1182 – Loving Dancing Meanders | Make Great Pets 13 in Review
Gently remove your sleepy Sunday slippers while Scoots talks about how this season came together and where it ended up going.
Episode 1182 – Loving Dancing Meanders | Make Great Pets 13 in Review
[START OF RECORDING]
SCOOTER: Friends beyond the binary, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, oh boy, is it time to take a look back at how great pets could be, how we make…how did we make Make…the making…how did we make Make Great Pets? Well, you say, what are you talking about, sir? Oh, welcome to Sleep With Me. This is a podcast that’s here to put you to sleep, but really to keep you company while you fall asleep, because you deserve a good night’s sleep. That’s what this show is about. I’m here to basically apply — if you’re new — to be your friend in the deep, dark night and keep you company by talking about nothing and not making much sense, but in a friendly way. So, I’m so glad you’re here, because you do deserve a good night’s sleep. You deserve a bedtime you could look forward to or at least feel neutral about.
So, thanks for checking the show out. What we got coming up here is support — that’s how the show comes out free twice a week — then a long, meandering intro meant to ease you into bedtime, and then I’ll be talking about our series, Make Great Pets. We’ll be doing the…not really the making of it; more of a meandering around it. A lot of talk about Footloose, so if you’ve ever wanted to sleep through someone never getting to the point about Footloose or waxing…what is that called? Is that waxing rhapsodic? I don't think so. I’ll be waxing episodically modularly. Well, you say, but this is the last…well, you could listen to this in any order. But by the way, I’m so glad you’re here, again. It’s time for Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep. Thanks for making it possible, my patron peeps.
INTRO: [INTRO MUSIC] Hey, are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing? Trouble getting to sleep? Trouble staying asleep? Well, welcome. This is Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep. We do it with a bedtime story. Alls you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press Play. We’re gonna do the rest. What we’re going to attempt to do is create a safe place where you could set aside whatever’s keeping you awake. It could be thoughts, things on you’re thinking about, thinking thoughts. So, thoughts, past, present, future, calculations, thoughts about calculating, calculating thoughts. Or, how come my thoughts…they say, oh, we’re calculate…like, when I need you, you’re buffering or…you say, well, we’re calculating that right now. What, how to talk to somebody I already know?
Yeah, we’re calculating what to say next; just give me a few minutes. Or you could just…here’s something I’ve learned as I’ve had so many growth opportunities to do it, is…like a lot of you listening, I probably have a tendency to fill in dead air right away, as soon as it gets…as soon as I feel any sign of discomfort, and I’m trying to unlearn that. But that’s probably what makes me qualified to go on and on and on in a sleep podcast. But it could be thoughts, it could be feelings, anything coming up for you emotionally related to those thoughts, or feelings that are just there, it could be changes in time, temperature, routine, you could be going through something, you could have something going on, you could have something coming up.
Whatever it is, the reason I go through all that stuff isn’t to remind you of anything other than the fact that you’re not alone. I know this is a podcast, so it’s…that’s kind of like a pseudo thing, but really, it’s…didn’t I have to look up pseudo the other…either five intros ago or fifty or seventy? I didn’t retain what it meant, unfortunately. The only thing I remember about it is saying, the pseudo that you do…the pseudo of Play-Doh. You’d say, it probably would help if you knew what pseudo meant. I could look it up again, but I better get to the point here, of…how did I get into…? Oh, the reason I…it can be lonely in the night, in the deep, dark night.
Even if you have a partner or a roommate, your house is filled with family…is…when you can’t sleep, it’s not easy. That’s one of the reasons I make the show, is 'cause I can relate to how it feels. Oh boy, I get to keep making this podcast. This week has not been a good one for sleep. I’ve had it all, and seemingly in a…if you’re…if you can’t sleep like I can in a unpredicted way…last week I had a cold. Or, no, it was a week and a half ago, and it’s still barely lingering. But I don't think it’s what’s messing up my sleep, but I’ve had it all. This morning, woke up an hour and twenty minutes before my alarm, and my alarm was set for 6:30, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Then I’ve just been…I don't know.
You know how it is, and that’s what I want you to know, is I know how it feels, and maybe you’re going through something really unique that I haven’t been through, and if I can’t relate to how it feels, I do think that someone out there probably can, and they’re probably nodding their head right now saying, yeah, you deserve a good night’s sleep. It’s tough. So, I make the show because I know how it feels and because you deserve a good night’s sleep. You deserve a bedtime you don’t have to dread, a bedtime you could feel neutral about or look forward to, and the sleep you need so your life is more manageable so…and then eventually you could be out there flourishing, and that means our world will be a better place to be in if your world’s a better place.
So, what I’m gonna do here is I’m gonna send my voice across the deep, dark night. I’m gonna use lulling, soothing, creaky, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, and superfluous tangents. All that means is my voice is not traditionally soothing. I’m gonna go off topic, I’m gonna get mixed up, then I’ll forget what I was talking about, then I’ll say, oh yeah, what about that? Then I’ll double back, and then I’ll go on a tangent superfluously. But it’s all…I’m all here…I’m here to keep you company and take your mind off of stuff, not really to put you to sleep and not really to be heard, which is different than most podcasts, right? This is a podcast you just barely listen to. You kinda say, uh-huh, uh-huh. Oh yeah, I see that. Uh-huh. I know what you’re talking about.
But you don’t really have to actually listen to me, and I’m never gonna say, were you listening to what I said? Did you see how my paper airplane did not fly; it just crashed straight into the kitchen floor? Uh-huh. Oh boy, that…oh, boy. I even turned the wings up. There’s another thing I’ve never been successful with; paper airplanes. I mean, I think it’s…maybe some of the time. I’m just not good at folding. I’m not good at calculating…my handwriting, and folding papers evenly. It’s just not in my skill set. Then some part of my brain that apparently is a paper airplane coach said, it’s all in the throw, champ. I said, what do you mean? He said, well, it’s more…it’s not the plane; it’s the pilot. Oh boy, really? Do you have anymore truisms about paper airplanes? That part of my brain just said, did you flick your wrist?
