I had to move recently, hence the hiatus. If you’re a writer or an artist, moving is extra hell because of all the books. Big glossy ones for the coffee table (if applicable), thick reference tomes, and oodles of little half-finished sketchbooks.
Not an exaggeration.
In 2012, my friend Chay and I worked as audience members for the taping of a popular game show, hosted by Steve Harvey. We helped to provide a diversity that was wholly absent from the proceedings.
I came to love and appreciate Steely Dan over the course of my twenties. I did not enjoy them while I was growing up in New Jersey. I lacked the wisdom and experience required to truly absorb their music. I was like Jonathan Richman when asked to cover a Steely Dan song for the awful Me Myself & Irene soundtrack; I never could figure out what them fellas was singin’ about.
As I grew older, Steely Dan lyrics became clearer. The words were honest poetry, sometimes inscrutable, each syllable chosen for its sound and rhythm as well as its meaning. The music was simply too complex for me to grok as a teenage punk. I had to experience the proper amount of loss, beauty and hardship before I really “got” it.
I didn’t know what a “squonk” was, but I knew that somehow, the most incredible song ever written and performed used to play on the radio. You could hear this masterpiece for free.
I love great sketch comedy, and as demonstrated on this site, I have tremendous nostalgia for the video industry of the 1980s and ’90s. By nature I am protective of those things, out of love. I have little tolerance of exploitation of them.
I believe the modern peak of sketch comedy came with two shows; Mr. Show with Bob & David, and The Kids In The Hall (both on HBO). Since the 1990s, these programs set the gold standard. Inevitably, new sketch comedy shows are compared to them, and they seldom hold up. I don’t think The State gelled until they became Reno 911. Broken Lizard has moments; generally one or two per film. Too many comedy groups nowadays are post-UCB; all manic energy, no focus. That’s fine if the group is performing live for an drunken bar audience. TV is a different matter.
Mad medicine was everywhere in the 80s and 90s. There were toys and playsets endorsed by mad doctors, for use by kids. Every time you watched cartoons, you saw a skinny dude with crazy hair in a white lab coat, maniacally mixing chemicals and potions for some nefarious purpose. Under the influence of this, I created my own mad medicine man; Dr. Kill-Everybody.
Dr. K (no hair), with Fronkin Steen and Psuto Moto.
Either the trope became shopworn around 2001, or something happened that discouraged children from playing with chemicals. You don’t see mad doctors and scientists like you used to. Maybe this is a good thing; maybe the concept was subconsciously driving impressionable kids away from lucrative STEM-field careers. I don’t know.
What I do know is this. Mad doctors once flourished in our society, even though they were annoying, and generally sucked.
In the early 1980s, video games were simple in concept, much like the “game apps” on phones nowadays. At heart, they were demonstrations of your skills with a joystick, paddle, or “track-ball” controller, performing one or more challenges. Eating all the dots, or climbing a scaffold to defeat a giant ape, to cite a couple of well-known examples. Navigating a maze while being pursued by killer robots. Killing a centipede, segment by segment. Swinging on vines over bottomless pits.
Or, flying planes into buildings. For fun!
Signed by programmer Steve Cartwright!
A stalker once told me, as though it validated his abhorrent behavior, “You can pick your nose, and you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your friends’ friends.” Admittedly, that’s partly true.
I mean, you’re welcome to pick your nose, if you’d like to be ostracized from society and make everyone sick at the same time. You can pick your friends, provided they’re in the same socio-economic class as you are, and they don’t consort with a better version of your identity. And you can’t pick your friends’ friends, who, for all you know, could be royalty, or morally repugnant wasted orgasms.
If you create art and/or entertainment, you don’t get to pick and choose who likes it.