Category Archives: Seth On The Arts

Seth presents opinions about how others present their artistic wares.

HMS PINAFEMINISM

I was excit-a-nxious going into Vancouver Opera’s 2022 edition of HMS Pinafore, a comic opera furnished by our 19th-century musical wits, W.S. Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan.

They were an elite comedy thesaurus
As shown in their redundant rhyming chorus!

I, myself, am an operatic lightweight (I still can’t tell the difference between a Verdi and Puccini tuney)—

He finds opera to be so confusing
That he worries his brain is contusing

—but, with curiosity as my guide, I have attended Vancouver Opera’s repertoire since 2003.

One day, though, my opera mentor, Tom Durrie, introduced me to composer Arthur Sullivan and wordsmith W.S. Gilbert who coalesced in the late 19th century to create comic operas that were so ear-grabbing in their tunes and witty in their rhymes that even a musically-confused fellow like me could follow along.

He no longer had to curse
At every obfuscating verse

So I was filled up with delighted anticipation this season as Vancouver Opera announced that they were returning for only the second time in my loyal following to Gilbert & Sullivan with the tune-bursting HMS Pinafore.

He was looking forward to the tunes
That would leave his toe-tappers in ruins

But then I watched a promotional interview on VO’s website, in which their HMS Director, Brenna Corner, and their HMS Conductor, Rosemary Thomson, foreshadowed my upcoming dismay. They explained that they had, let’s say, adjusted HMS Pinafore for our modern sensibilities and understanding.

He felt his back filled with encrustments
As they talked of making playful adjustments 

Explained Director Corner:

“This version is a traditional HMS Pinafore… It’s like the same gem, but just seen through a slightly different angle… So, like, the colours that sparkle through it are slightly different than maybe what we’re used to.”

All the gems will be traditional
With a few sparkles that are additional

Added Conductor Thomson:

“Even, you know, years ago, decades ago, people would change the words a little bit to suit their time place. And so we’ve done that as well. But the music, itself, is still going to be what people have come to know and love about HMS Pinafore.”

Their changes are so suitable
They’ll feel so very dutiful

Good, yes, I thought: the signature sound and humour of Gilbert & Sullivan is a distinct entity that should be present in every production calling itself a descendant of G&S. But, sure, go ahead and play with the particulars so that we’re getting the same genius but with a new look that’s more accessible to our modern understanding.

He says he’s an amenable fellow
To their moulding of operatic Jell-O

Nevertheless, I noticed that, as the leaders of this production were explaining their updates, they sounded a wee bit defensive.

He’s a lot apprehensive
That they seem a jot defensive

Said Conductor Thomson:

“They [the team] added some different text here and there. I actually wrote a bit of extra recitative [musical dialogue] to fit that text in, and we’ve added a couple of verses into some of the songs, which is actually quite traditional.”

They’ll be making a few changes
That are well within normal ranges!

Added Director Corner:

“The thing is with HMS Pinafore and a lot of Gilbert & Sullivan has a history of being played with, of being adapted, of being altered, and being jeujed a little, right? And that’s really what we’ve done with this piece. We’ve just sort of jeujed it in a slightly bigger way.”

Nothing here’s a trigger
They’re just jeujing a little bigger       

Understood: we opera-goers have a reputation for being a traditional lot, so the VO creatives were understandably nervous about our reaction to their alterations. So they were letting us know that, while they’d tinkered with the specifics, the key music and humour—that has kept audiences dancing and laughing in their seats since 1878—would be present and applauded for.

He doesn’t think some tinkering
Will cause the Pinafore to sinkering

Next, our VO creative powers reassured us that the leading G&S target for their rhyming wit was still going to be pompous, unmeritorious leaders, such as Sir Joseph Porter, who famously describes his conformist route to becoming “…the ruler of the Queen’s navy.” In his own Gilbert-written words:

I grew so rich that I was sent
By pocket borough into Parliament
I always voted for my party’s call
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all
I thought so little, they rewarded me
By making me the ruler of the Queen’s navee

Explained Thomson:

“The whole genesis of their writing was poking fun at institutions and at the things that were supposed to be reverent and making them irreverent. And I think that that applies today. I think we can take a historical story that pokes fun at the—at leadership, you know, at the brass for being the sake of the brass and apply it to today’s world. So, in that way, it stays very relevant.”

