80s butch fettle) and a reasonably twisty plot, given this is after all The Golden Girls and not Mulholland Drive. The bitchy quips between the two in this episode are fantastic. (“The way you picked yourself up after getting dumped by Stan, boy, I envy you your gumption.” “And I your breast implants.”) And Dorothy’s poker face throughout the whole episode is flawless. Plus, the best Sophia fart joke of the series. (“You’ll have to excuse Sophia.” “Oh, you heard that? I thought I was safe backed up against these pillows.”) Bonus: Blanche admitting that she loved her family and they had a few dollars but, “when you get down to it, basically they were trash,” but not before sniping to Dorothy, “I’m sorry if we can’t all come from places as socially acceptable as … Brooklyn.” If I’m looking to show off what made this one of the great sitcoms that still stayed well within a potentially constricting format, this is the episode I choose.

02. “Ebbtide’s Revenge” (S6, E12) — It’s no secret that Sophia is my least favorite of the four main characters, but in this case her antagonism just makes the moment she lets the facade drop all the more powerful. Structurally, this is a replay of the “Good Times” episode when Florida seems to be refusing to cry for her dead husband, but this episode goes much deeper into the nature of grief beyond the denial stage. Even beyond the obviously touching GLAAD Award-ish affirmation of Phil’s cross-dressing, the episode taps into that regret we feel about the feelings we withhold from people, only to realize too late that they were standing in the way of fully realized relationships. Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Bea Arthur were all consistently great throughout the series. But none of them ever delivered a moment as unexpected and raw as Estelle Getty’s admission of parental shame. I’ve admittedly never been a “drama trumps comedy” personality, but that’s about the only explanation I can think of why this heartbreaking episode didn’t flat-out take first place.

03. “Journey to the Center of Attention” (S7, E19) — By the last season, the bloom was definitely off the rose (and the Sophia). But there were a handful of episodes that got fresh mileage out of subtle twists on the characters’ traits. And, in the case of this particular episode, offered the most rewarding switcheroo in the show’s history. Blanche comes to terms — kicking and screaming, at that — with the fact that Dorothy has a talent for attracting men that she herself can’t hope to compete with. And what a beautiful talent it is. Bea Arthur’s performance of “What’ll I Do” is an astonishment, effortlessly moving from quiet melancholy into a totally unexpected punchline — when she decides, after noticing she’s entranced the entire room, to have another go around with the song, a moment that prefigures the final episode’s bittersweet long goodbye gag.

04. “Isn’t It Romantic” (S2, E5) — The three episodes I’ve listed so far all spotlight Dorothy in a vital if not necessarily central role. I make no bones about it, she is the engine of the show for me. That said, Blanche often sneaks up from behind as the show’s secret MVP, the middle ground between Dorothy’s infallible intelligence and Rose’s geniality. Blanche isn’t the focus of this episode; Rose is. But Blanche gets the episode’s best punchline, when she reacts badly to the news that Dorothy’s friend Jean is in love with Rose. “To think that Jean would prefer Rose to me? That’s ridiculous!”

05. “Job Hunting” (S1, E22) — Clearly one of the earliest episodes they shot (actually, it looks like it was taped concurrently with the pilot), this episode boasts a much looser structure than virtually every other episode in the series, predominately because of the extended midnight snack session that serves no plot function, but is instead used to shade three still-new characters. Like many of the best episodes of Norman Lear’s ’70s sitcoms, “Job Hunting” plays like a showcase one-act play. “Alright, so you’re a few years older. So am I, so is Blanche. Alright, so you’re a little thicker around the middle. So is Blanche!”

06. “My Brother, My Father” (S3, E17) — More episodes than not, I regard the arrival of Stan at the girls’ doorstep with about as much enthusiasm as Dorothy. Usually, the writers would use the occasion to fall back on a string of cheap toupee jokes, but this is one of the few episodes where the writers manage to come up with zingers worthy of their animosity. (“I’ll have to bring out the big gun.” “You’re wasting your time, Stanley. I’m familiar with the big gun.”) Uncle Angelo became a nuisance in the last season, too, but at least this first time around, the cliches hadn’t gotten stale. Also, Blanche, dressed as a nun and carrying her clothes: “We’re collecting lingerie for … needy … sexy people.”

