How Mystery Science Theater 3000 Saved My Burning Brain!

We all have guilty pleasures that bring us joy that precious few of our loved ones share. MST3K would be one of mine! I’ve subjected my poor wife and more than a few friends to this madcap show, which consists of three smart asses watching bad movies and making fun of them with one liners, pop culture references, and scattologcal humor and non sequitors. It also won a Peabody, so you know it’s good!

I got hooked on the show while working on my MA. I was getting about six to four hours of sleep a night just to keep up with the insane reading list for THEORIES OF WAR and Sean Maloney’s dread CANADIAN DEFENCE POLICY, FROM CONFEDERATION TO THE PRESENT. Sean’s course reading list was the stuff of nightmares, and we few, we lucky few, tried to actually read ALL of it and almost burned our eyes out with CP Stacey’s epic ARMS, MEN, AND GOVERNMENT. With the exception of the day of the infamous Dan Sanford Incident (CLASSIFIED: COSMIC TOP SECRET), I got all my reading done.

But by the weekends, I needed some sweet, sweet relief. I was pretty damn poor, so getting loaded was out. So I’d walk over to JUMBO VIDEO, grab a free bag of popcorn for dinner, and partake of their incredible Five, Four, Three deal. Three movies you could rent, for four days, for just five bucks!  And each time, I’d grab a cult classic, some horrorfest, and a MST3K flick. And, bar none, it was always the five star event of the weekend. Pretty soon, I’d rent two “Misty” picks and be rolling off the couch as they cut up some cinema turd like SIDEHACKING, THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE, or the infamous MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE (arguably the absolute worse film of all time. PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE is practically CITIZEN KANE in comparison).

The gags, the cheap set and effects, the bizarre cultural reference points (they even started singing The Replacements’ “Hootenany” during one of the movies!) was awesome. For me, alone in the wilds of Kingston, it was like having a gang of friends who all spoke the same pop culture language hanging with you for a while, then jetting into space until next weekend!

It was a tough two years. Believe me. When I was finished my MA, you could not have paid me to take a Ph.D. (heh, two years of hard work and little pay changed that tune). But I’ll always remember those weekends when I could let my brain cool with Joel, Mike, Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, Dr. Forester and TV’s Frank and the rest. Thanks, guys. You were the best friends a shut in grad student ever had! And, bonus thanks to Doug Paton for sharing my love of this show every time he came up to crash at Casa De Ridler.




About ridlerville

Jason S. Ridler is a historian, writer, and improv actor. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and has published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Richmond, CA. Visit him on Facebook at
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2 Responses to How Mystery Science Theater 3000 Saved My Burning Brain!

  1. douglaspaton says:

    It was always a good time in the Ridler’s Lair. “The Skydiver” is still a personal favourite. It was such beautiful nonsense.

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