I thought this season of Community would be better since Dan Harmon was back, but idk it’s been kind like ? ?what why??? There’s been zero continuity lately. Like Jeff’s sudden and unexpected mid-life crisis thing had no lead up whatsoever, and was just a weird episode. If they’d shown in…
Community has never prided itself on romance - or on being one genre for more than one episode at a time - but the constant wasted opportunities and neglect for Jeff Winger and Annie Edison have tested those shippers’ last nerve. Given that Community would much rather keep teasing and reviving the much less popular Jeff/Britta pairing - complete with a half-hearted wedding proposal leading up to the possible series finale - it is quite alienating and baffling to a rather vocal part of an already small audience.
Community is a show that could have benefited quite a lot from a Jeff/Annie relationship, both creatively and commercially. Yet Dan Harmon’s missteps and downright cowardice on this front are the direct opposite of what Michael Schur and his writers keep accomplishing a half-hour later. It’s no wonder that Parks and Recreation is up to seven seasons and may get to craft a real ending in advance, while Community crosses its fingers again for its long, satirically promised sixth season - a.k.a. another chance to disappoint all its shippers.
I can’t sleep, can you? Insomnia isn’t as fun as they make it sound in movies, it’s not like you get housework done. Wait, housework, what the fuck am I talking about, like I do housework. I don’t even know if there’s a difference between “can’t sleep” and “insomnia,” but whatever it is, it’s not like I’m not tired, it’s not like my eyes aren’t burning and my head doesn’t hurt. I feel the way I feel for those delightfully itchy ten seconds we usually don’t remember because they usually turn into sleep. Only this ten seconds lasting hours. Hours of listening to mental wind punctuated by scary sounds from various parts of the house. Just as I thumbed that, there was another one. I think the small fridge in the other room has periodic jolts but it also sounds exactly like a huge man in dirty coveralls holding a butcher knife that squeezed in through the doggy door is now just bumping into stuff while waiting for the right time to stab me.
Oh, god, there it is again. Is it the water heater? I have a tankless heater. And the air isn’t on. I think it’s something like that, though. Every eight minutes or so there’s this deep, short metallic rumble, but between rumbles, if I listen closely, I can hear what sounds like water flowing through pipes. Very faintly. The scary part is the second of the two rumbles because that one is louder and it’s whatever this thing is finishing, so it’s followed by silence. I’m only not deathly afraid of it anymore because it’s happening in a pattern. Weirdest butcher knife murderer in the world if he’s going to just keep doing this for hours. Almost an honor to be stab murdered by such a meticulous artist.
I was asleep earlier, deeply asleep, and Erin woke me up. I’ve learned and demonstrated the hard way that people should limit their internet transparency to the boundaries of their own lives so you’ll just have to trust me when I say I am marrying the asshole I deserve, who is now fast asleep while I count phantom stabby man rumbles and the uneasy seconds between them.
My worst nightmare is home invasion. it combines every fear I have except spiders. Loss of control, especially to someone dumber than me -
Holy shit I finally made myself tired have to go bye!
“No one is accountable for existing at all, or for being constituted as he is, or for living in the circumstances and surroundings in which he lives. The fatality of his nature cannot be disentangled from the fatality of all that which has been and will be. He is not the result of a special…
when male writers create “strong female characters” that show hints of feminism without ever calling it feminism.
when said strong female characters go ahead and slut shame and spray hate all over other women.
I’m still waiting to hear what happens when these crimes are committed by a TV show you’re watching.
I suppose when these transgressions occur, you eventually rise up above the all-consuming horde and …
….post an animated GIF. Of a person on a different TV show rolling their eyes.
It’s a bummer to me that I can broadcast 30 minutes of content through a gauntlet of state and corporate-imposed boundaries and still somehow manage to enrage a real person.
It’s a bummer to me that a real person, without restriction, with nobody policing what they say or how they say it, can sit down to make their voice known, and end up…posting a complaint about a sitcom. A sitcom on a network that predates our grandparents, from a company that makes stereos, games and phones.
Everything’s a bummer to me, but I try to focus on what makes me happy and what I’m able to control. Now imagine a GIF of me shitting on your face and tell your parents I said “you’re welcome.”