They were making funny insinuations
Against leaders of their administrations

Perfect! Yes, the specifics of our leaders may have changed (indeed, the Queen of the “Queen’s navy,” as I understand it, inherited her title; whereas most present-day political brass—save for the occasional Bush or Trudeau Jr.—do not receive their jobs as hand-me-downs). But the nature of political vapidity, obsequiousness, and self-love from many leaders in many professions remains intact.

He thinks that bossly obsequiosity
Is not just a bygone curiosity

Indeed, I love reading pre-G&S-comedian Jane Austen because I see that the leading fopperies of her day are still in practice in ours, and so I feel an instant kinship with the great author every time I see her pointing out the same poor behaviours in her time that Ellen Degeneres and Jerry Seinfeld have noticed in ours.

He’s very glad Austen’s humour has held
In the works of Ellen D. and Jerry Seinfeld

So, sure, I’m delighted to hear some modern creators update the jokes to fit our own flawed bosses. But, then, the other baton dropped as our creative curators explained that they would be moderating G&S’s original japes for offensiveness. Said Director Corner:

“I mean the stuff that Gilbert & Sullivan were originally doing was really pushing the boundaries in their time period. They were definitely making some jokes that were a little, maybe only kind of acceptable in their time period. And so we want to make sure that we stay relevant with the piece that was created to be relevant… But I would say that the thing that’s interesting about HMS Pinafore is to sort of realize is that the stuff that we poked fun at hundred years ago is different than what, you know, the specifics of that. What used to be acceptable comedy then and what is acceptable comedy now are two different things.”

Their show will not be a receptacle
For jokes that are unacceptable

Hmm, I sympathize with editing an old-timey work for jokes that we won’t enjoy today, or even jokes that might offend the audience without being essential to the drama. However, I was struck by the notion of “acceptable comedy.” While some jokes may not work for a modern audience, is it the province of an artistic company to define which jokes are allowed? Is that Vancouver Opera’s role? To not only not use certain jokes, but to pronounce them unfit? Would VO also like to ban some books that they find unacceptable from the library?

He’s whining about an unlikely trip
On the friendly HMS Censorship

Corner’s cozy enunciating of the phrase “unacceptable jokes” reminded me of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s critique of the trucker convoy coming to Ottawa as possessing “unacceptable views.” While he was under no obligation to agree with the health mandate protestors heading his way, do we want our political leaders to be telling us which opinions are to be accepted for consideration and which are not?

He insults, with temerity,
Our PM’s defence of prosperity

I was thus nervous going into VO’s HMS Pinafore, not because they were going to be teasing our modern instantiation of unearned power, but instead because I suspected that they would reverse the joke and actually cheer on the sort of powerholders whom they had deemed correct. After all, is there anything more powerful than controlling language and defining what is acceptable to say?

He arrogantly glowers
Over the minor use of PC powers

Well, pardon the self-aggrandizement, but my cynical suspicions were confirmed at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on the opening night of Vancouver Opera’s HMS Pinafore as those who enjoy being morally hectored were treated to an overwrought feminist re-wording of the HMS text.

Now he’s added to his list
That he’s a double misogynist

Among other aggressive alterations, every female character was suddenly a beacon of modern feminist preferences. The lead lady love interest, Josephine, for instance, insisted throughout that, while she liked—and maybe even loved—the romantic male lead, she was equally interested in science and literature, particularly the works of female writers. (Strangely, the male protagonist, Ralph Rackstraw, was not given any such upgrades to his similarly one-dimensional and love-soaked personality.) Admittedly, HMS Pinafore is a silly story loaded with silly characters, but earnestly imposing feminist virtue onto half of those silly personalities contravenes the flamboyant comedy of Gilbert & Sullivan.

