MYSELF: Obsessed Ep 74

A special, weird episode featuring host Joseph Scrimshaw discussing his obsession with himself! Featuring guest host Hal Lublin! Thrill to such topics as Benedict Cumberbatch, small dogs, feminism, the best episodes of Doctor Who for cats, spending student loans on action figures, the phrase “dark wiggle room,” and much more. Special thanks to Patreon backers for unlocking this episode as a milestone goal!

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

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My Name is Joseph

MyNameIsJoseph

The name my parents gave me is Joseph Aaron Scrimshaw. When I got married, I took my wife’s maiden name as a second middle name. My current legal name is Joseph Aaron Stevenson Scrimshaw.

While I was growing up, I pretty much let people call me whatever they wanted: Joe, Joseph, Joey, Scrawny Little Asshole, etc. I never corrected anyone. It felt rude. I figured, “These people are seeing me from the outside. Maybe they’re just picking the name that matches what they see.”

As I got older, my name basically settled into being Joe with the occasional Scrawny Little Asshole.

Once I started a career performing and writing, I consistently used Joseph. After a few years, it started bugging me that despite listing my name as Joseph in every bio, program, press release, interview, etc. people in my professional life would still call me Joe.

I decided, over a decade ago, that if I wanted people to use Joseph, I needed to be consistent. I made a point of telling people that for anything professional, it was Joseph. People and publications still called me Joe.

I decided to start introducing myself to any new people I met as Joseph. I began trying, ever so gently, to correct people if they called me Joe.

At this point in my life, I have a handful of very old friends who know me as Joe. Besides that, my name is Joseph.

Joseph feels right. To me, there is a world of difference between Joe and Joseph.

Joe is a big strong guy who lifts weights and watches football. Joseph collects action figures and is pretty sure he’s a Hufflepuff.

Joe likes America and eating raw steaks cooked on the hood of a big old muscle car. Joseph drives a Toyota Yaris and likes to write comedy essays about Aquaman’s feelings.

I am a motherfucking Joseph.

Still, people call me Joe. These days, the Joe-calling mostly happens on social media. So people are literally calling me Joe while responding to my twitter handle @JOSEPHScrimshaw. I think some people feel shortening names is a way to suggest friendship or intimacy. For other people, maybe two syllables just feels like too much work.

Did you know the beloved actor known as Ben Cum originally went by the ridiculously long name, Benedict Cumberbatch? Think about all the mouth time we would have wasted if he’d insisted BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH was his actual, preferred name? Do you know how many syllables that is? Who has time to even count! Thank God for Ben Cum!

I know people aren’t calling me Joe with malice, but it continues to bother me. And I continue to feel rude correcting people. I feel fussy and uptight saying, “No, no, no, you HAVE to use this version of my name. The longer one. The one that sounds like a guy who has a degree in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature. Yes, the one who has an Excel Spreadsheet to keep track of which Doctor Who DVDs he doesn’t yet own.”

But why do I feel rude asking people to call me by my preferred name?

I think there is a subtle, yet pervasive idea that we should let our identities be dictated from the outside. That we, as individuals or groups, don’t have the right to determine our identities.

Because that’s what a name is. It’s your identity. It’s one of the ways you tell the world who you are. Why would anyone want that taken away from them?

It’s like if your name was Steve and you started working at a new job, said your name was Steve, and then everyone in the office just decided to call you Shithead.

“But my name is Steve,” Steve might say.

“Yeah,” the boss would respond, “But we prefer Shithead.”

“I actually find Shithead kind of offensive,” Steve would say.

“Come on, loosen up, Shithead,” the boss would cajole. “We actually mean Shithead as a term of RESPECT. In our office, we have a long history of calling the best employee Shithead.”

“Yeah, I don’t really care. It’s my name. Please call me Steve.”

“WHOA! WHOA! Way to overreact and take away my freedom of speech, Shithead!” The boss would yell while stomping around and blowing the office air horn designed to shut down further discussion.

Then, ideally, Steve would flip everyone off and use his jet pack to just blast off and fly away. Sadly, we don’t have jet packs yet so this resolution is just a fantasy.

The point is please call me Joseph. It’s my name. It’s my choice.

I know there will always be people who call me Joe out of habit or laziness or even attempts to be friendly and informal. To those people: I know you mean no disrespect so I will attempt to begrudgingly understand.

And if you hear my preference, understand it, and still, without my permission, choose to call me Joe–that is your right.

Just like it’s my right to start calling you “Shithead” in retaliation.

Anyway, thanks for reading this long, sensitive, wordy essay about how our names are signifiers of our identities.

It’s a real “Joseph” thing to write.

If you enjoy my posts, you can help make more happen by supporting me on Patreon. My next post will be about Adult Underoos and thanks to an unlocked Patreon goal it will include photos of me in my underoos. You’re welcome and I’m sorry.

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DAVID FOSTER WALLACE: Obsessed Ep 73

Comedy writer and producer Mark Ganek (The Wil Wheaton Project, Pop Up Video) is obsessed with author David Foster Wallace. Thrill to such topics as how to endnote your own thoughts, the existential dread edition of Galaga, solo DnD play, and a He-Man spec script written by David Foster Wallace!

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

Listen, rate, review, and subscribe to OBSESSED on iTunes.

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DISNEYLAND: Obsessed Ep 72

Writer, producer, and Disney expert Kristen Rutherford (Attack of the Show, The Nerdist on BBC America) is obsessed with Disneyland. Find out the exciting truth of the hidden mickeys, dapper days, how to best defend the park from zombies, why falling in an elevator is relaxing, and how to blue card Mary Poppins for lying to a child.

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

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DEXTER: Obsessed Ep 71

Comedian and writer Brock Wilbur is obsessed with the TV show Dexter. Wrap your home in plastic and thrill to such light fun discussion topics as serial killers, being a jerk on twitter, magic murder amulets, creative swearing, and Florida! Fun! Also, did you know there’s a Dexter rap? I’m sorry, but there is.

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

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Beer, Burgers, and The Future

Beer Burgers and the Future

To me, the Super Bowl commercials are like a cultural state of the union.

My initial reaction to the picture painted of modern America this year was: We are afraid of death and we want to fuck our cars.

I think the subtextual messages of the commercials are important because I think those ideas are more lasting than the actual commercial message. For many of the spots, if you happen to look away at literally the last two seconds of the commercial you will have NO IDEA WHAT WAS BEING ADVERTISED.

You’ll just be awash in a montage of the Grand Canyon, beer, small children, breasts, puppies, Liam Neeson, expensive cars being driven by the ghost of your disappointed father, and if you’re me, a sudden desire to move to Canada.

One theme I was affected by was the desire for kindness and human connection.

Coke’s ad featured a plot of strange soda-based cyber terrorism in which some sugar water infects the internet and instead of corroding the enamel from our teeth through wi-fi signals, Coke sends messages of kindness.

McDonald’s ad showed customers paying for their breakfast burritos with hugs which is apparently a real campaign. I applaud the sentiment, but I’m terrified by the reality. I don’t eat at McDonald’s but if I did I would want a six piece chicken McNugget with honey mustard sauce and a huge helping of emotional distance.

Still, it was an interesting trend. A reflection of forward movement. Coke and McDonald’s, two of the largest corporations in the world, paid millions of dollars to air what was basically a CRY FOR HELP.

We are longing for more human connection and I’m going to do my best to help with that by sitting alone in my home and tweeting about it.

Anyway, the commercials that affected me the most were two commercials that advanced stupid, outdated gender ideas: Carl, Jr’s ad for burgers and objectification and Budweiser’s attack on craft beer and the educated wimps who drink it.

The two commercials resonated for me because of our current cultural discussions about feminism. Particularly, the idea that knocking down old, horrible stereotypes about women is also beneficial to men because in the process we’ll also dismantle old, horrible stereotypes about men, too.

The  Carl, Jr. spot was the most offensive ad to me.

HERE’S WHERE I DON’T LINK TO IT BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO GIVE THEM VIEWS.

Basically, a busty woman in a bikini walks around being gawked at by men. You know, to make you want to fuck eat a cheeseburger. In one shot, a tomato is in the foreground to look like it is the woman’s butt. A hand reaches in and squeezes the tomato. In other words, a woman’s body is the same as a tomato–it is something to be evaluated and consumed.

I grew up with these kinds of images and ideas being the norm. I always understood intellectually they were trying to use natural attraction to the human body to sell stuff, but I’ve come to realize it’s so much more insidious than that. Thanks to shitty, sexist campaigns like that, I grew up with the constant message that I, as a man, should treat women like they were a product and if I did not, I was somehow not a man.

More on my lack of manliness, in a moment!

I think it’s important to say these kinds of messages of objectification are not okay. So, the commercial’s message of evaluation and consumption has worked on me. I’ve evaluated my thoughts and I will never consume anything at Carl’s Jr. When I drive by McDonald’s, I will think of a weird, desperate attempt to get me to call my father. When I drive by Carl’s, Jr. I’ll just think, “Hey, fuck you, Carl’s, Jr.”

AND NOW, IN ALL CAPS, MY MANLINESS.

There’s been a lot of excellent dissection of Budweiser’s anti-craft beer commercial.

ALSO NOT LINKED TO HERE.

The ad was very new in its confrontation of the divide between craft beer and traditional “sad dad juice in a bottle” beers like Budweiser. But that ad kicked it old school when it comes to reinforcing stupid gender stereotypes about masculinity.

