New things are afoot at the Circle K, my excellent friends. Inspired by the fact that Bill and Ted screenwriter Ed Solomon consulted with a physicist for Face the Music, I’m putting together a collection of essays about the sciences—social and otherwise—that thread their way through the entire trilogy. We know that Station is the greatest mind in the entire universe, but Earth has some mind-blowingly bodacious thinkers, too. I’m in my phone booth out here looking for them. Can you help? Are you one of them?
Submissions close on September 30, 2023.
Who Can Pitch?
My focus is on academic or academic-minded writers who have (at least some) experience producing solid criticism to cover the myriad (social) science themes in the films. The tone of this book is educational, but also fun; authoritative, but conversational. Bill & Ted University should be generally accessible to all readers, not just academics. I also encourage writers to include in their essays a personal component about why these movies remain important to you and/or your connection to the Bill-and-Ted-verse.
There is far more positive to discuss about the Bill and Ted Trilogy than negative, and if you don’t agree, this might not be the right project for you. That said, this is categorically not a fan service anthology. Valid critique is welcome and necessary as we interrogate the Bill and Ted universe from a perspective that’s more serious than the mood of the movies. But in a kind way. Remember the golden rule: Be excellent to each other.
For example, I would love a queer theorist to address the homophobic slurs that Bill and Ted both drop in the first two films. I need my own physicist to unpack the impossible nuances of time travel as presented in all three movies. I would be thrilled for historians to chime in on the bizarre presentations of various historical figures as they appear from Excellent Adventure through to Face the Music. Does anyone have a solid theory about Bill and Ted’s bio moms? There’s more!
A Nonexhaustive List of Potential Topics/Prompts
In case you need some help developing your essay, here’s a nonexhaustive list of prompts I’ve come up with while on medical leave (yeah, I’m a nerd). Please don’t feel constrained by these ideas. If you have another brilliant essay proposal in mind about a Bill and Ted topic I’ve missed, send it over.
- Physics (astrophysics, quantum physics, time travel, entanglement, tautology)
- AI/robotics (disembodiment, dearticulation, glitches, self awareness, inauthentic simulation, a robot in Hell)
- Music theory (Beethoven, Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, Mozart, Kid Cudi, Faith No More, Bach, Poison, Battles of the Bands, Primus, Taj Mahal, Clara Rockmore, Les Paul, Ling Lun, theremin)
- History/biography (Napoleon, Waterloo, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Abe Lincoln, Socrates, Sigmund Freud, Billy the Kid, Medieval times, San Dimas, George Carlin, totalitarianism/fascism, Pam Grier, Neolithic times)
- Psychology (self-deception, death, Oedipal complexes, good/evil, mirroring/doubling, possession, Nietzsche screaming into the void)
- Gender studies (construction of masculinity, the princesses as gifts, homophobia/slurs, “Will you marry us?”, The Grim Reaper is gender fluid in Bogus Journey, the marriage industrial complex, Bill and Ted’s daughters, speculations on Bill and Ted’s bio moms)
- Race (Mr. Ryan inspired everything, the future leaders are Black, PAM MUTHAFUCKIN GRIER plays Rufus, the intersection of race and music)
- Sexuality studies (the comedic draw of 69, polyamory, trauma bonds, homosociality, military dehumanization)
- Linguistics and language development (The Valley Boy, vocal fry, the ubiquity of their catchphrases)
- Fashion (Bogus Journey predicting 90s rave culture fashion, crop tops for men, flannel, Death’s shroud)
- Religion (ghosts, death, hell, Beelzebub, reincarnation, a robot in hell)
- Future studies (the politics of imaginary futures, culture clashes between past and present)
- What’s the deal with corn dogs, aluminum baseball bats, aerobics, water parks, electric keyboards, skateboards, office cubicles with partitions, lost keys, trash cans, electric guitars, chewing gum, Easter Bunny, Battleship, Clue, Twister, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Melvin, and other American artifacts that appear in the Bill and Ted Trilogy?
- Unpacking Missy, I mean mom’s psychology: dude, what is up with her? (Her dabbling in the occult. Lifelong incest.)
- “Let’s go talk to ourselves”: Can you meet your future self without the universe collapsing?
- “Two heads are better than one”: Mirroring, doubles, twins (e.g., the girls Napoleon-sitting eating ice cream are also twins, William Sadler plays a double role in Bogus Journey, Station can become twins).
- “Why would we lie to ourselves?”: A psychological perspective on honesty, guilelessness, and self-deception.
- Self-plagiarism: What are the ethics of stealing from your future self?
- The origins of the air guitar.
- A brief history of the phone booth.
- Visions of hell/death (from around the world) that mirror the film’s presentation.
- Chewing gum as a binding agent? Is it possible? (Of course it isn’t, but an engineer or architect might be able to write something funny about how wrong this is.)
- One to two paragraph outline of your pitch,
- Links/PDFs to at least three relevant writing samples,
- A short bio that includes your academic and/or other credentials, your connection to the Bill-and-Ted-verse, and your social media links.
Email your pitch to BillAndTedUniversity [at] gmail [dot] com with “BILL & TED UNIVERSITY PITCH” in the subject line, followed by your proposed essay title. Make sure you have watched all three films before pitching (if you haven’t, trust me I’ll know). Final essays will be anywhere from 2,000-5,000 words, depending on the depth of the proposed topic.
If/when the book gets picked up (which can take anywhere from 6 months to years *SIGH*), writers will be paid for their work, even if it’s just a modest honorarium (or out of my own pocket). If I go the self-publishing and Kickstarter route, generous writer fees will be included in the campaign.
Submissions close on September 30, 2023.
About the Editor
Greetings! I’m Sezin Koehler, a multiracial Sri Lankan/Lithuanian American, Keanu Reeves devotee whose day jobs are entertainment writer and medical education journal editor. I’ve edited Enslow’s Racial Literacy series, as well as hundreds of academic manuscripts for universities around the world.
As a writer my bylines include Looper, Black Girl Nerds, Bitch Magazine, Crooked Marquee, Huffington Post, and many, many more. I’ve been a fan of the Bill and Ted films since they first came out in 1989 (yeah, I’m old). I wrote a complicated love letter to Excellent Adventure on its 30th birthday. And Face the Music continues to bring most luminous joy to my life on the regular.
I currently call a hidden Florida beach town home, where I rehabilitate wounded orchids (one of which is totally named Keanu) and raise endangered butterflies in my own yard.