MiSTed: Safe Fun for Halloween (Part 2 of 4)


Welcome back to my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction riffing on the Popular Mechanics article “Safe Fun For Halloween”. The whole of the MiSTing should be at this link, as I finish posting it over the month. And you can read all the MiSTings that I’ve posted here at this link.

In Part 1 the author suggested a fun thing for your Halloween party is have your guests submit their fingerprints. But it’s not just the fun of a simulated arrest: the ink pad’s to be rigged up to give electric shocks! The author swears this is “surprising but not harmful”. If that isn’t fun enough for you, just read on …


> To offset suspicion, it is a good idea to place
> the left-hand electrode under a tablecloth.

TOM: Plus, the tablecloth helps you cover up the fried corpse.

> Direct contact with
> the metal is not necessary.

CROW: Just ramp it up to 186,000 volts there, Tesla.

> A long strip of metal along the
> edge of the table is better than a small plate

MIKE: As it’s a much easier cudgel to wave about.

> as any one seated
> at the table naturally rests the left hand somewhere along the
> edge.

TOM: [ In a nerdy voice, as the Victim ] “Do you electrocutify *all* your friends?” [ Whimper ]

>
> Another shocking episode, which may take place right on the
> “welcome” mat,

MIKE: [ Making air quotes ] “Welcome” mat.

TOM: No solicitors or emergency medical technicians. Thank you.

> is shaking hands with the “ghost host” who is
> a head taller than anyone in the party. See Figure 11.

CROW: Figures 2 through 10 omitted for the giddy fun of it.

> He
> stands near the entrance and extends his hand to the guest who

TOM: … who foolishly came to the party not expecting to struggle for his life.

> takes hold of a cloth glove having four wiggly coil-spring
> fingers.

MIKE: Ah, the Six Dollar And Thirty-Nine Cent Man.

CROW: Hey, in the Depression that was a lot of money.

> These and a metal door mat are the electrodes, and are
> connected to a vibrating coil or a toy shocking machine operated
> by someone behind the ghost.

TOM: I just think it indecent this is how they killed Bruno Hauptmann.

> The ghost has pearly eyes, which
> look as if they were suspended in void space of an empty hood.

CROW: [ As the Victim ] “I’m haunted by Muppets!”

>
> The next job to get the records straight is mugging.

MIKE: First, fashion your brass knuckles and find a stick as in Figure 24.

> This is
> done in a semidarkened room with a cardboard camera as in Figure
> 2.

CROW: A cardboard camera?

TOM: Yeah, my kid made it in second-grade art class. You get a Polaroid from it by drawing with magic markers.

> The startling effect comes when the light is suddenly
> flashed and a cap pistol is fired at the same instant.

MIKE: Ha ha! Now you’ve shot your friend in the face!

> After
> this, everything tried on the newcomer will be looked upon with
> great suspicion

CROW: [ As the Victim ] “Well, the mugging and the electrocution may have been accidents but *now* I suspect something’s up.”

> but he may be convinced to observe Mars without
> a shock or a scare.

TOM: Yeah, heck, why not?

MIKE: In the 30s you could not lose money asking people to observe Mars.

> He will actually see something through the
> enchanted telescope, pictured in Figure 3.

CROW: Now we’re on Figure 3?

MIKE: The “enchanted telescope”.

TOM: [ As the Victim ] “Are we entering your magic fantasy land?”

> When the star gazer
> first puts it to his eye he sees nothing, and is told to revolve
> it until he does.

MIKE: Ooh hoo.

TOM: I smell the bubbling-over of wacky.

> The eyepiece has a felt rim dipped in
> lampblack, which leaves an interesting ring around the eye.

CROW: Lampblack?

MIKE: Yeah, you know, so you don’t have those pesky “bright” lights.

> However, the victim has his reward for with one complete
> revolution of the telescope,

TOM: I have the sad feeling this isn’t just gonna be a ring around the eyeball.

CROW: I’m stuck on ‘lampblack’ still.

MIKE: It’s for offensive minstrel show light bulbs. Move on.

CROW: Oh.

> a swinging switch lever makes
> contact

TOM: Well, of *course* it does.

> and a small light inside reveals a witch or comic
> figure.

MIKE: And a 75,000-volt discharge right into the corneas!

> To make the telescope, use a mailing tube about 14
> inches long and 2-1/2 inches in diameter.

CROW: Like the dozens you have around your house already.

> Cardboard partitions
> hold the lamp bulb and the revolving switch, which are joined by
> a copper strip.

MIKE: Won’t they notice the little witch figure hanging off the front of the telescope?

> The switch must work freely. By making the
> tube in two parts, the assembly is easy.

TOM: Would it be even easier if I made it in four parts?

CROW: No! That way lies madness!

> Paper wrapped around
> it completes the joint. Four bands of black paper are wrapped
> around the telescope to make the sooty eyepiece less
> conspicuous.

MIKE: The lampblack doesn’t seem to be an important part of this.

[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Safe Fun for Halloween (Part 1 of 4)


I hope you’ve all been enjoying my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction treatment of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic “Breaking the Barriers”. I want to put that on pause, though, to bring you something more seasonal.

“Safe Fun For Halloween” was an essay published in Popular Mechanics 85 years ago. It’s got a staggering variety of activities, all billed as safe, all of which seem to involve electrocuting your friends. So I’m giving you the chance to enjoy these wild and, the magazine insists, safe pranks with homemade electrical-shock devices.

In the early part of the last decade ModernMechanix.com had a regular feature of showcasing odd stuff from old magazines. Sometimes it was fascinating, like 1960s plans for the city of tomorrow. Sometimes it was hilarious, like advertisements for potato-peeling machinery that supposedly would net you money. And sometimes it was an article like this that makes you wonder the heck was going on in 1936 anyway.

I meant this to be a low-key piece, which is why there aren’t even Mads sketches. Just a simple introduction and closing sketch. I published it near the end of the year and got a fair bit of mileage out of using that fact.

The whole of this MiSTing should be available at this link when I post it all>. And if you want to see all of the MiSTings I’ve posted, they’re here. And I’ll get back to “Breaking the Barriers” in November.



[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. The Desk. The decor is “several days past Christmas” with lingering wrapping and such cluttering the set; wrapping paper even covers the movie/commercial sign lights. TOM and CROW are behind the desk; MIKE is off-stage. ]

TOM: [ Eagerly ] Mike! Hey, Mike!

CROW: [ Gleeful ] MikeMikeMikeMikeMikeMikeMike!

TOM: C’mon, Mike, it’s important!


[ MIKE, carrying some plastic electronic gizmo that’s not working, and a screwdriver which will not improve matters, saunters on screen. ]

TOM: Mike! Mi–

MIKE: Yyyyyyes?

CROW: [ Still calling ] MikeMikeMikeMike!

[ MIKE puts a hand on CROW’s shoulder, making him stop. ]

TOM: Okay. Mike —

CROW: [ Quickly ] Mike!

TOM: Have you given any thought *what*soever into plans for our Halloween party for this year?

MIKE: It’s December 29th.

CROW: Exactly! We have to hurry!

MIKE: The 29th day of *December*.

TOM: Yes, yes, your true love gave to you and stuff. But we can’t just stand in an awkward line in front of haphazardly strewn decorations and call that a party.

CROW: [ Calling ] Mike!

MIKE: Two days to New Year’s.

CROW: So, *MIKE*, we called Pearl —

[ MIKE groans. ]

TOM: Yeah! And she promised to send us a bunch of fun ideas!

[ MIKE groans louder. ]

CROW: And, ah, it’s going to be from a _Popular Mechanics_ article from, like, the Great Depression.

[ MIKE covers his head as he groans. ]

TOM: Plus we have to get into the theater and read it when movie sign goes off or else and you know what else that else is or of.

[ MIKE, face-covered, groans and doubles over. ]

CROW: And, ah, Movie Sign went off like five minutes ago so we’re in *real* trouble.

MIKE: What?!

[ MIKE puts the gizmo down and pulls the wrapping paper off the signs, which start flashing MOVIE SIGN. General alarm among the BRAINS. ]

ALL: MOVIE SIGN!

[ 6… ]

[ 5… ]

[ 4… ]

[ 3… ]

[ 2… ]

[ 1… ]

[ THEATER. All file in. ]

MIKE: Haven’t I told you about having ideas without me?

CROW: Well … no.

TOM: You should tell us about it sometime.

