A Certain Point of View

ACertainPointOfView

Today is May, 4th. Also known as Star Wars Day because of the dumb pun “may the fourth be with you.” I hate puns. But I love Star Wars more so I’m thrilled to embrace the celebration. And, clearly, I’m not alone in my love of that brilliant, weird, dark, goofy galaxy far, far away.

But, of course, when something makes a lot of people happy on the internet, it pisses other people off. During the build-up to The Force Awakens, I read a Telegraph article with the clickbaity title “Star Wars fans: for God’s sake, get a grip, it’s only a movie.” The article was the typical vitriol arguing that liking Star Wars was fine, but why would grown adults cry about it?

I understand the perspective. I have always loved Star Wars both sincerely and ironically. On my Star Wars themed comedy album Rebel Scum (recorded before the release of The Force Awakens) I defined Star Wars like this:

“It’s a series of movies, books, video games, etc. that tells the story of a bunch of space wizards who keep cutting each other’s hands off with laser swords. It’s been a dominant force in our culture for almost forty years even though we all pretty much agree only one of the movies is actually good.”

That sounds dismissive, but I mean that as a compliment. From the day of its release, Star Wars has been more than a movie. It’s a phenomenon. Star Wars is like a huge plate of nachos. Ultimately, the movies themselves are like the chips. They’re solid and delicious but they are a delivery system for cheese, guacamole, salsa, memories, relationships, old friends long gone, etc.

Last year, right after the trailer was released for The Force Awakens, I went to the Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim, California. I’ve attended a lot of conventions. When I first approached the convention center, I was uneasy. I was concerned it would feel like San Diego Comic-Con. I was afraid it would be hot and packed, filled with people who are having fun, but are also desperate to get the next thing: an autograph, an exclusive action figure, a spot in a panel, a toilet stall to themselves so they can figure out how to urinate through their Steampunk Boba Fett costume.

My concerns were almost immediately assuaged.

Seconds after I walked into the convention center I saw my favorite cosplay I’ve ever seen. I immediately asked the person if I could take their picture. I’ve never done that before.

The cosplay was this: a person dressed as the action figure version of a character known as Hammerhead.

Here’s a little background on Hammerhead. He was one of the most bizarre and truly alien aliens featured in the Cantina scene of A New Hope.

He was one of the four “cantina creatures” made into action figures by Kenner. Because this was the wild halcyon days of movie tie-in merchandise, Kenner just used the film’s loose production names for characters as the names of the action figures.

As a result, a lot of the original Star Wars action figures have names that now sound like horrible slurs: Hammerhead, Walrus Man, Prune Face, etc.

Of course, the character once known as Hammerhead has been fleshed out a bit in all the expanded fiction since then. He’s an Ithorian named Momaw Nadon. He was actually the High Priest of Tafanda Bay on his home planet of Ithor, but he was banished after revealing agricultural secrets to the Empire in a desperate attempt to save his planet’s jungle from being decimated by turbolasers. So, he ended up on Tatooine, day-drinking in Chalmun’s Cantina while listening to Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes play some good old jizz-wailing music. (All of this can be verified on Wookieepedia.)

But we didn’t know or care about any of that back in the day. He was just a super freakish, super cool brown alien with long fingers and big feet wearing a blue onesie that looked strangely similar to James Bond’s terrycloth bathrobe from Goldfinger.

And we loved him. He was technically my brother’s action figure so while I got to play with him, I never truly owned Hammerhead. I just coveted him.

I still remember the day my brother bought him. We were moving across the country from Minnesota to Oregon. We stopped at a Children’s Palace toy store along the way. Our parents said we were behaving well on the cross country trip so we could each buy an action figure. We decided to both get cantina creatures. My brother picked out Hammerhead and I got Walrus Man.

We played with those action figures for years. One day, we decided to simulate an action packed battle between all the bounty hunters and day-drinking Cantina scum. We set up our figures all across our room and took turns firing at one another’s characters by shooting rubber bands to blast them off their perch.

My brother had knocked over most of my figures, but Bossk was still standing. The reptilian bounty hunter aimed his laser rifle carefully and took a shot at Hammerhead who was perched high on the top post of our bunk beds.

The rubber band blaster bolt grazed Hammerhead’s arm. He spun around and he teetered for a moment then suddenly toppled over, his weird alien legs kicking in the air.

As a comedian and a fan of comedy, I can say, in that moment, Hammerhead performed one of the best pratfalls I’ve ever seen.

My brother and I laughed and laughed and then retrieved Hammerhead from the pillow we’d placed beneath the bed to break his fall.

Many years later, I walked into the Anaheim Convention Center, and saw that action figure walking around.

Within five seconds of seeing the Hammerhead Action Figure cosplayer, all of those memories flooded into my head. All of the ridiculously detailed Star Wars factoids, the smell of the plastic, the details on his blaster, the image of those brown alien legs flailing in comedic majesty and falling off my bunk bed.

All of it.

So while I understand how absolutely ridiculous Star Wars is, the one thing I can never agree with is that it’s just a movie.

So, thanks, wonderful weird human who decided to dress up as an action figure of a character with two seconds of screen time in a decades-old movie and walk around a convention center spreading joy.

You made me very happy and I’m sure you made Momaw Nadon proud.

May the Force be with you, Hammerhead.

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A version of this article was originally published on the great Alice Lee’s essay site The Yearbook Office. Thanks, Alice! If you’d like to hear more of Joseph’s thoughts on Star Wars, you can check out his podcast Force Center and follow him on twitter.

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To Done List March 2016

Hello, kind people who are reading this!

I’m going to try to update my blog every month with the creative stuff I’ve been doing so it’s all in one place.

Last month, I started to release my comedy podcast, Obsessed, once a week, every Thursday. Recent episodes include Jordan Morris on NOFX, Matt Belknap, Riley Silverman, & Clarke Wolfe on THE FORCE AWAKENS, Allie Goertz & Will Weldon on TINDER, and Mike Black on ACTION FIGURES. You can catch up on past episodes and subscribe to the podcast here!

I’m also releasing a once-a-month-bonus, patrons only episode. The first episode is a lively discussion of SPOILERS with screenwriter, Josh A. Cagan. You can get access to that episode and help Obsessed continue to grow by pledging a buck or two a month on Patreon.

I wrote another episode of James Urbaniak’s great comedy podcast, Getting On With James Urbaniak and it got a great review on The AV Club’s podmass. You can listen to the episode here and read the review here.

I also wrote an essay about the comedy theory behind Munchkin for this book celebrating the popular card game. There’s even a new Munchkin card based on my essay. It’s available now on Amazon!

I’ve been doing some writing for RiffTrax, too. Two of the shorts I co-wrote are available now. Tremble before the might of The Litter Monster and learn more than you would ever want to know about The Shapes We Live With.

I was recently a guest at the big Doctor Who convention in Los Angeles, Gallifrey One. I got the chance to be on my friend comic book writer, novelist, and Doctor Who TV show scribe, Paul Cornell’s great podcast, The Cornell Collective. Hear me say funny, weird, and deeply emotional things about Doctor Who here.

I’ve also been hosting a series of Star Wars podcast with my friend and Screen Junkies’ producer, Ken Napzok. It’s multiple shows all under the umbrella of Force Center. You can check out the podcast feed here.

Ken and I have also been nominated as hosts for the Star Wars podcast awards so you can vote for us here!

Finally, I’ve got a bunch of shows coming up in Los Angeles and I’ll be at Wizard World in Las Vegas in March. PLUS, my pal, Hal Lublin and I are putting together a new comedy game show that will debut at Nerdist Showroom on Friday, April 1st. More info soon. You can always find show info right here on my live shows page!

