“Fuel” – Metallica (1997)

Hey, are you my Uber?
Gimme fuel
Gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire
Do you need to stop for gas or something?
Turn on… I see red
Adrenaline crash and crack my head
Nitro junkie, paint me dead
And I see red
Oh hey, I think you just ran a red light back there… and you’re going really fast.
One hundred plus through black and white
War horse, warhead
Fuck ’em man, white-knuckle tight
Through black and white
On I burn
Fuel is pumping engines
Burning hard, loose and clean
I don’t think that’s what fuel is.
And on I burn
Do you smell smoke?!
Churning my direction
Hey this isn’t my turn; I’m going to the airport!
Quench my thirst with gasoline
Omg are you drinking out of that gas can??
So gimme fuel
Gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire
Turn on beyond the bone
Swallow future, spit out home
Is that like dip?? Wtf are you doing, dude??
Burn your face upon the chrome
Holy shit stop putting your face on the hot chrome!! Why is your dash chrome? WHO ARE YOU
Take the corner, join the crash
Headlights, head on, headlines
Another junkie lives too fast


Yeah lives way too fast, fast, fast, oohhOH!
On I burn
Fuel is pumping engines
Burning hard, loose and clean
And on I burn
Churning my direction
Quench my thirst with gasoline
So gimme fuel
Gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire
Oh Yeah-heah
Gimme fuel
Gimme fire
My desire
On I burn
Fuel is pumping engines
Burning hard, loose and clean
And on I burn
Churning my direction
Quench my thirst with gasoline
Gimme fuel
Gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire
On I burn
… oh hey, we’re at the airport;  alright man, that was quick. Five stars.


Carry On Wayward Son

“Carry On Wayward Son” – Kansas (1976)

Carry on my wayward son
Wtf dad, what is wayward?
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Done with what? Is this about college? I know you said science is a safe bet, but I’m gonna be a film major. Kevin Smith is a huge inspir-
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
I’m not crying, you’re crying!
Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high
Oh no, is this another story about you doing acid as a teenager? I’m not on drugs. And no one does acid anymore.
Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I’m dreamin’, I can hear them say
Dad, those are flashbacks. You probably need to see a doctor.
Carry on my wayward son
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
… does this mean you’re not going to give me shit about film?
Masquerading as a man with a reason
Oh my fuck.
My charade is the event of the season
… are you trying to come out? Because if so that’s totally cool.
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know
Wait, so…
On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say
Wtf dad.
Carry on my wayward son
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
It’s not that big a deal, anyway. You don’t have to have a specific degree to get a good job anymore.
Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Wait, you’re not dying, are you?
Now your life’s no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you
Am I dying??
Carry on my wayward son
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
I gotta go.


No One Like You

“No One Like You” – Scorpions (1982)

Girl, it’s been a long time that we’ve been apart
Much too long for a man who needs love
New phone, who dis?
I miss you since I’ve been away
Aww, that’s sweet. Did you break up with someone?
Babe, it wasn’t easy to leave you alone
It’s getting harder each time that I go
If I had the choice, I would stay
Is this like a restraining order situation?
There’s no one like you
I can’t wait for the nights with you
Oh man, that’s really personal. Did you read the part where I’m not who you think I am?
I imagine the things we’ll do
Well… I got a little time…
I just want to be loved by you
Oh yeah?
No one like you
Wait – which is it?
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’ll do
I just want to be loved by you
Oh, right on. You meant THERE’S no one like you.
Girl, there are really no words strong enough
To describe all my longing for love
I don’t want my feelings restrained
I knew it! Restraining order!
Oh babe, I just need you like never before
Whadja do, man? Stalking? Beating up another dude? Not cool.
I just imagine you’d come through this door
You’d take all my sorrow away
Hold up – that’s unhealthy. You gotta fix yourself first.
There’s no one like you
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’ll do
I just want to be loved by you
So uh… what kinda things are you imagining? I’m not seeing anybody right now, so…
No one like you
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’ll do
I just want to be loved by you
… You said that already. Is this like a tease thing? I can dig it, but I really want to get more into what you’re imagining we’ll do.
No one like you
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’ll do
I just want to be loved by you
… are you having a glitch or something?
No one like you
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’ll do
I just want to be loved by you
I can see why she got a restraining order. You suck.


Hot Blooded

“Hot Blooded” – Foreigner (1978)

Well, I’m hot blooded, check it and see
Oh, no thank you.
I got a fever of a hundred and three
That sounds pretty serious.
Come on baby, do you do more than dance?
I do a lot of things. Can you be more specific?
I’m hot blooded, I’m hot blooded
Uh huh…
You don’t have to read my mind, to know what I have in mind
Honey you oughta know
… what?
Now you move so fine, let me lay it on the line
I’m literally just standing here.
I wanna know what you’re doin’ after the show
I was gonna go… elsewhere.
Now it’s up to you, we can make a secret rendezvous
Just me and you, I’ll show you lovin’ like you never knew
I’ll pass.
That’s why, I’m hot blooded, check it and see
I got a fever of a hundred and three
Come on baby, do you do more than dance?
I’m hot blooded, hot blooded
…Are you okay?
If it feels alright, maybe you can stay all night
I don’t remember agreeing to any of this.
Shall I leave you my key?
That’s really not necessary.
But you’ve got to give me a sign, come on girl, some kind of sign
Tell me, are you hot mama? you sure look that way to me
But I keep telling you I’m not interested.
Are you old enough? will you be ready when I call your bluff?
The fuck?
Is my timing right? did you save your love for me tonight?
Now hold on just a minute!
Yeah I’m hot blooded, check it and see
Feel the fever burning inside of me
Come on baby, do you do more than dance?
I’m hot blooded, I’m hot blooded, I’m hot
Why do you keep saying that? Are you having a stroke? Is it because of the fever?
Now it’s up to you, can we make a secret rendezvous?
Oh, before we do, you’ll have to get away from you know who
Do you mean my dad, or the police?
Well, I’m hot blooded, check it and see
I got a fever of a hundred and three
Come on baby, do you do more than dance?
I’m hot blooded, I’m hot blooded
I think I should go.
Hot blooded, every night
That’s really none of my business.
Hot blooded, you’re looking so tight
Excuse me?
Hot blooded, now you’re driving me wild
Hot blooded, I’m so hot for you, child
Do you WANT me to be jailbait?
Hot blooded, I’m a little bit high
Wait, what?
Hot blooded, you’re a little bit shy
I’m not shy – I just don’t want to have sex with you.
Hot blooded, you’re making me sing
Again, nope.
Hot blooded, for your sweet sweet thing
Hello, officer?…