I say, I don't know. That’s like when the dance instructor’s…or Pilates or yoga people tell me to move my hips or bend at the waist. I have no idea what you’re…or another one that always gets me…well, there’s two other ones. You’ve heard these if you listen to the podcast. One is like, oh, roll your shoulders…lower your shoulders. I guess my shoulders are shrunk up under my ears, but I say, oh, they’re down. No, you gotta roll your shoulders back. Then the other one, in any context, is, okay, try to relax. I’d say, that’s exactly what I’m…that’s what I’m exerting myself doing, is I’m…that’s what my…that’s why there’s beads of sweat on my forehead, is I’m trying to relax. I’m trying very hard to relax and to not be aware of the fact that I’m trying to relax, and that there’s performance pressure for me to relax.
Can’t you see how hard I’m working? I’m trying to relax. I don't think you’re…this is…oh, try…yeah, try to relax your body. Okay. Okay, I’m try…I said, success; I’ve try…I’m trying to relax. Or, then I guess they’d probably say, just relax, then. If I said that…I said, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I am trying to relax. I didn’t even know I was getting into a literary quibble with you, or a literal one. But yeah, I’m actually trying to relax. Okay, just relax, then. Okay, you’re gonna need a stopwatch and a…maybe a magic hat with a rabbit in there, because it’s not possible. I was trying to introduce a sleep podcast and then some…I didn’t realize I had a paper airplane coach within me, but that’s cool.
I mean, actually not, 'cause it seems like some sort of very burly part of my brain that gives more than suggestions of…I’ve heard many parts of my brain say, you’re doing it wrong, but never with a paper…imaginary paper airplane. Say, no wonder your paper airplane can’t fly. It’s crashed before it’s left your hand. See the plane within the paper. What do you mean? Okay, do I…? I always forget; do I fold it in half first or do I do the triangles first? See the plane within the paper and it will…can you see the plane flying? What if we…can I make one of those ones where the little plane launches off and…or…and then they just…it doesn’t matter; like, it’s just a distraction? I don't know. I can remember once putting a penny in one and I think it flew, but I don't…oh, so, I’m supposed to introduce a sleep podcast.
Oh, so, this is a pod…exactly; you say, uh-huh, so you have a paper airplane coach, huh? Well, an imaginary one. Holy…I don't usually use the term boujee on this podcast, but if I said I…you’d say, what was your spec script for the opening sequence of Succession? How do you say…I can’t even…succession. Oh, a paper airplane coach coaching the children…'cause I think they added some stuff on, so I wanted to add on where there’d be a paper airplane coach coaching them. Oh, crickets. Even within my brain, there was crickets on that one. Okay, so, it’s a podcast you don’t really listen to. You just kinda barely listen. Then, it’s also a podcast that doesn’t put you to sleep. I keep you company while you fall asleep.
I’m here to be your bore-friend, your bore-sib, your bore-bae, your bore-bestie, your neigh-bore, your bore-bud, your bore-friend, your friend in the deep, dark night to keep you company and take your mind off of stuff so there’s no pressure to fall asleep. There’s people who are listening who can’t sleep; I’m here for them. There’s people who are listening who need a break during the day; I’m here for them, and I’m here for you, but you don’t need to listen to me. That’s why the shows are over an hour, is so you don’t have to worry. You say, okay, I got plenty of time to fall asleep. So, yeah, I’m here to be your friend, your bore-friend, your bore-bae, your bore-sib, your bore-bud, your bore-bestie, your friend in the deep, dark night.
The thing is, though, nobody makes friends on the…I mean, not everybody makes friends in the first visit, right? Especially…I don't know, if you meet at Paper Airplane Camp…okay, there could be a rom-con, because…com, 'cause you could get a paper cut and then you could both be at the place where you get your Band-aids. Our hands first touched at Paper Airplane Camp. Where, making paper airplanes? No, at the place where they give you Band-aids. We were both…actually, it was just a jar. It actually wasn’t a camp; it was more of a Parks and Rec thing. It was Paper Airplane Day. But I thought…if I was writing an imaginary autobiography in the middle of a sleep podcast where I keep going off topic, I would have pretended it was Paper Airplane Camp with that coach. Day one; you are the paper.
Okay, well, that’s beyond me. I’m just a kid at a paper airplane camp. I don't understand what that means. Step two; be the paper. Excuse me, just raising my hand here. When are we gonna make paper airplanes? Oh, that’s…you’re only signed up for Week 1, little Andy. You don’t…you’re…we’re only doing concept…we’re actually…the last day, you’ll conceptually fly paper airplanes, but Week 2 and Week 3 are when we make paper airplanes. Can I go…can I…is there any way I could…? No, you’re…this call is coming with…inside your brain, actually. Okay, I better get back to the sleep pod…so, oh, what was I saying? Oh, this show, most people don’t like it on their first listen, or their first two or three listens, because one, it’s very strange and different. That’s obvious, right?
I don't even know where these tangents are coming from. They’re just there, waiting for me to discover them. But also, you probably had some expectation that this would be relaxing or, I don't know, like you’d say, I thought…this isn’t what I expected. So, that’s why…and if you’ve had trouble sleeping, you’ve probably tried a bunch of different stuff. Of course you’re skeptical. So, just give it a few tries. It does grow on…the people that this podcast works for, the most common thing I hear is I had no idea I was looking for this, and I’m so glad I found it because I was looking for it my whole life. I just didn’t know it because how would I describe it?
I wouldn’t say a sad young man talking about Paper Airplane Camp, but I’d say there’s a forlorn…I don't know, he doesn’t…he never…though I wouldn’t use those words, because I don't even know what he’s talking about. I don't know if he does, either, except that he wishes there…now he does wish there was such a thing as Paper Airplane Camp and that he was there for all three weeks, though that does sound exhausting. But, you know, who knows? You say, when did Sleep With Me stop? Oh, he went to Paper Airplane Camp and it turned out that everything he needed to adjust in his life fell right into place. As soon as he…on Week…he was there for twelve weeks, but as soon as he got that perfect fold, he became…he was one of those campers that became an instructor. He never left.
