Content Creators: Jonathan Decker

I don’t have anything really booky or travely to say today, so I will cover a content creator. This time time it is Jonathan Decker. I feel bad for not mentioning Alicia Decker (cohost of Mended Light) or Alan Seawright (cohost of Cinema Therapy) in the title, but Jonathan is the common thread between the two channels I’m going to talk about. Alicia and Alan are extremely important on each of their channels, however.

I mentioned the Mended Light channel an earlier post, and Alicia is the CEO of the company. She is also Jonathan’s cohost in a lot of their videos. They’re adorable together.

On Mended Light, they talk about all sorts of mental health topics. Mended Light also has a staff of therapists that one can hire to work with.

Along with Alan, he does the Cinema Therapy channel. Alan is, as they say in their intros, a professional filmmaker. Alan had a job in Los Angeles lined up, but then Covid interfered and he had to move back to Utah. He and Jonathan were college roommates, and together they came up with the Cinema Therapy YouTube channel.

Like Mended Light, Cinema Therapy has a theme of psychology and therapy. This time, Jonathan and Alan talk about the psychological and filmmaking points of the movies they cover.

Unfortunately I don’t watch as many movies as I kind of probably should to really devote myself to the channel. I’ve watched a lot of movies, don’t get me wrong, but not recent movies. A lot of the movies they talk about are things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU”) and things. I had other things going on when the MCU started. The first movie, from what I can tell, was Iron Man, which was released in May 2008. I don’t know exactly what was going on in my life that month, but my marriage started really cracking and was causing me to slide into a depression that I would stay in until late 2009. Oh! I just found that the spoon analogy applies to people in depressions. Basically, at that point in my life, I couldn’t remember the last time I smiled for no reason. I used to smile just because. That was long gone and by the time I realized that Iron Man wasn’t just a one-shot action film thing and that there’d be a whole mythology, the opportunity to get into the series was basically gone.

Spoon Theory is an analogy comparing the energy those with chronic conditions have for daily activities to spoons. Every time you do an activity you lose a spoon. Eventually you’re out of spoons and have to give up and recover.

Anyway, I’ve always been a DC Comics girl rather than a Marvel Comics girl, and action movies really aren’t my thing. I like a good romcom. Animated features, mystery/thrillers, sure. Action movies? Not so much. So there really wasn’t much to tempt me into watching an Iron Man movie. And what little I knew about Thor and the different worlds: Jotunheim, Midgard, whatever, was just confusing to me. So I wasn’t really enthusiastic about that movie, either.

So now there’s like 12 million movies and television shows in the MCU and I just can’t. I don’t have the time to get caught up. I also don’t have Disney Plus.

Sorry. Got carried away. Just. I don’t watch many current movies.

But the channel has lots of great psychology stuff. In the most recent one, they talk about the appearances of Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey movies. I know some of the comics canon for Harley, so I felt at least a little tuned in there. Jonathan talks about how Harley has histrionic personality disorder, which leads her to want to be/think she is the center of attention.

I find both channels really enlightening though Mended Light tends to be actually easier to keep up on because again I don’t necessarily know the back story stuff of the episodes of Cinema Therapy.

I feel I did most of my movie watching in the 80s and 90s when these two men were like tiny. They’re, like 15 years younger than I am. When I entered my real movie-watching phase, around 1986 or so, these men were in elementary school.

Alan and Jonathan are Mormons. Have I mentioned my interest in the Latter-Day Saints? I have a family history of alcoholism, and so I believed that all gatherings of adults included imbibing. When I discovered that there was an entire subculture in the United States in which (theoretically at least) no one drinks, I was thrilled. I learned a bit about the theology, and I was young enough that Christianity was Christianity to me, so I figured I could work with that.

Is there such a thing as a whining font? I feel like I need a whining font here. The main sponsor for Cinema Therapy is Lisa’s Popcorn (nothing like an affiliate link; I just am linking the site because of what follows). I can’t eat popcorn. It just tears up my digestion and is not worth the trouble. I can eat puffcorn products, like the Beaver Nuggets at Buc-Ees, but not whole popcorn.

Now for a real affiliate link. Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is The Throne of Fire, the second book in Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles series. It will be a while until I can plug the third book, The Serpent’s Shadow, because I’ve lost my copy.

Content Creators: Yes Theory

Wow. I’m trying to remember in what order I discovered the various YouTube channels that I visit. I’m pretty sure that Yes Theory came behind Try Guys.

The origins of Yes Theory are both long and short. The Reader’s Digest Condensed version is that Thomas Brag and Matt Dajer attended McGill University in Montreal at the same time. They attended a party where they met the only person to ever be given permission to climb the Great Pyramid of Giza, Ammar Kandil. The three hit it off immediately and, with a friend acting as cameraman, they decided to try one new thing every day for thirty days. They called this “Project Thirty.”

In Project Thirty, they did things like give flowers to strangers, try to get strangers to dance with them in public, and so on. The videos are a lot of fun.

Then, in 2016, they got an offer to move to Venice, California and film videos there for a company called Vertical. During the early days of their time in California they all lived together in one house and also let friends live in that house with them.

I didn’t discover Yes Theory until the last year or so, so I went back through the posts and got caught up-to-date. I really enjoyed this era of videos, even though a number of their videos during this era are, erm, I’m not sure how to describe them. Their videos are very pro-social, about cooperating and making friends, and learning, and travel.

In the middle stretch of their channel, they made a number of videos seeing what they could get away with — trying to convince people in Beverly Hills to let them swim in their pools, sneaking into movie premieres, etc. They also had a series whenever they traveled of one of the guys having to find strangers who would feed and house them in a strange city.

This group of three guys who met at a party are now hoping to to lead a sort of revolution encouraging people to “Seek Discomfort.” As they put it, “We believe life’s greatest moments and deepest connections exist outside of your comfort zone.”

Matt is no longer making videos and Ammar only shows up occasionally, so they’ve added Matt’s younger brother, also named Thomas (he goes by Tommy in the videos) and a friend named Eric Tabach.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link for today is Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale. In this sequel to Princess Academy, Miri and the other girls from the academy come to the capital of Danland, Asland, to help Britta prepare for her wedding. Miri also gets a chance to attend the institution of higher learning for Danland — the Queen’s Castle.

Content Creators: The Try Guys

Last year, I started a tag called “Content Creators” in an effort to scare up something to write about.

Well, once again, I’m trying to scare up something to write about, so here we are again.

I could’ve sworn I’ve written about the Try Guys before, but maybe that was just about the concert that I went to with Ray a couple of years ago.

Try Guys Tryceratops at concert in 2019
Yes. I’ve clearly written about the Try Guys concert, since I had this in my already-posted photos.

First, a small content warning. I love The Try Guys, but a lot of their content is based on food. If videos about food are an issue for you (disordered eating, autism-spectrum sensory issues, etc.) be selective about their videos.

The group of men who call themselves The Try Guys started out as a . . . channel? troupe? theme? on Buzzfeed. They developed a following, so in 2018 they left Buzzfeed and formed their own company. Since then it’s been fun watching them grow.

The four “guys” of the Try Guys are (alphabetically by first name) Eugene Lee Yang, from Pflugerville, Texas; Keith Habersberger, from Carthage, Tennessee (though he went to Illinois State University and lived for a time in Chicago); Ned Fulmer, from Jacksonville, Florida (though he also lived in Chicago for a while); and (my personal favorite) Zach Kornfeld, from Scarsdale, New York.

Over the years since the Try Guys have left Buzzfeed, we’ve watched Ned become a father (twice!), Keith and Becky settle into married life, Zach and Maggie’s relationship, and have gotten to know Eugene’s partner of 9 years, Matt.

The Try Guys YouTube channel has a number of ongoing series, including 4 vs. 1, where the Try Guys collectively try to beat a champion in some area (chess, soccer, poker, etc.). They usually lose, but it’s always a fun time and also very educational.

There’s also Eat the Menu, where Keith, well, tries everything at a (usually chain) restaurant. This has given birth to another feature on the channel, the Food Babies. Two of their staffers (editor YB and associate producer Alex) originally were tasked with finishing up the things that Keith didn’t finish on Eat the Menu. Now the Food Babies have their own series and they also frequently appear in food-related Try Guys videos.

Mostly the Try Guys video is comedy, but they can be educational as well, as when the Try Guys went to Australia, and in the 4 vs. 1 videos, where we learn about the sports/competitions and how they work.

Today we have a not-so-Gratuitous Amazon Link. I think I’ve listed this before, but what the heck. The Hidden Power of F*cking Up, by the Try Guys is a great book in which the Try Guys confront their own weaknesses. For Keith, it’s his health; for Eugene, it’s family love; for Ned, it’s fashion; and for Zach, it’s romantic love (though Zach’s cooking with gas on that one now thanks to his relationship with his fiancee Maggie).