He, so very disdainfully,
Rails against ladies living gainfully

While I’m a critic of feminism, myself (because I perceive it to be a generally un-egalitarian movement, despite its insistence that its chief goal is equality), I do think that it’s a perfectly legitimate artistic endeavour to reimagine any work of art through an alternate perspective. However, please recall—

Here he has the gall
To ask us to recall

—that Corner & Thomson promised us that they would be loyal to the theme joke of the original HMS Pinafore, that of satirizing the tendency of those in power to be vapid and unworthy of their station. The leading distinction here, they said, was that, in this case, they would replace mocking the royal navy bureaucracy with teasing the pompous brass of our time.

They promised to be exemplary
In mocking every bossy contemporary

But such “irreverence” towards today’s “reverent” never arrived on stage. Instead, the production interrupted our story several times to show reverence to one of the most reverent of all Canadian clubs, feminism. Love or deride it, does anyone really think that feminism is not part of the brass in Canada in 2022?

Here, he makes a wild anti-feminist claim
Which shows that he is ugly and worthy of blame

Again, while I am a critic of feminism, I am not arguing here that the movement is flawed; instead, my present contention is simply that feminism is a powerful and influential Western institution that should count as brass for Corner & Thomson’s satirical consideration.

He blusters absurdity in the shower-full
As he suggests feminism could be powerful               

For just a few examples, consider that, seven years ago, Justin Trudeau was elected as a “feminist” Prime Minister of Canada (his boast, not mine), and he promptly appointed 50% female Cabinet Ministers (from his 27%-female party), stating as his reason for the “positive” discrimination that it was “2015.” Since then, despite the fact that Indigenous men are far more likely to be murdered than Indigenous women, Canada has spent more than fifty million dollars on a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry, but there has been no formal discussion of including Indigenous men in that consideration. And now, even though the Covid pandemic seems to have killed more men than women, Canada’s publically-funded (feminist) broadcaster, CBC Radio, frequently informs us that women have been the most negatively affected.*

*Maybe one can make a nuanced case for such a claim, but—after listening to the station for ten years—I can assure you that, if women were dying at a higher rate than men from a disease, CBC Radio would follow feminist policy and diagnose any attempt to consider such nuance to be misogyny.

Instead of recognizing women’s humanity
He blathers out his toxic male vanity

But, again, even if I’m right that feminism is the world’s leading purveyor of double standards, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve gotten every argument wrong. However, the fact that feminism can maintain such inconsistency without fear of being called out is an indication of the movement’s powerful influence. Every mainstream comedy talk show host, major bank, and hockey broadcaster is elbowing each other out of the way to brag that they care the most about women.

He whines about those who are a proxy
For our beloved orthodoxy

So, while a feminist reworking of HMS Pinafore could, in theory, be interesting, celebrating feminism as an infallible truth-sayer (as this production does) is surely inconsistent with Corner & Thomson’s promise to tease our modern-day bosses.

Instead of honouring the truth of our story
He obsesses over notes, promissory

HMS Pinafore is a tale of sailors who must ply their trade under the authority of the ruler of the Queen’s Navy, who sings about his resume:

Of Legal Knowledge I acquired such a grip
That they took me into the partnership
And that junior partnership, I ween
Was the only ship that I ever had seen
But that kind of ship so suited me
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen’s Navee!

It seems to me that Gilbert & Sullivan were attempting, in part, to satirize class differentials and how those who get to make the decisions don’t always know what they’re doing as much as those toiling beneath them.

He’s sounding very jealous
Of the Queen’s royal fellas

I wonder, then, if VO might have considered teasing Canada’s current stammering leader of the Queen’s navy, Captain Justin Trudeau. Like him or dislike him, it’s hard to deny that he’s a bit of a linguistic bumbler whose nepotistic qualification for the job could be reminiscent of Porter’s undistinguished route to his leadership.

And now he’s cruelly grumbling
About our leader’s adorable bumbling

But, instead of teasing such a poignant analog for Joseph Porter, VO’s HMS Pinafore randomly threw in a few lines mocking the Canadian trucker convoy as a sinister threat. Again, whether one likes or dislikes the arguments and behaviours of those working class protestors, surely—if they have a Pinafore analog—it is with HMS’s working class sailors, amongst whom we find our romantic male lead, Ralph Rackstraw.

 So now he suggests our favourite Rackstraw
Would have fought the noble mandate law!

I would neither expect nor want Vancouver Opera to take a pro-trucker-convoy view on that dispute. But rearranging the comedy to target the working class instead of the upper class, just to signal contempt for the truckers, is artistically incoherent.

He’s part of a terrible conspiracy
Against ever-so-mild incoherency

Again, recall that Corner & Thomson prognosticated “…a traditional HMS Pinafore… It’s like the same gem, but just seen through a slightly different angle…”

Once again, he has the gall
To ask us to recall

Mocking the working class as treacherous is more than just a new angle on G&S’s traditional satirizing of the upper class, it is a rejiggering of Pinafore to be punching in a different direction than the authors clearly intended.

He thinks that he can read the minds
Of those who wrote our timely lines

Indeed, I wonder if it has occurred to Vancouver Opera that the opera-going tend to be middle and upper class, and, therefore, we tend to be members of the collective that had an easier time during the pandemic than those who couldn’t work from Zoom. That doesn’t mean that it was VO’s role to follow the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s criticism of the Canadian government’s aggressive response to the truckers. But maybe Vancouver Opera could at least take from Gilbert & Sullivan a smidge of first-class humility that those who are rulers of the Queen (Elizabeth Theatre)’s opera house might be the Joseph Porters in these discussions.

And now he accuses our noble distorters
Of being modern-day Joseph Porters

But, most of all, to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, I was offended by this production as a comedy fan. If the feminist reworking of HMS Pinafore were done with artistic and comedic panache, I might have still been annoyed, but at least I could appreciate their effort to deftly blend ideas. But, as it was, our creative leaders were so crass in their plan to force a conventional modern moral reading onto the whimsical comic opera that I felt like the HMS show was constantly being interrupted for bland public service announcements. Far from subversively teasing the reverent, as promised, they were perversely observing the values of the reverent.

And now he uses our own words of wonder
To cast our beautiful work asunder

Perhaps Corner & Thomson are the ones who “…are always answering [their] party’s call and never thinking for [themselves] at all.”

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM IV: HIDDEN AT THE NEW WEST PUBLIC LIBRARY

SethBlogs’ lead writer, Seth McDonough, wrote a book, and he can’t stop talking about it.

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN
IV: HIDDEN AT THE NEW WEST PUBLIC LIBRARY (you are here)


As my fans know, I hate to brag. Therefore, I would like to thank The New Westminster Public Library for showing me off for me! My book, How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism, is now available for rent in that lovely library! This is a dream I didn’t know I had until it came true.

So yesterday with an ego in need of refuelling, I travelled to the new home of my tome to see how it was doing, and maybe take a selfie with it. When I arrived at the book collective, I immediately went to the “Librarians’ Favourites,” section, but strangely there it wasn’t! So I checked the public-facing computer and was delighted again that the digital station confirmed that HCYN lived somewhere in this large book forest. But where? I had never felt the need to learn our librarians’ unnecessarily confusing Dewey decimal system for sorting books. So I settled into my own superior approach, which is to note the general categories they assigned my book, which the computer told me were “Self-Care,” and “Health.” Sadly, my own diagnosis would have placed the book in “Humour,” but in defence of the library’s mischaracterization, they didn’t seem to possess a non-fiction humour place for books to hang out, so I travelled first to “Health,” to see if HCYN had settled in with those fine folks. When I arrived on that well-nourished scene in the back corner of the reading depot, I discovered, among the many books, two teenaged girls seated on the floor with one of the stacks I wanted to investigate as their backrest while they chatted about the latest innovations in high school gossip. None of the unblocked shelves housed my work, so I quietly peered around the yacking girls hoping they might take this as an invitation to make a little room for me to see what was behind them, but sadly my silent plea was either unnoticed or unpersuasive.

I know, I know: assertiveness advisors tell us to politely speak up and request the simple accommodation we are seeking, but somehow I felt squeamish about demanding room to look for a book so that I could take a selfie with it before putting it right back where it was; upon seeing the narcissism-curing claims of my book cover, my seated nemeses would surely then have suggested that I needed the book most of all.

So I travelled to the “Self-Care” section to see if it would provide an unobstructed view of my hopes and dreams. Sure enough; there were no babbling conferences blocking my access, so in I went and… found no indication that my book had ever been in the area.

So, if the book has indeed already reached the shelves of the New West Public library, it is likely behind those two shelf-ish girls. But, as I left the library, without a selfie in hand-held device, I realized that all was right in the world of narcissism. My ego-flattering pursuit had been disrupted by the ego-absorbed work of two library dwellers, which in turn proved that How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism has a rightful reason to be in our libraries.

Or, if you don’t feel like arguing with teenaged babblers, it’s also available for order online at most fine retailers!

 

HOW I MET YOUR INDEPENDENT DESIGN

A mere decade after my initial post, HOW I MET YOUR INDEPENDENT HUMOUR regarding the 2005-2014 sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, I have finally completed my witnessing of this most creative of television comedies.

Against SethBlogs’ standard procedures, my updated review must begin with some contrition. You see, in that first analysis, I brashly noted that the premise of the show (a dad in 2030 telling his two kids about how he met their mother somewhere between the years of 2005 and we didn’t yet know when) was likely too daunting to sustain coherently.

Mused 2010 SethBlogs:

“…the premise is a wee bit troubled: the idea of dedicating a plot to explaining to one’s future children how one discovered their mom is nice, I think, for a defined timeline such as a movie, but in the case of an open-ended TV series, it seems too difficult for the writers to keep each episode on point considering they don’t know when exactly to bring the mother in, and so in turn, they don’t know how exactly to relate each show to her eventual arrival.”

I can now report that—while I was perfectly right that the challenge the writers had set for themselves was “difficult” (well done, SethBlogs!)—I was wrong to suggest it was “too” much so (badly done, SethBlogs!). As it turned out, our writers were not toiling in the linear boundaries that most television writers reside. Instead, the authors of HIMYM were working in the realm of literary novelists where time, place, and perspective were free to wander outside the lines of sequential thinking. Yet, unlike their literary forewriters, the HIMYM creators had a sense of humour about both the lives of their characters, and about themselves, as they often pranked their future selves by having the dad-narrator reference peculiar future incidents which they would somehow have to finagle into later seasons.

The nine-year show is bursting with successful payoffs (as it high-fives those ideas prognosticated in past seasons) as well as retroactive payoffs (as it explains previous behaviours that we didn’t realize were mysterious at the time).

But this show is not just a non-linear story where jokes can be told out of order: instead, How I Met Your Mother is a collage of collages. Each season tends to live in a particular year between 2005 and 2014, but because our narrator’s memory is not limited by temporal rules, stories are bound more often by theme than by time. So, if an episode is about a particular bad habit of one of the characters, we’ll receive examples that might exist anywhere along the 50-year timeline of the show.

Perspective, too, is a mosaic on How I Met Your Mother. Along with the dad, guest narrators grab the microphone occasionally to tell the story of the episode, and the explanation for the alternative viewpoint is often as interesting as the plot, itself.

These collages of perspective and timeline work alongside the series-long arc of meeting Mom as we get many foggy hints about her, even though we don’t officially see her face until the end of the penultimate season. And, when the writers finally do let us meet Mom, they still aren’t beholden to our linear expectations: in fact, they first introduce our lead couple together later in the timeline than their long-anticipated first encounter, and so we actually get to know them as a duo before they “meet.”

The finale on the How I Met Your Mother timeline has—at this point in our real-world timeline—not been as popular as the show, itself. However, as with perhaps the greatest movie of all time, The Empire Strikes Back, which might have been titled, How I Met My Father, and which initially did not receive a positive critical reaction (unlike its precursor, Star Wars), I predict that our perspective will eventually shift in regard to HIMYM’s conclusion. While (semi-spoiler alert) the ending contains a twist on our expectations—and I admit that I, too, was miffed about it for an hour after watching—I now contest that it beautifully ties together an unspoken promise: it tells us why we’re being told the story. And that information, I predict, will change our future viewings of the show to being more meaningful than we’d realized.

