Saturday, December 16, 2017

Where's the line?

My favourite author of all time is Dr. Seuss. Even now I'm an adult he still means the world to me because it was his work which truly turned me from "a kid who could read" into "a Reader™". There is a wonderful quote of his flying around out there:

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love".

For the most part, I refrain from introducing any of the more literal kinds of "madness" in my stories. When I write shifters, there's always the whole "beast taking over" going on, which you could easily view as being a form of temporary insanity. Hell, even the humans get that kind of feeling when they meet their fated mate. That's good fun, and very fitting for the genre. Similarly, even in non-paranormal, the idea of desire taking control of the intellect is rich picking for emotive writing.

I have more than a passing exposure to out-of-the-ordinary mental faculties with my eldest son, who's intellectually impaired. It isn't madness, of course, but it's a non-standard state of mental awareness and ability. I have some story ideas brewing which incorporate those kinds of disabilities and their effects on families. But as they're only embryonic there's not a lot I can say about those at this point.

The one time I did touch on something approaching madness would be with my 2015 release, "The Last Three Days". I say approaching madness because in the end, madness is often a rather subjective term. Is obsession a form of madness? Is addiction? And if so, at what point do they make that particular leap?

In this case, I had the benefit of years of percolation. I originally wrote the story in 2008, and published it under a different title in 2009. I then withdrew it from publication in about 2012, from memory, only tackling it again in the year I published it.

Those extra 5-6 years from initial writing to re-writing allowed me to explore the nature of obsession and addiction, in part through reading but also through observation of people around me.

In this story, I have two people who are dissatisfied with the lives they've built for themselves. And, by taking their feet off their gas pedals, have allowed others to build around them.

What they find in each other couldn't be called love. It's sharp, and it's brutal, and it's completely unforgiving. Yet it's relentless. And while their relationship—if it can be called that—gives their bodies exactly the kind of catch-and-release sex they require, it's the effect on their minds which was more interesting to chronicle.

They both know what they're doing is wrong. They both, in fact, have as many negative reactions as positive to each other, and to the acts they perform together.

Yet they can't walk away. Like a smoker who wants to quit but can't find the ability. Alcoholics, addicts.

Which brings me back to the quote by Dr Seuss. In essence, these two find in each other a weirdness which locks in perfectly against their own. It's indefinable, yet immutable.

And still, they never actually call it love.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Taking a Hiatus

by Annabeth Leong

Hi everyone! I’m sorry my posting schedule has gotten out of whack these past several months.

I very much value my involvement with the Grip. It’s been immensely rewarding to participate in our fortnightly topics--writing for them, reading your thoughts, and discussing things that come up with people in the comments. I don’t want to give that up.

At the same time, I need a break to get things more in order on my end, and I don’t want to keep letting you guys down while I work on that.

I talked to Lisabet, and she’s agreed to let me take a hiatus until mid-January. So I’ll be quiet here until then, but I’m very excited to get back with you once that time has passed. Happy holidays and New Year to all of you!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Heights of Madness

By Daddy X

I know we’re not doing our “What I’m Reading” topic, but a book I recently read may just fill the bill in exploring a type of madness.

Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer

What do we need for basic human sustenance? Food, water and oxygen. But what among them is most immediately important?

A human being in decent shape with a modest amount of fat reserves can live a month or more without food. Not nearly as long without liquids. Depending on the climate, from a few days to perhaps a week. But denied oxygen, we’d live for only a matter of minutes.

People of the Himalayas and Andes have evolved larger lung capacities and specialized blood structures, different from those living at sea level, enabling mountain dwellers to thrive at extreme heights. Evolutionary scholars say that the Sherpa of Tibet have acquired these physical qualities within the last 3,000 years. Quite quick for quantifiable evolutionary development.

I need to say something here about the Sherpa guides. Suffice to say that these loyal men are worth far more than their rather insubstantial pay. They earn about one-fifth of the western expedition guides. Sherpas stock the oxygen canisters, haul food, supplies and equipment, set up ladders tied into the mountain at the highest elevations, allowing the paying climbers to go nearly burden-free. Did I mention they melt snow along the way? On the mountain, snow is the only source of clean water. Each climber needs two gallons a day. That's twenty gallons for a group of ten climbers. Every day.

Most climbers use supplementary oxygen to provide what’s needed to keep their heads relatively straight at over 24,000 feet. Much of the general public doesn’t realize that when a person accustomed to living at or near sea level travels above a certain height, mental and physical faculties simply wear out. Extended time spent at those oxygen-deficient extremes will eventually take its toll.  

