Once upon a time 8 gummy bears and some bad guys. All the gummy bears had gummy berry juice. They bounced up to the water fall. It wasn’t going because it broke. They fixed the water fall but it broke again. They fixed it for good. The bad guys came and the pet ogre came. The gummy bears fought the bad guys and lived happily ever after.
The End. (2/6/1991)
Once upon a time the black Bat Man, the gold Bat Man and the blue Batman and Joker and Cat Women and Bat Woman. All the Batmen and Bat Women were enemies. They all got into a fight. King Kong came and took apart the Joker’s hideout.
The End. (2/13/91)
Once upon a time there lived a creaky old witch in a house that could walk. Joorpedo Man came, then Batman came, then Superman came, then Swamp Thing came, then Paper Man came, then Bull’s Eye came (he’s a police). They fighted that creaky old witch so good they blew up her house.
The End. (undated)
Once upon a time there lived 100 mountain lions, infinity more, and once they got in a big fight. The infinity is good; the 100 is bad. One of the 100 died. One of the infinity died. And 100 more infinity died. And then Joorpedo Man came. And he said, “the 100 win and the infinity lose” and then Joorpedo Man got into a fight with the next of the infinity.
Then Batman came.
The End. (undated)
Once upon a time there lived a bad ghost and a good ghost. 5 bats who were bad. 6 good bats. 7 more bad bats and 7 more good bats. All the bats got in a fight. After the fight all the bad bats died. Some sea turtles came. Sea Man came.
The End. (3/19/91)
Once upon a time there was a big lion, about as big as a giant. then a big giant, as small as a troll. A dinosaur killed the giant. The dinosaur killed the lion.
The End. (3/20/1991)
Once upon a time a whale was good. A bad shark came. They got into a fight. The sea police came to see what was the racket. The bad guy and the police were in their PJs. There went back to their homes. The shark died. The whale didn’t die. G.I. airplane and tank came.
The End. (3/12/1991)
Once upon a time there was a lion, a fox, a coyote and a wolf and a cheetah and a snake and a hunter. The hunter didn’t have any weapons.
The End. (Winter ’91)
Once upon a time there was a wicked old witch and a giant.
The End. (Winter ’91)
Once upon a time there was a giant, a little boy and wicked old witch.
The End. (Winter ’91)
Once there was a king and a queen and a prince and a princess. A dragon fired their castle. The castle burnt down. The 5 knights tried to fight the dragon. They forgot their armour. The dragon won. They went to the castle and found out what happened. They they put the castle back together.
I’m not usually one to tell you what to do, but for right now I’ll make an exception. You should really watch more television.
And I know what you’re thinking. That’s so classless. Television? Please. You probably don’t even own a television. You prefer to bingewatch Veep while huddled over a tiny, smudged laptop screen.
See, TV spent the last few decades getting a bad rap that isn’t really deserved. In the 90s and 00s it was all filled with Jerry Springer and Judge Judy and whatever the hell Friends was. Court shows and paternity tests passed as entertainment. Laugh tracks ran unchecked. If you wanted to simply sit quietly and immerse yourself in artful writing and production you had to turn to the silver screen.
But now, see, television writing has emerged as our era’s choice for haute culture. From The Sopranos to The Wire, True Detective* to Bored to Death, television has emerged as a haven for screenwriters who care. The theater is where you go now to buy $25 popcorn and get shot at, or at least sneak in beers and think about how much more comfortable you would have been at home. You don’t have to wear pants at home.
Movie production budgets have gotten so obese that to break even the films themselves need to cater to the lowest possible denominator and we’re seeing a race to the bottom. It looks like this:
Television is picking up the slack and deserves our attention.
I mean, can’t we just get on with the book burning already and just turn on HBO? And actually, why can’t someone else burn the books for us? Is that just another Millennial being lazy? (tk new argument for open borders: inexpensive book burners. could it be automated?) Now that we can skip commercials I can’t really find the time to go out and stir the embers.
It used to be if you wanted to talk to someone you walked over there and talked to them, maybe over a woolly mammoth steak and our newly harnessed fire. Then after a while we started sending letters. Then the telegram, and the Candygram, and before long we had Tindr. What gives? It seems like everyone these days has their own preferred communication method, and they don’t always jive.
And so if you’ve tried to reach out to me only to find yourself without a response, I apologize first. And second, I implore you to consider my own preferred communication.
Coffee – Or a beer, or cocktail. Or a low key dinner. Not lunch. I still don’t know how to go to lunch, really. But yeah, let’s, like, hang out and shoot the breeze. Catch up. Have coffee. Let’s do it. Text me.
(Handwritten) Correspondence – It’s old timey and quaint, and anyone who tells you they don’t like getting a handwritten letter is a dirty rotten liar.
Radio – If you’ve got a radio, and I’ve got a radio, then hell yeah. I’d love to hear from you. That’s why we’ve both got radios! It’s like a spoken text message, or a phone call without all the horrifying small talk and pleasantries. You just get in, state your business, and resume silence. Just please stop saying “over.”
Text Message – These are pretty good, and there’s a reason that they’re basically killing meaningful connections between humans. You get to think about what you’re saying, and if you don’t feel like dealing with it you can always just pretend your phone was in the other room or something. But after a 6-text-conversation, shouldn’t we really just pick up the phone? And I’m pretty sure that when Sarte wrote “No Exit” he was actually talking about organizational group texts.
Phone Call – There’s always a chance I’m going to not answer, and as long as you don’t leave a voicemail I’m comfortable with that.
Email – I’ll probably get this on my phone, and if it’s one of those long emails it’ll look even longer. My eyes will glaze over. I’ll make a point to read it later on the computer and get back to you. I may even do it.
GChat/Google Hangouts – Big time nostalgia on this one. It’s like the AIM of our youth but you can send pictures and stuff. GChat is great, especially if you find yourself in a job where you’re sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day.
(Printed) Correspondence – Pretty much reserved now for credit card offers and the IRS, but if your handwriting is bad, or something, go for it.
Facebook – Great for showering birthday wishes on people you knew from the old country.
Facebook Messenger – Facebook Messenger is technically better, than, say, a messenger pigeon. Yes I will see it eventually. Yes I will probably respond. But even then it will likely be to ask you to use a different medium. It does get props for introducing end-to-end encryption, though, which is one of those things we should probably be using these days.
Skype – I have Skype! I’ve used it! I don’t remember my password.
The Other Apps – WhatsApp, SnapChat, WeChat, KaKaoTalk, etc. I’m too old for those.
Twitter – I’m too young for that.
LinkedIn – I almost certainly have a notification from you waiting, but Congrats on the new gig, though.
Clinton’s emails were a deal breaker, but Pence’s? No big deal. Her handling of the attacks on the American embassy in Libya were criminally negligent, but sloppy Special Forces work in Yemen is just business as usual.
We needed to get to the bottom of whether or not President Obama was really born in the US (a scandal!), but foreign tampering with a presidential election here is all a bunch of bunk.
President Bush was a war criminal, sure, but Obama’s clandestine drone war (that killed more than 800 civilians in at least 3 countries) was just good sense.
Then there’s the whole culture of Congressional discord where it sure feels like an elected representative’s only job these days is to keep the other guy from from getting anything done. Collaboration is for chumps! Even when both sides of the aisle take turns proposing, say, a carbon tax to shape energy policy, or suggest a wholly qualified Supreme Court nominee.
You know it’s almost as though those other guys, the ones across the aisle there? Your neighbor with the different colored campaign sign in her yard? That crazy uncle who always manages to corner you at Thanksgiving? It’s almost like they’re a bunch of low down, rotten, no-good-for-nuthin Cardinals fans.
Politics in America today are at an impasse because political affiliation is less about policy than it is about identity. Small government Republicans should balk at Trump’s use of Executive Orders. First and Second Amendment Constitutionalists both pretend that their values are based on our founding principles, but limitations to a free press and limitations to a right to bear arms are protested by very different sets. And we’re as likely to change our crazy uncle’s mind about immigration policy with reason and discourse as we are to convince him that Mark McGuire is a rat fink.
Political identity is a cultural heirloom, based more solidly in social values than wonky policy debate and passed between generations. The blind political intransigence that we see today more closely resembles sports-fan zeal than a real interest in the issues. Civil discourse has broken down, and you’re as likely to change their mind on healthcare reform as you are to talk them out of being a Cubs fan.
The thing is, you’re probably wrong. You’re probably not wrong about everything, and yeah, that guy you’re arguing with on Facebook is definitely an asshole, but you’re wrong about something. That’s ok. Policy is hella complicated, and none of us understand it as well as we think we do, but two people reciting talking points from their preferred news source does not constitute debate.
So what are you wrong about? Admitting that Sammy Sosa was a roided out cheater doesn’t make you a bad Cubs fan, it makes you open to reason and evidence. Admitting that Trump’s travel ban or Obama’s drone operations are misguided doesn’t make you a traitor to your convictions, it makes you open minded, and that’s what we need right now.