07. “Dorothy’s New Friend” (S3, E15) — Dorothy’s foibles are usually dismissed as evidence of her rule over the roost. She’s the smartest, the most sensible and the most responsible of the quartet. That’s why the other three always take cheap shots at her physical beauty or perceived lack thereof. (“It’s not easy living with someone so perfect,” Blanche explains in the episode where the four visit a psychiatrist.) This episode finds a more elegant means of highlighting Dorothy’s character weaknesses: Barbara Thorndike, Dorothy’s seeming intellectual equal who is also, as it turns out, a total bitch about it.

08. “Wham, Bam, Thank You, Mammy” (S6, E5) — One of my favorite guest stars ever is Ruby Dee as Blanche’s mammy, who arrives after Big Daddy’s death to tell an unreceptive Blanche that her father, well, had a touch of Jungle Fever. She requests a trinket from Big Daddy’s belongings. “The Bible?” “No thanks, I don’t drink.”

09. “The One That Got Away” (S4, E3) — The one where Blanche is reunited with the one man that wouldn’t sleep with her and committing to finish the job even when he shows up fat, bald and still disinterested. I will never come up with a fake name more delicious than Ham Lushbough. Better fat jokes, on the whole, than “Blanche’s Little Girl,” too.

10. “Dancing in the Dark” (S5, E8) — I love when glimmers of Sue Ann Nivens peek through the Rose facade, as when she sets up Blanche with Miles and then, behind her back, asks Dorothy “Can you believe that backstabbing slut?”

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Honorable Mentions

“Joust Between Friends” (S2, E9) — “Eat dirt and die, trash.”

“Blanche’s Little Girl” (S3, E14) — The surfeit of cheap fat jokes from Sophia sour the proceedings a bit, but this is a solid demonstration of the maxim that honesty is always better than lies via withholding.

“Scared Straight” (S4, E9) — Rue’s theory that gay men like Blanche so much because she is, for all intents and purposes, a gay man is a tad objectionable, but it gets a nice test drive in this episode when her basically identical brother Clayton turns out to be gay.

“Not Another Monday” (S5, E7) — Geraldine Fitzgerald reading off the list of foods she’s going to order before killing herself: “I’m having the shrimp cocktail, the cream of mushroom soup, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and a filet mignon.” Also, Dorothy interrupting a Rose story with the promise: “I’m going to cut out your tongue.”

“Henny Penny Straight, No Chaser” (S6, E26) — “Help. The outlook is drear.” Great capper too, with Blanche being unable to get totally out of character.

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Top 5 Worst Episodes

01. “Fiddler on the Ropes,” a.k.a. “Hath Not a Cuban Eyes?” Gag me with a boxing glove.

02. Any episode dealing with Stan and Dorothy’s slummy apartment complex they ran together toward the end of the run.

03. “The Days and Nights of Sophia Petrillo,” a.k.a. the one where the writers just stuffed all their unused stories and sketches into an otherwise wheel-spinning mess of an episode.

04. “Mister Terrific,” a.k.a. the one that I believe actually references a Maude episode, but is still tonally awkward and has some of the sloppiest blocking ever (the sequence on the ledge, which is problematic enough even without the amateurish blocking).

05. “Questions and Answers,” a.k.a. the one where Jeopardy tells Dorothy that America would hate her. Yeah, I’m sure that’s why the show was among the top-rated in America for the first six seasons.

Honorable Mention: “Ladies of the Night,” a.k.a. the one where Sophia leaves the three of them in jail and Burt Reynolds stands still for about a minute while the audience goes nuts for no apparent reason.

Been Around The World With The 1990s’ Billboard R&B #1’s

The 1990s may not have been a perfect R&B decade (one and a half words: R. Kelly), but it was my R&B decade. So here’s the plan. I’m going to revisit every single that landed #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart during that 10-year span that began with my collection of Bart Simpson T-shirts and ended with me pretending to browse for interview outfits.

I’ll probably get so weak in the knees I will hardly be able to speak.

