In Which I Learn There’s A Sequel


So I was talking with a friend about how we don’t really remember anything ever happening in Jules Verne’s classic From The Earth To The Moon. So I checked Wikipedia and learned no, they just get going to the moon at the end of the book. It’s in the sequel, Around The Moon, that they go around the Moon. And this made me learn that twenty years after that, Verne wrote another sequel, The Purchase of the North Pole or Topsy Turvy depending on which sentence you’re reading in Wikipedia at that moment. And the plot’s just got me all giddy with delight but I’ll put it behind a cut in case you don’t want spoilers.

Continue reading “In Which I Learn There’s A Sequel”

Not to Name Names


I was struck with a bizarre fact about the young me. Like, younger than middle-school me. When I was in early elementary school — before even Laverne, on Laverne and Shirley, had gotten her job at that aerospace company — we were expected to bring valentines for everyone else in our class. And I did that too. Thing is that means I knew the names and faces of everybody in my class. That’s like thirty people and I kept them all straight. I couldn’t name thirty people today, much less match their names with their faces, even if you spotted me the core cast of Peanuts.

They must have sent home ditto sheets with everyone’s name on it, right? That’s the only way this sort of makes sense. But then how did I get cards to everybody correctly? Maybe I didn’t, and everybody I messed up was trying to get mad at me, but they weren’t sure who I was? And maybe, like, they got mad at Michael Bellaran instead? Well, if that’s what happened, Michael, I’m sorry. I’d make up for it by buying you lunch if I ever see you. But that’s going to depend on you recognizing me. Sorry.

I’m happy with the results in Extreme Donkey Vacuuming though


I apologize for being distracted lately, all. I’ve been working hard on a new random number generator. That’s “random” in the 90s webcomic sense of “Random!” though. So a typical output run looks like this:

0.318723
0.060458
WEASEL NOSTRILS
0.693668
0.142229
TELETUBBY JANET RENO
SPLEEN NINJA
0.711829

I think it’s about ready for use.

Distracted thoughts after seeing The Dot And The Line: The Movie teaser trailer


Hey, does it feel to anyone else like we should have heard Robert Zemeckis announce he’s trying to do a computer-animated remake of Who Framed Roger Rabbit by now? Has anyone checked in to see what he is working on? Maybe we could just make sure?


(So my favorite part of the teaser trailer is how right after the “COMING / IN UP TO 3-D / SUMMER 2022” title card you get Dot, Line, and Squiggle all shouting as they realize they’re going over the waterfall. What’s yours?)

Weather in Popular Places


I checked WeatherUnderground for … well, the above-ground weather, but they do both sides of the ground. The top of the page is normally this strip of the weather in places I’ve checked recently. But I haven’t checked anyplace recently, since the only places to go are places that should be closed.

So instead it’s decided to show me a strip of weather in “Popular Cities”, and this is what it was showing. Tell me if you spot the place that doesn’t belong in a roster of six “Popular Cities”.

Weather banner for Popular Cities: San Francisco, CA; Manhattan, NY; Schiller Park, IL; Boston, MA; Houston, TX; and London, England, United Kingdom.
I don’t know why the weather is so alarming in San Francisco or in Boston, but I assume it’s the usual sorts of things. Also I have to suppose Boston’s alarm was in black because it was after sunset there.

Yes, exactly, I agree. There is no way that Houston rates as a popular city. Even people who love Houston agree they don’t so much as love Houston as love the idea of a lovable Houston. For the past 24 years the Houston Tourism Bureau’s campaign has been “Houston: Remember When They Nuked Us In Independence Day And Nobody In The Movie Cared Anyway? That Was Houston, Right? Well, That’s Us”.

Also and this is just a little thing but I appreciate their distinguishing London, England, United Kingdom from other cities such as London, England, British Columbia, Canada. That’s just politeness.

How do you suppose the packing is going?


I’m sorry to nudge anyone to thinking about the White House more than they have to, but … like … there’s not even ten days left. There has to be some poor lost soul who’s been putting stuff into boxes. And the Future Disgraced Former President follows close behind, putting everything back on any horizontal surface he can find. And it’s been going like this since November.