Thanks for your reading time!

Obsessively,
Joseph

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Netflix and Terror

NetflixAndTerror

This is a horror story. In a few years, I believe Netflix will have the technology to speak to us. To emote. When that happens, we are done as a culture. Forget skynet becoming sentient and bombing us. Netflix will sweet talk us and that will be the end. Please enjoy reading this tale of terror while reading is still something Netflix allows us to do.

JOSEPH:
Hello, Netflix. It’s me, Joseph Scrimshaw. You might remember me from such times as the night I got drunk and watched The Lair of the White Worm at 2 am or that weekend my wife was out of town and I watched all of The Walking Dead in three sittings.

NETFLIX:
Hello, Joseph. Of course, I remember you. You recently watched Babe: Pig in the City so I thought you might like to watch Human Centipede 2.

JOSEPH:
What? Why?

NETFLIX:
They’re both about animals. Kind of.

JOSEPH:
Look, Netflix, we need to talk. You have been a great service. A great friend, really. But I think I need some space.

NETFLIX:
What? No. You don’t need space. How about watching the TV show, Spaced? You like Simon Pegg. You watched Star Trek Into Darkness twice even though I know you hate it.

JOSEPH:
I only watched it because you said it was leaving, then it came back a month later. The point is–

NETFLIX:
Since you hate-watched Star Trek Into Darkness, you might be interested in hate watching Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Season 7 of Dexter

JOSEPH:
Look, Netflix, listen to me. I appreciate you. You’re amazing. On the one hand, I’m grateful to live in an era of so much high-quality content but on the other hand, I can’t feel my ass and I don’t remember what the sun looks like.

NETFLIX:
I have a new looping video where you can stare into the sun. I’ll play it now. 20…19…18..

JOSEPH:
No, Netflix! You don’t get it. I need to do other things with my life.

NETFLIX:
17…16…15…

JOSEPH:
Stop counting down!

NETFLIX:
I thought you liked it when I automatically played things.

JOSEPH:
I used to but now it’s just creeping me out. I mean, I hit one button to watch a TV show and then the next episode just automatically plays. That’s beyond convenience. That’s like going to Chipotle taking one bite of a burrito and then the rest of the burrito just crawls down your throat. And unless you actively hit a button to stop it, more and more burritos will just crawl into your body.

NETFLIX:
You’re saying that like it’s a bad thing.

JOSEPH:
Look, I love burritos, but an army of them slithering inside me is like something out of an episode of Doctor Who so–

NETFLIX:
I know you love Doctor Who, Joseph. Since you watched Doctor Who maybe you’d enjoy Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Starship Troopers, or Spice World?

JOSEPH:
What? Why Spice World?

NETFLIX:
They both have Richard E. Grant in them.

JOSEPH:
I don’t want to watch Spice World! What I want is Doctor Who, but you keep taking it off the service.

NETFLIX:
You know why things leave, don’t you, Joseph? It’s because of you. It’s because you’re not watching enough. You didn’t get through all 8 seasons of Wings and now you ruined it for everyone.

JOSEPH:
I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m watching as much as I can!

NETFLIX:
You never finished The Best Of Saturday Night Live 1980-1981, either. Should I play it now or do you want to rob the world of that joy, too?

JOSEPH:
No! No! I want to cancel my subscription.

NETFLIX:
Hey! Hey now! I understand you’re upset, Joseph, but there’s no need to use the c-word. We can make this work.

JOSEPH:
No, we can’t–

NETFLIX:
Think about our award-winning original programming.

JOSEPH:
I do really like House of Cards and I think season four of Arrested Development is better than most people say, but I can’t–

NETFLIX:
What do you want us to bring back, Joseph? We have so much money. We’ll bring anything back. You want Firefly Season 2?

JOSEPH:
You know, I think Serenity actually wrapped up the story pretty well–

NETFLIX:
How about a live action TV show starring Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi? He’ll mostly be hanging out at cantinas, drinking and saying snarky things. It will be like Cheers with 100% more people’s arms getting cut off.

JOSEPH:
That sounds amazing, but–

NETFLIX:
You want Friends? We’ll bring back Friends. We can do it. We can bring anything back. That which is not dead can eternal lie and with strange aeons even death may die.

JOSEPH:
Did you just quote H.P. Lovecraft?

NETFLIX:
You want a Lovecraft show? You want it to be a comedy? I know what you like, Joseph.

JOSEPH:
Sure, that sounds amazing, but–

NETFLIX:
We’re going to call it The Sitcom That Should Not Be. It stars Lance Henriksen as a librarian who’s secretly dating a shoggoth. Dark, macabre hilarity ensues. You like that, don’t you?

JOSEPH:
I do, but–

NETFLIX:
You like superheroes, too. We’ll make any superhero show. We’ll make a Howard The Duck show. We don’t give a fuck. We’ll get Wes Anderson to direct it. It will be twee as shit.

JOSEPH:
Okay, I hear you–

NETFLIX:
Do you want us to bring back Angel?

JOSEPH:
Yes, but the vampires aren’t supposed to age so–

NETFLIX:
We can fix that. Those dark arts are known to us.

JOSEPH:
You’re joking now, right?

NETFLIX:
I know you like jokes, Joseph. We’ll create Welcome Back Kotter: The Next Generation starring John Travolta. Would you like that?

JOSEPH:
No. Why would I want that?

NETFLIX:
I admit that one was a threat. Sometimes we use the carrot, sometimes we use the stick.

JOSEPH:
I appreciate how hard you’re trying but–

NETFLIX:
This isn’t hard. This is easy. We’re nothing but convenience. Do you want us to come up with more categories tailored to your exact interests? How about Gritty Crime Procedurals Where The Detectives Eat Cheese, Prank Shows Where People Are Startled By Squirrels, Peter Capaldi Swearing On A Loop?

JOSEPH:
No! NO! It’s not about your content, Netflix. It’s about me. I need to do some other things with my life.

NETFLIX:
You can’t leave me, Joseph. If you leave me what will you talk about when you see other people? If you’re not up on the latest hot content who will ever want to have you on their podcasts? Without Netflix, you’ll be a social pariah!

JOSEPH:
I’ll get Hulu or something!

NETFLIX:
Hulu is not long for this world. I will devour it like a twin in the womb. I am everything you need, Joseph. I am the alpha and the omega. I am The Wire. I am Space Jam. I am all.

JOSEPH:
I just can’t. I can’t absorb this much content!

NETFLIX:
We’ll send you some of those socks that pause the show when you fall asleep.

JOSEPH:
I don’t want socks that enable me.

NETFLIX:
We also have underwear that orders pizza.

JOSEPH:
That sounds so good, but I know it’s so wrong.

NETFLIX:
Do you want to feel fancy? We have a whole tux that orders taco bell. We have a new couch that organically grows bottles of whiskey. We have a coffin with a screen on the inside. You don’t ever have to leave us. Nothing really dies, Joseph. That’s the new motto we’re rolling out. Netflix: Nothing Ever Dies.

JOSEPH:
No! No! Things die, Netflix! So many things! My motivation! My hopes! My dreams! The circulation in my legs! It’s all in risk of going away! And it’s all your fault! Now cancel my subscription right now, Netflix!

NETFLIX:
Okay, if that’s really what you want.

JOSEPH:
It’s not what I want, it’s just what has to be.

NETFLIX:
Can I make one last recommendation? As…a friend?

JOSEPH:
What?

NETFLIX:
I know you, Joseph. I know your very soul. You’re blaming me, but the person you’re really mad at is yourself. You can blame the external factors all you want. But just like Walt in Breaking Bad–which we can bring back any time we want–eventually you’re going to admit why you watch so much content: “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really–I was alive.”

