## Statistics Saturday: Stanley Kubrick Movies, By Century

Note: Barry Lyndon is not listed as a 17th century movie; it is set in the 18th century.

Reference: The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park, Sinclair McKay.

## In Which I Do Not Envy The Neighbors

I do not envy the neighbors today, because I see that the kiddie-size car was flipped over on its back. I don’t know how it happened, but I know how stressful and exhausting it is to deal with the Kiddie Car Insurance Agency. I hope they can get through the trouble all right. I feel like I should offer them a hug or bake them a cake or something.

## MiSTed: Safety First (part 16 of 16)

And now, finally, the finish of Mystery Science Theater 3000 inspired by Johnny Pez’s “Safety First”. The whole of the MiSTing is at this link. The previous installment put for the thesis that humans, including our brains, are three-dimensional and therefore we have a 13-symmetry eigenvector of psychology. This will lead us to why there’s a God.

A small content warning. The source being riffed here speaks about “mental retardation” and about IQs as though they were worth anything. It’s about trying to understand the existence of different mental abilities in people, but, if you don’t need that nonsense in your recreational reading you’re right and should maybe skip this. Or jump to the closing sketch, which isn’t based on any of this Scientific Proof Of God stuff.

In the closing sketch here I was finally able to use many of the jokes that my friend Rob S Rice donated when I was stuck for a host sketch.

As for references that need explaining. Mm. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds is the title of a play and a movie that I remembered hearing of in the 80s (the movie was from 1972). I never saw it. Tom’s riff about “oh-four-w-w-NUG” is a Henry Blake line from an early season of M*A*S*H. “Gun repair, bookkeeping, and accounting” was the closing refrain of a longrunning series of commercials offering you courses you could take at home. “Seven sixes in a circle” is lifted from Bloom County. The line about who would believe Asimov as French alludes to his use of the name “Paul French” as pseudonym for a couple juvenile novels. “Love of Chair” is a reference to The Electric Company, and I think marks the start of my putting complete nonsense in my closing credits here.

The closing sketch has a line about mathematicians at an airport. There exists a joke that mathematicians tell about putting Polish mathematicians on one side of an airplane. It’s a pun about these things called ‘poles’ and what their placement on the abstract sort of plane implies for a dynamical system. I make no use of this pun and I can’t think why not, as it would have made sense to as many as two people in my audience, with me as one of them. Well, something for the remastered edition, I guess.

> on
> "Intelligence" with the past 65 years on "Personality",

TOM: And the leftover ten years of daytime talk shows.

> thus explaining
> the ENTIRE 100 YEAR HISTORY of Psychometry.

CROW: Except, strangely, for 1987.

>
> BUT… this isn’t why Hammond fainted..!

JOEL: It was because he had low blood sugar.

> At the moment that he
> realized that the Structural Model was 4-DIMENSIONAL (not 3-dimensional),

TOM: And that meant suddenly he had plenty of room to put all his stuff!

> and that it was caused by the entire 4D space-time metric….

CROW: Wait, I thought we weren’t converting to metric anymore.

> he also
> IMMEDIATELY REALIZED that therefore, the oblique 4×4 Metric of E,N,P,g

JOEL: And a touch of R for good luck.

> represented the CURVATURE OF PSYCHOMETRIC SPACE,

TOM: And its effect on man-in-the-moon marigolds.

> and that therefore
> there was a SINGLE HIGHER ORDER FACTOR caused by this curvature,

CROW: The pursuit of girls!

> and
> which had to be caused by the "brain growth deficit" discussed above

JOEL: Everything else had a good alibi.

> (since IQ loaded on it from Mental retardation IQ measurements) and
> THEREFORE, this factor had to be the GOD that was suspected all along

TOM: It does?

> from the brain growth studies above (Section A. above)…

CROW: Wait, they were all Section A.

> therefore
>
> HAMMOND HAD DISCOVERED THE WORLD’S FIRST SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF GOD

TOM: It’s just a shame he’s keeping it to himself.

>
> Not only that, since the psychometry metric

JOEL: And its measurement in the psychometric metric metric…

> is CAUSED by the Space-time
> Metric…

CROW: So gravity causes personality?

> i.e. X,Y,Z,t causes E,N,P,g (g=IQ),

TOM: Oh-four-w-w-NUG.

> and it is known that the
> curvature of space-time is Gravity,

JOEL: And gravity is what makes the world go around.

CROW: Gravity and angular momentum.

> is seen therefore, that Gravity is
> the cause of God.

TOM: So at mass we should be praying to gravity?

>
> Needless to say, Hammond immediately checked out all of the details

CROW: If it’s needless, why is he saying it?

> from anatomy, Biology, Neurology,

TOM: Ichthyology,

> Psychometry, Factor Analysis,

JOEL: Etymology,

> Relativity, Gravity,

TOM: Philology,

> Theology, Psychology,

CROW: Bicycleology,

> History, Zoology,

JOEL: Vexillology,

> Embryology, Philosophy etc.

TOM: Gun repair, bookkeeping, and accounting.

> etc. etc. To make a long story short,
> 20 years of grueling 16 hour a day

CROW: But … it hasn’t been five years yet.

> labor searching for the Structural
> Model finally found it…

JOEL: It’s always in the last place you look.

> and in what must be characterized as one of
> the most amazing accidents of modern science….

TOM: Seven sixes in a circle look like a dandelion!

> turned out to yield
> the world’s first and only,

JOEL: The one and only! The man, the myth, the …

> SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF GOD.

ALL: Ta-da-daaaaa!

[ JOEL picks up TOM, starts to leave. ]

>
>

CROW: [ As he leaves ] Boy, that’d be neat to hear about.

[ 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6.. ]

[ SOL DESK. JOEL rolls up into view behind the desk; CROW, TOM, and GYPSY are next to him. ]

JOEL: Whew. So, any thoughts about what we’ve learned today, guys?

CROW: I realized there’s a major historian named Gibbon, and a major kind of ape named Gibbon. I think that’s important.

GYPSY: You suppose the historian ever sat down in a chair, reclined, and fell?

TOM: *I* realized there’s a Cato the Censor, a Cato the Younger, and a Cato the Green Hornet’s sidekick.

CROW: I ended up wondering if joining Hari Seldon was better than joining the Hare Krishnas. I don’t think mathematicians go around bugging people at airports, but that might depend on what airline they’re flying.

GYPSY: Do you suppose Seldon harried people often?

TOM: The U. S. Robots people had to cancel the DRR project, because nobody could say R.D.R.R. without giggling.

CROW: Now, I heard that when Asimov wrote a lot of those robot short stories he was working out a philosophy of a C/Fe culture, the carbon-based humans taken on as partners to the iron-based robots.

TOM: Which made *me* think if Asimov were French —

GYPSY: And who would believe Asimov as French?

TOM: They’d be working towards a Fi-Fi culture, where people just don’t make fun of their miniature poodles.

CROW: That sort of thing takes a lot of gaul.

TOM: Which, come to think of it, Ceasar had, didn’t he? I bet he enjoyed his salad days.

GYPSY: Never got over the Germans getting over the Rhine, though.

TOM: A lot of people have that problem, though. Say, you know, a Crowe turned Gladiator not too long ago.

CROW: That’s right. Found the emperor not too Commodious, either.

TOM: Went after him with a gladiolus, which in Latin means either a ‘little sword’ or a flower.

GYPSY: And you’re in a lot of trouble if you get the two mixed up.

TOM: I bet there’s people who mix up the Carthage Rome destroyed with the Carthage in Mississippi.

CROW: It’s a natural mistake, if you’ve ever been there.

TOM: What about you, Joel? What have you learned?

JOEL: That I should stop asking you such open-ended questions. [ Looking up ] What do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. TV’S FRANK stands in front of a brick wall built of those architect’s toys, holding a microphone, with a spotlight on him; DR. FORRESTER sits at the card table with a glass and an (open) soda bottle. ]

FRANK: You know, a lot of people thought Asimov was a God — he was one of them! [ Rim shot. ] It all spiked in Eisenhower’s reelection campaign, when everybody liked Ike. [ Again. ]

DR. F: [ Turning around, to face camera, as TV’s FRANK continues. ]Ahem. All right, Joel. You guys got off a little easy this week.

FRANK: [ Background ] Not everybody liked Ike. Couple editors, they spiked Ike, which he didn’t like. You know, he hung around a group called the Black Widowers, and that was even before the web. It never got too sticky, though. Only rarely turned venomous.

DR. F: And, mark my words, when we find the movie, or whatever, that finally does drive you mad, it will *so* let me take over the world. So *there*. No matter what you think.

[ DR. FORRESTER drops a couple Ever-vescent tabs into his drink, and then pours fresh soda into it. The result is a big explosion of foam and fizz like a small volcano; DR. FORRESTER jumps back. TV’s FRANK continues as if nothing were wrong. The excessive foaming continues. ]

DR. F: Frank! Do something!

FRANK: Do I get a medal?

DR. F: No, Frank.

FRANK: Muttley always got one … [ noticeing DR. FORRESTER’s angered look ] … I’ll just get the button.

DR. F: [ As TV’s FRANK moves off screen. ] Yeah, why don’t you? And the mop, too.

FRANK: [ From off stage ] And be sure to tip your waitresses.


\   |   /
\  |  /
\ | /
\|/
----o----
/|\
/ | \
/  |  \
/   |   \


[ SOUND of foaming continues through to teaser. ]

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its characters and situations are the creation of Best Brains, Inc. "Safety First" is the creation of Johnny Pez, and is used with permission. The Three Laws of Robotics, Powell, Donovan, and their situations are the property of the estate of Dr. Isaac Asimov. The rants and spam "I Want To Sue The Murderous Pope" by jmck…@bonzai.net, "An Open Letter to President Clinton" by Ken H. Seto, "Past GALACTIC WARFARE in OUR Solar System" by Robert McElwaine, and the "SPOG FAQ" by HAMMOND are the creations of their respective authors. This is not an attempt to claim copyright or any other right over the used material. The MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus. "Foundation And Its Friends" and the final sketch could not have been completed without the timely and timeless assistance of Rob S. Rice, who wrote all the funny puns; any mishandled or unfunny ones are the fault of Joseph Nebus. Tune in tomorrow for "Love of Chair."

> "Arthur," said Donovan, "just what would it take to convince
> you that the station was safe?"

[ The End … ??? ]

## In Which I Assume There Is a _Columbo_ Prequel Somebody’s Working On

I don’t envy the people working on the Columbo prequel, other than that I assume they’re getting money for work. But they have to be glad of one thing. Any time someone complains about how we don’t need to know Columbo’s origin story, we know how he turns out, they can just glare intently back and point to the name of the intellectual property. It’s something the poor folks doing the reboot of Cool Million can’t fall back on.

## What’s Going On In Alley Oop? What happened with Leonardo da Vinci? May – July 2022

Leonardo da Vinci was the starting point for the past couple month’s story in Alley Oop. But he didn’t have much to do with the events. He identified the cloud city as the source of Alley Oop’s abductors, and offered the flying machine to get Ooola and Doc Wonmug up there. But besides that and some fun painting jokes he didn’t do that much. I wonder if the rough outline of the story gave him more to do and it somehow evaporated in the final draft. No way that I could know, though.

So this should catch you up on Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop as of the end of July, 2022. If any news breaks about the strip, or if you’re reading this after about October 2022, there’s likely amore useful essay here. Thanks for being here and let’s get going on what ends up being a pretty compact essay.

