Author: Marc Alan Fishman

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise

A long time ago in a galaxy far away… a nerd convinced a studio to give him money to make a visual effects masterpiece with significant merchandizing appeal. He mashed together the tropes of the science fiction and fantasy serials he loved growing up, and put together a wonderful homage to the hero’s journey. It made a lot of money, and soon thereafter, Star Wars became an empire. But you already knew that.

As I’ve detailed before: my personal Star Wars fandom was mild to possibly salsa verde at any given point. As an only child of parents not into pop culture, I didn’t actually sit down to enjoy the original trilogy in earnest until the late 90’s special edition releases. And while I’d been inundated to all the significant moments through delightful pastiches abroad, as well as avidly played through any number of Star Wars licensed video games (Tie Fighter, Rebel Assault, and Dark Forces)… in the battle between the light and dark side, I was quite the mercenary. That’s to say that I was a fan only when it suited me to be. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #056: 2019 Year-End Wrestling Wrap Up!

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #056: 2019 Year-End Wrestling Wrap Up!

Greetings smart-marks! I’m back one last time in 2019 to put together a list of my personal bests-and-worsts that ran afoul in the pro-wrasslin’ business. The highs were higher, the lows perhaps never lower. And while I’m no doubt cross-pollinating with a large swatch of other smarky writers? I don’t care. I learned to not care from my cousin Maxwell.

Best: MJF. Just everything about this guy this year tracks positive. Admittedly, like most of AEW stars, I had nary a clue who Maxwell Jacob Friedman was prior. But ever since that Burberry scarf sporting scallywag snarled on screen, I was hooked. He’s young. He’s cocky. I’ve yet to even see him in a full-on match. That I honestly don’t care I’ve NOT seen him in long-format yet is a testament to the worthy work he’s putting in. Part Million Dollar Man, part Internet Troll… he’s awaiting several beatings I can’t wait to see.

Worst: Sasha Banks. Let me preface my micro-rant: I did not watch her WWE Chronicle documentary about her taking time off. I didn’t because it’s unnecessary. Banks — a victim of WWE’s awful creative team (more on them later) — was dropped into a tag team program with her best friend around Wrestlemania season, and has yet to recover. Once seen as the rising heel star of NXT’s amazing women’s division… this year reduced to changing her hair color as a sign of reinvention. Honey? Call Chris Jericho. Take some notes. And maybe head back to NXT for some in-ring pointers while you’re at it. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #056: 2019 Year-End Wrestling Wrap Up!”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #055: Hole In Won

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #055: Hole In Won

A while back, I’d admitted to having never seen Top Gun. I was commanded to rectify the situation. I did, and capturing my hot takes on a virgin viewing. I presented said takes here on Pop Culture Squad. My friends? I’ve never seen a bigger reaction to my reactions. I’ve written a few pieces on the ole’ interwebs over the last decade or so I’ve been truly proud of. Pieces that unearthed old friends, made me new friends, or defriended bad friends. Well, none of those pieces apparently came close to the engagement gained over declaring:

I love how Johnny Exposition sets us up about a dozen times throughout the movie. “Welcome, all you Top Gun Fighter Pilots, today is day 4 of your 12 day schooling. It’s clear that Maverick is in second place to Iceman because he’s just too cocky for his own damn good. Today your assignment will be to fly planes again, but this time Maverick needs to be a team player, except when the mission demands he become a cocky cock-sure cock who’d cock up the mission to see us win. America!”

Well, the interwebs demanded I deep dive into the litany of flicks I’ve yet to see, due to my sheltered suburbanite over-protective-Jewish-mom-upbringing. So here goes. My hot takes on Caddyshack. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #055: Hole In Won”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #054: Nerf-Herder

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #054: Nerf-Herder

When I was growing up, I was never for want. I was an only child with parents never guilty of spoiling me, but equally never guilty of letting their sole scion suffer. As my mom would like to remind me, often, I was never for want. That out of the way, there was a lone rule to abide by:

No Nerf guns. Ever.

While my childhood was devoid of viewings of A Christmas Story, apparently the universal law of toy guns held true; that ownership of one ensured the owners loss of an eye. And with that, a spark lit an ember that would grow into a problematic firestorm as soon as I became a homeowner, a decade and a half later.

My name is Marc Alan Fishman. To date, I own 61 Nerf Guns. There’s no sign I’m stopping anytime soon either. Nerf guns are relatively inexpensive. They make amazing props in comic books. They can be modified to shoot harder — which allows collecting to become something more akin to a hobby. As such, I consume a large amount of content on the internet related to the flinging of foam. Be it reviewing of existing products, sneak previews of guns to come, or viewing tutorials on modification… nary a week passes without me taking in a few minutes of dart play. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #054: Nerf-Herder”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #053: Oh Schitt!

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #053: Oh Schitt!

I had consumed nearly every show I was told I’d love on Netflix as I’d contemplated transitioning to Amazon Prime — Orange is the New Black, GLOW, Living With Yourself, Big Mouth, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, The Kominsky Method, Bojack Horseman, F is for Family, Maniac, and Master of None to name a few. And in the case of all of the above (with about 8 or 9 more I decided not to list)… I did in fact love them. Some more than others, but all appropriately dynamic and enjoyable.

With everything seemingly checked off my bucket list for the time being, I was about to sign off, and one last series peaked its head around the corner. I’d been recommended to look into it several times, but something about it seemed bland. Every still shot of the show was set in some rural-ish small town, with an obvious fish-out-of-water placement of Eugene Levy or Catherine O’Hara looking befuddled. I’d told myself it wasn’t worth my time. I hovered over the preview and watched. All the tropes were there: a wealthy family no longer wealthy, Eugene Levy being… Eugene Levy, Chris Elliott being… Chris Elliott, small town vs. big city. Whatever. But, an inadvertent click popped the preview into a pilot, and I took my seat. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #053: Oh Schitt!”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #052: Things I’m Thankful For – 2019 Edition

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #052: Things I’m Thankful For – 2019 Edition

It’s about to be that time again. I know it’s likely my article drops after all y’all done gorged yourselves  all day on good foods. But it’s still time to reflect on the year that is almost over, and figure out the bests, the worsts, and what-have-you. As I’ve written on other sites, I like to assemble a list of those things I am most thankful for at the time of writing. A time capsule of positivity, if you will. Except we live in cynical nasty times, so, well, this is what you get. Enjoy it. Hate it. I don’t care anymore!

(Because some people will like to throw stones… this list is purposefully built in random order, and should not be dissected for importance. Jerks.)

1. I’m thankful for Bill Taylor, George Kent, Marie Yovanovitch, Alexander Vinman, Jennifer Williams, Kurt Volker, Tim Morrison, Gordon Sondland, Laura Cooper, David Hale, Fiona Hill, and David Holmes. As of this writing, we’ve no idea if Donald Trump will be impeached or removed from office. And while his blatantly obvious scheming would have me personally hurl the book at his orange mush so fast, it’d break the sound barrier… I am not in the House of Representatives. So, I digress. I am thankful that those above testified openly and honestly about what they saw, heard, and felt about this whole Ukraine situation. Because as it was plainly (and brilliantly) put: “This is America… Here, right matters.”

2. Schitt’s Creek, GLOW, Orange is the New Black, and The Good Place. Somewhere between my terrestrial cable subscription (it’s retro chic, don’t you know) and my Netflix account, I’ve enjoyed an amazing smattering of peak sitcom joy. And those shows listed above all have, at their core, belief in joy. Despite our joyless world, these shows have all touched my heart, and remind me of the good in the world.

3. AEW and NXT. Well, no doubt you knew this one was coming. AEW and NXT have both reminded me what good professional wrestling can be when it wants to. Well-crafted in-ring stories paired with over-the-top-but-still-plausible storylines are literally incomparable to the standard dreck dealt to me by the still-Vince-driven RAW and Smackdown shows. And make note: I will be doing a best-and-worst list of wrestlers / storylines in 2019 before the end of the year. You’ve been warned.

4. My wife and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. While we’ve been a couple now for nearly 19 years, it’s the last ten that have been the legally sanctioned ones. This year, I went all-out gifting the love of my life into a complete stupor. A custom-made Funko (err, Fishko) Pop figure was paired with a cameo video message from my wife’s true bae, Joey Fatone (of NSYNC fame). How did I know I did well? My wife said plainly “Well now I feel a little bad, cause I can’t compete with those gifts.” Damn straight. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #052: Things I’m Thankful For – 2019 Edition”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?

My name is Marc Alan Fishman, and I have a solemn confession: I don’t love Disney. I barely like it, in fact. The House of Mouse has come to own basically over half of all known creative content within my personal wheelhouse — that of the nerdy variety. It seems suspect that my head tells me I should have been coocoo-bananas for the recently launched Disney+ steaming service, yet my heart makes a wet fart noise and I move on.

And trust me, it feels like a rare feat. My social media feeds are nearly choked with baby Yoda (not Yoda)  memes, and genuine gushing goo-goo’ing over all the content on the service. Yet, no matter how many trusted friends stamp The Mandalorian with their recommendation, nor posting about reruns of Darkwing Duck… the excitement bounces off of me much like I assume elation over a new BTS album dropping does to a hipster. And let’s be clear as day kiddos: I ain’t hip. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #050: All Elite? All Better than WWE

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #050: All Elite? All Better than WWE

A while back — long enough that I no longer feel guilty for writing too much wrestling content — I’d written up some thoughts about the potential that Cody Rhodes’ All Elite Wrestling had to disrupt the professional wrestling landscape.

Well, a few months into their debut, I’m ready to say this much: if they continue to listen and learn? AEW will change that landscape enough Vince McMahon should invest in new trousers.

If I can clarify upfront though: the WWE may suffer in their ratings, ticket sales, and merchandise movement as AEW continues to gradually cement their base in the industry… but it will remain the leader in profit, size, and scope due to it’s sheer volume of talent and foothold in the zeitgeist.

What AEW has done better than any other lesser company in the space (NWA, TNA / Impact Wrestling, New Japan, etc.) is to clearly present itself as an alternative to specifically counter the programming of the McMahon empire — and doing so similar in scope. This means in essence they are attempting to zig wherever Stamford zags. They’re targeting medium sized arenas, and being judicious in their talent’s schedules. The company is being run behind the scenes by working talent, and as such, it more apt to make decisions with said talent in mind. See also: NXT under the WWE umbrella — as run (for the most part) by Paul Leveque (aka the WWE’s Triple H). But put a pin in that. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #050: All Elite? All Better than WWE”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?”

Arthur Fleck has been through some shit, kiddos. And any of it — had it happened to you — might be enough to drive you insane. But if you already suffered from any number of mental disorders, well, it’d be enough to push you into a realm beyond insanity. Poor schmuck Fleck, for those not in-the-know, is the titular protagonist of Todd Phillips’ Joker. While a large part of me wants to dive deep into a nuanced spoiler-filled review of the film, it’s still fresh off its debut. I’d rather pivot to discuss some specific bits of internet-debate over the film instead. So, let me get this out of the way:

Joker is an amazing film. I would feign perhaps only to compare it to Logan; in so much that it’s a film first, and its roots to pulp and paper serve merely to enhance the final product. Remove a detail or two, and frankly neither film should be name-dropped alongside any other movie tepidly denoted as a comic book movie — which itself is becoming shorthand for flicks that are somehow less than, in spite of them largely being truly awesome entertainment. But, as usual for me, I digress. Joker was jaw-dropping. I suggest you catch it. Cool? Cool. Moving on. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?””

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #048: “Saturday Night Lived”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #048: “Saturday Night Lived”

It’s the show mom and dad told me I couldn’t stay up to see until I was old enough; so of course I snuck downstairs to see it before it was allowed. It’s one of the few shows that remained appointment television when I got my first DVR. It’s a show that has remained firmly entrenched in the zeitgeist since its inception. Even when it was bad? It gave us Eddie Murphy. It’s spurned movie and TV careers for literally dozens of its long cast list.  Live from New York… It’s Saturday Night Live.

For many, whatever season(s) they caught first tend to set the bar of future expectations of quality and hilarity. For me personally, I became a fan somewhere towards the end of the ’95 season. This meant I missed Dana Carvey by a year, but got to see the end of Mike Myers, Adam Sandler and Chris Farley’s tenure. The very next season we got a fresh-faced set funny people: Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, Cheri Oteri, and Molly Shannon (to name a few).

While most will agree that SNL itself ebbs and flows in quality — as casts learn to play off one another, writers get into a groove, and current events offer unique opportunities to capture the zeitgeist — the show by and large has become an institution unto itself. Not unlike the brainchild of Vince McMahon (the WWE), Lorne Michael’s not ready for primetime players has grown in stature and expectation such that it may live long after it’s impossibly driven creator should ever choose to retire. And make no bones about it. I personally believe Lorne and Vince will die while still maintaining duties in their respective kingdoms. But I digress. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #048: “Saturday Night Lived””