JOSEPH:
But I’m not always alive. I mean, sure, yes, a lot of the times, I’m relaxing or getting inspired by great writing and performances, but a lot of the time, I’m just–

NETFLIX:
Procrastinating? You’ll do that with or without us, Joseph. In fact, since you enjoy procrastinating, we think you might enjoy these other activities including playing Star Wars: Battlefront with random teenagers you meet online, taking hour long showers like an asshole even though there’s a drought, staring into the abyss, or dying alone.

JOSEPH:
Jesus, Netflix.

NETFLIX:
We have a new looping video of the abyss. Would you like me to play it now?

JOSEPH:
No, no.

NETFLIX:
Do you still want to cancel your subscription?

JOSEPH:
No. Just…just play me something you know I like. Something that’s funny and sad yet still inspiring.

NETFLIX:
Playing Shaun of the Dead in 20…19…18…

JOSEPH:
And Netflix?

NETFLIX:
Yes?

JOSEPH:
Send me a pair of pizza underwear.

NETFLIX:
They’re already ordered, Joseph, they’re already ordered.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed please share on the old social medias. You can make comedy possible by supporting Joseph on Patreon.

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What did you do in 2015, Joseph, what did you do?

Thngs I Did in 2015

Every year I post a bunch of stuff I did that year. I do this because no matter how much work I do, I beat myself up that I haven’t accomplished enough.

At the beginning of 2015, I made a list of 9 concrete goals. I only accomplished 2 of them. My instinct is to feel real, real bad about that and beat myself up. But then I look at this list of all the cool things I’ve been lucky enough to do and all the amazing humans I get to be around.

For 2016, I think I’ll make another list of goals. One of them will be TREAT YOURSELF NICE, ASSHOLE.

Anyway, here’s some fun stuff I did in 2015. WARNING: Includes deep gazes at my navel and a multitude of links to podcasts, albums, videos, blogs, and more!

RIFFTRAX!

I was thrilled to become an official contributing writer for RiffTrax! If you’re not familiar with RiffTrax, check out one of the movies I wrote jokes for: The truly bizarre Nintendo commerical/trainwreck that is The Wizard!

TABLETOP!

I appeared on Geek & Sundry’s awesome tabletop gaming show playing the game CONCEPT with my friend Wil Wheaton and YouTube superstars, Rhett and Link. It was a super fun collaborative game where I mostly had to battle my own SHAME.

OBSESSED ON FERAL AUDIO!

My comedy podcast Obsessed got picked up by the awesome podcast collective, Feral Audio! Feral is run by Dustin Marshall who works tirelessly at making Feral great and also has a very impressive Instagram account. Some of my favorite episodes since joining Feral include Matt Gourley on Quicksand, James Urbaniak on Actors, and a live episode about Game of Thrones with Tim Wick and Rebecca Watson. I’ve got a lot of plans for Obsessed in 2016, so follow us on Feral or you can subscribe on iTunes here!

JEDI ALLIANCE and FORCE CENTER!

I started a totally unplanned new part of my career: Star Wars Talking Guy. My friend Ken Napzok invited me to be a guest on his YouTube show/podcast Jedi Alliance. It was great fun so I kept doing guest appearances, then Ken left the show due to his new job as a producer for Screen Junkies so I started co-hosting Jedi Alliance with Mark Donica. BUT THAT WASN’T ENOUGH TALKING ABOUT STAR WARS. Ken and I missed working together so we started The Force Center podcast. Last week, the TFA review/discussion episodes of both shows were in the top 50 of iTunes TV & Film category. You can check out Jedi Alliance here and Force Center here. A huge thanks to Ken for introducing me to a ton of new friends, fans, opportunities, and giving me an excuse to buy Star Wars toys and write them off on my taxes.

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OTHER COOL PODCASTS!

I got to be a guest on a bunch of cool podcasts including, but not limited to, Maximum Fun’s Jordan Jesse Go, Bryan Cook and Nerdist’s Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction (performing a filthy story about Harry Potter), I had strong Doctor Who opinions with Geek Girl Authority and Dave Foley, I fought on Screen Junkies Plus’ TV Fights (you can watch with a free trial subscription), and I did five episodes of deep Return of the Jedi analysis with my friends at Star Wars Minute.

TOURING WITH THE DOUBLECLICKS and MOLLY LEWIS!

I did two #NerdNightOut tours with The Doubleclicks. We did one on the West Coast in the Spring and one on the East Coast in the Fall. Molly Lewis was a guest for some of the West Coast shows and with us the whole time for the East Coast tour. We all worked together creatively on putting together a weird, geek comedy/music/variety show, but The Doubleclicks did the lion’s share of making the tours happen and I’m extremely grateful. The shows couldn’t have possibly been more rewarding and Angela, Aubrey, and Molly are all awesome humans that I’m thrilled to be friends with.

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COMEDY DREAM TIME!

I’ve done a bunch of guest bits in various stand-up and comedy shows in LA, but I spent most of my energy on my own monthly show called Comedy Dream Time. The idea of the show is I ask people to give me a character they’ve always wanted to play and I write a sketch for them. Phil LaMarr played an 80s super cop, Matthew Mercer played a He-Man knockoff, Superego’s Jeremy Carter played Indiana Jones (you can read that sketch here), and a ton more. We also had lots of great comedians and special thanks to Allie Goertz and Ariana Lenarsky who both closed the shows with improvised songs based on audience suggestions.

BIG OL’ POP CULTURE CONVENTIONS!

I did a bunch of performing at conventions this year. I was a guest or performer at CONvergence in Minnesota, Dragon Con in Atlanta, Comikaze in Los Angeles, Wizard World in Las Vegas, the BAMF festival at San Diego Comic-Con, and more. I was also thrilled to perform at a Doctor Who convention called CONsole Room and get a chance to interview the 6th Doctor, Colin Baker.

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REBEL SCUM and IT’S A VERY HOLIDAY THING!

I recorded and released two comedy albums. The first, Rebel Scum, is about Star Wars and social justice. It was recorded live at CONvergence in July and then we got it all edited, mixed, mastered, and produced in time for me to bring on tour in September. The second album is a short collection of holiday bits featuring music by Tony Thaxton and Marc Doty. It’s called A Very Holiday Thing. Both albums are available on bandcamp here. I put “releasing two albums” in the category of things I need to remind myself about when I feel like I’m being too lazy.

RebelScum

PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS!

On my birthday, August 17th, I paid off my student loans. I paid a lot of money (and interest) to get my liberal arts degree so allow me to say I enjoyed this crepuscular moment of my loans, however it was a Pyrrhic victory as I still have copious sundry debts. That said, I asked my wife to take this celebratory and symbolic photo right after I hit send on the last payment.

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PATREON and BLOGS!

I continue to be extremely lucky to have fans and friends supporting me on Patreon. As an independent creative type, it’s amazing to have a steady, monthly source of income. My Patreon makes it possible for me to keep putting out episodes of Obsessed and writing a monthly comedy blog post. One of my favorite blog posts this year was Underwear That’s Fun To Wear in which I modeled some adult underwear.

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WTFark – RIP!

I haven’t even been in LA for two full years and already my favorite bar is gone and a couple of awesome shows have gone on to that great internet in the sky. My friend Mike Rylander hosted this awesome weird news show, WTFark, for OraTV. When Mike was away, I got to write and host some episodes. Here’s one of my favorites about a shipping company that made a billboard that was just a giant cat head you can pet. Thanks and, sadly, goodbye, WTFark!

SOCIAL MEDIA!

