The People You Meet Doing Stand-up

You meet some incredible people doing stand-up. For better or worse, when you do stand-up you become part of a community. Like any good community, we all come together to help each other. I met my comedy mentor when I joined Eastern Star (if you want to know more about Eastern Star and Masonic organizations, read My Life: Built by Masonry here.). Through him, I met my comedy cohorts and the family that runs hamiltonradio.net. I’ve met published authors, talented musicians, and a lot of damn nice people.

As much as I enjoy meeting other comics, I enjoy connecting with the crowd. We have a group of regulars that come to the shows at Take 5 and I always enjoy talking to them before, during, and after the show. When I meet people who tell me they’ve been thinking of trying stand-up for ages, I always tell them the same thing: do it! I say that not just because of the experiences I’ve had or the places I’ve been on this stand-up journey. My biggest reason for telling people who want to try comedy to do it, is the people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and the community I’m blessed to be a part of.

Oh the Places You’ll Go…To Do Stand-up

Almost any time you have a group of stand-up comics talking the subject of the weirdest place you’ve performed comes up. There are more comics than there are stages, so if you offer us minutes, there’s a decent chance that we’ll say yes without sparing a second thought to logistics. We comics don’t tend to be terribly logical beings.

I’ve performed at a banquet hall near Bridgewater, a coffee shop in Robbinsville, a restaurant in East Windsor, a hotel on Roosevelt Blvd in Northeast Philly, the basement of the Hyatt Regency on Route 1 in Princeton, a grill and bar in Naples, Florida, and a barn in Basking Ridge. I spend Wednesday evenings on the second floor of an insurance agent’s office broadcasting on The Robbinsville Trainwreck.

The New Jersey Turnpike and I have a love-hate relationship and I’m actively contemplating installing  a dash cam in my car to capture what I’m told are my funny road rage-fueled rants and my ridiculous facial expressions while parallel parking. Until recently I had only parallel parked successfully once: when I was 17 and taking my drivers test. I grew up in rural South Jersey, so being a country bumpkin I had no real use for fancy city parallel parking until after college. Road rage and parallel parking challenges aside, if you offer me minutes and a mic there’s a good chance you’ll probably get me there. No matter how bad the ride there was, I’ll forget all about it the second that mic’s in my hand.

Picking Up the Mic

As we all while away the final hour until Game of Thrones premieres, I thought I might give you all something to entertain yourselves. I’ve been asked before how I get the courage to pick up the mic. The truth is that other than the fact that I’m a Gryffindor, I have absolutely no idea. What I can tell you is exactly what it feels like to pick up the mic.

My urge to do stand-up grew out of me being bored with constantly having to filter every word that comes out of my mouth because adulthood. Basically I write jokes based on all the things I’m actually thinking but don’t dare say because again, adulthood. My urge to stop having a filter is what got me to the stage with a good shove from my friend and comedy Mr. Miyagi Kurt Zimmerman. But what keeps me coming back?

Well, I can tell you it sure as hell isn’t the money. My day job feeds my wallet. Comedy, martial arts, and my work in rescue feed my soul. There’s just something about inspiring laughter in others that just makes my soul feel good. That feeling is enough to make me forget about my nerves, walk up onto the stage, pick up the mic, and start talking to a room full of strangers and bare at least a piece of my soul while I’m up there.

I don’t do it because I’m some sort of narcissist obsessed with the sound of my own voice. I do it because I know what it’s like to be unhappy. I know what it’s like to find this world we live in absolutely terrifying. I’ve been ridiculed, pushed around, and I’ve lost things that you will never understand. I also know what it’s like to come home from an absolutely shitty day, hear a joke, and laugh so hard that I forget all about the absolutely shitty day I just had. Others have done that for me, so I want to pay it forward and do it for others. It’s not really about me at all.

This is my second year in stand up and I’m still getting used to being referred to as a professional comic. Honestly, the joke’s on all of you because I have little to no idea what I’m actually doing up there. I actually think being called a professional comic is hysterical.

