AMA: The Rodney Dangerfield Dream Joke

Hi Corey, I have a question for you. One night last March I had a dream that I was watching Rodney Dangerfield perform in a comedy club. He told a joke that the audience barely laughed at, and that I didn’t get at all. When I woke up I still didn’t get it. Here’s the joke: “Just heard the weather report. It’ll be operations in rain today. Heck, I’m standing IN operations! Huh. No respect.” Remember, he only told this joke in my dream. Can you please tell me how it’s funny? I still don’t get it. – Nick

Hi, Nick – thanks for reading and asking!

I can’t believe you don’t know that extremely famous Rodney Dangerfield joke? Everyone knows that joke! “Standing in operations”! Whoo-boy, so good!

Yeah no that doesn’t make any sense. I was trying to connect some pretty vague dots between running military operations in the rain and standing at attention but… It doesn’t really work.

Since the in-dream audience didn’t laugh either, my guess is it wasn’t supposed to be a good joke. Maybe dream-Rodney was working out new material. Or maybe he was riffing and stumbled.

Dreams are created by the sub-conscious, possibly by our brains trying to make sense of brain synapses and light patterns we see while sleeping. Or something else. I don’t think anyone really knows for sure why we dream or what they’re supposed to be. Maybe we’re actually peaking into an alternate reality. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they’re even meaningful and help us work things out, and sometimes they are a random assortment of images and events.

I’ve had plenty of dreams where I or someone tells a joke or says something that is supposed to be funny, but it actually either isn’t funny at all or straight out makes no sense in the real world. I’ve come to the conclusion that what is being said doesn’t actually matter, it’s just a place-holder. It’s kind of a Mad Libs collection of words that sound similar to a cohesive thought but are only there to represent someone saying that type of thing in that kind of moment. The moments around what they said are probably more important. But our brains like to try to figure things out, so after we wake up, it’s easy to latch on the nonsensical part and try to make sense of it, when that might not have been the part of the dream our brain wanted us to focus on.

So I guess that’s my answer. The content of Rodney Dangerfield’s joke is irrelevant. Instead, look at the context. What does the joke represent and what was happening before and after it. There might be something more meaningful there.

Or your brain was just amusing itself with total gibberish and none of it holds any significance. Yay human brains!

Facebook and the Rules of Friendship

I’ve been on Facebook since 2007 (back when they forced your status to start with your name. “Corey Blake is sleeping.” is an actual status of mine from April 11, 2007, that now just displays as “sleeping”). It’s fun, and one of the things that amuse me are some of the habits or quirks of how people behave on Facebook.
I was once de-friended by someone because he decided that all his Facebook friends had to have real photographs as their profile pic. So he went through his list of 5,000 Facebook friends and de-friended anyone that broke his rule.
For years, I have used a cartoon drawing of myself that was given to me by Scott Shaw! when we were both working on Dig Comics. I love that drawing, because it really captures by double interests of performing and comic books. It’s not like it’s a drawing of Wolverine as my profile pic. This is an original piece of art that is intended to represent me. But I’m sure this person didn’t do that much research on it. He just saw a drawing and hit unfriend.
It was so ridiculous but really he was just finding ways to free up spots. Facebook caps you out at 5,000 friends and he kept getting new requests from people that he wanted to let in. Which I get. It’s not like we personally knew each other.
While I really liked some of what he posted, I was kind of relieved because half of his posts were just updated declarations of new rules. A week would not go by where at least one new edict would not be issued.
I still have a couple of other Facebook friends that do this, and it just cracks me up. Is anyone keeping track of all these rules? I don’t know how you could. They’re spread out across so many individual posts, and Facebook’s algorithm may not even show all of these high priority notices. Then it looks like you’re flagrantly disregarding their rules if you accidentally break one. Ignorance is no excuse, after all. Just try using the “I didn’t know” excuse with the police. It just doesn’t fly.
Maybe Facebook can generate a downloadable user manual-style PDF that compiles all of my friends’ various rules for being friends with them. I just can’t keep them all straight and it would be super convenient to have them all in one place where I could ignore them.
If you’re one of my Facebook friends that does this on a consistent basis, don’t worry about my silly post. You keep being you. I’m sure there’s a good reason. If it makes being on Facebook and life in general better for you, then I’m in full support. I just don’t know if anyone else is keeping track quite as closely as you.
And it makes me wonder: are there some Facebook users with only 2 friends because they’ve disqualified everyone else?

What Representation Feels Like

There’s a school of thought that poo-poo’s or ridicules the use of diverse characters in entertainment. Whether it’s the gender-reversal of Ghostbusters or the attempt at increasing female and minority characters in super-hero comics and their adaptations, I hear a segment of fans dismiss it.

“I just want good stories. I don’t care if the character is black or not,” goes the veiled objection.

As if having a character that isn’t a straight, white male as the lead character automatically puts the quality of the story at risk. Besides, nobody sets out to make a bad story.

One of the aspects that make stories good to an individual is the story’s relateability. If I see myself in the story, I’m going to have greater empathy for the narrative of that story and will be more likely to like it and consider it “good”. That’s because I know my own story, and when I see someone that looks like they’ve been through the same life experiences as myself, I attach the possibility of us having both gone through those experiences to the story. That may not be entirely logical or even reasonable, but it’s human nature.