Please don’t misunderstand my gushing: HIMYM is not a perfect show, and it has some dud episodes (even masters of situation comedy, such as Seinfeld, Frasier, and Jane Austen lose their way on occasion). Nevertheless, How I Met Your Mother is perhaps the most inventive sitcom I have ever met. Plus SethBlogs did get another thing right in my previous description: the show has lots of clever turns of dialogue. (Well spotted, Sethblogs!)

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM III: Interview By Time-Traveller, Todd Van Allen

SethBlogs’ lead writer, Seth McDonough, wrote a book, and he can’t stop talking about it.

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN (you are here)
IV: HIDDEN AT THE NEW WEST PUBLIC LIBRARY


I’m honoured to honour me by reporting that my book How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism has now reached interprovincial fame as I have been interviewed on comedian Todd Van Allen’s Ottawa-based podcast, Comedy Above The Pub.

TVA’s CATP has a fascinating set up as the elite comedian and storyteller launches himself and his visitors into conversation as though they’re at a pub, without artificial barriers of required topics, but instead with anecdotes and deferential curiosities that he surreptitiously ties to his guests’ wares.

Most fascinating  to my philosophical eye, the podcaster dances with time as the interview ends with a mini-discussion of the conversation just past, which then becomes the introduction for the later-released episode. To my ear this post-convo pre-convo sets the listener up with a much more accurate and vibrant introduction than if the podcaster had begun with a pre-written description of what might be approaching.

For the full podcast, listen here.

Or, for the video version, watch the live initial broadcast below (although, since the live broadcast was live, it lacked the ability to anticipate its post-show introduction, so I recommend listening to the intro above before watching).


HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN (you were just here)

SETH IN HALFMOON BAY

In the metro Port Coquitlam area of metro Vancouver, BC, my friend Erik D’Souza has been dubbed by the staff at Sethblogs, “the author-wrangler,” as he has achieved the difficult, convincing local authors to get out of our book jackets. He interviews us (including yours truly here and here), he tricks us into reading our work in public, and he even wrangled a group of us to publish a collection of short stories called New Beginnings, and then he donated all profits to the Share Society.

In short, I was delighted recently to finally be given the opportunity to put the prolific spotlight provider in his own spotlight, as I guest-interviewed him on his own broadcast, about his mystery novel, Death in Halfmoon Bay. That conversation is now available for your consideration here (or watch the video below).

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE STAR WARS

Disney and Lucasfilm recently announced that they would be producing a grand new collection of TV series and movies to expand the Star Wars universe beyond anything we fans could have possibly imagined. But Mark Hill, a satirical writer at The Beaverton, struck back at Disney’s “joyless” efforts, noting that:

“Media journalists predicted that most of the series would feature, holy crap can you believe it, lightsabers, incompetent Stormtroopers and, wait for it, spaceships. In response to this speculation, some dork on Reddit said ‘I hope we get to see some wurmpuses too,’ whatever in Christ’s name that means.”

Against my better biases, Hill’s profanity-led mocking of the expansion of our galaxy far, far away (as well as those of us cheering it on) got me chuckling like a Nien Nunb.

I even cheerfully paraphrased the article for my spouse on our nightly walk, and she laughed harder than I would have liked as Hill scoffed at us fans for buying:

“…clothes that say garbage like, ugh, ‘Reading my t-shirt, you are.’”

Cool! Where’s it selling?

I’m tempted to point out that Mr. Hill’s comedy, while amusing, calls upon a rather redundant set of jokes that we Star Wars fans have heard throughout our history. Yes, Mark, many of us are,

“…excited dweeb”s, who get worked up “to witness the adventures of Luke Skywalker’s distant cousin, one of the aliens who’s on-screen for two seconds in A New Hope…” (intrigue me!) “…and the Millennium Falcon’s sentient space coffee maker” (right on!),

along with any other scraps of detail George Lucas’s acolytes are willing to toss our way.

However, because I don’t want to seem as humourless as Hill’s familiar caricature of Star Wars’ fans implies, I’m going to instead take the path of the Jedi and support Mr. Hill’s cranky work by publishing here a complementary piece from the magazine, The Curmudgeon.

NO HOPE by Oscar T. Grouch

Curmudgeons everywhere have had enough. Disney and Lucasfilm are expanding their already oversized Star Wars universe with plans to make a pathetic collection of unnecessary new content. Grumps are not pleased.

“Why are these damn kids doing this to us?” one leading grumbler asked.

More Star Wars?” another said. “Great, now dweebs are going to be blathering on about it while I’m overpaying for my coffee.”

Desperate to stop the dorky domination, world-leading cranks have joined forces (pun neither intended nor acknowledged) with elite snobs to denounce Disney’s new Star Wars’ plans.

“We’re not happy about working with a bunch of hoity-toities,” one despondent crab explained, “but if you’re gonna take candy from a bunch of babies, you’re gonna need help distracting them first.”

“Exactly right,” a high-ranking member of the snob collective added, “this is not an ideal collaboration; but occasionally one must have an imperfect wine-pairing just to get through a meal.”

Leading this alliance of the snotty and the haughty is a rare dabbler in both groups, Mark Hill of The Beaverton.

With crotchety panache, Hill noted during the joint Snob & Crank depress conference that Disney is:

“…a joyless, all-devouring pop culture monolith that tells the same simple children’s story ad nauseam…”

“Precisely,” an elite-aesthete said. “You can’t give consumers what they want. That’s pure consumerism.”

“Bravo!” cheered another. “We mustn’t let this derivative and jejune nonsense persist!”

Then a dorky journalist—dolled up with dweeby glasses and a horrid holiday tie—humiliated herself by asking the leaders of the snob collective if there was a contradiction in their criticism of Disney for being “joyless” at the same time that the mouse-eared regime seemed to be bringing so much “joy” to their fans.

“That’s not the joy we’re looking for, my dear,” Beatrice von Snooterson explained.

“I don’t know about any of that,” one of the top grumps replied. “All I know is they’ve already made so much garbage, which I’m already not gonna watch—why do they think I’m gonna wanna see this new pile of junk?”

Hill brilliantly responded to the high-ranking grouch’s question by sardonically explaining that—contrary to all recognized guidelines of good taste—dorky Star Wars fans are obsessed with studying the detailed motivations and back stories of every galactic character as though they’re studying Shakespeare’s canon.

That provoked a crescendo of chuckles among the snobs.

“Ha, ha, they’re all dweebs!” one of the curmudgeons added.

“Hear, hear!” a snob called out with an elevated eyebrow. “Why do they insist upon exploring every particular of their make-believe world? Are they under the misapprehension that it’s real?”

“I must concur,” another snooty-voiced elite replied. “Moreover, if Disney absolutely must produce more Star Wars, surely they can provide something a little more grim and challenging to watch. Give us a movie about how Luke Skywalker had an eating disorder, and how he used his laser sword to fend off anyone who tried to help him.”

“Indubitably!” called out a nearby avant-garde filmmaker. “Now that’s the sort of bleakness for which I’m looking!”

Sadly, despite these crusty and erudite calls for Disney to stop imposing their vapid product on their vapid audience, neither the provider nor that consumer of Star Wars has agreed to discontinue their relationship. And it looks like there is little hope that they will any time soon.

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM II: Interviews By Rival-Writer, Erik D’Souza

SethBlogs’ lead writer, Seth McDonough, wrote a book, and he can’t stop talking about it.

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA (you are here)
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN
IV: HIDDEN AT THE NEW WEST PUBLIC LIBRARY


Well! I’m pleased to report that my book How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism has now found a starring role in two interviews, featuring yours truly excited and Erik D’Souza, author and author-wrangler.

First I was a brief guest called in to discuss etiquette on Erik’s Canada Day broadcast. (Click this link for our mini-conversation about whether Canadians are as polite as Americans claim we are, or watch the video here.)


Second
, this past weekend I was the inaugural long-form guest on Erik’s Writers in Our Midst publication. (See the video at the bottom of this post to enjoy a cheerful, if meandering, discussion of self-absorption in modern society.)

Now you might think that the fact that Erik and I are friends implies that Erik may have invited me for nepotistic reasons, but you would be wrong—embarrassingly wrong! You see, Erik and I are both writers, which means we are rivals, and therefore Erik is best off not making me look as grand as I normally do.

