MiSTed: A Moment of Hack (Part 1 of 2)


I have this logged in a folder marked “recently used MiSTings”, as I first published it here back in April 2020. But consider how long ago that was: back then, we were trying to end the Covid-19 pandemic. So, since the resource I thought had some older vintage MiSTings was less accessible than I thought, please, enjoy this bit, originally written in 2018, making fun of that guy who totally hacked your account and has the proof.

The only riff that really needs context here is that in 2018, we thought 2018 was a brutal year.


MiSTed: You password must be need changed (your password:group2) [ 0 / 1 ]

 

[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

> From: <group2@site.tld>

CROW: I love group2@site.tld’s writing!

> Subject: You password must be need changed (your password:group2)

TOM: Remember, you promised you’d walk and feed *and* change your password when we got you one!

> Date: November 15, 2018 at 4:36:12 PM EST
> To: group2 <group2@site.tld>

CROW: Group 2 is the cool group. We don’t need those Group 6 wieners.

>
>
> Dear user of site.tld!

MIKE: Hi! Been a crazy year, hasn’t it? So what’ve you been up to?

>
>
> I am a spyware software developer.

TOM: Well I’m a level-12 half-orc mage so don’t you go trying to beat my initiative roll.

>
> Your account has been hacked by me in the summer of 2018.

CROW: Man, you wanna feel old? The summer of 2018 was *this* *year*.

>
>
>
> I understand that it is hard to believe,

MIKE: But I can flare each nostril separately from the other!

> but here is my evidence:

TOM: [ Fumbling, feeble voice ] Um, heh, sorry, thought I had the thingy plugged in … uh … heh, see, it’s a mini USB … or micro … uh, heheh … maybe it’s upside-dowooops, dropped it.

>
> – I sent you this email from your account.

MIKE: It’s asking you to celebrate someone’s ‘work anniversary’ on LinkedIn for some reason?

>

> – Password from account group2@site.tld: group2 (on moment of hack).

TOM: Prices higher west of the Rocky Mountains.

>
>
>
> The hacking was carried out using a hardware vulnerability through
> which you went online

CROW: Yeah? Well I only respond to emotional vulnerability.

> (Cisco router, vulnerability CVE-2018-0296).

MIKE: [ Military Nerd voice ] Excuse me but the CVE-2018-0296 is the USS Ranger, a Forrestal-class supercarrier with a displacement of 81,000 long tons under full load *thank* you.

>
>
>
> I went around the security system in the router,

CROW: I jabbed my foot into an endtable.

> installed an
> exploit there.

TOM: Stepped on a Lego block … you know, your security is pretty *good*, I have to say.

>
> When you went online, my exploit downloaded my malicious code

MIKE: Well, it’s not malicious so much as it is passive-aggressive code.

CROW: ‘No, go ahead and read my page with the adblocker on, I’ll be fine.’

> (rootkit) to your device.

TOM: Hey, we’re trying to stay PG here!

>
> This is driver software,

CROW: This is driver software on drugs.

> I constantly updated it,

MIKE: The only way to foil it is to hit ‘postpone updates until tomorrow’ every single day!

> so your antivirus
> is silent all time.

TOM: Your Antivirus Silent All-time Hall of Famers!

>
>
> Since then I have been following you

CROW: Did you see me clicking like and share?

> (I can connect to your device
> via the VNC protocol).

MIKE: The VNC Protocol, starring Clint Eastwood, George Kennedy, and Vonetta McGee.

>
> That is, I can see absolutely everything that you do, view and
> download your files and any data to yourself.

TOM: [ Voice warbling ] Even my Knuckles/Marrissa Picard fanfic?

>
> I also have access to the camera on your device,

[ CROW and TOM squirm, uncomfortable. MIKE looks up so as not to have to acknowledge either. ]

 

> and I periodically
> take photos and videos with you.

MIKE: [ As though reading a postcard ] Having wonderful time, wish I were here …

>
>
> At the moment, I have harvested a solid dirt…

TOM: [ Dramatic sting ] DUN-dun-dunnnnnnnn!

> on you…

CROW: Gasp!

MIKE: Merciful heavens!

TOM: Oh, Professor Firefly!

>
> I saved all your email and chats from your messangers.

MIKE: Your mess angers.

TOM: Your Me’s Sangers.

> I also saved
> the entire history of the sites you visit.

TOM: You ah, got any copies of Web Site Number Nine kicking around there?

>
>

CROW: Your Mess an’ Gers?

MIKE: Oh, you always want a plate of those if you go to a British pub.

> I note that it is useless to change the passwords.

TOM: [ As Chico ] ‘Swordfish’?

> My malware update
> passwords from your accounts every times.

CROW: Yeah? Well … my festive clockwork bubbles from your kneepads every thermostat!

>
>
> I know what you like hard funs (adult sites).

TOM: Ooh, hard funs?

MIKE: Yeah, those are the anise-tasting funs your gramma keeps in that glass dish on the coffee table that still smells like smoke even though she quit eighteen years ago.
[ TOM makes a little disappointed groan. ]


[ To continue … ]

Today’s Thought in Observance of the Inexorable Passage of Time


It’s a strange and amazing thought, going to the good thrift store and walking through the selection of electronic organs. It makes you appreciate just how amazing it is that each and every one of these was the consolation gift for some game show contestant in the 1970s. Imagine the tales they could tell about having been photographed for a hurried voice-over at the end of Tic Tac Dough, Card Sharks, Whew!, Lee Trevino’s Golf For Swingers, or How Do You Like Your Eggs?. All those orange-shag-carpeted voices, quiet now, and you have to ask someone to plug them in. How strange is life.

What’s Going On In Dick Tracy? Were those drones from the future watching Dick Tracy? October – December 2021


The big storyline in Dick Tracy was set off by “Time Drones”. That is, the kind of hovering aerial camera/microphones used to record viral videos of drivers attempting the new traffic circle. The Time Factory blew up, though we saw many drones hovering over the ruins. And Smith asks if Tracy remembers “what my first time travel drone, the ‘mystery ship’, saw”. Tracy does, and Smith says, “I think that future is now”. Tracy’s memory is better than mine, or those of most readers. jonahhex1, a GoComics commenter, identified what all this was about. The fleet of drones was not from our, 2021’s, future. By “The Future” what was referenced was this moment from 2014, the story introducing the time travel shenanigans into our strip:

Diet Smith, explaining: 'As you remember, Tracy, my son, Brilliant, was killed by the criminal, Big Frost. I began project 'Blue Image' to go back in time and save him. I tried countless modifications. But it was impossible to dictate the era the 'Mystery Ship' would travel to. Each try became more perilous. So I stopped. Of all the images we received, the last was most telling. It was of this building, all gone but for some rubble atop its cornerstone, while aircraft filled the sky overhead.'
Joe Staton, Mike Curtis, Shelly Pleger, and Shane Fisher’s Dick Tracy for the 6th of November, 2014. I think we’re all impressed that Staton and Curtis dropped in something that they wouldn’t pay off for seven years. But I would like them to pop over and borrow some narrative bubbles from The Phantom because one little tag reading “Nov 6, 2014” would have saved me a lot of confusion reading the strip. Now on to resolving the haunting of B.O.Plenty’s home!

These drones, then, are not a fleet of onlookers from the future gawking at a major disaster. They’re just contemporary drones gawking at a major disaster. Diet Smith has said he doesn’t plan to build new Time Drones, and nobody’s been shown trying to change his mind.

This should catch you up to December 2021 in Mike Curtis, Joe Staton, Shelley Pleger, and Shane Fisher’s Dick Tracy. (Joe Staton stepped down from the strip in late October.) If you’re reading this after about March 2022, or any news about the comic strip breaks, I should have a more useful essay for you here.

And a last bit of self-promotion. While I’ve put my mathematics glossary project on a (brief, I hope) hiatus, I do still have what I think are quite nice discussions up there. And I’m bringing some older discussions out of the misty past, using the old-fashioned time-droning of going on at length. Thanks for considering my pop mathematics writing.

Dick Tracy.

3 October – 25 December 2021.

Diet Smith’s newest super-invention is the Time Drone, able to bring aerial surveillance to anyone, anytime, through all history. I know, you’re busy thinking how “the past” includes split-seconds in the past. But I ask you to consider how much this could mess up Silver and Sprocket Nitrate’s forged-historical-movies business. By day it offers glorious opportunities to historical and archeological researchers. By night it offers Sterling Eliot, Smith Industries mole on behalf of The Apparatus, the chance to find lost loot for the crime syndicate. And, for himself, a chance to look at this coming week’s lottery numbers. At least until the Time Drone apparatus explodes, killing Eliot and two others, and wounding Diet Smith.

Sterling Elliot, working the Time Drone apparatus; in view is a newspaper mentioning the $1.75 billion lottery jackpot. Elliot thinks: 'I've done all the footwork and erased the tracks for The Apparatus. After this trip, I can write my own ticket out of here.' Something goes awry with the Time Drone, that shivers and wobbles around uncontrollably: 'What? ... The diagnostics report was clear ... I CAN'T STABILIZE IT!' The Time Drone explodes, with the explosion going on to shatter the whole building.
Joe Staton, Mike Curtis, Shelly Pleger, and Shane Fisher’s Dick Tracy for the 17th of October, 2021. I’d thought the problem might have been the attempt to send a Time Drone into the future, rather than the past. But the ‘Mystery Ship’ went into the future all right, in that 2014 strip. I suppose we have to conclude it was just a mishap of technology that’s still young, even if it could be operated by a lone person, that caused Sterling Elliot’s untimely death.

Diet Smith convalesces under the care of Daddy Warbucks, a man who knows how to not get in trouble when people around him turn up dead. (Fun fact: both Oliver Warbucks’s first and second wives died while with him at sea.) Tracy, meanwhile, pursues Briar Rose. She was the Law Enforcement Magazine reporter who’d interviewed him the previous month, and was going on to interview Diet Smith. She was a fraud, not affiliated with Law Enforcement Magazine or any other magazine. It’s a slender lead, but the only one they have.

It’s also a good one, as she is under The Apparatus’s protection, whether she likes it or not. She has some criminal “business” going on, that I can’t quite get clear. But The Apparatus is the bigger fish, so if they say she has to work from their hotel room, she has to work from their hotel room. Ace of Spades, the head of The Apparatus, decides she’s a good one to take the blame for whatever the heck happened at Smith Industries. He has her put somewhere Dick Tracy can find her after her shocking death.

Briar Rose, being arrested: 'Yeah, I'm okay, but he was going to kill me!' Sam Catchem: 'He's not a problem anymore, Ms Rose. I'm Detective Sam Catchem. We've been looking for you.' Rose: 'I know. Take me to Dick Tracy. I'll explain everything to him.'
Mike Curtis, Shelly Pleger, and Shane Fisher’s Dick Tracy for the 15th of November, 2021. One can snark that this is another Dick Tracy mystery resolved by dumb luck. If Catchem hadn’t decided to try a new deli he’d have missed the whole thing. But Briar Rose’s offer to tell everything is motivated, at least if we trust she worked out that the promise of a ‘safe house’ was a lie. It’s a reasonable thing for her to work out, even if it was worked out off-screen.

Sam Catchem finds her, though, as she’s being moved in. It’s a lucky break; he happened to stop at the deli underneath the death-site apartment. He follows, catching and shooting the zentai-clad assassin holding Briar Rose. Rose is happy to flip, and I can’t blame her.

Dick Tracy moves fast, taking on the disguise of the Jack of Spades, Rose’s failed assassin. So he’s doing some actual super-detective work here. Mumbles takes him back to the Ace of Spades, who wants to know, where is Rose’s body? If Rose is dead, why was “Jack” unconscious when Mumbles recovered him? What about this makes any sense? And as it’s weeks away from my plot recap, they tear his hood off and reveal Dick Tracy. Meanwhile the cops, who’ve been listening over the two-way wrist radio, move in and grab everyone with a weird face or speech gimmick. Ace of Spades as well as Doubleup are able to escape through the plot tunnels, but otherwise it’s a pretty good catch of villains.


The next phase started the 11th of December. This with a museum exhibit on America’s Top Cop. That would be Dick Tracy, who’s been fighting The Apparatus (under various names) for 90 years now without clearing them out of the city. But then The Apparatus (under various names) has been trying for 90 years to kill Dick Tracy and that hasn’t taken. So Ace of Spades, from his new hiding place, hires Richard “Mr Bones” Bonhomme to take a shot at him. No rush, just, you know, succeed this time.

Blackjack: 'Mr Bones? From the DT Collector Forum?' Bones: 'Correct! I should have known you'd be here, Blackjack.' Looking over the Wall of Hats, Bones says, 'Ah! Even Dick Tracy has a collector's streak in him. Each hat represents a moment when he cheated death!' Blackjack, thinking: 'Except mine, of course.' Bones: 'Let's take in the rest of the exhibit.' Blackjack: 'Agreed!'
Mike Curtis, Shelly Pleger, and Shane Fisher’s Dick Tracy for the 18th of December, 2021. Blackjack’s Hat doesn’t represent a time Tracy cheated death. Way back in March 2012 when we met Blackjack, he surrendered to the cops once he was allowed to set Tracy’s hat on a fire hydrant and shoot it. This so he could get a credit on Tracy’s Wall of Hats without risking harm to “my pal”.