> http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2011/10/28/safe-fun-for-halloween/
>
> SAFE FUN for HALLOWEEN (Nov, 1936)

CROW: Halloween in November! The best time of year.

MIKE: December 29th.

>
> Source: Popular Mechanics ( More articles from this issue )

TOM: Well, I hope so.

MIKE: There’s just the one article, thinnest edition they ever printed.

>
> Issue: Nov, 1936

CROW: Halloween ran a month late in 1936 because of the Depression.

MIKE: 29th day of the twelvth month.

>
>
> SAFE FUN for HALLOWEEN

MIKE: New, joy-less fun occupies time while leaving spoilsport parents secure.

>
> UPON arriving, every member of this Halloween party must be
> fingerprinted and “mugged” as regular routine for
> identification records in the archives.

TOM: Well! Already it’s a merry time.

MIKE: Last party I have planned by J Edgar Hoover and Meyer Lanski.

> The newcomer presses
> the thumb of his right hand down on the “ink pad,” for which
> purpose ordinary carbon paper will do.

CROW: Alternatively, ink pads may be used as ink pads.

TOM: Crow, that’s mad talk!

MIKE: You know, they were hard years, we had to make a single ink pad last through four years of Halloween safe fun!

> This is pasted to a
> piece of sheet metal on a small box which contains two dry cells
> and a Ford vibrating coil,

MIKE: A vibrating coil?

TOM: Man, these Model A’s were *kinky*!

> connected together as shown in Figure
> 1.

CROW: Figure omitted for clarity.

> The “guard” presses a push-button switch

TOM: Shouldn’t he *push* a push-button switch and *press* a press-button switch?

> the moment the
> guest touches the carbon paper and has his left hand on the
> table

MIKE: Oh, did I mention you need a table?

> directly over another sheet-metal plate also wired up as
> indicated.

CROW: A table and *another* sheet-metal plate? Man, fun is too complicated, this is why I like boring.

> The result is a sudden shock which is surprising but
> not harmful.

MIKE: B F Skinner sez, “That’s the Halloween for me!”


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 12 of 16)


A mysterious portal connects young protagonist Carrie’s Canadian hometown to the world of 90s computer-animated cartoon Reboot. Series villain Megabyte, who’s a vampire in Canada, bites Carrie. Back in the digital world, she becomes half-erased. As Carrie is not just the protagonist but also our author, which might prevent the story from ever finishing. But series hero Bob thinks he can rescue her, if series villain Megabyte keeps to a deal whose terms I don’t think I understand …

And that’s about where we are in Carrie L—‘s fan fiction “Breaking the Barriers”. Also in my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction treatment of it. The entire MiSTing should be available at this link and if it’s not, something will be, I’m sure.

I don’t think there are any riffs that need explanation this time. Somehow the Peter Potamus and the Skeksis references became less obscure than they were in 2003. In the host segment the game that Tom and Crow try distracting Joel and Gypsy with is a mish-mash of old-school games. The twisty maze of passages, or maze of twisty passages, references the 70s game Colossal Cave Adventure. The Vogons and the aspirin are, of course, from the interactive-fiction version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. That’s a game I sometimes got as far as the second room in. The ampersand was the character used to represent an enemy in … I want to say Rogue? I forget if there were a specific reference for the treasure room (Adventure?) and the chair by someone’s side. Hacking a game to turn off sprite collisions would let you get through a round without touching the bad thing killing your guy. But that could keep you from killing the badnasty jumpjumps, too.

I know it’s a bad idea to fall in love with your own writing. But the host sketch here, oh, I love it. I feel like it’s one of the times I captured the voice of the actual show. Crow’s unmotivated wanderings off-camera are there to give the stagehands time to put the stick in or take it out of his hands. I like host sketches that plausibly read like ones they might have been able to record. I also feel like I had a weakness for writing Joel sketches that end with a group hug but I don’t know if the statistics bear out that I wrote more of those than the average MiSTer did.


> * * * * * * * *
> * *
>
> Part Twenty-Four

CROW: I hope we get up to part 28, ’cause that’s a perfect number.

>
> Bob stood silently at the entrance to Dot’s Diner, Carrie
> lying limply in his arms.

TOM: They should just revert to the last saved copy.