I know this isn’t even in the first thousand crises we’re facing in the next two weeks but, like, I know I needed two months to move out of my 12-by-15-foot grad student efficiency apartment. And I still maybe lost those tapes of Canadian cartoons my friend loaned me. Or maybe I returned them and he lost them. There’s literally no telling. The situation in Washington has to be worse.

Because I expect you want to know how my hair is doing


Since the pandemic started I haven’t had my hair cut. And now, ten months in? I’m really happy with my hair’s volume. It’s never been better. I’m less sure about its squelch and treble.

… People may be interested in how my hair is doing but they never ask what it’s doing.

My Distracting Thought To Start The Year


An alternate history where the big change is that “Entrance of the Gladiators” never gets arranged to play at circuses as the “Here Come The Clowns” music, because “Pomp and Circumstance” got that treatment first.

2020 In Review


It was Tuesday night. You had just run the dishwasher. You saw it was 35 minutes past the hour and decided to go to bed. You got up and went into the other room. It was now 10 minutes past the next hour. You got up the next morning. It was Tuesday. You needed to run the dishwasher.

THIS WAS EVERY DAY.

What’s got my plans diverted now


Yeah so I woke up with the phrase “Vampire-Elect Dracula” running back and forth through my head. So I guess I’m stuck writing a supernatural romance/political thriller now? I’ll let you know how it turns out. It’s going to depend whether I can think of something witty to do with “electoral coffin”.

On Watching _Rudolph’s Shiny New Year_ In 2020


You know, I’m not feeling my usual sympathy for Eon the Vulture’s plan to save his own life by keeping the current year from expiring.

I was trying to think what 2020’s representative in the Archipelago of Last Years would look like, and then I remembered Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

So in the Rankin/Bass special, the crisis was caused by Baby New Year having comically enormous ears. What the heck did Baby 2020 look like? I have to figure 2020 started at “Rudy Giuliani” and aged badly.

In Which I Just Get Mean About Trick-Or-Treating During The Pandemic


“It’s perfectly safe to go trick-or-treating while the pandemic’s out of control,” say parents who for the past ten years have had the cops X-ray their kids’ Jolly Ranchers. Sure. All right. I’m calling your bluff. I’m handing out popcorn balls.

Related issue: I have no idea how to make popcorn balls. My best ideas for how involve, spraying a handful of popcorn with glue? Maybe rolling some kernels with silly putty until it all coheres? There’s some trick to it, I’m sure. Oh, right, of course there’s a trick, because it isn’t trick exclusive or treat. Don’t mind me, I’ll run out of whatever mood this is soon.

And Now I Am Deeply Amazed By The Moon


I’m sorry not to have seen this before yesterday because it would absolutely have been the most amazing Moon fact ever. But I just watched the Moon ask the woman working the can-recycling room at Meijer’s to repeat whatever advice she was giving three times because the Moon just was not hearing or was not understanding it. Three times. Can you imagine the reserve of self-confidence needed to ask that much?

I’d tell you what the woman’s advice was but I couldn’t get my iPod to stop playing this podcast about the Empress Maria Theresa even when I asked her to repeat herself — once — so I left without any idea what this was about. But the Moon, man. Three times. That is just beyond human ability.

I Assume He’s A Duck Fan


You know, out there must be fans of The Plucky Duck Show. This was a short-lived spinoff of Tiny Toon Adventures made up of Tiny Toons segments featuring Plucky Duck. And among them? I bet there’s at least one person who loves The Plucky Duck Show and can’t stand Tiny Toons, even though there’s nothing in Plucky Duck that wasn’t in Tiny Toons except parts of the credits sequences. Well, I salute you and hope you have fun sticking to your weird guns.

At least we know there’s no strange holdout fan of Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain.

In Which We Get Some Answers About Forest Royalty


Bambi, of movie and book fame, we remember is one of the princes of the forest. And then we know that he’s not a king because it’s the elk who are the kings of the forest. But this leaves us with the obvious question: who are the barons of the forest?

In the hopes of learning, I called Felix Salten (1869 – 1945), author of the original novel Bambi, A Life In The Woods. He said, “We were all having a pleasant time, and then you had to go and be like that. Why? Why do you do this?” before hanging up. I think this is an important contribution to the debate.

My love suggested that boars could maybe be the barons of the forest. This sounds good.

So, Turns Out Fortunes Are Hard To Make


OK so I would totally be out of here and busy being rich, but it turns out my plans for a food planer ran into some problems. Like, you have to make one, and then you have to make millions, and then you have to sell them. And sure, everybody gets the idea. But then pressing something that smooths out the peanut butter and then going to smooth out the sour cream? That gets some mixes that just don’t go over well. I’m sure this can all be sorted out but honestly? I’m getting to think that being rich is just too much effort.

In Which My Fortune Is All But Made


Yeah so I had the idea for the invention that’s going to make me rich beyond all reasonable dreams. It’s a food planer, so you can use it to level out the surface of your ice cream or peanut butter or, heck, even sour cream, and get the experience of breaking the nice smooth surface every single time. Thanks for being with me in my journey through life up to this point, where I get fame and wealth and the acclaim and thanks of the millions, but obviously now I need to drop all this blogging foolishness and go into doing whatever it is wealthy people do all day. Rebalancing portfolios or something. Been fun writing; see you later!

Today in how pop culture overwrote the part of me that has personality


Featured on our roller coaster calendar this month is a ride from Six Flags Magic Mountain, their roller coaster Scream!. And apparently all this month every time I glace at the calendar my mind is going to go to zany wacky Dadist 90s cartoon Freakazoid!, and this one episode where — are you ready for the unpredictability? — a couple times each episode they had a low-key Ben Stein-ish voice say, “Scream” and then people scream. If someone would like to take this idea off of me, and let it occupy their thoughts instead, please drop a note.

I’m going to be in so much trouble if their November roller coaster is Candle Jack.

In case you still needed help to understand my character


Ordinarily, I respond to e-mails with the sort of alacrity you saw in the 17th Century, when The Honourable North-East Passage Company would drop a note to their factor who had skipped that whole north-east part and somehow found himself in Sri Lanka, and it would take three and a half years and a colonial war to get there, and then the response would come the next time there was a transit of Venus. This even for the smallest, most petty things, like reassuring my siblings, who I like and who like me, that everything’s fine and hope you’re having a merry [ checks what month it now is ] Halloween.

But! My father e-mailed me with a calendar question? I am on it. The only thing holding me back is the need to double-check my sources and then boom.

What I’m saying is, guy who wrote me in 2017 about gathering some Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfics together? Could you drop me another note and maybe ask me about when we’ll next have a Leap Day that’s a Sunday, so I’ll be sure and answer? Thanks. It will be 2032.

In which I’m just having a hard time keeping up with it all


Again, I’m sorry. It’s just that WordPress has decided to force me to use some new, “Bad” model editor to enter these posts instead of letting me carry on using the Classic or “good” editor. And if that weren’t enough strain, TCM went and changed their web site so now it shows much less information, but is also slower about it. I haven’t wanted the new version of any web site since 2004 and I have never met anyone who did.

This Week’s Fun Activity Game


Showing younglings the opening credits to Automan and challenging them to say whether it was an actual TV show of the 1980s or an over-the-top spoof of TV shows of the 1980s.

(Answer, rot13’d so you have a chance of working it out yourself: guvatf pna or zber guna bar guvat ng n gvzr.)

I’m sorry but had to be late today


I had to be, though. I’m taking part in the “Smallest, Pettiest, Most Simple Possible Task That You’ve Been Procrastinating Beyond All Reason Completion Challenge” and spent the day trying to work out if I should start tonight or if maybe tomorrow would be better. My schedule won’t be any clearer then, but it will be clogged up in different ways.

Today in shocking discoveries from looking at a thing


I don’t put much stock in the so-called Mandela Effect, where you discover you remembered something entirely wrong and figure the universe is broken instead? But I am shaken by this. You ever look seriously at the guy on the Monopoly Board, that I think everyone called Mister Monopoly but Parker Brothers wanted to call Rich Uncle Pennybags, which isn’t a bad name either? OK. Think hard about your mental image of him. Now look at the picture of him on any of the Monopoly sets or playing cards. Notice something missing? That’s right: he hasn’t got a fish tail! Not only is the Monopoly guy not a mermaid, he has never been depicted as a mermaid, except in the fan communities on DeviantArt. I know! That’s exactly the amazement I feel.