Mr Bones’s thoughts turn to Blackjack. You may know him as that guy who played Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumpin” (“I got knocked down/ but I get up again”) while robbing banks and being a Dick Tracy superfan. Blackjack’s storage lock of Dick Tracy memorabilia got stolen recently, and Blackjack broke out of jail to find it. Mr Bones — “From the DT Collector Forum” — hangs out at the exhibit until Blackjack appears, and admits: he’s the one who stole Blackjack’s collection. But he’s happy to return it … we don’t yet know what for.

Yes, it does seem like Mr Bones stole Blackjack’s collection before being hired to kill Dick Tracy. I don’t know whether this is because Mr Bones was hired long before we first saw mention of it. He did say he suspected Dick Tracy might be the target, but I don’t know when he got the idea The Apparatus wanted him to kill someone. It’s also possible (as I write this) that Mr Bones is bluffing about the stolen collection, to manipulate Blackjack.

Also I appreciate that the in-universe Dick Tracy Collectors have a Forum. I hope this means their main social group is on a charmingly semi-maintained phpBB forum rather than being a Facebonk or Reddit or Discord something bad like that.

Meanwhile, Patty Cure, a woman who’d been letting The Apparatus use her doorstep as a package drop, turned herself in. The Apparatus came to her looking for someone with “management experience to run an escort service”. And they didn’t stop pressuring her after the big raids. Lizz Worthington goes under cover as Cure, to learn what The Apparatus does want her to do. And that’s where we stand on the brink of the future.

Next Week!

Is that Halloween party still going on? Why aren’t we seeing more Santa Claus? I look in on Old Time Radio’s own Jim Scancarelli, and Gasoline Alley, to ring in 2022, I hope. See you then.

Reposting The Stages Of The Road Trip: Stage Four


It is unlikely to surprise anyone who read this the first time I posted that the hotel-toothbrush-experience thing is drawn from real life. And, yes, I did get this odd plastic contraption made out of a credit-card-size piece of plastic and I would have done better to put toothpaste on my finger. I maybe also could just put the toothbrush my dentist gives me into my glove compartment. I feel like the Fred Basset trivia isn’t something I wholly made up, but I think it’s really some other comic strip that only runs Sunday strips for the overseas market. Andy Capp strips used to get extra panels for the American Sunday publications. And there is a fantastic long essay about Andy Capp here that’s made me appreciate that comic more. No sarcasm there. Worth the read.


No, Dan, we are not stopping the car already just because you’re not sure you packed your toothbrush. It can wait. Yes, well, you know where it’s possible to get a toothbrush any time, day or night? Only in every store ever, including freaking Best Buy if you really need.

Sophia explains how you can just ask the front desk at the hotel for a toothbrush. Amanda and Dan insist they just will never have one. Josh says he’s read about how they will, it’s just nobody ever thinks to ask. Sophia insists that they may or may not, it depends on the hotel. All are willing to grant that it doesn’t hurt to ask. Then Josh explains about the time he did ask, and the “toothbrush” they had was just weird. Like, it was this credit-card-size flat thing that unfolded a tiny bit, and it had like eight bristles, and he probably would have been better brushing his teeth with his finger.

The discussion leads naturally to kind of bragging about the biggest glob of toothpaste everyone’s eaten. Also the discovery that Amanda is afraid of swallowing toothpaste because it turns out this is on the boxes? This is fun enough that everyone registers they just passed a funny city-destinations sign but can’t remember what was funny about it.

The party’s definitely travelled a good distance now. It’s not just the third-tier but the second-tier fast-food restaurants that they don’t have back home.

Amanda finds it very significant that this town’s Cheese House specialty cheese shop mascot is very much a ripoff of forgotten Famous Studios cartoon mouse Herman or Katnip, whichever one of them was the mouse. Probably Herman. That would be the less obscure joke to make in naming them. Anyway this is very important to Amanda and she’s not going to let it go until everyone agrees this is an important revelation.

All right, so Dan tosses this out: what if a place like the Outback Steakhouse, only instead of theoretically being Australian, it’s Scottish themed? Nobody actually knows offhand what Scottish food is. “Fried … bladders or something?” offers Josh, who admits he’s maybe thinking of what bagpipes were made of. Not the fried part. But that doesn’t matter. You could serve anything. Just put some fun stuff on the walls.

This feeds into the discovery that Amanda had been to the town where Andy Capp was from. Like, the comic strip Andy Capp. Also that it’s based on a real actual town. There’s a statue of him there and everything, a claim that threatens to be laughed at for miles except that they find pictures of it. With her newfound expertise the party is willing to accept Amanda’s claim that “Andy Capp” is supposed to be a pun on the word “handicap”. She blows it completely when she tries to claim that English newspapers don’t run Fred Basset on Sundays and those strips are made just for the American readers.

OK, but you can agree where it would be correct structuring of a joke if the mouse were named Katnip, right?

Everyone over-plans the next gas station stop. They’re trying to figure how to look casual while timing Dan to see how long he needs to remember to check his toothbrush. Everyone’s disappointed he remembers almost right away, before even going in to the bathroom. He does have his toothbrush, although it’s in the wrong plastic bag. The gas station chains are all weird around here too, although they take the same customer-loyalty card. This is disappointing.

Everyone agrees there is no satisfactory reason why these nachos should be soggy.

Josh finally explains that phone number on the no-longer-sticky note in his glove compartment: he doesn’t know what it is. But it looks a lot like his writing. It must be too important to throw away or else why would he have put it there? Could he call the number and find out who it is? No, absolutely not under any circumstances.

You expect to discover new places when you road trip. You don’t expect to find out how all your friends are freaks.

60s Popeye: Popeye in the Grand Steeple Chase


We’ve finally broken Seymour Kneitel-Mania! Briefly. Jack Kinney Studios takes over for this 1960 short. Story by Carol Beers, and animation direction by Harvey Toombs.

Before getting into Popeye in the Grand Steeple Chase a quick warning. At about 7:21 in the short, Popeye uses a then-accepted-by-white-people slur to refer to being cheated. Don’t want you caught unaware.

It’s easy to say why do a horse-racing cartoon. There’s bunches of good setups available. They may all exist in the shadow of Walt Disney’s Goofy cartoon How To Ride A Horse. Also of the Marx Brothers’ A Day At The Races. Fine. Those are the shadows you want to be in.

I’ve mentioned how often Jack Kinney cartoons felt like sketches or first drafts of cartoons. And the previous Carol Beers-story cartoons, Camel Aires and Popeye’s Museum Piece, had more sketchy or baffling storylines. This time around it’s all pretty straightforward. Olive Oyl cajoles Popeye into entering a steeplechase. Brutus sells Popeye a bad horse. Brutus figures to win the steeplechase himself. Despite his dirty tricks Popeye gives his horse “organic spinach-falfa” and wins the race. And, yes, Brutus would surely have won if he hadn’t wasted all that time digging a trap for Popeye. Isn’t that always the way?

The baffling stuff is all tucked into the details. Some of them are jokes, or at least attempted jokes. Wimpy as the racetrack announcer, for example, won’t stop eating hamburgers, even though this reduces his announcements to gibberish. That’s a fair joke. It’s confusing only because I’d expect those names to be jokes. I can’t make out if they are. But not putting in the joke I expect isn’t wrong. Also, credit to the studio for at least claiming there are other jockeys. This sort of Popeye-versus-Bluto/Brutus cartoon often skips having other competitors. Brutus locking the other jockeys in makes the race more full without forcing anyone to animate a third figure.

In the stands several groups of seriously-dressed people watch the race. Olive Oyl is jumping around, swinging her arms and legs, cheering Popeye. Two of the audience are looking at Olive Oyl, annoyed or resentful or worse.
I love how much those two people resent Olive Oyl being all cheerful and excited at a sporting event.

Also I understand intellectually that people dressed more formally back then. But this crowd for the horse race is dressed, to me, like they’re witnessing a State of the Union address.

There’s other small baffling things. Brutus affects a southern accent before putting on the persona of “Colonel Rudolph Brumus” for Popeye. It’s only one line, but why that line? Also, why “Rudolph Brumus”? It feels like a reference to someone adults at least would recognize around 1960. All it suggests to me is trying to do a name that’s amusing without being ostentatiously funny. You know, the way Paul Rhymer filled Vic and Sade with unlikely but not obviously clownish names. I’m never going to fault a writer for stuffing small, needless oddities. When it works, it’s the horse’s “Fax Mactor” fake tail.

There’s a character design oddity. The writing treats it as an obvious hilarity that Popeye’s horse, Sir Gallyhad, might be taken for a racehorse. But the drawing of him? I dunno, he looks like a normal cartoon horse to me. Maybe the animators had to start design work before the script was finished. Or it could be the horse design was prepared for another project. I don’t know what other stuff the Kinney studios was doing around that time.

The biggest characterization oddity: at the end, Brutus’s horse dunks him in the pit they dug to trap Popeye. Olive Oyl and Popeye find this hilarious. But they never discovered the various tricks Brutus had played to rig the race, other than selling Popeye a bum horse. Popeye didn’t even notice Brutus pulling out Sir Gallyhad’s Fax Mactor tail. But then it’s so natural for Popeye and Olive Oyl to laugh at Brutus’s comeuppance. Maybe Beers overlooked that the story hadn’t given them much reason to want him beaten up by his horse.

Statistics Saturday: Some Pre-19th-Century Christmas Traditions, So Far As You Know


  • Whelk-shaming
  • Introducing ferrets to places where they are inefficient
  • Slapping a great volume of cheese
  • Determining, from the use of indirect questions alone, which person has put their right sock on their left and vice-versa
  • Suspending small coinage from a great height using a rope
  • Describing animals from the New World or Australia and challenging others to tell whether they are real or made up
  • Naming someone the Ruler of Dubiously Appropriate Music
  • Pants-cudgeling
  • Finding how many rounds of drink are necessary before no one in the room can pronounce the word “lugubrious”
  • A great deal of twirling
  • Trading folded-up pieces of paper on which everyone has made a secret mark which then no one looks at
  • Running chest-first into a brick wall until you have to stop

Reference: The Invention of Tradition, Editors Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger.

60s Popeye: Spinach Greetings, unrelated to Seasin’s Greetinks


And now Seymour Kneitel-mania gets us to 1960 and the most seasonally appropriate King Features Popeye of all. How could this have ever lined up so it would publish, in my time zone, Christmas Eve? Other than by my shuffling my schedule around to fill it with reviews this past week? Hey, it happened, that’s enough. Now with story, direction, and production credited to Seymour Kneitel, let’s enjoy some Spinach Greetings.

The Sea Hag has captured Santa Claus and only Popeye can rescue Christmas.

This is a freaking great premise. That may be the best half-hour Christmas special you could make featuring Popeye. This turns out instead to be your regular five-and-a-half-minute cartoon, but never mind. The idea is first-rate.

So I’m sorry that I don’t like the cartoon more. So much about it is appealing. Settling in with Popeye reading ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. The stockings set up at the fireplace, with the mouse hanging up a tiny stocking ultimately filled with cheese. Wimpy’s stocking having a hole that leads to a garbage bin. Sea Hag’s clear statement of motivation: “Everyone is happy this time of year and it’s all Santa Claus’s fault!” Santa flying a reindeer-headed jet plane, too. The change in vehicle must be easier to animate than eight tiny reindeer. It also fits with Space Age attempts at updating Santa to jets and rockets and other modern vehicles. That didn’t stick, but it makes sense to try.

Popeye learns the Sea Hag captured Santa. He sneaks into her castle. She sends her Vulture to capture and dispose of Popeye. He’s eaten his spinach, so he can kill the Vulture instead. She drops Popeye down her trap door; he punches the alligators in the pit into luggage. She throws a tantrum while Popeye frees Santa. It’s a happy ending. It’s all competently animated, and it all fits together well. But the cartoon somehow fails to have a good escalating tension or action or anything. I’ve mentioned how Paramount Cartoon Studios shorts have only the one gear. That serves a mood piece like Myskery Melody fine, and it works great for Sisyphean cartoons like Popeye Goes Sale-Ing. Here, it keeps the exciting part from being exciting.

Santa, in the cockpit of his reindeer rocket sleigh, waves to Popeye, Swee'Pea, Olive Oyl, and Wimpy.
I understand the plotting reason that Wimpy and Olive Oyl didn’t go along: they’d have to either be captured or else do things that don’t save Santa. If the short had seven minutes to play, there might be time for that. But it’s odd there’s no excuse given for their not helping, not even “The Sea Hag is too dangerous, you hasta stay home”.

Here’s an example of something unsatisfying here. Santa says nothing after he’s kidnapped. He sheds a tear, a moment that works great. But the whole short goes by with Santa doing and saying nothing, at least until his final farewell. I don’t have a good hypothesis why not. If he said nothing though the whole short his wordlessness would seem like a thoughtful choice. It would put Santa outside the normal world even despite being someone who could be tied to a chair. But as it is, it feels like they couldn’t even have Santa be interested enough to tell the Sea Hag she was being naughty. Why not have Santa and the Sea Hag squabble? How could that not be great?