1990
Babyface, “Tender Lover” (Dec. 30, 1989 & Jan. 6, 1990)
Janet Jackson, “Rhythm Nation” (Jan. 13, 1990)
Quincy Jones feat. Ray Charles & Chaka Khan, “I’ll Be Good To You” (Jan. 20 & 27, 1990)
Regina Belle, “Make It Like It Was” (Feb. 3, 1990)
Skyy, “Real Love” (Feb. 10, 1990)
Ruby Turner, “It’s Gonna Be Alright” (Feb. 17, 1990)
Stacy Lattisaw with Johnny Gill, “Where Do We Go From Here” (Feb. 24 & March 3, 1990)
Janet Jackson, “Escapade” (March 10, 1990)
Quincy Jones with Al B. Sure!, James Ingram, El DeBarge & Barry White, “The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)” (March 17, 1990)
Lisa Stansfield, “All Around The World” (March 24 & 31, 1990)
Troop, “Spread My Wings” (April 7 & 14, 1990)
After 7, “Ready Or Not” (April 21 & 28, 1990)
Bell Biv Devoe, “Poison” (May 5 & 12, 1990)
Johnny Gill, “Rub You The Right Way” (May 19, 1990)
En Vogue, “Hold On” (May 26 & June 2, 1990)
Tony! Toni! Toné!, “The Blues” (June 9, 1990)
Quincy Jones feat. Tevin Campbell, “Tomorrow (A Better You, A Better Me)” (June 16, 1990)
MC Hammer, “U Can’t Touch This” (June 23, 1990)
Troop, “All I Do Is Think of You” (June 30, 1990)
Lisa Stansfield, “You Can’t Deny It” (July 7, 1990)
Johnny Gill, “My, My, My” (July 14 & 21, 1990)
Keith Sweat, “Make You Sweat” (July 28, 1990)
After 7, “Can’t Stop” (Aug. 4, 1990)
Mariah Carey, “Vision of Love” (Aug. 11 & 18, 1990)
The Time, “Jerk Out” (Aug. 25, 1990)
Tony! Toni! Toné!, “Feels Good” (Sept. 1 & 8, 1990)
En Vogue, “Lies” (Sept. 15, 1990)
The Boys, “Crazy” (Sept. 22, 1990)
Prince, “Thieves in the Temple” (Sept. 29, 1990)
Pebbles, “Giving You the Benefit” (Oct. 6-20, 1990)
Samuelle, “So You Like What You See” (Oct. 27 & Nov. 3, 1990)
Mariah Carey, “Love Takes Time” (Nov. 10, 1990)
Bell Biv Devoe, “B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?” (Nov. 17, 1990)
Al B. Sure!, “Misunderstanding” (Nov. 24, 1990)
Whitney Houston, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” (Dec. 1 & 8, 1990)
Ralph Tresvant, “Sensitivity” (Dec. 15, 1990)
Tony! Toni! Toné!, “It Never Rains (In Southern California)” (Dec. 22 & 29, 1990)