> He looked up at the sign, and turned to
> Megabyte. "You have to be patient." Bob told him.

JOEL: I thought Carrie was the patient?

> "This is the only
> way we can return her to normal." Megabyte smiled slyly. "Don’t you
> trust me, Guardian?"

CROW: So if they pushed her back through the portal she’d be a translucent Canadian vampire.

TOM: That could get her a four-year run on UPN.

CROW: You’re right, we’ve got to stop her!

> He asked sarcastically. Bob frowned, and turned,
> pushing the door open. The place was almost deserted.

JOEL: Must be after the dinner rush — see, ’cause it’s … deserted…

> The only
> people there were Enzo and a rather frazzled looking Dot.

CROW: Yakko and Wakko have gone too far!

> As Bob
> entered, Enzo looked up. "Bob!!" he shouted jumping down from his
> stool. He was about to tackle Bob

TOM: Enzo’s veering dangerously close to Scrappy Doo territory.

> when he saw the half-erased sprite
> in his arms. Then his face turned fearful as he saw Megabyte
> following behind.

CROW: This is a weird parade.

> Bob carfully placed Carrie on the counter and Dot
> looked at her in shock.

JOEL: Hey, dead girl *off* the table.

> "What happened?" she asked, "Magnetic
> erasure? Like last time?"

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Last time?

JOEL: [ As Bob ] She was an ADSR waveform, she meant nothing to me.

> Bob shook his head. "It’s a long story,
> right now we need to help her.

CROW: Megabyte zapped her. Hey, that’s not so long.

> What she needs is pure energy." Dot
> nodded.

JOEL: If they download a Jolt ad I’m leaving.

> She didn’t even bother to ask Cecil,

TOM: She’s not getting The Straight Dope?

> she jumped down off her
> stool, and went to get it herself.

CROW: Let’s see… Pure Ivory Soap, pure baking soda, pure vanilla extract, pure table salt, pure baking powder, pure karo syrup, pure … this is harder than I thought.

>
> Bob looked down at Carrie, gently brushing her hair away from
> her face.

TOM: You know, Bob, this could be the chance for some upgrades…

> Enzo came and stood beside him. He looked up at Bob. "Is
> Carrie going to be okay?" he asked, worriedly. Bob smiled down at
> him, hiding his own fear.

JOEL: She has to be, or else one of the Skeksis has to die too.

> "She’s going to be fine." Enzo turned to
> Megabyte, gathering his nerve.

CROW: Aw, he’s gonna ask Megabyte out on a date!

> "You did this, didn’t you?" he asked
> bravely.

TOM: This is how you start an awkward conversation.

> Megabyte looked at him, then chuckled richly. "Of course."
> he rumbled, "Who else could do someting like that?"

JOEL: Taking a wild guess, L. Frank Baum in one of the lesser Oz books.

> Enzo bit his lip,
> struggling to fight back his tears. "How dare you!" he shouted,

TOM: [ As Megabyte ] Yeah? How I *double* dare you!

> shocking both Bob and Dot, who had returned with an energy shake.

JOEL: So now she’s got tea and no tea at once, right?

> "She’s my friend!!"

CROW: She is?

JOEL: Remember that earlier scene where she talked to him?

CROW: Oh, right, that’s friendship.

> Enzo stood right in front of Megabyte, to angry
> to be afraid of the imposing virus.

TOM: Enzo is going to have to try Peter Potamus’s patent-pending Hippo Hurricane Holler.

> He looked up at him defiantly,
> "You can’t do that!!"

JOEL: On television!

> Megabyte simply stared down at him, as Enzo’s
> eyes flooded with tears. "I won’t let you."

TOM: Never gonna let you go, I’m gonna hold you in my arms forever…

> He turned and ran out of
> the Diner. "Enzo!!" Dot wailed as she watched her little brother whip
> out his zip-board and zoom away.

CROW: So how is Enzo keeping Megabyte from hurting Carrie?

>
> Bob watched as Dot sat down on a stool, obviously drained by
> what had been happening.

TOM: Take two double A’s and call me in the morning.

> Suddenly, Carrie moved slightly, and her
> eyes began to flutter open.

JOEL: Maybe Enzo was thinking of somebody else.

> Bob stood near her, as she opened her
> eyes slightly. Dot looked up as Carrie tried to lift her hand towards
> Bob.

