Deep Thoughts & Pronouncements




Ever have one of those moments when you think about something and realize some insane fact or statistic? Happens to me all the time. I’ve mentioned my casual relationship with time before; things just slip by me, and that also translates to being generally unaware of statistics about my life. Like how old I am. Or how many pairs of pants I’m currently wearing (the Margin of Pants Error is HUGE).

So today I was wondering how many freelance articles I wrote this year. Don’t why it occurred to me to think about it; generally I’m much more interested and concerned about how much money I’ve earned writing freelance pieces, as money can be readily exchanged for liquor, whereas vague reflections on the professional year that was usually cannot. So I sat down and counted them all, and the number is 880.

Eight hundred and eighty.

Now, more than half of those you won’t see my name next to, as they were ghost-written. And thank god. A lot of freelance writing is like doing porn: You’re not ashamed, per se, because it takes skills most people don’t have and you got paid for it. But it doesn’t mean you want the relatives looking it up online when you come home for the holidays. But that does leave more than 400 essays and articles that do bear my name, and at any rate 880 is just a big number. And December just started. It’s possible, though unlikely, I’ll hit 1,000 before the year’s out.

At any rate, even if I got hit by a bus tomorrow and couldn’t write good no more, I’d still average more than 2 articles a day, and since I spend my weekends in an alcoholic haze that means I actually average much more on a typical work day. That just makes me sleepy. Who was this energetic, motivated person cranking out these writings? Not me, certainly. I like to sleep in, nurse my hangovers, and read essays about Doctor Who Easter Eggs online.

In-between all that freelance writing, I also wrote one novel, got about 50% through two other novels, wrote a number of essays for other websites in the spirit of self-promotion, and 24 short stories with one more about 90% finished as I sit here. And submitted 23 of those stories to markets, selling exactly one. And that doesn’t even count blog posts — oh so many blog posts. I am, without meaning to be, one busy motherfucker.

What’s my point? Aside from once again underscoring the fact that my sole skill in this life is tapping a keyboard in creative ways, it goes to show the value of putting your head down. I didn’t start the year with a stretch goal of 1,000 freelance articles plus assorted fiction. I started the year thinking about writing one piece that day to make a certain amount of money. It’s the same with a novel or a short story. Start with the first line, go from there. Don’t think about how many you’ve piled up. Word count is useful, but distracting: Ignore it until you need to know what it is (i.e., when you’re sending it somewhere for submission or evaluation).

I am suddenly exhausted, so my stretch goal of improving the Margin of Pants Error has to be deferred until 2016. I’m sure you understand.


Shared Universes are Weak Sauce

Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones

The Internet, as always an individual reality with only a tangential relationship to actual reality (which is not, let me finish, a bad thing, just an observed fact) has been buzzing recently about Jessica Jones, the new Netflix series offering from Marvel, following in the steps of the dour, glacially-paced and thoroughly, thoroughly overrated Daredevil (and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me).

I haven’t watched it yet, because I am old and slow. I plan to, if only because of the praise the show is getting. And it does sound interesting to a guy like me who has never owned, read, or paid any attention to comic books. The villain, a mind-controller known as Kilgrave or The Purple Man depending on how dramatic you’re trying to be, sounds really creepy and evil and thus well worth watching a narrative about his (hopeful) downfall.

Ah, but see, now we hit the snag, don’t we? Because it’s a shared universe. In Daredevil they peppered in references to the larger Marvel Universe, with New York City recovering from the last time the Avengers showed up and other references. So, Jessica Jones exists in the same universe as Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk. Which means anyone watching the show might wonder: Why in the world don’t we just call The Avengers?

The Infinity Problem

Don’t get me wrong; I’ll still check out Jessica Jones and I may even enjoy it! But the problem, from an annoying writer’s point of view, remains: You have created these super powerful beings. Your story exists in that universe. Why can’t they help? Why does no one even try? I mean, when the bad guys show up and you desperately try to call Iron Man and all you get are increasingly annoying voicemail greetings from Tony Stark, okay, that makes sense. But why does no one try?

I mean, as has been mentioned elsewhere on The Internet, the Marvel universe has established that there are superpowered autonomous robots everywhere. We’ve already seen Ultron, and Stark’s Iron Man suits that can be remote controlled by JARVIS — so, The Purple Man shows up mind-controlling everyone, why not sic a few superpowered robots on him?