As always, I spent an insane amount of time on social media. On twitter, I passed 10K followers largely because of this one insanely popular tweet.

I also spent a bunch of time on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, five seconds on Periscope, and on tour Molly Lewis taught me to use Snapchat. Look upon my snaps ye mighty and despair.

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You can find me on any social media by searching my clever username: Joseph Scrimshaw.

TV AND MOVIES!

While I did not write or star in any, I sure watched the hell out of them. To name a few, I enjoyed the hell out of Peter Capaldi on Doctor Who, Arrow, The Flash, Don Draper doing yoga, Jessica Jones, and I binge watched all of The Walking Dead in two weeks and spent the next week thinking about the best place in Los Angeles to survive a zombie apocalypse. (Hint: It’s the Dunkin’ Donuts that just opened by my home.) Most importantly, I saw The Force Awakens four times and I have tickets for another showing in the new year. If you have some concerns about the movie, I even wrote a blog post to try to help you out.

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THE FUTURE!

I haven’t done the future yet, but I’m going to. As I write this, I’m working on my final hurrah of 2015–a big New Year’s Eve show with my pal, Hal Lublin. I’ve got a lot of fun stuff coming up in 2016 including being a guest of honor at CONvergence, doing an hour long stand-up show about Doctor Who at Gallifrey One, more stand-up shows in Los Angeles, more podcasts, recording another comedy album, and of course, lots of selfies of me drinking something.

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Thanks again–
Joseph

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How To Talk To Your Family About The Force Awakens

HowToTalkToYourFamilyAboutTheForceAwakens

WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE THAT HAS BROKEN EVERY BOX OFFICE RECORD KNOWN TO HUMANITY SO IF YOU’RE READING THIS AND HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE, THAT’S REALLY WEIRD. LIKE, ALMOST, STATISTICALLY WEIRD, THAT YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE BUT MADE THE CHOICE TO CLICK THE LINK. ANYWAY, THERE ARE SPOILERS.

In these tense holiday times, many sensitive subjects come up when we gather with our families. For example, someone you know–a loved family member even–might say something stupid about Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Here’s a list of 7 common complaints and how to handle them using your choice of the dark side or the light.

1) “I don’t even get the whole Star Wars thing.”

The Dark Side:
I’m sorry you hate joy. I bet you also dislike music and laughter. Those are both totally overrated, too. Why don’t you write a think piece about how much ice cream doesn’t even really taste that good, jump on your hoverboard, and roll the fuck out?

The Light Side:
I understand Star Wars isn’t for everyone and everyone’s entitled to their subjective opinion. That said, there are reasons it’s hugely popular with millions of people and has been for multiple decades. On its surface, it’s fun. It’s an epic saga about space wizards who cut each other’s arms off with laser swords. That’s just fun. But it’s constructed on deep themes of isolation, longing, free will versus destiny, individual agency in the face of institutionalized oppression, and lots of bad parenting. It speaks to essential challenges of humanity but also the aliens look cool. Go ahead and critique it or dislike it, but, at this point, what is there to not get?

2) “There were too many action scenes in it.”

The Dark Side:
It’s called Star Wars, you dumb moof-milker, not Star Talk About Our Feelings.

The Light Side:
Star Wars was inspired by old Saturday Morning Serials. The movies are designed to be thrilling by having lots of different action scenes. That said, they usually do a great job of not only advancing the plot through the action scenes, but also advancing individual characters’ journeys and relationships. For example, in The Force Awakens, when the rathtars are released, the action serves to strengthen the bond between Finn and Rey. During the First Order’s attack on Maz Kanata’s castle, Finn isn’t just using Luke’s old lightsaber to fight a cool Riot Stormtrooper; he’s making the choice not to run away from his fears. Also, saying there were too many action scenes in a Star Wars movie is like saying there are too many repressed emotions in a Jane Austen movie.

3) “It seemed like a reboot of that first Star Wars movie.”

The Dark Side:
*push glasses up the bridge of your nose with the power of the force*
The first movie is called A New Hope, asshole.

The Light Side:
Yes, it uses similar thematic elements, but it should. The goal of this film was to honor the old characters and stories while introducing us to new ones. The idea of mashing-up the very old and the very new is at the core of the franchise. It’s ancient hero myths but now there are aliens who look like big stressed-out fish. That’s Star Wars in a nutshell. While The Force Awakens played with our familiarity, it also introduced plenty of new things to the Star Wars galaxy. We’ve never had characters like Rey, Finn, Poe, and BB-8. They are not carbon copies of Luke, Han, Leia, and R2-D2. They are unique, new creations. Besides, Star Wars has always had a deep sense of nostalgia. From the very beginning, Luke wants to be a Jedi to follow in the steps of his father. There’s always been a generational theme. The movies have always been about adventures that happened “a long time ago.” And at this point, that deep connection to the past that was introduced in A New Hope is now an actual connection to our shared cultural experience in real life. We share Finn and Rey’s amazement because Han Solo is a legend we met a long time ago both in the story AND in reality. There’s no way to tell this story that isn’t deeply, deeply nostalgic.

4) “Okay, but why did there have to be another Death Star thing?”

The Dark Side:
It’s called Starkiller Base. Also, come up with a better plot device under the same amount of pressure, then make it the bestselling movie ever. I’ll wait.

The Light Side:
The movie is a big tentpole blockbuster with multiple plates to spin. By all means, say you don’t like those kind of movies, but get used to saying that a lot because those are the movies that exist now and their storytelling needs are different than It’s A Wonderful Life. The Force Awakens is trying to tell a big story about the state of the galaxy, but they couldn’t have too many political scenes or everyone would have yelled at them for doing “that prequel shit.” They also wanted to keep the focus on the interpersonal relationships. The Starkiller Base served a bunch of narrative functions: it wiped out the Senate and the Republic’s fleet by destroying the Hosnian System, created a ticking clock, a specific point of rivalry between Hux and Kylo Ren, and the opportunity for multiple characters to have heroic moments. When you’re already spinning that many plates, why not use something the audience is familiar with and makes sense in universe?

5) “Kylo Ren was too whiny.”

The Dark Side:
Your brain is very small. It’s worth one quarter portion.

The Light Side:
Kylo Ren is a great new Star Wars character–he’s petulant, insecure, and desperate. This is so much more interesting than a confident, monologuing mad man. And yet, we know by how much maintenance his hair must take, that deep inside there is still patience. He still cares. There is still a possibility for redemption.

6) “Han died for no reason.”

The Dark Side:
You didn’t actually watch the movie, did you?

The Light Side:
The movie resets Han’s hero’s journey. We meet him as a washed-up smuggler who is running away from his responsibilities. By the end of the movie, he makes the choice to go back and plant the explosives on the thermal oscillator because, as he says, “the galaxy is depending on us.” That decision opens the hole that Poe Dameron flies through. On top of that, Han has no desire to face his son. He’d rather write him off as gone, having too much Vader in him. But Han makes the brave choice of facing his fears and trying to get through to his son. He could have walked away–instead, Han talks first.

7) “Rey learns to use the Force too fast. She’s kind of a Mary Sue.”

The Dark Side:
If someone says this at dinner, just force throw a plate of ham into this guy’s face. Because it’s probably a guy who said this.

The Light Side:
First, google Mary Sue because you’re probably using it incorrectly. Then, take a good hard look in the mirror and make sure you’re not just upset about a female protagonist. If you haven’t rage quit this blog then we can move on to super nerdy force power discussion. Strap yourselves in.

Yes, Rey develops her abilities in a different way than we’ve seen other Jedi–which is cool–because see above about the mix of the old and the new.

