BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Turkey Day Returns for 2020, and This Year YOU Pick the Episodes!

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Hello friends! Today we have an announcement that we think you’ll find very exciting: Turkey Day will be returning on Thanksgiving 2020, and for this year’s marathon, we are letting YOU vote on the episodes we include. 

Yes! YOU MAKE THE CALL!

We’ve narrowed down our available streaming episodes to 24 possibilities with both Mike and Joel across the original series’ run. We’ll be using a tool called SquareOffs to match up two episodes for riffing combat every day — the first pair is below — and the whole thing will be operating on a single-elimination bracket system, with the six most popular episodes making the final Turkey Day cut. 

For Round 1, we are pairing off a series of Joel vs Mike episodes, so y’all can battle for your faves to your heart’s content. After that, though, your winners will decide the next round, and so on. Will we get an even number of Joel episodes and Mike episodes, as we have traditionally done in Turkey Days past? Who can say. We’re throwing that responsibility on YOUR shoulders this year! 

Voting starts today, so be sure to hit up mst3k.org regularly for the next few weeks to pick your favorite episode each day (don’t worry, we’ll be reminding you on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram too). The first SquareOff is below, and definitely feel free to use the comments to fight (lovingly, kindly, in the fashion of our people) for your champion. 

And now, presenting the first Turkey Day showdown! Thanks for pitching in, MSTies! We look forward to showcasing your winners on Turkey Day.

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A Conversation With Tammy Golden, Movie Riffer Extraordinaire

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Hello dear friends! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’d like to bring you an introduction to one of the people behind the scenes of MST3K who make things so dang funny.

I first met Tammy Golden on set during production for season 11 of MST3K back in 2016, and I feel fully qualified to note that she is an absolute delight of a human being, not to mention one of MST3K’s most prolific writers. We talked about the excitement of getting to work on the show, as well as the ways in which movie riffing is its own unique form of writing, and what kind of movie makes the best MST3K episode.

Lesley: Tell me about how you got started writing for MST3K. 

Tammy: I was a huge fan from the early days of MST3K and always thought, man, THAT’S the dream job. But as far as getting the gig, it kinda started in 2000. Yes, it took me nearly 20 years to get this job. At the time I was a comedy producer in NYC, and decided to attempt an MST3K cast reunion. I was sure Joel wouldn’t do it. He didn’t do these sorts of things. When he said yes, it felt like getting J.D. Salinger. It was a great evening, fans came from all over. After the show, Joel told me “you know, I might want to do something like this again.” I like to think the event kinda sparked something in him, seeing how much MST still meant to people. Who knows? I could ask him, but why deny myself a little mystery in this life?

The lovely and talented Tammy Golden.

Anyway, fast-forward nearly 20 years. When the reboot started up, Patton Oswalt, who knew my love of sci-fi, puns, and too-vintage pop-culture references, championed me to write on it. Finally, my sensibilities could be a feature, not a bug. He pitched me to Joel, not knowing I’d worked with Joel before, so it was a nice concurrence. Jonah is also an old friend (he used to call me his Fake Manager in his early standup days. Still owes me 20% fake commission). It was great to have familiar faces around from the start. Writing the reboot was daunting. We’re all superfans, and getting it right meant everything. When critics and original fans gave it their seal of approval, that was a gigantic relief. And hearing that the old fans were now introducing it to their own kids was especially gratifying. And yes, it was every bit the dream job that I’d thought it would be.

I love this story! I didn’t know you’d worked with Joel in the long ago.

What’s your riff-writing process? Do you self-edit a lot, or does everything you think of go on the page? Do you watch the film straight through a few times, do you work in more methodical chunks, does a benevolent spirit possess your body and guide you to ever higher levels of comedy?

Tammy: Elliot Kalan (the best head writer ever) generally tried to keep us writing 15-20 minute chunks every day to keep the process streamlined and not melt our brains. Although they were short sections, it meant watching that same 15-20 minutes repeatedly for hours, just to see what knocked loose after the umpteenth viewing. It really was a case of throwing absolutely everything at the wall to see what would stick. We all wrote literally hundreds of jokes per movie, and it was always fun to see how differently everyone’s mind worked, even though we were all looking at exactly the same thing. 

Elliot, Jonah, Joel and you had the unenviable task of filtering everyone’s lines to see which ones worked best and what fit in the limited time between dialogue. Or vast time between dialogue — you get those older films where the scene consists of a guy walking down an entire hallway, or dialing a full number on a rotary phone because editors didn’t think we’d grok how one event led to the next otherwise. 

The first time I watch a movie, whether it’s a section or the whole enchilada, I just plow through in a frenzy, typing absolutely everything that pops into my mind. Nothing’s too stupid or surreal. No editing or filters. Then I incubate for a little, and I watch again with my trigger finger on the pause button to focus on the timing of the jokes, sometimes rewinding the same 3 seconds again and again and again before editing down. Saying the lines out loud helps. I know every single frame of these films now, the way some people know The Godfather. 

Little known fact: for season 11, Elliot and Jonah chose and edited the riffs for half the episodes, and for the other half, I did this task with Joel, who calls it “riff producing.” And it’s exactly what you describe, going over a joke repeatedly, saying it out loud in different ways, trying to make it work, for HOURS. 

I did this on top of writing in the usual way and yeah, I know so many minute details of these films now, stuff you’d never notice on a regular viewing. I have particularly vivid memories of riff producing on “Cry Wilderness” and finishing a four hour stretch in which Joel and I had gotten through seven minutes of film and literally feeling like I was going to cry from the exhaustion of it. This is not a complaint! I absolutely loved doing it. But some days it really felt like the movie was trying to hurt you. Avalanche was like that too. When I watch these episodes now, I’m always stunned at how short the movies seem when watched at regular speed!

We both wrote on the two new shorts currently in production — was this a different experience for you than writing on the movies of The Return and The Gauntlet? I feel like there is an earnestness to these kinds of short films that you don’t find as much in the movies we’ve done, and it’s an interesting dynamic to write around.

It’s fun writing in the voice of those chipper narrators, in that tone of voice that implies that nothing has or ever will go wrong. And unlike the feature films we do, which are generally one guy’s really weird idea that somehow got filmed, these 1950s shorts actually show snippets of a bygone era that we now find horrifying or laughable. It’s baffling that anyone thought these “educational” films could be of practical use to anyone. I suspect the production of these films was actually a money laundering scheme.  

Agreed. These shorts tend to portray a strangely poreless world of benign adults and well behaved children that probably never actually existed. I find them really dark!

Which film, of the whole reboot catalog so far, was the hardest to write riffs for?

Oof. The hardest film, for me, was CARNIVAL MAGIC. It was inherently just so sad and grimy. The film didn’t even know what it was. Talking animal comedy? Coming-of-age love story? Mysterious-drifter-with-a-tragic-backstory drama? Chimp-centric Sling Blade? It was all and therefore none of these. Plus it had this sleazy vibe throughout, like at any moment it might just turn into porn. Even the scientist’s lab was clearly a cheap hotel room, complete with dresser. You know, a science dresser. It felt like a sort of time-share set: the moment the CARNIVAL MAGIC film crew finished for the day, a porn film crew showed up to start their filming day. It was a squirmy shudderfest of awkwardness and discomfort. The only way to get through Carnival Magic riffing was to get into a Stockholm Syndrome mindset. You should hate the film, but you must learn to love the film! Make friends with it!  

What makes a film eminently riffable, in your experience? For example, I know some folks love the queasiness of a Carnival Magic type film, but I’m more partial to try-hards like Wizards of the Lost Kingdom or Mac and Me. Does a movie have to take itself seriously to be riffed on?

I actually really enjoyed riffing AVALANCHE. It had all the ingredients of a good disaster film, a-la THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, with a decent budget, big names in the cast like Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow — but they forgot one thing, which was not to make it suck. Just pure hubris. When “WE’VE GOT A MAJOR BLOCKBUSTER ON OUR HANDS!” meets the Icarus factor of “OH NO YOU DON’T,” that’s always fun. It was strange watching actors who’ve proven that they can knock it out of the park just barely phone it in.

I wasn’t as big on MAC & ME, simply because it’s a known factor. I preferred the uncharted territory. I especially loved working on the dubbed stuff  — REPTILICUS (Denmark) and YONGARY (South Korea), because you’re not only dealing with a bad film, you’re dealing with a bad film from a completely different culture. Bad is bad, but getting to play with another culture’s sense of worldview, politics, pacing, plot, fashion, comedy — that’s a whole new universe of riffing potential. Oh god, I just thought of a line NOW that I wished I’d written for the Reptilicus action scenes: “I-KE-A!” Like, “HI-KEEBA,” but…you know..Scandanavian…ugh. You know what? Forget it. Just forget it. I SAID FORGET IT. 

This is the obvious question, but it’s one everyone always wants to ask—what movie would you LOVE to see MST3K riff on? The more unlikely the better.

I think it’s time we took on the Merchant Ivory catalogue. Slow moving, so much silence between dialogue to get in plenty of riffs, and they’re such serious art films. An absolute goldmine of opportunity. So I say we start with THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. Let’s bring a little sunshine into that bleak, stifled world!

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On Meeting My Heroes, and How Mystery Science 3000 Has Influenced Basically My Whole Life

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Hey, MSTie pals—it’s Lesley, as you have come to expect. We have been extraordinarily busy behind the scenes working on the two new shorts (and in my case, working on developing the future of this website to eventually become a center for fan community that y’all have long deserved!). In the coming weeks I’ll be introducing you to some of the instrumental folks who have been making MST3K happen since the reboot began, but I should probably begin by more thoroughly introducing myself, and Joel has suggested I do so by republishing the essay that kinda got me a job (well, many jobs) at MST3K in the first place. 

A little context first: in 2013, I met the cast of Cinematic Titanic following a performance in Boston. As a lifelong fan, I was extremely overwhelmed, so I was a little… much, and to this day Joel loves telling people how absolutely bonkers he thought I was on that first meeting. 

At the time I was employed as a deputy editor at a now-defunct personal essay website, and I went home and did what I always did: I wrote about the experience. The essay was widely shared in MSTie circles, and Joel sent me a reply on Twitter telling me how much he loved what I wrote, which was all I could have asked for. (Who says you never get a second chance to make a first impression?)

TWO WHOLE YEARS LATER, in July of 2015, Joel sent me a Twitter DM asking for my phone number so he could call and pick my brain about rebooting MST3K. I gave myself several hours to calm down, and then I replied to his message, we had a long chat over the phone, and I started a pretty darn magical journey working for and with the series that has had a huge impact on my life.

So, without further ado, the essay.

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ON MEETING MY HEROES, AND HOW MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 HAS INFLUENCED BASICALLY MY WHOLE LIFE

Nov 5, 2013

I don’t have idols. Not properly speaking. Not in the remembering-birthdays, gif-making, fanart-drawing, Tumblr-ing, cosplaying sort of way. I have never really obsessed over anyone like that — I’ve had strong influences amongst creative people in all sorts of fields, for sure, and although I have stood curiously around the fringes of various fandoms, peering into the cracks with mild inquisitiveness about what happens therein, I’ve always remained an outsider, lacking the forceful commitment of the Real Fans.

I mean, I say this, but it’s not maybe entirely completely true. Because I do have Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Like so many kids of my era, I discovered MST3K entirely by accident, flipping through cable channels late at night on a weekend visit to my mom’s place. My mom had far superior cable offerings than the ones at my dad’s house, where I lived, so I often forswore sleep in favor of staying up late watching all the channels I couldn’t ordinarily see — like Comedy Central, which at the time was mostly a 24-hour loop of stand-up clips. With the one notable exception.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 presented itself rather subtly within my idle channel-switching, a grainy, clearly low-budget film with three small silhouettes superimposed at the bottom of the screen. There was a backstory: Joel Robinson, former custodial employee, had been launched into space by mad scientists and forced to watch bad movies as a sort of pointless experiment. Joel, rather than face his terrible fate in solitude, built robots to keep him company during these experiments.

And they talked. They talked over the movies. They talked back to the screen. They made jokes. I don’t know what drew me to MST3K so much that first time I watched it, but I was rapt, sitting there on my mother’s couch, in the darkened quiet of her apartment at 1AM. Watching it, I felt recognized, in a way — I felt immediately understood.

It was 1990. I was 13, trapped in that hellish world of early adolescent girlhood. It was a time when I hated all my friends, when I hated myself for being fat and awkward and just generally bad at being a girl, hopelessly inept at doing my hair properly and wearing the correct clothes and navigating the suddenly shifting terrain between myself and the boys I went to school with. I was not alone in this, but I sure felt I was, and all the more so when I finally abandoned the relative safety (and unpredictable torment) of my 8th grade clique in favor of spending my daily lunch period hiding from my social failure in a locked bathroom stall.

In retrospect, it’s little wonder that this curious and unexpected television show connected with me — I could have been adrift in space myself. What would I have given for purpose-built companions who accepted me and got my stupid jokes? Watching MST3K was like having friends. Watching MST3K was a revelation that maybe it was okay if I wasn’t popular; maybe there were other things to be.

I spent a couple of years believing that MST3K was a secret that only I knew; I taped episodes and watched and rewatched them alone, only occasionally sharing them with the few neighborhood friends I spent time with, and quickly turning them off if said friend didn’t get the appeal right away.

When I was fifteen, I discovered the internet — well, I discovered the Prodigy online service, which had some very active MST3K fan bulletin boards, and I found that there were, in fact, a lot of people who loved the show as I did — even as there were also a lot of people who totally didn’t get it in my immediate vicinity.

This gap wasn’t helped by the fact that in the first few seasons, the jokes were often incredibly obscure, all the moreso in a pre-Google era where you couldn’t simply search for a particular phrase to find its origin. MST3K was like a code, a secret language of cultural references I desperately wanted to unravel, and to this day when I recognize a long-obscured joke I feel a little thrill of satisfaction. (Like just this week, when I was driving a rental car and listening to the radio for the first time since I last drove a rental car, probably, and the song “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” came on, and I recognized the words and realized OH, THAT’S WHAT THIS IS.)

Recall like that comes only from repeated viewings. And I have done repeated viewings. For years, I had the entire series captured on VHS tape, recorded from cable, complete with BK TeeVee commercials and ads for light-up LA Gear sneakers. When those tapes began to wear out after ten years or so, I bought homemade DVD-R sets of entire seasons from nice people on the internet — and then, when I could finally purchase legit copies from which the series’ creators might actually see some revenue, I always did (and still do).

Mystery Science Theater 3000’s influence on my life really can’t be overstated, although I have only truly appreciated it in the last few years. In college, I majored in film largely because of MST3K. In my 20s, I even dated people based on their familiarity with the show. Indeed, the closest I’ve ever come to being arrested was directly related to Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, and it’s a ridiculous story, although one I won’t be telling here until I’m certain the statute of limitations has run out.

MST3K was originally created and hosted by Joel Hodgson, and while I appreciate that MST3K was always a group effort, Joel has always loomed large in my life as a creative influence — here was a guy who had a totally strange idea for a television show about interrupting movies, one that would probably repel a lot of people, and yet he did it anyway, in PUBLIC, in spite of the certain knowledge that many folks would never “get” it. I admire that. How could I not? Also, it was his character on the screen that I so related to that first time, and his face that became such a familiar comfort from my earliest teens straight through to my adult years. 

Much later, after Joel had left the show, Mary Jo Pehl stepped in to the role of Pearl Forrester and provided a different kind of reassurance to an adult me, out of college, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Pearl was important because she was funny without being self-deprecating — and self-deprecation is fine in moderation, but to see a hilarious woman in a role where she never doubted her ability to literally take over the world was wonderful (and I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention that she was also individually important to me because Pearl was also fat, like me, and this was never ever used as a punchline — that was tremendous to witness).

In 2007, many of the original MST3K cast members — Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Mary Jo Pehl, and J. Elvis Weinstein — reunited for a new project called Cinematic Titanic, and I was thrilled. When it went on the road as a live show, I was straight-up ecstatic, and when I turned up at Boston’s Wilbur Theater for a show in 2010, I was unprepared for the cast to hang around afterwards to meet with fans and sign autographs.

That first time, I stood in a long line, with nothing to be signed, but just needing to say hello and thank you, and as I approached the table where the cast sat, I found myself unable to breathe. Also I had no saliva in my mouth whatsoever, and it occurred to me in a panic that I might not actually be capable of speech, but would only emit an incoherent throaty garble before the people who are the closest things to idols I’ve ever known. My hands felt like inanimate blocks of ice.

I have never in my life been starstruck until that moment — indeed, I’d always sort of rolled my eyes at people who freaked out about such things.

I’m more sympathetic now. I don’t even remember what I said that time, I just remember feeling overwhelmed to be sharing the same air with the people whose voices had been with me for so long. (And then when we got to the car I literally screamed like I was being murdered because I don’t even know why.)

Sunday night, Cinematic Titanic stopped in Boston again on their farewell tour, and this time I was slightly better prepared not to lose my mind during the meet and greet afterward. But as the picture from that moment demonstrates, I was only partly successful.

Barely holding myself together. You can probably tell.

I said “Thank you,” several times. I don’t remember what else.  Oh and Mary Jo told me SHE is a big fan of MINE and my brain kind of started shrieking AAAHH WHAT NOTHING MAKES SENSE and I hope I didn’t do anything too incredibly ridiculous because I had more or less lost all control of my faculties.

When you meet someone whose work has had a profound effect on you, I wonder if this level of personal meaning can never be adequately conveyed and understood. I can say to Joel and the cast of MST3K, “The things you have made were arguably some of the most meaningful influences on my development as a writer and simply as an adult human and if I stood here and said ‘thank you’ a thousand times it wouldn’t even begin to convey my gratitude for that.”

I can explain that watching MST3K made me feel like I wasn’t alone in many difficult and lonely periods throughout my life, that it gave me hope that someday, I would find other weirdos (I hope you all recognize yourselves in this, dear readers) to connect with, that someday I would be understood; somewhere, I would find acceptance as I am, without constantly feeling left out, or messed up, or otherwise like a chronic outsider.

I can say all of this out loud to the cast but it doesn’t really work. It doesn’t really get it out there. I can’t make these people — who are, ultimately, just normal people who have participated in some things that meant a lot to me, a stranger — really grasp what I mean when I say thank you.

And the truth is also that as much of this as came from MST3K, it also came from me — it came from what I did with that experience, how I invested myself in it, what I took from it, and how I used it as a touchstone for my own approach to media criticism, which is a huge part of my work as a writer and editor today.

The people who unwittingly supplied all of this to me can never really get how deep that effect goes. I’ve experienced this in reverse on a much smaller scale, when people I have met who have read me for years try to explain how I have helped them, and I can hear them say it, they can say wonderfully kind and grateful things about how my work has affected their lives, but I can’t really get it, because as much as they may know about me and my life, I know nothing of theirs, or how reading words I wrote down impacted them.

People have told me, with tremendously humbling directness, that I have changed their life for the better, and I want to say no, no YOU did that, I was just a handy conduit for what you needed at the time. Because that is also true. And ultimately, I’m just another person doing a thing I love to do, and I doubt I can ever fully appreciate how my doing that thing has stuck tendrils into other individuals and helped them figure out their own lives in a better way.

So in a strange way I see both sides of this. Still, having grown up with the voices of the MST3K cast as the soundtrack to so much of my life gives them an importance beyond what I can ever say, beyond even who they are as individuals. I spent my teenage years falling asleep to taped episodes of MST3K every night; when I left Florida for college in Boston, so long as I had tapes to watch, I never felt homesick. I still have vast dictionaries of film dialogue meshed with jokes stored in my memory that I can draw up and recite to myself. I still watch episodes on a regular basis, new DVD sets are still coming out, and this month will mark 25 years since the series first aired. Today MST3K is far more widely recognized and appreciated as an important pop culture artifact, and this recognition is entirely due.

But even beyond the sheer entertainment it’s given me, the real impact of MST3K on my life was philosophical. It was learning a willingness to step back and laugh at nearly anything, including myself; it was developing a capacity to not take everything so seriously, and to talk back to culture if the circumstances I’m faced with are unacceptable. It was also figuring out how to poke fun at things without viciousness and sharp-edged snark, without cruelty or meanness, but with a gentle, good-natured sense of irony  — to respond to life’s inevitable absurdity with laughter instead of incredulity and outrage.

They say you should never meet your heroes, the conventional wisdom being that they will inevitably disappoint you by being normal, imperfect, complicated everyday people. They can never meet your expectations, they will hear you tell them that they are amazing and that you love them and yet they will never understand how that can be true, because what we really know of the people we idolize is so much more limited than we like to believe, and because your excitement at meeting them will always be tempered by the realization that your hero, whoever they are, however intimately they have spoken to you in your darkest moments, knows you only as a stranger.

But I’m glad to meet my idols, because they’re not superheroes, because they’re just people who managed to figure out how to do something they love for awhile, and have shared it with a grateful audience. And as someone who’s only ever wanted to put together words that other people like to read, or watch, or listen to, and that maybe even get them thinking, this is what I want too. I’m happy to have any illusions shattered. Because if they’re just normal folks who have wrangled this magic out of life, maybe I can do the same thing too — maybe so can you.

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MST3K & MIGIZI Update: Writing on the Two New Shorts Has Begun!

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Greetings, MSTie pals! Lesley here, hoping you are all well, and enjoying September’s annual pitched battle between summer and fall, the only month of the year when you can drink a pumpkin spice latte while wearing a bikini on a beach.

Our month-long MIGIZI fundraiser has passed its end date, and we currently stand at a staggering $42,250 raised to help MIGIZI rebuild. Your generosity is, as always, astounding! However, we are not calling the fundraiser over just yet, and we will be continuing to raise money for MIGIZI over the next several weeks.

But let’s move on to what you REALLY want to hear: more details on the creation of the two BRAND NEW shorts we promised! To refresh your memory, the new shorts will be “A Busy Day at the County Fair” and “Behind the Scenes at the Supermarket,” and they will feature Joel Hodgson, Bill Corbett and J. Elvis Weinstein reprising their original roles as Joel Robinson, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo.

The work has begun and writing on the new shorts is currently in progress, with some of the best minds from the last two seasons and three live tours of MST3K happily donating their time to brew up some riffs for y’all to enjoy. 

To thank you for your contributions and enthusiasm, here on MST3K.org we will be sharing a bit of the behind-the-scenes process of how these shorts are being made, so watch out for that over the coming weeks. We are aiming to premiere the new shorts sometime in October, ideally in a format that allows us to watch them livestreamed, together, in real time, as a big friendly group, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

Thanks for your support! We’re just getting started.

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MST3K & MIGIZI Update: WE DID IT! We Passed $40,000! But We’re Not Quitting Now

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Friends! You have truly surpassed yourselves. 

When we launched the MST3K & MIGIZI fundraiser back in July, we set a goal of $20,000, adding the carrot of two! brand-new! shorts! to be riffed by MST3K alumni Joel Hodgson, J. Elvis Weinstein, and Bill Corbett.(!!!) You, in your endless generosity, and also your ravenous hunger for MORE RIFFS, met that number almost immediately, so we extended our goal to $40,000. 

Last night you powered through that goal too. And with a week still left on the fundraising clock! 

We have a whole seven days to continue raising funds and we’re going to keep powering forward and see how much better we can do! Please keep sharing the MST3K & MIGIZI donation page and spreading the good word.

Thanks again for all your support on this fundraiser, and for being one of the very best fan communities out there.

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MST3K & MIGIZI Update: Ten Days Left, and Less Than $2,000 to Go!

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Hello again, team! Lesley here with another fundraiser update. We are ten days out from the end of the MST3K & MIGIZI fundraiser and we are SO CLOSE to DOUBLING our original goal of $20,000! Over 1,100 of you have donated so far and we appreciate every single one of you.

Joel will be reaching out to those of you who have contributed with a personal note of thanks in the coming days, so look forward to that!

Also, there have been some questions about folks who donated anonymously, and how they will gain access to the two new shorts to be riffed by Joel, Josh, and Bill and… we’re figuring that out and will have an answer for you soon.

I’ll also remind y’all that these newly to-be-riffed shorts — “A Busy Day at the County Fair” and “Behind the Scenes at the Supermarket” — do not exist yet! We have to make them! But we expect them to be ready for you in the fall and we will keep you updated here every step of the way.

Anyway, thanks again to everyone who has contributed and also shared the MST3K & MIGIZI fundraiser! With your help we will crush our $40,000 goal for sure, and help a fantastic organization to rebuild.

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MST3K & MIGIZI Update: $35,000! And a Bit More About the Organization You’re Helping to Rebuild

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Howdy pals, it’s your new friend Lesley again, just checking in, seeing how you’re all holding up, can I get you anything? Some tea? A pillow?

Well, it’s been a week since we launched the MST3K & MIGIZI fundraiser, and you all just can’t stop, won’t stop. We’re passed $35,000 with three more weeks to go, and not only have you unlocked both the brand-new shorts — featuring Joel Hodgson, J. Elvis Weinstein, and Bill Corbett in their original roles — you’ve continued to attack the current $40,000 goal.

I thought you might be interested to learn more about what MIGIZI does. Originally founded in 1977 with the purpose of confronting stereotypes about Native people in media, today MIGIZI’s focus is on building programs to nurture the creative development of Native American youth.

We believe all youth have a positive core, brilliance, boundless potential and sacred gifts to share. 

MIGIZI acts as a circle of support that nurtures the development of Native American youth in order to unleash their creativity and dreams – to benefit themselves, their families and community. MIGIZI puts youth first, supporting youth-driven activities that fully engage youth in a self-directed path to holistic wellness and to success in education and employment.  

Through the mutual support provided within the indigenous circle, individuals discover their talents and explore their dreams. The positive results fuel not only youth success but also collective impact, as youth give back to the circle and unleash new energy and ideas. In MIGIZI’s circle, adults and youth work side-by-side in culturally grounded, participatory leadership and operations. Everyone is a leader, a learner, a coach and a relative.

We can all get behind a vision like that. The money you donate will go not only to rebuild MIGIZI’s destroyed building, but will support their broader efforts to work with Native youth.

So wow, feel good about the help you’re contributing. And keep it up!

Thanks again to all of you who’ve donated to and shared this fundraiser. We know not everyone has money to spend right now, and even just tweeting about this effort (be sure to use the MST3K-specific fundraiser page!) is a help. It’s meaningful that you’ve chosen to support a good cause alongside us at MST3K.

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MST3K & MIGIZI Fundraiser Update: $20K Goal Obliterated, Second Film Unlocked!

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Happy Friday, MSTie pals! Lesley here with another thrilling MST3K & MIGIZI fundraising update. 

Because you’re all incredibly generous ANIMALS brimming with enthusiasm for the promise of new MST3K, I’m delighted to announce that we met our fundraising goal of $20,000 within a couple hours of the Comic-Con@Home MST3K panel going live (in case you missed it, you can still watch the panel here). This means you have locked in TWO new shorts to be riffed by Joel, J. Elvis, and Bill in their former roles as Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow. 

As I mentioned yesterday, the first short this crew of veteran professionals will be riffing is called “A Busy Day at the County Fair.” 

Since we’ve surpassed the second goal, I can now reveal the name of the second short: “Behind the Scenes at the Supermarket.” 

As of this writing, the fundraiser has passed $25k and is still going strong! We’ve got 29 days left on the clock, so we encourage you to keep donating to help MIGIZI rebuild. Remember that donating not only helps an organization do meaningful work, it also gets you VIP access to the streaming premiere of both new shorts! Win/win! Eventually the shorts will also be available here on mst3k.org for everyone to see, but you can be among the FIRST and the envy of all your friends.

We’re aiming to have the two new shorts done by the fall—and no, that doesn’t mean the day after Labor Day, nor does it mean exactly on the Autumn Equinox. Don’t try to pin us down; we’re the wind, baby. Know that we are as excited to make these new mini shows as you are to watch them, and we’re working on getting it done to your (and our) usual high standards.

We at MST3K want to offer a heartfelt thanks to all of you who have donated and/or shared this fundraiser, and helped us support MIGIZI in their mission to nurture the development of Native American youth. Let’s keep the momentum going! 

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MST3K & MIGIZI Fundraiser Update: First Film Unlocked!

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Hey friends! Lesley here again. 

Yesterday, we told you about the MST3K & MIGIZI fundraiser, in which we are asking you to donate funds to help MIGIZI—a Native American community center in Minneapolis—rebuild after being damaged in the recent fires there. 

Hilariously, the fundraiser was only going to be officially announced during the San Diego Comic-Con@Home MST3K panel (featuring Joel Hodgson, Bill Corbett, and J. Elvis Weinstein) going live this evening at 6pm Pacific (that’s 9pm Eastern, for those of you who avoid math). BUT YOU COULDN’T WAIT THAT LONG, COULD YOU?

As usual, we asked MSTies to step up, and y’all delivered. We are delighted to announce that our fundraiser has already met the first goal A FULL NINE HOURS BEFORE THE PANEL ANNOUNCING IT IS EVEN ON THE INTERNET. You folks are amazing, and you absolutely deserve the good news that the first short promised in the fundraiser has already been unlocked. I’ll even tell you what it’s called: “A Busy Day at the County Fair”!

This is no reason to get complacent, however, because there is better news ahead. If we can hit $20,000 for MIGIZI, Joel Hodgson, Bill Corbett, and J. Elvis Weinstein will tackle a SECOND short film in their former roles as Joel Robinson, Crow T. Robot, and, of course, Tom Servo.

So donate, donate, donate! Spread the word! And watch the Comic-Con@Home panel tonight (the direct link is here, but remember it won’t work until after 9pm ET/6pm PT) to get the full exciting scoop.

Thank you all for proving yet again that MST3K fans are some of the most solid folks around.

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Support MIGIZI

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As announced at the MST3K San Diego comic-con “Panel-in-Place” with Joel Hodgson, J. Elvis Weinstein, and Bill Corbet, MST3K is planning a fundraiser for MIGIZI.

MIGIZI is a Native American nonprofit organization whose main facility was heavily damaged during the fires that coincided with the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis. The MST3K fundraising committee’s goal is to help MIGIZI secure funds to begin rebuilding. 

If the first fundraising goal of $10,000 is met, Joel, J Elvis, and Bill will reprise their original roles in the show as Joel Robinson, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot  and riff a short film, with a doorway sequence, silhouettes and all!

If you donate, you’ll receive a password to be a part of the VIP premier of the short with riffs from Joel and Tom and Crow. Later, the short film will have a world-wide premiere here at MST3K.org – in an effort to raise awareness for MIGIZI and, of course, accept more donations. We will update you periodically on our progress here on the blog, so check back to see how things go.

We hope you’ll be able to help us out in getting this needed and valued Minneapolis organization back on its feet, and getting yourselves a little new MST3K at the same time!

Visit the MIGIZI fundraiser >>

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