He was also our only camper, so, we’re all kind of…also, we all live in his imagination. He doesn’t know that, even though somehow he’s narrating it. Oh, so, give it a few tries and see how it goes. If you already loathe the show, sleepwithmepodcast.com/nothankyou has other sleepy podcasts and stuff like that you could check out. Then, the only other thing I want to tell you about is the structure of the show. It’s intentional, but it does throw people off. So, the show starts off with a greeting; friends beyond the binary, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, so you feel seen and welcome and you say, oh, I could check this podcast out.
Then there’s support so the show could be free, come out twice a week…then separate from the support is this long, meandering intro we’re just finishing up, which is like, fifteen to twenty minutes long, and that’s meant to ease you into bedtime. It’s different every time so that it doesn’t get familiar and tired where you’re like, oh, this doesn’t make me sleepy anymore 'cause it’s the same every time. It’s different every single time, but it’s also meant…it’s like, the reason it’s about twenty minutes long is to ease you into bedtime. Not to put you to sleep, but to keep you company while you’re getting ready for bed or you’re winding down, because that’s just what I’ve had…most of the time works for me, which is why this week I’m like, what’s up with that?
I’ve had my wind-down routine. I mean, I did get rid of one of my blankets on my bed because the temperature went up a little bit, but I don't know. It can’t be that simple. So, yeah…oh, so that’s the intro. As you start to wind down or fall asleep, that’s what the intro’s here for. But a lot of people are doing some sort of chill activity or getting ready for bed. Then there will be support, then will be our recap…kinda look back at our series Make Great Pets. We’ll be talking about Footloose. I never kicked off my Sunday shoes and I never even mentioned it ‘til just now, but…so, don't worry; no Sunday shoes will be kicked off or kicked at all.
Sunday shoes, not…it’s not a Sunday when I’m recording this, so…as a matter of fact, I don't have any…I mean, I do have Sun…I have shoes I have worn on Sundays. Then there’s thank-yous at the end. So, that’s the structure of the show. That’s why I make the show. I’m really glad you’re here. I work really hard. I yearn and I strive. I really hope I can help you fall asleep. Thanks again for coming by, and here’s a couple ways I’m able to do it for you for free twice a week.
Alright everybody, this is Scoots here. This is Episode…lucky number 13 of Make Great Pets, where we look back at the making of Make Great Pets and kinda go through stuff about the making of the show. These are always…they’re very introspective, but some people like to sleep through the process of how the show is made. Actually, some people like to listen to these during the day. But they do tend to be sleepy and it helps me kinda review things, 'cause I kinda forget, and it’s good to look back, because pretty soon I’ll be writing and working on our next series, and I’ll try to give a little bit of a teaser depending on the timing of what we got coming up next as I’ve started to prepare stuff…'cause I got a couple flights coming up, so I started to prepare some of the research for the next series.
Make Great Pets has a somewhat clean story, where it came from, which is…because it’s more…it came out of some place more recent instead of being something that I thought of years and years ago and then thought of again and then said, huh. It has one of the more specific…I think it’s just 'cause it’s recent, but a very specific point that it came out of. So, it’s kinda cool. I’ve shared it probably on Patreon before, but it’s really simple. This will be kind of…I’ll lead my way into it before we get to the story part, and it has some personal essay stuff, so that’s kinda interesting. So, I have my daughter Sophia, and she’s in musicals at a couple of our community teen musical theatre places, which I’m grateful for living in the Bay Area, because there’s more than one place where your kids…if you’re…they’re into musical theatre can participate.
So, she was getting ready to audition. Eventually they announce what shows they’re gonna do over the season ahead of time, and they were gonna do Footloose the Musical, which was interesting. I think I was already aware of it beforehand. I mean, that there…that Footloose was made into a musical. But I was like, huh, that’s interesting. So, I said to her, well, let’s watch Footloose the movie before you start getting into the audition process so you can kinda see where it came from. I was also kinda like, man, I haven’t seen Footloose in a long, long, long time…with Kevin Bacon. So, I said, this will be interesting. I wonder how it holds up. What’s the movie like? So, we went to go watch the original Footloose one Saturday day…afternoon, and stuff’s kind of not centralized anymore, so when…and I don't have…some people have one service where you can search for everything.
I don't have that. So, I searched a couple places, and I think even when you google it sometimes, it is kinda frustrating. I said, where can I watch Footloose? Well, which Footloose? But eventually I found out that it wasn’t on any streaming services at this time when I watched it, which was late 2022. So, I said, okay, let’s just pay to…well, first we had a debate, actually, 'cause there was a remake that came out in…I don't know when it came out. I think in the aughts or maybe the early tens? I go, okay, I kinda have a basic remembering of the…that there was a remake. I was tempted because the remake was on a service I paid for or whatever. I said, well…my daughter’s like, well, let’s just watch the remake instead of paying, whatever, four bucks or whatever it was to rent the original. We went back and forth a little while.
Even…I think we…I was like, okay, let’s go walk the dog or whatever and then we’ll…and I said, you know what? I don't know anything about this remake and I really think we should watch the original first, 'cause…and so, we watched the original with Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow…I think Mary Steenburgen is in it, Chris Penn…I don't have it in front of me. Those are the…but so, we watched the original, and I’m…again, it could be just me, but the original was really good, and so good that it created this…the whole series came out of mostly the performances of…and I don't know the actress that played Ariel, but her performance, John Lithgow’s performance in particular, and Kevin Bacon’s performance, and the writing. I would say that the writing is actually…of the original was more contemporary.
I mean, well, maybe not. I can’t say that about the remake. But it almost felt contemporary. Kevin Bacon’s character comes to town and he’s clearly…feels like a outsider and is treated that way. He loves to dance, and there’s no dancing allowed in town. That’s basically…if you were to say what’s the movie about…and I know it’s based on a true story, I’ve been told by my family, but the reason they…the town can’t dance in a sleepy sense is that John Lithgow plays the pastor of one of the congregations in town, the largest one, and he’s kinda…he needs someone to help him because he’s kinda going through something that’s made him be against dancing and other forms of celebration with…for teens.
