Episode 79 – Cruise Control

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Saddle up for a hard ride deep into — okay. I’m doing it on purpose. There’s a lot of innuendo that isn’t actually in the show. I have to get it out of my system somewhere. But we do have:

  • Thanks to our Executive Producers, as well as good people like Jessie Zimmer, Jeff Carpenter, Mike Caron, Taija Tevia-Clark and J. Scott Jewell for their support on our Patreon. If you like the show, check it out!
  • We talk about the Borg!
  • Parents!
  • Non-creatives!
  • Take a “cruise” on the wild side with a “tom” of a quiz! (It’s about Tom Cruise, the movie star.)
  • We take your topics at choose@chainsawsuit.com — send in yours!
  • A long look at… TROPES. CRITICISM. WHAT DOES IT MEAN
  • And big ups to Mikey for his new season of Movies with Mikey, starting with his look at The World’s End and a shoutout from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Watch it here:

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33 Responses to Episode 79 – Cruise Control

  1. Apparently, "bigamy" refers to "the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another," so it does refer to the crime.

    "Polygamy" refers to one person of either gender having multiple spouses – breaking down into "polygyny" – multiple wives – and "polyandry" – multiple husbands.

    There doesn't seem to be any term more specific than plural marriage or group marriage for the situation discussed on the show.

    • Well, the term is just "polygamy" as that is the gender neutral term for having multiple spouses. Most people think that polygamy=polygyny because polyandry is exceptionally rare and when we hear about polygamy its nearly always polygyny.

      Not to get to into this, but polygyny has been indicated through multiple studies to have a negative effect on societies. It isn't good for single men or for the women involved (it increases male-male competition and the number of males with no marriage prospects, which increases conflict, and furthers the idea of "women as property" as # of wives turns into a status signifier.) Polyandry is super-rare and hasn't had as much research done on it.

  2. Re: the discussion at the end about reducing stories to their basic tropes

    I think some stories are written to be reduced, and lose their impact when they are not. I'm thinking specifically about science fiction from the very early, very didactic tradition of the genre.

    For example: Fahrenheit 451 – Bradbury's intended message was about television, not censorship.

    Or 1984. 1984 contains surveillance, slogans, and socialism. It contains torture and propaganda. It's about metaphysics. It's about the danger that arises from a society learning to redefine truth according to its whims."2+2=5" and "Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia" should always have been scarier than "Big Brother is watching you."

    Categorizing and reducing stories to their base parts is, I think, part of our schooling because it's designed to help us ferret out the "lessons" in more didactic fiction. That said, it certainly can be a straight jacket for more modern fiction that exists for its own sake, and not merely to learn them chilluns about what's right.

  3. Mr Bildango says:

    If you watch/re-watch The Gift, keep an eye out for how the end scene mirrors the scene from Back To The Future where George McFly saves Lorraine from Biff, including the musical cues!

  4. Kyle_Douglas says:

    I totally called this episode in a quickie photoshop I made nearly a year ago.
    I just, ah, got the context wrong.

    Intro: Kris talking about the tin foiled windows is the best bit I think we've gotten so far about the adventures of Pa Straub. He's made some comics worrying about making "dad jokes", but the story here was uniquely about the experiences of being a father who happens to be a comedian instead of the oh-so-common comedian making wide-scope jokes about being a dad.

    Social Structure: I don't know yet if it'll be Plural Marriages or the thing after that which will push far enough past my engrained concepts of "how things should be" to place me into the generation that needs to die off for society to move forward. Probably the thing after that; Android Rights or something. Sorry, Data.

    Commercials: I loved the concept of Mikey's this week, but I think it had the "Onion Headline" problem that the concept of rebranding Halloween decorations as Thanksgiving products was funnier than any execution could possibly follow up on. Kris' was going to be a good execution of a decently funny concept, but I think that unexpected "Shattership Meridian" pushed it up to a great execution.

    Quiz: I knew walking into the quiz that Mikey's superior film knowledge would lead him to victory and the winning strategy would be to just agree with him. But that wouldn't be fair, would it? The only time my making my own decisions paid off was on The Princess Bride, leaving me with an unimpressive 6 to Mikey's 8.
    Except for the Chris Brown one near the start, I think this may be the most clever quiz concept yet?

    Movies with Mikey: Haven't seen that movie yet, but intend to eventually, so I'll need to put that MwM on the back burner. It's awesome that Mikey got those retweets, but I'm a bit flabbergasted that a retweet to Simon Pegg's 5 million followers doesn't appear to have translated into a spike on views of that video. I mean, I can still see it on his Twitter feed without scrolling. Honestly, I'm astonished and a bit disheartened. I've said in the past that I thought that was exactly the type of thing that was needed to get more eyes on chainsawsuit and the viewership it deserves and it seems I was wrong : /

    Impressions: Kris' Droopy Dog and Moe Szyslak are so dead-on that they're basically all I can think about on that topic. Brad Brad feels like an amazing impression, but I don't think he's drawing on anyone specific. Steven Moffat is also a standout, which I think you both can do.

    Tropes: It's worth noting that TV Tropes itself agrees with the majority of what Kris is talking about near the end. I think the other discussion about the effects of audience members understanding tropes is the more interesting one. I don't think there will be much (if any) endorsement of willful ignorance and naivety here, but I think it is easy to, on some level, envy people who can't see those strings. Suspension of disbelief is much easier without knowledge of how the magic is done.

    Star Wars is always a useful example since practically everyone has seen it. To a child or someone who's remained blind to creative structure, Darth Vader is Darth Vader. You can still enjoy that character once you can see the strings, but you'll never enjoy it in the same way again.

    I mean, it's like being new to the internet. You only get to experience that thrill of losing your life savings to a deposed prince once before you can see the tropes and strings of spam mail. Oh what I'd give to live in that world of limitless money, reliable enhancement, and hot locals again.

    Okay, maybe not.

    • MikeyNeumann says:

      Can't say my opinion differs too much on the Youtube audience thing. I'm honestly a little surprised that Pegg's tweet had such little effect on clickthroughs. This feels like the traffic it would have done no matter what, you know?

      • LMcCJ says:

        The GUY tweets it to Followers who are into the topic. If this didn't drive traffic I don't know what would.

  5. Thanks for explaining the Patreon delay, I was wondering if I'd messed something up. Also, Mikey, while I couldn't have gotten on stage and spoken as well as you*, your keynote was amazing. Watching it led me to find a bunch of other stuff (the podcast [obviously], Broodhollow and Borderlands) that I now love.

    Update: The micro dissecting of storytelling was a large part of why high school English was miserable. Also, I deeply enjoy when you guys share your view-points about creativity. It's energizing to learn about other artists approaches.

    * I would've gotten up there, looked at the crowd and walked straight back out.

  6. Ricky says:

    You guys mentioned the Christmas special shortly after bringing up The Zach Files, and now all I can think of is A Zach Files Christmas.

  7. veryfinestlions says:

    It's true, though. All stories are about Man against X. Like, Jane Eyre? Whatever. That might be named after some girl but *really* it's about Edward Rochester's battle against a bear with his own screaming face on its nose.

    (The nonagression thing doesn't work when it's your own face. That's what death is now: eventually the animal with your face finds you.)

  8. BostonSean says:

    Will smith isn't a scientologist… he constantly rebuffs those rumors. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Smith#Religious
    I know many Poly folks, none of them married. But I've noticed they usually become exclusive once they find someone they are compatible with.

    • MikeyNeumann says:

      Thanks for the correction re: Will Smith. I wonder how that rumor keeps getting pushed around like it's true — I mean, other than misinformed people like me constantly spreading it casually through random conversation 😀

  9. I loved you said "Polybigamy" which would be having more than one wife/husband in multiples of two.

    The only way to go.