Sure, there are likely storytelling explanations for this. And yes, that would make most of these stories suck in a very Somers Way:


Avengers: Here we are to save the day!

People: Never mind.


So yes, stipulated: Actually thinking about this stuff logically is boring and mean and annoying. We’re not here to approach superhero stories scientifically! We’re here to be entertained!

And yet, it’s a problem. Once you create a powerful being in a universe, you are stuck with that being, and stuck with explaining how they are defeated and controlled — and if they are not defeated and controlled (as most superhero failures are temporary plot points at best) then you have to explain why they don’t just solve every problem in the world, eventually. Sure, the Avengers can’t be everywhere at once, but they’re also not the only superheroes out there. It reduces all of your villains and monsters to mere annoyances, or forces the viewer/reader to wonder why in the world we’re wasting time throwing lesser superheroes against the Big Bad, when someone else would likely destroy them easily.

Too Many Cooks

This is a problem nearly unique to shared universes, where multiple creatives are spinning new tales, inventing new characters and new rules all the time. In a smaller-scale universe a single author might get themselves into trouble by creating a godlike character or two, but this can be handled because they are in total, godlike control. In a shared universe it’s nearly impossible. You can’t, for example, announce that the Avengers are all dead in Jessica Jones, because that kind of upsets all the people looking forward to the next Avengers film or future comic books. You also can’t really pretend that superpowered robots that would be immune from mind-control are impossible, because we’ve already seen them.

All you can do is ignore them, and have your characters ignore them, which makes them seem kind of dimwitted, but that’s okay. I do dimwitted things all the time. I have little doubt that if I became embroiled in a war against a superpowered villain, I would — well, let’s be honest: I would be dead almost immediately. But if I managed to survive, I’d at least try to get The Hulk or someone — even Ant Man, or the weird guy with no powers but the jetpack-like wings — to help me.


Learn About Bad Writing from Spectre



So, I love me some James Bond in general. I love a good Bond movie, even the bad ones. And I’ve been particularly fond of Daniel Craig in the role; I like the physicality he brings to it. So, yes, I went and saw Spectre despite the unpromising reviews. And it is kind of a bad movie.

But it’s a special kind of bad movie that could have been a good movie. Even about halfway through, there was plenty of potential. I was enjoying it, the action sequences were really well done, and there was a touch of humor here and there that made me really excited. And then there were a few awful, really bad storytelling and character decisions that derailed the whole thing and turned a pretty-good Bond movie into a terrible Bond movie, and there was much sadness.

There was also sadness because the audience I saw this film with was the most restless group of people I’ve ever shared space with, just constantly running in and out of the theater at full speed, like they were monitoring a small trash fire in the next room simultaneously.

However, if you’re a writer, go see Spectre, then come back. Because you can learn a very important lesson form it, and that lesson is simple: Well-drawn characters with believable motivations can elevate a story. Bad characters can destroy it. Spoilers ho: I will spoil the shit out of this movie.

Swann’s Way

The character I’m talking about isn’t Bond. As I said, I like Craig’s interpretation of Bond. It’s a physical, interior performance that manages to suggest a lot of things, from the animal way he walks to the almost obnoxious way he wears the shit out of a suit. Craig’s Bond is a thug with a familiarity with money and the world it buys, but he’s also aware of being a glorified killer. His contempt for his “betters” combined with his absolute dog-like loyalty to the few people he respects makes sense for the character, and Craig does fantastic work of making you believe that Bond can be simultaneously a trained killer and a man who falls deeply in love with someone in a few days because he is so overwhelmingly lonely.

Nor is is the character of re-invented Blofeld the problem. While Blofeld is completely mishandled and wasted as a Bond villain here, the film still could have attained a sort of B grade decency with him. Yes, the revelation that he was Bond’s adopted brother of sorts was lame and unnecessary, and they did little to make you believe that Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld was actually as dangerous as we’re told he is, but the film could have survived that.

No, the problem is Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann. The character single-handedly destroys the story because she’s so badly written.

Bond Girls for the Fail

Sure, Bond Girls are always tragically underwritten. The Craig-era films have tried with mixed success to elevate the Bond Girl to something more than a piece of ass, but Bond Girls are still challenging because the audience knows full well they will be Bond’s love interest and then disappear.