TOM: Hey, how come her arms get to work?

> He smiled and took it, holding it gently. "How are you
> feeling?" He asked her. Carrie smiled weakly. "Not too bad."

CROW: A touch small-Endian.

> she
> whispered. Bob reached out and touched her cheek. "You gave me quite
> a scare back there." he said.

JOEL: Stop telling people you see snakes everywhere. They’re scary.

> Carrie sat up with Bob’s help, and she
> swung her legs over the side of the counter. Dot frowned.

TOM: I hope she didn’t bleed electrons all over the menus.

> Why was
> Bob acting like this toward Carrie? What had happened back there? She
> stood up with the intention of asking Bob exactly those questions.

CROW: But first, this word from our subplot.

>
> After he had fled from the Diner, Enzo had gone to Old Man
> Pearson’s Data Dump.

JOEL: Sounds like the setting for a Scooby-Doo video game.

> He knew that he could find something, or
> someone, that could help him get even with Megabyte. He had never felt
> so determined.

TOM: It’s called an "off" switch.

> All he knew was that Carrie was one of the only
> sprites older than him that had treated him as an equal, not some
> little kid.

CROW: He’s a little too impressed by a girl who talks to him.

> Now she was hurt, and he wanted to seek vengance on the
> one who had done that to her.

TOM: And he’ll do it by wielding an old e-mail bulletin of the cafeteria’s menu at Megabyte!

> He smiled slightly. *I like that.*

CROW: It’s silly. Heheheheheheh…

> he
> thought. *The daring and brave Guardian Enzo seeks help to have his
> vengance on the viral evil of his system.*

TOM: Hey, isn’t that giving in to the Dark Side?

JOEL: Bad Enzo. No Dark Side. Bad Enzo.

> His imagination continued
> to whirl as he approached Sector 1001.

CROW: That’s Sector 1001 spelled backwards.

> He stopped infront of Old Man
> Pearson’s trailer. "Frisket!!" he called, "Frisket!!"

JOEL: Frisket? I hardly even *know* it…

> He jumped down
> off his zip-board and began to search for his pet.

TOM: Try looking under CBM.

[ JOEL picks up TOM; they and CROW leave. ]

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

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. The Monopoly game continues; about half the tiles have houses and hotels on them. TOM stands in front of the desk and, below desk top, has a rope tied around his hand. TOM’s token is in jail. JOEL, standing next to GYPSY, finishes moving MAGIC VOICE’s token onto an empty square. ]

CROW: Oh, I don’t believe it.

JOEL: [ Rolling dice ] Magic Voice lucks out again.

MAGIC VOICE: No need to sulk, Crow. Elvis edition never lets me down.

[ JOEL moves his piece ahead, to a square with one house on it. ]

JOEL: OK, that’s my second free landing on one of your squares. I get one more.

CROW: Yeah, yeah, all right. Just roll.

[ JOEL rolls; he moves CROW’s token onto one with a hotel. ]

JOEL: All right, Crow, that takes you to the Yankees edition, mine, hotel, you owe me 700 dollars.

CROW: Oh, gosh, well … uh … I think I’m a little short on cash…

JOEL: We can work it out. Now, what say I get two more free passes on your squares —

GYPSY: Ah-hem.

JOEL: — Right, yeah, I get one and Gypsy gets one of mine.

MAGIC VOICE: Hey!

JOEL: Right. I’ll need three, I owe Gypsy two of them, and then she passes one to Magic Voice.

TOM: Crow?

CROW: Yes, now.

TOM: [ Turning to face CAMBOT, and sliding to the side so the rope he holds goes slack ] WARNING! DANGER! INCOMING GAME!

GYPSY: What?

TOM: [ Continuing to warn ] INCOMING GAME! INCOMING GAME!

CROW: [ Sidling away, as a large cardboard box wrapped in aluminum foil drops over JOEL and GYPSY ] You’re going to have to defend us, guys, before this zone gets de-rezzed!

JOEL: [ As he is covered ] Guys, this isn’t going to —

CROW: It’s too late! You’re in a maze of twisty passages and the Vogon constructor ships are … uh … and there’s an aspirin in your pocket and everything!

GYPSY: [ Also covered ] I thought it was a twisty maze of passages?

