Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Hi, this is Mike."

For the second time, an Object de Dorkiness is manifesting as a career rung. Behold the power of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its fame spawn, Michael J. Nelson.

The Nelson cemented himself in my heart the night a friend and I drank an entire six-pack of cider, immediately followed by several white Russians. Mixing + beer before liquoring= several hours of praying for death.

But while we lay on the floor in agony, a tape of several MST3K episodes unspooled over our heads, and as I examined the carpet fibers, Nelson's voice was the one thread that kept me clinging to life. "As long as the man standing between the two plastic robots keeps talking," I said to the millions of air molecules then slamming against my forehead, "everything's gonna be allllll right."

In gratitude, I career-trailed after Nelson once Mystery Science Theater 3000 was canceled, sometimes quietly, sometimes not so quietly. He has since started Rifftrax, in which he creates downloadable movie commentaries, and in this past week, well, some complex issues arose within the MST3K community.

Speaking for the rest of you, when I announced this to Josh The Pilot, his response was to laugh very, very hard: "How can there be complex issues related to Mystery Science Theater 3000? Is one of the robots under indictment for steroid use?" Well. This is how: The cast has fractured into three separate gloriously capitalistic camps. One of the show's creators, Joel Hodgson, has been invited to perform at a Lucasfilm Christmas party (which, given this, I probably won't be doing any time soon), and he'll have a product unveiling just before the holidays. Some of the former writers and performers are sliding back and forth between the two, but... yeah. Separate entities. Very separate from Rifftrax.

My initial instinct was, of course: "To the Dorkmobile!" In this case, my laptop. But as we've seen, for some reason I'm now in a position to whine to several thousand people at once about all things dork, rather than five other people also typing from their parents' basements. I asked MNSBC if an article might be possible.

"Can you get an interview with one of the cast members?" the editor said.

"Oh, absolutely. And can you send me a transexual teal-blue unicorn that speaks Mandarin?"

But I gave it a shot anyway, via Rifftrax, and after passing the gates of two of Mike's People (Mike has People; I have five-week-old bread on the counter) I was granted a fifteen minute telephone audience with The Nelson.

This created, as previously mentioned, a great deal of running about in small circles while squeeing, although sometimes the circling and squeeing occurred separately. A great, Very Important Day for my career. What should I wear for my phone interview? RenFest gear! Perhaps something with fringe.

As it happened, I honored the occasion by publicly affiliating myself with these people

and failing to observe basic rules of hair maintenance. (This photo was taken just before I dialed into the interview; as we can see, I am displaying, in every aspect, the attributes of a professional journalist who totally knows exactly what she is doing. This is all the more compelling once we recall that I recently pouted, for one thousand words, that I Do SO Have A Real Big-Girl Job.)

The choice of apparel was due to a slightly less pressing problem: I had no way to record the interview. The technology upon which I relied as a college journalist--it involved actual wires, batteries, and this thing called an "audiotape"-- hadn't been used since, oh, before you were born. For over a decade I've been writing primarily as a commentator and a humor columnist, which means that I pretty much pull whatever I write directly out of my crack. Quotes... facts... research... pfffffft. I've got a real smelly car in the driveway!

So that meant an eleventh-hour trip to Radio Shack, at which I sank $50 into a digital phone recorder which, unlike the cutting edge technology I had previously been using, is actually compatible with phone jacks installed post-Industrial Revolution. And located directly next to the digital recorders? The universal automatic garage door remotes, which created in us the realization that it might be nice to not leap over an electronic eye as death rolls towards us on a heavy wheeled door every time we attempt to leave our home. $19.95. I will add it it to The Tab of The Nelson.
The Magic took place in Josh's man cave. And what was wrong with conducting The Magic in my perfectly functional big girl office? Why, because my office is on the third floor, and the phone signal can't reach that far ever since I ripped the kitchen jack out of the wall due to the fact that it was interfering with where I wanted to hang a framed copy of our wedding program, of course. Thumbs up, Master's degree!

For some reason, what freaked me out the most was just the concept of Mike Nelson answering his office phone. He was going to answer the phone when I called him! He would pick it up, and say, "Hi, this is Mike," or "This is The Nelson speaking," or "Q102 FM's my world," and then? We would be in conversation. It was a great and terrifying thing, this marriage of the banal and the hero worship. Because a person's voice can come to you over the TV, through the CD player, and via computer speaker for years and years, but nothing will prepare you for hearing that same person's voice coming out of YOUR PHONE, in YOUR HOUSE, which contains YOUR FIVE-WEEK-OLD BREAD, talking TO YOU. When you're on the phone, most of the time, you say things, and the other person says things back, and then everybody goes back to their respective Doritos, and that's pretty much it. But in this instance, I would say things, and the other person saying things back was MIKE FREAKING NELSON, and that is the makings for some pretty vehement nervous vomiting. And so we've come full circle, Mike and I, spewing to spewing.

I'll post the article link when it's live-- probably early next week, I'm told. Until then, postlude this post all day long:

bronzing the phone at:


dan-the-soldier said...

Awe! Y'all are so cute together!

all mike's transsexual mandarin unicorns are lavender said...

Did you mention you were Miss Hugsalot? And you still got an interview?

Wow. Just goes to show what a byline can do.

MB said...


Even if he did know, he probably realized that we were safely separated by an entire continent.

classickelly21 said...

That is so cool. Congrats on the interview. I am sure it went well. You were wearing a lucky ND shirt from back when they actually won.

Good job, MB.

Kayla :-) said...

I like the wall decor!!

Anonymous said...

I once met someone whose work I had long admired and words did not actually come out of my mouth, just sort of squeaky breathy noises.

The fact you could sound like a coherent human being and conduct an interview makes you sound amazing.

Incidentally, can you tell me where you shop for Supportive Non-intrusive Understanding husbands? You seem to have picked up a good 'un.

Cheers and congrats!

MB said...

Thanks, A. I actually secured Josh The Pilot right here on BlondeChampagne, so look around :)

Josh The Pilot said...

Thanks, Kayla! More pictures and possibly video will be available when I'm finally done setting up everything, which will be at some point in the next five years lol.

Onil said...

Good get, MB!

Did you apologize for stealing his coffee cup way back when? :)

SaharaChick said...

Hey congrats on the webcam! It worked great. It was so fun to see your "immediate reaction" upon finishing the interview. Thanks for sharing it with us. The video turned out great. I hope we get to see more of this soon!

Jess said...

You are now, officially (she said, as if previously there had been any doubt), the coolest person-from-the-internet-I-forget-I-don't-actually-know.

10 Points and a Gold Star, MB!!

Jess said...

While basking in the post-THE NELSON glow, I came across this clip about the writer's strike on's good to see Frank Conniff again....

red pill junkie said...

Congrats on interviewing your long-time personal hero! That would be pretty intimidating if it happened to me...

Hey, and we finally got a glimpse of Josh's "Man Cave"! Yay!

PS: Isn't there a gadget that you can plug to an Ipod so it can serve as a recorder or something?

MB said...

Well, yeah, but it frightened me.

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