Popeye kills animals this short. It’s something he’s done before, and even jokes he’s done before. Coming back with the cooked carcass of the Sea Hag’s Vulture evokes returning the Sindbad the Sailor’s Roc. Knocking alligators into luggage he’s done several times over. I don’t like that side of Popeye, even when he is doing it to stay alive. And it plays meaner here than it did in the theatrical shorts. Some of that’s because the made-for-TV shorts are less rowdy and rough than the theatrical shorts. Some of that’s because it is a Christmas cartoon. I mean, Santa is looking at you, Popeye.

The Sea Hag ends her part in the short crying how “My Christmas is ruined! Everybody’s gonna be happy!” That moment surprised me. It’s a funny and appropriate way to go out, but I’d expected some softening at the end. That Santa would give her a present. It could be a piece of coal, that she could take as confirmation of her special wickedness. I bet if this were a half-hour special they’d have included that. But I like that it isn’t softened. It surprises while staying the logical result of the characters’ choices.

(Seasin’s Greetinks is a 1933 theatrical short, from before they got Jack Mercer, Mae Questel, and Jackson Beck to do the voices. It’s got no Santa Claus in it, but Popeye does decorate a tree by punching.)

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 4 of 4)


And now the end of this MiSTing of the Robert McElwaine GALACTIC FEDERATION Update. I’ll have something else next week, I don’t know what.

MOS Burgers is this hamburger chain I got into when I lived in Singapore. They had a lot of advertising copy about being in harmony with nature and such. Good burgers, including the option to get a “bun” made of steamed-rice patties. The Klindesteron beademungen were friendly but incomprehensible aliens encountered in the James Blish short story “Common time”.

Marissa Picard is of course the hero of Stephen Ratliff’s famous Kids Crew Star Trek fanfic series, the series that also made Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic a thing. Jay Gordon was a supporting character in the series. There was no MiSTing with a host sketch where the Brains made Jay Gordon cry, though. I don’t think there was even a host sketch where they met. Marrissa Picard got a few appearances, though. Sonic the Hedgehog also produced a bunch of fanfic that was good for MiSTing.

The mention of Heidi Klum references a Usenet crank of the early 2000s, who held that the aliens who control human destiny leave hints to the future in the career of Heidi Klum. He’d show up in the relevant newsgroup whenever Klum appeared on, say, Conan O’Brien’s show, explaining how to decode her amiable small talk.


>
> Today, we have discussed segments of our shared history that
> explain your origins and the basis of your present condition of
> consciousness.

MIKE: Next week, remember, we’re doing the Polish-Lithuanian monarchy, so read up chapter eight and be ready with questions, people.

> We ask you to use this awareness to examine how far you
> actually have come!

CROW: I’m suddenly more aware of my tongue.

TOM: You don’t have a tongue.

CROW: Then I’m suddenly confused and distressed.

> Your liberation and new world service are truly
> within reach!

TOM: As soon as you pay up your library fines!

> We now take our leave.

MIKE: [ As Groucho ] I’ve had a wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.

> Blessings, dear Ones! Know, in
> your Heart of Hearts,

CROW: In your Diamond of Diamonds,

MIKE: In your Spade of Spades,

TOM: In your Club of Clubs..

> that the eternal Supply and perpetual Prosperity
> of Heaven is yours!

MIKE: This reads like the advertising materials for MOS Burgers.

> So Be It! Selamat Gajun! Selamat Kasijaram!

CROW: They’re either Malay or the Klindesteron beademungen.

> (Sirian
> for Be One! Blessed in Love and in Joy!)

TOM: And there’s some fine print where you sign up to buy two CDs each month for a year.

>
> Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: Somebody check the Earth’s batteries. Venus was dead three months before we noticed.


> http:
//www.paoweb.com
>
> This copy was reposted by Robert E. McElwaine

TOM: The `E’ stands for `Extra.’

CROW: Robert E. McExtralwaine?

> PAO Member
> Eckankar Initiate

MIKE: And a good friend.

> B.S., Physics and Astronomy, UW-EC

CROW: Hah … Mike?

MIKE: Not my fault, guys.


> http:
//members.aol.com/rem547 PLUS

> http:
//members.aol.com/rem460

TOM: That adds up to rem 1007.

>


> See also http:
//www.paoweb.com/sn122600.htm ,

CROW: A URL actually created by a snore.


> http:
//www.disclosureproject.org .
>

> P.S.:
PASS IT ON !

MIKE: You’ll never guess which of your close friends is waiting for this very message!

>

> ok

TOM: OK? Is that all you have to say for yourself?

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. GYPSY, TOM SERVO, and CROW are there, with many papers scattered on the desk. A pencil is wedged into CROW’s hand. ]

GYPSY: You need line 17 from form 8-E.

CROW: I know, I’m just — look, how many amiable characters from the movies and shorts we watch have visited us on the Hex Field View Screen this year?

TOM: 28, including four visits from Marrissa Picard.

GYPSY: You have to tell them how you made Jay Gordon cry.

TOM: Tell them 35.

CROW: I’m not cheating on these forms!

TOM: Oh, like they’ll check?

GYPSY: It kind of goes against the spirit —

[ MIKE enters. They all hush up for a few seconds. ]

MIKE: So. Who wants to —

[ Simultaneously: ]

GYPSY: Crow.

CROW: Tom.

TOM: Crow.

MIKE: Well?

CROW: We realized we haven’t filled in our reports for the Galactic Federation of Light this year yet.

TOM: You wouldn’t believe how many forms it is, either, but it’s worth doing.

GYPSY: It’s an important part of bringing light to the universe.

MIKE: [ Playing along ] Plus you might get to be Head Beagle.

GYPSY: So we’re listing all this year’s light-bringing.

CROW: You got anything you want reported?

MIKE: I, uh, cleaned the burnt pizza stuff out of the toaster oven.

CROW: That’s good! What else do we have?

TOM: We played keep-away with Observer’s brain for like ten minutes.

MIKE: That didn’t really uplift anyone’s soul.

CROW: Well … what about that fun we had playing backgammon? That had to bring something good into the world.

GYPSY: We just moved the checkers around randomly for five minutes, got bored, then you threw them like ninja stars until you broke the McVote McDLT glasses.

CROW: Oh yeah.

TOM: Well … we had to have done something, right?

GYPSY: We didn’t stop anyone from bringing light.

TOM: Yeah!

CROW: OK, I’m writing that in — Mike, you have any stamps? We need to mail this to the Galactic Federation of Light Central Processing Bureau in Menominee, Michigan.

MIKE: Oh, fresh out. Let’s check in on Pittney-Bowes, shall we?

TOM: Four, five — hey, does Sonic the Hedgehog still exist?

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. The stage is filled by shipping cartons of all sizes, marked “LIGHT BULBS” and stacked precariously high. BOBO, PEARL, and OBSERVER are squeezed in front, reading
papers on a business envelope. ]

OBSERVER: Dahdahdaaah … appreciate your filing early … blah de blah … having reviewed your Federation of Light returns this year … yeah, uh-huh … computed against withholding reported in form 671-X …

PEARL: So how much of a light-bringing refund did we *get*?

BOBO: [ Pointing at a line ] Fifty-five thousand, three hundred forty three!

[ A pause, as PEARL simmers. ]

PEARL: That’s our Zip code, you — [ She pinches his nose. ]

[ BOBO barks, Curly style; his left arm windmills around and hits OBSERVER’s brain, which he drops, apparently onto PEARL’s foot as she grabs her foot and hops. She trips into BOBO, who bounces against one pile of boxes, sending it crashing. He rebounds to knock PEARL and OBSERVER into their own huge stacks, which sends off volleys of crashing and imploding light bulb sounds through the credits … ]

                            \  |  / 
                             \ | /  
                              \|/   
                            ---O--- 
                              /|\  
                             / | \  
                            /  |  \ 

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc. The essay “GALACTIC FEDERATION Update: August 5, 2003” comes to us from Robert McElwaine and Sheldan Nidle. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who intends no particular ill-will towards Robert McElwaine, Sheldan Nidle, or any nigh-omnipotent beings guiding humanity towards a glorious new destiny in the stars, but does enjoy following Kansan’s reports of how they signal their intents through the life and career of Heidi Klum. Come back, Dr. Mike Neylon!

> Greetings, dear Hearts! We return with more interesting topics to
> share with you.

[ The end … for now. ]

60s Popeye: Popeye Goes Sale-ing, the closest he’s been to sea in ages here


We’re not done with Seymour Kneitel-Mania yet! Story, direction, and production are all credited to him in 1960’s Popeye Goes Sale-ing. Thank you, Paramount Cartoon Studios. Let’s enjoy.

The short starts with Popeye doing his scat singing. It’s nice and cozy and I wonder if they re-recorded it each cartoon or not. I also wonder why it’s used. Is it a simple way to pad out a cartoon that’s run too short? I could imagine doing a bit more of the shopping follies here, although I don’t know if it would make the cartoon any better.

Olive Oyl spots a half-off sale on everything in the department store, giving the opening for a couple reliable jokes showing sofas, tables, coats, that sort of thing cut in half. And then we go into the store and a bunch of schtick. It’s all constructed well enough, although we can fairly ask: is this a Popeye story? It could be any woman-and-man pairing from that era and you’d get about the same scene.

The joke is simple enough. Olive Oyl dives into the mob packed around a sale table and comes out with something she declares a great bargain. Also one that she doesn’t want, so she sends Popeye to get her money back. Getting the refund requires filling out great bunches of forms. I dimly remember the days when returning merchandise involved at least some explanation or effort, mostly writing down on a sheet how this was “not what you wanted”. I’m told that in older days yet it was harder still, except at stores that promised they did no-effort returns. Since there’s no comic value in returning merchandise being no effort, Popeye gets a bundle of paperwork with excessively fussy questions.

Popeye looks over his shoulders, at the camera, while shrugging his shoulders.
“It’s a living.”

And I did want to mention the studio did a nice job on the background. This is not sarcasm. I appreciate how few lines and colors they used to suggest the department-store setting without interfering at all with registering the characters or action.

Brutus isn’t here. But there’s no need for any antagonist. The point isn’t overcoming anything; the point is the Sisyphean nature of the event. And there are two cycles, Olive Oyl’s attempt to get something to find it’s not right, and Popeye’s work returning it. Since our focus stays with Popeye that’s not as obvious as could be. The only way off is for one person or another to get tired of it, and Popeye does, eating his spinach and finally doing something that some other woman-and-man pairing couldn’t.

We leave back on the road again, with Olive Oyl confined to wearing blinders. That’s a joke used in the theatrical cartoons, although mostly for cartoons about Olive Oyl learning to drive. I think this is the first time it was used to keep her from spotting department stores.

What’s Going On In Prince Valiant? What’s the story with Morgan Le Fay? September – December 2021


I don’t know of a Prince Valiant wiki that explains their full backstory. But the current story does give some hints why Le Fay would have something personal against Valiant. She says Valiant once “stole my falcon, my favorite familiar, for Merlin to use against me”. I can understand how she’d hold that against him.

This should catch you up to mid-December 2021 in Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates’s Prince Valiant. If any news about the strip breaks, or if you’re reading this after about March 2022, a more useful essay might be here.

And if you’re interested in mathematics, you might like my writing about the Atlas. It’s a concept in geometry, but it’s not too far off what you’d think from being into maps. It’s neat when that happens.

Prince Valiant.

26 September – 19 December 2021.

Aleta and Morgan Le Fey were in a pitched battle last I checked in. Their weapon of choice? Prince Valiant. In a strange, hallucinatory landscape Le Fay transforms Valiant into a gigantic, ravenous monster. Aleta matches Le Fay’s magic, transforming her husband into a lion who slashes Le Fay. The sorceress loses the battle, and Valiant regains consciousness in the waterfront inn where he’d been drugged.

A feeble, fallen Morgan Le Fay is revealed as Val's demonic tormentor. 'But, why?' cries Val. 'Why would you forfeit your soul in bargains with demons?' 'Because that was the only turn left to me,' Morgan retorts bitterly. 'You fool - you came to our shores as a boy, figments of glory clouding your eyes, blinding to our true history. You never saw how my half-brother Arthur built this kingdom ... the treachery ... the deceit ... if I hadn't served and protected my Arthur, he would have never succeeded. Then he decided he had no use for me! Even Merlin turned his back! So eventually I left our fair isle to travel - among the Bonsams of Africa, and the Chornyl Veedmak on far Eastern steppes. I learned much of their dark arts, as my last chance to get my due. But the price for such practices is always high. And with my failure o drive you to madness, I know that my debt will be called. No wget out! I am no longer any danger to you - leave me to my fate!' Val needs no further prompting, and returns to his bed, exhausted and with a great dread heavy over his heart. What, he wonders is happening here? He knows Morgan to be a great deceiver, but he feels there is also truth to her agony.
Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates’s Prince Valiant for the 24th of October, 2021. When this first ran, I thought it represented the end of this encounter between Valiant and Le Fay. It seemed like a satisfactory enough moment of realizing that the villain has their story too. I’m happy to see more of that aspect. And it’s setting up some interesting directions.

