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Mike Nelson's Mind over Matters Paperback – March 5, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
In the tradition of Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese, which featured endless takedowns of Hollywood glitterati, comes Mike Nelson's Mind over Matters, some 50 short essays covering up everything from "Portal to Hell: The Radio Shack Experience" to "Grumpy Floppy and the Flo-Flo," or the pet names of friends for their loved ones. Michael J. Nelson, head writer of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 for 10 seasons (and its host for five), has an endless supply of good-natured bile, and here turns it on the annoyances and idiocies of everyday life.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Nelson (Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese) is perhaps best known as the brains behind the cult classic television series Mystery Science Theater 3000. In this collection of more than 50 offbeat essays, he shares his observations about everyday matters such as the media, education, food, and family life. His humor is a cross between that of Dave Barry and of Jerry Seinfeld, and his highly personal style he includes remarks about his wife and his children will delight some readers but annoy others. Nelson also tends to dwell on the obvious. For example, in one essay about modern life he opines about the sounds of autumn, pointing out that fall used to sound like the gentle swish-swish of leaf raking but is now dominated by the cacophony of leaf blowers. In short, this collection of humor is uneven at best. Though some will find it funny, it will likely disappoint many MST3K fans, as it lacks the sardonic repartee for which Nelson is most celebrated on his television series. Recommended primarily for public libraries where demand dictates. Joe Accardi, William Rainey Harper Coll., Palatine, IL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
From cover to cover i was not disappointed.
Mike's wit and storytelling are fresh and fun. His experiences are common to us all, but his take on them is funny, smart, and drier than the mojave.
I had wanted to pick this one up for a long time and, when I did, I kicked myself for not doing so sooner.
Whether or not you're a fan of MST3K or RiffTrax, it doesn't matter. Mike's take on the world is unique and hilarious. I couldn't stop reading the book and found myself actually laughing out loud at points - something I've never done while reading.
Mike Nelson is just a "Regular Guy" going through life with a decidedly humorous outlook - one that, thankfully, he has decided to share with the rest of us.
So, thank you, Mike. As long as you've got something to say then I'm all ears... or should I say eyes? (Eyes, right? 'Cuz I'm reading?)
Oh, I sure, I could reread these comic essays, from the co-creator of TV's legendary "Mystery Science Theater 3000." I have tried that, for some of the pieces. Over time, I do forget some of the one-liners, some of the dead-on takes on the surrealistic modern horrors like "customer service" lines and stadium-sized outlet stores. But that unique jolt of sweet agony that comes from laughing until you cry-that I get only with first reads.
To give a sense of what's in the book: Mike Nelson is what Dave Barry should be. The pieces are mostly bite-sized (around 3000 words) and they include Nelson's takes on contemporary cultural and social phenomena. SUV drivers with "Pat Riley" hair. The inexplicable proliferation of Radio Shacks. Nude elderly men clipping their toenails in locker rooms.
Nelson's basic outlook is a common one among comic writers: "I can't believe the world has come to this." Yet, he seems to make that attitude fresh and unique. He avoids the jadedness of a Rooney or Queenan, while at the same time comes off as much more edgy than when a Seinfeld or Brenner trades mike for pen.
MSTies (fans of MST 3000) should be pleasantly surprised. If you thought Nelson was funny as a wise-cracking movie-goer, this book will prove that the show barely scratched the surface of Nelson's comic talent. And yes, the mind-boggling reference humor is there. Dennis Miller, with his kitchen sink approach, may forever be known as the reference humorist; but Nelson is Kasparov to Miller's Deep Blue. He reels out the references only at the perfect moments, and only the reference that make the reader wonder "How did this ever remind him of that!?"
My only quibble (besides the fact that Nelson has not released as many books as Stephen King) is a couple of the essays come off as first drafts. The essay on Radio Shack, for example, does not seem as funny as it could have been. It was funny, but it made me want to call Nelson and say "Hey Mike, try this one again. I know that you can find a funnier angle on RS than you did."
In MST3K, Mike and two robots were the audience who watched bad movies and made jokes about them. In Mind Over Matters, the concept is similar, except this time, Mike is alone and what he is watching is the real world. So we get Mike's amusing observations on such topics as men's clothes, performance art, the history of television and gourmet foods. In addition, just as MST3K would have skits that broke up the movie watching, Mike gives us written parodies, such as his Scarlet Letterish "Young Master Chillingshead" or an interview with a pair of shorts. (It is a sign of how much I associate him with his MST3K character of the same name that, instead of referring to him by his last name, as I do with the authors of most books I review, I can only think of him as Mike.)
Of course, not every joke merits a guffaw or even a chuckle, but like in baseball, if you're successful a third of a time, you're a star. With that standard, and with a lot of humor on each of its 278 pages, you're sure to find this book to be quite fun (even if you've never watched MST3K).