When I hear the host start saying all the nice things they do about me I immediately get the giggles like I’m about to play the funniest prank on everyone in the room. The air feels electric because I know as well as anyone does that any show could be THE show and I know I need to come up big. I take a deep breath as I walk up and pull myself together. I shake the host’s hand as he or she steps down leaving me alone with the stage. I HAVE to own it. Everything kind of slows down like time’s hanging in the air. I feel like Quicksilver in X-Men Apocalypse or Fry in Futurama after he drank 100 cups of coffee. I adjust the mic down; always down because 99.9% of my fellow comics are taller than me as are most 14 year olds. I start with it in the stand, but we all know I can’t stand still to save my life, so I take it out. By this point I’ve already cracked a joke about my size since it’s the most obvious thing about me and think to myself, “Suck it, would-be hecklers! Consider your thunder stolen!” I let the laughs hang, feel the weight of the mic in my hand and remember it’s only a conversation and I like conversations.

That’s what stand-up is, folks: A pleasant conversation between a comic and an audience. I really quite enjoy our little chats. Every time I get a little more comfortable. Every time I get a little more confident in how I’ve managed to feel out the audience so I know what I can get away with and what I should probably save for another night. Picking up that mic inspires me to connect with another room of people. The moment I touch it I go from being an unassuming nerd to someone and something else entirely.

 

 

Farmstead Arts Center: One Year Later

Friday night I returned to the English Barn at the Farmstead Arts Center to host the graduation show of my comedy Mr. Miyagi Kurt Zimmerman’s stand up comedy class. I affectionately refer to it as the barn my mother raised me in and the birthplace of the horse I rode in on.

I learned my lesson from last year and came prepared with a crapton of water and my cooling towel. Thankfully, it wasn’t on the hottest freakin’ day of the year like it was last year. I got up and did 10 minutes of my best material to warm up the crowd then before I got the show really started, I told the graduates how I got my start.

Kurt invited me to a comedy show at Take 5 Gourmet in Robbinsville, NJ. I thought I was going to be watching the show, but he offered me time, handed me the mic, and said have at it. I got laughs and applause, fell in love with it and never looked back.

I watched three brand new comics get their feet wet for the first time and had a blast doing it. When you think graduation, you think pomp and circumstance, but this was not that kind of party. Everyone did a phenomenal job and the crowd was very supportive and into it. It was a great show and I can’t wait to watch the video.

My Dad: Also my first heckler

I don’t really include a lot of jokes about my dad in my act. He died on December 12, 2012. Yes, that’s correct 12/12/12 in case I ever wanted to try to forget the worst day of my life. Regardless of the date I assure you that every second of it would be firmly burned into my mind like a brand from a hot iron. When I started doing stand up at the end of 2015, almost three years to the day later, I initially shied away from writing material about him, not because I don’t have positive things to say about him but more because I felt disrespectful poking fun at him. However, I’ve learned that in comedy nothing is sacred and limiting yourself in terms of material is a mistake, so I started slowly but surely adding jokes about my dad into my act. After all comedy is in part telling my story and the man isn’t just 50% of my DNA he’s also a massive character in my story.

Before he became my father, he was first a son who tried to smuggle a puppy into his parents’ house. His friend at school had a bulldog and she had puppies and her parents wouldn’t let her keep them all, so he took a young male who has brown in color and named him Rusty. The game was up when my grandfather heard Rusty crying in the basement, but he couldn’t bring himself to make my dad give the dog back. In exchange for this, the dog was solely my dad’s responsibility and one that he shouldered well. My dad was a sucker for animals and I clearly inherited this trait from him. Fast forward a few decades and long car trips involved many stops for our husky Trina but my sister and I had to hold it, “We’re not getting a damn cat,” turned into “Who’s Daddy’s kitty?,” and there are more pictures of Bob the Pug in the house than there are of his children or stepchildren. Just saying.

IMG_0882After successfully smuggling a dog into his parents’ house, he went on to high school then enlisted in the United States Army. He was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne. That means he jumped out of a fully operational aircraft consensually. He didn’t fall. Nobody pushed him. All the respect in the world to our service people, but HOLY CRAP ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! God bless y’all because there’s no way in hell I’d do that. He also crawled under barbed wire while being shot at by machine guns with every third round being a tracer round. Nothing says keep your butt down like watching a tracer round go whizzing by less than an inch above it. I think about that every time I do push-ups. The first joke I wrote about him had to do with this very topic because if I jumped out of a plane you’d have to shove me out and do it far from the ears of the enemy because my screaming would surely give away our position.

After his Honorable Discharge, he went to college and became a teacher. As it turns out, my dad liked kids as much as he liked animals and he helped lots of them and ended up having two of his own.

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I’m going to apologize to my sister now and politely ask her not to punch me in the face for including this photo.

My father was a stubborn man and at some point in his life, my grandfather told him that he hoped he had a kid who was just like him. He thought he dodged that bullet with my sister. Four years later, ta-daaaaaaaaaa! My paternal grandfather died before my sister and I were born, but on July 6, 1982 somewhere in Heaven he was laughing his ass off and he laughed even harder when I became a teenager. There were many times in my childhood when I’m sure my grandfather’s words came back to haunt him. I remember more than once seeing him look at me and just knowing that he wanted so badly to be mad but he couldn’t be because he saw so much of himself in me. That may very well be the only reason I survived to adulthood. I’m actually terrified of having children because my father said the very same thing to me and I’m like the Highlander. In the end there can be only one.

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Yes, those are honor cords and yes he pushed me so that I would earn them.

On his honeymoon with my mom, Dad had a few too many Mai Tais at a Don Ho concert and proceeded to heckle him. Were my father still around to watch me perform, I absolutely believe that he would heckle the crap out of me, no Mai Tais required. Why do I say this? Because every B I brought home should’ve been an A and would’ve been if I had just put my mind to it and studied harder. If I got a C I failed the class. It may have taught me to be hard on myself and hold myself to a high standard and reach for perfection that I know damn right well is not attainable in everything I do, but it also gave me more drive, ambition, and a strong work ethic.

As a high school softball pitcher I heard “Throw strikes!!!,” being shouted from the stands. The second joke I wrote about him had to do with his efforts to teach me how to play golf. I maintain that there are certain things that no father should ever attempt to teach his daughter and golf is most definitely on that list. If it’s not item #1, it’s definitely in the top 5. His sage advice included gems like “Hit the ball straight.” Thank God he pointed that out to me BECAUSE I HAD NO IDEA!!!! It truly is a small miracle that neither of us came home with golf club-shaped bruises.

Dad + Me age 5My first words to him when he was in the hospital were “I’m sorry, Dad. I should’ve been a better kid.” Yes, the Girl Scout, the honor student, the choir girl, the quintessential high school nerd that every teacher loved stood there and wished she’d been a better kid. My sister also pointed out how ridiculous that sounds. Sure, we drove each other crazy. Every kid drives their parents a bit crazy. Every parent drives their kids a bit crazy. My dad pushed my buttons so well because he installed half of them. He also made me driven, stubborn, hard-working, and funny.

 

Wonder Woman: I Wonder what happened to the promotional campaign?

Okay I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that there weren’t very many ads for the Wonder Woman movie until about six weeks before the premiere date. That’s odd right?

Could it be because the idea for a Wonder Woman movie met with resistance from the folks at DC because they felt that they could not make a profitable movie from the Wonder Woman comic franchise? I know, I think it sounds crazy, too. Marvel made Guardians of the Galaxy. The original grossed $773.3 million and Vol. 2 grossed $145 million during its opening weekend. So just to review over $900 million has been made on a movie featuring an anthropomorphic, genetically engineered, cybernetic raccoon and a talking, infantilized tree (Baby Groot is life!). But oh no, DC please continue to tell me how a Wonder Woman movie couldn’t possibly be profitable.