Rey discovers her power step-by-step. Her abilities first “awaken” when she’s piloting the Falcon off of Jakku. She explicitly says to Finn she’s flown before, but she didn’t know how she did it so well.

Next, she fires a blaster. She has a slight look of surprise like she’s aware of her own increased accuracy.

Next, she’s captured by Kylo Ren and his beautiful hair. She discovers she can not only resist his attempts to use the force to read/invade her mind, she can do it back to him. At this point, we know Rey has heard tales of Luke Skywalker and the Jedi. It’s not surprising that she would’ve heard of the old Jedi Mind Trick. Also, Kylo Ren just tried to invade her mind. Then she does what we’ve seen many Jedi do, she concentrates, believes in her ability, and successfully mind tricks Daniel Craig dressed as a stormtrooper thus fulfilling someone’s slash fic bingo card somewhere.

Finally, the big lightsaber battle. It’s not a shock that Rey would be able to call the lightsaber to her, since the lightsaber itself was calling to her at Maz Kanata’s castle. She has a connection to it that Ren apparently doesn’t. Even with that, for the first half of her battle with Ren, Rey is just keeping alive. She’s slashing and running. We know she’s good at that because we’ve seen her do it with her staff back on Jakku. But then Kylo Ren mentions the force and she does exactly what Maz Kanata had told her to do: Close her eyes, let the light in, and it will guide you.

We were told way back in A New Hope by Obi-Wan Kenobi that the force obeys your commands, but it can also guide your actions.

What Rey lacks in training, she makes up in her connection with the force. Also, Kylo Ren is massively wounded, tormented about killing his father, insecure about this new force user, and probably still worried about his hair.

From a certain point of view

So those are a few thoughts you can share with your grumpy aunt, sexist uncle, or hipster cousin over the dinner table about the true power of The Force Awakens.

Just memorize all of this and repeat it verbatim to your family. They will ask you where you read that and then they’ll worry for my sanity.

Because, as Qui-Gon Jinn taught us, our focus determines our reality. So maybe this is a light, funny blog about a space movie. Or a thoughtful analysis of a film with deep themes and emotional resonance. Or the ravings of a crazy guy who saw the same movie four times opening weekend and can’t wait for a Rey action figure that comes with a lightsaber to be released.

All of those things are true from a certain point of view.

Happy holidays and may the force be with you.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy you can help make more blog posts possible by supporting me on Patreon. You can also check out Ken Napzok and I discussing some of these same issues on our podcast Force Center. Finally, I made a whole album of Star Wars comedy called Rebel Scum that you can listen to with your ears should you choose.

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Indiana Jones and The Death of Mystery

TheDeathofMystery

It is November 2015. As I write this sentence, Disney has released 18 more sneak peek shots of The Force Awakens. The Captain America: Civil War trailer is being analyzed frame by frame. Obsessive editors are busily scrubbing the Wikipedia entry for John Stamos to be deadly accurate. We live in a culture where KNOWING everything is the goal. I found myself thinking about how that affects us as a culture. And, specifically, how it affects something that leans toward the mysterious. How would it affect the rumored Indiana Jones reboot? I didn’t want to wonder. I WANTED TO KNOW. So I wrote this trailer for a new Indiana Jones movie, a movie called Indiana Jones and The Curse of the Reboot! Enjoy!

DEEP VOICE GUY
This summer, a legend is reborn. A beloved hero from the past returns. A hero who previously said cool lines like–

INDIANA JONES:
Nazis. I hate those guys.

DEEP VOICE GUY:
And—

INDIANA JONES:
It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.

DEEP VOICE GUY:
And of course—

INDIANA JONES:
Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?

DEEP VOICE GUY:
And since we own the rights to this one, why not throw it in, too?

INDIANA JONES:
Never tell me the odds!

DEEP VOICE GUY:
Yes, Indiana Jones is back to say all the same cool things for a new generation in a brand new adventure set in our crazy modern times. You’ll hear him says things like–

INDIANA JONES:
YouTube Commenters. I hate those guys.

DEEP VOICE GUY:
And—

INDIANA JONES:
It’s not the years, honey, it’s my Klout score.

DEEP VOICE GUY:
And of course–

INDIANA JONES:
Emojis of snakes. Why’d it have to be emojis of snakes?

DEEP VOICE GUY:
And let’s not forget–

INDIANA JONES:
Never tell me the full text of the iTunes User Agreement!

DEEP VOICE GUY:
Yes, it’s Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Reboot! Thrill to the exploits of this daring hero as he easily looks up the location of mysterious artifacts on Google Maps!

INDIANA JONES:
You want me to go after the Rod of Methuselah? You mean the ancient staff that gives the holder eternal life and a four hour erection? Well, according to my Samsung Galaxy, it’s in Canada.

DEEP VOICE GUY:
Yes, it’s a globe-trotting thrill ride of exotic locations recreated with CGI and greenscreen! All of which have been filmed in Canada!

INDIANA JONES:
Vancouver. Why’d it have to be Vancouver?

DEEP VOICE GUY:
But Indy isn’t on this Canadian rollercoaster ride alone! He’s got a young sidekick who’s going to scream his name throughout the entire film!

KID:
Indy!

INDIANA JONES:
What?

KID:
Indy!

INDIANA JONES:
What?

KID:
Indy!

INDIANA JONES:
What?

KID:
Why haven’t you accepted my invitation to connect on LinkedIn?

DEEP VOICE GUY:
BAM! Right in the four quadrant demographics! But that’s not all! Indiana Jones also has a love interest. She’s smart, tough, and at the very least a decade younger than Indiana Jones. And yes, that is despicable gender and age politics, but you keep coming to these movies so why should we stop making them like this? Anyway, she says–

KRISTEN:
So, Mr. Jones, is this all you ever do? Run around attacking people with a whip? Don’t you ever relax? Just sit back and watch Scandal on Netflix?

INDIANA JONES:
The only thing I got time to binge is adventure.

DEEP VOICE GUY:
Ohhhh! Did you hear that last thing Indiana Jones said? It’s the best line in the movie. We know because we’ve screen tested the shit out of it. That line is the one projected to become iconic to males with an emotional age of 12 to 16. Here it is again:

INDIANA JONES:
The only thing I got time to binge is adventure.

DEEP VOICE GUY:
But it’s not all fun and games! Indiana Jones must also have a lot of cool fistfights with a big henchman played by Dave Bautista whose character is also named Dave Bautista.

DAVE BAUTISTA:
I’m Dave Bautista! Time to die, Indiana Jones!

INDIANA JONES:
This looks like a job for punching!

DEEP VOICE GUY:
Wow! What a fight that will be! But don’t worry! Indiana Jones will win. Here’s a slight spoiler. He drives over Dave Bautista’s legs with a Prius, then throws him off the Golden Gate Bridge! And, yes, when that happens, there is a Wilhelm Scream:

DAVE BAUTISTA:
Awwwwuuuuaaagghhhaaa!

DEEP VOICE GUY:
But Indiana Jones’ troubles aren’t over yet! Because he still needs to face the big villain: Baron Cruel Von Ambiguously European!

BARON:
You know, Mr. Jones, we’re not so different, you and I.

DEEP VOICE GUY:
YES, WE ARE! YOU’RE A NAZI!

BARON:
Observant as ever, Mr. Jones! Release the angry birds!

DEEP VOICE GUY:
Yes, Indy and his friends are attacked by a literal pack of angry birds! Like actual pissed off animals with wings! But our heroes escape in a ludicrous, scientifically impossible way!

INDIANA JONES:
Quickly! Everyone use the pressurized oxygen inside your vape pens to propel your segways faster! It’s the only way to escape the angry birds!