It’s also…what he’s been going through has impacted his relationship with his daughter, Ariel, and that has created…she’s having…she’s acting out, basically, and she needs help. She actually needs her father’s help. This is, again, only my interpretation of the movie, which in…for the creation of Make Great Pets was not a…I’m not a movie expert or anything. But so, it seemed like a very…re-watching it and then just taking in, one, the performance of Lithgow, that he plays…it could be a very one-note performance, that he’s this preacher, he’s…has stuff he’s upset about, and he’s against dance. But he plays it in a way…at least, again, could be my viewing of it, but in a way that’s very nuanced. Kevin Bacon’s…kinda gives — in a sense, to me — an otherworldly performance.
I mean that as…almost like he’s…if he didn’t have his mom and his relatives there, that he could have come from another world. But he does have roots in this town. I mean, he comes from another world, Chicago, but…and he’s there to kind of discover things. Basically, the short version is he sees the first thing…needs or wants or whatever; oh, this town’s against dance. I want to dance. The authorities are giving me trouble. This is by the authorities. I’m a rebel and I love to dance, and dance is my former rebellion. So, I’m gonna figure out a way to do that. But really, on the way to that, he meets Ariel and he sees that she’s having a tough time, and he meets…oh, I don't know, the pastor, the preacher, and he says, oh, he’s having a tough time. But neither one of them can see past their…what they’re going through.
But slowly, Kevin Bacon, through the story, can. He says…and none of it’s on the nose. But if it was on the nose, he’d say to Ariel, can’t you see…? I mean, I think he kinda does, but he says, can’t you see you’re acting out? You really need to reestablish this relationship with your father. She would say, well, my father’s not emotionally available for me, so, what am I supposed to do? Then Kevin Bacon would say to the preacher, can you see that you’re…you’ve lost your way and you’re projecting a lot of…you want to try to control things that you can’t control and avoid feelings you don’t want to feel, but also, you’re not living in the present moment because you don’t want to go through this hard time…these strong feelings you’re having.
Those choices are really impacting you, your relationship with your daughter, your daughter, and actually, the whole town, in some sense. You’re taking it…you’re acting out, as well. But I’m here to help…I guess in some sense, a non-subtextual truth-teller. Like, through dance, we’ll get this figured out. So, that kinda plays out. So, we watched the movie, we really enjoyed it, then we watched a remake, and Miles Teller is really good. Miles Teller plays the Chris Penn character. I’ve noticed that Miles Teller has this chameleon thing because he did it again in Maverick, even though it’s a different…those were different performances. I don't know, I said…I had seen Maverick and I said, wow, that’s pretty cool.
But then I saw…after…then later in the year I saw this Footloose and I said, holy cow, that’s like Chris Penn’s performance, but different, but the spirit…capturing the spirit of Chris Penn’s performance. Let’s see, Julianna Hough from…I don’t watch the dancing shows, but I…she’s…her and her brother are on Disney specials. She plays Ariel and she can really dance, so that was cool. But yeah, so, the remake just was a little bit more straightforward. Again, it’s hard watching the original and then the remake, then the subtleties of the original. But maybe that, again, was just me and viewing them in pretty much right after one another. There is also out there an unofficial remake, but I don't think the complete movie’s out there anywhere. I’ve tried to find it.
But if anybody has a full copy of that…I don't…I haven’t even watched the parts of it 'cause I don't want to miss out on it, but I don't think…as far as I could tell, the unofficial remake, it is not…there’s no complete copies in existence. So, at some point, though, they decided to make it into a musical, and it’s a jukebox musical, which I did not know. I said, oh, okay, it’s a musical. That makes sense. But then I didn’t realize ‘til my daughter was auditioning for it that it’s a jukebox musical from the soundtrack. So, basically, they took the soundtrack and kinda lined it up with the characters and stuff like that. At least in the performance that I saw…well, I saw four performances of it, maybe…was it six…? I don't know, but the performance I saw really works. I saw it with two different casts.
So, it was great, and Sophia played Ariel in one of the casts, so it was really fun. Okay, so all that said, that’s the…that’s loamy soil. But before the musical or before the auditions but after we watched…at least the first one…I couldn’t get the idea…I don't know, there’s just something about Kevin Bacon’s performance and in some sense…at least, again, some of this could be projection, but it was a simple story well told. Like, a stranger comes to town or a outsider comes to town to help two people heal or whatever. It’s like, oh, okay. Then I came up with this theory…again, this is only a fanfiction, imaginary theory that I pitched to my daughter one night. This wasn’t even originally meant as a bedtime story, but I was like…in some sense, I realized in the context of the movie, Rin…Ren is not an angel.
I mean, he’s got angel eyes, holy cow, and angel-like dance moves like Kevin Bacon, but…also, I think there was multiple members-only jackets in this movie, but not that that has anything to do with anything. I just thought of that. I think there’s…at one point Kevin Bacon’s wearing a pleather or leather members-only jacket. Okay, but so, at some point I came up with this theory. It’s only imaginary 'cause it doesn’t actually fit the movie, because Kevin Bacon already has roots. I already hinted to her and said that Kevin Bacon is otherworldly, or Ren is otherworldly. I talked to my daughter about this. I’m like, what if Ren was an angel, right? ‘Cause he was on an angelic-style mission to help this preacher who lost his way and help him reconnect with his daughter, and again with the rest…and to let go of some things. In some sense, really, Ren doesn’t even help the preacher directly.
He does do some truth-telling, but really through his daughter and through dance and through rebellion, or standing up to him and saying, can’t you see you’ve lost your way? He says, no, I can’t. So, I was imagining…I said, whoa, that’s a pretty…the movie’s just so straightforward. You think it’s like, Kevin Bacon or Ren is really on a mission, or a twofold or threefold mission. Or, I guess if you just count straight-up rebellion against authority, a fourfold mission. Or if you count being best friends with Rusty, maybe a fivefold mission. Friendship, dance, rebellion, help Ariel, help preacher…oh, I almost had it. Reverend…I don't know. I mean, I heard it a thousand times. Reverend Moore? That’s too simple, though. Okay, so…okay, so, I came up with this theory and then I…so, then…whatever.