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We are Groot!

Is it sexism? Joss Whedon was once asked to work on the Wonder Woman comic for a particular story arc, but he turned it down because folks at DC wanted to portray Wonder Woman as a bumbling damsel in distress. I guess they weren’t aware that Joss Whedon is also the guy who made Buffy. Someone didn’t do their research. Then again, this is the same publisher who edited out Batwoman’s same sex wedding due to what I can only assume to be lack of intestinal fortitude. However sexism claim is shaky at best.

 

Is it poor logic? Some people seem to follow antiquated logic when it comes to female comic book characters. They seem to think that a movie about a female character couldn’t possibly be successful but nothing could be further from the truth. I can think of three female characters off the top of my head that have made comic publishers millions in book sales: Red Sonya, Black Widow, and Harley Quinn. Let’s think about this: if people are willing to pay to read the comics then maybe, just maybe, THEY’LL PAY TO SEE THE FREAKIN’ MOVIE! So maybe just maybe you should ADVERTISE THE FREAKIN’ THING!

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Is it too much to ask for this to be an actual scene in the movie?

After all, how can people pay to see a movie when they don’t know it exists or when it premieres? Oh I know what you’re thinking: the true fans will know. Yes, but what about the casual fans? What about people who might be new to the franchise? Why would you those two markets untapped? It just doesn’t make business sense especially in a Hollywood that judges the profitability of a movie or movie franchise based solely on opening weekend domestic ticket sales. And yes, I am completely aware of exactly how stupid that sounds but sadly, it is the truth. Movies live and die by opening weekend domestic sales even though it’s been proven time and again that a movie that flopped in its opening weekend domestically generated millions of dollars in foreign markets and that’s not even factoring in Blu-ray sales or On-Demand and RedBox rentals. It kind of makes you think that maybe, someone doesn’t want the Wonder Woman movie to be successful.

Speculation and conjecture aside, what little I’ve seen of the trailers gives me hope that the movie will actually do the character Justice (pun absolutely intended). My niece is six and really likes Wonder Woman as do thousands of other little girls. It would really be a shame to subject them and the rest of us to a movie where she’s nothing more than arm candy to a male character. In the meantime I’ll continue looking forward to the various Marvel properties coming out, a Harley Quinn spin-off, and of course Justice League.

Rejected NJ Puppy Mill Law: Proof that Chris Christie Would in Fact Kick Your Puppy

 

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Do NOT let this man near your pets!

Chris Christie rejected a law that would have banned the sale of animals from puppy or kitten mills in the state of New Jersey and proposed stricter penalties for breeders cited for USDA violations. He stated that the proposed law “goes too far.” I have a little message for Mr. Christie:

 

Mr. Governor, since you tend to use blunt language that matches your wit I’m going to put this in a way you’ll be sure to understand. Are you fucking kidding me? How can you say that a law to protect defenseless animals from over-breeding, inadequate care, and abuse goes too far?

 

 

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Does this photo go too far?

You claimed that the “three strikes” provision which would have revoked a pet shop or breeder’s license upon being cited for three USDA violations would punish responsible breeders. Mr. Governor, any responsible breeder will tell you that a breeder who has been cited three times for USDA violations is anything but responsible.

 

 

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What about this one?

Puppy mills are illegal in New Jersey, but there are more than 8,000 out of state puppy mills that do business with consumers in the state of New Jersey. You see, Mr. Governor it’s 2017. We have this thing called the Internet and irresponsible breeders use it to conduct their business with consumers in New Jersey.

 

 

 

 

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Look at this dog and tell me you were justified, sir!

How you can support rejecting this bill in a country where overpopulation is the number one killer of animals is beyond me. Every 11 seconds, a healthy animal is put down in an American animal shelter. In the three minutes it took you to read this far, 16 animals have died. By the time you finish reading this entry in its entirety, assuming you even bother to read it since Lord knows your Party doesn’t have the best track record of actually reading the laws it makes decisions on, an additional 22 animals will be dead. Let that sink in for a moment and that will bring the number of animals killed to 39.

 

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Tell me this cat deserved to suffer so consumers can have access to pets.

Your claim that this bill would have “the unintended consequence of restricting consumer access to pets,” is completely unfounded and downright asinine. Consumers can go to their local animal shelter or rescue organization and adopt a pet for an adoption fee that would be much lower than the cost of purchasing from a breeder or pet store. They can then spend the remainder of what they would’ve spent to purchase an animal on appropriate licensing, food, beds, treats, toys, a session with a certified trainer, and a vet visit.

 

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This is not necessary for New Jersey’s economic growth

This spending will stimulate the state’s economy and help eliminate the need for puppy and kitten mills. The state gets revenue and no animals have to be over-bred, abused, or die. It’s a win-win. Adoption would also have the added benefits of freeing up space in overwhelmed shelters and rescues and removing stray animals from the streets of New Jersey making them safer for animals and humans alike.

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Nor is this

I suspect that you might not understand what it is to love and care for animals since you have no pets. I knew there was a reason I didn’t trust you other than your attacks on education funding and your support of Donald Trump. Honestly, sir you are a married man and you have daughters and you still supported Mr. Grab ‘em by the pussy? I guess party politics are more important to you than respect for women. Close any more bridges lately? What? Too soon?

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Or this!

I understand you’re pro-business. You might as well walk around with corporate sponsor badges on your suit like a Nascar driver. I don’t harbor any delusions about the Democratic Party either. Frankly I think you should all wear your special interest sponsor badges. At least then we would know exactly what you stand for. However, when being pro-business also means being pro-animal cruelty that, to use your own words, goes too far. I’d hire the actress from Game of Thrones to follow you around ringing a bell and shouting “Shame!,” but I’d rather save that money to donate to my local animal shelters, rescues, and your political opponents. The day you leave office will be a good day for New Jersey.

Sincerely,

Lynne Emonds

Animal lover, rescue volunteer, stand-up comedian who makes fun of you, and your dissatisfied constituent

New Season of Doctor Who & Class

The wait is finally over! We have a new season of Doctor Who to watch! There’s plenty for Whovians to be excited about with the new season and the stateside debut of the new spinoff Class.

It’s a season of firsts! It is hard to top the first televised inter-species, same sex kiss. Nevertheless, like Elizabeth Warren, the show’s writers persisted. Pearl Mackie is the first non-white woman cast in the role of the Doctor’s companion. I know it’s about damn time and yes, I’m a pasty white woman saying that. Bill Potts is also the first openly gay companion. Take that, Trump voters!

But in all seriousness, score one for diversity. Maybe we can use this to pave the way for the first female Doctor. Dammit if The Master can regenerate into Missy, it can happen. For the record my picks for the first female Doctor would be Tatiana Maslany, Catherine Zeta Jones, Lucy Lawless, or Emma Watson. However if the Doctor MUST remain male, my top picks are Eddie Redmayne and Tom Felton. Get on it, BBC.

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A new Doctor Who spinoff has also premiered stateside. Class is a new series that follows the students and staff of Coal Hill Academy which has been featured on the show since 1963’s An Unearthly Child. It’s a bit darker and grittier than Doctor Who and raises the veil between the everyday world and the things that come through the cracks in the walls of space and time. It’s darker just by virtue of the body count. Seriously I’ve seen two episodes and I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that a crapton of people died.

I have high hopes for this one and I’m not just saying that because we’re about to experience the final season of Orphan Black and I’m desperate to fill the void that’s likely to create in my life. The young cast is pretty talented and the writing is superb so far. My only disappointment is a severe lack of a second Doctor Who spinoff featuring Vastra, Strax, and Jenny. Seriously BBC, get on it!

Zoos and Conservation

There are some within the animal welfare advocacy community (*cough* PeTA *cough*) that feel that all zoos should be shut down and the animals released to the wild. As an advocate for both animal welfare and conservation I respectfully disagree.

Some would have you believe that zoos are terrible places where the animals are mistreated and live out their days in cages while pining for their native lands. Advances in containment, specifically glass technology have allowed zoos to replace the cages with windows. This allows for better viewing and photo opportunities for the public while still being strong enough to contain the animal and allow the animal to feel secure.

Zoo animals are better cared for than most people. The enclosures (notice I did not say cages) are designed by experts to mimic the natural habitats of the animals that occupy them. Keepers provide them with enrichment activities that promote their natural instincts. They’re provided with the best medical care whenever they need it and their nutritional needs are met so well that their diets are probably better than those of most humans.

Zoo animals are captive bred and this is done responsibly. They have no idea what their native lands even look like and have no concept of how to survive in the wild. If we followed PeTA’s logic and released these animals into the wild, they would die. Zoo animals live much longer and have a better quality of life than a fair number of their wild counterparts. It would actually be crueler to release them than it would to continue keeping them in zoos.  At least at the zoo there’s less chance of them dying of disease, no chance of them being killed by a predator or shot by poachers, and no chance of them having their young ripped from them for sale in the illegal black market pet trade. It’s true that there are bad zoos out there that are barely more than illegally kept wild animals inappropriately contained and improperly treated in someone’s back yard. Those places absolutely should be shut down. However there are some zoos commonly referred to as popcorn parks or popcorn zoos that rescue animals that were being kept illegally and improperly by private citizens.

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Bubba also disagrees with PeTA’s position on zoos.

Zoos play an important role in conservation. Ask any wildlife veterinarian or conservation scientist why they do what they do and they’ll probably say that their parents took them to the zoo when they were children and it inspired them to help care for and protect animals and our planet’s ecosystems. Zoos maintain a collection of animals, some of which are critically endangered as a way to educate the public about these animals and inspire the next generation of conservation scientists, wildlife veterinarians, and activists. Show me a child that has gotten close to a lion in a zoo and I’ll show you a child who will be less likely to illegally kill a wild lion in a trophy hunt. Zoos foster respect for all life and when you foster that type of respect, you foster a generation of people who find the idea of asking an animal to die so that you can have a trophy completely abhorrent. Many zoos have partnered with wildlife conservation organizations and have even helped to re-introduce several species that were formerly extinct back into the wild. The Philadelphia Zoo partners with The Snow Leopard Trust, Giant Otters in Brazil, Polar Bears International, and the International Rhino Foundation.

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Exhibit A

PeTA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. If you can still agree with PeTA and their demands to shut down all zoos after being presented with this information, then I seriously question your ethics. I would also point out that the “e” on all of PeTA’s branding, the letter that stands for “ethical” is lower case. Kind of says something about how important ethics are to them doesn’t it?

 

 

If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about PeTA’s “ethics,” then I urge you to research their stance on the Vicktory dogs that were rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring (and yes, dammit it was his dog fighting no matter what he or his lawyers try to tell you). To this day PeTA insists that all of those dogs should have been euthanized outright instead of being rescued by Best Friends Animal Society. In fact they insist that all dogs seized in dog fighting cases should be put down no questions asked.

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PeTA would’ve euthanized this dog. Instead he’s bringing comfort to sick children and their families.

Still not convinced? Check their stance on Breed Specific Legislation, an ineffectual set of laws that lead to the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of innocent dogs every year. Yep! PeTA supports that crap. They feel that pit bulls are a breed in crisis and BSL will stop them from being bred. They want to stop them from being bred because thousands of them are dying in shelters every year due to lack of homes. BSL has made no impact on the breeding of these animals and they’re dying in shelters because BSL is LEAVING THEM WITH NO HOMES TO GO TO!!!!! How can someone adopt a dog when it is illegal for them to have that designation (Pit bull is a designation, not a breed) of dog where they live? (If you’re interested in reading my full rant regarding BSL click here) I find an organization that claims to represent the best interests of all animals, but advocates for the euthanasia of innocent dogs and discriminatory legislation pretty damn unethical.