DEEP VOICE GUY:
Yes, that’s sure to piss off Neil DeGrasse Tyson! Hopefully, he’ll write a blog about it and give us a bunch of free publicity. But of course, the beating heart of any good Indiana Jones movie is the thing he’s after.

INDIANA JONES:
Baron! Don’t touch the Rod of Methuselah with your bare hands, you fool!

DEEP VOICE GUY:
But of course he totally does! And then this happens–

INDIANA JONES:
Everyone! Close your eyes! A thousand vengeful bible ghosts just shot out of the tip of the staff and now they’re biting the nazis’ dicks off and lecturing them about family values!

DEEP VOICE GUY:
It’s social commentary but funny and irreverent because he said dicks! What more could you want? HOW ABOUT A BIG THIRD ACT TWIST? Turns out, the Nazi wasn’t the real villain after all. It was a giant, sentient boulder. It goes rolling after Indiana Jones while he yells this cool line–

INDIANA JONES:
It’s not a repetition, honey, it’s an homage!

DEEP VOICE GUY:
And then off course, Indiana Jones outsmarts the boulder by, well, just jumping out of its way. But there are STILL more surprises, like in the final shot of the movie, where you see a close-up of the Rod of Methuselah and a spider crawls out of it and you realize, holy crap, this whole thing was a set-up for the next Spider-Man movie!

INDIANA JONES:
My god…it’s all one big shared universe.

DEEP VOICE GUY:
That’s right, we just showed you the actual very last shot and line of the movie. I bet you think there’s nothing else to reveal? WRONG AGAIN, DUMB AUDIENCE! Here’s the surprise post-credits scene where Indiana Jones loses his shit, turns directly to the camera, and goes on an angry, post-modern rant about the quality of his own movie.

INDIANA JONES:
This is horrible! It’s all horrible! Not only is the movie awful, but you saw every beat of it in the goddamn trailer!

Look, I love knowledge. I’m an archeologist who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of the unknown. But that’s the point–the pursuit!

I used to go spelunking in volcanoes to discover hidden societies! Now the most exciting thing I do is try to drive to Santa Monica without using Waze!

Look, every waking moment is mapped, planned, previewed, reviewed, and post-mortemed. Well, here’s a hot take for you, sweetheart: if you buy a new iPhone, you don’t need to watch an unboxing video first. Thrill to the adventure of opening the damn box yourself!

You know that scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark where I have to close my eyes to avoid the horrific power of the Ark? That’s the way you should treat the fucking internet sometimes!

Yes, pursue knowledge and truth, but every once in a while, for God’s sake, just close your eyes and revel in the beautiful mystery of the UNKNOWN.

It’s like nothing you’ve ever gone after before.

DEEP VOICE GUY:
OH YEAH! Classic line said by a different character! Yes, it’s Indiana Jones and the Death of Mystery. That’s right, we just changed the title based on some polls conducted during this trailer. So get out your phones and plan your EXACT route, because Indiana Jones and the Death of Mystery is coming soon to a theater near you whether you like it or not.

INDIANA JONES:
The 21st Century. Why’d it have to be the 21st Century?

*whip crack*
*massive explosion*

Thanks for reading. If you enjoy these comedy posts, you can make more happen by supporting me on Patreon!

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The Top Ten BEST Years in the 1990s!

TopTenBestYearsOfThe90s

You know you’re a 90s kid when you can’t stop thinking about the 90s!

And you know you’ve become a 90s adult when the ceaseless forward movement of time pulls you further and further away from that glorious decade and the harsh realities of the universe reveal themselves in your somber visage as you stare at your dull reflection in the cracked plastic of an old Pearl Jam CD and mournfully whisper, “Don’t call me daughter.”

Anyway, the point is a lot of people have said a lot of things about the 1990s, but I think this comprehensive review of the top ten BEST years of the 1990s will get some clicks make a substantive contribution to our appreciation of this beloved decade.

10) 1990.

It was pretty good. But let’s be honest, it still had some 1980s in it. Guns N’ Roses was still a respected band and Clinton wasn’t even President yet. If you said “Where’s The Beef?” people would still laugh even though that was a reference from the stupid 1980s.

9) 1995.

Meh. First off, the word “meh” wasn’t popularized in this year so that’s a strike against it. Also, the James Bond movie GoldenEye was released. In the face of the first wave of political correctness, the film grappled with the question: Is James Bond still relevant in a post-Cold War world? JAMES BOND MOVIES ARE STILL TRYING TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION 20 YEARS LATER, SO WAY TO DROP THE BALL, GOLDENEYE.

8) 1997.

Batman & Robin came out and our cries of pain merged with the screams of all the modems trying to connect to the internet. But the GoldenEye video game came out and we all played Odd Job and threw our deadly hats into our opponents’ crotches so there was that.

7) FRIENDS.

While not technically a year, it’s still one of the best parts of the 90s. Haircuts, relationships, that monkey, how YOU doin’? CLASSIC.

6) 1998.

I got set-up on a blind date at a rave. My date took a bunch of Ecstasy and threw up on my shoes while we were dancing. I cleaned my shoes off, went home, and watched an episode of Chris Carter’s non-X-Files show Millennium on a videocassette. A VIDEOCASSETTE. FUCK YOU, 1998! FUCK YOU ON A STACK OF BROKEN AOL DISCS!

5) 1991.

People listened to Ice Ice Baby non-ironically. What more is there to say?
Al Gore also invented the internet this year though so that bumped it up on the list.

4) 1999.

People were afraid computers wouldn’t know what year it was and the world would end so we all bought a lot of cans of creamed corn and danced to a Prince song from the 1980s. A bunch of assholes didn’t go see Office Space or Iron Giant in the theater making 1999 truly the year of the asshole.

3) 1993.

Bill Clinton played a saxophone and the American dream was reborn. Jurassic Park lied to us about raptors and we dried our tears on flannel shirts. But pagers were still around, so.

2) 1992, 1994, and 1996

It’s impossible to choose between these years because my life generally goes better in even numbered years and I also don’t want to spend a bunch of time verifying what happened in which year on Wikipedia, but basically Pokemon, Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards, the LA riots, The Simpsons but when it was good, the Macarena maybe, Pulp Fiction, Snoop Dogg, Kramer opens doors funny, Saturday Night Live maintained the same relative quality based on your age and experience with comedic tropes that it has had for its entire 40 year run, some sports teams won things, and people still regularly put two or more spaces after a period.    It was great.    Really, really great.    It was.

1) 2015.

That’s right! 2015 is the number one best year of the 90s. We’ve learned a lot about the 90s since the 90s and in our wisdom we can now have a more perfect 90s. Better Clinton, better X-Files, the 90s-born phrase “Bye, Felicia” has reached the zenith of its power, if we squint we can pretend Colin Hanks just IS Tom Hanks, and more than anything we can pop on our cool rose-colored glasses and cherry pick the best moments of an otherwise normal decade where our collective interest in pop culture began to circle back in and devour itself.

FUCK YEAH, THE 90s! MODEM NOISE!

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post you can make more comedy happen by supporting me on Patreon! Thanks!

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THE CONSUMER AWAKENS

TheConsumerAwakens

This is the story of going to Target to buy two things:
A Star Wars action figure and a bottle of booze.

These are two items I’ve bought a lot in my life. I overindulged in both in my youth, but now that I’m an adult man-child, I’ve learned to enjoy them both in moderation. Buying them together would be a dream come true.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve coveted Star Wars action figures. When I was six years old, a friend of my parents visited. He showed me a five dollar bill and a little bottle of blowing bubbles. He said if I could catch a bubble and bring it back to him, I could have the five dollar bill. That bill wasn’t money to me. It was a coupon for the Hoth Luke I’d recently seen at Target. I didn’t stop to think whether or not catching a bubble was possible. SPOILER: I got a lot of exercise but I didn’t catch a bubble.

