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Josh Willis // Pizza Planet

6 Things We Learned from Pizza Planet, the Toy Story Punk Band

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Josh Willis // Pizza Planet

Pizza Planet is a "pizzacore" band from College Station, Texas. The duo consists of Josh Willis on drums and Nic Shields on guitar and vocals. Here's the twist: all their songs are based on the movie Toy Story. Indeed, even their name refers to the pizza/arcade in the movie.

In their first EP released on Bandcamp, Escape From Pizza Planet, the band's opening tune is "Snake In My Boot," referring to Woody's famous line when his string is pulled. Other songs include "Double Bypass Brain Surgery" (Sid's disassembly/torture of toys), "The Claw," "To Infinity," "And Beyond." (The last two songs are a little light on lyrics, with Shields simply hollering the song titles over grinding riffs.)

Here's a quick phone video of the band performing "Snake In My Boot":

It's not every day that you encounter a band so singly dedicated to its premise, and having such fun doing it. In order to understand more about Pizza Planet, mental_floss conducted an email interview last week. Here are some keepers, lightly edited for clarity.

1. THEY ARE TRUE FANS OF TOY STORY

mental_floss: How old were you guys when Toy Story came out?

Nic Shields: I was almost 2.

Josh Willis: I was 3? Maybe a late 2. It's definitely one of the first movies I remember watching.

mental_floss: When was the most recent time you saw Toy Story?

Shields: Probably 4 or 5 months ago.

2. THEY INVENTED "PIZZACORE"

mental_floss: ... Your Bandcamp page says [your band is] "pizzacore." Where does Pizza Planet fit in the world of musical genres?

Shields: ...We are definitely pizzacore. Which I believe is a genre we invented.

3. NEITHER BAND MEMBER IS A "BUZZ" OR A "WOODY"

mental_floss: Would you describe yourselves as more like Buzz or Woody? (And why?) Alternately, is there some other character is the Toy Story universe you really identify with?

Shields: I want to feel like I am Mr. Shark because I just make fun of everybody all the time and enjoy mockery in general. And that's exactly what this band is, mockery.

Willis: I really identify with Slinky, he's super sarcastic but also I have the ability to stretch my body to absurd lengths.

4. THEY PUT ZERO EFFORT INTO THIS BAND, AND THAT'S OKAY

mental_floss: The message of the Toy Story movies (especially Toy Story 2) seems to boil down to, effectively, "Accept your situation and enjoy it while you can." Does that message resonate with you?

Shields: (laughing) That's exactly how I feel about this band because we put zero effort into it. We play in serious bands that we put time and effort into, but everybody just cares about our joke Toy Story band. So I've just learned to take whatever comes and stop trying.

Willis: Yeah, I'm in the same spaceship as Nic [Shields] on this one. I have a lot of disdain toward this band because of how little effort I've put into it and how little I care compared to my serious band that I drop a lot of time and care into and write about stuff that is important to me. But I'm learning recently to just accept it and enjoy it while it lasts.

mental_floss: How long does it take to write a typical Pizza Planet song?

Shields: About twice as long as it takes to play it.

Willis: None of our songs are longer than 2 minutes I don't think. We usually practice maybe an hour a month. We weren't kidding when we said pretty much zero effort is put into this band.

5. AUDIENCES HAVE MOSHED TO PIZZA PLANET

mental_floss: What's the biggest audience you've ever played to, as Pizza Planet? How about the smallest?

Shields: Probably a little over 100, and smallest would probably be like 10.

Willis: Yeah, we played in a taco shop in Denton Texas called "Killers Tacos," there was probably 100+ people there. They were moshing and going crazy enough that we had to tell them to calm down because I could feel the floor moving underneath us.

mental_floss: Does the audience understand the whole Toy Story thing? Like, do you explain it to them first?

Shields: Absolutely, we treat them like children and walk them through every song we play.

Willis: Yeah, we usually will describe what each song is about from the movies and between almost every song say "All our songs are about Toy Story" so hopefully nobody has misunderstood.