Me and my daughter, usually before bed, we’ll meditate and then we’ll read. I don't really do too many bedtime stories for her anymore, and I think this actually came up while I was trying to meditate. I couldn’t get this idea out of my head, so then I started writing…well, out loud, not writing, but pretending Ren as the character was recording these audio journals. None of this was for the podcast at this point. This is just my…where I go and stuff. Again, I think it’s important to point out for anybody listening that makes stuff…it’s just like, these are the strings, right? They’re pulling at us, and…to just be like…have fun with it. So, at this point, I was just having fun with it. It was not anything related to Sleep With Me. It was just my personal life, which is a lot like Sleep With Me.
But so, we were supposed to be meditating, and at some point I started doing this first-person Ren audio diary, like…now, this one was a lot different than Make Great Pets. Ren was reporting directly to god and saying, hey, this is…and it did have one of the concedes…maybe not initially, 'cause then I kept going, 'cause once I get started, I can’t stop. But one of the concedes originally was that Ren didn’t know why…it was just an assignment; go to this town. Mostly it’s to make other people laugh, so I was trying to make my daughter laugh, and going with it. I’m like, oh, this could actually happen. Every night of the movie, Ren is recording a auto…a report to god or through prayer or whatever, and saying, hey god, this is what my first day was like. I don't know who I’m supposed to help or why I’m here, and I’m not happy about it.
That was most of the…most of it. Then it’s just like, oh, well, I’m concerned about this person, or I made a friend. But it’s like…so, I don't know. I was just doing that, having fun, and my daughter was like, that…this should be a podcast thing. I was like, well…said, it can’t be, 'cause it’s just fanfiction. But I said…I mean, I was like, wow, I really…I mean, I probably…she was probably like, dude, I gotta go to bed, and this isn’t putting me to sleep. But whatever, I thought about it and then I…just like other ideas of Sleep With Me, it kept coming back up. So, this was a couple…we were still on the tail end of Nuns in Space and I didn’t know exactly what I was gonna make next, and I don't know what I had lined up, but I was like, huh, this idea…how could I change it around?
I was like, could we just do it the same thing, but again just skip over…like it is a character like Ren and then it’s…but it’s not this particular story from Footloose? I can remember…oh man, maybe we did talk about this, 'cause I can remember running…so, my daughter had rehearsal; it might have been for her other play, but maybe it was for Footloose, and I can remember running in Berkley up to Strawberry Canyon and hearing myself talk about…or maybe I was thinking about…sometimes I don't know which one, but about Highway to Heaven. So, maybe I was talking about this at the end of the other episode, 13. But I was like, okay, I can’t do…just doing that just basically…I never saw Highway to Heaven, or I never paid attention when it was on. But I was like, oh, this is kinda like Highway to Heaven, so, we can’t do that.
But then I was like, oh, this is kind of a thing. We talked…I think I talked about, too…what’s that called? Quantum Leap, which is rebooted right now…is…I don't know, it’s not on the air when I’m recording this, but…and there was other…there’s other shows like that, and those are definitely…and then I said, okay, wait a second, so this…I already knew, I guess…okay, that’s episodically modular, so that’s good, and it’s kind of a procedural. But I said, okay, well, how do we get it from where we are here, which is too similar…but I like…I said, we got something here; I just don’t…it’s not…we don’t have everything we need. So, then it was like, okay…okay, so we can’t have Ren and it can’t be…I don't think it could be an angel, 'cause it doesn’t fit in with the Sleep With Me…we’ve already disproven those things, and that…maybe that’s what led me to that.
I said, oh, wait a second, you’re right. The idea of guardian angels has been disproven. I mean, only within Sleep With Me universe. I’m not trying to infringe on anybody. Within the Sleep With Me universe, Besos and stuff kinda showed that…they got rid of those programs. So, I don't know, somewhere in there, I was like, okay, but what if there was another…? Somehow it led to pets. I can’t remember exactly. Like, I remember the start of it. Then I was like, okay…and I still liked the idea of Ren and this first-person reporting. So, I was like, okay, I like that narrative idea of Ren reporting directly back to someone. So, I said, okay, well…okay, we got something here. So, then it was like, we’re gonna go for it. Then eventually it was like, record Episode 1.
I don't know…I can’t even remember what Episode 1 was now, but then it was the idea…eventually as I started writing it, I was like, okay, so this will be part of the training program. ‘Cause then it makes sense; it’s like, Ren doesn’t really know what he’s doing, so…okay, that makes sense, too, and the fact that it’s a new program. Then at some point when I was writing probably the first episode, I would assume…maybe not, though…it was like, okay, but this is…well, I feel like there’s…at first I thought of…that Ren would have an ally, 'cause I know that’s like a lot of those shows. I’m familiar with the mechanism, even though I…like I talked about, there’s one show a long time ago I watched with an adult and a teen where they were jumping. It was similar to Quantum Leap.
But it seems like on all those shows, there’s some sort of team helping. I was like…at first I thought…before…I guess before I was writing the first episode; oh, okay, so, Ren will have a contact point. But then it kinda morphed into like, no, what if there’s some sort of…maybe…I don't know. I don't know when it…how it became what it was, but it was like, oh, is it a competitor or is it an antagonist? Someone else…I think initially it was going to be an antagonist. Initially, even, I was like, oh, maybe this will follow a sitcom format. The first episode kinda does, of like, oh, this is like an episode of a sitcom, 'cause that kinda structure I thought…I mean, actually, it did fit; I just didn’t keep with it. But the idea that in a sitcom, usually the solutions are pretty…they’re…the episodes are also episodically modular and kinda self-contained a lot…most of the time.
They don’t always…they don’t…it’s just not their job to go into the depth of characters or the human condition, right? It stays on a surface level. There’s some subtextual stuff depending on…but so, at least the first episode was like, oh, okay, this…that will work; that kind of structure will work, and then it’ll be the sitcom solution and then Ren’s solution, which is a deeper thing. So, I was watching…I don't know, I just…this…that kinda came out of just booting up Pluto TV and switching between sitcom channels and watching a bunch of sitcoms. So, I think…what was the one I watched? No…I don't know, I’ll think of it. But anyway, it was like, oh, okay…the one with Tootie. What’s that one called? Anyway, not important. But so, I mean, I guess it is important.