But Swann is more problematic because they break several rules of good writing with her character, and here’s what the film can teach you about bad writing and what not to do:

  1. Making Your Characters Fall in Love Solely to Have Motivations Is Lazy. There is a moment in Spectre when Seydoux’s Swann tells Bond that she loves him and the audience laughs. This is because the character has literally known Bond for about a day at this point, and has spent that day hating him with a passion. In fact, Swann’s character instantly changes–instead of the steely-eyed woman who hates Bond because he represents the poisonously masculine world of her father, she’s suddenly flirty, fragile, and dedicated to Bond, and it’s solely so she can serve as Bond’s motivation going forward. It’s clumsy, clunky, and simply bad writing.
  2. Making Your Characters Idiots to Keep the Plot Moving is Lazy. Swann also decides, suddenly and without warning, that she cannot stay with Bond right before the climax. It’s framed against her past: She lived a life of danger and intrigue with her father, and she won’t repeat her mistakes with Bond. All well and good, but literally any other time would be a better moment to have that conversation. Why give your little speech and walk away–alone–just seconds before Bond heads out to the final confrontation? Because you’re a lazy writer and you need to have Swann captured and held prisoner so Bond can go insane trying to save her in a ginned-up emotional moment. Having your characters behave in insane ways simply to create a scenario is bad writing.

These decisions regarding the Swann character ruin the story. Yes, the climax was already compromised by other problems with the writing–the fact that Blofeld’s evil superpowers are all telling with no showing, that Bond makes the curious tactical decision to deliver himself and the woman he loves directly into the hands of the enemy with no leverage or plan, the complete lack of any sort of realistic time sense in the whole story–but it could have been saved if they’d found a better use for the Bond Girl character, and not relied on bad writing tricks to move the story along. Watch this movie and learn what not to do.


Let’s Do the Time Warp Again



Time, my eternal enemy. Look, we’re all busy, and if you’re a writer or some other creative type who also has to do other things to keep yourself in whiskey and Netflix, time begins to form up into your greatest foe, constantly conniving to steal your life right out from under you. Once you pass a certain age — different for everyone, but essentially the Rubicon between your carefree youth when spending hours watching cartoons while day drinking was a constructive use of your time and your maturity when every day is a heart-attack-inducing marathon of squeezing ninety minutes of activity into sixty minutes of actual time — time is the biggest obstacle to achieving things.

Unless you’re me. In which case it’s not so much time as your perception of time.

it was autumn by the time I got around the corner

I’m fairly famous in my household for having absolutely no idea how long anything actually takes. I am always confident I can walk anywhere in about five minutes, that chores will take about an hour no matter what they involve, and that I always have about fifteen minutes to spare no matter when I’m supposed to be somewhere. Put simply, time is a foreign country and I have never learned the language.

This also means that for a very long time I felt like I had no time to do anything, and as a result I worked constantly at writing, because I was convinced I was squeezing in about five minutes of work every day. As a result I’m reasonably prolific, because I always work like my time is about to run out. As another result, I disdain revision and contemplation because my god man time is running out.

I had an epiphany a long time ago wherein I realized that I waste a monumental amount of time. This was an accurate but ultimately unhealthy epiphany, because it exacerbated my sense of time pressure, because now not only was The Man stepping on my neck in terms of time as a precious resource, I was stepping on my own neck. But it’s true: I like to waste time. It’s actually part of my creative process, sitting here doing nothing but mildly entertaining myself. But it was helpful to understand that my feeling that I was always lacking the time to work on projects wasn’t anybody else’s fault; if friends and family, bosses and colleagues used up hours of my day every day, well, I wasted just as many, so how could I get all pissy about it?

a whole lotta nothin’

A side effect of my complete bafflement with time is the constant feeling I haven’t actually done much. In 2015, I wrote two novels, 18 short stories, a screenplay, and hundreds of essays, and yet I feel like I’m always spinning my wheels and failing to produce enough material. Life is short, I am told I will die someday (I have my doubts), and as a result life is a race to write as much good stuff as possible. And I always feel like I’ve got nothing to show for my time.

It’s a disease, of course. If you’re waiting for me to keep an appointment and get that sinking feeling that I once again thought a one-hour commute would take only fifteen minutes, it might be amusing or irritating. From my point of view it’s exhausting, and yet in a lot of ways it’s the engine that drives my work. In the end it will kill me, either from the stress or from a miscalculation involving how quickly it takes a grown man to run across a busy street or train tracks.