# Alley Oop.

## 9 May – 23 July 2022.

Our heroes went back to 1501 to meet Leonardo da Vinci when we last looked in. They barely got settled in when a winged human swooped down from the sky and abducted Alley Oop. They took him to the cloud city of Airshire, to deal with a problem. Murderov the giant crow keeps attacking them for some reason.

Leonardo da Vinci concludes Alley Oop was taken to the cloud city. Ooola and Doc Wonmug use his aerial screw — the only transportation available — to join him. (Leonardo refuses to get in the thing.) Once reunited Our Heroes try to work out what’s driving Murderov to attack the city. Cirrus, Oop’s abductor, knows why. The city keeps swiping the giant crow’s giant eggs, for food.

As existential threats go, this one’s fairly tractable. The gang dresses Cirrus in a worm costume, luring the giant crow into a birdcage. Once there, Oop talks Murderov into becoming the city’s pet, in exchange for birdseed for the rest of her life. Murderov gets into this, and soon is swooping down to the ground to bring the city gifts, like the sculpture of David. And Oop explains the groundling custom of eating animals that aren’t particularly trying to kill you. With chicken farms established Airshire looks to have a great future ahead. There’s a few parting words with Leonardo and Our Heroes return to the present day.

With the 28th of June the current story starts. Alley Oop and Ooola return to Moo to discover that, once again, King Guz isn’t doing anything. He’s retired as king, to spend time with his family. In his place Moo’s elected a brash yet cowardly president.

And what she has to be cowardly from? People from the future. There’s a mysterious portal and people from 22nd Century New Cleveland are coming through. A whole little future town is growing in Moo. And it’s growing very fast, with, like, skyscrapers popping up in minutes.  Which is as far as this story’s gotten, so, catch you in about three months with even more story.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Little Oop strip continues the setting of Penelope trapped in Moo. She’s been learning her way around the even-more-ridiculous Moo of Little Alley Oop’s time. And been able to do a couple fun broken-time-machine jokes along the way. Still not proper stories, though.

#### Next Week!

The Ghost Who Cannot Die reaches perhaps the midpoint of a marathon imaginary story, and perhaps gets the clearest vision yet of his death! It’s Tony DePaul and Mike Manley and Bret Blevins and Scott Cohn’s The Phantom (Weekdays) next week, all going well.

## How Will I Live Without This When the Popeye Project Is Done

Just admiring the chutzpah of whatever YouTube AdBot thinks I’m going to sit through a two-minute-and-40-second advertisement for prostate medication, plus a second advertisement after that, in order to watch a five-minute Popeye cartoon from 1960. I feel like I want to sit down with the AdBot and have it state clearly what it thinks it’s doing and why, and whether it could do anything else.

## 60s Popeye: Seeing Double, another Popeye cartoon, another Popeye

I am, to my amazement, close to the end of writing something about (almost all) the King Features Popeye cartoons of the 1960s. Unless I’ve messed up my notes, this is my last Gene Deitch cartoon. So, sad to say, I have no story credits to give you. I can just suggest we look at 1960’s Seeing Double.

Among the things I like about the Gene Deitch cartoons is their ambition in story structure. In particular, they’re comfortable keeping stuff secret from the characters and from the audience. It suggests trust from Deitch (and the other creators of the cartoon). I’m not sure whether they trusted the kids would wait to have the plot revealed, or whether they trusted kids will watch Popeye even if they don’t understand it. It makes them stand out against cartoons with more linear plots and explained motives.

## What’s Going On In Gil Thorp? Who’s writing Gil Thorp now? April – July 2022

Neal Rubin stepped down as author of the Gil Thorp comic strip on Saturday. Per the Daily Cartoonist, Rubin said he felt himself running short on ideas after eighteen years at this. And he wanted to focus on his day job, sports writer for the Detroit Free Press. His comic strip retirement coincides suspiciously well with the window for my plot recaps. It’s convenient for me when the story strips have plots end right around my plot recaps. So I’d like to make explicit to them, you know, don’t contort your plans for my sake. I can cope with a period where I pay attention to how I credit these strips.

The new writer — the fourth in the strip’s history — is Henry Barajas. Barajas has some renown for comic book series that I admit I was unaware of. (This is not a slight on his work; it’s me admitting my ignorance. I haven’t followed comic books directly since Marvel’s New Universe was put out of its misery.) But they include Helm Greycastle, the biographical La Voz De M.A.Y.O. Tata Rambo, and some Avengers and Batman stuff. An interview with the Tucson Daily Star says “He plans to introduce characters of color and with different sexual orientations and gun violence,” as good a case for the Oxford Comma as I know.

Anyway, this recap should get you up to speed on the final story of Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp. If you’re reading this after about September 2022, or any more news breaks about Henry Barajas and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp, you may want to check the essays here. Thanks for reading.

# Gil Thorp.

## 25 April – 9 July 2022.

Greg Hamm, on the boys’ baseball team at Milford, was losing his eyesight. Rapidly. His catcher, Wilson Henry, and the second baseman, sports trivia maven Eli “Scooter” Borden, had a scheme to work around this. Borden would relay the catcher’s signals by code words in his chatter. This works okay for pitching. Fielding is harder; if a ball isn’t in Hamm’s dwindling field of vision he’s helpless. When a hit zooms right past Hamm’s head without his even flinching Coach Thorp works out what’s up, and pulls the kid.

It turns out Hamm’s done an outstanding job concealing his vision problems. He even worked out how to fake his way through eye tests, so his parents and eye doctor didn’t know how bad it was. Now that they do know? Dr Maisano explains to Coach Thorp that this is the last year he could play baseball. If he wears facial protection, something like a catcher’s mask, he should be reasonably safe. Coach Thorp finally accedes to letting Hamm play.

The trick with a vision-impaired pitcher is the other teams work out where his blind spot is, and can hit to it. Borden’s girlfriend Charis Thompkins has an answer, direct from Borden’s trivia banks. Relief pitcher Ryne Duren played a decade in the late 50s and early 60s, and used his poor vision as a psychological weapon. Duren’s warmup pitches would go wild, an intimidating thing for batters to face. (Oh, and the plot bits about Thompkins and the girls’ tennis teams were not followed up on.)

An old trick is good again. Hamm warns a batter off bunting by “accidentally” throwing a pitch that barely misses the batter. The umpire demands Hamm be thrown out but Coach Thorp refuses, noting, you can’t eject a player for one bad pitch, whatever you think of his eyesight. This seems like a good way to insult the umpire while staying within the rules and make sure you never get a toss-up call your way again. Thorp tosses in an insult of how that umpire called an earlier game, which probably felt good anyway.

The blend of Hamm’s actual control, and ability to look uncontrolled when it’s intimidating, works. It launches the boys baseball team into the postseason. And the local media is quite interested in a blind pitcher.

The trouble is the other major part of this story. Hamm’s father is pathologically camera-shy, to the point he hides from people taking cell phone pictures of the parents in the stands. He works so hard to not be noticed that everyone notices, and feeds rumors that he’s in the witness protection program or something. Coach Thorp hears the rumors and decides to just ask the Hamms what’s going on. Greg Hamm’s mother gives the clue.

Before he was a ghost-writer for businesspeople committing books, Greg’s father was Mason Hamstetter. Hamstetter had been a hot journalist, with great cover stories in big magazines, book deals, everything you hope for when you’re a writer. He was also a plagiarist. He faked quotes. He invented sources. He got caught. So he fled New York, and truncated his name, and did his best to completely hide from a shaming public. And now, after a decade of hiding, Hamm’s wife has had enough.

Mason Hamm meets Coach Thorp, who admits he doesn’t see how there’s anything to talk to him about. But if you ask his opinion, it’s this: nobody has any idea who he is or why they should care about him. Meanwhile his son’s got an amazing story that shouldn’t be hidden for the fear that one of the four guys in a Manhattan publishing office who kind of remember his name might hear about it. It’s a hard truth that Mason accepts. He allows his son to do interviews and talk about his experience. A reporter is curious about Mason, and suggests a “where is he now” interview. But his boss kills the story because nobody cares. Having lived through his two worst fears and finding them not so bad after all? He’s able to settle in to having a son whose story might become an inspirational book he might write.

Greg Hamm pitches for Milford in the state tournament, but the team loses 9-4. It was still a good season.

And with that, the 9th of July, the story ends, as does Neal Rubin’s tenure writing Gil Thorp. I’ll learn the new direction of the comic strip as you all do, but I intend to recap it in just about three months. See you then.

### Milford Sports Watch!

#### Next Week!

Sam and Abbey’s marriage collapses while Randy Parker tries to clear his wife’s name by slipping a hard drive full of super-ultra-duper CIA secrets to a streaming-media TV show consultant. This and more in Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker, next week, if all goes like I plan.

Our local hipster bar put in a new pinball machine, which I’m normally all for. But to make room they had to replace the old Quiz and Dragons arcade game. And that’s a shame, really. I like the old trivia video game’s worldbuilding premise, wherein a peaceful land is threatened by the intrusion of the ultimate evil, who’s sent out a flock of dragons to enforce his will, and the dragons will devour anyone who resists them — unless they know something about the starting lineup for the 1991 Denver Nuggets. They don’t make games like that anymore, and there’s no reason for it. I’m sure there’s still things about the starting lineup for the 1991 Denver Nuggets that people might remember.

## 60s Popeye: Dog-Gone Dog-Catcher, a missed chance for a third Roger cartoon

We have another Gene Deitch cartoon this week. It’s directed by John Halas, Joy Batchelor, and Tony Guy, so it’s one of the British-made cartoons rather than the Czechoslovakian ones. But no story credit that I’m aware of, unfortunately. Here is 1960’s Dog-Gone Dog-Catcher.

Popeye is a good character. He is not particularly lawful, though. He’s aware authority can be corrupt or malevolent or wrong. A lot of his best moments are standing up to bullies who happen to have rank. There are shorts where Popeye has to talk up how he obeys and respects, mostly, the police. But cast Brutus as the authority figure and have him make a few snide comments to the camera and Popeye can clobber him without bothering anybody.

So I’m bothered that this short doesn’t quite get it right. The setup is all right. Popeye’s given Olive Oyl a new dog, a poodle who’s described as male, possibly the only male poodle in pop culture. His name is Zsa Zsa. Brutus comes along as a thieving dogcatcher and scoops up Zsa Zsa. Popeye goes undercover to free him. He wears one of those cartoon dog outfits that’s so seamless your every real-world Halloween costume disappoints.

My problem is that it’s not clear Brutus was in the wrong here. He was shown wanting to steal a dog and make life hard for the owner. But he is also the city dogcatcher. We see Zsa Zsa let loose, without a collar or license, and menacing-or-something a cat. An honest dogcatcher would likely try to grab Zsa Zsa given that. It throws the moral balance of the cartoon off. It already started wobbly, with the time-constrained need to put Zsa Zsa out unsupervised early on so the story could start. It makes Popeye and Olive Oyl look like negligent dog-owners.

I don’t demand that characters be all one tone. That’s boring, and it’s not realistic. Characters should also make mistakes. But it’s usually better form, when they get it wrong, for it to be part of the story hat they have blown it. But these cartoons are too short, and the audience-appropriate plots are too direct, for Popeye to explore the difference between being good and acting rightly.