Valiant finds Morgan Le Fay in the next room, looking beaten. In beating her in this dream landscape, possibly with his wife’s help, Valiant’s left Le Fay in supernatural peril. With King Arthur’s rise — supported by Prince Valiant — she turned to the dark arts “as my last chance to get my due”. But now she’s been thoroughly beaten, and now owes the dark forces more than she can repay.

He tries to continue riding back to Camelot, but comes across a ship being wrecked against the shoreline. The last person he can rescue is Morgan Le Fay, who credits the shipwreck to those dark forces. She can get home safely only travelling overland, and Valiant takes it on himself to protect her.

Val escorts Morgan on the road home. At sight of a circling gyrfalcon, the sorceress extends her arm ... but the bird ignores her. 'Now not eve my familiars will recognize me. Those that granted me power have taken it away,' she whispers, with a defeated look. 'You really have no defenses now?' asks Val. 'No more than the average woman,' Morgan responds. 'I could be the next witch burned alive, a pretty custom that Arthur has allowed. In the early days of my brother's conquests, I was his protection against sorcery, so he could focus on material warfare. Such was the role of a woman in those days. But then Arthur made alliances with the Church in the East and the Druids in the West, neither of whom can abide women of power. I, and all my sisters who practice the Craft, have been branded as evil ever since. Your Aleta has married well, and so far as seen exemption, but even that nicety may soon be at an end.' Morgan's words send a chill through Val, but a moment later a more pressing concern rises over a flanking hill - Mounted warriors!'
Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates’s Prince Valiant for the 19th of December, 2021. I was not expecting Prince Valiant to bring up how power will malign the tools that marginalized peoples use for security. Or, for that matter, to work so scrupulously to present the villain’s side. It does hint at setting up a story for Aleta, one of our heroes, but it is presented as Morgan Le Fey’s story.

On approaching a village where a witch was recently hanged, Le Fay notes how it could have been her. Or could have been Aleta, who’s been exempted from society’s persecution of witchcraft … so far.

Next Week!

So the Apparatus, the big ineradicable crime syndicate in Dick Tracy’s city, got its hands on the Time Drones. How’s that working out for them? I recap Joe Staton, Shelley Pleger, and Shane Fisher’s Dick Tracy next week, if things go as I plan.

Reposting The Stages Of The Road Trip: Stage Three


Not mentioned when I first posted this, but implicit, is that much of this is drawn from real life. Preventorium Road, for example, which exists in Howell, New Jersey. (It once had a hospital for children with tuberculosis, which makes the oddness of the name less merry.) Also the vegetarian burgers; there was this place we went a couple of times and every time they had one of the vegetarian burgers that my love and I wanted, so I’d settle for the portobello mushroom. Porbotello mushrooms are what restaurants offer when they feel like they have to offer a vegetarian option but don’t want anyone to actually order it.


It’s still a lot of fun reading the names of the streets off the overpasses. “Fangboner Road” alone threatens to keep the gang giggling for hours. “Preventorium Road” inspires everyone to toss out out their ideas of what this could even mean. This goes on for so long and for such a merry time that by the time anyone can think to look it up they can’t remember what exactly the road name was. They know it wasn’t Vomitorium Road, but that’s as far as the consensus will reach. Amanda’s claim of knowing a “Squankum” are shaken off. It feels like a bad laugh although they’re not sure exactly why.

The fourth great field of sheep is not so much fun as the first. Dan insists the problem is the sheep aren’t trying to be interesting. Sophia asserts that few things would be worse than sheep that compel your interest. The menace of the hypnosheep masters keeps the group’s spirits up for the next two fields of sheep before they sink beneath all possible commentary.

Is that a strip mall with two yoga centers? Josh says it’s three, but he’s definitely mis-reading tea room as a yoga center. Right? We mean it’s one of those tea rooms too fancy to be comfortable. Well, there’s definitely at least two. Maybe this is just the yoga center district of town?

Well, this is a restaurant. All right, it’s not a vegetarian-friendly restaurant. It seems determined to put meat into things that don’t even need it. There’s a high-pressure gun in the kitchen. It injects chicken and processed lobster food product into everything. “We just want some garlic toast,” beg Josh and Amanda. “We don’t need animals to have died for the cause!” The restaurant tries to cope with the concept of someone who wants the tomato soup that hasn’t had a fist-sized chunk of pig flesh ripped off and unked into it. But the effort fails. There’s a mishap in the kitchen, and it sprays chicken cutlets, which are dug out even of the glove box up to three months later. At least that’s how the story goes. Really it’s more that the waitstaff has to come back to apologize that they don’t have a second black-bean burger patty, would a portobello mushroom be all right? And it really wouldn’t, but Josh would take it to not cause trouble for people who have to deal with much worse customers. It’s all right, since it turns out they don’t have portobello either. He gets a plate of melted butter with a scoop of mashed potatoes. Later he tries to insist that mashed potatoes would be a good substitute for the burger patty, earning him so much grief.

That’s a weird bunch of sheep but nobody wants to reopen the subject.

All right but serious talk. Or anyway, comparing the bathroom stuff that different hotels give you. Everyone takes turns asserting they’ve seen the most preposterous blend of things. Sophia claims to have been at a long-term hotel once that had a single tube which claimed to be soap, skin lotion, shampoo, hair conditioner, toothpaste, mouthwash, energy drink, makeup remover, transparent nail polish, shoe polish, stain remover, windshield fluid, transmission fluid, and fish ick treatment. Two miles later she says she thinks she went on too long for the laugh she could possibly get. Dan says that a combination mouthwash and energy drink is a great idea and she should patent that. Amanda questions whether you could patent … what, coffee with way too much mint? This allows everyone to learn a little bit more about each other, as they say what kinds of things they can or can’t eat right after brushing their teeth. This causes everyone to realize their friends are daft. This is worse than when they learned what podcasts everyone else listened to.

All right but is that a two-story strip mall? Is it possible to be a strip mall if it has got a second story? Yeah, we know about that strip mall with the two-story Borders that used to be there, but that was just the one place. If the mall has a second floor with different shops upstairs isn’t that … well, we clearly don’t have the words for this concept. What is it and how many yoga centers can it have?

60s Popeye: Hair Cut-Ups, part of Seymour Kneitel-Mania here


Seymour Kneitel-Mania continues here at King Features Popeye review headquarters. 1960’s Hair Cut-Ups credits Max Fleischer’s son-in-law for story, direction, and production of this Paramount Cartoon Studios short. Let’s watch.

In form, this is another of the tell-Swee’Pea-a-story cartoons. It’s got a more interesting framing device, since it’s not Popeye reading from a book. The frame, of Swee’Pea being afraid of his first haircut, even has a thematic resonance with the story told. That story is some riff on the tale of Samson and Delilah, casting Popeye as Samson and Brutus as an unnamed bad guy who disguises himself as Delilah.

This kind of setup, Popeye recast as a figure of legend, they’ve done before. Greek Mirthology, from 1954, has Popeye cast himself as Hercules to talk his nephews into eating their spinach. The stories are different enough I can’t call this is a remake of that Isadore-Klein-written cartoon. It’s a variation, though, especially in how the Popeye-figure switches his source of might to spinach. 1948’s Popeye Meets Hercules has a similar “ancient origins” theme, but that Popeye is already hep to the spinach deal.

Popeye, as Samson, holds some of his long, dark, thick hair against his cheek and smiles, so very happy with the feeling and the texture.
Now, if I were an actual critic, I’d have some thoughts about the cartoon having “Brutus” assume a — the — female role in the story. What does it signify that after years trying to beat Samson, “Brutus” is able to win when he abandons the male role altogether? And that his win is immediately destroyed when he sheds the Delilah persona, taking on his male identity again? No, I don’t believe Seymour Kneitel was thinking of investigating gender roles in the Popeye universe this way. But why did Kneitel feel it right to have “Brutus” shed his face covering and Delilah voice before punching out Popeye? Anyway, since I’m not a critic, I won’t think about that instead and will instead giggle about “Popeye” here loving his hair.

As I’d expect from the Paramount studios the cartoon’s competent, even efficient. The modern-day cast is as tiny as it could have, giving Brutus a rare non-antagonistic role so his double can be the villain. Ancient times have an even smaller population, only Samson and his rival fighting over who’s strongest. This opens to a couple of feats-of-strength jokes of the kind the Popeye animators could likely do in their sleep.

There’s a neat little bit when ‘Delilah’ invites Samson into the barber shop. Smoke from Samnson’s pipe threads underneath Delilah’s face covering. It seems like a good visual joke showing Samson’s attraction to Delilah. ‘Delilah’ sneezes, though, revealing that Brutus face. It explains the plan ‘Brutus’ concocted without him having to say it to the viewer. Good bit of work and I imagine a fair number of kids giggling as they worked it out. One strength of a Kneitel production is getting simple things like that done well. When the same element can serve two roles without drawing attention it’s doing well.

Statistics Saturday: Some books you could totally get me for Christmas


  • Sand: The Unassuming Mineral That Created Glass, Recreation, Navigation, Computers, and Changed the World
  • A History of the World in Six Token Coins
  • Bricks: The Construction Element that Built Empires, United Cities, Overthrew Kings, and Changed the World
  • Standardization: The 1920s Fad that Gave Paper Its Size, Brick Its Interchangeability, Consumers Their Freedom, and Big Business Their Unbreakable Domination, and Changed the World
  • A History of the World in Five Doctors’ Notes
  • Carousel Horses: The Medieval War Trainer that Entertained the Million, Invented Fun, and Changed the World
  • A History of the World in Ten Roller Coasters (I’m really hoping to set this one up for a fight with the carousel horses book.)
  • The Chipmunks: The Novelty Music Act That Revitalized Music, Redefined Animation, and Changed the World
  • A History of the World in Twelve Christmas Carols
  • Sheldon Leonard: The Racetrack Tout who Invented a Generation of Sitcoms and Changed the World
  • Rubber Bands: The Elastic Trivialities That Organized Our Work, Powered Our Play, Neatened Our Homes, and Changed the World (Also a possible fight with the carousel and roller coaster books)
  • A History of the World in Eight World Histories

References: Tea: A History of the Drink that Changed the World, John C Griffiths and Tea: The Drink that Changed the World, Laura C Martin.

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 3 of 4)


I hope that you’re enjoying this circa-2003 Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction, riffing on Robert McElwaine’s update from the Galactic Federation of Light. You can read the whole of the MiSTing here. If you don’t like it, that’s all right, I’ll have something else running here in two weeks.

“If [someone] had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened” has always been one of my running jokes in MiSTings. It’s a mistaken reference to the Woody Woodpecker cartoons Bronco Busters. In the cartoon, about how Woody gets taken by a scammer time and time again, the narrator repeatedly says “if Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened”. But I started using it as a reference ages before YouTube was a thing and there was just no checking these things.

Gurmit Singh’s a Singaporean actor and comedian. There’s no good reason to reference him, just, tossing in some local-for-me-at-the-writing color is all. Blue Kryptonite was harmless to Superman but crippled Bizarro. (Usually; the stories, somehow, were not always perfectly consistent.)

Please do not cut yourself on the razor-sharp edge of my takedown of Star Trek: Enterprise.


> At times, these wars seemed endless.

CROW: It was like watching the History Channel.

> The
> devastation’s intensity was inconceivable. We were always astonished at
> the extent to which the star-nations of Anchara would go in order to
> ‘win’ these wars.

MIKE: Star-nations of Anchara? There’s galactic warfare about whether to accept Captain Archer and Team Bland on `Enterprise’?

> Their fierce stockpile of weapons and unspeakably
> brutal military forces sparked a reign of terror across this galaxy.

CROW: Yet still they can’t explain John Ashcroft.

>
> Eventually, our growing alliances led to the Galactic Federation
> of Light.

TOM: And that’ll have to be enough for you.

> The Galactic Federation was one of a number of organizations
> – neutral, dark or one with the Light – operating in this galaxy.

MIKE: And all striving to become the Master of Orion.

> At
> any rate, the wars produced a vast number of ‘wandering’ star-nations
> that moved about according to the circumstances caused by the wars.

CROW: If the Galactic Federation of Light had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened.

> From them, we learned a great deal about the hate and the needless
> actions and divisions caused by limited consciousness

MIKE: You know, like when you overdo the Robitussin.

> and its constant
> train of fear and wrongly-derived assumptions. We found this quite an
> eye-opener.

TOM: It was zesty, and it had a great minty taste!

> We also learned the extent of the Ancharites’ deception.

CROW: The Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Dionne Warwick — none of them ever really existed!

TOM: What?

> Although we were shocked, initially, at how dark this galaxy had
> become, we realized, deep in our Hearts, that this insanity would
> definitely end.

MIKE: Oh, yeah. Superadvanced cosmic being and I bet they just whip out the Ritalin.

> Until that divine moment, we had to do whatever we
> could to stalemate the continuous wars.

TOM: But the Galactic League of Nations proved to be a disappointment.

> Thus, we created technologies
> and strategies that would bring about the required results.

CROW: That seemed too hard, so we started playing Europa Universalis II for a couple millennia to kill time.

>
> Ultimately, just over two million years ago, these wars produced
> conditions that allowed us to colonize your solar system.

MIKE: And we’ve still got half our stuff in cardboard boxes.

> A new set of
> broad-based attacks by the Ancharites, nearly one million years ago,
> destroyed these first human colonies.

TOM: A million years these Federation of Light creeps float about the planet and none of them remembers to not leave sitting ducks all around.

> Later, a counter-attack by
> Galactic Federation forces culminated in the second Earth colony of
> Lemuria

CROW: So Joey the Lemur was a space alien?

TOM: Actually, yeah.

> and the destruction of the Ancharites’ main planetary world.

MIKE: The genocide was necessary, as otherwise some of the Ancharites might have lived.

> Its explosive end produced the asteroid belt that now revolves between
> Mars and Jupiter.

CROW: Explosive ending! No one will be admitted during the last five minutes of the Ancharites’ home world.

> Moreover, many of the smaller moons of Mars, Jupiter
> and the solar system’s other outer planets are the result of the
> carnage from these explosions.

TOM: A couple of them were just tchochkes we picked up at garage sales.

> Indeed, your solar system is a curious
> monument to the violence that was part of these wars.

CROW: Please observe silence while visiting the Solar System.

> It even extends
> to the outer layers of cosmic dust and larger particles that form the
> edge of your solar system.

MIKE: This is all related to Blue Kryptonite, isn’t it?

> Because these clouds were unduly charged,
> the outcome was a constant barrage of comets and asteroids.

TOM: But they do all look really festive come Christmas time.

>
> Even your Sun was not spared the degrees of violence of which the
> Ancharites were capable.

MIKE: And with our powers and a million years to try it was too much work to fix it up again.

> They attempted to permanently disrupt your
> Sun’s interaction with her planetary daughters,

TOM: By being vicious gossips.

> resulting in the highly
> elliptical orbits that still characterize the way your solar system’s
> planets circle your Sun.

MIKE: The tragic result of putting unbalanced loads in the washer.

> Initially, these orbits were almost circular.
> For that reason, a circle has a 360-degree arc.

CROW: Bake your circle at that 360 degree arc for fifteen to twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

> In your world, this
> commemorates the original solar year of 360 days, each lasting 24
> hours.

TOM: Is that mean solar or sidereal time?

> The first colonists of ancient Lemuria decided not to alter this
> situation,

CROW: This reminds me of a story that happened once in … Zobooland.

> and kept this anomaly as a sign to future generations of
> what had actually occurred in this once splendid and beautiful solar
> system.

MIKE: Nice of them to leave us such a hint.

> These wars also caused the conditions needed to plunge you into
> the morass that we know as limited consciousness.

CROW: So, the Federation of Light wants to bring Light to the universe and does it by leaving a broken-down solar system and dropping colonists on it who’ll be too stupid to do any Light-bringing?

TOM: It’s the Galactic Federation of Durrr.

>
> Clearly, the dispersion of humanity into your solar system – even
> your fall into limited consciousness – are by-products of these galaxy-
> wide wars.

TOM: As soon as you leave the solar system, though, you’ll figure out how to travel interstellar distances.

> Furthermore, the Galactic Federation’s acceptance of a
> nearly ‘hands-off’ policy was the result of circumstances brought about
> by these same wars.

MIKE: That hands-off policy that did so well to avoid the war in the first place.

> This policy allowed the Anunnaki to become your
> overlords, and their earthly minions to secretly control you for the
> past 13 millennia.

TOM: Oh, *good* one, Galactic Federation of Light.

> However, this situation was dramatically changed by
> your rise in consciousness and by the Anunnaki’s recent turn to the
> Light.

CROW: And, what the heck, nothing good on TV this week anyway.

> These events have made possible the Galactic Federation’s direct
> intervention in your affairs.

MIKE: The protection money we demand will be reasonable and collected infrequently.

> It has also given us an opportunity to
> assist those forces of Light that are laboring to transform your world.

TOM: Unfortunately, the only agents they have on the scene are Judge Reinhold and Gurmit Singh, so it’s taking a while.

> This has resulted in the agreements that are about to be revealed.

CROW: I’m betting they call for people to wear less black, though.

>
> Heaven and your collective self are co-creating your reality.

MIKE: You put it that way, I feel so *naked*.

> You
> are interconnected Beings who are sharing the same destiny. That
> destiny is to be returned to fully conscious Beings of Light.

CROW: Just two weekends a month, and two millennia a geologic age.

> The
> concluding phase, before this divine transition can be fully revealed
> to you, has taken much too long for our liking.

TOM: Frankly, you’re on the verge of failing this class!

> Finally, the last
> vestiges of the dark have begun to see that their continuing battle is
> truly in vain.

CROW: The movies of Jerry Bruckheimer will get more desperate.

> This acknowledgement has allowed a new energy of
> positive intention to envelop your beautiful, blue orb.

MIKE: Clean it every other weekend with a damp cloth, and keep it out of direct sunlight.

CROW: This is what the Mirror Universe had instead of “Highlander 2.”

> This energy has
> provided additional courage to those who are enforcing the agreements,

TOM: This is all going to end up at the World Trade Organization somehow.

> which guarantee that a new reality can be manifested, now, upon your
> world.

CROW: Watch your doorknobs for signs of opening blue eyes.

> We thank all who have helped and, especially, convey our deepest
> gratitude to all Light workers. Your victory is approaching!

TOM: No, really. Going to be here soon. Can’t see it taking more than another 375,000 years at the *latest*.


[ to conclude … ]

What’s Going On In The Phantom (weekdays)? Why should we read this imaginary story? September – December 2021


To paraphrase Alan Moore, you know they’re all imaginary, right?

Still, the past three months in Tony DePaul and Mike Manley’s The Phantom has been what would happen if The Phantom made a disastrous choice. (This is the weekday continuity. The Sunday stories have been less ominous material.) As discussed on X-Band: The Phantom Podcast, author Tony DePaul wanted to get his vision of the 21st Phantom’s death published. (That link is a 17-minute piece. It’s excised from this two-and-a-quarter-hour discussion with Tony DePaul, Mike Manley, and Jeff Weigel about the comic strip.)

The story also means to explore how this death would roil the world of The Phantom. Imaginary stories are great for exploring character. They’re also great for understanding how a setting works by showing it broken. I understand people who lose patience with a story that “doesn’t matter”. I was that way with every third episode of Star Trek: Voyager.

But this story has got “real” consequences. The Phantom changing his plans about rescuing Captain Savarna Devi from Gravelines prison, for one. However it is he does arrange the rescue. Or, it could be, fail; I’d hate for her to die, but it is a plausible happening.

So this should catch you up on weekday storyline for mid-December 2021. If you’re intersted in the separate Sunday continuity, or if you’re reading this after about March 2022, or news breaks about the strip, a more useful essay is likely here. And, if you would like to read me seriously explaining subtraction, you might try my mathematics blog. Thanks for being here.

The Phantom (weekdays).

20 September – 11 December 2021.

The Phantom had broken Captain Savarna Devi out of death row in Gravelines Prison. Not without cost, though. He was shot several times, messy wounds in his torso. Savarna pulls the dying Phantom to the first medical care available: a veterinarian she holds at gunpoint. After a long, long night Dr Fajah Kimathi gives her the good news. He’ll pull through, somehow. Might be his strength of ten tigers. The doctor’s husband gives her breakfast, and a shower, and words assuring that killing fascists is setting “right what’s gone wrong”.

Dr Fajah Kimathi (veterinarian), to her husband, with Savarna Devi overhearing: 'I don't know how he stayed alive through the surgery ... what a man!' We see The Phantom, his eyes covered by bandages (with his mask resting on his sleeping belly); the narrator reminds us 'Phantom has the strength of ten tigers -- Old Jungle Saying'.
Tony DePaul and Mike Manley’s The Phantom for the 9th of December, 2021. I realize his life invites this sort of thing, but The Phantom’s got to have a real disaster of a medical history. Like, how does he even explain if he might have traces of Guran’s incredible bullet-wound-healing powder in his blood stream? How might that interact with whatever the veterinarian is giving for the pain?

Or so it goes in the prophet Mozz’s tale. It doesn’t seem to have got to The Phantom’s death, though, or how that death ruins the Walkers. We get that tale in two parts. One is Mozz telling his story to The Phantom, out in the field, as seen in my last plot recap. The other is a chronicle that The Phantom talked Mozz into writing, after aborting the wrack-and-ruin at Gravelines.

In-between were several weeks of not-imaginary action. I’m not sure the purpose of all this. Warning readers that this is a forecast of a possible future, for one. The transition was made, yes, but even alert readers — me, for one, and one of the X-Band podcast hosts — missed it at the time. Reinforcing information like that’s important. The intermediate action included several points that might clarify Savarna’s fate too.

Phantom, at the campfire: 'Mozz, you're killing me ... so to speak ... now you're *changing* your prophecy? I *don't* die in Rhodia?' Mozz, holding up his illustration: 'I never said the grave that awaits you is in Rhodia, Phantom ... I said freeing Savarna *brings* you to this place [ the illustration of the unmarked grave ]. And destroys your son. And ends the journey of the Walker family in this land. And so it does!'
Tony DePaul and Mike Manley’s The Phantom for the 7th of October, 2021. The illustration is one Mozz did of a landscape The Phantom saw in a hallucinogen-induced nightmare. To speak of other weird things in his medical history. Phantom is never going to be eligible to donate blood in case he ever hasn’t recently lost a lot of blood.

The transition starts with Mozz metaphorically rapping The Phantom’s hands for making easy assumptions rather than listening to what he actually says. It does feel a little like a reminder to pay attention to what’s on-screen. Mozz complains that even after hearing the tale, The Phantom will ride heedless into Rhodia on this mission anyway. The Phantom talks him into writing his story out, instead, in his own chronicle. So from the 25th of October we start the 259th weekday-continuity story, The Chronicle of Old Man Mozz. But that is another part of the story To Wrack and Ruin at Gravelines.

Guran, stunned to see: 'MOZZ!? Writing in the CHRONICLES!? What madness is this!?' Mozz, with quill and book, writing: 'A MADNESS I've pledged to reveal to one man, Guran ... that man is not the chief of the Bandar!'
Tony DePaul and Mike Manley’s The Phantom for the 15th of November, 2021. Do you suppose Mozz is writing with an actual feather quill pen, or is it something that looks like it for the style? For that matter does The Phantom use an actual quill? I ask because that’s an easier way to write than dripping ink off the head of a pin, but that’s about all the good you can say about it. I get that his style (and traditions) are part of what makes the legend but he has got a lot to record and it’s not like anybody would see him using a ballpoint pen.

Mozz promises, if he could save The Phantom legacy by keeping him busy until Savarna were executed he would. I suppose The Phantom appreciates the honesty. Mozz appearing to write in The Phantom Chronicles proves quite attention-getting. This gets me wondering where The Phantom gets his blank Chronicles from. I can’t get the same kind of notepad from Staples two times in a row. So far 21 Walkers over the course of five centuries have managed consistent book designs. How many blank books has he got in store for this sort of need?

The Phantom needs to distract Diana and Guran from Mozz’s detailed description of his death and their family’s legacy’s ruin. His answer: pictures of their son! Kit Junior, the presumptive 22nd Phantom, as seen in pictures sent out of the Himalayas. Chief Constable Jampa is sending regular reports for pay. Kit’s been maturing in the monastery, where he’s presented himself as reincarnation of past Phantoms. And the 21st Phantom agrees, he’s sure Kit Junior will come home soon.

Phantom, thinking, while watching Diana and Mozz: 'Chief Constable Jampa's photos of Kit did Diana a world of good. I won't ruin it by telling her what's become of Savarna. And that one day soon ... I mean to ride for Gravelines Prison.'
Tony DePaul and Mike Manley’s The Phantom for the 27th of November, 2021. Be a heck of a thing if Mozz tipped off Diana and Helena Walker to Savarna being on death row and they’re breaking into Gravelines tonight, wouldn’t it?

It’s a most successful distraction from Mozz’s writing. Also from The Phantom’s intentions of riding into Gravelines. Also, it could be, setting up ways out of this fix. Savarna could be rescued by, or with, Kit Junior. Or with Kyabje Dorje, Kit Junior’s tutor, whom he’s pegged as one of them. And there are other Phantom-grade superheroes in the world and that we’ve seen in recent years. Captain Ernesto Salinas, most recently. The Locust, less recently. Jungle Patrol is there, although Savarna is in prison for killing high-ranking members of Rhodia’s navy. (Military organizations tend to punish killing flag officers even on the other side, because flag officers got to make that rule.) Even Mandrake the Magician, if need be. I have no reason to think The Phantom’s getting a team together. But it wouldn’t be absurd either.

Next Week!

Prince Valiant comes to the aid and support of … Morgan Le Fey? How did we get here? I’ll check in with Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates’s Prince Valiant next week, all going well.

Reposting The Stages Of The Road Trip: Stage Two


A couple years after my original posting of this? I still listen to all those podcasts. Well, except for the one that ended.