In fact, in the long-form interview, Erik celebrated our rivalry with some tough questions, such as, asking me if I—of all wonderful people—was a narcissist.

You’ll have to tune in (here, or watch the video below) to find how I escaped that perilous query.


HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA (you were just here)
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN

FUN WITH INTERGALACTIC SOCIAL DISTANCING II: A New Cheers

Well, by order of social distancing, I have been travelling to a galaxy far, far away for my creative productions.

FUN WITH INTERGALACTIC SOCIAL DISTANCING SERIES:

I: THE RISE OF CONFIDENCE 

II: A NEW CHEERS (you are here)


Recently, one of my top-three favourite sisters had a birthday, but again, social distancing prevented a proper gathering, so instead I decided to create a fusion of a childhood favourite TV show, Cheers, and of course the greatest movie franchise of all time, Star Wars.

Our tale is set in the Star Wars universe sometime after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, and features a pair of Han Solo and Chewbacca impersonators (Han Sethlo and Coobacca). Our hero-impersonators enjoy travelling to strange lands “where nobody knows their name” to visit with unique creatures. This episode takes our delightful duo to “Earth.”

In honour of your time, I have only included here the opening and closing jokes of the episode. However, you will get to imbibe the excellent vocal and piano stylings of my talented Uncle Rick as he reproduces the Cheers theme for our intergalactic investigators.

May the 4th be with you!


Our previous episode tells the story of me promoting an anti-anxiety workshop through the uplifting lens of Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.


FUN WITH INTERGALACTIC SOCIAL DISTANCING SERIES:

I: THE RISE OF CONFIDENCE 

II: A NEW CHEERS (you were just here)

FUN WITH INTERGALACTIC SOCIAL DISTANCING I: The Rise Of Confidence

Well, by order of social distancing, I have been travelling to a galaxy far, far away for my creative productions.

FUN WITH INTERGALACTIC SOCIAL DISTANCING SERIES:

I: THE RISE OF CONFIDENCE (you are here)

II: A NEW CHEERS


Today’s episode features my efforts to promote a recent online workshop I was giving to my writers’ group wherein I provided suggestions for combatting the inevitable pangs of anxiety that rise up in most of our bellies before any public speaking venture.

With the assistance of our planet’s greatest-ever composer, John Williams, and the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, I present the following inspirational promotion. If you can listen to the swing of John Williams’ baton and not feel courage gathering inside you to take on those evil butterflies, then you’re either on the wrong side, or you’re a droid.

May the 4th be with you!


Our next episode will feature a collision of Star Wars and the great television comedy, Cheers.


FUN WITH INTERGALACTIC SOCIAL DISTANCING SERIES:

I: THE RISE OF CONFIDENCE (you were just here)

II: A NEW CHEERS

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM I: Quotes About Greatness, Compiled by SethBlogs

SethBlogs’ lead writer, Seth McDonough, wrote a book, and he can’t stop talking about it.

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS (you are here)
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN
IV: HIDDEN AT THE NEW WEST PUBLIC LIBRARY


In honour of me, I’m delighted to announce that my book, How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism, is now available at every worthy-of-me virtual location (and a few in-person shops). It’s ready for your delighted perusal in the following nearby and faraway places:

In additional honour of this announcement, I would like to celebrate five of my favourite ego-driven quotes from the cinema:

(5) “Unless I’m wrong, and I’m never wrong…”

—Prince Humperdinck, The Princess Bride (1987).

(4) “I’m pretty sure there’s more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.”

—Derek Zoolander in Zoolander (2002), honoured above by Seth Zoolander.

(3) “As a specimen, yes, I’m intimidating! As you see I’ve got biceps to spare… I’m especially good at expectorating… I use antlers in all of my decorating!”

—(singing) Gaston in Beauty & The Beast (1991).

(2) “There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.”

—Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride & Prejudice (1980).

(1) “Would someone get this big walking carpet out of my way.”

—Princess Leia Organa, Star Wars IV: A New Hope after that particular movable rug, the Wookiee, Chewbecca, helped rescue her from her cell in the Death Star (1977).

Congrats to ME!

(Simulcast on my Facebook author page)


HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS (you were just here)
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN