Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pre-Post: MST3K and Me

This isn't exactly the post I'd planned on writing today, but I'm sick and tired and blasted on NyQuil, so I guess it'll have to do. Plus, I think it'll be somewhat relevant to the extended conversation in the threads this morning.

As some of you know, I'm a big fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. For those of you who aren't familiar, MST3K was originally a cable access show in Minnesota that went national on Comedy Central, was canceled for a couple of years, then was resurrected via fan write-in campaigns on the SciFi channel for a few more seasons. All in all, a ten year run in which the show garnered several awards as well as almost universal praise from the critics.

The premise is simple, though rather ludicrous: A couple of mad scientists send a maintenance man (Joel, later replaced by Mike) up into space. There, aboard the 'Satellite of Love', he is forced to watch bad movies as the 'mads' monitor his reactions. To stave off loneliness, Joel builds some robot friends who share the ship's theater with him, where they while away the hours, days and years making wisecracks at the screen and the cinematic titanics displayed thereon (Cinematic Titanic is Joel Hodgen's new enterprise, pretty much the same as before, but without the sci-fi premise).

Anyway, through much diligent searching I have come into possession of pretty much every episode ever made- close to 200 in all! And since I've recently moved and most of my other movies and tv shows are in storage, I've been watching them a LOT lately. Fact is, I've already seen a couple today, and will be watching another as soon as I'm finished here, IF I manage to not pass out. But lately, I haven't been watching them straight through. Instead, after I've become somewhat familiar with the characters in the particular movie I'm watching, I pause the dvd or tape, go to my laptop, wiki the film, then start researching the backgrounds of the characters. I've been doing this so much the last couple of months that I THINK it's become an official hobby of mine. In fact, my younger daughter insists that I call her to fill her in on the details of my searches (she's a movie buff).

And OH the things I've learned! The joys and sorrows! The intrigue! The heartbreaking love affairs. As well as all the other tidbits and trivia that have made my little hobby such an interesting endeavor. Did you know that the Professor from Gilligan's Isle was a war hero? Or that a very minor character in a forgettable 'B' motorcycle movie called 'Sidehackers' later spoke the first Klingon word on that most famous of Star Trek episodes 'The Trouble with Tribbles', and that the Klingon word he used was actually a form of the actor's own last name? Or that another staple actress from several Roger Corman pics almost became the queen of a middle eastern country, but was ultimately rejected for being Jewish, or that she later gave birth to a son afflicted with dwarfism who later beat her to death in her own home with a weightlifting bar? I even found an entry in a woman's personal blog about a brief and bitter tryst with a young actor from 'LaserBlast' who died of a heart attack brought on by cocaine use, detailing a night where they stole into a warehouse of Hollywood memorabilia and tried on the famous outfits of stars and films gone by.

Now I'll actually get to the point I wish to make. You know, I watch these MST3K episodes, and they make me smile, and laugh, and cringe at the sometimes VERY bad writing, direction and acting. I laugh, but my laughter is a reaction to a story whose circumstances and context is limited solely to fiction. But outside that context, there's nothing to laugh about. Well, strike that...sometimes there really are things to laugh about, but there is no one to laugh AT. There are two kinds of absurdity here. Actually, I think there are three, which is what I hope to write about after my head's a little more clear. But what I wanted to point out tonight is simply that there's a difference between artistic absurdity and existential absurdity. The first plays off the second, and in that sense can be appreciated for the insights it provides. But the second, the absurdity that defines the meaningless and ultimately futile struggle of life against life; well, that's a different story in my book, and certainly not something that an empathetic person should either value OR appreciate, no matter how one chooses to parse those two terms.

Anywho, hopefully I'll be up to expanding on this idea tomorrow or the next day, depending on my
oh-so-variegated temperament and my dizziness-to-typing ratio. Until next time, may all of you rest well and be rested.


Garrett said...

Well said, my friend.

I've read that I'm not the only one pedaling my way to work. Are you on a hybrid or a road bike?

Good night!

metamorphhh said...


Hybrids all the way, m'man. I ride a Trek and a Giant. I considered getting a road bike, but I ride in the dark a lot, and tend to cut across dirt and grass, so hybrid's probably the best choice. I also invested in the Kevlar tires, which were pricey, but I haven't had a flat in 5 years.

metamorphhh said...




I went with fatter, shorter tires on the Giant. I wanted to try something different, plus I thought I might stop breaking spokes with a slightly lower wheel. I was a little concerned about road friction, but if there's been any extra effort I haven't noticed. Just got the Giant last week, btw.

metamorphhh said...

I just noticed the Giant in the pic has front shocks. I don't have them; can't afford to lose any forward momentum through energy transference, codger that I am :)

Garrett said...

I like it!

I've been leaning toward a hybrid too. The last couple of years, I've been riding a Cannondale R500 CAAD 5. It's a smooth ride for sure, but with the road shoulders so full of gravel, I'm constantly worried about flats.

A few days ago there were some heavy winds around here. The headwind was so bad on my way home that I had to stop riding and walk my bike one direction. Suddenly, this gust catches me from the side, and my bike is fluttering in the air at about shoulder level and I'm hanging on trying to keep it from flying away! Damn, those frames are light :)

Jimmy said...

Know nothing about the show, but existential absurdity is something I think about daily and is always in the background. It's too bad that most people in the world don't think about this and it doesn't even come close to crossing their minds and one would not know where to start were they ever to want an explanation.

Anonymous said...

Decent front shocks generally have lock-outs for the climbs, Jim.

Garrett said...

Jim, I wanted to ask you something. Would you mind giving me your email address?

metamorphhh said...


It's listed under my pic on the blog- metamorphhh@hotmail.com

Ann Sterzinger said...

Great post, even if you're gooned.

metamorphhh said...

Thanks, Ann. As always, you're a good egg.