In Which I May Have to Cut Back Here for an Exciting New Opportunity


I mean, I’ll try to keep doing whatever I’m doing here as long as possible. But .. well, this is just thrilling. The Institute for the Academy of Pop Culture approved my grant to study the question of why Arnold Stang was never on the Adam West Batman. I know, I know, it seems like nothing important. But the Grants Committee was persuaded by my argument that answering this could help provide a satisfactory answer to why Phil Silvers was never a Bat-villain, and close one of the big and exciting pop culture mysteries of that era.

For Those Waiting for My Statistics December Post


I know there’s people wondering where my exploration of the readership statistics the past month is. It’s always, somehow, my most-liked thing of the month. I think readers like to see whether this will be the time I get a reader from Greenland. It will not be. But I’ve been slow to get around to it, and I’ll share why: I’m still waiting for December 2021 to get better. And it sees determined to not. This leaves me … you know, I’m not disappointed, I’m just angry with it. I have similar issues with 2021 as a whole. I’ll give it a little more time to pick up and then just share the sad state of things as-is.

Reflecting on an end of the Christmas season


So they took the State Tree down from in front of the capitol yesterday. I mean the people who were supposed to take it down, and they were doing it as scheduled, so don’t go thinking this took anyone by surprise. Still, it’s a sad reminder that all the merriness and wishing-for-goodwill of the holiday season is passing. Plus, that tree’s going to end up sitting on the curb waiting for the city trash collectors to pick it up. The city trash collectors won’t pick up a tree unless you cut it into six-foot-long fragments. You’d think someone would tell the governor’s office about that. We go through this every year.

Photograph of the State Christmas Tree at its lighting, with the capitol in the background, and a fleet of drones in the distance arranged to make a picture of Santa Claus's face in the sky behind it all.
I was there at the lighting of the tree and, yeah, it was a bit of a jolt to see the sky had become permanently marked with a giant Santa face decorated in lights, but we got used to it in like two hours. I couldn’t tell you the last time I even noticed it.

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.

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.

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.

Tempus Fugitive


Sorry to be late, but I’m still trying to process how it is the satellite radio playing “Monster Mash” at me the other day. This is the time of year the satellite radio should be playing “Alice’s Restaurant”. What is “Monster Mash” doing out of its season?

In which we didn’t see the Moon not be visible


I didn’t see the lunar eclipse. I have good reason. I live in Michigan’s lower peninsula. The lower peninsula gets a persistent cloud layer that rolls in around early October and that lasts through May every year. It’s heavy enough that even our sunlamps have a vitamin D deficiency. I can’t tell you what the upper peninsula gets, because the snow is too heavy for people to exist in the upper peninsula from early October through May.

It’s just as well I didn’t see it. If I’d seen it I imagine someone might have expected me to do something about it. And I don’t have the energy to do something about the Moon. Or a long enough stepladder. I’m glad someone else took care of it.

How 1989’s got me running late now


So a friend referred me to a short-lived but fun game show, Now You See It, from 1989. Not directly from 1989; it made some stopovers in getting to me. But in the middle of the show came this commercial for a cereal supposedly called “S.W.Graham” and, well, here. From about 12:56 in:

This … this is somebody’s prank, right? Somebody wanted to spoof some of John Nesbitt’s Passing Parade shorts from the 40s. And their friend with the camera wanted to spoof 80s music videos and the singing-three-quarters-view-in-front-of-stuff composition? And their friend who could write just heard about Sylvester Graham and could not shut up about his food wackiness, right? And they put that together and slipped it into the only known copy of this episode. That has to be what happened, right? Because I have been trying for ao long to think of another set of events that makes this plausible, and I can’t, and now I’m running late on everything.

In Which My Understanding of _Krazy Kat_ Is Broken


I’m sorry, I’m having trouble working out how today’s vintage-1922 Krazy Kat, from ComicsKingdom, has a pop culture reference. I read Krazy Kat for cryptic, hard-to-parse wordplay. I don’t read it for jokes that, like, a normal person of the year 2021 has a chance of getting.

This paragraph isn’t anything important, I’m just adding a little more padding so that the comic appears below the tags and categories stuff in the left column so can run a little bigger. So to that end here are some more words: applesauce value center liquid accessory design Garaimal zinc. There. I’ve done all I can.

