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I just cannot get over how impressed I am with the newish show on Adult Swim’s Sunday night line up, Rick and Morty. If you haven’t tuned into the late-night ‘mature viewers only’ cartoon block, it has come a long way. Adult Swim began by redubbing and editing older programs (space ghost, Sealab 2020) before moving onto original animated programs (aqua teen, Venture Brothers) and then entering an ill-advised foray into non-animated programs (Tim and Eric, Delocated) and for a while it seemed like they were focused on purely syndicated programs, with their occasional original shows that seem to focus more on shock value than on substance (looking at you, Mr. Pickles.)

Enter Rick and Morty.

Co-created by Dan Harmon (of Community fame, among an impressive list of credentials) and Justin Roiland (who designed the show and voices the titular characters) it is a breath of fresh air in the realms of sci-fi, animation, and comedy, all rolled together in a snarky and mass-marketable package that appeals particularly to the jaded subculture of my generation who can smell pandering from a mile off and have grown weary of punch lines that are just veiled insults hurled at random celebrities on national television.

The show’s premise is rather simple; Rick is a brilliant and somewhat amoral scientist who takes his teenage grandson Morty with him on adventures through space and beyond. Rick’s daughter Beth is a horse surgeon married to a weak-willed advertising executive named Jerry, and the pair got together straight out of high school after becoming pregnant with Morty’s older sister, Summer. On paper, it sounds like the Simpsons-meets-Doctor Who; in execution, well, it still kinda resembles the Simpsons-meets-Doctor Who.

However, the true brilliance of the show is greater than the sum of its parts, and is represented threefold. First, since it is based in a theoretical multiverse, they’ve painted up a universe wherein anything could happen. Literally, any conceivable reality could crop up in any given episode, based purely on the premise of the universe the show is based in. Not only is that convenient as heck from a writing standpoint, it is also solid science that translates surprisingly well into televised format, and it is clear that the writers are not interested in pulling punches on the sci-fi front, choosing instead to treat their audience with respect and intelligence instead of dumbing-down their ideas for TV viewers. The second piece of brilliance that powers this show’s comedy engines is Rick himself, and to another degree, Morty. Much like the Doctor, Rick is a character that isn’t necessarily likable, but as Dan Harmon has said in interviews, as long as you have companions that question the decisions Rick makes, you can still identify with the show and not feel like it is grounded in a place that is too negative or amoral. The third (and most important) thing that this show does differently is that unlike the Simpsons or any of its spiritual successors, these characters are addressing real issues in ways that affect them long term and change the way they see each other, but somehow, those moments never feel heavy-handed or overly dramatic. The emotional content in some of these episodes is so real and starkly explored in such a succinct manner that multiple times I’ve felt compelled to applaud the closing credits of the episode. What’s even more impressive is that I’ve spent an equal amount of time laughing uproariously out of sheer delight at the sharp dialogue or actions that have just been portrayed on screen in a beautifully elegant method of dovetailing story-lines or thematic (or cosmetic) associations.

I could spend another five-hundred words talking about my passion for Rick and Morty, but I think that I am going to have to limit myself to once a week. As new episodes come out, I plan to have a breakdown of the best moments of each ep by humor, symbolism, and obscure references that less passionate viewers might have missed. Once this season is finished, I’ll probably go back and do the same thing for season one, and when that’s finished, I’ll probably start talking about my other favorite cartoon show of all time, The Venture Brothers.

So look out for that. Rick and Morty time, all day every day! Its Rick and Morty, Morty and Rick, having adventures, getting blogged about and kicking ass!

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Lately, its been hard to push myself to keep working on writing projects. My second novel is stuck at about 50,000 words, I’ve got two screenplays and two speculative scripts that I am successfully ignoring, and a podcast that is in indefinite hiatus until schedules clean up. I remind myself- regularly- that if you don’t try, you can’t succeed, but even that line is sounding hollow and trite as I realize that even if I was to complete all of these projects, there is no guarantee that any of them would gain traction with an audience to any real degree.
Since finishing my first novel and publishing it on KDP, I have received lots of awesome praise and encouragement which has kept me going (at least on the Triworlds projects), but that doesn’t translate into manageable currency unfortunately, so I’ve had to get day jobs that significantly cut into my writing time, and leave me drained and uninspired during my precious free time. I find it to be more worth my time to squeeze out the extra hour of sleep when I can get it, instead of the extra thousand words, and it isn’t a great feeling to know that I am so far behind on all of my plans.
To that end, I’ve cut down on all my expenditures as much as possible, and rely on caffeine and the like in order to press myself to be productive. I write on buses, trains, on napkins while at work. I write in my dreams. Because I’ve got to double down on this thing, or else I’ll get stuck, caught in the same trap that many fall into, just doing what you can to pay the bills, biding time until something better comes along, something that will fix what makes them unhappy and doesn’t require real work. Except that doesn’t fit into my worldview; I know that no one is going to save me, that no one is going to tap me on the shoulder and say “Ah, we’ve been looking for someone with your talent, come follow me to where the winners are…”
I write because writing is my golden rope, my ladder to a better life. There aren’t a lot of options open for me at this stage, and in the end, writing is the only thing I’ve really ever wanted to do. So I guess the answer is to keep on trucking; no matter how hard it is, no matter how little money I have, no matter how much free time I dedicate to it, it is the only was that I can see out of working for other people for the rest of my life. My question is, what do other people do? Are they suffering as much as I am, going to crappy corporate jobs day in and day out, and still making no money? Or are they happy in what they do, and give no second thoughts to their fate? Or… Am I just whining about being broke, and about how I put myself there by choosing a long-shot passion career over a more lucrative but ultimately uninteresting life?
Decisions, decisions…

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