The Curse of the Futile Victim

Knock Knock

Knock Knock

I spent a week recently without The Duchess, who was off in far-flung lands rampaging with credit cards and no interest in learning a second language, and spent some of that time watching bad movies on Netlfix etc. Also baseball playoffs, but also bad movies, because sometimes you need a palate cleanser. And some of these bad movies got me to thinking about tropes, as I often do, and one in particular that I’d always been annoyed by but hadn’t managed to articulate in my mind before: The Futile Victim.

You see TFV in horror movies, mainly (though not exclusively). The Futile Victim is generally the protagonist of the story, the one who is assaulted and tortured and possibly killed, and their main feature as a character is that they never have any reasonable chance at winning. The Futile Victim may occasionally see chances for escape, revenge, or return fire, but these opportunities are never presented in any serious way to the audience. We know they will fail, and they generally fail almost immediately and quite spectacularly.

Probably the easiest example in film I can think of is Funny Games, a meta-meta horror film where the two demonic young men torturing a pleasant suburban family are so totally in control at one point they literally rewind the movie to undo a sudden twist of fate that favors their victims. In a film like that, the victim never has any chance at all, and you can’t take any of their gambits, brilliancies, or moments of courage seriously, and frankly it’s all kinds of irritating. I think it’s fine to have your victims ultimately fail, and ultimately have the monster/villain be absolutely in control — but I think you have to sell the possibility of a reversal or the stakes disappear. Stakes have to exist for both sides, after all: If the villains are absolutely godlike, then there’s no tension. Bad writers think godlike villains are scarier, but they’re not, because we can easily skip 100s of pages or hours of your film and get right to the inevitable, utterly predictable end.

Knock Knock

The film that actually tipped this over in my head to conscious thought was Knock Knock, the latest from director Eli Roth, starring Keanu Reeves — SPOILERS HO! Knock Knock is basically a remake/update of a 1970s cult film called Death Game or The Seducers depending on who you ask, starring Sondra Locke (who produced Knock Knock) and Colleen Camp, who has a small role, and some guy whose name escapes me but who is basically 1970s Marlboro Man by way of porn sets as far as I can tell.

Anyway, the basic plot of the film is kind of clever: A more or less happily married father of two (Reeves), slightly blueballed by a busy wife and perhaps resentful that his family abandons him on Father’s Day because he has to work, answers the door on a stormy night to find two cute young women, soaking wet and very polite, who beg him to let them in to use the phone. The girls slowly ramp up a seduction: At first they are the picture of good behavior, seeming only to appreciate the assistance, but they find excuses to penetrate deeper into his home, to shed their clothes, to chat about sex, to touch him.

This sequence of seduction is actually done very well. It uses an Uber car on its way as a clever time pressure — will Reeves manage to resist long enough? — and Reeves plays his combined discomfort and fascination well. The tension here i s real for one very important reason: We’re not 100% certain how it’s going to go. Reeves could believably resist. After all, the girls are cute, but he’s portrayed as a loving father and husband, and he seems perfectly aware of what they’re doing.

Of course, he does give in, and after a gratuitous threesome sequence, we get to the meat of the story: The girls, now that they’ve gotten Reeves to break the rules, set about punishing him, and he finds himself unable to simply throw them out of the house because they’ve got him: He cheated on his wife, the girls suddenly (and improbably) claim to be underage, and Reeves can see how it could all play out into a rape charge and the end of his life as he knows it. By the time the punishment switches from mind games and petty vandalism to Reeves tied to a chair while the girls dig his grave in the back yard, it’s too late for him to call the cops.

The Futility of It All

It’s not a bad movie, really, and if Roth will never be a great director he gets a lot of energy from the scenario, and does what horror films do best: Makes his audience ask themselves if they would be do any better. The problem is Reeves’ character is a Futile Victim.

Roth explicitly gives Reeves three specific moments in the story where it seems possible he might escape or at least turn the tables: Early on, the girls leave him alone while he’s imperfectly tied up and he frees himself — only to be almost immediately subdued again, as in literally thirty seconds after getting free; Next, his wife’s assistant shows up unexpectedly, and the girls are inscrutably worried about his presence at first, and he turns out to be a ballsier character than initially assumed, and for a moment it seems possible he might throw a believable wrench into their plan, but he has a fatal weakness that shows up almost immediately, and suddenly the girls aren’t concerned about his presence at all and so they kill him; and finally, Reeves knows where a gun is hidden in the house and seems on the verge of extracting it, only to have the girls swoop in and find it first.