Channel 101's latest batch for this month is here and shows Car Jumper and NY Stories are still deservedly top finishers.
As always, if you’re not familiar with Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab's independent monthly short form series that's been running for more than a few years, then please do acquaint yourself with hours of hilarious awesomeness.
I've recently studied your story circle and by extension Joseph Campbell's Monomyth. I found it interesting that your story circle seems to incorporate Campbell's steps perfectly until you hit steps 6 (Take) and 7 (Return). Based on your Channel 101 tutorials, you state that step 7 includes both Campbell's "Rescue from Without" and "the Magic Flight" and occur after the return threshold. This seems out of sync with Campbell's stages, which occur before the return threshold. Thoughts?
By my interpretation, which could be flawed, I didn’t think Campbell was implying that every story includes a “magic flight” and a “rescue from without” followed by a crossing of the return threshold. I think he was suggesting that stories, in general, follow a path of descent and return, and that along that circular path, which [when complete] includes a return, the phenomena we see recurring from culture to culture include heroes being chased, being whisked away, etc. I assume he described those phenomena before describing the return threshold in depth because the return threshold is the more fundamental concept. As if to say, “be it by magic flight, which we see in these examples, or rescue from without, which we see in these examples, one way or another, the hero tends to return, so let’s discuss the examples and significance of returning.” I’m sure I was only trying to make the same point in my tutorials and if I confused you at all I’m sorry.
Campbell talked often about the futility of what he characterized as opacity in mythology. To brutally paraphrase him, a functioning religion (or story) is a window to something invisible, something all around us that we fail to “see” before a crafted frame says “look here.” It’s one thing to stain a window’s glass, to help us experience light, but when we paint the glass solid, by standing too much on ceremony, or by interpreting myth too literally, our story or religion will separate us from the unknown and each other rather than connecting us.
The ironic thing, or I guess the least ironic thing ever, is that Campbell’s wisdom makes a pretty great window, and his step-by-step analysis of mythology has come to be used as a “how to write” handbook or a “what all stories have to be” doctrine. But he never intended that, and he certainly wouldn’t have wanted some fat drunk college dropout boiling his monomyth down to a paint by numbers kit on the internet. The people that created and passed down our timeless stories didn’t do that. They followed their instincts, their fears and desires. They opened their flawed souls and let their gods shine through them. In the modern world, where writing is a recourse to revenue, we are pressured to short-cut the shamanism, like an aspirin company synthesizing tree bark. We attempt to bottle and sell simulated stories and religions, myths that may or may not be connections to the unknown but first and foremost make their deadlines and get our readers or viewers through the day. This is not a bad thing, I’d rather live in a world where a story can make me a provider for my family than a world where I’m just the slowest dishwasher.
But in these moments when we’re blocked, or in the moments we are staring at a board full of diagrams, moving characters and motivations around like chess pieces, trying to “solve” a story as if it were math homework, paralyzed by the academia, it helps to remember that any act of creation, whether folding a paper airplane, baking a cake or writing an episode of SVU, is, by definition, a religious act and a subversive one. We reach out with ape-like hands and filthy minds and we mock and challenge all that came before us by making something be there that was not there. We change the history of the world, we change who we are and we change everything that touches what we make, so we may as well also always change the rules by which we make them.
by now you’ve probably realized I’m not really just answering your question but am using it to deal with insomnia. But to try to bring this around to you, now that you’ve studied Campbell, you’ve got what’s important about it. Heroes go Somewhere Else and Heroes Come Back Different. Everything else is yours to interpret.
Hi Dan - Community is my favorite television show and Grantland is one of my favorite websites, so when Grantland posted an article about you today I read it. And also the article Alex Pappademas wrote about you a while ago, I read all of its words. I think I am like you, I am the most brilliant amazing person I know. And also an egomaniac asshole. But I'm only 21 years old. What advice do you have for a 21 year old version of yourself?
Skip the cocaine. Best case scenario, you become a bad person for a half hour and then need more coke; worst case, you end up homeless or dead.
Don’t judge things that make you jealous and don’t lie about the jealousy. Just say you wish you had something and figure out if there’s a way to get it.