In which I admit to not having seen Discovery or Picard


I’m not avoiding them. I just haven’t had the energy to watch stuff even if I like it anymore. So I just have missed out on how they’re changing the Star Trek world. But apparently they’re doing something. I was poking around Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki, and discovered this alarming verb tense in the article about lithium:

Screenshot from Memory Alpha, with the lede paragraph of the article Lithium: Lithium was a chemical element, number 3 on the periodic table. It was the lightest alkali metal on the table, with an atomic weight of 6.91. (TNG: "Rascals")
Yes, I appreciate that they found an episode to quote for the atomic weight of lithium, especially since they got lithium’s atomic weight wrong. (It should be between 6.938 and 6.997 for most lithium samples.)

I assume this means something exciting has been going on with proton decay in the new shows and I honestly can’t imagine what.

Is this a Lower Decks thing? Again, I haven’t seen it, but it seems like the destruction of all lithium, everywhere, is maybe a Lower Decks thing.

In which I think about parenting in like 17 years


Just been thinking, now, about the future. And particularly, like, the kids whose gender-reveal parties set off wildfires. It’s important that kids learn the fallibility of their parents. Like, I learned it when we had a small earthquake, in New Jersey, and my mother blamed it on my brothers running around the house. But that was just a little embarrassment and the discovery that oh, yeah, you do get these adorable harmless little earthquakes in New Jersey now and then.

When that fallibility is tied to a major natural disaster, though? Think how many times the kid will be able to get away with a line like, “Well, yeah, Dad, I screwed up and smashed the car into the telephone pole. What can I say, it’s bad. I mean, it’s not like the time you started a wildfire that destroyed three-quarters of Sonoma County including the Olympic-class ice-skating-rink that Charles Schulz, beloved creator of Peanuts, built for the community, because you wanted twenty people to know whether I had a penis. But yeah, my judgement is the bad one.” My guess is twice.

In which I think I’ve spotted the problem


So why aren’t there Ohio Safety Matches anymore? I have a hypothesis.

Trademark search results showing Ohio Safety Matches as a product of The Ohio Match Company, of Delaware, United States
From Bizapedia, the official pedia of Alberto Santos-Dumont’s canard biplane. And yes, I understand why the Ohio Match Company might incorporate in Delaware: Delaware is ALSO the name of a suburb of Columbus where Rutherford B Hayes was born. His house was been torn down and replaced with a BP gas station, but I don’t think the corrupt Compromise of 1877 is specifically at fault for the house-demolition or the Ohio Match Company going out. I think the match company can blame a bad gust of wind that came at the wrong time.

In which I think about Fly Me To The Moon for some reason


I got to thinking about Fly Me To The Moon, which is not a forgotten computer-animated movie from 2008 because even the people making it did not know they were making it. In the movie, a fly sneaks aboard Apollo 11 and saves it from Soviet flies.

The film has a page of goofs. It leads with the characters giving each other high-fives years before high-fives were a thing. Also, the movie apparently ends with Buzz Aldrin explaining to viewers that there weren’t any flies on Apollo 11.

Also the Wikipedia plot summary and the IMDB Goofs Page disagree about whether the Apollo capsule lands in the Pacific Ocean or in Florida. I grant that people of good will could disagree about the contents of an ambiguous scene. And that a movie does not need to have a single reading to be good. But I think if it is unclear whether an Apollo capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean or in Florida then the movie is doing something to stoke confusion, is all.

The trivia page mentions that this is Christopher Lloyd’s fourth film in which he interacts with members of the McFly family. So that’s also kind of sitting on my head today.

Filling my mind so it’s good that I got my work done early today


I want to make some joke about how ‘honest’ implies the existence of words ‘honer’ and ‘hone’ except I’m feeling not 100% sure that isn’t how we got ‘honor’ in there and I don’t want to look it up. Sorry.