If you can get past this — I imagine many of you can — there’s a fun cartoon here. Popeye’s in an impossibly perfect dog costume, which freshens up the action some and lets him mess with Brutus’s head. We get a spinach-flavored dog biscuit, a rare Deich cartoon case where Popeye doesn’t trust to luck for spinach to show up. (Also a weird edit where we have to infer he eats the dog biscuit.) Popeye declaring “I am smarter than the average dog” and I’d love to know if that’s meant to be a Yogi Bear riff. Popeye getting stopped by a cop and explaining he only has a dog license. The cop asking Brutus if dogs can talk, and a rabbit popping up between them to say, “I never heard anything so preposterous!”

That’s all solid stuff. I just don’t like that I’m not sure Popeye was in the right.

## Statistics Saturday: New York Cities, Ranked

1. Greater New York City
2. New York City
3. West New York, NJ
4. Lesser New York City
5. New New York, New New York, The Future (Earth)
6. New York, Lincolnshire, England
7. New York, New Mexico
8. New York, Santa Barbara, Honduras
9. New New York, New Earth, The Future (Space)
10. New York, Saint Catherine, Jamaica
11. Least New York City
12. New York, Texas

Not listed: I accidentally ran across the Quora page attempting to answer “Why is it called ‘New York, New York’ if the city’s name is ‘New York City’?” and it’s caused my brain to try squeezing out of my skull.

Reference: The Numbers Game: Baseball’s Lifelong Fascination With Statistics, Alan Schwarz.

## Thinking of Dropping an Application in Anyway

Just ran across this job listing on LinkedIn and I’m thinking of seeing if I can snag an interview just so I can ask if they’re getting a lot of ironic applications in.

## MiSTed: Safety First (part 13 of 16)

This Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction finally reaches to the last quarter of my work inspired by Johnny Pez’s “Safety First”. The whole of the MiSTing is at this link. The previous installment finished up a report from the Galactic Federation of Light. But this part starts a new rant, the Scientific Proof Of God. I’m glad to be able to bring you the proof.

There’s not much needing particular explanation this section. The Hall Effect is about how a magnetic field affects electrical currents. LUD is “local usage details”, that is, phone records, a thing I didn’t need to look up back when I watched Law and Order regularly. And boy, am I glad that joke about Yoko Ono was based on an informed opinion. I’d feel horrible if I were thoughtlessly repeating a weak line without considering whether its common currency might be due to misogyny with a slice of racism! I wouldn’t want to insult someone without ever considering whether the person deserves this insult!

[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

> http://people.ne.mediaone.net/ghammond/SPOGFAQ.html

JOEL: Media One. A Media One Through Five Corporation.

>
> . SPOG FAQ

TOM: [ Singing ] The SPOG FAQ is a little old place where… We can get! To! Get! Ther!

>
>
> What is the "SCIENTIFIC PROOF" of God? —

CROW: Do *you* know how Encyclopedia Brown figured it out?
Check page 176 to see if you’re right!

>
> (Relativity and Psychometry)

TOM: You got relativity on my psychometry!

CROW: You got psychometry on my relativity!

>
> A "scientific proof" is like a court judgment,

JOEL: You get interviewed by Doug Llewellyn after it?

> it hinges
> on the assertion "BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT".

CROW: I’m not so sure about that.

>
> For instance, here is no "absolute proof"

TOM: Absolut Vodka.

> that "space-time
> curvature causes Gravity" (Einstein 1915).

JOEL: It *might* just be an unforseen side effect.

> However, there is
> a MASSIVE body of fact and logical theory bearing on the matter,

CROW: And it slipped the judge a couple of bucks under the table, too.

> and the judgment of the (overwhelming) majority of experts
> in the field is,

TOM: This dress doesn’t make me look fat. Does it?

> that the evidence is such that it is
> "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Space-time Curvature causes
> Gravity.

JOEL: So it better have a good explanation why it does that, or else it’s in a lot of trouble, mister.

> This then, is called a "Scientific proof that
> Curvature causes Gravity"…. or simply a "SCIENTIFIC PROOF".

TOM: In fact, it’s a scien-*terrific* proof!

> Now, when Einstein published the theory of Relativity in 1915,
> he advanced it as a "SCIENTIFIC PROOF".

CROW: Because promoting it as a new Sherlock Holmes mystery would be confusing.

>
> OK, Hammond claims that he has found a SCIENTIFIC PROOF of
> the existence of God….

TOM: Oh, and organs.

> same thing, same exact situation as
> Einstein, or any other major SCIENTIFIC PROOF.

CROW: Except for the science part.

>
> Hammond’s SPOG is a classic,

JOEL: A triumph of the human spirit!

CROW: A story that will live through the ages!

TOM: Thank you, Hammond’s SPOG, for making us laugh about love… again.

> by the book,

CROW: Hours could seem like days.

> ordinary, rigorous,

JOEL: And with a "Law and Order" twist.

> hard scientific proof, meeting all the canons of science

TOM: Like our 22-inch Feynman diagrams and the new dreadnought-caliber Hall Effect device.

> and all

> the requirements for a proof:

CROW: Patent pending.

>

> The situation is this:

JOEL: There are 47 Klingons and three Starbases in your sector. You have 82 Stardates to destroy them.

>
> 1. There is a 4,000 year old "rumor",

TOM: But it’s about Paul Lynde so nobody’s really worked up about it.

> based on many
> eyewitness testimonies,

CROW: And one article in "Variety."

> that there is such a thing
> as a "God".

TOM: And He’s responsible for this divine cheesecake recipe!

> The Bible for instance is one documented
> source for these reports.

JOEL: The canon of Kevin Smith movies, however, is not.

>
> 2. The historical sources (cf. Bible)

CROW: Do you know me? I’m C.F. Bible, and that’s why I carry American Express.

> describe this "God"
> as an invisible power,

TOM: Ah, a wind-powered diety.

> apparently in the form of an
> invisible perfect man,

JOEL: By G.K. Chesterton and Ralph Ellison.

> who can perform miraculous
> feats (generally of salvation)

TOM: And occasionally a great card trick.

> by somehow supernaturally
> "violating the Laws of Physics".

CROW: Or the Laws of Cartoon Physics.

>

> (Note: w/o wrangling over what Christianity says..

TOM: I can’t be bothered to let information mess up my argument.

> I think
> you will have to grant that this is a fair synopsis

CROW: Fair, turning partly cloudy overnight.

> of
> what "God" has been known as, for the past 2,000 years)

JOEL: Except during that weird period when he was teamed up with Yoko Ono.

>
> 3. OK, so a reasonable scientist would say…

CROW: "Hi! I’m a reasonable scientist, and here’s what I’ll say!"

> "well, we’ll keep our
> eyes open

TOM: And our tongue to the grindstone!

CROW: Our ears to the … huh?

> in case any new scientific phenomena turn up

JOEL: [ Pointing ] Hey, look, there’s one!

CROW: [ Giggling ] And over there! There’s another!

TOM: [ Snickering ] Look fast, that’s one now!

JOEL: Boy, this is the coolest scientific phenomena hangout ever.

> which
> would seem to be connected with any such thing".

TOM: We’ll have Jerry Orbach look over their LUDs and see what turns up.

>
> 4. Sure enough, in 1997 HAMMOND

JOEL: As the superhero HAMMOND-MAN!

> discovered an OBVIOUS physical
> mechanism,

CROW: It’s called the "wheel." We’ve known it for months.

> which explains this 4,000 year history,

TOM: All of which is going to be on the exam! I hope you studied.

> so COMPLETELY,
> so SIMPLY, so COMPREHENSIVELY,

JOEL: So ROUND, so FIRM, so FULLY PACKED.

> so OVERWHELMINGLY, so COMPELLINGLY,
> and so OBVIOUSLY,

TOM: I think he’s in danger of overselling it at this point.

> that he has now advanced it as a
> "SCIENTIFIC PROOF"

CROW: With Retsyn.

JOEL: Ting!

> of the existence of this "God"

TOM: This God, that God, just take a deity out of petty cash, OK?

> that people
> have been reporting for 4,000 years.

JOEL: They’ve been reporting the same thing for four thousand years?

CROW: I didn’t even know they had cable news channels four thousand years ago.

>

[ to continue … ]

## Imagine My Surprise at Politics in the United Kingdom

My many, many readers in the United States may have only a rough idea about the troubles going on in the United Kingdom’s politics. Let me try to explain: they’re having a bunch of trouble there in the United Kingdom’s politics. I’m a little vague on the details but the upshot seems to be someone finally took a good clear picture of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and everybody started saying, “Wait, that Boris Johnson? No, no, we wanted as Prime Minister this other Boris Johnson, the one who works at that pub where they always have jacket potatoes on the menu but every time you order them they don’t have them for some reason.” That’s as close to right as you need to know, anyway.

Anyway so the last couple days they’ve been getting a lot of resignations of every possible government post. This includes big posts, sure, like the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Posts (Big), but also smaller and more obscure and archaic ones. And they’ve had to reach pretty far down in to the back benches to fill spaces.

So anyway, imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find that I had become the Lieutenant-Stewart of the Cinq Hundreds and Crown Escheats of Flumwich. Like, I’m not British. I haven’t even been in the United Kingdom since 2015, when I was there to ride some roller coasters, or at the British call them the “rumbly-bumblies” so far as you know. This could all have been embarrassing, what with my responsibilities here reading Gil Thorp or whatever it is I do. But it all worked out since as I kept on reading the news I learned I’d resigned already. I’d probably just get myself into some real trouble if I hadn’t.

## What’s Going On In Rex Morgan, M.D.? Why did Street Sweeper splash that guy with something? April – July 2022

The Street Sweeper, Glenwood’s own little superhero, took a brick to his shoulder when a drunk didn’t like having his keys dropped down the sewer. This was his second shoulder injury. A torn rotator cuff first brought him to Rex Morgan’s, and Rex Morgan M.D.’s, attention. So he needed to do something to carry on his patrols of the mean-ish-esque streets of downtown Glenwood while impaired. His solution: some mixture of soap solution that would slick up the sidewalk. Enough that someone chasing him is unsure on his feet, at least. It’s only good for a few seconds, but in a fight, a few seconds counts for a lot. He used this against Snake and Manfred, a would-be car-robber and his partner. Also against the undercover cops come to knock off this superhero vigilante nonsense.

I don’t know what this is made of, or how slippery you could make a sidewalk with a quick splash of something. But, eh, guy is a janitor, probably knows his soaps and waxes and all. And it only needs to be a surprise and distracting for a couple seconds. Or confusing, which it was, yeah.

So this should catch you up to the start of July 2022 in Terry Beatty’s Rex Morgan, M.D.. If you’re reading this after about September 2022, or news about the comic breaks, I should have an essay here. Otherwise, let’s enjoy a bit of crimefighting from our favorite fandom-themed story strip.

# Rex Morgan, M.D..

## 17 April – 2 July 2022.

There was a new superhero in town, when I last checked in. Firstname Clayton, by day a janitor, patrols downtown Glenwood at night as … The Street Sweeper. He gets a lot of that giggling, yes. But he backs it up, whacking Snake, a would-be car robber, with a push broom. Or dropping a drunk guy’s car keys down the sewer, lest the guy drive home impaired. It’s the sort of stunt that’s kind of cool when you are the hero of the story. If you, like the would-be drunk driver, figure you’re the hero of your own story, you maybe throw a brick at The Street Sweeper’s shoulder. Or if you’re a pair of undercover cops, you get the assignment to bring this guy in before he does something both stupid and dangerous.

So that’s the wind-up. The Street Sweeper is carrying on his business, using a bottle of some pretty slippery liquid to compensate for his shoulder injuries. Snake, with his pal Manfred, are out looking to smack Sweeper silly. And a pair of cops, rolling their eyes and talking 1960s sitcoms, are looking for Sweeper. Snake figures that the Ghost Who Sweeps will find him, just as soon as he smashes this car window. Despite the car alarm, The Street Sweeper comes by to check things out. The cops mosey on over to the scene too. They reason The Street Sweeper is the sort of person who doesn’t understand that a car alarm is only there to annoy your neighbors while your battery dies because a tree branch is brushing your hood.

The cops are happy to take Snake into custody. The Sweeper is not happy to give him up, though, and drags him off to his apartment, turning a merry bit of nonsense into a hostage drama. It’s a bit grim, but I like this twist. It’s got that moment where a character runs past the limits of their competence yet the situation is still going on. It’s too much to expect a Dog Day Afternoon from the comics. Beatty doesn’t write a comic that emotionally messy. But I love that blend of the situation being serious and absurd. (It also makes me think of that moment where Freakazoid yells at the villain for going and being like that when we were having a good time here.)

The Street Sweeper agrees to talk to someone, and chooses the honorable doctor who treated his torn rotator cuff. The cops get Rex Morgan on the phone, who’s baffled by why he’s been pulled into the comic strip all of a sudden. But, what the heck, he doesn’t have to go downtown or anything, just talk over the phone. The Sweeper has one question for Rex: can he surgically remove the part of the brain that makes people criminals? Rex Morgan has any idea what Sweeper’s talking about. One of the nearly 400 billion points of super-hyper-ultra inventive competence that pulp superhero Doc Savage managed was anti-crime brain surgery. Or, as Rex confusingly puts it, those books about “The Crime College”. I don’t know why he doesn’t say Doc Savage. Sorry.

Heartbroken to learn he doesn’t live in the fictional world he thought he did, The Street Sweeper agrees to give up to the cops. Snake, not happy about the thought of surprise brain surgery, conks Sweeper’s shoulder, retrieves his gun, and runs out back into the cops’ hands. So, the status quo gets restored and Doc Morgan is just … glad he could help, he guesses? Anyway I hope we’ll see more of The Street Sweeper, even if it seems unlikely he’d do more vigilante stuff. I like his goofy self-important vibe.

With the 26th of June the new and current story begins. It’s about June’s vaguely-related Aunt Tildy, reconciled with her husband Andrzej “Count Crushinski” Bobrowski. The former wrestling star sneaks off to the hospital so he can have his heart attack looked at. It turns out to be heartburn. He feels foolish about that, but, you know, you don’t want to ignore heart attack symptoms, not when having them looked at will only induce \$140,000 in medical debt. And that’s where we are to start off July.

#### Next Week!

A blind pitcher, a guy who’s totally not in the Witness Protection Program so stop asking nosey questions, and a sports-trivia-obsessed teen! How do they fit together? They’re important to the last three months of Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp, which I’ll recap next week. The trivia teen doesn’t really matter much. I’ll explain next week if all goes well.

## Statistics June: How Much People Wish I Could Have Done Something More About Mary Worth Last Month

I did my best to work out the baffling plot point that Helen Moss, longtime teacher at Santa Rosa Community College, had to leave after her onetime crush Ian Cameron told her to stop being a jerk to his wife. I’m still not confident I have the reason clear, but I offered what I had. And people wanted to know! As I look over what the most popular June 2022-dated postings were here, the last month, my Mary Worth plot recap tops the list. Here’s the five most popular new articles from June:

Mind, the most popular thing I had of the entire month was an October 2020 post where I admitted finally getting this one Far Side. People always like hearing when someone else was baffled by a comic strip. It’s one of Gary Larson’s many gifts to us all. Anyway my favorite of the last month remains the resolve to eat Cheese Idaho.

Still, the comic strip talk is always going to be my most popular thing here. Were I to shut down the rest of the blog, that’s the part that would go last. So here’s my plan for what to talk about this coming month, and when:

Meanwhile, I still like to keep track of how popular my slightly popular blog is, and how that’s changing. And I share that because somehow that’s usually a well-liked feature too. In June 2022, according to WordPress, I had 4,732 page views here, which is below the running mean of 5,034.2 views for the twelve months leading up to June. It’s above the running median of 4,449 page views, though. These came from 2,742 unique visitors, which is above both the running mean of 2,696.7 and running median of 2,547.5. So, hey, more visitors, all of whom get tired of me faster! That’s a something.

There were 143 likes given to anything at all over the course of June, which is a little below both the running mean of 153.3 and median of 154.5. And there were 40 comments, which seems like more than I remember, but is below the mean of 56.7 and median of 53, again both of which seem like more than I remember. I have no explanation for this phenomenon.

There were 82 countries, our country-like entities, to send me any page views in June. That’s up from May’s figure of 75, if you like. 16 of them sent only a single page view, down from May’s 17. None of these countries was Greenland. I know, I’m feeling it too. Here’s what countries it was:

United States 3,336
India 219
Australia 169
United Kingdom 168
Brazil 68
Italy 54
Germany 42
Sweden 34
Philippines 30
Spain 27
Netherlands 17
Nigeria 17
Romania 17
Serbia 17
France 16
Ireland 16
Japan 16
Mexico 16
Finland 14
Thailand 14
South Africa 13
Norway 11
Vietnam 11
Croatia 10
Kenya 10
Malaysia 10
Singapore 10
Czech Republic 9
Denmark 8
Colombia 7
Austria 6
New Zealand 6
Poland 6
Taiwan 6
Chile 5
European Union 5
Hungary 5
Pakistan 5
Peru 5
Switzerland 5
Turkey 5
Albania 4
Bahamas 4
Belgium 4
Egypt 4
Indonesia 4
Sri Lanka 4
Bosnia & Herzegovina 3
Iraq 3
Israel 3
Jamaica 3
Russia 3
Saudi Arabia 3
United Arab Emirates 3
American Samoa 2
Costa Rica 2
Estonia 2
Hong Kong SAR China 2
Jordan 2
Lebanon 2
Panama 2
Portugal 2
Anguilla 1
Argentina 1
Belarus 1
Bolivia 1
Dominican Republic 1
Ethiopia 1
Greece 1
Guam 1
Kazakhstan 1 (**)
Kuwait 1 (*)
Montenegro 1 (**)
Puerto Rico 1
South Korea 1
Tunisia 1
Uruguay 1