Good writers hate bad writing but hating bad writing doesn’t make you good. Writing badly does.
Luck and talent are the same thing, and neither of them have anything to do with your value as a human being.
When someone gives you a compliment, and you tell them they’re wrong, you’re not being humble, you’re being rude.
People attempting to prove you’re a bad person will shut up if you admit it, and they’ll leave you alone if you ask them to help you be better.
You’re going to marry Erin McGathy so try to be up front about that with all the women you date for the next 27 years.
You can’t control the outcome of your actions, so make your actions fulfilling. That way, if the outcome is shit, you weren’t a total sucker.
Brush your teeth at night and cut down on the carbs. Gawker and TMZ don’t scour the archives for your only hot photo.
The question I'm using for my dissertation is 'Should there be limits to comedy?' like, should there be any subjects that are off limits and such. It'd be great to hear what you think. Cheers.
Of course there should be limits to comedy! There should be - and are - limits to everything in the world, comedy included.
If jumping wasn’t limited by gravity, people would fly into space and die. If life wasn’t limited by disease and death, our parents wouldn’t have met, because Atilla the Hun would be president, which would have been distracting.
And if everybody was able to be funny any time they wanted, laughing would be like breathing, and jokes wouldn’t be remarkable. If there were no limits on comedy, there would be no comedy, because comedy is essentially something done wrong. You’re not supposed to throw a pie at someone’s face. Pies are for eating, faces are for scowling. A person is supposed to knock on your door with their hand, they’re not supposed to say “knock knock,” and if they do, when you ask who’s there, they should have a name like Mark Johnson, not a long ass sentence. And nobody that owns a baseball team with a guy on first named “Who” should be unprepared for the question “Who’s on first.” They should call him by his first name or call him “Mister Who.”
They should. Technically speaking. There should certainly be limits to comedy.
Because, technically speaking, nothing funny should ever happen.
I feel like I'm using people. I feel like I'm using them to validate my intelligence, my skill, my lovableness, my everything. I feel like a vampire, sucking at people's hearts, desperately craving validation, until they have nothing left to offer and then I feel terrible. I don't think they all see it this way, but I do and I feel like I don't deserve their gracious friendship. How do I love people without taking from them?
What a question. If only more people asked it, every day. If only I had spent more of my life asking it.
I don’t know if you listen to my podcast, Harmontown, but our friend, Siike, a multiple aneurysm survivor, once offered us some wisdom from his tragically unique position at the outer edge of certainty: “Give more than you take.” Sounds like you and I have both been spending time lately feeling like we aren’t succeeding at that. My attempts at contribution often end up feeling like siphons. And while I’m working so hard to make people like me, the people closest to me can take a flying fuck, except when they’re nourishing me. My girlfriend loves me unconditionally, and so, like a baby, I suck on what she offers me, cry when it’s taken away, giving nothing in return but occasional Walter White rants about how folks will appreciate me one day, they’re going to see what I gave, and blah blah blah.
Which obviously indicates that these contributions I think I’m making aren’t contributions at all. No more than a mosquito’s contribution of anti-coagulants into a host’s bloodstream.
I think I slip from the right kind of “giving” to the wrong kind without noticing because they’re identical in terms of behavior. One minute you’re carrying a box because you want to help your friend, the next minute, you’re carrying the same box to be a good person and a few steps later, after not getting some thank you you decided you deserved, you’re carrying a box because your asshole friend is a selfish piece of shit and you can’t wait to move out of your house just to make him lift a piano and you hope it crushes him to death. In one conversation’s time, you can end up eighty miles from the nearest patch of honesty, still insisting that you’re where you are because you’re a hero. And you could pass a polygraph test while saying it, because you’re not exactly lying, you’re just… lost.
So you and I need to know, today, how do we get back on track. How do we stop telling people our asses look fat in these jeans and get back to having accidentally hot asses in sweatpants on laundry day.
First we reset to that crucial gateway, where we just want to be good people. We drop the rest of our bullshit. Who cares if we got fired from Grey Matter, it’s back story, now. Who cares which meth is the best meth, or whether meth is bad, we just drop every thought in our head except the one that can’t be dropped, come hell or highwater, come bipolar autistic alcoholic schizophrenic self-diagnostic disorder or childhood trauma or anything we think is fundamental, because nothing is as fundamental as this: we want to be good people. Nobody can fuck up standing in one place wanting something, not even us.
