Rick and Mondays – S1 E5 “Meeseeks and Destroy”

Alright, well, now we’ve hit the real meat of the show. At least one Rick and Morty episode ranker said that this was their favorite episode and I really can’t blame them. This episode has one of the most balanced A and B plots not just within the show but within all of television and it is also the episode that this show first hinted at how dark it was willing to get.

SUMMARY

The cold-open features Rick and Morty running through a space station chased by copies of Jerry, Beth, and Summer. Morty is hesitant to get rid of them, but Rick tells him to do it anyway because they’re not really his family, they’re alt-universe clones possessed by demonic aliens from another universe’s future, because they wanted to cram EVERY possible cliché into one line. Mission accomplished, guys, and I love it. Morty pushes the button, destroying his family members, capturing the alien spirits, and traumatizing him thoroughly. Rick, however, implies it was therapeutic.

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Ghostbusters of the Lost Ark

Morty decides to quit adventuring, because adventures are supposed to be simple and fun. Rick mockingly says that Morty has it easy as the sidekick, and that if Morty was in charge, he’d know how hard leading an adventure is. Morty bets Rick that he can lead a great adventure and, if he does, he gets to pick every tenth Rick and Morty adventure. The pair are about to depart when Summer, Beth, and Jerry all come in with requests for Rick. Rick gives them a Meeseeks Box. When you press the button on the box, a blue man named “Mr. Meeseeks” (Justin Roiland) appears and fulfills the request given by the pusher before promptly disappearing out of existence. Rick and Morty leave the Smiths with the box, with Rick delivering the caveat of “keep your requests simple.”

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Alright, I’m gonna try to lump the A and B plots in their own paragraphs, because the episode weaves them pretty tightly together and it would be confusing.

All three of the Smiths excitedly make requests on the Meeseeks Box, with Beth asking to be a more complete woman, Summer asking to be popular at school, and Jerry asking for two strokes off of his golf game. Three Meeseeks eagerly agree to help them. Summer’s makes a speech at her school that makes her popular, while Beth’s takes her for a drink and reminds her that she still has to be herself independently of her family, which she takes as a sign that she should leave Jerry. Both of the Meeseeks promptly disappear.

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It’s a bad sign that she thinks any emotional support comes from physical desire.

Rick and Morty appear in what appears to be an 18th-century-esque village with fantasy elements. Morty asks for a quest from a local and is told that a rich giant lives in the clouds. They go up to the castle and hide when they hear the giant (Steve Agee) approaching to eat them, only for the giant to slip and kill himself by cracking his head open on a table. Before they can really process this, the giant’s wife (Cree Summer, despite having like 2 lines) finds them and calls the giant police claiming they attacked him. Rick and Morty are then interrogated by giant police (voiced by Tom f*cking Kenny and Rob f*cking Paulsen!) who are dead-set on charging them with murder.

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And yet, nobody charged the original giant with eating small people. Racist system.

At the golf course, Jerry is proving to be a real challenge for his Meeseeks, due to his inability to take any form of constructive criticism without flipping out. Is it really any surprise he got fired from his advertising job after his first pitch? In desperation, the Meeseeks itself pushes the Meeseeks Box button, summoning another Meeseeks who doesn’t actually have any more ideas. Even after they leave the golf course, the Meeseeks continue to try and get Jerry to work on his game. Jerry is shocked when Beth and Summer say that their Meeseeks disappeared quickly, so shocked he misses that his wife has a new hairdo. Or maybe that’s less shock, more that he’s Jerry. The Meeseeks try to get him back on task because they aren’t meant to live this long.

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The existential crisis, from the other side of existence.

Back in fantasy world, Rick and Morty are put on trial (apparently Giant Justice is swift), before being saved by a giant lawyer from a tiny-persons advocacy group (Ryan Ridley). Apparently, they were never… whatever the giant equivalent of Mirandized is and are therefore “free-fi to fo-home.” And yes, that joke fails within the episode itself, only for the lawyer to complain that it was a good joke that nobody got. It was at this point that I felt personally attacked, having attempted to coin the phrase “oh mens rea-lly?” during a hearing. The pair leave the courthouse, only to realize that they are thousands of feet from the ground, due to the size of the stairs. Nonetheless, Morty insists they get climbing.

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That’s the giant’s wife watching a loophole free what she thinks are her husband’s killers.