  10. Daphnetrodon says:

    RE: The TvTropes discussion, I've actually been irritated with the reliance on TVtropes as a site for a while now. I have a younger friend who is an aspiring writer and runs his ideas by me (I majored in creative writing) but instead of explaining personality traits or plot ideas in ways that convey the thought processes or intent behind his writing or character design, will just use the TVtropes article titles. So instead of saying "the character I came up with for this story is really driven by his moral code, but his morals are actually really outdated and I want the audience to gradually realize he's actually a horrible person", the description will be like "this character I'm working on right now is a Deadpan Snarker mixed with some Evil All Along moments and it's going to be a total Base Breaker if I do it right". I think I'm just frustrated by that because I don't always think there's something to be gained by distilling broad ideas and concepts down to their most basic elements, and I also don't like feeling like I should running to Google or the TVtropes website in order to keep up with the conversation. Maybe I'm just a grumpy old lady. TVtropes is a really fun amusement and a good distraction, but the reliance on it over just telling the story your way and trying to be sincere even when working with cliches seems like it does a lot of harm to fiction.

    • Daphnetrodon says:

      That having been said, this was another really fun episode! I'm excited to hear even the vaguest mention of a possible Christmas special – after listening to Sleepy Hollow I went back and listened to A Christmas Carol again and they are just so much fun. For as much ridiculous work as the big projects like that are, they're also some of the most enjoyable episodes because the hard work and effort really shows through, as does your dedication to making something funny for your fans.

    • ThomasG says:

      I can think of a few forms of shorthand that can make communication over a fictional work pretty obtuse. Some scifi and fantasy writers enjoy making up words to describe things that are at least supposed to make their work interesting and unique. If you slip too many of these terms into a statement, it can sound completely insane. And I'm sure it would be quite frustrating to hear someone throwing tvtropes shorthand around so extensively when their audience doesn't know or care to know what all of these terms mean. But that sounds much more like a specific communication issue between parties than a global "this has wreaked havoc on creative communities" type thing. But I'm not close to that so is that a thing? How extensive is the weirdness going with this stuff?

      • ThomasG says:

        I think I get why I'm a bit jaded about this. As an engineer, I constantly see hyper-specific terms of art used even within a single company or in a small slice of industry and it's the stuff that contracts are made of. And legal stuff drives one insane. So maybe fictional writing was a haven from this kind of stuff for a while, and then tvtropes.org came and enabled writing folks to start using obtuse shorthand as well? I never thought about it

  11. LMcCJ says:

    Kris, your parenting group … I would s u g g e s t you switch to a group that serves drin–I mean, allows you to express yourself but, I know better than to offer unsolicited advice. 😉

    Hamburger Helper was for poor people who couldn't buy enough meat for everyone to have a burger. A bag full of filler, that was sometimes augmented with more filler.

    I wish you would charge me for chainsawsuit original on Patreon. I want that red ribbon!

    5 on the quiz. (Tom Cruise was blonde in Interview With The Vampire. C'mon, Kris, keep up.)

  12. ThomasG says:

    7/10
    Cockney British accents all around, please. The Sleepy Hollow constable was amazing, and my favorites from Chainsawsuit Christmas Carol were cockney. Maybe I'm just hung up on cockney. Man. Thank gosh for second syllables. That could have sounded weird.
    The space commercial engaged my sensibilities well.
    Snobs have complained about things being cliché far, far longer than any website has been around.
    I like examining the nuts and bolts of fiction. Was a lot of the later conversation a mildly misinformed post-structuralist argument against some snobs that called something cliché maybe? I want to reside in a big cliché.
    I am blindingly curious if my mentioning of "anvilicious" last week had anything to do with this week's extended discussion. One can dream.

  13. @iscoppie says:

    very disappointed that this podcast has succumbed to the eyeroll-worthy "guys who resents tropes being counted as a flaw"-trope. been done to death. will never listen again until next week.

  14. olivejuice says:

    The end really came out of nowhere for me. I listened to the end 4 different times but it still just doesnt make sense to me.