The gang is ready to set off. It’s going to be a long trip. Maybe the longest they’ve ever made. Maybe the longest there ever will be. Anyway it’s at least two hours longer than the last one the group’s managed. Dan is not saying that if he were in charge he would set up a definite rotation for driving. He’s just saying that a definite rotation for driving would be good. After the third iteration of this Sophia answers that if they rotate too much they’ll end up right back where they started. Amanda has the bad luck to mention 180 degrees in this. This brings lively but unproductive talk about the differences between 180 degree, 360 degree, and 720 degree turns. Dan attempts to propose a 270 degree turn just to lighten the subject.

Still, better if we set out sooner rather than later. No, sooner than that. Maybe a bit earlier than that. After three different chat rooms have settled on five different start times Dan proposes that everyone set out the night before and meet up at the park-and-ride twenty minutes out of everywhere. He’s being facetious, everyone tells themselves.

The compromise is to move the start time 90 minutes earlier. The morning of the start everyone is running about an hour late, so they agree to just start 30 minutes ahead of the original start time. Then somehow just getting everything in the trunk and one last trip to the bathroom takes 75 minutes. Josh insists that by starting 45 minutes late they’re running ahead of schedule. Dan is not convinced by this. It will be until the state welcome center before the topic has been debated enough that everyone lets it drop.

The seat belts are locking up. Just the ones in back. They do that. There’s a trick to it. You have to sit so you’re facing forward. No, not that forward. Dan, just … no, you need to … there, see? Now it’s pulling out. All right, now it’s locked up. Maybe you should get out and get back in the car the correct way this time. No, the other correct way. Look, both feet on the floor, that’s the first thing you need. Now face forward. Not that much forward. All right, why don’t you try the other side? That’s right. Now sit facing forward. Not that much forward. Don’t pull the seat belt out that fast. All right, let it out and back again. Not that slow. You want to go medium speed. More medium than that. Not that … look, this is before your turn but why don’t you try the front seat? Oh good grief. All right, let’s try where you started again. Right. You know most of us can use a seat belt. Yes, try facing forward. Not that forward.

Fine, we just won’t crash the car this time.

There is a great sense of thrill and delight at finally being off. And then stopping again because Sophia needs to stop at the convenience store ATM for some overpriced money. Dan does too. Also Josh. Amanda doesn’t need any but, you know, it wouldn’t hurt to get some Combos. This turns into getting sour cream doughnuts instead. And then there is great thrill at being off again.

There is also great thrill at seeing the trip’s first group of sheep. Who knew there were sheep and they were just standing there, tending sheep tasks, off on the side of the road, just like that was a normal thing? So, sheep. Yeah.

This is the time when everyone learns their friends have the worst taste in podcasts. Josh is partial to three guys laughing at each other, with occasional guest hosts. Dan prefers one guy trying to remember all the things he wrote down in the notes he doesn’t have. Sophia likes one person interviewing three people about something she never heard of before and will never hear about again. Amanda likes hyperbolic descriptions of movies and TV shows she never really watched, they were just on. Sometimes two or three can find a podcast that satisfies them, but there is no hope of all four enjoying what they’re listening to. The shows keep getting interrupted for explanations of the in-jokes that don’t need explanation.

It’s pointed out that if the trip doesn’t ultimately have a 360 degree turn then they can’t ever get home again.

60s Popeye: Rags to Riches to Rags, with Wimpy, who never wears rags


And now as promised we are into the big patch of Seymour Kneitel. He’s credited for the story, the direction, and the production of this 1960 Paramount Cartoon Studios short. Here’s Rags to Riches to Rags.

Wimpy is such a great character. If Elzie Segar had created him before Popeye, it surely would have been Wimpy that took over the strip, down to its name. Wimpy’s blend of sloth and gluttony and intelligence and venality and luck fits so well together. As it is Wimpy almost overthrew Popeye. The Lost Popeye Zine has been publishing late-30s and early-40s Thimble Theatre strips showing how much more action Wimpy drove in that era.

So this cartoon is Wimpy-focused. Popeye’s essential, sure, but we open with Wimpy inheriting a fortune. Also a butler, Jeevie, a joke I wouldn’t get when I was six, voiced by Jack Mercer finding the median of his Wimpy and Popeye voices. Also since Lord Percival Wimpy has only the one living heir we learn Wimpy’s the only survivor of his immediate family. I’m sure that’s the one piece of the Popeye continuity to never be challenged in any medium, ever.

If I expect anything from Paramount Cartoon Studios shorts it’s competence. The premise will be clear, it’ll develop reasonably, it’ll end at an appropriate spot. Also, I’ll wonder if this is adapted from a Thimble Theatre storyline. I don’t see that it is. I have suspicions, though. That Popeye’s scheduled fight is against “Kid Nitro”, not Brutus or a Brutus-model character, is suggestive. The scene of Kid Nitro training by punching out a train of identical boxers is the comics strip’s sort of thing. Jeevie also feels like the sort of supporting character brought in for a Thimble Theatre story.

Wimpy counts out Kid Nitro, who's been knocked through the floor of the boxing ring. As he counts, a bag of money with angel wings slowly floats away from him.
How do you get decent odds going up against Popeye? His fight record is something like 2,038-0, with 2,036 wins by knocking the opponent out of the arena and into the crescent moon, that flashes a giant ‘TILT’. Kid Nitro would have to be rated as, like, a thousand-to-one shot, surely, in which case Wimpy can’t put his whole fortune up. There isn’t the money to cover the bet.

And the central scheme of the cartoon feels very comic strip. Not that Wimpy would see a way to double his fortune gambling. But why bet against Popeye? Other than how the cartoon needs some conflict? (Maybe also a way to reset the status quo, but there’s many ways to do that.) Wimpy or Olive Oyl would bet against Popeye in this sort of scenario all the time in the comic strip. But this would get some motivation, like, they think Eugene the Jeep predicted Popeye to lose. Or the odds given for Kid Nitro are just so good it’s almost wrong not to rig the fight.

That logic gap aside, there’s a lot done nicely here. You get why Wimpy’s doing all this. Joining the fight as referee makes sense, and opens the prospect for good mischief. Likely that’s more fun than just seeing him enjoy his wealth. (Although there’s probably jokes about Wimpy living in a hamburger mansion they could have made.) Wimpy’s change of heart is inevitable, and maybe sketchy but reasonable. And it has a nice sequence of Wimpy imagining his fortunes floating away as he counts Popeye out.

The resolution, Wimpy cadging a burger at a diner (Roughhouse’s Cafe?), is emotionally satisfying. Popeye closes by singing how “Even down to the end // You’re still the best friend // Of Popeye the Sailor Man”. The sentiment is almost justified by the action. It’s one more thing to make me wonder if the story’s condensed from a better-motivated version.

The Holidays in Order of Their _Peanuts_ Special


  • Christmas
  • Halloween
  • Election Day (select jurisdictions)
  • Thanksgiving
  • Easter
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Arbor Day
  • D-Day (observance)
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Christmas
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Christmas
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Eve

Reference: Blondie: The Bumstead Family History, Dean Young, Melena Ryzik.

In which Comics Kingdom has a thrilling offer for me


Not to brag but I do have a paid subscription to Comics Kingdom. I got it for my birthday a couple years ago. And it’s up for renewal. We’re not anywhere near my birthday. I don’t know, we live in a complicated world.

Anyway, here’s their renewal offers. I am excited to have the chance to get a five-year renewal and in so doing save a total of … (calculates) … minus four cents.

Comics Kingdom renewal screen. My current subscription is $19.99 per year. They offer a $38.99 for two years renewal, or a $99.99 for five years.
Also totally see nothing leading in how they also sent me a survey asking, among other things, whether I’d be less likely to renew if they raised the price a “small” amount.

I also like that I can set this up for automatic renewal, you know, on my credit card that expires in 2027 like totally exists.

PS while they only guarantee this for the monthly subscription, you can choose which comics they send directly to your inbox with any subscription level. It’s only if you refuse to subscribe altogether that they send you whatever they like and you can’t stop them. Mallard Fillmore? Agatha Crumm? The Pogo revival from the 90s? That church-newsletter panel comic Charles Schulz did for a couple years? Diesel Sweeties? There’s no way of guessing what you’re getting, and no stopping them so choose your subscription level wisely. You might be in for Toots and Casper every single day.

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 2 of 4)


Thanks for being with me for the next part of this update from the Galactic Federation of Light. The whole Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic based on this rant should be here. Robert McElwaine was one of the great glorious cranks of the Usenet era, often posting things like this which weren’t necessarily bad but were difficult to take seriously.

“The Swan” was a short-lived reality-TV show about taking people who were Hollywood Ugly and dressing them up until they could attract A MAN. This sort of thing seemed important to denounce back then.

The Rydburg constant is from quantum mechanics. It’s part of describing how a hydrogen spectrum looks.

One of my all-time favorite riffs is Crow saying how “one of my most endearing features is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the physical universe”.


>”Robt McElwain” <rmcelwaine@visto.com
> wrote in message

news:87befcb5.0308151233.2e7aa480@posting.google.com…

CROW: It’s the 21st century and we’re *still* getting Robert McElwaine. Could we get some new cranks in here?

>
>
> Update from the REAL Galactic Federation

MIKE: The other Galactic Federation is just full of phonies.

> and The Spiritual Hierarchy
> August 5, 2003

TOM: They’re masters of space, time, and dimension, but their Usenet servers are kept up by turtles.

> Communicated thru Sheldan Nidle of The Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: So stop teasing him.

CROW: Shel-*dan*?


> http:
//www.paoweb.com/updates.htm
>
> Greetings, dear Hearts!

TOM: Howdy, lovey-kins.

> We return with more interesting topics to
> share with you.

MIKE: And we’ll give you six of them for four easy monthly payments of $24.99 each.

> One of the things that we find most interesting is how
> your concepts of cosmology have distorted the origins of this physical
> universe.

CROW: Why, thank you. I think one of my most endearing features is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the physical universe.

> Its genesis lies not in a ‘big bang’, but rather in a simple
> series of multiple creations.

TOM: This `Big Bang Burrito’ theory we expect will be slow to catch on.

> These creations produce many different
> dimensions and an abundance of realities. The crucial element is

MIKE: Erbium.

> divine
> consciousness. All of us dwell in a living, conscious universe.

TOM: Except for the audience of “The Swan.”

> That
> universe is composed of inter-dimensional Light and Time, which
> combine, in infinite ways, to form space.

CROW: Is this gonna be on the final?

> It, in turn, creates
> realities and shapes physicality’s countless dimensions. The physical
> universe is a magical place.

MIKE: So that’s why everyone’s after me Lucky Charms.

> The only limitations that exist in any
> reality are those that its inhabitants and its heavenly guardians,
> together, permit.

CROW: I already saw “Free To Be You And Me.” Can I go?

> Your laws of physics are a true misnomer.

TOM: They’re more nagging suggestions of physics instead.

> Your growth
> in awareness or new collective perceptions can instantly alter these
> so-called ‘laws’.

MIKE: One morning I took too much Sudafed and the Rydburg constant? Pfft. Out like a light.

> Now, this important process has begun.

TOM: No, no, no, don’t go rushing into anything right now.

> It promises to
> create an entirely new reality for you and indeed for the rest of
> physicality.

CROW: You know, I can’t get “2000 Flushes” to work right.
Should I be part of creating a new reality for everybody?

>
> Creation is a continuously unfolding phenomenon. The divine plan
> has dealt out to us all a multiplicity of sudden twists and turns.

TOM: You are in a maze of twisty divine plans, all alike.

> Now,
> as a direct result, countless sentient species live in the physical
> universe.

MIKE: The Asian short-clawed otter alone occupies four galaxies.

> Their many different languages, cultures and rituals create
> an immensely wide range of traditions and perceptions that center upon
> the origins of their realities.

TOM: Yet they cannot tell a cabbage from a lettuce.

> They have inspired us to closely study
> the residences of this nearly infinite universe. In our galaxy, it gave
> rise to the creation of

CROW: Kickapoo Joy Juice.

> numerous spiritual sciences, dedicated to
> developing a full understanding of this knowledge, and to discovering
> its precise part in the whole.

TOM: In order to make more efficient ABC Afterschool Specials.

> Eventually, this study laid the first
> foundations for a spiritual anthropology and, later, a spiritual
> sociology.

MIKE: And later still, spiritual philately.

TOM: Spiritual geology was a big hit.

CROW: People say spiritual ichtyology is an easy major, but there’s a lot to it you don’t see.

> These sciences gave us a wealth of information about our
> common origins,

CROW: For example, origins turn out to be common.

> which are far greater than the processes that brought
> about human evolution on the third planet of the Vega solar system more
> than six million years ago.

TOM: As of next Thursday.

> Actually, our beginnings filled a physical
> and spiritual niche foreseen by the divine plan.

MIKE: I mean, it’s like they had God or something setting things out.

> Prior to that event,
> we were all spiritual Beings hanging tenaciously to the vast Life-
> streams of Heaven.

TOM: Oh, here it comes.

CROW: Yup. This is the hard sell. How much, McElwaine?

>
> As humanity advanced through this galaxy,

TOM: We started shooting everything we didn’t understand.

> we encountered physical
> Beings quite unlike us in form, culture and language.