Kazakhstan has been a single-view country for three months running now, even though I’d think Kazakhstan has other things to do than check in on my a very slight bit. Kuwait’s been a single-view country two months in a row now, although I guess maybe they have fewer things to do? Montenegro is also on its third month giving me a single view per month. I don’t know how to much to expect they have to do.

WordPress figures I posted 18,738 words in June, my most talkative month this year. It’s an average 624.6 words per posting, and brings my average for the year up to 564 words per post. This may be too many words. It brings me to 102,147 words for the year 2022, so far. Between the Broadway debut of the musical 1776 and the start of July, I’ve posted 3,437 things to this blog. They’ve attracted a total of something like 302,932 views from 171,984 visitors.

If you’d like to read these posts regularly, I’m flattered. The best route is probably to add the RSS feed for my essays to your reader. If you don’t have a reader, but you do have a WordPress account, you can click the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button on the upper right corner of this page. If you don’t have a WordPress account, you can use the box beneath that to get posts e-mailed to you the moment they’re published and before I’ve corrected some embarrassing typos. And if none of that works for you, eh, I suppose you know your business. Carry on with what seems reasonable. Thank you.

## 60s Popeye: Uncivil War, about the processes that drive one bad

This week takes us back to 1960 and a cartoon with a baffling title. It comes from the Jack Kinney studios. The story’s by Gerald Nevius and the animation direction by Volus Jones. Here’s a short titled, for some reason, Uncivil War.

I don’t get the title at all. I expected it to be maybe a historical short, but more likely something where Popeye and Brutus have to share the housekeeping. “Popeye instructing Swee’Pea in good driving habits” would have been my maybe fourth guess after “Popeye fights with a squirrel”.

Instead, we’ve got a safe-driving short. The idea seems oddly pitched for the audience, which would be mostly kids a decade away from driving. There were plenty of theatrical shorts pushing safe-driving messages, such as the excellent 1950 Goofy short Motor Mania, directed by some guy name of Jack Kinney. But that’s aimed at a general audience where some of the people are driving home from the theater. Also, the jokes were bigger, bolder. The jokes in “Uncivil War” are more mundane, more educational. There’s a preposterous pileup of cars, caused by Popeye stopping to read the signs too carefully, but that’s about all. The cartoon might have had more surreal jokes if it were just a short about Olive Oyl learning to drive or Popeye trying out his new car. It has a curious shift in structure. It starts out looking like Brutus is trying to woo Olive Oyl with his cool car and Popeye proves himself superior by being a more thoughtful driver. But then that evaporates and we get instead a string of jokes where someone drives badly and then the rest of the cast calls them stupid.

A choice I think I like here is that Brutus isn’t always the bad driver here. (Nor is Olive Oyl, a welcome avoiding of stereotype.) Everyone shuffles the roles of being the good and the problem driver. It helps spread out the laugh lines. It also conveys a subtler message that everyone is a problem driver in some way or another. I can’t imagine that many kids watching this came away thinking of how just being a Good character, like Popeye, doesn’t mean everything you do is right. But it is the sort of lesson one should have. It feels like an inefficient way to do it, is all.

I’d love to know why the Kinney studios chose to make this cartoon, of all the premises they could. Were they thinking of great how-to-drive shorts of the past, including Motor Mania? Was it some sense that they should have some cartoons with socially constructive messages? And how did “Uncivil War” get attached to it as a title? Would like to be able to give you an answer.

## Statistics Saturday: Some July Holidays

• July 1st. The First of July.
• July 4th. The Fourth of July.
• July 6th. The $\sqrt{38}$th of July (early morning).
• July 12th. National Day of Agreeing It Would Be Nice if Things Were Just Quiet for the Day, Maybe We Could Just Have a Pitcher of Iced Tea and Enjoy an Evening Breeze, if There Were One (United States).
• July 14th. The Fourteenth of July.
• July 19th. Start of Summer (Northern Hemisphere, Procrastinators); End of Winter (Southern Hemisphere, People Who Are Always Rushing Things).
• July 22nd. European Pi Day.
• July 24th. The Fourth of July (Belated).
• July 25th. Christmas In July.
• July 26th. Apollo 15 begins (1971).
• July 31st. New Year’s Eve In August.
• July 32nd. Day of Yelling at the Computer for Why Is It Going on Like This Still, We Tested for This Case (software developers only).

Reference: The Bagel: The Surprising History Of A Modest Bread, Maria Balinska.

## In Which I Expect Light Shenanigans With Scattered Tomfoolery

I don’t mean to burden you with my small local problems, but: today has had all the markings of a rainy day. The overcast sky that sometimes gets dark enough you think they turned off the sun. The winds that sometimes get so breezy that the window fans go in reverse. That smell of rain. That mugginess. The people on the street nodding about how it all feels like rain. We’ve have everything about a rainy day except for the actual rain. It turns out there’s so little chance of rain that when you go check the forecast, the head of the weather department, Lionel P Weatherguy, actually calls you up to laugh at you. It is some of the un-rainiest rainy weather I’ve seen in a long time. It all seems like someone is trying to make fun of me, or someone in my microclimate anyway, and I don’t have the energy to deal with it.

Also please send rain because we could use it. I don’t know everyone else’s intentions but I plan to use it as rain.