  15. Giggleloop says:

    A nice, laidback, discussion filled episode this week. Loved it. It's nice when you guys can take a breath & discuss the mechanics of the show (like comparing editing styles & techniques), or unpack and talk about things like keynote emotions and such. I always enjoy such shows.

    I did abysmally at the quiz. So much so that I didn't keep track of my score. Maybe I got one out of ten, but it would have been a guess. Well done, Kris, & congrats on finally getting your 7 of 9, even temporarily.

    So Kris gets the honor of creating the Christmas spectacular this year, sounds like? Exciting! If Santa's face suddenly caves in, I'll be traumatized forever.

    Have a good weekend, friends. I'll be over here watching Desert Bus. :)

  16. SheanaM says:

    In terms of multipartner relationships, I have definitely noticed a small but definite and growing movement lately to have that be considered a normal and acceptable aspect of modern society. If people respect each other's boundaries and bring different things to the relationship that give it depth, why the hell not? There's a lot of talk out there about how humans aren't meant to be monogamous, and how being forced into that particular box by society can actually be harmful to a lot of people. So very many stories center around the conflict of 'oh no this person has to choose between two romantic interests, how will they ever choose??' when the whole thing could be resolved by said three people having a healthy understanding with each other.

    Hoo boy, Kris' commercial was pretty damn depressing, haha. That's like one of my worst nightmares in regards to space, right there.

    • frostyplum says:

      I can't remember the context – I think it was Twilight-related – where Mikey was like, "I love the idea of poly just destroying the plotlines of movies like this." So many dramatic pieces would just not exist. Mind you, the sake of preserving much of human literature, cinema and music is still not an excuse to let jealousy fester and happiness be deferred.

  17. frostyplum says:

    I probably did the worst on this quiz than any I've kept track of, 4/10. Tom Cruise is one of those guys that is just not on my radar.

    Kris unwittingly conjured one of my favorite Penny Arcade one-off jokes regarding Hamburger Helper.

    I, too, am fascinated by people who are naturally funny and good at storytelling, but don't "do" anything with it. There must be some crazy, risk-taking gene that entertainers have that those people don't. Or maybe circumstances never lined up in such a way where they got a really big laugh at just the right time, and felt that rush…they just go on with their jobs and function quietly in their off-time. I echo Mikey's envy.

    I loved Mikey's commercial in its simplicity. Usually he piles layers on layers, but this was just "we have leftover Halloween stuff, come get it," end of story, and it was the stronger for it. As for Kris's commercial, I can't blame the rest of space ignoring our dumb asses one bit. Sounds like we're the uptight Pollyannas of the universe. Let's just call it now and die out, for all our sakes.

    Speaking of uptight, I'm delighted by your polyamory endorsement. I delved into poly in my last relationship, and even though it would probably be considered "poly lite" since it was an Internet thing, it taught me a lot about myself and other people. We really don't do ourselves any favors by chaining ourselves to one person, if that's not what everyone wants. There's more than one way to be happy.

    Tickled that a throwaway topic brought about such discussion (and yes, I'm totally taking credit). There's this website I came across years ago called "Orisinal." It's filled with little Flash games that are similar to games you've played a thousand times before, but have a lovely aesthetic about them, run through the designer's personal filter. The site's mantra used to be – I can't find it on there now – "nothing is original." Instead of being annoyed by that phrase, I find it very freeing. If everything's been done, relax, you're in the same boat as everyone else. Just make your best thing with the tools you've got; people will still respond.

  18. thehess2 says:

    It's Hessinger, as in "Star Trek: Voyager". It's nice that your opening topic is also a pronunciation aid. :-) I'm glad to have the opportunity to support your artistic endeavors. Just please don't come up to me and call me the "Josten's (Hessin)Jerk."

  19. Connor_Rosine says:

    Kris, your "commercial" this week was probably the best I've ever heard. For real. I was in tears. I was expecting you to say that there's other, isolated life in these other galaxies, and that we were all just looking at each other be lonely through the telescopes, but you went big on it, and it was great.

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