1991
Freddie Jackson, “Love Me Down” (Jan. 5 & 12, 1991)
Surface, “The First Time” (Jan. 19, 1991)
Pebbles & Babyface, “Love Makes Things Happen” (Jan. 26 & Feb. 2, 1991)
En Vogue, “You Don’t Have To Worry” (Feb. 9, 1991)
Keith Sweat, “I’ll GIve All My Love To You” (Feb. 16, 1991)
C+C Music Factory, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” (Feb 23, 1991)
Whitney Houston, “All the Man That I Need” (March 2 & 9, 1991)
The Rude Boys, “Written All Over Your Face” (March 16, 1991)
Hi-Five, “I Like the Way (The Kissing Game)” (March 23 & 30, 1991)
Freddie Jackson, “Do Me Again” (April 6, 1991)
Johnny Gill, “Wrap My Body Tight” (April 13, 1991)
Tony! Toni! Toné!, “Whatever You Want” (April 20 & 27, 1991)
Christopher Williams, “I’m Dreamin'” (May 4, 1991)
Phil Perry, “Call Me” (May 11, 1991)
Teddy Pendergrass, “It Should’ve Been You” (May 18, 1991)
Keith Washington, “Kissing You” (May 25, 1991)
Color Me Badd, “I Wanna Sex You Up” (June 1 & 8, 1991)
Luther Vandross, “Power of Love/Love Power” (June 15 & 22, 1991)
Lisa Fischer, “How Can I Ease the Pain” (June 29 & July 6, 1991)
Damian Dame, “Exclusivity” (July 13 & 20, 1991)
LeVert, “Baby I’m Ready” (July 27, 1991)
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, “Summertime” (Aug. 3, 1991)
Hi-Five, “I Can’t Wait Another Minute” (Aug. 10, 1991)
Peabo Bryson, “Can You Stop the Rain” (Aug. 17 & 24, 1991)
BeBe & CeCe Winans, “Addictive Love” (Aug. 31 & Sept. 7, 1991)
Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, “Let the Beat Hit ‘Em” (Sept. 14, 1991)
Phyllis Hyman, “Don’t Wanna Change the World” (Sept. 21, 1991)
Color Me Badd, “I Adore Me Amor” (Sept. 28, 1991)
Vanessa Williams, “Running Back To You” (Oct. 5 & 12, 1991)
Karyn White, “Romantic” (Oct. 19, 1991)
Boyz II Men, “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” (Oct. 26, 1991)
Mariah Carey, “Emotions” (Nov. 2, 1991)
Jodeci, “Forever My Lady” (Nov. 9 & 16, 1991)
Tracie Spencer, “Tender Kisses” (Nov. 23, 1991)
The Rude Boys, “Are You Lonely For Me” (Nov. 30, 1991)
BeBe & CeCe Winans, “I’ll Take You There” (Dec. 7, 1991)
Gerald Levert, “Private Line” (Dec. 14, 1991)
Shanice, “I Love Your Smile” (Dec. 21, 1991-Jan. 11, 1992)

1992
Tevin Campbell, “Tell Me What You Want Me To Do” (Jan. 18, 1992)
Keith Sweat, “Keep It Comin'” (Jan. 25 & Feb. 1, 1992)
Jodeci, “Stay” (Feb. 8 & 15, 1992)
Boyz II Men, “Uhh Ahh” (Feb. 22, 1992)
Gerald Levert with Eddie Levert, “Baby Hold On To Me” (Feb. 29, 1992)
Michael Jackson, “Remember the Time” (March 7 & 14, 1992)
Prince and the New Power Generation, “Diamonds and Pearls” (March 21, 1992)
Vanessa Williams, “Save the Best for Last” (March 28-April 11, 1992)
Glenn Jones, “Here I Go Again” (April 18, 1992)
Aaron Hall, “Don’t Be Afraid” (April 25 & May 2, 1992)
Lisa Stansfield, “All Woman” (May 9, 1992)
En Vogue, “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” (May 16 & 23, 1992)
Jodeci, “Come and Talk To Me” (May 30 & June 6, 1992)
R. Kelly and Public Announcement, “Honey Love” (Jun 13 & 20, 1992)
Michael Jackson, “In the Closet” (June 27, 1992)
Lionel Richie, “Do It To Me” (July 4, 1992)
Arrested Development, “Tennessee” (July 11, 1992)
Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson, “The Best Things in Live Are Free” (July 18, 1992)
Mary J. Blige, “You Remind Me” (July 25, 1992)
En Vogue, “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” (Aug. 1, 1992)
TLC, “Baby Baby Baby” (Aug. 8 & 15, 1992)
Boyz II Men, “End of the Road” (Aug. 22-Sept. 12, 1992)
Bobby Brown, “Humpin’ Around” (Sept. 19 & 25, 1992)
R. Kelly and Public Announcement, “Slow Dance (Hey Mr. DJ)” (Oct. 3, 1992)
Tevin Campbell, “Alone With You” (Oct. 10, 1992)
Mary J. Blige, “Real Love” (Oct. 17 & 24, 1992)
Al B. Sure!, “Right Now” (Oct. 31, 1992)
Troop, “Sweet November” (Nov. 7, 1992)
Miki Howard, “Ain’t Nobody Like You” (Nov. 14, 1992)
Chuckii Booker, “Games” (Nov. 21, 1992)
Shai, “If I Ever Fall in Love” (Nov. 28, 1992)
Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You” (Dec. 5, 1992-Feb. 13, 1993)

