MiSTed: What To Invent (part 1 of 3)


For my next Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction let me share another decade-old piece. It’s another Modern Mechanix blog entry. I think this was a vintage article, but it might have been an advertisement. Raymond Yates wrote a book of a couple thousand needed inventions, which I found and read and was delighted by. I don’t know whether Yates condensed his book into this essay or whether this essay inspired the book.

This was a fun piece to write. Yates was right in this, and in his book, about things that would be good things to have invented. Yet something in all this inspired a lot of deep silliness on my part and I’ve come to think my MiSTings go better when I’m being silly.

I regret that I didn’t write host sketches for it. The piece seemed too slight to support that much overhead. If anything would justify an Invention Exchange festival, though … Well, many riffs name silly inventions and you can imagine the Brains showing those off, if you want to imagine the same jokes done with more words and staging.

The riff about why is there France and why is there Spain references the Sparks song “Those Mysteries”. I recommend a listen.


[ Into the Theater. ALL file in. ]

> http://blog.modernmechanix.com/what-to-invent-4/

TOM: What to invent for? Why not just the giddy fun of it?

>
> WHAT TO INVENT

CROW: I dunno, *stuff*? Don’t pick on me, man.

>
> The author will be glad to answer questions

TOM: Why is there France?

MIKE: And why is there Spain?

CROW: And why am I here and why is there rain?

> relating to these and to other types of inventions.

ALL: Oh.

> However, no letter will be answered unless a properly
> stamped and self-addressed envelope is enclosed. Do not
> send any models.

MIKE: You have been warned!

>
> By Raymond Francis Yates

TOM: Esq, J.D., LL.D., M.Sc, M.Eng, ASC, LLC.

>
> HOW is your ingenuity today?

CROW: And if not, WHY not?

> It is to be hoped
> that it is alert and productive,

MIKE: If it knows what’s good for it.

> because this month we
> present a number of rather engaging problems.

TOM: Like, when you lose sleep, where does it go?

> They are
> the everyday sort that one meets from time to time; but

CROW: A simple kind of problem, something found around the house every day.

> the right solutions to them would prove to be money
> makers.

TOM: First problem, a useful counterfeiting engine.

> After all, a new mouse trap clever enough to win
> the approval of five million customers

CROW: Sounds kinda needy, actually.

TOM: Low self-esteem.

> would make as much
> for its inventor as would a new Diesel engine or a new
> television receiver.

MIKE: Among mice looking to buy Diesel engines, traps, or television receivers.

> Complication never was a criterion
> for the production of wealth in inventing — and never
> will be.

TOM: But if your invention isn’t complicated everybody’s going to point at you and laugh.

>
> The successful inventor is often a mere
> opportunist. He has to be.

MIKE: He lives in the wild, untamed world of patent attorneys.

> He watches the public, tries
> to find out in what it is interested and what it is doing
> at the moment.

TOM: Man, inventors are *creeps*.

> At the present time the public has “gone
> hobby.”

CROW: Yeah, everybody with their … uh … the heck?

> There never was a time when hobbies of various
> kinds were more popular than they are today.

MIKE: Well, except that one week back in April, but that was a crazy time.

> Among the
> current hobbies that are enjoying a new and robust
> stimulation, photography stands out prominently.

TOM: I’m not sure I’m allowed more stimulated photographs after Mike caught me.

> What
> can the inventor do for these people who have turned to
> the camera for relaxation?

CROW: Point out they have cell phones?

> Many things; but chief among
> them is a recording camera for the more careful and
> exacting men and women who have embraced this most
> absorbing work.

MIKE: For all those people whose cameras run out of cord.

>
> CAN YOU INVENT THESE THINGS?

TOM: IF NOT, DON’T WORRY, THERE’S SOME OTHER THINGS TO INVENT TOO!

>
> Millions Being Made with New Inventions; America
> Needs New Gadgets.

MIKE: Also doohickeys, gewgaws, thingamajigs, and extruded lumps of drop-forged metal.

TOM: Can you give me something in a piece of bent wood?

>
> The careful worker likes to keep a record of his
> exposures in his effort to master the art

CROW: Well, isn’t that what the Police Blotter’s for?

> and would buy
> any good camera that automatically recorded the time of
> exposure, the time of the day

TOM: The time of the moon.

CROW: The time our lives.

MIKE: The time of the apes.

CROW: The time of tea.

TOM: Huh?

CROW: I dunno, it was a Google autocomplete.

MIKE: I don’t believe you.

> and the stop that was used
> when each picture was taken. All of this could be done
> on the edge of the film and it would make a most useful
> reference.

TOM: Ah, I’d just throw that information in the junk drawer and never look at it again anyway.

> Naturally, such a mechanism could be applied
> only to the more expensive cameras.

CROW: Lest any ideas of good photography get in the heads of the poor.

>
> No other field of human activity is as broad as
> the field of invention, hence it becomes possible to
> speak of the need of recording cameras and shoe polish in
> the same breath.

TOM: And cabbages and kings.

> But what is wrong with shoe polish?

MIKE: Well, that we all wear sneakers anymore?

> The first objection to ordinary polish is that it does
> not stay put;

TOM: It … sneaks up and attacks you at the wrists?

> it is far too perishable once it has been
> placed on shoes.

CROW: It screams in agony every moment of its living death!

> A walk through dew-covered grass will
> ruin the best shine.

TOM: Spoiling the accounting department’s whole morning frolic.

>
> No doubt there is a chemical, or a substance,

MIKE: Maybe a tonic or an ointment?

CROW: Perhaps something in an unguent or an excretion?

> which someday will be added to shoe polish to make it
> really waterproof. The man who discovers this
> combination will become wealthy within a year’s time.

TOM: I’ve got it! Itty-bitty toe umbrellas!


[ to continue … ]

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

2 thoughts on “MiSTed: What To Invent (part 1 of 3)”

  1. LL: Oh.

    However, no letter will be answered unless a properly
    stamped and self-addressed envelope is enclosed. Do not
    send any models.

    TOM: Mike, how much does it cost to ship Christy Brinkley to New Jersey?
    MIKE: Well, it cost Garfield $20 to ship Nermal to Abu Dabi in 1978…
    TOM:(Sarcasticly) Thanks, Mike,you’re a big help.

    Like

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