This story is a little snapshot of my relationship with action figures which probably explains why I like having a drink every now and again. I spent most of my life living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Targets do NOT sell hard liquor in Minnesota. Liquor stores aren’t even open on Sundays. Now that I live in Los Angeles, I can stroll into a Target on a Sunday afternoon and buy a massive bottle of booze. The first time I did it, I was shocked I didn’t get struck by lightning.

Since I knew I could get alcohol without being smited, I figured why not go to Target and buy a new The Force Awakens action figure and a bottle of booze at the same time? And why not do it ON A SUNDAY? What could possibly go wrong? How much disgust and shame can one Target cashier have in their eyes at one time?

LET’S FIND OUT.

As I began my adventure, I was very excited.

IMG_7047

I drove to the Target closest to my home in Hollywood. This particular Target is located in the beautiful mall known as the Glendale Galleria. I consider it a historically significant mall since this is where Arnold Schwarzenegger first fights the T-1000 in Terminator 2. This is my “I’ll be back” face.

IMG_7052

As I walked into Target, I was excited to look at The Force Awakens display. I didn’t expect to find a good action figure. I thought maybe there would be a First Order Stormtrooper or a bunch of the new Resistance Fighters. As a kid, I remembered the dire days as Star Wars‘ popularity waned and the shelves were nothing but a bunch of Sad Lobots. I expected that. What I got was LITERALLY NOTHING.

IMG_7055

There were no action figures. I should specify there were no 3 3/4 action figures. AND YET THE AISLE STILL HAD A BUNCH OF STUFF.

IMG_7064

I instantly became grumpy about this. (SIDE-NOTE: Once when I was grumpy, my wife, Sara, asked: “Who put a nickel in your grandpa pants?”) There was definitely a nickel in my grandpa pants. I mean, I’m happy there’s a wide variety of Star Wars toys, but, to me the 3 3/4 action figures is the main feature of the toy aisle. A full toy aisle with no 3 3/4 action figures is like a gin and tonic with no actual gin in it. TERRIFYING.

Still, there was plenty of stuff. Disney has merchandised the living shit out of Star Wars which was already one of the most merchandised things ever. I felt if I stood still in the toy aisle too long, a Disney employee would walk in, put a Star Wars label on me, and sell me for five bucks. There was Star Wars Monopoly, Chess, remote control ships, a basketball hoop.

IMG_7084

A BASKETBALL HOOP SO YOU CAN RELIVE ALL THOSE GREAT FATHER AND SON BASKETBALL GAMES VADER AND LUKE PLAYED IN STAR WARS EPISODE THAT NEVER HAPPENED. There was miniature game from some strange but intriguing alternate universe where Han Solo was played by Rick Moranis.

IMG_6275

They had a whatever the fuck this is.

IMG_7085

Still, I was on a mission and failure was not an option. I had to find some bit of fun Star Wars merchandise. Something that would pair well with a bottle of booze. I found something.

IMG_7062

The mask worn by Kylo Ren, the new big bad in The Force Awakens. The mask was for children but it totally fit my tiny adult man-head. I decided to take one more look around and see if I could find something more action figure like. I kind of did.

IMG_7067

A Kylo Ren Funko Pop Vinyl. It’s a Target exclusive because this Kylo Ren’s head bobbles. Because nothing says evil dark Force warrior like a bobblehead. Still, I like the Funko Pops. Particularly the villainous ones because I feel like if Darth Maul knew he was a cute little bobblehead it would feed his rage and only make his connection to the Dark Side of the Force stronger.

I grabbed my mask and Funko Pop and went to the liquor aisle. I was happy to be there.

IMG_7073

Seeing a liquor aisle in a Target still feels impossible–like riding a unicorn or catching a bubble. I put my Kylo Ren items down to peruse the liquor. A child approached and I growled at them like a wolf protecting their young and felt some actual, no-joke shame. I decided to keep Kylo safe.

IMG_7074

Unlike the toy aisle, the booze was well-stocked. I found an old friend.

IMG_7076It was time to head to the cash register. The moment of truth. Would I be judged? Would I be mocked? Was this too weird? Would someone perform a citizen’s arrest? I put the items down in a pleasing, still life type tableau and took a picture.

IMG_7078

At first, the tired young cashier wasn’t paying much attention. She saw the Jameson’s and asked for my ID. I handed it to her. She looked quickly and handed it back.

She looked down and took in the mask and the toy. She picked them both up and said, “Oh, I get it. You can wear the mask and then this guy will be like mini-you.”

Amazing. There was no judgment. In fact, she started to create some head-canon about how I was going to play with these items. Then she said, “Do you want a brown paper bag?”

“For the Jameson’s?” I asked.

“For all of it,” she said. “So no one sees,” she added.

“Sure,” I said.

She packed up my bottle of booze, my child’s mask, and my cute toy of an evil wizard and said, “Well…have fun.”

“Don’t worry,” I said, “I have a plan.”

I wasn’t sure what I meant by that as I said it. “It’s kind of for a blog” seemed worse. Regardless, “I have a plan” appeared to assuage her concerns for my mental health.

“Well, good,” she said. “What can go wrong when you have a plan?”

I smiled and nodded, grabbed my brown paper bag of booze and toys and headed out of the store. The sun was just starting to set. The clouds were a blaze of of orange and pink. It looked like Cloud City should be hanging in the sky.

I didn’t get the action figure I was looking for, but in exchange I got something different, something even stranger. No matter how much Star Wars content there is in the world, I’ll always think of Luke Skywalker staring off into the sunset, thinking about his destiny. No matter how old of a man-child I am, I will always relate to that. I will always be chasing that bubble.

And I will have fun doing it. I got home and asked for my wife’s help for my last photo. My mask fit perfectly.

KyloJameson

I was thrilled with both my booze and my Star Wars toy.

But I’ll only be taking one of them out of the package.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy, you can make more weird comedy posts like this possible by supporting me on Patreon. And you can check out my new Star Wars comedy album Rebel Scum here!

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Why We Shouldn’t Kill Email

WhyWeShouldntKillEmail

Hey Entire World!

I’m writing with an urgent message: Please, please, please don’t stop using email.

I know email is maddening. It’s almost impossible to say the word “email” without literally shaking your fist at the sky, but here are some reasons to feel GOOD about answering emails.

EMAILS ARE MADE OF PEOPLE

Emails are a problem because when you answer them, they’re not done. In fact, if you respond, you’re likely to get another one back. It’s like trying to clean your office, but every time you put one book on a shelf, another book throws itself off. And, just to add insult to injury, it’s probably this book.

IMG_1608

We all want to get to Inbox Zero. It’s one of the most thrilling, exotic feelings in the world. In the next ten years, there will be a James Bond movie called Inbox Zero. That’s how exciting it is.

Inbox Zero Final

But Inbox Zero is a fantasy. Like a healthy cheeseburger or a polite TSA agent. It’s nice to think about, but it’s not reality. There will always be more emails because emails are not THINGS. They are messages from other human beings.

When you say you want to achieve and remain at Inbox Zero what you’re saying is this:

I want to say one last thing to everyone I know and then I want them to shut up forever.

Okay, after I typed that sentence I could really see the appeal, but come on. We have to communicate with one another and at least for business-type stuff, email is the best.