Now how do we make sure we move forward without getting lost? According to Taoists, we don’t. We follow through on the “action” we took to get back here, which is inaction. We relax, like a puppet, so that our next move is more the universe’s than our own. When you let the universe do the moving, it will never use you to hurt people. When you’re hurting people, that’s your Ventriloquist God saying “hey, dummy, get my hand back up your ass, because the only thing creepier than our ordinary routine is whatever the hell you’re trying to do right now.”
I believe we’re heroes when we’re transparent and we’re villains when we’re blocking light, throwing ego-shaped shadows all around us, then fearing those shadows and clenching up, which blocks more light, feeding the darkness, making the problem seem unsolvable. I believe that if we all went transparent at once, all problems would stop, but that it’s probably impossible, and that having that as a goal would make us opaque and cast more shadows. I believe that Katy Perry is wrong, I think that having fireworks shoot out of your chest is dangerous, I think your clothing would catch on fire and you could die.
And I think your question, which is also my question, is its own answer. We can stop sucking other people’s necks and start giving more than we take if we ask ourselves how we can do it and make sure we don’t block the real, honest answer. Sometimes working hard is the hardest thing we can do, and sometimes it’s just our really easy way of trying to take stuff from everyone around us. Sometimes the hard thing is the easy thing. Sometimes we should do the dishes and sometimes we should take off our apron, tell our boss to fuck off and walk away, because we’re not a dishwasher, we’re just a writer washing someone else’s dishes.
And sometimes people get away with telling other people how the world works by starting their rules with “sometimes,” which is dumb, because how are you supposed to know which times are the some times. But this time, I can tell you when the sometimes are: they’re when you know, in your heart, which can’t be fooled, whether you’re really giving or just taking from behind. DAN HARMON COMPARES MISPLACED ALTRUISM TO FORCIBLE SODOMY. Please watch Rick and Morty on Adult Swim in December and watch Season 5 of Community in the future.
Dan, I'm hung up over my ex we have been broken up for 5 months, but I can't get over him. Every time it look at him I hurt worst... How can I get over him? I see him everywhere I go. It's like I can't just look somewhere without seeing him. He broke my heart bad, and he acts as if nothing happens ever happend between us. HELP
First and most important advice: Find Erin McGathy’s This Feels Terrible podcast. She lets people email her, and almost always writes back whether she responds on the show or not. She gets this stuff way more than me, and she might even be able to share with you the fact that having a boyfriend can also suck.
I know it doesn’t feel this way but what you’re experiencing - the most troublesome parts of it - is chemical in nature. You have a dude in your bloodstream. You’re going through withdrawal. Five months is not a long time for this kind of thing, sadly.
You might be having feelings like “I knew who I was when I was with him, now I’m nothing.” And you’re probably thinking ALL kinds of stuff about where he is and who he’s with and what he’s doing. And now we’ve got 600 apps and sites to help us torture ourselves with that stuff. Even just thinking about it while typing to you gives me a little feeling of panic, because we’ve all been there.
That’s part of the good news: you are part of a club with about five or six billion members. You can find some of those people online, I bet, and talk to them about this. It would help if they were strangers, oddly enough, because it sounds like you’re in a complex social situation where there’s friend circle overlaps and stuff, which is a big reason why it’s lingering five months. Cut down on conversation about this guy with mutual friends as much as you can for as long as you can. Find something new to add to your life, something that never existed before this guy became a thing: a TV series to binge-watch, a random subject to fixate on, something you’ve always wondered about, like “how do submarines work?” Start googling and just dive in, and let submarines or Peter Pan or Godzilla be your thing. Your symbol of how you have an identity, you have your own brain, your own body, your own control over your fixations.
If you do talk to people anonymously on the internet about what you’re going through - there’s bound to be forums for it - my advice is don’t let talking about what you’re going through turn into talking about the guy.
One more thing: this stomach turning feeling, this panic, this sadness…that’s not what real love feels like. What you’re feeling is powerful, but so is heroin and morphine, and those aren’t love. I also swear that it will go away. There’s no telling when, there’s just going to be this day when you wake up and magically do not give a shit. And a few months after that, it’s actually going to be laugh out loud funny to you that you felt how you felt. I have never felt more comfortable promising anything to a stranger.
Hang in there. Also watch Rick and Morty on Adult Swim in December and Season Five of Community in the year 2014 AD.
Can you give some advice for a person who dropped out of college, to follow her dream (I want to be a doctor.) But I failed the test I need to take to get in med school (in Brazil) more than 3 times. And today my Mom said to me that when other people ask her what I'm doing... she feels ashamed to say that i'm still studying to get in college. I mean, I'm still nothing. I'm feeling like shit, but I can't give up, but I have the feeling that no one believes that I'll be in med school someday. :/
Nobody has ever been nothing. We are all equally something and some of us are much luckier than others. I was less lucky than I am now for over a quarter of my life, which is something like three quarters of my adult life - I’m not lucky enough to be good at math - my point is, I’ve felt like “nothing” for more waking hours on this planet than I’ve felt like anything.
I’m as bad at giving advice to others as you are at passing that med school test. But believe me, that’s all that test is measuring: your ability to pass it. It is not measuring the type or quality of doctor you might one day be, and it is certainly not measuring your worth as a person. If this is something you honestly want, I would bet you’re going to end up getting it. Or, at the very least, being totally satisfied that you left no stone unturned.
Your Mom is probably just expressing, in that frequently frustrating Mom way, that she’s worried she’s not being a good Mom. She doesn’t want to see you fail, she doesn’t want you to have a bad life, because she’s measuring her abilities as a Mom by your outcomes, same as you’re measuring yourself by this med test. I’m sure being a Mom is harder than being a doctor but I’m also sure the entrance exam was easier. Moms can’t push a button and stop being Moms just because we’ve decided we’re grown up, and the things they say in an attempt to keep “raising” us can get under our skin. But the biggest favor you can do yourself and your Mom (and everyone else) is to be confident about what you want. To know why you want it. Then you have honesty on your side. Then anyone opposing you is opposing the truth, and that’s a bad side to be on in the long run.
I don’t know you, I don’t know you’ll be a perfect doctor, or a doctor at all. There are realities with which to contend. But because reality is inescapable, it’s important that we make a choice, in our heads, to counterbalance reality with things that defy it. Gravity is a reality, but humans fly. The language we’re exchanging, the fillings in our teeth, the pavement on the road outside, everywhere you look, for better or for worse, you’re going to see evidence that accepting reality is not a human’s tendency, and not what we’re good at, and not, in my speculation, what God or Natural Selection hired us to do. We’ve been hired, by this universe, to dream, to aspire, to make things that weren’t real real - and because that involves a lot of failure, we’re damn good at doing that, too.
Without the benefit of details, I say stay the course. I say keep failing. Fall flat on your face, feel every scrape, roll in the dirt and scream in frustration. Tell your mother you love her but the fact is, she either raised a doctor or she raised a girl that’s going to fail, spectacularly, at it, and in either case, she’s done her part. Go fail that test a fourth time. And get it on the fifth. Or sixth. Push this thing to the absolute limit, make them create a new law against your level of desire, make them arrest you for wanting to be a doctor, and when they let you out, run to fail the test again, so that when you’re slipping away from this reality, which could happen at any time, you’re not spending your last moments thinking anything but “well, I did my best.” Also, watch Rick and Morty on Adult Swim in December.
Hey Dan i'm molly i'm 15 I listen to your podcast. it's pretty epic and strange... but love it none the less. My question is random but still I feel curious and it does say ask you anything. what are your thoughts on miley cyrus?
I don’t know a lot about her. I know her Dad is a country singer and that she’s a pop singer. I know that whenever she does anything in public, old people get excited about wanting to hurt her. So she must be doing something right. Johnny Cash said “it’s good to know who hates you and it’s good to be hated by the right people.”