In short, all three times, Reeves’ chances of escape end pretty much immediately. Why bother having them in the first place? To prove that the monsters are all-powerful, I assume, but it makes things terribly boring.

When the victim/protagonist gets the drop on their tormentor, it should be a moment rife with tension. You should be glued to the screen or the page, wondering what happens next. Instead, in Knock Knock and similar films, you’re bored, because you know it won’t last long, and will end in futility.


You’re the Worst Gets Authorin’

What is this thing your people call "shame"?

What is this thing your people call “shame”?

There’s a pretty-good-to-great comedy on FX right now called You’re the Worst. The premise is simple: It’s an anti-romcom, a story about two more or less immature, selfish assholes who get into a relationship and have to deal with the fact that they’re basically assholes, as are their friends to a large extent. It can be intermittently hilarious, as the show so far has walked a fine line between depicting its characters as believably monstrous without turning them into monsters. In short, I can often see the seeds of real human behavior that isn’t often depicted on your normally feel-good, stupor-inducing television in here.

But who cares about that, because clever TV shows are the norm these days (seriously, I am still recovering from the emotional black hole that was the Rick and Morty season two finale). I am not here to lather faint praise on You’re the Worst because it occasionally makes me giggle. I am here to lather faint praise upon You’re the Worst because it may be the first TV show in history to realistically portray what it’s like to be a published author who isn’t a bestseller. It’s so good it hurts.



How Do You Deal with Your Encroaching Death?

UNDOUBTEDLY how the universe sees my demise.

UNDOUBTEDLY how the universe sees my demise.

I get antsy whenever I don’t write much. I don’t deal with word count much, as word count is a stat porn for people who like stat porn (i.e., people who somehow think that a steaming pile of words is somehow an accomplishment in and of itself, or people who enjoy measuring the coffee spoons and afternoons of their life as if any of it aside from the finished product means anything at all) but I like to close out every day feeling like I’ve accomplished a lot of work. This is all I have, after all; no one is going to be talking about the way Jeff Somers revolutionized chess or how he re-invented the modern cocktail or that one classic guitar riff he wrote.

Chances are they also won’t be discussing my writing, sure, but it’s the only chance I have.

So, I get really freaked out any day that I don’t make progress in whatever projects I’m working on. It all has to do with my absolute terror of death, of course. As a man with no faith, no spirituality, and a liver the size of Maine, mortality is more or less all I think about. It’s all that drives me.

It makes sense; in school and when I had a day job I was that guy who left everything to the last minute, then did like 5 weeks worth of homework and project work in one evening, wild-eyed and desperate. And somehow pulled through with a decent grade or performance review, because I am a genius at skimming by. A fucking genius. Deadlines work for me, so why shouldn’t the Ultimate Deadline work more or less to motivate me to write in a constant panic? And also to drink heroic amounts of booze, yes. No doubt when death finally appears in my office, it’ll go like this:

DEATH: Jeff Somers, your time has come!

JEFF: Dude, I’ve been waiting. Have a toast with me!

DEATH: <examining the Jaba-like form of Jeff Somers> Hmmmn….I hadn’t counted on your liver being quite so … large. And glowing. And … hot? Is it hot? How does that happen?

JEFF: I got a deal on some Russian whiskey made in the general Chernobyl area.

DEATH: Hold on. I’ll need to call in some help. Do you know anyone who owns a truck and might be near death? A smoker, maybe?

If they ever invent immortality — and jebus, let’s hope they do — then I don’t know what I’ll do. Aside from procrastinate, probably by watching all 37 seasons of Rick and Morty over and over again and, yes, drinking. And I don’t understand people who don’t spend all their free time tapping at keyboards (or playing instruments, or shorting stock markets, or murdering people, or whatever it is that brings you joy) and just sort of hesitate. Like, I know a writer who has been working on one book more or less his whole life. It’s never ready, never done, and yet he hardly works on it. HUge swaths of time go by and he doesn’t touch it. It’s horrifying.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to spend the next few hours working on three manuscripts and making my way through a bottle of Russian whiskey that has an odd blue glow to it. Vashe zrodovye!