1993
Naughty By Nature, “Hip Hop Hooray” (Feb. 20, 1993)
Dr. Dre, “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” (Feb. 27 & March 6, 1993)
Silk, “Freak Me” (March 13-May 1, 1993)
Janet Jackson, “That’s the Way Love Goes” (May 8-29, 1993)
H-Town, “Knockin’ Da Boots” (June 5-26, 1993)
SWV, “Weak” (July 3 & July 10, 1993)
Tag Team, “Whoomp! (There It Is)” (July 17, 1993)
Jodeci, “Lately” (July 24 & 31, Aug. 14 & 21, 1993)
Ice Cube feat. Das EFX, “Check Yo Self” (Aug. 7, 1993)
SWV, “Right Here/Human Nature” (Aug. 28-Oct. 9, 1993)
Xscape, “Just Kickin’ It” (Oct. 16-Nov. 6, 1993)
DRS, “Gangsta Lean” (Nov. 13-Dec. 18, 1993)
Tevin Campbell, “Can We Talk” (Dec. 25 1993-Jan. 8, 1994)

1994
Jodeci, “Cry for You” (Jan. 15-Feb. 5, 1994)
Xscape, “Understanding” (Feb. 12 & 19, 1994)
R. Kelly, “Bump n’ Grind” (Feb. 26-May 14, 1994)
Aaliyah, “Back & Forth” (May 21-June 4, 1994)
Janet Jackson, “Any Time, Any Place” (June 11-Aug. 13, 1994)
Boyz II Men, “I’ll Make Love To You” (Aug. 20-Oct. 15, 1994)
Brandy, “I Wanna Be Down” (Oct. 22-Nov. 12, 1994)
Barry White, “Practice What You Preach” (Nov. 18-Dec. 3, 1994)
TLC, “Creep” (Dec. 10, 1994-Feb. 4, 1995)

1995
Brandy, “Baby” (Feb. 11-March 4, 1995)
Soul for Real, “Candy Rain” (March 11-25, 1995)
Montell Jordan, “This Is How We Do It” (April 1-May 13, 1995)
Method Man feat. Mary J. Blige, “I’ll Be There For You / You’re All I Need To Get By” (May 20-June 3, 1995)
Monica, “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days)” (June 10 & 17, 1995)
The Notorious B.I.G., “One More Chance / Stay With Me” (June 24-Aug. 19, 1995)
Shaggy, “Boobastic / In the Summertime” (Aug. 26, 1995)
Michael Jackson, “You Are Not Alone” (Sept. 2-23, 1995)
Mariah Carey, “Fantasy” (Sept. 30-Nov. 4, 1995)
Xscape, “Who Can I Run To” (Nov. 11, 1995)
R. Kelly, “You Remind Me Of Something” (Nov. 18, 1995)
Whitney Houston, “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” (Nov. 25, 1995-Jan. 13, 1996)

1996
Monica, “Before You Walk Out of My Life / Like This and Like That” (Jan. 20 & 27, 1996)
Mary J. Blige, “Not Gon’ Cry” (Feb. 3-March 2, 1996)
R. Kelly feat. Ronald Isley, “Down Low (Nobody Has To Know)” (March 9-April 20, 1996)
SWV, “You’re the One” (April 27, 1996)
Mariah Carey, “Always Be My Baby” (May 4, 1996)
Bone Thugs N Harmony, “Tha Crossroads” (May 11-June 22, 1996)
Toni Braxton, “You’re Makin’ Me High / Let It Flow” (June 29 & July 27, 1996)
2Pac feat. K-Ci & JoJo / feat. Dr. Dre, “How Do U Want It / California Love” (July 6-20, 1996)
R. Kelly, “I Can’t Sleep Baby (If I)” (Aug. 3 & 10, 1996)
Keith Sweat, “Twisted” (Aug. 17-24 & Sept. 21, 1996)
New Edition, “Hit Me Off” (Aug. 31-Sept. 14, 1996)
Aaliyah, “If Your Girl Only Knew” (Sept. 28 & Oct. 5, 1996)
Az Yet, “Last Night” (Oct. 12, 1996)
Blackstreet feat. Dr. Dre, “No Diggity” (Oct. 19-Nov. 9, 1996)
Ginuwine, “Pony” (Nov. 16 & 23, 1996)
Keith Sweat feat. Athena Cage, “Nobody” (Nov. 30-Dec. 14, 1996)
R. Kelly, “I Believe I Can Fly” (Dec. 21, 1996-Jan 18 and Feb. 1, 1997)

