Friday, February 09, 2007

"I love inside jokes. I’d love to be a part of one someday"

A few weeks back, Squiggly complained that the blog had recently become over-run with inside jokes; however, she didn't provide me with any specific examples, which makes it a little difficult for me to rectify, since there's a good possibility that what she referred to as "inside jokes" actually fit into one of three categories:

1. Obscure references: More than likely, most of what people might think of as inside jokes are actually more along the line of weird, random references which practically nobody else will get; it's a definite danger when your author is someone as hopelessly addicted to pop culture as myself, especially when you factor in my odd and eclectic tastes. So, things that sound perfectly normal* in my head, come off sounding like an example of inside jokery to those not familiar with the source material. I think the bulk of my obscure comments manifest themselves in my blog titles, and I do my best not to inundate all you blog monkeys with comic book references or Cibo Matto lyrics or quotes from Donnie Darko, but when the rambling gets a-rollin', it's hard to stop the obscurity from seeping in; sometimes I don't stop to consider that not everyone is going to know a Minbari from a Klingon, or Richard Kelly from Christopher Nolan.

2. Running gags: Another possibility is that what might seem like an inside joke is actually a call-back to an earlier blog post; as a long time comic book reader and fan of serialized television, I'm a big believer in the power of continuity and world building, and the call-back and running gag are easy tools for this. However, since 99% of the insanity captured here on the blog springs from my own mind, there's always a possibility that what seems like an obvious reference to an earlier post to me will instead read like some randomly generated weirdness to someone who either (a) missed the previous post or (b) read the post but didn't commit that one particular portion of it to their long-term memory. Which is perfectly understandable; as a long time comic book reader and fan of serialized television, I’ve also noticed that many running gags slipped past my notice the first time through, and it’s only when reading/watching several installments of the material consecutively that the continuity jumped out at me. I do my best to link back to the original posts when I think of it, but that's not going to happen every time.

3. Actual "inside jokes" Now, I try to keep the number of truly inside jokes to a bare minimum around here; hard enough for CoIM to break out of its niche market without peppering it with references that I know only one or two people will get. That's why, when I do throw a full-blown inside joke into the mix, I try my best to denote its inscrutable status with a footnote along the lines of "That one's for Zinger" or "I know only PigPen will get that, but it's too good to pass up." Basically, I weigh the suitability of the inside joke for the specific blog post against the possible alienation of the rest of the blog monkeys, and then decide whether it's worth the risk or not. Rarely is it worth it, so the inside joke tends to be MIA from CoIM.

But, that’s just talking about inside jokes on CoIM. When it comes to the real world, there’s a whole different standard.

For the last month or so I've been Hanging Out With the Guys quite a bit. The usual crew is PigPen, Peanut, Shack-Fu, Li'l Dill, and The Anti-Cap'n; for ease of referral, I shall dub us HyperForce 3000. Now, it's rare for the full HyperForce contingent to be present at once; Peanut and The A.C. are the most frequently absent due to issues with work and travel and the like. However, once you get a group of three or more of us together, then the mysterious process known as Male Bonding kicks in, and we begin to indulge in the HyperForce specialty: fixating on random, goofy things and incorporating them into our group vernacular. The sources of our internal lexicon are varied, from movie quotes to misunderstandings to misspoken phrases to whatever random phrase has just popped out of Li'l Dill's mouth -- anything that strikes us as funny is fair game for assimilation.

Last week, following a couple of Guys Night Outs with multiple movie viewings, someone remarked on just how many inside jokes we had accumulated in such a short period of time; within seconds of this statement being made, we began planning the most effective way to utilize these arcane phrases and esoteric hand gestures to bewilder and frighten any and all Singles on Sunday morning. Sadly, learning that we were having a large group session instead of our usual small group did nothing to deter us from unleashing the Big Trouble in Little China hand-sign, the Smokin' Aces hand bump (“Bump it, lock it, put the chain on”), or the Unconditional Love chain reaction word repetition. We got some strange looks, but I assure you, what we were doing was perfectly normal.**

Squiggly was nonplussed, especially when we were cagey about the origin of our "normal" chanting, but Fluffy was much more philosophical, admitting that, for the longest time, our class has been dominated by the girls and their own brand of fixations (mainly dance), and that while it was the Guys' turn, they shouldn't worry, since such things are cyclical. Squiggly seemed mollified by this theory, although after PigPen and I entertained each other with some other inside jokes early on at the Super Bowl party that evening, she proclaimed "I don't think you guys living together is a good thing."

Trust me, Squiggly, there are times I'm right there with you on that one.

But, back to the matter at hand: inside jokes on CoIM. I know that this blog is never going to reach a vast audience; let's face it, to most people who stumble across it, CoIM is about as insider-centered as you can get. Parkerites? Spawn of Flunky? The Popular song? CAPN'S? Eeeeeeeeevil? Most of that won't make any sense at all to the random schmoes who stumble across the blog while googling "raabs russian bride" or "don vito galoon" or "the dudesons car smash" or any of the other trillion hits my site gets thanks to that single Viva La Bam! post G'ovich had me do many, many moons ago. That being said, I don't want to alienate what few blog monkeys there are by making them feel like outsiders. So, if you come across a reference or comment that makes absolutely no sense to you whatsoever and you'd like some clarification, feel free to leave a comment; odds are good that, if you're confused, somebody else is as well. I can't promise to resolve everything to your satisfaction, but I can promise to try, and what else can you expect out of any normal red-blooded American blogger?***

*Normal.
**Normal.
***Normal.****
****More on the origins of the “normal” gag later.*****
*****Normal.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Normal...

Anonymous a.k.a Li'l Dill

cedric_the_destroyer said...

You were always uber-normal in school. I can't imagine that would have changed.

Flunky lover said...

This is off topic but I don't feel like opening my email to do this. I met a PhD student who is doing his project on religion in comic books. It totally made me think of you of course. Who would know more about the subject than you?