CROW: We would have given them the chance to surrender,
but we didn’t want to look weak.

> If we did not
> succeed in bridging these huge differences, war often resulted.

MIKE: And, really, we went out with the best of intentions.

> At
> first, those who aggressively followed the dark principles of their
> creator-Being, Anchara,

CROW: Leader of the Imperium Sweaters.

> distressed us greatly. Suddenly, we were
> involved in an enormous galactic war that had woven itself across the
> breadth of our galaxy for many tens of millions of years.

TOM: A most savage alien race, they were. When we shot them they fought back.

> This struggle
> created a need for many alliances to form with thousands of other like-
> minded star-nations.

MIKE: We had to shoot first. We had them surrounded.

> It also introduced us to the continuing strange
> and violent process that is destined to transform this galaxy from the
> darkness that has engulfed it.

TOM: They’re using the F-U-N-D cheat, aren’t they?


[ to continue … ]

What has placed an undue strain on my credulity today


Wait, you expect me to believe this whole factory — the entire thing, building, machinery, stock, even the staff — is made of cheesecake? No, my friend. I remember how I was fooled by tales of a factory made wholly of old spaghetti. I shall not buy into this.

I do however want cheesecake.

What’s Going On In Alley Oop? Why is the Earth ruined? September – December 2021


Earth is ruined because Western Civilization failed to develop economic or political systems that handle externalities. Those are the harms that get diffused too broadly, or too indirectly, to hold people responsible. That combined with counting the movement of money as summum bonum to do unsustainable harm. Also, in the current Alley Oop story something’s collapsed the environment 25 years sooner than it has in our timeline. But that story only started last week so it’s too soon to say who to blame. But it’s the wealthy.

So this should catch you up on Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop for early December 2021. If you’re reading after March 2022 I should have a more up-to-date essay here. I’ll also share any news about the strip there, in case I get any.

Over on my mathematics blog I wrote about “convex” recently. It’s a mathematics term that turns up all over the place. And that’s a part of my Little 2021 Mathematics A-to-Z, a glossary of terms with essays I keep trying to make short. Sometimes they even stay short.

Alley Oop.

5 September – 4 December 2021.

My last plot recap coincided with the end of the alien-on-the-Moon sequence. So the gang headed to Moo for some relaxation. This despite the warnings of “dangerous levels” of bizarre chaos from Doc Wonmug’s instruments.

Ooola: 'All right, Doc. What's the terrible news you have?' Wonmug: 'The time cubes. They're completely destroyed. Look!' He shows some smashed parts. Alley Oop: 'Yikes. How did that happen?' Wonmug: 'I dropped them and they were rushed by a passing dinosaur.' Alley Oop: 'Sounds like Stompy got them. He's such a rascal.' Ooola: 'Typical Stompy.'
Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop for the 20th of September, 2021. I mis-remembered Ooola as saying this was ‘Classic Stompy’. That seems like a funnier line to me, but I grant other people will disagree without being wrong.

It’s a good time to visit Moo. They’re holding the World’s Fair, with representations from half of the two countries in the world. It’s a bad time for Wonmug, who drops their time cubes in the mud, where a dinosaur stomps them. Alley Oop and Ooola are not that distressed to be stuck in their home time and homeland forever. Wonmug is barely able to handle the thought, though.

Alley’s able to help, though. Old Man Krank’s cave got hit by a weird glowing meteor recently. Old Man Krank is missing, but there’s a baby in his cave now. Examination reveals the meteor to be Time-onium, useful for reversing the effects of time. They could use this to fix the time cubes, if they don’t regress to even more childish infancy while doing so.

To complete the repairs they need some reversite, which reverses the effects of whatever you’re doing. Luckily, Moo gets a lot of weird meteorites and one fell right by where the waterfall goes uphill. But reversite is difficult to work with, for the same reasons it’s hard to talk like Bizarro if you try to think every sentence through.

Ooola: 'I can't believe we had to walk backwards all the way back here.' Wonmug: 'It was the only way. Reversite does the opposite of what you want.' Alley Oop: 'Oooh, then *don't* give me a million dollars, Reversite!' Wonmug: 'Alley, it doesn't work like that.' Alley Oop's at the cave window. Wonmug: 'Hey! Are you NOT trying to NOT throw the Reversite out the window?' Alley Oop: 'No. yes. I don't know!'
Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop for the 11th of October, 2021. So if you were on the wavelength for this nonsense, this part of the story was a bunch of silly fun. If it didn’t tickle your funny bone at all, I’m guessing it was excruciating, and just kept getting more so. Also a little thing mentioned here was Wonmug giving small chips of Reversite to everyone in Moo so they wouldn’t age. Which is nice except that nobody in the strip really ages anyway. It sounds like a setup for a later plot, except that Wonmug says he didn’t give Ooola and Alley chips so they would suffer the indignities of age with him. The somewhat nasty joke is a satisfying enough explanation for bringing the subject up at all, though, so maybe the immortality of Moovians won’t ever come up again.

So it’s a lot of amiable nonsense. But Wonmug’s able to build something to get him back to our present day. While he builds some new time cubes, Ooola talks Alley to going to the Raptor 500 race at the Moo World’s Fair. And that’s a new small story, starting from the 25th of October.


Alley’s wary of the dinosaur-riding event, as he’s heard bad things about how the dinosaurs get treated. But one dinosaur licks him, and he’s won over. Just in time, as one rider gets injured and they need a replacement. Why not someone who’s never raced before?

Alley takes an early lead, with everyone else turning while his dinosaur — Rawr — runs straight into the jungle. Rawr has a mission out in the middle of nowhere. Her eggs were stolen, and they’re in a nest atop this one tree. Alley’s glad to climb up there, despite an angry pterodactyl who doesn’t understand the justice of his cause. He grabs the eggs, falls out of the tree, and the dinosaur chicks hatch.

Rawr, dinosaur, licks Alley Oop appreciatively. Alley Oop: 'You're welcome. It was my pleasure to save your babies.' Rawr nuzzles him. Alley: 'Should we go back to the race? Everyone is probably worried about us?' Rawr looks up from her children and asks, 'Rararr?' Alley: 'Oookay. But only until I get tired.' They run back, Rawr and the baby dinosaurs riding on Alley Oop's back. Everyone seems happy with this.
Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop for the 19th of November, 2021. Now, if you didn’t find this scene, and story, happy, I’m sorry but you’re wrong.

Rawr, Alley, and the newborns run back to the Raptor 500 where, what do you know, but they win. (Alley tries to confess to cheating, although turns out the Raptor 500 rules encourage cheating. Also I don’t see what it is he did that’s actually cheating.) So that’s a happy ending on a lightweight, silly story. With the 25th of November starts the current story.


Wonmug brings Alley Oop and Ooola back to the present. And while they watch a time thing happens. There’s been a major disruption in the timeline that their time travels protected them from. But the atmosphere’s lost its oxygen. There’s a thousand humans still alive. The only clue is that something happened in the Rocky Mountains in the year 2000. That’s where they, and we, are this week.

Next Week!

Captain Savarna’s on death row, and Old Man Mozz forecasts doom if The Phantom rescues her. Tony DePaul and Mike Manley’s The Phantom (Weekdays) gets its recap next week, which will look a lot like that, but with more words. Some of the words will be different.

Reposting The Stages Of The Road Trip: Stage One


The series may be awkwardly titled. But I still like this bit from autumn 2019 about going on a road trip. Writing the first one, I realized I had something, when I got to about a thousand words and didn’t feel half started. Usually my best ideas peter out at about 500 words and I need to spend a couple days thinking to have a second idea to bring in. So please enjoy this glimpse of a time when getting a bunch of people together and driving somewhere wasn’t an irresponsible thing to do.


The gang agrees a road trip would be great. It’s been so long since the last one. There’s not going to be many more good chances this year. The weather’s getting to be more of itself. Work is getting busier. There’s the chance the state might discontinue roads for the rest of the year. No telling. If we don’t get to it soon we might never start at all.

Which car to use? There’s the obvious choice. That’s the one that would reach its scheduled service mileage about one-third of the way through the trip. That’s … something we could handle? … Right? … Daniel insists he can handle it. Nobody believes it. The cashier at Pita Pit asks Daniel if he’s all right, or if he’s lying about something powerfully important to him. The guy at the car wash just leans in and hugs him, saying, “I don’t know why but, man, something about you says you need this. Whatever it is, it’ll get better.” Amanda’s the first to admit this won’t work, though, even after finding car dealerships roughly along the planned path.

It’ll be Josh’s car instead. It’s less comfortable. But Josh insists he’s glad to host the trip. “It’ll be great! I can finally get updates to all my state maps!” Nobody’s sure whether this is serious. But in that little cubbyhole in his car doors are a lot of maps. So many maps. Gas station maps. Maps from Esso gas stations. A map of the Washington, D.C. area that still shows “Lee Family Estate” where Arlington National Cemetery should be. A map showing the Colonie of Nieuw-Nederland. It’s pristine. His car is three years old. There have always been things about Josh nobody understood. Now, knowing a little more, everyone knows him less.

Road snack purchases are a hot debate. There’s the faction that wants things bought ahead of time, so the gang can set off without false starts. There’s the faction that sees the false start as tradition. There’s the faction that insists there’s rest areas on the highway for a reason. Amanda tries to be the sensible one and insists road snacks aren’t necessary if everyone just eats good meals. There seem to be more factions than people going.

Fourteen hours of heated debate spread over three chat groups, none of which have all the participants in it, agrees at least to go to the same convenience store and stock up. This after ninety minutes of argument about the supermarket being cheaper. Or the neighborhood grocery store being better for the long term economic health of small business all right THANK YOU we get it. It’s twenty-five bucks’ worth of Fritos, economic justice doesn’t enter into it.

The cooler issue will not settle. There’s good economic reasons to get bottles of soda, even small bottles, and keep them in cooler. This crashes into the faction that fresh-poured fountain drinks taste better. A hard-shell cooler works better but bangs the knees of everyone in back. A soft-shell cooler fits between people but Sophia’s read things about breeding bacteria? Somehow? It’s all very tiring.

The day before the trip the low-tire-pressure light comes on. Josh has a pressure gauge for just this problem. It’s not the front driver’s side tire. It’s not the rear driver’s side tire. It’s not the front passenger’s side tire. It’s not the rear passenger’s side tire. Two hours of increasingly cross words follow in three of the now-five group chats. Fourteen separate web searches for symptoms follow. Eight of them end up on Yahoo Answers. Despair sets in. Sophia has the breakthrough insight: could it be the spare tire? Yes, it could, but it is not. Thirty minutes later the low-tire-pressure light stops lighting. Daniel offers it was his suggestion to put electrical tape over the dashboard that did it. The real explanation remains unknown. Perhaps the tires just wanted some attention.

“Fritos are not a matter of economic justice” becomes the newest in-joke for the group. Three and a half years later it switches to being Cheetos not being a matter of economic justice. No one is able to explain this phenomenon. It becomes a matter of great angry debate when anyone tries to insist that it was originally Fritos.

60s Popeye: Popeye’s Double Trouble, featuring 1 (one) Popeye


So, everyone here. Do you like Seymour Kneitel? Like, a lot of Seymour Kneitel? Because these Popeye cartoon reviews are heading into a thick patch of Seymour Kneitel-produced, Seymour Kneitel-directed cartoons. Today’s has a story by Joseph Gottlieb but don’t worry, after this, we get a bunch written by Seymour Kneitel too. This … is Popeye’s Double Trouble, from 1961.

The cartoons I watched growing up led me to believe I would encounter doubles of myself much more often than I actually have. It’s easy understanding why physical doubles turn up so much, though. They let you get into comedies of misunderstanding and you don’t even have to make a new character sheet. This cartoon’s one of the set where there’s a specific reason for a double. This time, the Sea Hag poses as Olive Oyl. She’s trying to get back a wish-granting good-luck coin that she accidentally gave Popeye.

Put like that, the gimmick of the cartoon sounds goofy or ridiculous. It doesn’t feel goofy, though. It’s set up matter-of-fact enough to seem reasonable. Sea Hag meant to jinx Popeye by giving him her bad-luck coin, that she carries around with her. She never wonders if keeping her bad-luck coin on her might relate to how Popeye foils all her schemes. Her vulture, in an inexplicable stroke of bad luck, pulls out the good-luck coin. She doesn’t realize until Popeye’s picked it up and wished for a chauffeur. Also the good-luck coin grants wishes. This seems like an arbitrary trait, or two magic-item ideas getting conflated. But the wish-granting turns out to serve the plot well. It gets Popeye out of the trouble of not being able to tell which is Olive Oyl and which is the disguised Sea Hag, since Mae Questel does both their voices.

The Sea Hag, disguised as Olive Oyl, holds Popeye upside-down, smashing his face into the floor.
Really feel Olive Oyl should see a warning sign that Popeye did not think this was out of character.

The story feels well-constructed. Not just in comparison to the loose motivations given the last couple Jack-Kinney-produced cartoons. And there are some touches I quite like. For one, I’m amused that Popeye accepts how the disguised Sea Hag smashes him into a wall or holds him upside-down to shake the coin off him. This doesn’t register as un-Olive-Oyl behavior. Also the waving her arm to shift into Olive Oyl’s appearance is a nice effect. I also appreciate that Olive Oyl gets to take the story lead. She sings the Vulture to sleep, unties herself, is sensible enough to wear a different hat so the audience can tell her from the Sea Hag. And she gets a rare chance to eat the spinach and so save the day. Good showing all around even if she wanders around like she’s dizzy and drunk after her spinach power-up. Well, they have to get a punch line to the dance contest from somewhere.

Wonder if the Sea Hag considered and rejected just asking Popeye for a coin for the phone or something. Yes, I know, if he turned the coin over then the short would be over too soon. Still, it would’ve been the first approach I’d try.

Statistics Saturday: Some Partly Unfoggy, Semi-Unclear, or Sort-of-precise Words


  • Inapproximativish
  • Unbecloudedish
  • Inbrumousesish
  • Ungauzyish
  • Uniexactish
  • Unloosish
  • Immistyish
  • Immurkyish
  • Ummushyesque
  • Inopaquish
  • Antiundeterminedly
  • Unvaguish

Reference: Semantic Antics: How and Why Words Change Meaning, Sol Steinmetz.

Statistics November: How November 2021 Treated My Humor Blog


It’s the time of month I like to look at what my readership around here has been like. There’s a lot of things I do for curious reasons. November saw my readership decline, part of what seems like a long trend. I mean, I understand people not wanting to stick around while I’m rerunning so much writing, but I’ve been rerunning less lately.

Still, the bad news first. There were 4,229 page views here in November, from 2,367 unique visitors. They seem like big enough numbers, if you consider having that many people over for lunch. But compared to the twelve-month running averages? The arithmetic mean going into November was 5,332.3 views per month, and the median 4,844. The arithmetic mean was 3,197.5 unique visitors per month, and the median was 2,879.5.

Bar chart of two and a half years' worth of monthly readership figures. After a spike in April the readership has fluttered, with slight declines, through to October.
For once I’m not sitting at my computer ready to get statistics at exactly 11:59 pm UTC and see what it gets me? No fair, no fair at all.

Now to the good news. THe things that measure involvement seem to be up. 174 things got likes here in November, well above the running mean of 142.1 and the median of 136.5. And there were 63 comments, comfortably above the mean of 54.2 and median of 48.

There were 499 posts that got looked at over the course of November. The five most popular from November turned out to be the seven most popular, owing to a three-way tie for fifth:

More popular than anything from November was one October post: What’s Going On In The Phantom (weekdays)? Are we about to see the death of the 21st Phantom? . I am happy to have the story strips doing things that they want looked up. I’m tempted to bump Mary Worth ahead in the rotation. I so want to explore what the heck Mary Worth thinks is so great about Wilbur Weston anyway. Nobody really knows. My best guess is he has photos of her showing affection toward Dr Jeff.

But if I stick to my schedule for the story comics? That’s to have these plots explained, these dates:

And I try to keep all my story comic plot recaps at this link.


There were 77 countries that sent me readers in November. That’s a bit more than October, so, apparently I’m mildly interesting to a broader section of humanity. There were 13 single-view countries this month, compared to 14 the month before, so that mildness is a bit intensified too. So here’s the roster:

Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in dark red and most of the New World, western Europe, South and Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand in a more uniform pink.
So on the one hand, no readers from China in November. On the other, some readers from Iraq and Saudi Arabia, so that means something, right?

Country Readers
United States 2,969
India 247
United Kingdom 142
Australia 111
Canada 103
Philippines 59
Brazil 52
Germany 51
Italy 37
Ireland 30
Finland 25
Ecuador 23
France 22
Spain 22
Singapore 21
Sweden 20
South Africa 17
Malaysia 15
Russia 14
Norway 13
Denmark 12
Romania 12
Indonesia 11
Nigeria 11
Mexico 10
Netherlands 10
Chile 9
Thailand 9
Greece 8
Venezuela 8
Japan 7
New Zealand 7
Poland 7
Portugal 7
Trinidad & Tobago 7
Belgium 5
European Union 5
Fiji 5
Saudi Arabia 5
Serbia 5
United Arab Emirates 5
Argentina 4
Macedonia 4
South Korea 4
Bangladesh 3
Georgia 3
Hungary 3
Israel 3
Montenegro 3
Slovakia 3
Bahrain 2
Bulgaria 2
Croatia 2
Iraq 2
Jamaica 2
Jordan 2
Kuwait 2
Latvia 2
Pakistan 2
Peru 2
Qatar 2
Sri Lanka 2
Turkey 2
Zimbabwe 2
American Samoa 1
Austria 1
Colombia 1
Dominican Republic 1
Egypt 1
Hong Kong SAR China 1
Lebanon 1
Malta 1
Panama 1
Papua New Guinea 1
Switzerland 1
Taiwan 1
Ukraine 1 (*)

Ukraine is the only single-view country two months running. Also I had a hundred more views from India in November than in October, for some reason.


WordPress’s calculation is that I published 22,935 words in November, bringing my total for the year to 250,507. This was an average 764.5 words per posting in November, and 750 words per post all year. All those MiSTings, that’s what it must be.

Between the first Christmas episode of game show Press Your Luck I’ve posed 3,225 things to this blog. They’ve gathered 263,690 views from 150,999 unique visitors. WordPress thinks I have 1,383 followers, which implies I ought to have had at minimum 41,490 views this past month. Just observing.

If you’d like to read these posts regularly you can add my RSS feed to your reader. If you need an RSS reader can get one at This Old Reader or at NewsBlur. Or you can sign up for a free account at Dreamwidth or Livejournal and use their friends pages. Use https://www.dreamwidth.org/feeds/ or https://www.livejournal.com/syn to add RSS feeds, not just mine, there.

Or you can add this to your WordPress reading page, by clicking the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” sticker on the upper right corner of the page. You can also have the posts sent by e-mail to you as they’re published. I understand my dad likes that options.

And thank you for whatever kind of interaction we have here.

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 1 of 4)


I’d wanted to move into sharing a fresh Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. I discovered that a folder I thought had a bunch of long-forgotten MiSTings did not have anything of note in it. So, to give me a month to work this all out, please enjoy this mildly forgotten MiSTing. I shared this update from the Galactic Federation of Light back in 2017, but that was like twenty years ago.

The reference here to “Commodore Schmidlapp” is to Doctor Mike Neylon, who had hosted Web Site Number Nine, the center of the MiSTing community in the 90s. About a year before this MiSTing was posted, he took the site down “for a weekend” for some upgrades or whatnot and he hadn’t been seen since. Observer’s reference to a “force-ten brain-imploder” I’m pretty sure was to whatever MiSTing I was working on next. I don’t have records good enough to say what I thought it was. Possibly a Stephen Ratliff piece. I contributed riffs to many of those and there’s at least one that, so far as I know, never got organized and finished into a complete piece. That might be worth sharing if I could be confident that Mr Ratliff, who was always very kind about people filling his stuff with jokes, would not object.


[ OPENING CREDITS ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE BRIDGE. TOM SERVO is behind the desk. MIKE is sitting up front, near the camera, facing TOM. ]

TOM: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Satellite of Love. I’m Tom Servo, your host. Today we’ve got wonderful news for all of our loving and devoted fans. Starting Tuesday you’ll be able to find our new Special Collectible Crow T. Robot Gold Edition.

[ CROW, looking as he always does, enters from the left. ]

CROW: Hi, everyone. The gold edition me comes complete with netting, fresh-polished nose module, top-of-the-line sarcasm resequencer and an array of opinions on Peter Potamus. But there’s more —

MIKE: [ Raising his hand ] Does that come with director’s commentary?

TOM: Uhm —

CROW: Sure! Lots of commentary.

TOM: Won’t be able to shut him up!

[ GYPSY enters from the right. ]

GYPSY: And with the Ruby Edition collectible Tom Servo —

MIKE: Hold it; does the Crow come with trailers?

CROW: I — uh —

GYPSY: A trailer hitch.

MIKE: Is he in 5.1?

TOM: He’s … in … 8.3. I think.

MIKE: Anamorphic?

CROW: I’ve heard of that.

TOM: Is it good?

GYPSY: I think so.

CROW: Yes! Any further questions?

[ MADS SIGN flashes. MIKE walks back to the table to get it. ]

MIKE: Hang on, the deleted scenes are calling.

[ MIKE taps the sign. ]

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL and BOBO are at a desk working on a great many forms; BOBO is dressed as accountant. OBSERVER watches the camera, curious. Calculators, notepads, and slide rules complete the table clutter. ]

OBSERVER: Does Crow come with animated chapter breaks?

BOBO: Deducting form 8-E, line 17 …

PEARL: Hello, Mike. Peculiar doll-thingies.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ]

CROW: Hey, we’re action figures!

GYPSY: Yeah!

TOM: I’m comfortable being a doll.

MIKE: Ah, what’re you doing, Pearl?

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is muttering to PEARL. A bell rings from off-camera. ]

PEARL: [ To BOBO ] Oh, what, *again*? We’ve had him in the dungeon a *year* now and we’re not getting through.

BOBO: For the capital invested in keeping Doctor Mike — you can’t argue the return-on-evil. Look at the figures.

PEARL: Brain Guy, can’t you do this?

OBSERVER: Oh, Pearl, you know Bobo does forms better than I.

PEARL: [ To MIKE ] What are we doing? Oh, wouldn’t YOU like to know?

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW, TOM, MIKE, and GYPSY are there. ]

MIKE: Well … yeah.

GYPSY: [ To TOM ] I just never saw you as a doll before.

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is fiddling with a slide rule. ]

OBSERVER: Sorry up there, Mike; we’ve got some reports to fill in.

PEARL: Something *you* will understand perfectly after you get through this week’s experiment — if you DARE!

[ PEARL begins to cackle; OBSERVER pats her shoulder. ]

OBSERVER: [ Low-key ] It’s not all that evil.

PEARL: [ Similarly ] No? I thought we were picking these —

OBSERVER: You have to give them a change-up, something odd and then you let go with the force-ten brain-imploder. It works better.

PEARL: You’re the brain guy, but I want them to suffer more —

[ The bell rings again. ]

PEARL: Oh, somebody get Commodore Schmidlapp his tea already.

[ BOBO hits his palm against the slide rule, launching it to stage right. There follow several crashing glass noises, and then the hissing and bubbling of horrid liquids seeping places. BOBO whimpers. ]

PEARL: Brainy?

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As before. ]

GYPSY: They’re getting stranger.

CROW: I just never saw you as a doll.

TOM: You should try accepting an expanded self-image.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General alarm. ]

MIKE: Oh, great, save it — guys, we got movie sign!

[ Screaming and such continues. ]

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ ALL enter theater. ]

MIKE: Wait, she’s torturing other Mikes?


>Path:
rpi!uwm.edu!newsfeed.cs.utexas.edu!in.100proofnews.com!in.100

>proofnews.com!news-out.visi.com!petbe.visi.com!feed.news.qwest.net!

>news.uswest.net.POSTED!not-for-mail

>Reply-To:
“Baron Maximillian von Schwartzmeinoppenhause”

CROW: Zany? You’re soaking in it!

><schwartz@baronville.com
>


>From:
“Baron Maximillian von Schwartzmeinoppenhause”

><schwartz@baronville.com
>

TOM: That’s for everyone who missed the zany before.


>Newsgroups:
24hoursupport.helpdesk,alt.alien.research,alt.alien.visitors,

>alt.revisionism,sci.astro,soc.history.what-if

MIKE: The gang.


>References:
<20030814025106.21510.00001411@mb-m07.aol.com
>

><87befcb5.0308151233.2e7aa480@posting.google.com
>

>Subject:
Re: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update: August 5, 2003

CROW: Attention Mister and Missus Galaxy and all the ships at sea! Flash!


>Lines:
159

>X-Priority:
3

TOM: Better tell Wolverine and Professor Xaiver.


>X-MSMail-Priority:
Normal

>X-Newsreader:
Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1158

>X-MimeOLE:
Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2800.1165

MIKE: [ Clapping his hands ] Ole’!


>Message-ID:
<hqX5b.733$Qa.55492@news.uswest.net
>

>Date:
Fri, 5 Sep 2003 02:02:48 -0600

TOM: We get the August update in September?

CROW: They’re pretty laid back in this part of the federation.


>NNTP-Posting-Host:
67.1.139.151

>X-Trace:
news.uswest.net 1062748941 67.1.139.151 (Fri, 05 Sep 2003

>03:
02:21 CDT)

>NNTP-Posting-Date:
Fri, 05 Sep 2003 03:02:21 CDT

MIKE: There, see? Told you it was Central Daylight Time.


>Xref:
rpi alt.alien.visitors:516492 alt.revisionism:1566553

>sci.astro:
445867 soc.history.what-if:738420

TOM: Inside The GPS Signal.


To continue …

A particularly cryptic message from the Dream World


I don’t know why it was important that my night be spent being shown untrue trivia about Fran Drescher’s beloved 90s sitcom The Nanny, but there we are. I would like to bring you some of this trivia, but all I remember is “The premise developed very slowly: she [ I assume Fran Drescher ] didn’t even become The Nanny until Season 14”.

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