[ CROW slides off-camera ]

TOM: Yeah, and you have to get to the treasure room fast.

JOEL: We’re just going to turn off sprite collisions, you know.


[ CROW, with a stick in his hand, slides back and taps the hotel off his token’s square; he swats TOM’s token out of jail quickly and slides back off screen. ]

TOM: Uh … um … that’s fine, you advance a level … and there’s a chair over by your side and what do you want to do?

[ A beat; GYPSY and JOEL stay silent ]

TOM: There’s a nasty-looking ampersand chasing after you too.

[ CROW, without his stick, slides back on screen. ]

CROW: And… I … I think they’ve beaten the user, then, right?

TOM: Oh, definitely … guys? You can come out now.

[ A beat. ]

CROW: Joel? Gypsy?

TOM: Magic Voice? Are you in there?

CROW: Just lift the box off…

TOM: Uh… game’s over. You can reboot.

[ CROW and TOM look at each other. ]

CROW: Give it a tug.


[ TOM turns around, pulling his rope. The box lifts, revealing JOEL kissing GYPSY’s cheek. ]

CROW, TOM: Gah!

JOEL: [ Noticing them ] Oh, hi there.

TOM: Well — what — what are you doing?

GYPSY: Gotcha!

JOEL: You were trying to cheat!

TOM: No! No, no, no —

MAGIC VOICE: Crow moved the pieces.

[ CROW growls. ]

JOEL: Guys, you can’t put Magic Voice in a box. She’s like Springtime, or children’s laughter, or green. You should know better.

CROW, TOM: We’re sorry.

GYPSY: That’s gonna cost you two free turns, Crow.

JOEL: Each.

CROW: Grr… aahhh…

TOM: I recommend surrender.

CROW: [ Angrily ] I’ll take it.

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial sign in five seconds.

JOEL: Now what did we learn here?

GYPSY: Don’t use "Reboot" to cheat in board games.

JOEL: Exactly. Give me a hug, guys. We’ll be right back.


[ JOEL hugs GYPSY and CROW as COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes. JOEL taps TOM’s head, and then COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 11 of 16)


I hope that you’re still enjoying this MiSTing of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fan fiction “Breaking the Barriers”. I’ve enjoyed looking back at this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction I wrote around 2003. You should be able to read the entire MiSTing at this link.

In the story so far Carrie has discovered a portal between small-town Ontario and the digital world of Reboot. Fortunately she lives in small-town Ontario and has a great time meeting the show’s heroes. Unfortunately the show’s villains emerge into small-town Ontario and threaten Melonville’s mall. She with the help of series hero Bob is able to get Megabyte back into the computer, but the digital virus Symble is getting into the action, and maybe even the mall.

If I wrote this today I wouldn’t use the leadoff joke about “can we go?” “No”. I feel the jokes about being stuck watching the source material work in the context of the actual show. Joel/Mike/Jonah and the bots are trapped watching. But, here? It’s harder to disbelieve that I chose to spend my time reading this, and that I must enjoy it enough to continue reading it. Plus it might give my readers ideas.

Houghton is a small town in Michigan’s upper peninsula, at the base of the Keweenaw Peninsula, which pokes out into Lake Superior. I used to know someone who went to school there. That said the last actual Radio Shack I saw in Michigan was around 2016 in Suttons Bay, a tiny town off the Grand Traverse Bay in the lower peninsula, and I think they were having a going-out-of-business sale.

I no longer remember the meaning of the “Thinkit” reference. Enik was the “good” Sleestak from the original, 1970s, Land of the Lost series. Yes, I know, he was actually one of the Altrusian forebears of the Sleestak propelled by a time-portal accident into (for him) a post apocalyptic future he hoped he could escape and somehow prevent, but it’s important not to add unenlightening complications when you explain something.

The Compute!’s Gazette thing about undoing the ‘NEW’ command. ‘NEW’ was the command you typed in to erase whatever program was in your Commodore’s memory. But it didn’t really erase your program. It just put zeroes at the start of the program’s memory, the code for ‘end of program’. If you started typing a new program, that would replace what used to be there. But if you didn’t? If you used the ‘POKE’ command you could change those zeroes back to a sensible start of your program, and undo this ‘erasure’. Learning this kind of thing is what I did in the 1980s instead of having fun.