In the Smith’s living room, there are now dozens of Meeseeks trying to help Jerry, who continues to suck. Meanwhile, Beth has really started to give up on Jerry, who tries to salvage his marriage with a nice dinner. The Meeseeks beg him to help them stop existing, but Jerry refuses to care. Each of the Meeseeks start blaming the other for summoning them. It quickly becomes apparent that they have started to lose their sanity, now forming cultish groups around whether choking up or working on the follow-through will help Jerry. They eventually start to attack each other violently. After fighting for a while, they realize that if they kill Jerry, then they’ll have taken all the strokes off of his game, something that definitely falls under “technically correct.”

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I assume they’re unable to commit suicide.

On the way down the stairs, Rick and Morty find a tavern filled with a ton of weird creatures. Rick continues to try and make the adventure miserable for Morty by not helping at all and just generally being a bastard, until Morty finally tells him that he’s just being petty and that part of being a sidekick is rolling with the punches. Morty heads to the bathroom as Rick joins a poker game at the bar. In one of the most disturbing scenes in the show to date, Morty is confronted by Mr. Jelly Bean (Kenny) who first tries to comfort him then tries to rape Morty. Morty ends up beating the crap out of him, slamming the toilet seat onto his head, but is, understandably, now much more traumatized that he was at the beginning of the episode. Morty comes out and begs Rick to quit, but Rick sees Mr. Jelly Bean, realizes what happened, and decides to help Morty with the quest.

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This is a comedy cartoon in a fairy-tale world. We are a sick species.

At the restaurant, Beth is trying to talk to Jerry about her newfound resolve towards independence, but they’re interrupted by the massive mob of murderous Mister Meeseeks. Jerry tells them that he’ll cooperate, but they’re intent on offing him. Jerry and Beth hide in the freezer at the restaurant. The Meeseeks take a woman (voiced by Kari Wahlgren) hostage to force Jerry out, but Beth quickly forces him to fix his golf swing. Jerry hits a garlic clove into a pot, which satisfies most of the Meeseeks, although a “stickler Meeseeks” forces him to prove his putting has improved. Jerry makes a putt, satisfying the last Meeseeks and allowing them all to disappear. Jerry tries to coolly ask for their food to go, but the manager informs them they’ll have to talk to the cops.

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To be fair, this is how my golf lessons usually ended.

Rick and Morty make their way to the village and give them all the gold Rick won playing poker, leading the villagers to want to introduce their king, Mr. Jelly Bean. Rick and Morty quickly portal out, only for Rick to stick his hand back through and shoot Jelly Bean fatally.

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This blog does not condone murder, but we are less sad when it’s a child rapist.

Jerry and Beth reconcile over Beth realizing that all of the other men she dated were like the Meeseeks: Willing to do anything to complete their task and disappear. Jerry, though she implies he would say anything to get laid, didn’t disappear. Jerry points out that’s because he got her pregnant, which Beth sadly acknowledges. Rick and Morty return to find the house wrecked. Rick offers them a Fleeseeks Box to help clean it up, which is just a mop and floor wax. He then first says the phrase “Wubba-lubba-dub-dub” and tells the audience he’ll see them next week.

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Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub enters the zeitgeist.

Post-credits, two people from the village find a box of pictures of what I assume were underage children in Jelly Bean’s closet. One wants to tell the village, but the other says to destroy it, because people will get more from the legend than the reality.

END SUMMARY

In terms of storytelling, the key to this episode was the quick cuts between the A and B plots. By constantly moving between them, the show was able to get away with long time- and logic-skips that would otherwise have been problematic. Basically, it cut away all the bullshit, optimizing the time spent on furthering the plots. This isn’t always something that can be pulled off, but this episode nailed it.

The common theme behind both of the plots is basically “be careful what you wish for,” but the show goes on to deconstruct that in more horrible ways than seemed possible up front. In fact, the entire episode is basically just dedicated to continually averting how these stories usually go.

Let’s cover Rick and Morty’s: They go to a fantasy world where they’re going to face a giant, but that immediately turns into a legal drama when the giant kills himself. The legal drama quickly gets crushed by the giant lawyer and a loophole, only for the problem to now be getting out of the courthouse. It seems like Morty is finally making progress with Rick on the adventure, only for Morty to be sexually assaulted by a creepy guy in a men’s room. And all of this is a rejection of Morty’s original stated wish of just having a “simple” adventure.

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Though he DOES win the bet.

