For your Halloween podcast, the sisters talk about the psychiatric diagnoses of their favorite fictional characters. Was the Crazy Ex Girlfriend really mentally ill? What’s going on with Trading Places’ Duke Brothers? Can we diagnose Derek from the Good Place? And most importantly, what the heck is Yoda? Virginia shares her theories and Laura reviews them, based on the DSM-V. There is some actual mental health information in this episode! It drops tomorrow, November 2, at one minute after midnight!
Virginia Jones got to appear on the CALL ME CURIOUS podcast this Halloween, on the topic- Have adults taken over Halloween? You can listen here or anywhere you find podcasts. They booked me with another goth, the amazing Linus Owens, an academic who studies the role of Halloween in American society, and who writes on how a pagan holiday was adopted as a way for kids to get candy, and how young adults use it to try on identities. Anyways it’s a fun listen, take it from Virginia Jones, goth!
Tom detailed his revenge plot against Panera bread. They had screwed up his sandwich for the last time and they’d pay.
Brett cleared his throat nervously and interrupted. “Guys, Reddit bought out Patreon. They erased all donor info and funds.”
Tom sat up, a light in his eyes. “Did it happen to everyone- even the Hamburger Men?” Brett replied, “The Doughboys were paid out yesterday- in ten thousand dollars of fast food hamburgers.” Julie shook her head and pressed on. “We need money to make the show. What’s our next move?”
Brett said quietly, “We were asked about an OnlyFans.”
Tom and Julie blanched and clutched their pearls. Tom wasn’t wearing pearls, so he clutched where they would be. Julie didn’t know why she’d worn pearls today, but now she was glad that she had. Brett continued, “Not you. I’ve reached out to people we’ve mentioned on the show.” Tom waved his arms like he was trying to clear the room of flies. Agitated, he yelled “Sir, this is an ARBY’S.” Julie sprang up. “Brett, that’s his safeword. This conversation is over. Leave us out of it.”
Brett sent out an invitation to a night shoot. He was nervous, but curious.
The first arrival was a gangly white boy with glasses like the Tootsie Roll owl. “I’m Potok Philippe, like the luxurious watch, but I’m luxurious to watch.”
Brett ushered him into the studio, a small room with tarps, some mood lighting, some rubs and glazes, and a couple bowls of dry cereal. The Canadian rapper settled in.
Next, Jiminy Glick stood on the stoop, red-faced, wiping his glasses. “I’m so excited to be here, with the YOUNG PEOPLE, the MOVERS AND SHAKERS. Your invite made me positively RANDY.”
Potok looked up, concerned, and asked Brett, “Hey, are there chicks coming?”
“I think so. Please, have some cereal while you wait. It’s low-carb.” Brett relaxed when he heard voices outside in a higher timbre. Opening the door, he found the Hamburglar, Birdie the Early Bird, and the Fry Girls from McDonald’s. He let the girls in, but stopped the Hamburglar. “Too many dudes, man. I’m sorry.” “Robble robble”, said the masked criminal, turning away sadly.
Brett stopped Birdie in the hallway to ask, “are you old enough to be here?”
“I hatched in 1986. I’m a big bird now.” He pointed at the Fry Girls. “What about them? They don’t speak English, are they ok?” Birdie laughed, “Do you smell that?” The smell of hot tallow had started to permeate the hallway. “That’s how they give consent.”
The Party Begins
Glick looked up and clapped his hands. “I’m so delighted and absolutely aroused!” He opened his arms to the trio of Fry Girls, who ran to him. Soon they were a blur of yellow, red, and blue, with flashes of pink flesh exposed.
Potok purred to Birdie, “I’ll take you out for a fancy dinner.” “How about breakfast instead?” she chirped. He laid her down, gently removing her scarf and goggles. Before her head hit the poured concrete floor, she felt a firm pillow sliding beneath it. She looked to see the My Pillow Guy blushing, fingering a crucifix with his free hand. “Jesus watches over me, but I watch over you,” he whispered, backing into the dark recesses of the room.
Next were Dave Grohl and Jimmy Fallon. Neither could believe how great it was. “Hey, it’s the Fry Girls, awesome!” Dave enthused. “I’ve always crushed on them!” Two of them broke away from the sweaty Glick and stroked the Foo Fighter through his dark rinse denim.
The Final Guest
Then, Brett wheeled in a giant plant, marked AUDREY 2. She was six feet tall, beautiful, covered in tendrils. Jimmy Fallon gazed at her as her vines found his fly zipper, and then the erogenous zones of everyone in the room. She brought each participant to the most intense climax they had ever experienced, simultaneously. Silently, the Onlyfans counter hit a new record.
The Morning After
The next day, Brett hosed down the room for the Godcast and counted out the money. “Puppets,” moaned Tom at the news. “Why did it have to be puppets?”
Q: What’s Good?
Well, hey, to determine what’s good, we first have to define it, right?
Good can mean morally good: that is, what a society decides is moral. Right now, in this moment – on a Tuesday in March- it is good to sit inside by yourself. It is bad to go outside in large groups. Usually, the opposite is true. It’s good to help others and bad to hoard toilet paper.
We think that being a good person is to be of service to others. To do what is moral, which we pretend is a constant and not something we made up.
500 years ago, it was good to follow church doctrine and bad to question it, as Martin Luther found out. It was also good to give virgin brides away to strange monarchs, but which someone would probably ask about today.
1000 years ago, it was good to burn heretics at the stake, and it was good to be strong. The whole world was amassing armies and conquering land. China invented paper printed money, which is what power is based on now.
A second meaning of good is the aesthetic meaning. This can either mean something that you personally enjoy, or something of superior quality. The first meaning is subjective. The second is a societal construct, but we confuse them with each other, and with the moral meaning of good.
To say that something is aesthetically good is to say that based on my background, life experiences, and context, I value it. My peers, who might have similar background and life experiences, may also value it, which makes me value it more.
The Last Man On Earth and The Good Place
In The Last Man On Earth and in the Good Place, characters value objects that nobody else appreciates. Phil’s hoard of art in his mansion, or Eleanor’s excitement over a bedpan from a wrestling match: they have to explain to the people around them what makes these things good. That means they’re not.
The second meaning of aesthetically good is that something is well-made, as in: is the new Avengers movie any good? Well, does it have a bunch of characters in shiny outfits and a scary CGI monster? Is Robert Downey Jr. snarky in it? Does Thor not understand something about Earth despite and we all laugh at him, even though he’s handsome? Do the Avengers get mad at each other but then they fight the CGI monster and they’re friends in the end? Is there a rock song in it that was expensive to get, but which is played a little too loudly during a very exciting scene? Well, then, that’s what we expect, and it’s good.
When you say an Avengers movie is bad- what were your expectations? Did you hope that a character would arrive at a universal truth about human suffering, and that the actor portraying that character would get an important award? That’s not the yardstick we measure Avengers movies by.
In performance, to be good is to conform to the current fashion. A hundred years ago, a good singer would sing in a high, reedy voice, and now we like a wide tone and someone who does a lot of vocal switches, which we used to call yodeling.
Good acting in Shakespeare’s time was planting your feet at shoulder width and yelling your lines as loudly as you could.
Sometimes we get confused about the two meanings of “good” in art. This is idea that because you did not personally enjoy something, it’s not good- but in the surfer relativism of The Big Lebowski, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. Your thoughts on a thing does not really affect its value. If people ever really understand that, Twitter will wither and die.
What’s Good In Fine Art?
Most art needs context of some sort to be judged- Jackson Pollock paintings are considered good because they were the first really well-known abstract paintings, and because he died only a few years after his best work was made. The value of the paintings his widow was selling to MOMA shot up because, as she pointed out, there wouldn’t be any more, and that sale created the market for modern art in America, and his peers got rich.
If we showed the paintings to an alien or a Maori tribesman, they probably would not consider them good, because they don’t look like anything in particular, but sort of look like lots of things, and why are you putting colors on a fabric square anyway?
The last episode of the Good Place finds every character trying to achieve their definition of good: Tahani believes that being able to do everything beautifully is good. Chidi thinks understanding everything is good. Eleanor determines that being good is helping others.
Jason achieves his definition of good the earliest, as he gets the perfect score in Madden, but reaches yet another level of perfection years later, through achieving inner peace and oneness with nature.
I’m a middle-class white woman raised in the South with religion and MTV, so things I think are good are:
The musty smell of clothing in vintage shops, and the smell of old bookshops.
The moment in a song where the drums syncopate with the guitar, and it sounds like a little machine.
Black clothing and shiny things, because my visual aesthetic was made by 80’s postpunk music videos.
Cookies n’ cream milkshakes.
Petting a dog who has just dried off from a bath and he’s very soft, that’s good. He’s still unhappy that he got the bath, but being petted afterwards makes it worth the bath, sort of.
They’re not universal, except maybe the dog one, but to me, they’re good.
I’m always glad to pop in on my two favorite dorks and talk about draculas, Bad Venom, Godzilla, and Halloween! Listen here!
I got to do an episode of the incredible Dork Forest Podcast with Jackie Kashian, whom I inundate with Labyrinth trivia. We also try to help her figure out the difference between David Bowie and Billy Idol. Jackie is a legend and I love her, I love Labyrinth, and I love all of you.