The rest is mostly rumor, I can’t say that I really know any of this for a fact. I have heard that she is taller than she seems on TV. I have heard that she is able to see in very low light. Someone told me that she is actually ashamed of this, and has had numerous surgical procedures attempting to “cure” herself of her special eyesight, which, to me sounds like more of a gift. I think I read somewhere - but please do not quote me on this - that if she is standing twenty feet from a tablecloth, in normal light, she can make out individual fibers, and that the FBI will sometimes bring her in to assist them on special cases, cases which are particularly time-sensitive, i.e., a human life is at stake, and/or a crime happened in a convertible with the top down and it’s going to rain soon, and they can’t wait for someone to look at fibers through conventional means.
Apparently, in those cases, the head investigator will say “get Miley” or “where is she this time” and it will cut to her finishing a concert, and she will look over from the stage into the wings, and there will be men in black suits waiting, and she’ll have this look on her face, like, “here we go again.” Because I guess she doesn’t get along with the FBI on a personal level, because they’re highly trained and very cautious people, and she’s just sort of a free spirit with these very powerful eyes.
As I understand it, and I need to stress this is all gossip, this is just stuff I hear in the kitchen at work, but supposedly, in the end, they get the job done together, in spite of their different approaches, and justice is essentially served.
Also, I heard she twerked, I don’t know what that is but I heard she twerked. Thank you for listening to my podcast but I feel like you should tell your parents to stop letting you do that for a couple years. There’s like a million podcasts and you’re listening to a guy your Dad’s age talk about poop. But I am glad you like it and thank you for writing. But stop listening for three full years. Thank you.
I’ve discussed before how Dan Harmon (creator of Community, co-writer for Monster House) has distilled the Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth into a very basic tool for describing the arcs of a story. Harmon prefers to see his story structure as a circle, whereas I believe that it is in fact a Cosine Wave. Since I’ve posted the above gif I’ve gotten quite a few notes about it and I thought I’d expand on my idea of why Harmon’s circle best fits a Cosine.
Could you explain a particular Community episode with the story circle? In the simplest, four quadrant version.
Sure, let’s do it with season 2’s D&D episode:
Keep in mind what I’m doing here is deconstructing a finished story, not recalling the process by which the story was broken. Back in season 2 it was probably about identifying act breaks, i.e. asking “what new world are we entering (step 3) and what’s the worst thing that can happen there (step 6).” But no matter how it was assembled, if the end result is a story, we should be able to detect four distinct quadrants.
If I were to take a stab at the episode’s “quadrants” in terms of general plot…and forgive me, I could really screw this up without watching the episode again, but here’s an EXAMPLE at me taking a stab, you can do this on your own and refine it.
Upper half = The Game is a Game
Lower half = The Game is Real
Left half = Pierce in Control
Right half = Abed in Control
The more important use of quadrants is in creating or checking for what the suits call “arcs.” You go through the story in the shoes of any particular character and ask yourself what’s changing from top to bottom and from right to left as they move through the plot. Here’s some possible upper and lower halves choosing Jeff as the protagonist:
- In Control / Out of Control
- Altruism / Guilt
- Pierce is a child / Pierce is a threat
All of those and more might be valid, it’s all subjective, but my favorite is:
- Altruism / Guilt
When I draw a line between “altruism” and “guilt,” the idea that there’s a difference sparks my interest. Sometimes we want to help people because we’re good people and sometimes we want to help people because we don’t want to be bad people. To someone else, there’s no distinction there, but it only needs to be visible to the writer. To me, the arrival of Pierce, who kills Chang and runs off with Fat Neil’s sword, ushers Jeff across a threshold between altruism and guilt, yanking him from a world in which he was “fixing” Neil and tossing him into a world in which he may end up responsible for Neil’s destruction if he “loses” the game.
Moving on to picking a left/right division for Jeff. I’ll tell you a lazy trick we learned in the Community room: when in doubt, the right half of the circle can just be “dishonesty” and the left half “honesty.” It’s almost always going to click because the mid point of a story is almost always where “shit gets real.” But it’s kind of like putting “order” on top and “chaos” on the bottom. Sure, D&D is taking us from dishonest order to dishonest chaos to honest chaos to honest order. But so does Star Wars, Miss Saigon and a commercial for gum. If you’re using quadrants to assemble or identify a specific story, it’s more valuable to get more specific.