Titled ``Ready --- Aim --- Fire!''. Officer Pupp: 'It's getting to be a hard job, keeping that 'Mouse' from hitting 'Krazy ' with a brick every day. I must find some way to protect him ... ' He gives Krazy glasses: 'Now, 'Krazy', you wear these 'glasses', and nobody will dare hit you --- it's against the law. Now I won't have to watch over him - that 'mouse' won't have the nerve to hit him with those glasses on.' Krazy: 'My, but I feel like 'Harold Lloyd' --- ' [ Krazy spots Ignatz off in the next panel ] 'Hoy - 'Ignatz' - ' And Krazy innocently tosses the glasses aside as Ignatz readies to throw the brick.
George Herriman’s Krazy Kat for the 25th of October, 1922, and reprinted the 12th of November, 2021. I too am distracted by all the scare quotes around, like, “Mouse” and “Glasses” and “Harold Lloyd”. But I also like how in the fifth panel Krazy’s eye line is to Ignatz’s position in the sixth panel, the only place we see him. That might be coincidence. It’s only sensible Krazy be looking to the right, and most sensible compositions would place Ignatz somewhere in fifth-panel Krazy’s line of sight. But even if it’s accidental, it’s a great accident.

And now with the flowers


I realize we have bigger climate issues, what with having destroyed the climate and all. But around here we just realized it’s a month later than we should have planted the daffodils and tulips. It’s just been so warm, you know? Anyway, they’re in the ground now, but it’s so embarrassing to realize our flowers are going to bloom a month later than everybody else’s now.

The level I’m operating at today


Spent a long, long time chuckling at how this “Smoky Carolina BBQ” vegan jerky advertised itself with a picture of Kentucky, a state that is neither North or South Carolina, before finally noticing the company name is “Louisville” and that’s the largest single thing on the entire package.

Photograph of a package of Louisville Vegan Jerky Company's Smoky Carolina BBQ. Under the 'Smoky Carolina BBQ' is a picture of Kentucky, with a dot representing Louisville. While 'Smokey Carolina BBQ' as the flavor is prominent, the word 'LOUISVILLE' is more than twice as large.
Part of the trouble may be that I don’t eat jerky, so it shouldn’t much matter to me where it comes from.

So this week as you see me not understanding things, consider, this is my understanding-things baseline.

A message of importance to the young


So, now, I know that you want look to me as a respectable or “cool” figure. Before you bestow this trust in me, though? You should know that in the 80s I read more than one article about the making of Earth Girls Are Easy from in Starlog magazine. So, just, scale your expectations of me to that, please. Thank you.

I’m Out of Practice. Is This a Thing?


I’m trying to get back into writing short stuff, but, you know. I’m out of practice. Is this a thing?

The dragon was nonplussed by the offering of a vast quantity of fish. after a lot of thought the dragon explained, “You must have got something wrong … I don’t have a hoard of herring. I’m just a little deaf in this ear.”

Anyway please let me know on a scale of things, ranging from “a small thing” such as maybe an apple slicer through to “a reasonable-sized thing” such as a loaf of ciabatta bread. On looking back over this, also, I’m not sure I’m not just hungry.

In My Defense I Never Said the Song Was Bad, I Just Disagree With the Universality of Its Asserted Premise


Me, in 1984: Oh, Tears for Fears, you fools. I have not the slightest desire to rule the world! It would be no end of fussy petty decision-making. Every day would just be all this reading of data and projections and calculations to try and meet some goal it might not be possible to prove was met.

Me, from 1985 onward: [ Spends all his spare time playing ever-more-elaborate simulation and management games, apart from the time he spends thinking up even more ridiculous and fiddly management games. Earlier this year I had the idea for a game where you’re the Chief Financial Officer for a corporation big enough to need elaborate cash-management, such as by deciding how much to raise by stock issues, how much by bond issues, how much by commercial paper, how much by letters of credit, and so on. ]

The Name’s The Same


The thing is, if your name has a numeral suffix? Like, you’re YY Flirch III? Unless you’re a monarch or a Pope or something you don’t expect to keep that suffix your whole life. When YY Flirch I or II dies, you ascend to being YY Flirch II yourself. If they both die, you get to be YY Flirch I. Again, this if you started out as YY Flirch. If you started out as H K Fleeber you have other concerns. The thing we know is that if you’re YY Flirch III and also alive, then there’s a YY Flirch I and YY Flirch II out there being alive.

Now to the specifics. Thurston Howell III implies that Thurston Howell II and Thurston Howell I are still alive in the Gilligan’s Island universe. And not just when the gang was shipwrecked on Gilligan’s Island. In the TV movies made in the late 70s/early 80s, he’s still Thurston Howell III. The last movie even introduced his son, Thurston Howell IV. (Jim Backus wasn’t healthy enough to film scenes where robot duplicates of the Harlem Globetrotters run around. Or whatever the heck was going on.) A 68-year-old man was able to portray someone whose name implies his father and grandfather were still alive.

Never mind, like, all those episodes where some radioactive vitamin makes the Island grow celery stalks 24 feet tall. What’s going on with the Howell family genetics?

And before you go suggesting maybe the Howell family played fast and loose with the rules about numbered suffixes to names, shut up. We’re talking about The Howells. Under no circumstances are the Howells, of freaking Newport, going to be improper about their suffixes. Maybe Thurston Howell V might. But not III.

I can only see one solution that doesn’t require the Howell men to be so long-lived that Gasoline Alley characters ask how they get that old. That’s to suppose that Thurston Howell III was named after someone not his father. An uncle, perhaps, who by the workings of chance might be only one or two years older than he is. And easier still if Thurston Howell II is also named for someone only a little older yet. Let’s infer another uncle that’s only a year older still. I realize this implies the family went from zero Thurstons to three Thurstons in short order. But perhaps in their part of Rhode Island in 1910 everyone went a little Thurston-mad.

So anyway you see why it was important I solve this and not important that I fix that silly web site button nobody else was even asking me about anyway, boss. Thanks.

In which I wonder how exactly poison works in the Superman universe


So I was reading this collection of 1950s issues of the Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen comic books, apparently. For the most part these are stories about Jimmy Olsen being up to some nonsense for extremely complicated yet ridiculous reasons Superman dare not explain until the last page. Or that Jimmy Olsen can’t explain to Superman, again until the last page. It’s a lot of strange behavior from what are presented as people.

Here we get to a story that’s about this Ruritanian country that figures Jimmy Olsen is the Crown Prince. And he figures, fine, he’ll be king for a couple days while the wicked prime minister tries to kill him. Wouldn’t you? That develops about like you’d figure.

Black-and-white reprints of a couple comic book panels. In the first the evil minister dominates the panel, thinking, 'He doesn't know my henchmen have taken care of that drink', while in the background Jimmy Olsen, dressed as king, readies to drink a large fountain soda. In the second panel Clark Kent peers, using his X-ray vision, at Jimmy and the drink. Clark thinks: 'That soda ... X-Ray Vision shows it's poisoned!' The next panel is barely visible on the edge of the image.
Panels from “King For A Day”, a story running in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #4, March-April 1955. Story by Otto Binder, art by Curt Swan and Ray Burnley. I do like the position of that insert circle, and the way Clark Kent’s X-Ray Vision can be pointing right at the soda in the other panel. It’s the sort of small touch that makes for a good reading experience. Anyway when Superman drinks the poison without suffering any, the evil minister figures his underlings have screwed up the poison. So that’ll be a mark against them on the next employee review, which is a bit of a mean thing for Superman to do to them. On the other hand, they were poisoning the king, so they have to have expected someone would mark something on their records.

And … so … what was it in the soda that looked like poison? Little axe blades? A miniature version of that woman who’s sometimes in Spy Vs Spy and kills Spy and Vs Spy? A tiny magnet to pull a bunch of lead dust together into a bullet once it’s swallowed? What did Superman’s X-Ray vision X-see?

Anyway you’ll be glad to know Clark Kent is able to stop Jimmy from drinking the poisoned soda without revealing his secret identity of Batman. He thinks to ask “Hey, can I have that exact soda you’re drinking right now before you have it?” and Jimmy figures, yeah, why not? In the end, Jimmy Olsen stops being the fake king of this Ruritanian country.