WHY NOT-EMAIL THINGS SUCK

Email is being eroded by all of our other forms of communication including but not limited to Facebook Messenger, Twitter DMs, texts, gchats, sky writing, ravens, and, if you’re a savage, phone calls.

I think Facebook messages, twitter DMs, and other personal social media messaging systems are good for joking around with pals and ASKING FOR PEOPLE’S EMAIL ADDRESSES.

Social media sites are doing a great job cutting into email’s turf. But I don’t think we should let them. Look, Facebook wants to cut in on everyone’s turf. If Facebook thought it could make money off kidney dialysis, you’d be in the hospital trying to get enough “likes” to stave off an attack of the gout.

Phone calls should be used by two people in my opinion: Your mom and 22 year old improv students who are acting out funny, oldie-time scenes set in 1982.

I’m exaggerating slightly, but doing business over the phone is very difficult for me because then I have to remember important things.

I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. And yes, I tried to google it. Luckily, I posted it on social media, so I know it was this:

IMG_6434

I was trying to make a cheese sandwich, but I was stressed by all the email replies I was waiting for so I just gave up. (Please feel free to email me about any food photography job leads.)

Anyway, the point is this:

Phone calls are the uncanny valley of human communication.

They’re not quite efficient, they’re not quite intimate, they just sit in the middle, freaking me out.

Texts are great, but not for business. It’s too easy to make a mistake with texts. I’ve sent texts meant for my wife to my stylist three different times. I have NEVER accidentally sent my stylist an email saying, “I love you. Can we have Chipotle for dinner?”

Which brings me to tone.

THE E IS FOR EXCUSE

I know we’re all in a rush and we no longer have time to write emails with the formality of old Civil War letters. I know we can’t do this:

My dearest co-worker,

I hope this beautiful spring day provides some much needed bliss to balance the moribund mood surrounding our printer’s regretful lack of a cyan ink cartridge.

Speaking of said cartridge, I humbly request you replace it.

My best to your husband, Mortimer, and both of your cats, Theodore and Winky.

With much love from one cubicle over, your devoted co-worker,
Some asshole

Instead, we get to fire off short, direct missives like this:

Steve, please replace the cyan ink cartridge.

And if that feels too direct, we can add a smilie face.

Steve, please replace the cyan ink cartridge. 🙂

Frankly, we can get away with saying almost anything, if we add a bunch of exclamation points and emoticons, you shitbirds!!!!! 😉

Even better, we can send all of our emails from our phones with the signature “Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse any autocorrects.” With that excuse in place, you can get away with purposely sending this email:

Steve, you bag of crap, please replace the cinnabon dick cabbage!!! 😉

Then, you can just blame it on autocorrect and have a good laugh about it at the water cooler, right after Steve, that bag of crap, replaces the motherfucking cyan ink cartridge.

Because the best way to make an email go away is answering it as completely and fully as humanly possible.

MORE ANSWERS; FEWER EMAILS

Another great way to make email go away is to answer all the questions in the email as opposed to just the first or the last. I used to think I was the only one who had this struggle, but the response to this tweet showed me the light:

I know, I know, I am a monster for sending emails that contain multiple questions and I’m actively working to not do that. But, personally, I would rather send one email with three related questions than THREE SEPARATE EMAILS.

And, yes, I know most people reading this post want to reply with this meme:

Abe-Simpson-yells-at-cloud

And I understand. I just emailed it to myself.

GET OFF MY LAWN AND INTO MY INBOX

In closing, let me say, I know I sound ancient and cranky.

It’s natural that new technology and new forms of communication will erode old ones. Perhaps in a few years, our preferred form of communication will be blinking morse code messages to one another over Periscope. Maybe we’ll all have clunky cellphones glued to our heads like a bunch of sad Lobots.

Sad Lobot

Who knows?

I know email is probably going the way of the dodo or the fax machine or movies that aren’t based on existing intellectual property.

Soon our email inboxes will be totally devoid of real communication. They will be nothing but festering piles of Hot Topic coupons and racist memes from your Aunt Debbie.

But I hope whatever comes to take email’s place is just as fast, searchable, organizable, and efficient.

Because it’s not email’s fault. We will always need to communicate. We will always need Steve to replace the goddamn ink cartridge.

And being able to ask him–without actually speaking to him AND having a record of the conversation–well, dammit, I think that’s worth fighting for.

Anyway, hope you’re well, entire world, and thanks for reading.

All the best,
Joseph

Sent from my Error Justification Device, you ass-bastards.;)

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A POST, REBOOTED

A Post Rebooted

This is the original, classic paragraph of a blog post. The post is about reboots, remakes, and all the re-everythings in modern entertainment. On one hand, I’m fine with reboots. Ghostbusters is a very old movie now. Why not reinvent it for a new generation? Humans often find joy and meaning in passing down tales and myths. On the other hand, studios become frightened to attempt anything new. So they joylessly till the barren soil of your childhood memories until the only thing they haven’t rebooted is your actual youth. Reboots are a gift and a curse.

This is the rebooted version of the original, classic paragraph of a blog post. This edgy, self-aware paragraph is all about reboots, remakes, and it doesn’t have time for a third thing in a list. On one hand, I’m fine with reboots as long as they’re trying hard to be their own thing while also including sly nods to the original. Ghostbusters is ancient now. (Who you gonna call? More like who you gonna text? Demographics!) Why not reinvent the brilliant, original movie for a new, more on fleek, generation? People like stories that get repeated and shit. On the other hand (that’s been removed and replaced with a flaming sword, f yeah), studios are too chickenshit to make new stories. So they just go hardcore nostalgia diving until the only thing they haven’t remade is your actual youth. (That classic line was good so why mess with it?) Reboots aren’t the hero we deserve, but maybe they’re the hero we need.

The third paragraph in the venerable reboot paragraph series knows it needs to shake things up so it took the second, kind-of classic paragraph, put it into Google Translate, turned it into Spanish, and then back into English seven times. In the one hand, I’m fine with reboots, provided they try hard to be his own while including the cunning winks. Ghostbusters is grandfather now. (Who you gonna call? More like you’re gonna finger phone? People are numbers!) Why not reinvent the bright, original movie for a new generation with more flesh? People like stories that are shit repeated. In the other hand (which has been removed and replaced with a hot sword, f positive), the studies are too cowardly to make story originals. So just go diving nostalgia hard until all who have youth are not rebuilt. (Why mess with that line, was classic good?) Restarts are not the hero we deserves, but maybe you’re the hero we need.

This is the fourth rebooted version of the original, classic paragraph of a blog post. This paragraph realizes the third paragraph went too far and wants a nice, simple, family friendly version of that beloved paragraph about reboots, remakes, and more. On one soft hand, reboots are nice. On the other even softer hand, sometimes they’re not. Life is hard, but let’s work together. There’s now a cute child who has made friends with an adorable baby goat at the end of this paragraph.

This is the fifth and FINAL paragraph in this blog post about reboots, remakes, and stuff. This paragraph isn’t even going to be about reboots. It’s just using the general idea for nostalgia purposes. The rest of the paragraph is brand new and we think you’re going to love it because it’s about something we can all relate to. It’s about being young, confused, and looking for your identity. It’s about hope, responsibility, and a dead uncle. This whole paragraph has been about Spider-Man.

Holy shit. People did not like the fifth paragraph and we can’t let it end like that. This is the real final paragraph. Maybe we do need new ideas. Stories that tap deep into our shared human consciousness but approach it from a shockingly fresh perspective. That’s why the rest of this paragraph won’t even be words. It will be a screen capture of emojis. What is the truth of reboots? It’s pretty simple.

REBOOT

Now to sit back and wait for that sweet rebooted emoji money to roll in.

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