Mr. Meeseeks is an obvious “be careful what you wish for” joke, since Jerry, who actually has what seems like the easiest request, makes it impossible for the Meeseeks to get the job done due to his incompetence. However, more than that, the Meeseeks are actually a “be careful what you wish for” on the audience.

Think about it: “Meeseeks are not born into this world fumbling for meaning.” All of philosophy, all of religion, most, if not all, of art and literature, probably all of civilization itself, they all exist because humans ARE born in to the world fumbling for meaning. We have no idea what our purpose is or even if there is a purpose at all. The greatest pain of the examined life is knowing that we will never know if we really found a purpose. But, if you wish for the simpler existence of the Meeseeks, this episode gives you the caveat that you might know your purpose but NEVER BE ABLE TO FULFILL IT. And that is just a tortured existence.

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This episode also benefits from a lot of great jokes and surreal lines, like the lawyer trying to justify his deconstructive joke. One of my favorite random exchanges is when Rick asks how much 25 shmeckels is. The waitress tells them that her big fake boobies cost 25 shmeckels, at which point Mr. Booby Buyer offers to buy her boobs for 25 shmeckels. The waitress says it’s a tempting offer, which is one of the most bizarre moments for me, since that would just put her back to 0, not make her a profit. I guess since she’s been using the boobs, their value has decreased and she could get new ones? Either way, I just love how fast that exchange happens and how weird and still charming it is.

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Waitresses are used to this, clearly.

Beth and Jerry’s marriage problems really start to become a recurring feature after this episode, with even the resolution pointing out that all Jerry really did for Beth was not leave when she was pregnant. That’s the positive that Beth points out about Jerry and, while it might seem like a nice moment, it really cements exactly how thin their relationship is.

The stinger scene is an interesting touch, because it reminds me of the line from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” The thing is, though, is that creating these divine images of our heroes lets the reality that they were human be used against us later. It’s something I’d have to dedicate more time to than just this review but suffice it to say that I am against the mythologizing of history. I know some amount of it is inevitable, but let history be history and let story be story. We can get our inspirational figures from fiction, representing our ideals, while history can represent the reality that people are flawed.

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This was the episode where the show really and truly became Rick and Morty. It’s dark, it’s full of great subversions, it has a ton of crazy elements, and it finally gives us Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub. This isn’t my favorite episode, nor do I think it’s the best episode period, but it’s a damned strong episode that represents the best aspects of the show.

JOKER’S WISHLIST

Okay, so, personal wish here: I want them to Cerebus Syndrome the hell out of this episode later. I want them to show up in 3 more season in this same place only to find that by assassinating the king and giving money to the poor, Rick and Morty set the stage for a massive and devastating peasant revolt. I want Morty’s “simple” adventure to result in something unbelievably horrible on a geopolitical scale, just to drive home how hard this episode really was subverting traditional story direction. But, even if the creators read this, they might take it to a place darker than I ever could think of, just to tell me to be careful what I wish for.

Well, that’s it for this week. In two weeks, we get our first hint of the multi-Rick multiverse.

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Rick and Mondays – S1 E2 “Lawnmower Dog”

Okay, so, I’m definitely going to keep this series going, because, shortly after publishing the first post, I won a contest from Wisecrack’s “The Squanch” podcast (which you should listen to, as both myself and my Grouchier counterpart have now both stated we like their channel). When I got back home, I found this Pickle Rick figurine waiting for me. I consider this a sign from the universe.

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And yes, it’s on the sofa from which I compose these wonderful works of critical non-fiction.

SUMMARY

Jerry is watching TV when Snuffles, the Smith family dog, comes up and gives him a begging look. Thinking that Snuffles wants to go outside, Jerry opens the door, but Snuffles instead pees on the carpet. Jerry, frustrated that the dog doesn’t understand commands, asks Rick to make the dog smarter. Rick halfheartedly warns against it, but quickly acquiesces so that he can leave with Morty. Rick puts a helmet on Snuffles which appears to make him roughly as intelligent as… I’d say a child.

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Rick takes Morty to the home of his math teacher Mr. Goldenfold (Brandon Johnson). Morty has been failing math (despite the fact that it is unbelievably low-level), so Rick has decided to go inside Goldenfold’s dreams and plant the idea to give Morty an A even though he doesn’t deserve it. If that sounds like Inception, that’s because it is, and Rick is shameless about ripping it off, then takes shots at the film’s defenders, including Morty.