Content Creators: The Bloggess

November 13, 2020 4 of 8

I’m trying to remember when I first discovered Jenny Lawson, who blogs at The Bloggess. I believe that one of my friends (Leta, maybe?) linked to And That’s Why You Should Learn to Pick Your Battles.

I dug around on her site a while and found her to be hysterically funny and, like the very best funny things, every once in a while, Jenny will post something that hits you right in the gut. Often these gut punches have to do with Jenny’s mental health. Jenny has a mental illness and she is very frank about her struggles.

She did a TEDx Talk about her mental illness and she had a panic attack in the middle of it. Jenny lives in San Antonio and the talk was at the Empire Theater. I hadn’t gotten tickets because, well, time got away from me. It turned out that I walked right past the theater that day and I came *this* close to seeing if she’d gone on already and, if not, if I could’ve bought a ticket. And I’m very disappointed that I didn’t because I’d’ve loved to have been one of the people there who gave her a standing ovation.

She wasn’t there to see it, because her anxiety made her run off to the back as soon as she was done. But I’d’ve happily ovated her standingly.

And I’m not the only person who loves her. She opened a bookstore here this year, Nowhere Bookshop on Broadway in Alamo Heights. Well, I say “opened,” but they’re only open for curbside service right now. But she also started a virtual book club this year and she expected maybe 50 people. Last I heard it was over 1,000. There is a $10 setup fee and then you get charged $25 per month plus shipping (and sales tax if you’re in Texas) for the books. If the book is more, the book club eats the difference and if it’s less, they send you some kind of extra thingy, like a bookmark or a pin or something. Some of the books are autographed and two have come with little bookplates with the author’s autograph on them.

If you want to join the club, the signup page is here: The Fantastic Strangelings Book Club. A number of my Gratuitous Amazon Links are book club selections.

Speaking of Gratuitous Amazon Links, what’s up next? The Madman’s Daughter, by Megan Shepherd, apparently. I have some recollection of this series, but since I read them four years ago, it’s not so crisp and clear. This is the first book in a trilogy, also called The Madman’s Daughter, which is about the adventures of Juliet Moreau, the daughter of Dr. Moreau from The Island of Dr. Moreau. I will soon be posting the other two books.

Content Creators: Slacktivist

November 7, 2020 3 of 8

I’ve been a reader and occasional commenter at Fred Clark’s Slacktivist blog for a really absurdly long time. I think I was still married to Thomas when I found him. I checked him out for the reason that most people do — his deconstruction of the Left Behind books.

In the very, very late 1980s, my college roommate fell in with a group of young women who believed that the end of the world was right around the corner. When Geraldo Rivera had his show on the now-debunked Satanic panic, they had a prayer meeting in my dorm room.

I’m a Christian, but I don’t believe that there’s going to be a physical second coming of Jesus. Most of the Bible verses that are used as “proof” that such a thing is going to happen at all are taken out of context. Personally, I believe that most of it was about the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD.

But anyhow, I’m getting away from myself here.

This whole school year, with the constant talk of the rapture and everything in my room, where the only way I could get away from it was to hide in a friend’s room, was pretty scarring for me. My floormates who were near it, but not right in the middle of it, developed an allergy to this sort of talk, as well.

Left Behind hadn’t been written yet when this all went down, but a lot of the things that Fred talked about, like the Scofield Reference Bible, were things I’d come into contact with during that year. His deconstruction of that worldview, and the community that built up around his blog, was very cathartic for me.

Over the years, Fred has covered a lot of religious topics, and also political topics, and he’s talked about his own life, and upbringing, and baseball and places where any and all of those topics overlap.

Frankly, Slacktivist is one of the first places I check out when I sit down at my computer. I have trouble keeping up with the comentariat, both in terms of how fast the threads go and in terms of what they talk about, and really that’s a great experience for me, because I’ve learned so much over the years.

So I highly recommend that you check it out. If you lean progressive for your politics, or your religion, or anything like that, I think you’ll enjoy it.

And for my Gratuitous Amazon Link, I guess my comic book reading project is appropriate for this post. I first learned about Kamala Khan, the current Ms. Marvel, in the comments of Fred’s blog. So today it’s Volume 5: Super Famous, by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Cliff Chiang, Adrian Alphona, and Nico Leon