In Which My Love Is Disappointed in Me


Our pet rabbit has hay fever, which I agree seems inefficient for a rabbit. But she gets these sneezing fits sometimes, with this week one of those times. Fortunately the treatment is a bit of children’s cough syrup. And even more fortunately she loves children’s cough syrup, even more than she loves collard greens, life itself, or intimidating my love’s parents’ dogs. To set your expectations about that last one, though, you should know one of those dogs is intimidated by a potato chips bowl that’s somewhat large. The point is it’s quite easy to give our pet rabbit cough syrup. It’s maybe easier than not giving her cough syrup. She’s that enthusiastic about it.

Daytime photograph, at a severe tilt, of a golden-furred Flemish Giant rabbit sitting up, on the couch, eagerly taking a plastic syringe full of cough syrup. The hand providing it is in a dark, long-sleeved sweater.
This photograph was not taken last night, as you could have deduced because it wasn’t nearly cold enough yesterday to be wearing long sleeves.

Last night right after finishing her medicine, she sneezed three quick times. My love quipped about why the rabbit would do that right after having her medicine. I had guesses. “Maybe she wants more syrup? Maybe she’s a hypochondriac?” And then I realized, and gasped, and said, “Oh, no!”, my tone worrying my love.

I diagnosed, “Our rabbit has Bunchausen syndrome”.


And on a separate, more serious rabbit-related note. It’s about Porsupah Rhee, a friend. And rabbit photographer; there’s an excellent chance you’ve seen one of her pictures likely captioned “Everybody was bun-fu fighting”. She’s having a bad stretch right now, and has a GoFundMe to cover immediate needs. If you are able to help, that’s wonderful of you. Thank you.

One more last thought about Conan O’Brien as a late-night talk show host


Boy, you know, I remember how smug I felt back in September 2018. And I’m sure you all know why. It’s because of that crack on an episode of the UPN sitcom Platypus Man (1995 – slightly later in 1995) when a character and/or platypus described something as even more unlikely than “a Conan O’Brien 25th Anniversary Special”. Well, we sure and safely showed Platypus Man a thing or two. But just think — what if the writer had referenced “a Conan O’Brien 30th Anniversary Special” instead? Then who would be laughing at who, and regarding what?

Anyway if I know anything about Platypus Man it’s that we weren’t laughing at it, we were laughing at it.

On looking over 2500 words about one episode of Conan


In looking over how much typing I did for that one episode of Conan, you know, I guess I see why the original Late Night Fan Abstract Project back in the days sometimes struggled to find someone who’d write up an episode where the comedy sketches were Celebrity Tombstones and Conan’s Lullaby, and the guests were Al Roker and whoever the secondary female lead was for the sitcom NBC was putting on Tuesdays at 9:30 Eastern/Pacific for the next six weeks.

Thoughts while waiting for the Showcases


Just got to thinking about a moment we must infer happened sometime in the 70s. The Price Is Right production team was thinking out ways to bring prizes out on-camera. And someone declared, “We shall have a tugboat pull them out!” Were they immediately recognized as wise? Were they laughed at at the time? But stayed confident in their rightness and lived to hear their doubters admit they were wrong? What were the rejected possibilities? Parachutes, obviously. Submarines, too, given the difficulty working out agreements with the show filming the next floor under them. LSTs.

Or am I thinking of it backwards? Did someone originally buy The Price Is Right Tugboat by some complicated mistake, and then go about looking for ways to use it? And every time it’s brought out they thank their lucky stars that it came out okay?

These are all questions I feel I cannot answer.

A question created when I was looking up _The Odd Couple_


All right, so Wikipedia brought me to this article about The Oddball Couple

It’s a mid-70s DePatie-Freleng cartoon …

It’s a Saturday Morning Cartoon version of The Odd Couple

The Oscar character is a dog named Fleabag. He’s voiced by Dick Dastardly actor, ventriloquist, and artificial-heart pioneer Paul Winchell

The Felix character is voiced by … yyyyyyyyyyes, it says Frank Nelson.

Did I make this up and slip it into Wikipedia as a gag and then forget?

Screenshot of Wikipedia's article about The Oddball Couple, a short-lived 1975 cartoon version of The Odd Couple, containing a picture of the title card and a paragraph describing the series.
I mean, yes, it looks convincing. That mossy-mold background for the title card is SUCH a DePatie-Freleng touch that it makes me suspicious. If this were really done in the 70s they’d sometimes get their style wrong. Also, Wikipedia says that Fleabag and Spiffy shared a secretary named Goldie Hound. At some point just having the mountain of evidence becomes suspicious.

Exceptional People


I was reading The Year We Had No President, Richard Hansen’s early-1960s study of the United States’s inadequate constitutional provision for a disabled or incapable President because … uh … I don’t know. I guess I interrupted a fairy circle and they enchanted me to be like this? Well, whatever. The point I got to this choice quote about President Garfield’s administration:

Except for Secretary of State [ James G ] Blaine and the young Secretary of War, Robert T Lincoln … the names of the Cabinet members are forgotten by all save historians.

Now. I will concede that Robert Todd Lincoln is a little bit remembered. He was at his father’s deathbed when President Lincoln died. He witnessed Charles Guiteau’s shooting President Garfield. And he was right outside the building at the Pan-American Exposition when Leon Czolgosz shot President McKinley. So everyone who got way too into Ripley’s Believe It Or Not as a kid remembers him.

But James G Blaine? Yes, of course I remember Blaine, Blaine, James G Blaine, Continental liar from the State of Maine (PS Burn this letter). But that’s because I’m a freak who merged with this college-level US history text I somehow got hold of as an eight-year-old. Even granting that Richard Hansen was writing sixty years closer to the events? I’m going to say he was way overestimating the non-historian recognition of James G Blaine.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe in 1962 James G Blaine leapt to the average person’s tongue the way Cordell Hull’s or Henry Stimson’s do today. I want to see Hansen’s citation is all.

From when it seemed the world could change


Just thinking back to that time when Windows 95 was coming out. And there were Microsoft fans, for some reason, and there were Apple fans, for some reason. And there were Microsoft fans, for some reason, insisting the Windows 95 user interface of the recycling bin was infinitely better than the Mac’s trash bin. After all, you don’t throw away your disk; you recycle the bits on it ito something new. And Mac fans argued back that you don’t recycle a file, you throw it out, maybe and maybe not replacing it with something new.

Anyway, considering how heated this debate got you can understand how we assumed we had used history up and nothing much would ever happen again.

New Discoveries in Old Star Treks


So like everyone in my age cohort I’ve seen the Original Star Trek episode “Journey to Babel”, where Spock decides all right he’ll save his father from death this time, I’d estimate 136 times. And yet I continue to discover new things in it. Most recent watching, particularly, showed something in the cocktail party scene. You know the one, where they have those two little gold guys in fezzes who’re very excited to drop some of the good sculpted soap that’s for guests only into their drinks. So, this time I spotted:

Cocktail party scene on the starship Enterprise. In the foreground Kirk and McCoy are joking around. In the background a purple woman in sparkling leggings and miniskirt, with a vest the color of her long hair so she doesn't quite look like she's wearing a top, smiles while looking at a guy with short, curly hair who's wearing a blue jumpsuit.
Screen shot from TrekCore. Also, props to the purple woman for managing to wear her hair long enough that NBC didn’t even notice she was topless!

So yeah, look at that purple woman on the far left, who’s heroically managing not to pass out dead while Chief O’Brien explains dogecoin all over her.

And that’s not even the end of her life story, as you can see from the next scene at the cocktail party:

In the foreground Ambassador Sarek pours a drink from a very tall lab cylinder. In the background Ambassador Gav readies his courage to come up and yell at Sarek. In the mid-ground, a purple woman in sparkling tights and miniskirt walks across camera, accompanied by a short-haired man in red Star Fleet uniform.
Screen shot from TrekCore. Is … is her miniskirt made of a low-cut shag carpet?

And how bravely she’s managing to not gnaw her own shoulder off while Other Chief O’Brien explains how to find the buffet table again.

How many Chief O’Briens do they even need in the 23rd century?

In Which I Wish to Blame This on the Synthesizer but It Was Really Just Me


Sorry, was just thinking about how I spent all my elementary and middle and high school education in special magnet programs for the unusually special-magnet-program-bound, and yet it took me like three years to realize that G.I.Joe nemesis Cobra Commander and the same voice as the Starscream the Transformer.

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