Inside Mr. Goldenfold’s dream, Rick and Morty find themselves on a plane, similar to the original set-up in Inception. Rick and Morty pretend to be terrorists hijacking the plane to increase Morty’s grades, but Goldenfold actually fights back, controlling the dream. The pair end up grabbing one of Goldenfold’s fantasy women, Mrs. Pancakes, (Melique Berger) from the show everyone in the Rick and Morty multiverse seems to watch, and being sucked out of the plane. Unfortunately, Goldenfold has landed the plane and built a device which will save Pancakes while killing them. To buy time, Rick and Morty enter Mrs. Pancakes’s dreams.

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At the next dream level, Rick and Morty are in an S&M dungeon filled with strange creatures, as well as a heavily sexualized version of Summer. Despite Rick being immediately willing to join the interspecies orgy, he draws the line at incest (note: somehow no Game of Thrones references are made here). Unfortunately, refusing to have sex with Summer alerts the sub-subconscious that Rick and Morty don’t belong, so they knock out a Centaur and go into his dreams.

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I wish they’d put him in a gimp mask so I could call him Gimp-taur. But, it’s not to be.

At this dream level, the pair are in a boiler room which looks really familiar if you love Robert Englund. It’s red, rusty, and contains a small, creepy, child chanting a rhyme about its chief inhabitant. The two are quickly attacked by Scary Terry (Jess Harnell), who is described as a “legally safe knock-off of an ’80s horror character with miniature swords for fingers instead of knives” who calls people “bitch” all the time. Rick and Morty flee to another dream level by knocking out the creepy little girl, but they find out that Scary Terry can travel between dream levels to keep chasing them. Eventually, they hide for hours until Scary Terry gives up looking for them and goes back to his house.

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Meanwhile, Snuffles has been slowly gaining intelligence over the night. First, he attempts to talk to the Smiths, but can’t vocalize properly. After failing, he finds a panel in the front of the helmet which opens to reveal that only 1 of the 5 battery slots are full. Snuffles goes to the junk drawer and puts more batteries in. A little while later, Snuffles now has a mechanical arm and the helmet is able to interpret his thoughts, allowing him to speak (using Rob Paulsen’s voice). Jerry starts to take off the helmet but is stopped by Summer. Snuffles then watches a documentary on the history of dogs, builds several exo-suits and other intelligence-boosting helmets, recruits other dogs, and then confronts Summer and the Smiths over the treatment of dogs by humans… specifically their taking of his testicles. Snuffles, now calling himself Snowball, reveals that he plans to turn the tables on humanity.

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(Sigourney Weaver Voice) GET AWAY FROM MY TESTICLES, YOU BITCH!!!

Back in the sub-sub-sub-subconscious of Mr. Goldenfold, Rick and Morty follow Scary Terry back home where he lives with his wife Scary Melissa (Berger) and infant son Scary Brandon. That night, they go into Scary Terry’s dream… only to find that it’s just Scary Terry being mocked at school for not knowing the answers to pop quiz questions and forgetting to wear pants to class. Rick and Morty stand up for him in his dream, befriending him. When Scary Terry awakens, he has been incepted into being friends with them, resulting in him carrying them back through all the dream levels as a favor, finally incepting Goldenfold to give Morty an A in math.

Rick and Morty return home to find that there is a small army of dogs planning to take over humanity stockpiling weapons at the house. When Morty asks what happened, Rick casually outlines what we saw happen, while still saying he doesn’t know for sure. The two rescue the Smiths, but Jerry gets everyone captured again by thinking that he could pee on the weapons to make them his property. This is a plan so unbelievably dumb that it actually justifies how Morty could fail math despite being Rick’s grandson.

The dogs are shown conquering the world and reducing humanity to secondary status with the exception of Morty, who is treated as Snowball’s prized pet and given women and luxury. Rick reappears, supposedly a year later, and reveals that this is all a dream from the first night. Rick has gone into Snowball’s head with Morty, and dream time combined with dog time has allowed a night to become a year (though, if you do the math, it should actually be about 6 months). Rick poisons Morty, which leads to Snowball realizing that doing to humanity what humanity did to dogs makes them just as bad. Snowball awakens and leads the dogs off planet to form a Dog World.

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I guess all the animal shelters are for cats now.

END SUMMARY

No matter how many times I see this episode, it just never sticks out in my mind, but every time I re-watch it, I find myself laughing my ass off.