12. The Fifth Element – Kinda Transcript/Kinda Notes

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/12-the-fifth-element

The Fifth Element (PG-13) – 1997
72% Rotten tomatoes

Directed by Luc Besson, a Frenchman. He also directed Leon: The Professional and wrote on the Transporter and Taken movies. Plus a ton of others. This fella is prolific. And perhaps a prodigy. He wrote an early draft of The Fifth Element as a teenager. By all accounts he was an extremely creative child, and found film as a way to express all aspects of his creativity. This skill may have come from his early years travelling the world with his parents, avid scuba divers. All that aquatic exploration may have shaped his imagination from an early age. His latest venture is the space opera, Valerian, which I’m frankly not too excited about, but I’ll guess we’ll see.

The elements (https://www.homesciencetools.com/a/four-elements; http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2002/tubb/elements.htm)

The fifth element referred to in the title is life. It’s a combination of the four classic elementals: earth, water, fire, and air. These elements were designated by, like so many other things, the ancient Greeks. They decided that these elements made up everything in the universe, and these four things were all essential for life. Aristotle, always a rebel, argued for a fifth element, one he called aether, that supposedly composed stars. The elements led scientific thinking for millenias. All four elements were present in everything, but in different proportions. A good example of this is taken from a bunch of ancient Greeks arguing this theory, courtesy of http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2002/tubb/elements.htm:

You take a stick and burn it.

  • Since the stick burns, it obviously contains fire.
  • A dirty residue is left behind once the stick has burnt, so the stick also contains earth.
  • The residue is damp, so water must be present.
  • The burning stick gives off smoke, and thus air is in there too.

When the Middle Ages rolled around and people couldn’t box everything into these four properties, alchemical science was founded, which added three more elements to the original Aristotelian four: quicksilver, brimstone, and salt. Alchemy is a real shit show, and never did anyone ever good, but it makes for entertaining reading and script writing.

Back to Aristotle and his dusty cave. The elements were also used to describe the different temperaments of people. This is where Hippocrates got the principle of the humors, the forces of the human body responsible for health and well-being. Balanced humors meant a healthy person; an imbalance resulted in illness or disease.

This all sounds like malarkey, but the Greeks turned out to be kinda sorta right. The modern states of matter are solid, liquid, gas, and plasma, which if you stretch you can say equate to earth, water, air, and fire, respectively. They also thought the nature of change was due to compelling and repelling forces, which is kinda sorta what happens at the atomic level, buutttttt it’s another stretchy one.

Enough about bad yet historically important science. Let’s fast forward to the future science fiction! There’s a lot of futuristic stuff going on in The Fifth Element. We have flying cars, gnarly weapons, a boat load of aliens, suspicious architecture, flashy clothes and weird half masks, and lots of space travel. I have a favorite on that list. Yep. The weapons.


I don’t know if you remember, but when we did Big Trouble in Little China, we discussed some racist characters that often show up in movies. One was the cowardly/incompetent black sidekick, and the example given was Chris Tucker’s character in The Fifth Element.

It’s a pretty pervasive problem in Hollywood. This is no surprise. Straight white men have been dominating the screen since the beginning. As a matter of fact, one of the first films ever, D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915) is extremely racist. The movie depicts black people as animalistic: violent and hyper-sexual, and it’s overtly sympathetic to the Klan and seems pretty pro slavery. It depicts anti-miscegenation, which also came up in Big Trouble in Little China, not surprisingly, because it’s a predictable result of a racist system. The point is, racism in entertainment is not a new problem. But you would think that 100 years later we would have come to our senses, right? OF COURSE NOT. The #oscarssowhite was in reaction to predominantly black movies not being given consideration for Oscar nominations, as well as men and women of color not receiving acting nominations at nearly the same proportional rate as white actors, especially for the biggest categories. In 2015 and 2016, there were NO people of color nominated in the four biggest Oscars categories. Hopefully this Twitter campaign will have helped to bring awareness to diversity in Hollywood, and the 2017 award for Moonlight, Mahershala Ali, and Viola Davis (who won in the supporting categories) won’t be just an empty placation gesture. According to The Guardian, Halle Berry is still the only non-white woman to have won for Best Actress, and only 7% of the Best Actor winners are men of color.

So what does this have to do with Chris Tucker? Well, he’s an example of how people of color are pigeon-holed into particular roles. The same Guardian article lists the stereotypical roles typically available to people of color. Some of these overlap with the cracked.com list we used in Big Trouble, but there are some new ones here.

  1. The magical Negro – again, John Coffee in the Green Mile, Whoopi’s character in Ghost, etc.
  2. Thug – these are either aggressive characters (Boys in the Hood), or they’re the kids with potential that live in a bad environment (Dangerous Minds)
  3. Superhuman Athlete – Typically found and nurtured by a white guys: Cool Runnings, Jerry Maguire, Creed
  4. Super rich evil Arab sheikh – always out to nab white women. Or kill them.
  5. Awkward de-sexualized Asian – Kal Penn in Van Wilder, any movie with nerds
  6. Mammy – This is a woman who is a servant in a white family’s home, who appears to have to life or ambition of her own except to counsel and nurture these white idiots and their drama: Gone with the Wind, The Help, It’s a Wonderful Life
  7. Jaded older police office – Like… any movie where Morgan Freeman is a cop. Or Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon.
  8. Eternal sidekick – “limited usefulness” and whose help is often accidental, this character’s only purpose in the movie is to entertain the audience, often at their own expense, while they move the white lead forward.
  9. Sassy confidant – basically the black friend in any romantic comedy.
  10. Terrorist – We all know what this is.

The thing I find most interesting when I’m watching a movie that has a mostly white cast is WHY. Nothing about Leeloo’s character makes it necessary for her to be white. Same with Korbin. Same with many, many, many characters in many movies and TV shows. Why is there such a preference to cast white actors? I think it has something to do with the idea that white movies are for everybody, but if you have a “black” movie, then only black people are going to go pay for a ticket to see it.


So, you would think that in the 2200’s things would change a bit. Well, they have. Cross dressing seems to be totally acceptable, but it’s combined with stereotypically flaming behavior, and this gets Ruby Rhod alllll the … ladies? So it seems that acceptable gender norms for men have expanded. What about the ladies??? Oh. They’re still reduced to sex objects. Cool. Speaking of stereotypes, we have a few here. There are the sexy secretaries, the nagging mother, the diva. Leeloo is the female that breaks the mold, and she is supposedly the perfect woman. But what does that mean? Thigh gap. Gorgeous. Preternaturally intelligent and athletically gifted. Empathetic. Speed reader. Polyglot. Looks good in orange. But…. also treated and depicted as a child, as Sarah Hensel points out. She’s infantilized at every turn. Granted this is complicated, since technically she is kind of a newborn. But she’s also sexualized. It’s a little gross.

Favorite quote: “Bzzzzzzzz. Bzz bzz bzzz.” – Ruby Rhod

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!


10. Highlander – Kinda Transcript/Kinda Notes

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/11-highlander

Highlander (R) – 1986
70% rotten tomatoes

Yet another movie that has us questioning ourselves, because we’re more attracted to the feckless bad guy than the steadfast hero.

Other things we questions – why is Sean Connery playing a Spaniard? Is his costume ANYWHERE near accurate? The second question is hard to answer (for me at least) because most articles I found were either focused on English fashion or women’s fashion. If any readers out there know the answer to this question, we would love to hear from you!

A fellow by the internet handle S John said it best in his Westeros thread called “Things I Don’t Understand About Highlander,” “It’s a bit jarring that Sean Connery, an actual Scottish guy, is cast to play a Spanish/Egyptian guy while a dude with a vaguely French accent is cast to play the Scottish guy.”

Also a fair point by S John – why can there be only one? To which I add: In which case, why were there ever more than one? How did multiples comes about if the magic dictates that there can be only one? Were a certain number of immortal souls just plopped onto the earth, scattered, and told to destroy each other? By whom? For what purpose? Who orchestrated this “prize”??

S continues pointing out the logical fallacies by questioning why on earth James Bond would be training someone he SHOULD be (based on the rules of the magic we’ve bought into) compelled to kill. Another commenter pointed out that Connery is I guess devoting his life to training other “good” immortals so it will be more likely that an “evil” immortal (like Kurgan) won’t win. But still – it seems like it might be a better use of his time to organize better.

I interject here with another logical fallacy – if they are immortal, why are they all different ages? Is aging not arrested at some set point for immortals? If you’re going to tell me that they just age incredibly slowly, then I will call bullshit because that means they’re just elves. And if the prize is mortality, aren’t they all winners in reality? Cause the end game of mortality is death.

Not to arrest the aging of this line of questions, but another commenter, drawkcabi, put it best saying, “I find it’s best just not to ask questions about Highlander, it just is and let it go at that. The more questions you ask, the more questions they lead to, and I’ve always been afraid that you can pick this scab so deep you start unraveling the threads of the universe.” Hear, hear. This thread devolves quickly into questions about the specifics and logistics of what constitutes decapitation (and how would regeneration work if sliced through the torso), queries on the actual accent McLeod has, and the physics of Kurgan’s sword. It’s a nerdly beautiful thing that you should check out if you get a minute. Or hours.

So from here, I’m going to follow some of the threads we’ve just pulled, instead of pulling ever more.

Let’s talk about immortality – mostly in terms of Western lore and characters. Immortality is a fickle bitch. When we see pursuit of immortality, there’s always some type of hidden consequence. When we see immortal figures, they always have baggage associated with it, such as a loss of humanity, or a yearning to be mortal again.

LiveScience compiled a list of the top ten immortals, and I think some of these are good examples of archetypes or tropes of immortals.

Arwen (representative of elves) – she’s a force of good and innocence, and ultimately gives up her immortality for her mortal love.

Grail Knight – an immortal? who guards the vessel of… just healing? Immortality? I was never sure of it’s actual purpose, or whether the grail just kind of fit whatever situation. In this case, the immortality afforded did not seem to altogether stop the atrophy of aging.

Highlander – DUH

Dorian Gray – A moral cautionary tale against pride and vanity. A handsome young man manages to transfer his aging process to a portrait of himself, while he is sustained physically ageless in the way a portrait is.  Essentially a “real beauty is on the inside” tale.

Tithonus – A human lover of the goddess Eos turned immortal by Zeus himself. This is a real “gotcha” in line with tricksy manner of the gods. Tithonus is turned immortal, but not ageless. So while he lives on, he also ages on. Horrifying to contemplate.

Nicolas Flamel – Dumbledore’s friend who supposedly created the Sorcerer’s Stone, which granted eternal life. But apparently only so long as it was in existence, because when the stone was destroyed, so too was Flamel’s immortality.

Methuselah – This one is kind of playing fast and loose with the definition of immortal. Methuselah is a biblical character purported to have lived to over 900 years of age. I’m 100% certain that age was measured exactly the same literal way in the bible as we do now.

Lazarus Long – A character from science fiction, Lazarus is again more of a super long living fellow rather than actually immortal. His 2,000+ years are the result of selective breeding and science.

Dracula (representative of vampires) – The father of the vampires, those who cease aging (and living, technically) once the vampire condition is transmitted to them. This happens in a multitude of ways and means throughout literature and media, but the most common mode of transmission is the bite.

Peter Pan – Is this non-aging because a feature of being in Neverland? It seems that way since one of the movie versions shows a Peter Pan who’s grown up in the time since he left.

I looked through a few other sources and ultimately decided to exclude aliens (yes, this includes the Doctor), gods, and superheroes from the list, because so are immortal as a given that it’s not worth listing individuals.


Immortality is vexingly defined as unending existence or living forever. Applying this concept to humans takes a little bit more work. For instance, let’s just say that there is an immortal human wandering around. (Let’s go ahead and assume for the time being that this person is also invulnerable). What happens when the sun burns out in a few billion years? Or what happens when a runaway greenhouse effect turns the earth into a place uninhabitable by mortal biological creatures? What does an immortal do, wandering an in turns scorched and frozen wasteland, devoid of vegetation, water, air, and animal life? Does he suffer in unending agony? When an asteroid turns the planet into a giant claymore, does he float in space like a rogue satellite for all eternity? It seems that as humans, we still have to put limitations on immortality, lest the overwhelming prospect of continued existence beyond what we can conceive of bring us to our existential knees.

Invulnerability is the inability to be hurt or get sick. Think Luke Cage. These folks may still age normally (or maybe a little left of normal); invulnerability is not the same as immortality.

Favorite quote: “I apologize for calling your wife a bloated warthog, and I bid you good day.” – Connor MacLeod

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

9. Outlander 1.1 – Sassenach

(The Outlander series of podcasts is not researched or prepared in advance the same way as our regular podcasts. Because of this, our accompanying blog posts will not contains notes/transcripts.)

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/website/9-outlander-11-sassenach

Episode 1.1 “Sassenach” – original air date August 9, 2014
Starz network

Nikki and Sher launch a sub-series! We’ll be reviewing all the episodes of Outlander, beginning with seasons one and two, which have already aired, in honor of droughtlander. We’ll continue reviewing episodes until the end of the series!

Here we bring you the first episode (“Sassenach”) in which our unwitting heroine finds herself thrust two hundred years in the past. Leaving the 1940’s, she find herself in a boatload of danger, knowing next to nothing about the 18th century (expect all the bad parts), and having no resources or acquaintances. Will she find a way back home? Will she figure out the underwear? Will she being accustomized to semi-regular bathing?

*Warning – this episode, and all others in the series, will contain SPOILERS, both for the television series and for the books. You’ve been warned!

Favorite Quote: “I’ve never heard a woman use such language in my life.” – Dougal MacKenzie

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

8. The Beastmaster – Kinda Transcript/Kinda Notes

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/8-the-beastmaster

The Beastmaster – 1982
PG Rating
42% rotten tomatoes
Budget was $8M, and didn’t gross much more than that.

Rip Torn is in this movie!!!! – Full disclosure – I haven’t watched this yet, so my commentary may be somewhat lacking tonight.

Okay, so apparently Rip Torn magically takes an unborn fetus out of this lady and puts it into an ox… giving him some witchy ESP that works on animals and making him a hunted outcast. I’m sure this will all make sense as I’m watching, and that Rip Torn has completely plausible motives and this was not just an overly elaborate way to do something that could have been accomplished by much simpler means.

To start off, the cover makes it totally look like this chick is one of the beasts that The Beastmaster masters. She’s crouching down there by his feet with the panther, and has a similar look of generic ferocity.

So, not knowing anything about this movie, I have focused on this animal ESP thing. The Beastmaster is not the only cult hero that can commune with animals. An article in Screen Rant has listed fifteen superheroes can “talk to animals,” but in some cases it’s really more cooperating with or manipulating or having an affinity for animals. We shall commence!

  1. Catwoman (DC; Villain) – so, cannon does not give her any ability to talk to cats; she just enjoys a mutual affinity. A few of the movie and TV incarnations have played with this though, giving her magical cat herding abilities.


  1. Professor X (MV; Hero) – this kind of feels like a cheat since he can psychically override just about anything with a brain.


