Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been written about before on this site quite a bit. But the Coronavirus has lots of people shut in with not much to do, perceivably. (It’s an excellent opportunity to do many things like learning a new skill, organize, read, exercise, and other activities that Americans often resist) Playing board games with the family can only take you so far.
But one solution, especially if you’re self-isolating, is to watch MST3K. A lot of people don’t get it. I understand that. But for the people that do get it, it seems to have become a coping mechanism during these days of staying in, solitude, and possible loneliness.
I’m a big fan of the show, which I’ve covered here. I haven’t and never will cross the line with taking to the extremes some fans do, which is building their robots, cosplay, and paying vast sums of money to sit in the front row at live events. I just watch the shows.
But the concept of the shows offers something to people who yearn for socializing. It’s like watching movies with your friends, and they are funny, wry, and consistent, which provides comfort to lonely people. You hear other people’s voices speaking up as if they’re right beside you, while you all enjoy some awful, campy, Ed Wood, Roger Corman, 80’s cheese-fest movies.
To enjoy them, you need to possess an extensive repertoire of references. Otherwise, you won’t get the jokes. That’s why some people don’t like it, which is understandable. They aren’t as obscure as Dennis Miller’s references at all, who I also love, but he prides himself on infusing the most cryptic references he can muster. He’s like a Crypto-comedian. Bring along your Thesaurus and plan on doing a lot of Googling. It’s like listening to Socrates doing standup at times. I watched his most recent show, which was good, but I couldn’t help but notice he’s older than I am and his hair is not grey. He’s dying it obviously.
You can binge-watch MST3K in several ways. Twitch has a channel that plays not only MST3K 24/7 but RiffTrax as well. RiffTrax is the spawn of MST3K and is the next best thing as far as a continuance of the original show there is. Joel Hodgson, the creator of the whole thing, tried to launch a revival of the show with Netflix, which bombed, in my opinion. It’s what happens when you mix creatives with executives and inject loads of money. You get something that resembles a product designed by a committee, which is almost always a flop.
Mike Nelson was the head writer for many of the episodes, and like it or not. He’s the mainsail. If the producers of the revival of the show wanted to do it right, they would have kept him around as a head writer. When I watched the credits of one of the new episodes, I counted approximately 30 writers. 30. Too many cooks in the kitchen.
So if you’re sitting around your house wondering what to do during this awkward time and want some company and to laugh, Mystery Science Theater 3000 may be your solution. I feel like I just wrote a book report.
With the Coronavirus keeping people shut in their houses and social distancing, quarantining themselves and self-isolating, it provides a lot of time that would otherwise be spent on productive activities elsewhere, and with people that we may not be able to spend time with. I can check both of those boxes, and on top of that, I’m making other transitions that fall right in the middle of this panic.
For one thing, I’m in the process of moving out of a house I’ve been in for around three years. The neighborhood is terrific, but the house is too much in size and cost. It doesn’t make any sense for just me and my daughter half of the time. I have a finished basement with a kitchenette, fireplace, and someone could live down there comfortably. I never even go down there except with Cecelia, who uses it like a gymnasium. I have a basketball goal, tee-pee, slide, and all sorts of forts and places to run amok down there, which she loves to do to get her energy out. She runs laps and shows me how fast she is, just like I used to do when I was a child, and my mother made me run laps around our house to get my energy levels in check. And the upstairs is Pee-Wee’s playhouse times ten.
And the upstairs is more like a clubhouse for a gentleman that’s been overtaken by a four-year-old. It’s a brackish environment of toys and elegant interior decor. This house has been a blessing and a curse. But it’s served as a comfortable, cozy home for Cecelia and me during this tumultuous time. There’s a creek across the street we go down to and play in, and it’s tranquil and safe around here, with only one neighbor. We have deer, possums, hawks, chipmunks, raccoons, snakes, and all sorts of animals that live and visit the property. The thing about houses is that eventually, you grow and outfit them to suit you. I have about 100 framed wall-hangings that are going to be a trick to use when I downsize to a smaller place.
