December 4, 2003

We are here to build a fighting force of extraordinary magnitude

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 3:49 pm

According to the people over at , tomorrow, December 5, is National Ninja Day, and everyone is supposed to mention ninjas on their websites, blogs, etc. on that day. I mention it today, not tomorrow, since I don’t intend to take part; I don’t think it’s going to catch on. They’re clearly trying to make it the next Talk Like a Pirate Day–they say as much–but it won’t work because there’s no good way for the average person to evoke ninjas. Talking like a pirate is fun, but ninjas are known for being silent. Dressing like a pirate is fun, and is even a legitimate fashion choice, but people who dress like ninjas inevitably look like dorks in pajamas. I don’t mean to put down ninjas, or the comic possibilities therein– remains one of the greatest standards against which hilarity is measured–but let’s be reasonable.

So, if I’m not interested in the holiday, why I am I bringing it up? Well, it reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about recently. To whit: My aesthetic, or at least my humorous aesthetic, has gotten popular. It’s positively mainstream now. Take pirates. Pirates used to be a silly thing to be into, but the piratical genre has been completely revived. Pirates of the Caribbean is the obvious example, but it started before then; how else would Talk Like a Pirate Day have caught on so effectively when it was first just a couple weirdos on the internet? The pirate who sings the Spongebob Squarepants theme song is a Nickelodeon celebrity now. Or take monkeys, an example close to my heart. People used to think I was just into monkeys because I was weird, or because I wanted people to think I was weird (both charges had a certain amount of truth). Now everyone knows how funny monkeys are, from Mojo Jojo to the ubiquitous Paul Frank to the little pirate monkey in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Now, being into monkeys, pirates, ninjas and robots (forgot to mention robots) seems like a random collection of things to find funny. But my friends in college and I regarded it as one interconnected web of humor, and it is now essentially being packaged that way. If you don’t believe me, consider that comics have now given us both Monkey Vs. Robot and Pirate Vs. Ninja.

I’m not about to get all upset that my quirky sense of humor is no longer quirky. And I still find all of these things fun, and funny, especially when combined. At the same time, I’ll admit that the constant exposure to this stuff is kind of dampening my thrill. It’s exactly what happened with monkeys: when something simple makes you happy, especially a certain animal, you can look forward to getting a representation of that thing every Christmas and birthday. I now own four plush monkeys, plus a collection of monkey toys and games, and while it was fun for a while I eventually reached what my friend Lauren aptly called my “monkey saturation point.” This is not a unique problem: Apparently the Barenaked Ladies now have a song about getting tired of receiving monkeys as gifts, and when a nerd band is singing about having too many monkeys, it’s a sign that monkeys may have run their course.

I have a tinge of nostalgia for the days when owning a sock monkey (Bobo, Christmas 1998) made me an interesting individual. At the same time, all of this gives me a certain amount of pride. I was born too late for punk, and I missed the boat on Nirvana, but I can say that I was into monkeys before they were cool.



  1. I was wearing kerchiefs and messenger bags long before they were cool. I think I already told you this in person, but I want the world to know.

    Also, the martial arts store on Mission is selling a full ninja outfit, except it’s gray, not black. That’s my contribution to ninja day or whatever.

    Comment by julie — December 4, 2003 @ 6:05 pm

  2. Oh, and dinosaurs are still totally sweet!

    Comment by julie — December 4, 2003 @ 10:09 pm

  3. My brother has one of the ultimate ‘before it was popular’ stories:
    he used to be into the old violent Eastman & Laird Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where they all wore the same color headbands and killed human ninjas instead of robots.
    Talk about things you can never like again.

    btw, as it’s tangentially related, I thought I’d mention that the copy on the back of the “7 Lucky Ninja Kids” DVD says that kids will love the martial arts, skateboarding, and pizza eating in the movie. What? Kids get excited watching other kids in a movie eat pizza? The f–?

    Manatees and dugongs. That’s the next big thing. Hop on board now.

    Comment by Pat — December 4, 2003 @ 11:57 pm

  4. Robot ninja zombie pirate dinosaurs! Fighting mutant alien monkeys! It can’t lose!

    I was wearing a cloth briefcase instead of a backpack way before it was in. And Lord knows the black cowboy hat fad followed me in the door. We may have to face the fact that we’re getting old, and lucky to still be doing cool things at all. Fortunately, there will always be random unprovoked violence. The safest fallback when humor doesn’t seem to be working.


    Comment by Brian Watson-Jones — December 5, 2003 @ 12:02 am


    no matter what, that will always be COOL. and since we’ll probably never get around to publishing it. it’ll also always be obscure. so see, somethings will always be sacred.

    Comment by ariela — December 5, 2003 @ 7:14 am

  6. Here’s the thing about pirates and how they talk: what kind of accent is that? Can you think of any other accent that is associated with, rather than a nationality or ethnicity or even economic class, a specific, mostly made-up group of people? Answer me, Tom. Right now. I’m sick of waiting.

    Comment by B-ret — December 8, 2003 @ 8:45 am

  7. oompa loompas?

    blondes? blondes arent made up, though.

    Comment by alex — December 10, 2003 @ 6:52 pm

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