There’s a catch-22 involved. It takes weeks to climb Everest. Most of that time is spent acclimating one’s body to thin air, staying at five camps located at increasingly high elevations. People actually climb the mountain several times in the acclimatization process. They advance to a camp, stay for a day or two, retreat to a lower camp to revive their oxygen-depleted selves, then advance again. For every advance there are an equal number of retreats.

 Often, as we see in Krakauer’s first person account, the way back down is as, or more, hazardous than the climb against gravity, considering that gravity isn’t as manageable going down. The slightest misstep can lead to loss of control. There are 3,000-foot vertical drops on Everest. One can slide from Nepal into Tibet or China with one wrong step.

Bodies litter the slopes of Everest. At over 29,000 feet, the summit lies at about the cruising height of most commercial airliners. It’s simply too energy-demanding to haul dead weight down a mountain when the would-be rescuer may already be approaching their own physical limits, even in the best of circumstances. Helicopters can’t get enough lift in the insubstantial atmosphere to be efficient over 18,000 feet. Rescues from Everest and other, almost equally high, peaks are a land affair, period. People in dire circumstances often choose to stay on the mountain and die, knowing anyone so generous as to attempt a rescue would likely expire as well.

Problem is that the more time people from sea level spend at higher elevations the more pronounced the cumulative effect on their bodies, including the brain. In other words, one must not climb too fast, but fast enough so the cumulative effect doesn’t work against them before they finally complete their task. Minutes count. The results of prolonged oxygen deprivation are the dimming of our personal planning processes that ordinarily do a fairly good job of getting us through the day. 

Into Thin Air tells the story of two commercial outfitters that succeed in reaching the summit of Mt. Everest on May 10, 1996. However, through a series of unfortunate errors, miscalculations and simple human frailty when operating at such altitudes, nineteen people were caught in a powerful unpredicted blizzard on the way down, many of them at the end of their personal oxygen supply. Five died, including the leaders of the two major expeditions.

Agreed, these are tough, determined people. They set out on these endeavors fully expecting to experience altitude sickness and accompanying diminished capacity, frostbite, lung and circulatory damage. They can’t sleep for days on end. They freely acknowledge the possibility of losing a body part. The body doesn’t heal when circulation is affected so drastically. But the brain is possibly the most affected organ. The very brain we depend on day-to day to keep us from doing something stupid.

Krakauer is himself a mountaineer. You may know him as author of “Into the Wild”. He paints a complex picture of the fabled Everest with all the verve and enthusiasm of the adventurer he is. By far, the biggest role is played by the mountain itself.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Writing is Madness

I think it takes a certain madness to actually want to be a writer.

I spend hours and hours and hours and hours just sitting with my laptop or iPad, typing away. I have whole worlds, characters, plots, romances, and more (including big dicks) floating around in my head and I obsess over them until I finally get them out and onto the page.

And while I make some money on this, it’s certainly not enough to quit my day job.

And, yet, I prioritize this … this madness over important things.

Earlier this year, I got a job offer that was a huge jump in pay over what I get at my present day job. And I turned it down. Why? Because the commute would be four times as long and I like to write in the mornings before I go to work. I would have less time to write.

(With hindsight being 20/20, it’s good I didn’t take the job. I know the person that got it and so I know the inside scoop. It’s a terrible job. Horrible.)

Still, I turned it down because I wouldn’t be able to write as much.

Then there’s this past weekend.

I’ve been obsessed with this huge story idea for weeks now. It’s been slowly percolating in the back of my mind for a couple years — it’s a sequel to two different series that I wrote way back when. This sequel would combine the two “worlds” into something new and carry it forward as something better and stronger (and sexier and with lots of big dicks). In the last few weeks, all the puzzle pieces came together and all I can do when I’m not writing is think about how much I want to write this book.

So I finally started writing this past weekend. The words flowed so naturally and beautifully. I wrote 10K over the weekend with almost no effort. I sit down and I type and I love what I’m putting together.

And in my madness, this story turned into an epic, and then an epic times two. What was supposed to be a fun book that combines two worlds (sort of like writing fanfic of my own stuff) quickly turned into a two book series that will be huge, like possibly 200K words each. By far the longest thing I’ve ever written. It’s a massive undertaking. I’m almost a little scared.

But I’m also excited.

I can’t stop thinking about it. I dream about how to make the ending absolutely perfect (even though there’s about 400,000 words between where I am now and where that ending will be). When I’m at my day job, I think about scene I’m going to write on my lunch break and I plan it all out in my head. I know exactly what I want to do for the book trailers for each of these books (and I’ve never made a book trailer before and don’t believe they’re effective, yet I desperately want to create one for each of these books). I daydream about my characters and how to make them more real to my readers — because they’re so very real to me.

It’s a madness.

I’m infected. I’m afflicted. I’m incurable. I’m hopeless.

And I love it.

Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Schoolboy Secrets. He is publisher at and co-founder of Deep Desires Press and a member of the Indie Erotica Collective. He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit

Monday, December 11, 2017

Fantasy Madness

Sacchi Green

Madness, by whatever definition, isn’t something I’ve known much about except from its outer edges. Depression doesn’t count, I think, on its own. OCD (Obessessive/Compulsive Disorder) may come close, and in the case of a family member it had some bizarre manifestations, but medication helped considerably. Dementia I saw all too closely, although my mother at least always knew who we were.

As a writer, though, madness is tempting as a subject for fiction. I haven’t gone that route, as far as I can remember, possibly because anything I write that seems like it could concern madness turns out to be fantasy, so that what would seem like madness in the “real” world is reality in that fantasy world. I’ve been tempted a time or two to insert a twist at the end of a story revealing that the point-of-view character is, in fact, mad, and has been imagining it all, but that’s an outworn trope, and in any case I wouldn’t do that to my characters.

But I’ve just had the crazy thought that readers entirely captivated by a fictional world could be, in a sense, temporarily mad. Willing suspension of disbelief might be a very distant cousin of unwitting separation from reality, but a cousin nonetheless. Right? No? Okay, I guess that's just my own dubious hold on reality speaking. Still, there have been cases where people (usually adolescents) already unbalanced for one reason or another have become so intensely immersed in fiction that they act out dangerous and destructive scenarios, although their inspirations tend to come from social media or movies or “indie” rock bands rather than the written word.  

Fantasy fiction comes in various forms. Writers of stories set in fantasy worlds need to build those worlds to be convincing within the context of the story as a whole, and those who can do that—Tolkien, for example—make magic seem real and inevitable. Fiction set in our recognizably real world has to approach things differently. The Harry Potter stories are set in a world-within-a-world, coexisting with reality, while the thousands of stories featuring vampires or werewolves can rely on their fans’ super-willing suspension of disbelief. Some do more than others to consider the way their characters may think they’re going mad when they first encounter the supernatural elements.

I’ve touched on that last element several times in minor ways. Level-headed, common-sense Emmaline, for instance, in my ghost story “Spirit Horse Ranch,” doesn’t want to tell her partner about having her hair yanked by invisible fingers down in her root cellar, even though she’s having trouble convincing herself that it was only a rat. (Apologies for repeating something I’ve shared before, but only a little of this was in that excerpt.)
From “Spirit Horse Ranch”

 Sigri’d noticed something, though. “You okay, babe?” She stroked the loose tangle of hair Emmaline had forgotten to tidy. Fear came surging back.
With her arms around Sigri’s lean body and her head nestled against a firm shoulder, Emmaline managed to say, “Sure I’m okay. How’d it go in Bozeman?”
“Not too bad.” Sigri tried to get a look at Emmaline’s face.
Emmaline burrowed a little closer, then tilted her head back for a kiss. Chinook, firmly trained not to interrupt such proceedings, lay down with her head between her paws, and then, impatient, went to nose around the edges of the trapdoor.
Emmaline became vaguely aware of the rattle of some small object being pushed around the floor behind her. Sigri, looking past her shoulder, broke the clinch. “What’s that dratted dog got? Chicken bone?”
“Not from my kitchen…” Emmaline stopped. Chinook was offering her prize to Sigri. Held tenderly, in jaws trained to pick up eggs without breaking them, was a four-inch sticklike object. Not, they both knew, a stick. Bone, but not chicken bone. Chickens don’t have fingers.
Sigri knelt. “Good girl,” she said, ruffling the dog’s ears. She took the bone and inspected it. “Not fresh, at least. Old. Real old, I’d say, but not prehistoric. Where’d you get that?” She looked up. “Where’s she been?”
Emmaline managed to yank a chair out from the table and slump into it. “Just here, in the house, or right beside me outdoors. And…down in the root cellar. I was putting up some more shelves.”
Sigri’s long body straightened. She hauled out a chair, straddled it backwards, and surveyed Emmaline keenly. “Down in the dugout? Guess you must have been hammering up some storm to get yourself so bedraggled.”
“Well, I was,” Emmaline said, steadying herself with pure stubbornness. “I built a good strong set of shelves. And maybe shook a little dirt lose from the wall, but I swear there wasn’t any crack big enough for…for a rat.”
“What’s a rat got to do with it?”
“Nothing!” Emmaline fastened her hair back tight with the rubber band from the bundle of mail. A couple of magazines unfurled to show covers she wouldn’t have wanted the local postmistress to see, which, along with the occasional specialty mail order delivery, was why they kept a post office box in the university town of Bozeman.
“Then why’d you mention it? Come on, Em, tell me what’s been going on.”
Emmaline drew a deep breath, let it out, and tried again. “I don’t know. Maybe one of those flashback things like they write about. But I was feeling so happy right then, safe, my preserves and vegetables all set for winter…and when I felt somebody behind me I figured it was you.” She reached out a hand. In an instant Sigri’s fingers were warm and firm on hers.
“But it wasn’t you,” Emmaline went on. “Somebody…something…yanked hard on my hair, pulled my head right back, just like that old bastard used to do. I yelled and swung the hammer and jerked around, and…nobody was there. Just Chinook, scrambling down the stairs growling fit to scare a bear from its den.”
Sigri looked a shade paler under her tan, but her voice held steady. “Good for her!” She stood to pull Emmaline into another hug. “So what’s this about the rats?”
“Nothing, really. She just went poking and whining at the rough spot in the wall, and wouldn’t come upstairs until I started to close the trapdoor. So I thought of rats, and wondered if one could have jumped on me.”
“Do you still reckon that was it?” Sigri was so close her breath warmed Emmaline’s cheek. Emmaline wished she could never be any farther away, although warming other bits of her anatomy would be just fine.
“I…well, I don’t believe in ghosts any more than you do, so…” she stopped, feeling a slight tensing of Sigri’s body. “But…you don’t, do you?”
“Don’t I? Can’t say as I recall ever discussing that particular subject.” Sigri didn’t seem about to say any more.
Emmaline made a lame attempt at humor. “Well, generally you’re so level-headed snow could build up a foot deep and not slide off if I didn’t tip you over from time to time.”

I’ve also had a character deciding not to worry about whether she’s going crazy when she sees the gargoyle outside her window come alive, because what’s sanity ever done for her? And there are others who had to believe what they saw and heard even if it might mean they were crazy. I’ve been struggling most, though, with a very reality-oriented setting and characters, when one of them becomes what might pass for a superhero. How do they accept this? How do others? It’s a hard balance to keep, and I may not be managing it. I’m in the midst of a severe editing phase. I’m sure I won’t come close to immersing readers deeply in the story, but it may yet have some entertainment value. In any case, here’s an excerpt where they first try to come to terms with what’s happened. More apologies if I’ve posted this before, too.

From Shadow Hand

There was a hint of movement outside. Now Cleo could see, clearly, the man pausing just beyond them under an overhang that jutted out like the prow of a ship.
He began to turn. Ash’s hand didn’t move, just tensed even more, and a tremor shook the overhang. She raised a finger, and a clod fell. Another twitch of her finger, and a bigger clod fell from the overhang into the wadi, then another, and another. With a loud crack the whole formation began to capsize, stones and dirt pelting down, almost hiding the man. He yelled and struggled, lurched as though he’d been shoved from behind, and managed to stumble away before the full brunt of the landslide hit. When the noise and dust subsided he could be heard some distance downstream scrambling up the side of the wadi.
When silence returned it seemed louder than the turmoil just past. What had just happened? What had Ash done? And how?
Ash kept on staring down at the object in her hand. Cleo had no idea what to say, so she said nothing. Eventually the men who had been searching the ruins could be heard on the path back to the road, but it was a while before they revved their engines and roared away. Cleo knew all too well what they’d probably been doing in the meantime to her jeep.
At last, desperate to move her aching joints and feel more air and space around her, she lifted the end of her rifle and began to knock bits of dirt and pebbles out of the small opening in front of them. Ash looked up, and all at once great gaps appeared, as though some giant hand was punching through that wall.
Ash lurched forward and scrambled out on all fours, dropping the pistol along the way while favoring the hand still holding the hidden object. Cleo tumbled out behind her. They sat a few feet apart in the dry streambed, gulping fresh air, dazed, but not so much that Cleo wasn’t on the alert for any sign that someone had stayed behind.
“Cleo,” Ash said at last. She hesitated. “Sergeant Brown.”
This was serious. Cleo waited. Usually when Ash shifted into full Lieutenant mode her clear gray eyes took on a steely glint, but not now. This time her eyes begged for reassurance.
“Sergeant Brown, what…what did you just see?”
“I saw you save our sorry asses, Ma’am. I don’t claim to understand what happened, how things moved the way they did, but I saw it.”
“So if I’m hallucinating, so are you.”
Cleo could get away with a lot when it came to most folks, but she could never lie to the Lieutenant. To Ash. “We’re not hallucinating. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t real. I know plenty of things for sure without understanding them. Objects moved, and from what I saw, you seemed to make them move. What did it feel like to you?”
“It was…strange. Things happened because I thought about them, but it wasn’t just me. It was this.” She opened her right hand at last and showed what she’d been holding; what, Cleo was pretty sure, had fallen on her in the cave and drawn blood. “It was Her.”
Not stone, at least not any kind Cleo’d ever seen. Ivory, maybe, yellowed by age. Whatever it was made of, the carved figure was clearly, extravagantly female, four or five inches high, with three pairs of full breasts springing from her torso. Probably some kind of ancient goddess. She wore a sort of high crown that must once have been even higher but had been broken off. Her legs were obscured by a wrap or skirt incised with unidentifiable designs. Her face had lost part of its nose, but was otherwise intact, with a regal look about the chin and the direct gaze. Her arms, too, were mostly missing, although you could see where they’d been, and there was enough left of one of them to form a sharp point where it had broken—a point stained with recently shed blood.
Ash’s blood. All that mattered to Cleo right then, besides the unlikely fact that they were still alive, was Ash. The Lieutenant was…shaken. Not scared, not confused, not angry, exactly, but struggling with something made up of all of those, and more.
“She’s stuck right in my mind,” Ash blurted out at last. “Trying to control me. She may have saved us, but I want her out. I get all the orders I can stand from my commanding officers.”
Defiance! Cleo nearly shook with relief. Ash was going to be all right.
“Toss her to me, Ash. See how you feel then.”
She held out her hand, then tried to duck when the figurine shot up and hurtled toward her head, stopping with a sudden jerk just before it hit. Ash’s face was taut with strain. A fierce heat flowing from the hovering figure felt as though it would sear Cleo’s skin, but all at once the goddess, or whatever she was, vanished. A few pebbles could be heard dropping inside the cave. Maybe she’d burrowed back into it.
Cleo’s whirling mind took refuge in crude humor. “Guess I’m not this particular Desert Queen’s type. Just as well. She wants somebody like one of those Hindu Kali statues, with a bunch of extra arms and hands to do justice to all her extra boobs.”
“What she wanted,” Ash said, standing somewhat stiffly, “was to hurl herself right through your head. I struggled to stop her, and I won. Now she’s gone. I made her go away. It’s over.”
Cleo got to her feet with an effort. It seemed like they’d been scrunched up in that cave in fear for their lives an hour or more. “So it was only your ass she intended to save, and mine was just collateral non-damage? I can live with that.”
“If you’re lucky,” Ash said. “She may be bound to this place, not to the fortress over there—that’s only about 1300 years old—but to something much older. Astarte, Ishtar, Ashtoreth—many names for more or less the same goddess. Maybe some temple was here thousands of years ago that left no trace—except for Her.”
“A real Desert Queen, then? But ‘Ashtoreth?’ Really?”
“Don’t go there! It’s just a coincidence. Besides, in this area her name would most likely be Ishtar.” Ash’s irritation was an improvement on worrying about possible hallucinations. “A hundred years ago the clerks at Ellis Island didn’t bother with figuring out how to spell immigrants’ names. My great-grandfather’s name became ‘Ashton’ instead of ‘Athanasiou.’ Greek. A whole different crew of goddesses.” Her expression warned Cleo not to mention her first name, Athena. “Anyway, enough of that. She’s gone now. End of story.”
“Sure.” Cleo watched Ash bend down for the pistol she’d dropped, now half-buried in gravel. The gun rose to meet Ash’s hand. “If you say so.”
“It’ll wear off,” Ash muttered, still looking down.
Cleo groped for words. What must it feel like, some impossible, unnatural power being thrust into you without your consent? Something that couldn’t be explained by experience, or training, or instinct? For that matter, was Cleo herself suffering from shellshock, to be willing to believe in a stone goddess controlling her commander? Right now it didn’t matter. She found some words. “Whether it wears off or not, you’re still you.” She reached for Ash’s hand, a hand that met hers in an entirely natural grip.
“We’re still us,” Ash said.

Ah well. Sometimes I think this business of writing a novel when all my instincts are for short stories is driving me mad, but there are several other candidates for that honor, mostly to do with family health situations and my own responsibilities. I’m hanging on.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Sobering Experience

by Jean Roberta

Definitions of insanity are parallel to definitions of obscenity. They all tend to be circular. In effect, “obscenity” is a picture or a description of anything the viewer or reader thinks should not be shown. “Insanity” is any person or action that seems illogical in the eyes of the viewer.

So, for example, when my new husband insisted that I had had sex with some stranger on the arm of the armchair I had bought second-hand (and which had a stain on the arm), I thought he sounded insane. He thought I was a nympho, a woman with an insane appetite for sex. His arguments always led back to the fact that I hadn’t been a virgin when he met me, so obviously, I was a nympho. How could I deny it?

His accusations continued from then until I left him, which further confirmed my insane, impulsive nature in his mind. Clearly, I was suffering from post-natal depression, a kind of insanity lite.

Gossip often includes at least one accusation that someone is “insane.” In some cases, the accusation is mutual, especially when the gossip follows a divorce. Very few exes seem to have been sane at any time in their lives.

Most of the time, I take reports of someone else’s “insanity” with a huge spoonful of salt, even if the person has spent time in a psychiatric facility. (Definitions of “insanity” have varied wildly from one culture and era to another.)

Re being illogical, however, I have to admit that sometimes I’m guilty. On Friday, I went to the first holiday dinner party of the season, in the home of a friend who keep a large quantity of wine in her front room. (She knows of an outlet that sells it for about $5 Canadian per bottle to customers who supply their own bottles.) I over-indulged, and today I regret it.

Gah! I think I'll be saner for the rest of the season.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How I Survived This Horrible Year

by Giselle Renarde

2017 has been terrible. Worst depression year I've had in almost 20 years. Anxiety on top of that.

I've got a lot to be grateful for. Aside from tax headaches, the horribleness of this year hasn't been personal. Nobody's died. I haven't been evicted. My girlfriend's still dear to my heart.

But sometimes things can be going right and you still can't cope. Mental illness is funny like that. This world is a hard place to live in.

So how do I cope?


Doesn't work for everybody, but it does work for me.  My girlfriend says that when she's having a bad depression day, comedy is the last thing she wants to consume. It feels too trivial to her.  But I want the trivial.  I don't want to think about all the bad stuff in the world, all the hatred and the fear.  I want to laugh. I just want to laugh.

The top three things that kept me going throughout this horrible, terrible year are:

1. Mystery Science Theater 3000
I have my girlfriend to thank for this discovery. MST3K was barely on my radar when she introduced me to it. But as soon as I started watching old episodes, I was hooked.

In case you're not familiar, it's a show from the 90s (recently revived by Netflix) set in the not-too-distant future. A guy and his robot pals make fun of the best of the worst B movies and sci-fi flicks. It's deliriously hilarious.

Bad movies, clever remarks and robot friends--what's not to love?

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the funniest goddamn thing I've seen... possibly ever.

2. Four Finger Discount
My sister turned me on to this wonderful Simpsons podcast. Being a huge fan of Golden Era Simpsons, I've really enjoyed reliving old episodes with two funny Australian boys.  Most of the people I spend time with are considerably older than I am, so it's great to vampire off their 20-something energy.

In every episode, Dando and Mitch review a different Simpsons episode. It goes in chronological order. New episodes are posted once a week.  They started with Season 1 and they're up to Season 6. That's commitment!

Four Finger Discount is my new favourite thing to listen to while washing dishes.

3. Frasier
I love Frasier so much that when I had a particularly good sales quarter a couple years ago, I bought the entire series on DVD. Every night, I go to bed with Frasier. I put it on and let it lull me into sleep. It helps my brain power down.

I'm not sure how many times I've watched the series in its entirety, but I'm not tired of it yet.

So I want to send my gratitude out into the universe, or at least into the internet. Thank you to everyone helped to create the media that soothes my mentally ill mind. Maybe you didn't know it when you were making robots or recording podcasts in your living room, but you've helped someone this year.

You've really helped me.