6. MORE SONGS ARE COMING

mental_floss: Any plans to record more Pizza Planet songs?

Shields: Yeah!

Willis: Yeah, we just booked studio time with a friend of ours, we're going to re-record the original songs on our [EP Escape From Pizza Planet] plus some more songs. I think it'll be like 10-11 songs total.

mental_floss: Have you learned anything doing this project?

Shields: That hard work doesn't pay off and to not take anything too seriously.

Willis: Yeah definitely that I need to stop taking stuff as seriously with music. I'm just having a blast and doing stupid stuff with one of my best friends and if people are into it, whatever, and if they're not, who cares? I'm in a band that plays music about Toy Story and you're not. So yeah.

HOW TO FOLLOW THE BAND AND FIND THEIR MUSIC

For a bit more on the band and their dreams of getting a cease-and-desist order from Disney, read this article from The Daily Dot. Their Facebook page is a lot of fun, and their music is on Bandcamp.

We salute you, Pizza Planet—The Claw has chosen wisely.

(All images courtesy of Josh Willis, used with permission.)

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The Funniest Word in the English Language? 'Booty,' According to New Survey
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Some words, regardless of their meaning, are simply more chuckle-worthy than others. To determine which expressions in the English language are truly the most comical, Smithsonian reports that psychologists at the University of Warwick in the UK conducted a survey in which they asked people to rate the “humor value” of a sampling of chosen words. They recently published their findings in the journal Behavior Research Methods.

The researchers selected nearly 5000 words, and then used Amazon’s online crowdsourcing tool Mechanical Turk to ask more than 800 individuals to rank the humor value of 211 randomly chosen words from the list, on a scale from 1 (humorless) to 5 (humorous). Likely not surprising to anyone with younger siblings, the funniest word ended up being “booty,” with an average ranking of 4.32. In descending order, the remaining top 12 words—which all received a score of 3.9 or higher—were “tit,” “booby,” “hooter,” “nitwit,” “twit,” “waddle,” “tinkle,” “bebop,” “egghead,” “ass,” and “twerp.”

Why these words are so funny remains fuzzy. But when they analyzed their findings according to age and gender, the researchers did find that sexually suggestive words like “orgy” and “bondage” tended to tickle the funny bones of men, as did the words “birthmark,” “brand,” “chauffeur,” “doze,” “buzzard,” “czar,” “weld,” “prod,” “corn,” and “raccoon.”

Meanwhile, women tended to laugh at the words “giggle,” “beast,” “circus,” “grand,” “juju,” “humbug,” “slicker,” “sweat,” “ennui,” “holder,” “momma,” and “sod.” As for people under the age of 32, they were amused by “goatee,” “joint,” and “gangster,” while older participants liked “squint,” “jingle,” “burlesque,” and “pong.” Across the board, all parties were least amused by words like “rape,” “torture,” and “torment.”

Although humor is complex and dependent on elements like syntax and delivery, the study's researchers say that breaking comedy down to single-word units could demystify its essence.

“The research initially came about as a result of our curiosity,” said Tomas Engelthaler, the study’s lead author, in a press release. “We were wondering if certain words are perceived as funnier, even when read on their own. It turns out that indeed is the case. Humor is an everyday aspects of our lives and we hope this publicly available dataset allows future researchers to better understand its foundations.”

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Welcome to the Dull Men’s Club, a Group Dedicated to the Blander Things in Life
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Do you enjoy such riveting activities as sitting on porches, sorting loose change, and watching paint dry? If so, you may qualify to join the Dull Men’s Club. Co-founded by Grover Click, the Dull Men’s Club celebrates the aspects of life some may call boring. The group comprises thousands of members with colorful hobbies like collecting milk bottles, appreciating roundabouts, and tracking down water pumps. There are even some women in the group, one of whom spends her free time following brown street signs.

Great Big Story recently spoke with some of the club's most ordinary members. After watching the video below, you can read about more spectacularly dull hobbies—like drain spotting, traffic cone collecting, and mailbox photography—here.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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