  1. Vixen (DC; Hero) – this seems like a fairly racist one; she can channel animal powers, but mostly African animals, since she was born there, but maybe not, since the amulet that gives her this power was stolen from one of the African gods. I’m not sure how that one shakes out.


  1. Circe (DC; Villain) – Okay, this one is fairly deep. She based on the Circe from Homer’s Odyssey, who was the witch that turned the sailors into pigs. Supposedly she can communicate with real animals, but mostly controls the humans that she has turned into animals.


  1. Moonstar (Marvel; Hero) – She seems to be able to connect telepathically with animals, rather than control them, to see through their eyes and feel what they feel.


  1. Beast Boy (DC; Hero) – He can shapeshift into animals (the result of an experimental medical treatment), but cannot communicate very articulately to them.


  1. Hawkman/Hawkgirl (DC; Heros) – These two have really complicated and conflicting storylines, and so the ability to communicate with and control birds is erratic, but stems from their alien technology.


  1. Koi Boy and Chipmunk Hunk (Marvel; Heroes) – Ummmm. Yeah. Pretty much what you would think.


  1. Chat (Marvel; Hero) – The ScreenRant article describes her as a Snow White figure – animals love her and happily do her bidding.


  1. Nature Girl (Marvel; Hero) – She can communicate with and command animals, and even plants and demons.


  1. Wonder Woman (DC; Hero) – This is an ability based on her being an Amazon – she can easily communicate with and control animals, and is depicted as actual speech instead of empathy.


  1. Animal Man (DC; Hero) – This fella has a complicated backstory involving reanimation and an alien force field. He’s got it all – he can shapeshift, control any animal, take on their abilities, and communicate with them.


  1. Ant-Man and Wasp (Marvel; Heroes) – Ant-Man uses his helmet to communicate with ants; he doesn’t control them exactly, but they seem to like him and play along. Wasp’s powers come from genetic modification.


  1. Squirrel Girl (Marvel; Hero) – Again, it’s all there in the name.

1. Aquaman (DC; Hero) – He can communicate with sea life, and his pet companion is a frickin’ kraken.

So clearly the comic books characters have various and varying abilities as regards animal manipulation. So what comes to mind when you think of animal communication in the real world? Perhaps the most badass talent – snake charming!

Funny story – I recently got into a debate with my husband about snake charming and whether or not it was a real thing – I was convinced it was one of those overblown racist misinterpretations of a foreign culture during the time that the British Empire was trying to take over the world. We know snakes don’t really hear, and music always factors greatly into portrayals on TV (that same damn tune, which is actually a song called “The Streets of Cairo, or the Poor Little Country Maid”, and is also often associated with the hoochie coochie belly dance (which is often provocative in nature) – partial lyrics are as follows: “Soak your ass in the tureen/If it’s hot it burns/If it burns it’s that it’s hot!” other variations: “There’s a place in France/Where the ladies where no pants/But the men don’t care/’Cause they don’t wear underwear”)

I found a Popular Science article explaining that the music is actually just there for entertainment value; what controls the snake is the charmer waving the flute thingy in the snake’s face. The snake interprets it as a threat and what we see is the snake rising in a defensive pose. The snake sways in response to the swaying of the flute thingy. So, essentially the charmer is using his flute to pick a fight with a snake. Which is still a pretty cool display of evolutionary defensive instincts if you think about it, but it still seems kind of mean. As for my husband, I’m calling this one a draw. The snakes are not charmed so much as they’re provoked, but it is a real thing that happens, so I guess we’re tied.

Sadly, NPR reports that snake charming is a dying art. I’m ambiguous on this one because perhaps the snakes aren’t really having a great time here, but this is also a cultural art with a lot of history, and it’s always sad to see something like that go away, especially if the snakes are treated humanely, which I have no way of knowing. Animal rights activists are venomously opposed to the practice (har, har), but the charmers themselves seem to respect the snakes, the good ones, anyway. There are some terrible people out there who apparently mutilate the animals to make sure they aren’t dangerous, but some insist that their taming methods are humane and the snakes are eventually released back into the wild.

There is a wildlife group in India that is trying to re-purpose remaining snake charmers so that they would be employed removing dangerous snakes from populated areas and relocating them to wilder areas. I feel like that’s a win-win – the snakes are no longer in danger of exploitation, and these artists don’t lose their livelihoods. The article hits it on the head though, and states that the real loss is the charmer’s flute, which the snakes don’t even hear anyway.

So what else, Nikki? What have we personally been exposed to semi-recently? In a giant castle that looked like it was made of Lego blocks? That’s right! Falconry! And horsemanship!

So, when I think of falconry, I automatically think of Samwell Tarly and his ravens, or the Owlery in Harry Potter, or carrier pigeons, sending spy messages during WWII. The reality isn’t quite so sexy, but it’s still pretty cool, albeit extremely nerdy. According to the North America Falconers Association, it takes at least seven years to become a master falconer. There is an apprenticeship involved (as with all awesome trades) and the daily time commitment is intense. You also have to have access to an adequate amount of land. This is not a hobby for apartment dwellers. Falconers are also required to be humane and eco-responsible.

Speaking of carrier pigeons… they have a long history of carrying message for us earthbound humans. There are references to pigeon mail in the bible, and they’ve been used to convey messages during war all over the world throughout much of history, up until recently. And guess what! You can still have messages sent via homing pigeons. Well, sort of. There’s a company in Texas that will take your message, have a homing pigeon fly around with it, then attach it to a letter of authenticity and mail it (via conventional methods) to your recipient. Their website is pigeongram.com, if anyone out there is interested. It’s not terribly expensive, and it’s fairly adorable. Frighteningly for me, there is no statement of humane treatment on their website, but I’m trying not to jump to conclusions. I’m sure their pigeons are very well cared for.

Alright, moving on to horses, my personal soft spot. Tween-age me was 100% Tina from Bob’s burgers. I had horse posters everywhere – a horse Trapper Keeper, horse books, notebooks, I even managed to get myself a job at a stable when I was 12 so I could work for my lessons (cause we was broke as hell) and during that time all my best friends were horses (I’m not even joking). PBS did an article about horse whispering. This really boils down to people who are really good at communicating with horses through non-supernatural means. Just as some people have an uncanny ability to hit a ball speeding at their face with a stick of wood, some folks have a great talent for sending and understanding cues with certain animals. Animals have personalities just like people, and like some people are able to get along with anybody, some people seem able to get along with any horse. The article states that often this understanding is the result of a lot of work, and a compatible partnership between human and horse. People that put a lot of time and effort into learning how to decipher cues from their horses, and send cues the horses can interpret, earn the title of horse whisperer. I think this is true for any animal, and in some cases these skills may translate across different types of animals, but that’s just my opinion.

In the storied comic tradition of heroes or villains rallying animals to help them, we some real world, though less dramatic, examples of that as well. Therapy animals! Animal therapy is one of my favorite things that exists in the world. I always had animals growing up and I’ve always had a love and respect for them. I benefited a lot from horse friends – I had a lot of low self esteem as a kid; we moved around a lot and I was always the outsider. But when I was with our dogs, or with the horses at the stable, they didn’t care about any of that crap. They were affectionate to me without me worrying that it was a cruel trick or pity or a social project. My dog doesn’t care if I get fat or don’t wash my hair. It’s very liberating and a warm, furry emotional band-aid.

Therapy animals have been found to be helpful in everything from rehabilitation to PTSD to social disorders and physical disabilities and depression. http://www.equestriantherapy.com/ claims that horses are the most utilized species of therapy animal, but of course dogs and cats commonly fill this role as well.

Favorite Quote: “I’m Dar.” – Dar

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

7. The Twilight Zone: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” – Kinda Transcript/Kinda Notes

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/7-the-twilight-zone-nightmare-at-20000-feet

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet – Aired October 1963
(William Shatner version)

This episode would not be as striking if Bob Wilson had not just had a nervous breakdown. The atmosphere or mood is very intimate – the plane feels like a microcosm of mental illness in society. We have people, all in the same place, doing the same thing, receiving the same stimuli, but one person is having a vastly different experience from the others. The other passengers are calmly sitting, biding their time for the duration of the flight. Meanwhile, Bob sees a threat that no one else does, one that’s trying to dismantle this container that’s keeping him safe while he’s hurtling through the air.

Could a mammal survive flight on a wing?


It’s going to be very, very cold. Cases reported of people being outside the cabin area of a plane (ie – in the wing storage, on the wing, hanging out of a door, in the landing gear) well below cruising altitude (this is a critical point), consistently report frostbite as a consequence. Also, incidents where the person survived reported a short time of exposure.

So what would happen if you tried to hitch a ride on the wing of a plane because you really miss your family that lives far away but you can’t afford the exorbitant airfare? (not specific to a 1963 aircraft)

There’s hardly any air

At 35,000 feet, you only have about one quarter of the air that’s available to your poor lungs at sea level, which is a more reasonable altitude for humans.

Your lungs would explode

because the atmospheric pressure would cause the air (a gas) inside the lungs to expand inside them very quickly and forcefully.

You would freeze https://www.quora.com/How-cold-is-it-outside-when-an-airplane-flies-at-its-highest

The temperature at 30-40,000 feet could hit 48 degrees below (in Fahrenheit; 44 below in Celsius) or lower. That’s taking into account altitude; let’s go further and factor in velocity as well. With the wind chill traveling at around 550 mph and cruising 30-35,000 feet, you would experience 182 below (in Farenheit). That’s 119 below in Celsius.

You would be ripped off the plane and go tumbling toward the surface of the Earth and certain death. https://what-if.xkcd.com/66/

I didn’t actually find this stated explicitly anywhere, but I extrapolated from an XKCD article in which the author states that humans can survive 500 mph winds, but winds at those speeds are strong enough to peel pavement back from the road and that volcanic eruptions can blast outward around 700 mph, which doesn’t seem terribly different from 500 mph, considering a 120 mph updraft can lift you up and carry you away.

I know I said I wasn’t using information specific to planes available in 1963, but just to highlight the difference, a DC-7, built from 1953 to 1958, had a cruise speed of around 350 mph or 563 km/h, while a Boeing 747 (in production seince 1963) has a cruise speed of around 560 mph, or 900 km/h.

On a slightly unrelated note, I found a news story about some local kids who took to the trees during a tornado and held on until their grandparents found them, and then they were able to wait it out in the car. To be fair, this was an EF-2 tornado, so wind speeds were between 111 and 135 miles per hour, or 178 to 217 km/h, which is significant. Trees can be uprooted, small debris can be weaponized, train boxcars may overturn, roofs may abandon their frames, so it’s no joke.


I don’t remember hearing about this, but it was in January of this year, in Barnwell State Park, which is in Barnwell County, South Carolina.

Under what conditions could you survive?

In a spacesuit

<Baseless speculation>

How WOULD one stay on the wing of a plane, given that he or she had figured out how to stay alive (likely in a spacesuit)?

Sher’s idea – perhaps some very strong magnets, but I doubt you’d be able to move about freely like the gremlin does. I can imagine if you just have magnetic boots and are standing, your body would be thrown backward from the force of the wind, and with your feet anchored, you’d probably break your spine, and other things. I think duct tape might work. I know these winds can peel pavement from the ground, but watching MacGyver as a kid has given me and unrealistic and largely untested faith in duct tape.

Actual occurrences of creatures on wings

A python was found to have attached itself to the wing of plane that flew from northern Australia to Papua New Guinea and reached an altitude 30,000 feet. Sadly, this brave little reptile did not survive.

What happens if screws come loose on your plane

A passenger on an Air Canada flight took a photo of a screw THAT HAD COME LOOSE FROM THE PROPELLER AND EMBEDDED ITSELF IN HIS WINDOW. Luckily nothing bad happened and the plane landed without further incident. But then I went down a scary rabbit hole and read an article about a PROPELLOR BREAKING OFF AND CRASHING THROUGH THE CABIN. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/11/10/passenger-propeller-air-canada-flight_n_6131600.html Apparently, there was an issue right after take off – passengers heard a loud boom, and the plane made an emergency landing at an airport not far away. The landing gear collapsed (not sure if this part was confirmed), but some passengers reported smelling burning flammable type liquids and seeing sparks. The plane was skidding across the tarmac with a sound like shredding metal, and the propellor “snapped off…and hurtled through the cabin wall,” hitting a woman in the head. Additionally, fiberglass and other materials from the inside of the cabin embedded in her skin. I decided to stop reading about terrifying plane mishaps at this point, and instead focus on the question begging to be ask. When are screws used in a plane versus rivets, versus welding?

Are planes riveted or screwed or welded?

I didn’t know how to even Google this, so I reached out to Nikki’s friend Robin. You remember Robin, he’s the one who callously immolated Pocket Sher in California. Robin is an airplane mechanic, so he should know about this.

It was fun asking him this question and then seeing the little “typing” dots bounce and then stop for a while, and then bounce for a while and then stop, and so on and so on.

<any errors are entirely my fault, not Robin’s>

Robin says that it varies a great deal, but the underlying principle of flying machines is efficiency, so you want to save weight where you can do so safely. However, given that, the screws on the wing of a plane generally secure access panels for maintenance and such. The wings of the plane are securely bolted and riveted to the fuselage, and are under a great deal of torque. Torque is rotational force, and from what little I understand, functions within a delicate balance of aerodynamic forces to make flight possible. So it’s extremely unlikely that the gremlin could a) stay on the wing, and b) detach the engine or the wing itself. But if he could, he would disrupt those delicate balances and make a safe landing much more difficult.

The Gremlin

This thing is ridiculous – the internet calls him an oversized teddy bear, but when I first saw it many years ago, I thought it kind of looked like the missing link, back when we thought there was still a missing link. It’s neanderthal-ish and ape-ish all at the same time.

There’s a wiki fandom called Villains Wikia that compares the gremlin from the 1963 episode to the one in the 1983 movie, starring John Lithgow and Dan Akroyd. The movie gremlin has more monster-y properties. I can’t bring myself to say scary, because it’s still ridiculous. Villians Wikia notes that the original gremlin seems more curious than nefarious. The movie gremlin seems like a condescending douche, to be honest. And bites a gun in half. The tv gremlin almost seems like he’s exploring the plane the way a child takes apart a toy they love. And then Bob shoots him. http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/Gremlin_(Twilight_Zone)

Which brings me to my next point. Can you even open an airplane door during flight?

According to a Slate.com article, no, at least not on modern planes. At cruising altitude, there are three to four tons of force pushing on the plane. So you would have to pull with slightly more than equal force to open the escape hatch, which opens inward. The doors, which open outward, are designed so that when they are closed, they fit onto a frame that has to be pulled inward to open, so same deal.

But what about a plane in use in 1963? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0734600/trivia?tab=gf&ref_=tt_trv_gf According to IMDB, the plane is actually an accidental amalgam of a Convair 240/340/440 and a DC-6 or DC-7. In the same Slate article, it states that the locking mechanisms in the DC-10 eventually stopped carrying passengers and switched over to freight after a locking mechanism failure on a cargo door caused a horrific crash. Since the DC-10 comes after the DC-7, it stands to reason that Bob Wilson actually may have been able to open the airplane door. Someone else can ask Robin if it’s possible, and then we’ll know for sure.

Favorite Quote: “There’s … a man … out there!” – Bob Wilson

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

6. Hocus Pocus – Kinda Transcript/Kinda Notes

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/6-hocus-pocus

Hocus Pocus – 1993
30% rotten tomatoes
Set in Salem, Massachusetts

History of Salem Witch Trials

Salem is very likely most famous for the witch trials at the end of the 17th century. Salem, like all US cities, was stolen from native inhabitants. Rather than appropriating the native name, in a twist ironic racism, the settlers decided to name it after the Hebrew word for peace.

The witch panic began in 1692. Ultimately 19 people were hanged, and one person, A 71 YEAR OLD MAN, was crushed to death, and a handful died in prison, because 17th century prisons sucked. Many more were incarcerated, but ultimately released the next year. All told, about 200 people total were accused. The Salem Witch Trials were, thankfully, the last time US citizens were hanged for witchcraft, according to this article. I feel that wording is significant – they do not state that no one else was put to death for witchcraft, only that they weren’t hanged.