But okay, so that was the kinda first episode, and what I thought would be the structure of the show moving forward was like, okay, so that’s…maybe that’s what we got, is like, that’s the kinda basic structure of the episode…would be…there’s a couple…one or…there’s a A character, a B character, but I think I ended up just sticking…let’s just go with A characters even in the first episode. I think there was supposed to be a B character. What I mean by A character and B character is like, someone who’s try…who’s got a bigger thing going on that needs to be solved, and then another character that’s related to them that has maybe something smaller that needs to be resolved by the end of the episode. But I think I just was like, okay, this is better if we just stick with one character that we’re trying to help.
But I don't know what we did in the first episode. I know she had…not Family Ties; that’s not the name of the one. But so, took place in Poughkeepsie. Blair and Joe…but so…okay, but so…why can’t I think of the name of that show? But so, I was like, oh, okay, so, this Cinda character is there to kinda help create this sitcom solution, and then Ren is there to create some sort of more additive, long-term solution that’s gonna be beneficial over the long term. Because a lot of times — and this, again, is just where I was at personally in my personal life — it’s like, oh, well, the easiest way is the path of least resistance, a lot of times, and that, for me, a lot of times, is avoiding being uncomfortable or in pain or facing my fears.
If I could get to that resolution, it doesn’t necessarily make my life better, but it might make me feel better in the short term, where Ren is kinda saying, but…and again, none of this came up in the episodes, but this is the basic guiding principles behind the show…is like, well, Ren would say, but if you go through that fear and see what’s on the other side…much like, again, using the framework of Footloose, you might see that…see things differently and realize, oh, there’s something that needs to change here, and it’ll be for the better. So, we do a lot of stuff to Footloose. What happened was after the first episode, which I think was good, I realized…there was…you couldn’t…it wasn’t gonna work, though talking about it…I guess I can see why it didn’t work, is like…keeping going back to the sitcom kinda gets into a Wanda Vision place more, of like, okay, if you’re gonna use the same structure every time, at some point, I can’t not be aware of it.
Maybe the audience can’t not be aware of it, so then it becomes part of the story like in Wanda Vision. I mean, it probably would have been in a much different way, but it would have led to a different…the story would have been…gone on a different journey. I was like, no, this isn’t about that. I didn’t want it to get too much…I wanted to go back to the…I guess because the original conceit was strong…borrowed from an imaginary version of Footloose is that, no, Ren is there to help them find a additive solution, apparently in some sort of competition or something, or working against or in parallel play with someone that’s working to find a shorter-term solution, which isn’t necessarily good or bad; it’s just more of a quick fix.
So, in that…it’s like a benefit of the sitcom…doing the…for the first episode is like, oh, okay, so that does work. Cinda’s framework is just similar to a sitcom, and just like in a sitcom, it’s like, well, this isn’t good or bad. It’s just, this is how things got fixed. Then we bought a cake and then you dropped the cake and we all laughed, you know, because you forgot a cake for my birthday and my anniversary, so you brought two home or…one was on the roof of the car, and something else. Again, that’s not…that’s just a tropey version of a story. I guess going back to the first episode, it was like, she thought if she moved someplace new, she’d be able to have what she wanted. I think…or was that the solution? I don't remember.
But it was that her roommates were getting in the way of her doing what she wanted, and it was like, okay, that might feel like it’s gonna fix things and it might work for a little while, but really, you need some structure and focus. Or, do you even want to do this? Those were the kinda competing solutions. So, then eventually…I don't know what happened on Episode 2. Maybe I could look it up if we have time. So, I have different ways of brainstorming episodes. Usually it’s reading something totally unrelated. So, what I did was…at some point — I don't think it was on Episode 2 — I started reading folktales from India and then folktales from Africa, or fairytales or stories, parables, whatever you want to call them, and just kinda reading those and being like, okay.
All of these kinda tales, they tend to be a little bit surreal, and what I like about those kinda tales is that they’re not as tied up with a bow as the sitcom. Usually…sometimes the solutions just leave you like, huh. Sometimes you don’t understand what they’re trying to teach or sometimes it’s very clear, like with the elephant thing. That’s a famous tale and it’s used…I mean, it teaches the idea of compound interest or whatever, that, oh, if you give me a grain…one grain of rice today, then two tomorrow, then double it every day…you won't be giving me that much rice, right? Just do that for thirty days. Then the ruler is like, oh, okay, yeah, 'cause you don’t know what you’re doing. Two tomorrow, four the next day? What’s that, eight after that? Sixteen? Okay, let’s do it.
But when you see the end result of thirty days of that, of doubling, then it’s like, holy cow, that’s all the rice. So, for that one…this is a good example, 'cause I said, okay, here’s this young girl who got this brilliant idea. Where did the idea come from? Because the idea ends up being what solves things. The tale more…is like that it’s an intuitive solution. Again, it could be just a young genius, but I was more curious. I was like, oh, okay, so this would kinda be a prequel. Like, how did this young girl…and what are the details and stuff or what else did she try first, and what else would have been shorter-term…what else could we have done for shorter-term gain and solutions? So, yeah, it was cool to play around with. So, yeah.
So, I’m trying to think…so, basically at some point, it came down to like, okay…this is more on the development to jump back. Like, okay, we’ll have it be a pet. The pet won't have…it won't be a humanized pet. It will be a real pet but Ren will be inside the pet, so Ren will have a bit of control, but not a ton of control. Then Cinda will be there in competition or with a different name every time. Maybe Ren’s slowly gaining awareness, or is this imaginary? At some point it became repetitive. Then actually, the rest of the story kinda developed from there. So, this season I did do…I did the…a little bit longer of a beginning and then did the end, 'cause Nuns in Space, Season 3…is that what we just did? I can’t remember anymore if did Episode 1, 2, and 3 and then 11 and 12, or if I did 1 and 2 and 11 and 12, or even 1 and 12.
But I did the beginning and the end and then tried to make everything in-between episodically modular. So, for this one, I was open to that happening. So, I tried to stay curious; like, how is this gonna resolve? But I think I did more episodes, like maybe 5 or 6. I definitely recorded somewhere between 5 and 7, and then did…I think Episode…I was like, oh, okay, and then I wrote Episode 12 and I was like, okay, now I have an idea how this ends now. Because again, I’m not plotting out the whole season at the beginning just 'cause of the moving-train aspect of making the podcast. It’s like, okay, I gotta stay on deadline.
So, once I had an idea of like, okay, wait a second…and it was so weird because I was struggling with it a little bit, and then it was so simple that…'cause again, returning to Footloose, it was like, oh, you could…just like Ren…in Footloose couldn’t see why they were really there, Ren finally realizes that…why they’re there, who they’re really there to help, and maybe what the whole purpose of this training program was…is like, holy cow, oh, now I know who I’m here to help. I didn’t know it until Episode 12, or maybe…well, no, not ‘til Episode 12. Then what was interesting is that as I was listening to episodes like…I think it was Episode 7 or 6 I listened to and I said, oh, after I recorded 12, I said, you know what? This is like an Episode 10. So, then I moved that episode to 10 and then I wrote 11.
So, I think, yeah…yeah, so then I moved that to 10, then I wrote Episode 11. So, I wrote Episode 12, I had listened to that other episode, wrote Episode 11, and I think I had, at that point…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 recorded, but then 6 became 10, 7 became 6, and then I did 11, then 8 and 9. I think that’s twelve episodes. Again, you may see…I don't know, the last time I feel like…this time I had a little more time to build in because I gave it a little bit longer. I got to really know the characters and get some comfort. So, I don't know, I feel like all the episodes are pretty strong. Trying to think…the last episode I listened to was the YouTuber one. Not sure of the episode that comes on after that, but that was a interesting one.
Then what kinda happened was…so, I’d read these tales, right, and some of them would be clear, like the one…the rice one. It was like, okay, this is pretty clear. This will be a prequel. But a lot of times I would read a tale and it would be like…or I’d read two or three and it would just be a couple basic ideas that I’d find interesting. So, they’re not so much based on the tales as that’s what helps clear out and refresh the computer…and writing down stuff I liked about it. I can’t think of an example right off the top of my head right now. Oh, well, this one I’m working…so, there’s one tale about this guy. He goes out…how am I gonna make this sleepy? He goes out to look for snacks and he has…yeah, I can’t make them sleepy. A lot of the tales aren’t very sleepy.
But he goes…gets snacks, then he thinks someone’s…he has a bag full of snacks, then he thinks someone’s…he thinks he’s in a race for the snacks, but his snacks get caught on a tree. But he thinks someone’s pulling on the snacks. He doesn’t realize they’re caught on a tree. So, he runs and he’s like, forget it; I can’t get…pull these snacks loose from the person who’s running with me. So, he runs all the way home. Then he tells everyone about it and then they say, okay, let’s go. We’ll come help…we’ll help you get your snacks back from whoever took them. He goes, it’s probably someone really fast. They’re gonna want to have a race to see who’s fastest to win these snacks. This is a reimagining of a tale that I’ve been reimagining. But so, they go back and they…his friends see the snacks stuck in a tree.
They’re like, dude, your snacks just got caught on a tree. No one took them. I think that’s the whole tale. Then they all give him a hard time. Then he goes home and they…he’s like, I’ll never do a snack run again. Then they continue to give him a hard time, so much that he’s like, you know what? I’m just gonna leave and find a new…I’m not gonna be the snack-runner anymore and I’m not gonna put up with this, so I’m just gonna move and start a new job, move somewhere else and have a new career. That’s the tale that led up to Episode 9, which in a sense is like…that kinda tale would — in Cinda’s hands — would be very powerful, right? She’d say, okay, why would you even…? If you’re here, why would you be a snack-runner? You gotta run around, someone’s gonna run…try to go…have a snack competition with you.
If they’re faster than you, they take your snacks. They could grab your snacks, and then what…look what happened; then you get…people give you a hard time 'cause your snacks got caught. Why don’t you just take a short…just take a new job? So, that’s kind of…that’s actually a really good, simple example of how it played out. I read it and then I said, okay, this doesn’t…this is different and this particular tale’s solution seems more Cinda-esque. Some of them might…may have been more Ren-esque. Then I kinda say, huh, that’s interesting. Okay, well, what’s going on with…? So, then reading the story, I say, okay, what’s…so, I can relate to a lot of those emotions in that tale.
I say, okay, I’ve been in that situation before and then blindly try to get home, not even sure if something’s stuck; just trying to…and then being like, forget it, I’m just gonna run home where I know it’s warm and safe, and then both confronting people giving you a hard time, but just the fear of…oh boy, what if I’m…something embarrassing…? I mean, these are the things…run through our heads at bedtime, right? Then it’s like, that’s one of my default, non-constructive ways of dealing with stuff, is avoidance. So, I was like, okay, this is really got a lot of avoidance. Instead of facing the stuff and being like, hey…yeah, my…so what? My snacks got caught in a tree. Ren would say, hey, just go through this, or hey, this happened, or hey, be assertive with these people, or hey, it happens to everybody.
They’re just giving you a hard time because it happened to you and not to them, so they’re relieved. You were the one out there in the world doing stuff, so that’s why…it’s not fair, but that’s just what happened. But you could still do it if you want to do it. If you want to change careers, that’s fine. Again, this is the kinda on-the-nose talking that doesn’t get talked about on the podcast or can if we need to when it’s really boring. But then I think the layer of Ren having to do that via the pet without a clear means of communication just adds a extra layer, where Cinda usually is able to embody a human and have direct…a full human contact. I like that idea of a governor, and I think it fits in with Sleep With Me mythology, right? I almost…Ren presents the idea that you can’t take the humanity out of humans.
