Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dear Luke, We Need To Talk. Darth

I've lately discovered the podcast version of NPR radio show Wits, hosted by John Moe.  It's a radio show that's part game show, part skit show, part swirling mass of randomness, and part music show.  Guests have included Aimee Mann, Neil Gaiman, David Cross, George Takei, and many other humorists and musicians I like.

However, I found he also wrote a book titled Dear Luke, We Need To Talk.  Darth.  A common feature of the radio show is "pop song correspondences" where he writes letters or tells a story from someone connected to a song you might not be aware about.  Perhaps you wanted to hear the side of the manager of the Hotel California, or the contractor trying to install an actual stairway to heaven in a house.

This book is like that, but it reaches across all of pop culture, presenting ideas you haven't necessarily thought of before, but might change how you view things forever.

There are some pop culture institutions we just think we know everything about.  Jurassic Park, Pac-Man, and Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah are all things that have taken root so deep into our collective psyche that even people who have never played a video game know what "wokka wokka wokka" means one thing.

Okay, two things.
John Moe finds extremely clever ways of twisting pop culture around, however.  Suppose, after all the humans were killed and eaten in Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs managed to come together enough to try to manage the park themselves?  What would a realtor have to say about the challenges of selling the B-52's love shack?  Just how did the theme song for the Adam West Batman series come about?   Topics like these are dug into and played out to extremely entertaining conclusions.

John digs into the (not real) history of failed Super Bowl halftime show proposals, but also tells you what the final choice was, making you wonder if the fake ones would really be that much worse (seriously, 1989, what the hell were you thinking?).  He presents alternative histories of the Goofy/Pluto paradox and just what happened to make Popeye as misshapen as he is now.  What happened to the first six agents of MI-6 before Mr. Bond came along?  What qualified a guy in a yellow hat to own a monkey, and why was he never held accountable for its actions?

The book is a lot of fun to read, and is available in audiobook format read by the author.  I'd advise listening to the audiobook version in bursts, however, as John Moe is a very talented writer, but doesn't have a lot of depth to his characters, so they can sometimes blend together.  I think a format with different guest stars reading sections would have been better for the format, but I don't know what budget they had to work with.

Still a fun book.

No comments: