Mike Nelson's Mind over Matters
Michael J. Nelson
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The Film Crew - Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy & Bill Corbett of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K)
Jonesing for some yummy MST3K-style movie riffs? Check out The Film Crew's third DVD release, Wild Women of Wongo, featuring writers Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett.

buy *Mike Nelson's Mind over Matters* online Mike Nelson's Mind over Matters
Michael J. Nelson
Harper Entertainment
277 pages
March 2002
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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We all have opinions and rarely do we find someone who agrees with them all. Some of us work hard to convince others that our opinions are the correct ones, while others have learned that in many cases, its best to keep our opinions to ourselves. Mike Nelson has his opinions, too, and rather than keep quiet about them, he’s decided to put his opinions down on paper for the world to see.

Luckily, Nelson has a great sense of humor as anyone who has watched him on "Mystery Science Theater 3000" knows. On the show, Mike and his android/puppet friends watch very bad and very dated science fiction movies and ridicule them from imaginary theater seats. Throughout the movies, the television audiences can see the three of them at the bottom of the screen and hear witty one-liners poking fun at amateur special effects, bad acting, displaced music scores, and some of the worst screenplay writing known to man.

Now that the show is no longer in production, it appears that Nelson has discovered a new outlet for his humor. He has decided to write books. His first, Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese, attacked modern day blockbuster movies, obviously taking a cue from Writing 101—write about what you know. In his second effort, Mike Nelson's Mind over Matters, he expands his horizons and takes on everything from Radio Shack to animal rights to designer office chairs.

It’s clear from the very first essay that Nelson is a cynic, but who wouldn’t be after watching 10 years of substandard sci-fi movies? Like all opinionated humorists, Nelson attacks things that many readers no doubt hold dear. Take, for instance, Range Rovers:

Get rid of the Range Rovers. You are not responsible for patrolling Australia’s Dingo Barrier Fence, nor do you work the Savannah, capturing and tagging wildebeests…My suggestion is that you use it as a lawn tractor. You can mow, fertilize, and reseed on any grade hill in total comfort while listening to Vonda Shepard on the Bose eight-speaker surround system.
The great thing about Mike Nelson is that unlike most cynical, opinionated humorists, he is also first to make fun of himself, and that above all endears him to the reader. His opinions are easier to accept because he does not believe himself to be perfect. In fact, he seems to like to write about his limits.

The one problem with reading Nelson’s essays, or anyone’s for that matter, is obscure references. The average reader might never have seen Brigadoon or know who Beaker is, wondering if Nelson has made up these things and whether to laugh or not. The best advice is to treat obscure references just like disagreeable opinions—keep reading and something will click.

© 2002 by April Galt for Curled Up With a Good Book

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