No matter where we go, we bring our humanity with us, and that includes post-Earth careers. I don't know, not to get into personal beliefs, but I find that a reasonable thing to believe that Ren is presenting, and I like that idea and I like the idea that Ren is in somewhat of in embrace of it, because that would be…I’d say, well, that’s how I would want to life post…in a post-Earth career. I say, yeah, hey, I’m still…I still got this humanity with me. I’m still imperfect, and that the other side of it…and it gets into a lot of the things that work…I like with Sleep With Me, themes that I constantly return to. A lot of it is this idea of separation and return sometimes, and of forlorness and nostalgia and control.
So, Cinda’s character…I started to kinda see someone who loves…the people she loves so much, and then therefore, people…anyone that she can project that onto in…on Earth, that she’s willing to do anything to take away their pain, right, and to help them with her regrets. So, it’s both positive and confused and not positive that she’s saying, well, I just want to help you resolve these problems 'cause I know you’ll feel better, and maybe you’ll get what you want. Kinda her post-Earthly thoughts seem to be, well, yeah, I should have just got what I wanted when I wanted it. Why did I…? And maybe I should help people do that and just get what you want.
So, it’s a much more…it’s a different philosophy than Ren’s, which is if I help you with these additive decisions that are somewhat in Ren’s — probably — idea of holistic…or that…and Ren’s viewpoint would help you to flourish, facing fear, being uncomfortable, having more empathy and compassion…not that it’s a should. Again, that’s what I liked about the…they’re not enemies; they’re just in slightly competing viewpoints of how to solve a turning point in someone’s life. So, yeah, the only…there’s a couple things I was dissatisfied about, which is…let’s see, one was once…the idea of having characters I’m interested in, Ren and Cinda, but then that they’re supposed to be present and witnessing and helping a separate character in kind of their own unique world…there’s a difficulty to that I didn’t expect, which is that…and I mean, I think of…it’s a good difficulty but it just left me dissatisfied, which is that…then I started to focus.
Again, it might have just been how I was allotting my focus in writing. I started to focus on, okay, who’s this new character? What is the turning point? The who…kinda…Ren runs through…is like, actually figuring that out; who, what, where, when, why, how, and then what’s gonna happen, what are these competing solutions? So, gathering all that left me with…where my story brain would precede Ren. So, I was more solving it from a removed viewpoint than Ren’s viewpoint. So, if I could do things again…but that’s difficult 'cause I have to…I was kinda trying to create those…both those stories, like the one that Cinda would help and the one that Ren would help. I don't know, I liked to kinda get into that character.
I wanted those characters to be…feel like…that I could inhabit the character that was the center of the episode. Again, it was…a lot of it was fun because each one was slightly surreal but…yeah, being in a college band, being a YouTuber trying to save…not pay for food for thirty days, being someone trying to test…create some sort of surreal test for whatever. I can’t even remember that episode…being a girl that’s…her father’s…runs the elephants and she’s…her whole village is going through something. I don't know, there was…so, I got more caught up in those stories and a little bit removed from Ren’s story in particular.
So, then I feel like some of the aspect of the…I mean, I guess the idea of the pet did come second, anyway, but I feel like it did play second to the story, where as…more like, oh, okay, now I kinda see where these feeling points are and turning points are, or challenges, and then I’m trying to figure out how Ren will steer things. So, I mean, I guess what I’m saying is that the limitation of being a pet did not really get as much focus, or Ren…how Ren solves stuff didn’t get as much focus. Ren was more of a narrator, essentially, but in some sense, that was…the conceit was like, yeah, there’s not much you can do other than bear witness as…with compassion. That’s the biggest spoiler, is there’s almost…Ren couldn’t do much, and that was the whole thing with Cinda thinking she could do stuff.
But again, that was deep, deep, deep subtext, so there still was…I don't know, I feel like there was some episodes where Ren did more as a pet, but in the end, I guess…so, I guess I’m…my dissatisfaction is more because it was dissatisfactory, and Ren probably felt that way. So, in some sense, maybe I was feeling Ren’s feelings, which is like, I thought this was gonna be flashy, like a dolphin or whatever, like Flipper, but now I’m just there to watch them and soothe them, and then maybe give them extra stuff when they’re trying to make this tough choice. That really comes down to where I’m at with my own life in some sense, which is inseparable from making the show.
There may be other people that are able to do that, but I’m not, and the idea of loving people through stuff when they’re going through stuff, especially as a parent…be like, yeah, there’s some things you can do and that are under your control, but a lot of it is just being there, and this is just my viewpoint and my viewpoint today of being there, and trying to be present and loving, right? That’s also…there’s feelings that come along with that loss of control, which again, Cinda represents those feelings for me. So, Ren is not entirely confident, but competent in the sense of like, well, let’s just try this philosophy. Or, what are we looking…what is the turning point here? What are we looking to help with?
Again, going back to the Footloose model…and Cinda actually is coming from a sitcom model of like, hey, what are the things I can do here to help you right now get the feelings you want right now? That is very similar to parenting, in some sense, of those are kinda those things you’re faced with sometimes, and it is hard, of like…well, I’m used to solving problems and in my personal life, avoiding pain at all costs, even when it causes more pain. But you want me to just trust everything’s gonna be okay and be loving and try to be compassionate and empathetic and present?
That would be the Cinda…and I think that…I tried to create some conversations with them about that kinda stuff, of like, what are you…that’s not gonna work out; that can’t…that’s how I feel deep down sometimes, you know? But then to quote Emma Otter or go with Ren, it’s like, oh, all will be well. All will be well. Ren’s idea of, yeah, alls I can do is do my best and be here and help them 'cause I love my humans, or this is what it means to be a pet. Pets may object to that idea. But yeah, that’s a little bit about Make Great Pets. Thanks for making it great, everybody, and goodnight.
[END OF RECORDING]
(Transcribed by Leah Hervoly)
- It's all in the throw, Champ
- Friendship. Dance. Rebellion.
- The Sitcom Solution
- Mary Steenburgen
- Quantum Leap
- Family Ties
Notable Talking Points:
- Paper Airplane Truisms
- Through Dance, We Will Solve This
- Being There, Being Present, and Being Loving