We NEED to laugh

I’ve been thinking about something since watching Nanette. Hannah Gadsby makes the point that laughter is not the medicine, that stories are the really important thing, the thing that creates empathy and invites understanding. She’s not wrong. Laughter doesn’t cure society’s ills. It won’t solve any problems or offer solutions. Jokes are simple, and laughter, however cathartic, is not understanding. This is all true.

But this is also true: We NEED to laugh. Continue reading “We NEED to laugh”

Let’s Fight: The Most Important (Fake) Dead Parents

There are so many orphans in pop culture. Seriously, if you want to be a hero or a chosen one, you basically have to be orphaned first. And so, inspired by a delightfully time-wasting Twitter conversation, I’ve created a March Madness-style competitive bracket, beginning with a round of 32, to determine the Most Important (Fake) Dead Parents. Continue reading “Let’s Fight: The Most Important (Fake) Dead Parents”

Ray Rice and why I just can’t care about football anymore

Over the last couple years, I’ve soured on football. I come from a football family—my mom had to reschedule her wedding around a Texas/OU game—and football is a big deal where I come from. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost my taste for football. It wasn’t one specific thing that did it, but more the accumulation of years of bullshit at both the college and pro levels, but things have really gone south over the last couple years. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit B2. Exhibit C. Exhibit D. Exhibit-Fucking-E. You get the picture.

Loki face palm

Continue reading “Ray Rice and why I just can’t care about football anymore”

The end of an era, Roger Ebert 1942-2013

The first exposure I had to thinking about movies as more than just pure spectacle was watching Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert flay each other over who liked what movie and why on their weekly television show, Siskel & Ebert. The cultural impact of Siskel & Ebert is enormous–just think of how saturated “two thumbs up” is in our pop-culture lexicon–but Roger Ebert had a more personal resonance to me as a film writer working on his turf in Chicago. Continue reading “The end of an era, Roger Ebert 1942-2013”

The unwinnable moment between a heckler and a comedian

First, the definition of heckler by someone who has been heckled in a variety of forms over a range of media, from real life to electronic.

A heckler is anyone who disturbs your shit.

Disagree? Fine. Everyone gets to have an opinion, even dumb ones (just like we’re free to judge those opinions as dumb). But don’t interrupt someone who is speaking. This is what I like about the internet—as gross and ragey as commentary can get, it is literally impossible to interrupt someone. I find writing to be a much more civil exchange, even at its most uncivil, than stand-up comedy ever was. Here on the internet, I write something, like this, and then you respond. And then I can either respond or not, depending on my level of motivation, conviction of belief, and the relative interestingness of whatever a commenter has said in response to my initial thought. Even if it’s to be yelled at, I can’t be interrupted here. In turn, I can’t interrupt anyone who would take the time and comment/email/tweet me. Everyone gets their say. Continue reading “The unwinnable moment between a heckler and a comedian”

Programming notes and other miscellany

All right, first, if you haven’t been here recently, you may be noticing the new color scheme. You complained loud enough for long enough, so I finally figured out how to change the layout to a more retina-friendly look. You’re welcome.

Second, there’s a new item in the sidebar called “In Theaters Now”. My friend R suggested that I add a permanent feature that would make it easy to find the monthly movie previews since they break down what is coming out in theaters weekend by weekend and apparently not everyone memorizes the release slate a year in advance. So now you can find a quick link to the movie previews on the sidebar. As new previews post, they’ll be added. You get the idea. Continue reading “Programming notes and other miscellany”

Things That Go Bump in the Night: What monsters mean to us today

Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” I’d take it a step further and say a society can be judged by its monsters. That is, what a society chooses to make monstrous says a lot about that society’s people. The thing about monsters is that they’re all real. Blaming an unexplainable event on a “monster” makes it real, like the medieval women who guarded against demons because that was their explanation for high mortality rates among children. Or how it’s human nature to fear the dark, so as children we invent monsters lying wait under our beds to grab us at the first opportunity because we don’t know why we’re afraid, just that we are. Continue reading “Things That Go Bump in the Night: What monsters mean to us today”