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The Friday High Five
Stuff I'm into, for February 17, 2023
Every Friday I share 5 things I am digging at the moment. This is that.
As penance for missing last week’s edition—due to my first bout with Covid—I give you this potato-quality group high-five of yore. Saved By the Bell ran on NBC from 1989-1993 and perfectly coincided with my transition into adolescence. It became must-see TV, as I lived vicariously through the teenage misadventures of Zack Morris and A.C. Slater, and crushed on Kelly KaPOWski, Jessie Spano, and Lisa Turtle.
I can’t think about Saved By the Bell without also thinking about how Dustin Diamond—aka Screech—later directed and starred in his own sex tape, got into professional wrestling, and tragically died of lung cancer at the age of 44. He was basically Screech in real life.
Saved By the Bell never really had the ambition to be about anything other than the heady vagaries of teenage romance. They tried to go ‘on a very special episode’ once with a storyline about Jessie getting hooked on caffeine pills. She eventually breaks down—as one does when consuming Mountain Dew in tablet form—while singing the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited.” True story.
Here’s a short clip if you want to relive the moment. Fair warning: It hasn’t aged well.
In this edition:
Unreliable Narrator Podcast 🎤
Super Bowl LVII 🏈
Robot Chicken: Star Wars 😃
Things I’ve Published This Week 💻
Hacks is a HBO dramedy about stand-up comics. Jean Smart plays Deborah Vance, a legendary but increasingly irrelevant comic with a tired Vegas show and a QVC empire. Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder), a young comedy writer with a predisposition toward self-destruction, is sent to help Deborah punch-up her material.
That’s how the show begins, and it’s the main through-line, but I wouldn’t say that’s what the show is about. Hacks is about collecting the charred kindling of your dreams and rebuilding from the ashes. It’s about legacy, and perseverance, and how laughter really is the best medicine.
Smart is electric as the vainglorious Deborah Vance, one moment an ally, the next the antagonist. It’d be very easy to make her the villain, the thing Ava is always fighting against. But the show is smarter than that. You may never love Deborah, but you’ll respect her and what she’s accomplished. There’s a reason Smart won an Emmy for both seasons.
As for Ava—she will frustrate you endlessly, but there is something so endearing about her scatter-brained and awkward vibe. She’s a ginger Zooey Deschanel with more sexual angst and Steve Urkel’s sense of fashion.
Hacks is a slow-build. It’s not a laugh-out-loud show, though it is funny. We blazed through both seasons and are now anxiously awaiting season 3. If you picked up HBO to watch The Last of Us, check out Hacks between episodes.
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Unreliable Narrator Podcast
Ryan Hanson and Tim Ebl hosted me on the Unreliable Narrator podcast a few weeks ago. We had a blast talking about writing, pop culture, and Star Wars. The episode released this week!
I was a bit hesitant to listen. I hate the sound of my own voice. Also, my brain works faster than my mouth, which sometimes results in suboptimal sentences as I try to say two different things at the exact same time. It’s basically verbal dyslexia.
I was pleased to discover I don’t sound like an idiot. I can only assume they cleaned it up in edit.
Super Bowl LVII
It feels like a million years ago, but according to my calendar, the Super Bowl was only 5 days ago. As a football fan, all you want is an entertaining game. This year’s was one of the best I can remember. Lots of scoring, sudden changes of fortune, high drama.
Watching the Super Bowl as a life-long Detroit Lions fan is an interesting experience. Since you have no vested interest in the outcome, you look for the flimsiest reason to root for either team. All the while, you wonder if it’ll ever be our year. The law of averages says yes. 40+ years as a fan says no.
Robot Chicken: Star Wars
Robot Chicken is a stop motion sketch comedy series that has been going for over 20 years. All their skits are good, but my favorite ones involve Star Wars. It’s obvious that these guys are just as big of Star Wars nerds as I am, which is no small feat.
I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole this week and found myself watching old Robot Chicken clips. This is my all-time favorite. Just 2 minutes of comedy gold.
Things I’ve Written Since Last Time
Whenever I miss time at work, it’s like Uncle Owen said in Star Wars—there'll be hell to pay. Doesn’t matter if it’s due to vacation or a prolonged sickness. The work is waiting for me when I return, like the world’s most unpleasantly mundane ambush.
So I’ve been playing catch-up all week, and therefore haven’t made much magic with these fingers. Most of these links are from the tail-end of my discontinued Star Wars experiment.
The Best Mal Reynolds Moments In Firefly And Serenity, Ranked (/Film) They’re all shiny!
Star Wars and the Afterlife (Substack) Things that make you go hmm.
Wild Theories and Half-Cocked Notions About Why Count Dooku Told Obi-Wan the Truth (Substack) This subplot never really made sense to me.
Is Force Lightning a Euphemism for Peeing? (Substack) Asking the hard-hitting questions.
What are you into at the moment? Leave a comment and let me know!
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