And although I have a job offer on the table, I’m still looking for a more fulfilling job that suits my qualifications, goals, and desires. I’m in talks with people that can make that happen, but since everyone’s working from home, they can’t interview me, so that’s to be placed on hold until we return to “normal.” I’m very eager to get that show on the road. But it’s another transitional issue that’s currently occurring. Moving and getting a job in the middle of a pandemic. Fun.
This situation is also keeping me from seeing my daughter, who is at her mother’s house this whole time. Our house here is mostly boxed up at this point, and I sent all her toys to her mom’s until we get moved into the new place. So it’s been two weeks already since I’ve seen her, which is one of the most extended stretches we’ve ever been apart. I miss her terribly. I can’t get her and take her to a playground or library because everything is closed or in a public area where others might be. Louisville isn’t a hot spot for the virus, and it seems to leave the young and immunodepressed alone and hurt the elderly mostly, but there’s no reason to chance it.
So that’s giving me more free time than I’m used to. I’d like to learn a new skill, but what? Anything I’m interested in I’m already into. I’ve been writing, but there’s only so long you can do that before your mind says “enough.” I’m writing here because this site needs an updated post. I haven’t been posting anything but recipes lately, it seems, which might reflect the recent lameness of my life. I’m sure of that, in fact. When I lived in SC, I always had more than I knew what to do with my time, but in Louisville, there’s nothing that interests me. I don’t drink, so bourbon is out. I don’t like basketball anymore, which is the only sport this area cares about. The notion that horse racing is big around here is a result of hyped-up marketing by Churchill Downs for the Louisville Derby. Lexington is the horsey city. The Ohio River is polluted and nasty. The hiking around here is boring. And so on. I’ve lived here for seven years and explored everything I can.
So I’ve still been keeping my marketing chops sharp and reading business articles. I’m working on a book I want to give my daughter that details my life and our family with stories I remember about everyone. I’m the last one to know a lot about some of those things, so if and when something happens to me, it might be helpful to have those chronicles archived for posterity’s sake. And Cecelia’s. I’ve noticed that as my relatives get older, their versions of stories all change. I don’t know if that’s due to poor memory or to suit some type of desire to have things remembered in a more aristocratic and palatable way than what happened. In some cases, my relatives refuse even to believe some of the things I know happened even did. So living in denial is also a factor that dilutes these memories.
The grocery stores are something out of a dystopian movie with all the shelves cleared out. That makes eating hard for someone that typically shops for a few days at a time. I don’t stock up on foo like I did when I had a family to feed because it goes bad and expires, and I hate wasting food. So my diet hasn’t been the best during this time, which I don’t care for either. I have been able to catch up on a lot of Mystery Science Theater, which has been playing 24/7 here on Twitch.
This virus has been disruptive, to say the least. The tax filing deadline has been postponed, and the NCAA basketball tournament has been canceled (no spectators, at least), businesses have shuttered, public services all closed, schools all closed. It’s Polio all over again, with a few, but notable differences. Politically, technologically, culturally, and economically, we see what’s expected. Technology is trying to step up to the plate, politics bogging everything down, the economy taking a hit at the small business level and in the markets, and cultural divisiveness, as people have too much free time on their hands and a controversial topic being lit on fire by the media.
As far as my opinion at this moment in time on the virus, I don’t think the vast majority of Americans have anything to worry about. The people that do are the elderly and non-Americans in this country. The virus is concentrating on sanctuary cities in high-density environments. That’s the perfect place for an infection to spread, so that’s what’s happening. Children don’t seem overly prone to it, and neither do the healthy. And even though most Americans aren’t “healthy,” their immune systems seem to be ok at least. Taking precautions isn’t a stupid idea, but overreacting isn’t a solution for anything.