The ad portrayed people who enjoy craft beer as wimps. According to the words and images in the commercial, here are things that sissy craft beer men do: They fuss, they sip, they dissect, they drink fruity peach beers, they wear glasses, and sometimes they tweet a nice thing to a male friend and don’t even hashtag it #NoHomo.

Okay, that last thing wasn’t in the ad.

Here are the words and images associated with real men who drink Budweiser: Hard, wood, axes, horses, tradition, strong forearms, big pounding horses, throwing a beer to your friend who does not wear glasses and is able to catch the beer without flinching, did I mention horses? Horses being driven by men of authority wearing uniforms?

Seriously, if Budweiser loves horses this much they should just start sponsoring every off-broadway production of Equus.

This commercial, like many other commercials I grew up with, felt like it was mansplaining how I should be a man. The only women seen in this commercial are serving Budweiser, the KING of beers, to men. So not only are the signifiers of HARD, OLD, AXE-WIELDING, FOREARM MUSCLES what I’m supposed to be as a man, they are implicitly not gender neutral attributes.

As much as I reject the casual objectification of women by Carl’s, Jr. I reject the hard-pounding assertion that I am not a man if I don’t drink low ABV canned beer that makes me daydream about riding a big, angry horse.

I grew up letting things like stupid fucking beer and burger commercials tell me what it is to be a man. They are not just commercials. They are reflections of societal norms broadcast to millions of people. Thanks Carl’s Jr. and Budweiser, but I think I’ll decide for myself what makes me a man.

Sometimes, I fuss. Sometimes, I make fast, reckless decisions. Sometimes, I sip. Sometimes, I chug. My forearms are weak and my favorite horse is Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony. I like action movies where Liam Neeson punches ambiguously Eastern-European men and I do push-ups every morning. My weak forearms ache as I type this.

But NONE of these things are gender-specific. Here’s the most important thing about being a man to me right now: I don’t give a damn what it means to be a man. I just want to figure out what attributes matter to being a good human being. The kind of human being who reaches out in friendship and compassion without Coke taking over the internet.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go meet a friend for drinks and pound some Belgian witbier. I have a lot of female friends who can put away craft beer like nobody’s business, so tonight I’ll be drinking #LikeAGirl.

POUNDINGLY,
Joseph

P.S. There was also an ad for Scientology–a massive, well financed, secretive religious organization–that wants you to think for yourself. Thanks, Scientology, I think I will!

If you enjoy my work, you can check out all the comedy words and things I’m making via Patreon.

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CRAFT BEER: Obsessed Ep 70

Artist, illustrator, and animator Sara Pocock (Comsos, Community) is obsessed with Craft Beer! The drinking of it, the analyzing of it, and the opportunity for socializing! Thrill to such beer tasting sounds as pouring, sipping, attempting to burp off mic and more! PLUS can you spot the exact moment in the podcast where Joseph goes from tipsy to “Jerry Lewis Town”???

And if you’d like to drink along, here are the beers we drank:
Eagle Rock Brewery’s Manifesto!
Eagle Rock Brewery’s Solidarity Black Mild!
Stone Brewing’s Cali!
Allagash’s Curieux!

Cheers!

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ENTOURAGE: Obsessed Ep 69

Charming comedian and Canadian Will Weldon is obsessed with the TV show Entourage even though he pretty much hates it! To the point where we get pretty distracted and talk about Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and superheroes for a while. PLUS: both Joseph and Will mention things that make them cry. Enjoy!

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One Percent of a Good Idea

OnePercentOfAGoodIdea
I want to see major changes in our society. I don’t want those changes to come because of violence. So how do they come?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this because of something a friend of mine said a few years ago during the Occupy Wall Street protests.

My friend said something along the lines of this:

“Historically, cultures that have a very small group of wealthy people controlling the lives of a very large group of poor people only experience true change when there’s a revolution and the rich people get murdered and their heads are put on spikes and stuff.”

My friend is very knowledgable. Even drunk at 3 am in the morning, he can rattle off facts about the French revolution, quotes from James Joyce’s Ulysses, and the names of character actors from obscure episodes of 1960s era Doctor Who that only exist in audio format.

He not only retains facts, he can also apply them to the world around him. For example, he could probably tell you which classic Doctor Who script editor produced the most Joycean episodes of the show. Would it be Terrance Dicks or Robert Holmes? Who knows? My friend, probably.

The point is his observation that class warfare has historically been an actual WAR startled me, but it also made a lot of sense.

I believe America has a serious economic imbalance. A small percent of the population controls the money. The money influences the politics. We’re fighting for things like a livable minimum wage and stopping giant corporations from destroying equal access to the internet. There is still a possibility that Comcast and Time Warner Cable–two of consumers’ most despised companies–will be allowed to merge into one big monster like some awful SyFy movie come to life.