Having diverse representation is powerful because it allows audience members not accustomed to seeing themselves in entertainment instantly feel recognized, empowered, and somehow seen by the world.

It’s hard for me to exactly explain why representation is so valuable because as a straight, white male, I’ve been represented by media 99% of the time since before I was alive and will continue to be represented. I see myself pretty much where ever I go, so me seeing myself in a movie doesn’t have a huge impact on me anymore. Me seeing a skinny, dorky, straight, white guy in the lead role. That has a better chance. If I had never or rarely seen me, I would have a big reaction.

This is usually most powerfully felt by kids. It’s another reason why I have a hard time putting a lot of weight in people’s objection to representation because they’re usually adults. These stories have a crossover appeal for adults due to nostalgia or just universal fun and appeal, but they’re most magical for kids.

When you see and feel how kids respond to seeing themselves reflected back at them for the first time, it’s beauty and power are undeniable. This video illustrates it more powerful than I ever could. This little girl has a prosthetic leg and for her birthday, she got a doll with a prosthetic leg.

I can’t imagine not being moved by that. The absolutely pure evolution of her response is amazing. She goes from (a) happy she got a doll but nothing too out of the ordinary when she first things it’s yet another doll, to (b) surprised disbelief it also has a prosthetic leg, to (c) in tears at the realization that it’s “just like me”. Now imagine if that doll had its own comic book, TV show or movie.

I remember the joy I had when I saw Superman: The Movie and Ghostbusters for the first time. Straight, white men have nearly every iconic pop culture thing marketed to us. If they’re going to love it to the extent that little girl above loved that doll, I gladly want them to have their own Supergirl and Ghostbusters. I still have my memories and attachment to my version, and they get to have theirs, and everyone wins.

Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wiig is seen at the Los Angeles Premiere of Columbia Pictures’ “Ghostbusters” at TCL Chinese Theatre on Saturday, July 9, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Sony/AP Images)

AMA: What is your secret to being loved by everyone you meet

“What is your secret to being loved by everyone you meet?”

I debated answering this because it seems so incredibly egotistical. I swear, I didn’t ask myself this question!

Whoever submitted this is incredibly kind, so thank you. Or they’re being incredibly sarcastic and a complete jerk!

I’m not even sure how to answer this. I mean, I disagree with the premise of the question. There’s just no way it’s true that everyone I meet loves me. That is an intense emotion for a large number of people over a very short amount of time.

And surely there are people who are just annoyed by me, maybe even outright hate me. At the very least, there has to be a significant percentage of people I meet who are just plain indifferent to me.

Ultimately, it’s a completely unprovable statement. Is this person following me around and interviewing every person I meet on how they feel about me? Even if they were, how can we be sure that the people being interviewed are telling the truth? Maybe they’re just being polite. Can I see your polling data? Maybe it’s flawed.

Halfway through Blog-ust!

Today is the 15th, so that means I’m basically halfway through my daily blogging challenge.

The hardest part is making sure I make time for it. There are definitely times when I’m about to do something else and then realize I haven’t written the next day’s blog post. The discipline of reserving that time for it is crucial. And then making sure that reserved time has some flexibility to it because I don’t know how long it might take me to write. Sometimes it’s pretty quick, and sometimes not, like when it takes some time to realize what I want to write about, or if it’s a longer post.

I’m starting to think about whether I’ll continue after August. I’m pretty sure I won’t be doing it every day, but maybe every other day. Or maybe weekly. Not sure yet, but probably something. Unless over the next 15 days, it’s becomes torture.

Anyway, I’m really liking the Ask Me Anything questions. I’ve had enough questions coming in to answer those every other day, but I’m almost out. So I sure would love you to submit a question. As you’ve seen, it can be personal, it can be silly, it can be whatever you want. As long as there’s a question mark in there, I’ll figure out a way to answer it.

Fading Away

Over the last week or so, I’ve written about my decision to back off of pursuing acting for the most part. But I’m not saying it’s over forever. After all, never say never.

Case in point: In 1974, singer-songwriter James Taylor was seriously considering retiring early. After the back-to-back success of his albums Sweet Baby James and Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon and the Grammy-winning hit single “You’ve Got a Friend” in 1971, he probably could’ve called it quits and done just fine. But after his fourth album One Man Dog under-performed, he allegedly wondered if maybe it was time to move on to doing something else. The song “Fading Away” came out of this period.

Last year, at the age of 67, James Taylor released his 17th studio album, Before This World, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, his first album to debut at the top of the charts. So yeah, never say never.

Maybe acting is something I’ll want to pursue again. Maybe I’ll be able and willing to devote the energy and resources. Or maybe it’ll be something else. Or maybe not. For now though…

“No one will really notice if we just sit this next one out.”

AMA: Do you suspect me of being a super villain?

“Do you suspect me of being a super villain? So not one.”

Since your question was submitted anonymously, I have no idea who you are.

That aside, you are without a doubt a super villain.

I mean, come on. It’s so obvious.

Just ask yourself these three simple questions:

  1. Have you ever committing crimes to further your own goals?
  2. Do you feel compelled to share your plans with the person most likely to succeed in stopping those plans?
  3. Do you find yourself cackling maniacally when no one else is around?

If you answered any of those questions with answers, then you are definitely without a doubt a super villain. Nice try.