On Not Jumping

The Future is SEXY

The Future is SEXY

So: Peak TV. What a time to be alive. I’m old enough to remember when there was literally nothing on television. Nothing. You’d come home and have a choice between old Brady Bunch reruns and some awful afternoon talk show hosted by Morton Downey, Jr. or someone and after dinner you could watch literally some of the worst television ever made (literally) or sit in your room typing in BASIC programs from a magazine for six hours just to see a sprite of a rocket ship blip across your TV screen. That was Life Before, kids. No wonder any time a TV show that had anything at all resembling promise came along — an X Files or Twin Peaks — we collectively lost our shit. I recall watching the episode of Twin Peaks when Agent Cooper had the Dream Sequence and I nearly shit my pants because it was just so different from the dreck that was on TV at the time.

Of course, as a child, reruns of The Brady Bunch was just fine (also: reruns of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century with Gil Gerard, still my personal hero). What did I know? I still thought going outside and running in the street until I collapsed from exhaustion was a good way to spend my time. But here we are now living in Peak TV, a time when there are literally more good TV shows to watch than we have conscious hours in our lifetime. People view this as a blessing or a curse depending on their own particular TV-related traumas (and age; we’re moving into a time when kids will have grown up with nothing but Peak TV, and those fools will expect there to be a new Breaking Bad for them to watch every year).

The folks who think Peak TV is a curse tend t focus on the overwhelming nature of modern programming choice; it’s too much! Too many shows! These people are weak. The fact is, Peak TV has one basic benefit that is changing how we relate to programming that I personally am revelling in: We no longer have to jump.



“The Gift” and The Power of Expectations



The film The Gift (written, produced, and directed by actor Joel Edgerton) will kill your soul, trust me; it’s got one of the most downer endings I think I’ve seen in a while. It’s an interesting film, because of the way it treats audience expectations: It treats them as tools it can use to tell its story and leave you stunned at the end.

Spoilers? Spoilers. Be an adult and read anyway.

On the surface, this looks like any number of slickly-made thrillers. Jason Bateman plays the cocky and sarcastic Simon in what you’d expect to be the standard Jason Bateman role. Rebecca Hall plays his apparently fragile and sweet wife, Robyn. Moving to California from Chicago for a “fresh start,” they run into Gordo, an old high school classmate of Simon’s who’s a little awkward and a little too eager to reconnect.

At this point, just about everyone in the theater assumes they know how this movie will go: Gordo will insinuate himself into the pretty couple’s lives, they will try to be nice, they will assume he is harmless, and by the time they realize he’s not harmless it will be too late: He will have learned their passwords, copied their keys, and framed them for crimes. In the end Simon will have to engage in horrific violence to defend his family and defeat the evil weirdo.

The movie knows that’s your expectation. It knows you expect Gordo to be insane and uber-competent until he makes one major mistake that is his downfall. It knows you will assume Simon, for all his urbane wittiness and aloof sarcasm, will be the hero by the end, and fragile, sweet Robyn will find her own inner grit as she helps her husband defeat the weirdo that invades their lives.

Yeah, not exactly. Which is to say–kind of? But Edgerton is smarter than that. He takes these expectations and plays us all for fools.



Rick and Morty is the Best Show on TV Right Now

We're All Going to Die! Come Watch TV.

We’re All Going to Die! Come Watch TV.

There’s been some thinky things written about the “monoculture” recently, and its a concept I’ve bought into in the past — the idea that at some point in the near past there was a general consensus about what pop culture mattered. I mean when the final episode of M*A*S*H pulled in 106 million viewers in 1983, that was like half the fucking country at the time. It’s easy to decide that there was a time when we all experienced the same pop culture.

It’s both true and untrue. There were fewer choices, so we were all aware of stuff in a way we aren’t now. Now half my conversations involve locating overlapping TV shows or books or music to center a conversation; finding a TV show that everyone sitting at a table has watched and appreciated can be time-consuming, because we all make our own zeitgeist now. This is not a bad thing, really, and since it’s coupled with TV shows and other pop culture ephemera being accessible far longer than it once was (via streaming and DVD and Internet download) the zeitgeist evens out, slowly, as people go back to experience things they skipped the first time around. Back in 1993 if you were at all into Science Fiction, you were at least aware of The X Files, whether you enjoyed it or not. These days, shows can be on for years and not achieve any sort of cultural penetration.

Recently, the TV Show I use as my password to the Cool Folks I Want To Talk To is Rick and Morty, airing on Adult Swim. This is the best show on TV these days, and if you like science fiction chances are you should be watching this show, unless occasionally dumb and puerile humor ruins things for you, you humorless bastard.