A lot of us would just dump the horrible MegaSharkBadger that is Comcast/Time Warner Cable if we could, but we don’t have a lot of options.

Besides, those companies deliver us the parts of our culture we enjoy–our access to communication and entertainment. They are the gatekeepers to all our cat pictures, tumblr accounts about shipping Harry and Hermione, and phone service to call our cable providers and make futile complaints about the horrible service.

We’re used to not being able to make a dent in the control of giant rich corporations. As a result, I think we’ve become surprisingly docile. Our recent attempts at protests have been met with, to me, a shocking amount of resistance.

Recently, there was a calm, non-violent act of civil disobedience at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota to protest multiple questionable killings of citizens by police officers. Instead of just allowing the protest to happen, the Mall of America decided to double down on every negative stereotype about both malls and America by reacting with riot gear and Orwellian messages on their big screen.

I shared one of the protesters’ photos in this tweet.

A ton of people, some calm and some seething with outrage, tweeted back to inform me that the Mall of America was PRIVATE PROPERTY and thus the protest was illegal.

I’m aware the Mall of America is private property. I’m also aware that sometimes protests need to be held in a space where they will be disruptive in order for the status quo to be challenged. I think the need to discuss unchecked police brutality is more important than a shopper’s mild inconvenience on their way to The Gap.

Regardless of the politics of this particular protest, I was shocked that so many people took a MALL’S SIDE over humans. We’ve become so pacified–so enamored with business as usual–that the rights of an Orange Julius are more sacrosanct than a protest about people’s rights.

Modern day America is a far cry from France in 1789. If peacefully demonstrating in a mall is considered this shocking, then obviously there isn’t going to be a violent uprising.

So why would the small group of people who hold all the financial power fear the people?

We’re not going to rise up and attack. We’re not going to rush the offices of Wal-Mart executives, the predatory lenders that almost destroyed our entire economy, the MegaSharkBadgers at Comcast, etc.

And I’m happy for that. I don’t want violence. I don’t want to see a head on a pike outside of an episode of Game of Thrones and even then it’s a bummer.

But I do want change.

So here is my horrible idea for the problem of the rich, powerful, and greedy:

What if we threatened to punch them, just once, in the crotch?

I know it sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. Right now, America loves the status quo. We will not see a comedy movie unless there is a crotch shot in the trailer. That is the status quo. We also love stories about tough, leathery old men who play by their own rules. That is the status quo.

Let’s embrace the status quo. Let’s get Liam Neeson to act out a real life socio-political action thriller called CROTCH THREAT.

Here’s the trailer:

Liam Neeson walks slowly toward the camera.

The voiceover kicks in.

“They have taken our money. They have taken our respect. They got us addicted to high fructose corn syrup and we can’t even pay the medical bills. Enough is enough. Now, one man, with a special set of skills (mostly crotch punching) is going to take it all back.”

Liam Neeson talks heatedly into a phone:

“Release just a little bit of control, spread the wealth, get out of the political system, or I will look for you, I will find you, and I will punch your crotches.”

Then there’s a fast-cut montage of crotch punching and a lot of the BWAHHHHHM noise from Inception as the voiceover concludes:

“We really only want to do this once, but if we have to, there will be a sequel. And like all sequels, it will be a little bit worse.”

Liam Neeson walks away from a massive explosion, the shrapnel flies across the screen and hits Donald Trump in the crotch.

BAM. THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED.

The rating would be S for Stupid. It’s a stupid idea. I know that.

But if this idea were an actual movie, people would probably go see it because we love stories about fighting the status quo almost as much as we have become resistant to fighting the status quo in real life.

I’m a comedian so I react to my frustration by trying to express it in the language of comedy like proposing something called CROTCH THREAT. A lot of people are taking real action. There are protests. There are petitions. There is knowledgable and intelligent activism on many different issues.

And there are angry, ridiculous blog posts like this. There are snarky tweets. There are facebook diatribes. There are politically loaded pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch on instagram. I don’t think those things are “slacktivism.” I think they are using our amazing tools of instant communication to give legitimate voice to people’s thoughts and opinions. We have France in 1789 beat there.

Every once in a while, someone’s politically loaded cat picture on the internet is going to break through the noise and get someone else to think about the status quo, what changes they would like to see, and what non-violent actions they can take to make a difference.

This blog is one tiny ridiculous metaphorical punch to the crotch of injustice.

That’s as violent as I’m willing to get, but it’s a swing I’m happy to take.

If you enjoy my work, you can check out all the comedy words and things I’m making via Patreon.

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BUFFY: Obsessed Ep 68

Writer, humorist, and BuzzFeed editor Louis Peitzman shares his love of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Topics include but are not limited to Buffy’s friendship skills, real life monsters, and whether or not it’s possible for a vampire to be un-sexy.

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