Hypocrisy, thy name is PeTA. By advocating for the closure of all zoos, PeTA’s trying to kill the very cause they claim to support. If they were truly for the ethical treatment of animals, they wouldn’t advocate for euthanasia unless quality of life was nil and they’d oppose BSL. Maybe someone should’ve taken them to the zoo when they were kids.

The Things We Fear Because of Science Fiction

The world of science fiction can be a magical place full of wonderful things we’ve never dreamed possible. It can also be a deeply terrifying place where seemingly innocuous objects are turned into instruments of untold horror and destruction.

The Harry Potter universe has a few examples.

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If this started speaking with my mom’s voice, I’d be scarred for life.

Howlers. Imagine being away at boarding school and receiving a letter from mom and dad. Nice huh? Well imagine if that letter opens itself and starts shouting at you in your mom or dad’s voice right then and there in front of all your friends. Not so nice now, is it? I thank God every day that my mom can’t send howlers. I’d get a ton of them from my stand-up act alone.

 

 

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Horcruxes. On the surface they’re just ordinary objects but inside there’s a piece of someone’s soul. Even worse is the way they’re made. To make a horcrux, you have to split your soul into pieces. How do you split your soul? Oh just by killing an innocent person in cold blood. Talk about off-putting.

 

 

 

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Yet another reason I dislike winter

Then there’s Doctor Who, or the Whoniverse if you will. There are several seemingly ordinary things I’m now terrified of because of Doctor Who. Statues, snowmen, people repeating everything someone says, and small black boxes to name a few.

 

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This however is not a scary visual

The terror doesn’t end at ordinary objects. There are also the things that happen all the time that we never noticed before but now find deeply terrifying because of Sci-fi show X. Take Supernatural for example. Because of Supernatural, every time a light flickers in my apartment I go running to the kitchen to grab the salt. The same is true every time I hear the pipes make noises or really any time there’s a noise and I’m home by myself. For the record, hell no I don’t go investigating a noise. If some evil spirit wants me the bastard can come and get me. I sometimes wonder how the people at the beginning of the episodes can be so stupid. You never investigate a noise! That’s a rookie mistake!

Still you have to wonder if it scares us, why do we continue watching? And for that matter, why does it scare us so much? I ran a tabletop roleplaying game made by White Wolf as part of their World of Darkness universe called Vampire the Requiem. Something I read in the player’s guide has always stuck with me.

 

The main crux of the World of Darkness is the way it peels back the veil on the everyday world and shows us the darkness that lives underneath. It’s a universe where your next door neighbor could be a werewolf or your high school principle could be a demon. Even though the idea of your neighbor morphing into a huge, hair-covered beast is terrifying, it can also be fascinating to explore the darker reaches of our imaginations and our obsession with the things that go bump in the night.

The reason that we continue watching is then exactly the same as the reason we’re so afraid. There are things in this world that happen that we can’t explain. There are phenomena that we can’t even begin to understand. That’s what people fear the most: the unknown and science fiction has a way of tapping into that most basic fear that all human beings have. We fear what don’t know or can’t explain. At the same time, it’s human nature to be curious. We continue watching even though it scares us for the same reason that people climb into rockets to explore the farthest reaches of space. Even though it’s unknown and therefore terrifying to us, we still want to know what’s out there. We still seek to understand that which we cannot explain.

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As if I needed another reason to stay out of cemeteries at night

It’s a paradox worthy of an episode of Doctor Who. Even though science fiction plays into humanity’s most basic fear: fear of the unknown, we’re still curious about the unknown and strive to explore it. We keep pressing play because it’s just human nature. Now may we please have more episodes of Doctor Who? I need more ordinary stuff to be scared of.