1997
En Vogue, “Don’t Let Go (Love)” (Jan. 25, 1997)
Erykah Badu, “On & On” (Feb. 8 & 15, 1997)
Dru Hill, “In My Bed” (Feb. 22 & March 1 and April 19, 1997)
Puff Daddy feat. Mase, “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” (March 8-April 12, 1997)
The Notorious B.I.G., “Hypnotize” (April 26-May 10, 1997)
Changing Faces, “G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T.” (May 17-June 7, 1997)
Puff Daddy feat. Faith Evans & 112, “I’ll Be Missing You” (June 11-Aug. 2, 1997)
Dru Hill, “Never Make a Promise” (Aug. 9-30, 1997)
Usher, “You Make Me Wanna” (Sept. 6-Nov. 15, 1997)
LSG, “My Body” (Nov. 22-Dec. 20, 1997)
Boyz II Men, “A Song For Mama” (Dec. 27, 1997 & Jan. 3, 1998)

1998
LSG, “My Body” (Jan. 10 & 17, 1998)
Usher, “Nice and Slow” (Jan. 24-March 14, 1998)
Destiny’s Child, “No, No, No” (March 21, 1998)
Montell Jordan feat. Master P & Silkk the Shocker, “Let’s Ride” (March 28 and April 18 & 25, 1998)
K-Ci & JoJo, “All My Life” (April 4 & 11, 1998)
Next, “Too Close” (May 2-16, 1998)
Janet feat. Blackstreet, “I Get Lonely” (May 23 & 30, 1998)
Brandy and Monica, “The Boy Is Mine” (June 6-July 25, 1998)
Kelly Price, “Friend of Mine” (Aug. 1-29, 1998)
Monica, “The First Night” (Sept. 5-Oct. 10, 1998)
Dru Hill feat. Redman, “How Deep Is Your Love” (Oct. 17-31, 1998)
Deborah Cox, “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here” (Nov. 7, 1998-Feb. 6, 1999)

1999
Whitney Houston feat. Faith Evans and Kelly Price, “Heartbreak Hotel” (Feb. 13-March 27, 1999)
Busta Rhymes feat. Janet, “What’s It Gonna Be?!” (April 3, 1999)
TLC, “No Scrubs” (April 10-May 8, 1999)
Maxwell, “Fortunate” (May 15-July 3, 1999)
Destiny’s Child, “Bills, Bills, Bills” (July 10-Sept. 4, 1999)
Faith Evans, “Never Gonna Let You Go” (Sept. 11, 1999)
Eric Benet feat. Tamia, “Spend My Life With You” (Sept. 18-25, 1999)
Deborah Cox feat. R.L., “We Can’t Be Friends” (Oct. 2 & 23, 1999)
Mariah Carey feat. Jay-Z, “Heartbreaker” (Oct. 9 & 16, 1999)
Puff Daddy feat. R. Kelly, “Satisfy You” (Oct. 30 & Nov. 6, 1999)
Donell Jones, “U Know What’s Up” (Nov. 13, 1999-Jan. 1, 2000)

Jody Watley, "I Love To Love"

You know, of all the holidays I don’t celebrate, I think I actually like Valentine’s Day the best. There’s no other holiday I feel, as a chronically single person, less pressure to go through the motions over. The expectation is to quite simply lay low and let the lovers open their wallets. Mission accomplished in abundance. That said, I’m not the only one who says one thing and wishes another. I’d be pretty happy to have someone to buy a $12 teddy bear for, someone who would appreciate me placing a note within its paw reading, “Will you be my fart pillow?” I’m 30 now and realize I shouldn’t limit my options to those who read Baudelaire in bed but still await my dutch oven surprise. Especially on Saturdays like today, in which I made maintained absolutely no human contact whatsoever. Much as it pains me to say it, perhaps I shouldn’t be holding out hope I will one day meet that elusive, sexy, smart, cheeky, rock-climbing deaf man.

Or maybe I could stand to wait. Jody Watley was a robust 41 years old when she collaborated with Masters at Work on “I Love to Love,” a deep house number that falls pretty solidly within MAW’s A/C-tinged, clean-beat grown folks era. But that’s kinda the point. If the beats lack those rough “Blood Vibes” edges, it’s because they are meant to exude total contentment. Jody’s singing here about the sweetest capitulation, and Kenny Dope and Louie Vega’s soft-inside percussion folds nicely within voluptuous, bass-heavy chords. Each instrument seems to be murmuring a post-coital “Mmmmm.” Mellow and comfy is the flavor, but the lyrics don’t deny the arduous journey Jody (and likely you) have to undertake to get there. “I’ve learned you’ve really gotta love yourself, before you can give it to someone else. You’ve got to know it’s real.” See, Jody’s all about the giving. You give first to yourself, then you can give to others. Look, I know I’m not programmed to think like this, and sometimes it takes a nice bit of synthesizer programming to get me to feel warmth like this. “It feels so good to finally have happiness.” I love.

Speaking of love, and as a side note, I went back and updated my favorite movies lists with about a year’s worth of new favorites, as I was not in the habit of updating the template while deciding whether or not to pull the plug. Since I haven’t and won’t be shutting up this shop anytime soon, I’ve added about 30 new and old movies I caught last year that I found worth including in my rainbow rundown. Not bad, considering I probably saw only about 100 movies total last year. What can I say? I love to love.

Hamilton Bohannon, "Foot Stompin’ Music"

Hamilton Bo-Han-Non’s most cited song is undoubtedly “Let’s Start the Dance,” a synth-heavy concoction that sounds like a golden retriever shaking off after diving into a pool of glitter. It’s great, but if there was one constant in my voting patterns for Slant’s old and triflin’ dance list, it was that I was the one constantly advocating for unapologetically testosterone-fueled funk-dance tracks. More on that later, no doubt, but for now try and unpack this mostly inscrutable YouTube video for an earlier, equally-chuggable Bohannon rhythm exercise.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg, 2008)

While the phrase “I’m getting to old for this” is never invoked verbatim, a few cracks are made by Harrison Ford’s Indy at the expense of his archaeologically-ready bones. Ford, Karen Allen, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, action films with a plot … they’re all showing the signs of age. But the homily at the center of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull doesn’t quite convert anyone because, well, if they’re not outraged by the previously analog series going full-on digital, they are apt to take note of how the tricks of the trade keep its participants and audience young at heart. If the majority are likely to fall more in line with the former attitude, it may be because the blockbuster demographic are still young enough to take their nostalgia (which is to say, the previous generation’s nostalgia) very seriously. Inconveniently for them, everyone else involved in the making of Skull seems wizened enough to admit that their nostalgia for the genre may have been temporarily blinding them to the serial format’s inherent disposability, reckless exposition and camp potential when they were kneeling before the phalanx of archangels back in 1981. They understand how formative exposure can make mountains of molehills. (Exception to the rule: Shia LaBeouf, whose overweening vitality is made to be the setup for the film’s final punchline — you’ll never hear an audience’s horror turn so swiftly to exhausted relief as you will the moment Indy’s trademark fedora changes hands.) Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of Los Alamos, the Cold War and Sputnik will recognize that Spielberg-Lucas have updated their format to reflect the popular tastes of the 1950s. The courtesy might not be quite as warmly extended by those who file Spielberg’s Close Encounters and E.T. under “prehistory.” But, as someone still young and impudent enough to whether this particular hard sell mightn’t be dovetailing off whatever cultural dearth sent Wild Hogs into the zeitgeist last year, I have to admit this is probably the smartest entry in the series. It might be a bit much to suggest that, after three films entirely dependent on the tactility of faith, Indiana Jones enters the Age of Paranoia in reflection of Spielberg’s apparent newfound spiritual relativism, but there’s definite meaning in the parallel set of bookending money shots — the first a low angle shot of Indy walking toward a blooming mushroom cloud, the second a high angle shot of Indy on the edge of a geographical and psychological precipice that holds long enough for Amazonian waters and mental clarity to come flooding back into the void. The matinee idol has been reduced to a gopher, but even gophers can dream paramount.