First, the references. The title’s a reference to The Lawnmower Man, about a scientist who increases a mentally handicapped man’s intellect to the point that he becomes cruel and ambitious, which is basically the plot of Snuffles’s story. They openly state the dream-jumping is from Inception and all-but-state that Scary Terry is Freddy Krueger. Snuffles’s new name of Snowball is a reference to Animal Farm, a story about animals overthrowing humans and something covered on this site before.

Scary Terry is one of my favorite parts of this episode. First, I love his design, since, rather than the burn-victim look of Freddy Krueger, Scary Terry appears to be made of purple testicle skin, which is somehow more off-putting. Second, the fact that he has a very boring and typical homelife when he isn’t terrifying and murdering people in their dreams is hilarious. Third, after watching this, whenever you watch the later Nightmare on Elm Street movies, it becomes so much more obvious HOW OFTEN Freddy says Bitch. It’s interesting that it seems to increase as the series got more ridiculous, almost like “Bitch” just provides an easy thing to call someone… which is why that’s Terry’s answer when caught off-guard in his nightmare. Which brings me to the last reason I love him: Scary Terry’s nightmares are the things that everyone has a nightmare of at some point, getting embarrassed in school, even years after you’ve graduated in real life. Compared to the kind of over-the-top craziness that usually defines the nightmares in the Elm Street franchise, this is just a freaking hilarious juxtaposition.

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I also love that they parodied Krueger’s signature “1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you” song, but this one goes way past the 5 verses that Freddy uses. We see it getting to Q and R with no sign of it stopping.

One of my other favorite parts of the episode is that none of the Smiths actually consider the implications of granting Snuffles intelligence, even though Rick warns them about it. The closest we come is Summer saying that it’s wrong to “endow a creature with sentience and then rip it away,” but when pressed about why, she just says it’s “Indian giving.” Beth actually points out that it’s not going to go well but does nothing about it. Despite all of the media about this exact situation, including the film that gives this episode its title, not one of them bothers to consider it. As someone who writes about pop-culture, this is a frustrating accuracy about people: Despite a concept being addressed in fiction repeatedly, no one ever actually relates it to their situation… which massively undermines the entire point of good fiction. Still, it was funny for the warning signs to be so over-the-top and yet completely ignored here.

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Yeah, this is the point where you stop giving the dog batteries, guys.

JOKER’S CRAZY THEORY CORNER

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I have a weird theory that Rick actually planned for everything with Snuffles to play out pretty much as it did. See, when Jerry confronts Rick about the dog, Rick goes to the garage and comes back with the helmet. It seems like it was specifically made by Rick in that 30 seconds or so, rather than something that Rick just had sitting around. I say that because Jerry suggests that Rick “whip up” something and Rick doesn’t correct him, as well as because the helmet perfectly fits Snuffles.

If Rick made the helmet for this situation, though, why did he put 5 battery slots in it? And why put them in a place that the dog could put the batteries in? He clearly knew how smart Jerry would want Snuffles to be and Rick already stated that making Snuffles smarter than that would be a thread Jerry wouldn’t want to pull. It seems like a weird flaw to over-design the helmet like that, especially for someone of Rick’s intelligence who was in a hurry.

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And it already had a output ports for thought to voice transmissions.

Well, that’s because Rick wanted Snuffles to find the extra battery slots. Rick knew that the Smiths would abuse Snuffles’s new intelligence (such as Summer making him her footstool) and wouldn’t try to figure out what he wanted when he tried to talk to them. So, Rick figured that Snuffles would try to increase the helmet’s power and gave him a simple way to do it. After that, it was basically inevitable that Snuffles would realize that dogs have been mistreated by humanity (he doesn’t have testicles, after all), and stage a revolt that would result in the imprisonment of the Smiths. That’s why he immediately and dispassionately recites a summary of what happened in the episode when they return: Because he set the events in motion that led to it.

So, why would Rick do this? Well, because A) he’s Rick and B) Jerry was annoying him. Jerry was basically threatening Rick into using his god-like science wizardry, so Rick decided to go ahead and cut that off by satisfying Jerry’s wish in such a way that he would never ask him to do it again. And I’m pretty sure it works, since I can’t think of another time Jerry asks Rick to make something in the series.

On the Meta-level, I think it’s also possible Rick did this just so he could end the episode with a pitch for Justin Roiland’s failed series idea “Dog World,” which is why Rick even calls Snuffles “Ruffles,” the name of the Dog World lead character, at the beginning of the episode. He was setting this up even then as a fallback for if the show gets cancelled. After all, this was only episode 2.

Overall, I give this episode a

B+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.