I think what’s noteworthy and specific to Winger’s story in D&D is:
Lack of Control / Control
Note I’m “stealing” that idea from my first list of brainstormed top/bottoms. When I was riffing that list up there, I threw out “control,” and thought, “well, it’s not like Jeff ends this story back in control, he kind of loses it and never gets it ba— Ah ha.” Jeff spends the first half of the story - the right half - taking charge (first out of altruism, then out of guilt). Even when his world changes, his preferred methodology doesn’t. He attempts to get Abed to “cheat,” he physically pulls Pierce out of the room and tries to make him stop playing, he also leads the charge on berating Britta for her commitment to the game. But Jeff’s commitment is tested when a fictional Elf Maiden flirts with him. He’s too shy/narcissistic/cool/homophobic to engage with Abed, so Annie takes over and gains the group access to a flock of Pegasi, which Jeff had stated as the goal. Jeff never ends up back in control, not of the group nor of the game. Which allows for the amazing things that transpire between Neil and Pierce, who have their own quadrants to get through.
So, to me, Jeff’s quadrants are, clockwise: Controlled Altruism, Controlled Guilt, Uncontrollable Guilt and finally Uncontrollable Altruism, which is another way of saying Jeff learns that sometimes you’re a bad guy and sometimes you’re a good guy and you don’t really get to choose when or how that happens, but if you try to control it, you’re going to end up the bad guy, and if you stop trying to control it, goodness will prevail.
You could do this process with Neil, with the group, with Pierce and they might all be different and/or overlap in different ways…overall, to me, no matter what character you choose, this episode takes us on a beautiful circular journey around a central point where guilt, altruism, control and surrender intersect and merge with each other.
Yep, no doubt about it. It’s a great show! By the way, I can never mention this episode without giving shout outs to Andrew Guest and Chris McKenna, who stayed up all night writing the script with me for the table read so that the studio could give the note “they’re talking about goblins a lot.”
Start with random IDEAS. Ideas can be anything - Poop is an idea, America, pickles, the number six, a raccoon, anything.
Some ideas will reveal related ideas, i.e. you may think, upon thinking about raccoons, that you have more than one thought about raccoons. Clouds of related ideas that your mind recognizes as related in any way are potential story AREAS. Look for areas that make you laugh and cry.
Draw a circle to symbolize your area, because your story will take the “reader” through related ideas in a path around a central idea. You don’t have to know what the central idea is. It’s probably dumb. For God’s sake, you’re writing about raccoons.
Divide your circle into a top half and bottom half and ask yourself what those halves might be. Like, your raccoon area might become divided into “positive thoughts about raccoons” and “negative thoughts about raccoons.” If the division doesn’t feel charged for you, pick something else, like male raccoon thoughts and female raccoon thoughts, or biological raccoon thoughts and storybook raccoon thoughts. At some point, you will divide your area into two parts that create a personal “charge” for you, like a battery. ”Ooo, I like the idea that there’s a difference between biological raccoons and storybook raccoons, that tingled when I drew that line, I want to know more.” <— that’s my impression of you nailing it.
Divide the divided circle down the middle and pick another charged dichotomy for left and right. For instance, biological/storybook raccoon area could get divided into dishonest/honest.
Now you have four quadrants to your circle, going clockwise: biological dishonest raccoon, storybook dishonest raccoon, storybook honest raccoon, biological honest raccoon. Any point at which you stop feeling charged, go back a step or start over. Maybe you had to get this far to realize you don’t give a shit about raccoons. Please note that at this point, people around you will start to express confusion and frustration, because they thought the idea was fine already. Depending on your mood and standing, these people are called hacks, traitors, parasites, scabs or successful colleagues.
When you find an area that yields four charged quadrants, experiment with protagonists. Easy answer first, maybe I’m a raccoon. So once upon a time there was a dishonest biological raccoon that became a storybook raccoon, which lead to him becoming honest before finally going back to being biological again. Cool? If not, go back or start over. Again, please note that many people will not want you to go back or start over. These people will one day drown in their own blood while you point and laugh with God. Or maybe they’re good people and you just have Asperger’s.
Then you keep dividing the pie, adding “curvature” to the protagonist’s path with the 8 point story structure you can find me blathering about elsewhere online.
Create more characters as needed, give them their own stories as needed.
Repeat every day until rich people give you money to do it for them. Buy a house, become one of them and hire poor people to do it for you. Somewhere in there try to get a dog and a funny girlfriend or it’s all pretty pointless. Speaking of which, I just realized I’m the only one at the office. Thank you for this question.
I don't know if you answer the questions but I just wanna try it... To be honest, I only know you from Community and I believe the most important thing about this show is the human side of it...) Alright this was not the question I wanted to ask... I want to know if you ever feel stressed / depressed while writing (anything) and if you do how do you deal with it. Because I kinda take you as an example and I wanna know the answer of this question. Sorry for bothering.. :)
Stressed but not depressed. I get depressed when I’m inactive creatively, which happens when nobody’s waiting for me to finish anything. That can be an unfortunate syndrome, if nobody’s waiting to hear from you, why say anything, if you’re not saying anything, nobody’s listening, slipping you deeper and deeper into a creative coma.
The way out of those for me is to trick my brain into having a genuine deadline, with a genuine pressure on it. That’s why Schrab and I created Channel 101, incidentally, to force ourselves and our friends to do things, anything at all. It doesn’t have to be “good,” it just has to have a reason to be made (in fact, the desire to “make something good” is the biggest obstacle in our path to making things). One time when I was in a particularly slumpy slump, my friend Jeff told me he’d pay my rent if I gave him 30 pages of a script. That worked. Helped that he had that kind of money. You’d have to come up with your own trick, but it really has to trick your brain. When I hear writers talk about “setting deadlines for themselves” and “writing for a fixed amount of time each day,” I have to wonder, defensively, if they’re any good at writing. But if it works for them, I guess I’m just jealous as hell.
I don’t know of any other way to write than under stress. I’m going to shift into an even more pretentious-sounding gear here, but I think of creative acts as having a source somewhere outside our minds, and I think that what we call “making something” is actually us being “open to something that made itself.” Please forgive me, anyone reading this, I’m just being honest about how I feel. Anyway, the act of “being open” to these things it’s our job to channel is the agonizing part. You can open yourself to a single idea but as soon as you have one, your ego starts going “okay I’ll take it from here” and the channel closes. Staying open beyond a certain point, keeping your ego from spasming, is like standing on one foot or sustaining a fake yawn for 8 hours.
The odd thing I can’t figure out is why I don’t have to be stressed or pressured to write something like a rambling answer to a tumblr question about writing. I guess navel-gazing, ranting, pontification and overanalysis are some kind of stress relief for me. A chance to let my ego run around the yard between all-day sessions of it having to sit and accept that it’s not in charge.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity, and for keeping me from eating too many hot wings on lunch break. I have to read Tim Saccardo’s outline now. It’s gonna be a doooooooozy!
Tried to post this before i went under but it never went through. Waiting For an upper endoscopy. Still trying to figure something out about episode 501 of community. 502’s going to be great, 503’s going to be greater, 504 makes me cry sometimes…it’s really great to be back. It’s religiously, catastrophically, erotically great to be back. It was also not exactly torture to be gone, because, hey, less work. I was a better boyfriend and a better sleeper when I was a self centered knob in exile, free to mutter anything I wanted into my tumblr (and my tumbler). Now I’m a self centered knob that can let you down again, DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS FOR ME just kidding.
If you’re a writer, you already know it’s as fair as it is pretentious to describe writing as a challenge. If you’re a writer. If you have an honest job, here’s an attempt to explain: Remember that moment on your first day of work, when someone asked you to change the tanks, tie down the patient or feed the squirrel, and you realized, “oh, shit, I don’t know how to do that part yet?” That low-stakes fight or flight panic that stiffened your neck and tightened your stomach, because you had to figure something out so you could stop feeling like a useless asshole and get back to work? When you’re breaking a story, that moment is 12 hours long. When you’re not figuring out how to screw around, your job is to press your head against a transparent wall, staring at something you want on the other side. The worst part is, the wall is your own stupid limitation. It’s where your brain ends. It’s the boundary between what you know - which is currently useless, or else you’d be done - and the only thing useful, which is what you don’t know.