The hysteria (a word I vehemently object to) began with a gaggle of teenaged girls. They claimed they were possessed by the devil and accused other women of witchcraft. I believe this was a deflection tactic of some sort. Anyhoo, the first woman to be hanged was named Bridget Bishop. The trials at first were the talk of the town, but as it always does with the public, over-exposure turned the tide of sentiment. The government, in addition to releasing the imprisoned citizens, annulled the guilty verdicts and provided restitution to the families of the victims. Yes, victims.

Salem is now a popular tourist spot. Part of this appeals to my macabre love of grisly horror, but another part of me feels immense guilt at the capitalization off of such human suffering and miscarriage of justice. We complain a lot of the failure of the justice system today (and much of that is absolutely warranted – people of color, women, the poor, are routinely shat on in the courts), but clearly this is not a new phenomenon. This is how sensationalism creates a fever pitch and blood lust for entertainment can supersede reason and rational consideration of actual facts.


SO, witchcraft was a big thing for a long time. Religion has long been used a form of social control. Oh wait… did I think that out loud…

Moving on… In my experience as having grown up in the bosom of the church, I was constantly bombarded with such impossible conundrums as “if you love Jesus enough, you’ll keep temptation at bay” and also “the devil sometimes tries to trick you by sounding like what Jesus would want you to do” and so when you ask questions like “well if you’re pure of heart you should just know the difference.” Now not only is this an intensely frustrating unsolvable logical problem, but it also establishes the person being at fault for any wrong doing regardless of intention or naivete. Because even if you were trying to do the right thing but a wrong thing happened, you’ll be blamed because a true Christian would never have been led astray. Which means that you’re not a true Christian. You’ve either willingly or unwittingly allowed the devil to take root in a corner of your heart. And this is how you can argue against rational explanations for coincidental occurrences. It’s impossible to disprove the existence of something that’s unprovable. You can’t disprove the existence of Jedi anymore than you can prove it, though you can come up with a multitude of arguments for or against, in the same way you can’t prove or disprove the idea that Goody Putnam sent her familiar to the neighbor’s house to ruin their best milking cow. Just as a side note, there actually physically exists in Vermont a round church. It’s round so that there are no corners in which the devil can hide (according to one legend. Other possible explanations include having no exterior corners around which vagabond can sneak up from and attack). I’ve been there. It’s charming and beautiful, but creepy and sad.

Back to the witches. The witch anxiety was most active in Europe from the 14th through the 17th century. Most of this anti-witch sentiment was focused towards women, but also some men, and also came across the Atlantic with the settlers. In America, the Salem Witch Trials represent the last blast of this type of irrational mass paranoia, which may have been exacerbated by displaced angst over some immediately prior battles in the area between French and English forces. There was also a lack of resources, and a lot of infighting amongst local families and authority figures. Naturally, rather than dealing with their problems like sane adults, they decided the devil was at work dividing their community and creating these problems.

So when a couple girls, who were up to no good, started makin trouble in the neighborhood, they threw one little fit, and the town got scared, they said, you’re in league with the devil and his unholy horde down in hell.

But in all seriousness, these gals were younnng. 9 and 11. They exhibited bizarre behavior – contortions, screaming tantrums, and speaking in tongues, sort of. A doctor, the local voice of reason, said it was supernatural. Big, scary, intimidating male town officials leaned on the girls to disclose the cause of their distress. So, naturally, they selected three disenfranchised women for whom much love was not likely lost. Two of these women denied all claims, but one woman clearly saw where this was headed and just played along. This catalyzed a proper witch hunt and people just lost their shit. I think the whole town was in court as a person of interest or a person with interest for months. People had lost their shit. A four year old girl was questioned! A tiny kid! What clearly happened is that people that held grudges against others decided this was a great time to get some pure, uncut comeuppance. There was one fella who rose to the top of the illiterate masses (I’m sorry, that was uncharitable), the ignorant masses, was the minister Cotton Mather, who lobbied to have unsubstantiatable evidence, such as dreams. His son, named Increase (never mind about him rising to the top – I take it back) uttered what we now consider the golden rule of the justice system: “It were better that ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person be condemned.” This kinda sounds like innocent until proven guilty. BONGBONG. So what would happen next if this were a reality show? That’s right! Mather’s wife was accused of witchcraft. The governor steps in at this point, releases the witches…. I mean innocent citizens… and also gets rid of the special court that was created to deal specifically with the witch infestation. I mean mismanagement of tweenage hysterics. Was this the end? No. The governor substituted a different, albeit saner, court. They didn’t allow the rapture evidence, and so only three more people were condemned. The governor came back, because apparently if you want something undone right, you have to undo it yourself. He pardoned everyone accused who hadn’t already been murdered by the governing body. After a time, some folks involved in sentencing came to their senses and admitted THEY WERE THE HYSTERICAL ONES. Jokes. But they did apologize and admit that it was ridiculous, and the general court came and shamed them and put the town in time out. But those dead folks were still dead.

I think most of us are probably most familiar with Arthur Miller’s play about the Salem Witch Trials, The Crucible. For some reason, it remains a high school drama club favorite. The play was written in 1953, and Miller was canny enough to see the similarities between the Salem Witch Trials and the McCarthy Hearings. Just substitute communism for witchcraft, but no one was hanged, just blacklisted, ruining their careers and lives.

One theory about a potential medical cause for the girls’ behavior is fungus ergot, which can contaminate crops, can cause symptoms exhibited by the girls.

Favorite Quote: “Oh look, another glorious morning. Makes me sick!” – Winifred

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!