You can tell this is my sort of humor writing because no successful writer would leave in a joke about tariff rates within the British Commonwealth.


>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

JOEL: That’s actually a very funny joke, but only on Hollerith cards.

> Part Twenty-Two

CROW: The house is busted. Can we leave?

TOM: No.

>
> Bob stood silently, watching the computer screen for any sign
> that Symble had succeded.

CROW: The smiley face isn’t sign enough?

> He had teamed up with him in the hopes that
> Symble would be trustworthy enough to keep helping him.

JOEL: That’s probably wiser than teaming up with Phong, Dot, and Enzo.

> He had heard
> rumours about a sprite and a virus initializing a child, but he had
> passed it off as fanciful speculation.

TOM: Mixed dating? Unthinkable!

> When Symble told him he was a
> hybrid, he had remembered all those rumours and whispered stories.

CROW: But after he met Symble’s lovely parents Sarek and Amanda, he underestood.

> Suddenly, Carrie’s computer began to beep,tearing him from his
> thoughts. Bob looked over at Megabyte. "That should mean that
> Glitch was successful."

TOM: Or that she’s wanted on Yahoo Messenger. I’m not sure.

> he told him, "This should take you to
> Mainframe. I’ll follow after."

CROW: [ As Bob, snickering ] Right behind. Yup. Just head on in…

JOEL: Doctor *Robotnik* wouldn’t fall for a stunt like *this*.

> Megabyte looked down at Bob. "I
> trust you wouldn’t try to doublecross me."

TOM: Even though he’ll never get as good a chance again ever.

> He rumbled, suspitiously.
> "I can’t." Bob said. "I don’t belong here either."

CROW: I’m not even supposed to be here today.

>
> Bob turned and walked over to Carrie. "I’m going to go after
> Megabyte

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] But he’s right here.

TOM: [ As Bob ] No, I mean I’m going in after him.

> so I can keep my end of the bargain." Bob said,

CROW: The bargain was he’ll let Megabyte go.

> "You’ll be
> okay. Won’t you?" Carrie nodded. "I know about vampires."

JOEL: How?

> she
> assured him. "He didn’t do enough damage to seriously hurt me.

CROW: She can replicate spare parts and be back to operational in just a couple star dates.

> But I
> want to go with you!!" Bob shook his head. "I don’t want you to be in
> any danger." He whispered, "You’ll be safer here."

TOM: Besides, I don’t want to tell your parents about the vampire thing.

> He turned to see
> Megabyte being pulled into the computer screen.

JOEL: It’s a good thing Carrie has a wide screen monitor. Can you picture them all squeezing into a Macintosh SE?

> Carrie forced herself
> to sit up.
>
> "I’m going with you." She told Bob, then pulled herself up
> onto her shaky legs. She lost her balance, and started to fall.

JOEL: Looks like she picked the wrong week to start roller skating everywhere.

> Bob
> caught her, and Carrie wrapped her arms around him, startled by her
> inability to stand.

TOM: [ As Bob ] Carrie, uh, me leaving is more effective if I go.

> "Be careful!" Bob said. Carrie looked up into
> his eyes as he supported her weight.

CROW: Meanwhile Megabyte’s had enough computer time to conquer the mainframe ten times over.

> She hated not being able to
> recover quickly, but yet, she loved being held by Bob.

JOEL: Like she was the entire walk back from the mall.

> She smiled at
> him sheepishly, and he returned it with his killer smile. Carrie’s
> imagination began to fly. She had hoped for this moment for so long!
> To be held by Bob was a dream come true!!

TOM: To hold Bob here while Megabyte conquers his home computer and all he holds dear!

> She continued to stare into
> his eyes, hoping he would sweep her off her feet, like he did in her
> dreams.

[ ALL hum theme from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ ]

> Instead, he picked her up and put her back on the couch.
> "You just stay here."

JOEL: Or I’ll turn this computer around and take you right … oh, you’re home.

> he said, softly brushing her cheek. "I’ll be
> seeing ya!" And he dove through Carrie’s computer screen.

TOM: Wait, they should’ve swapped e-mail addresses.

>
> Carrie wasn’t about to be left behind. She got to her feet
> again, and dove towards her computer before her legs could give out.

CROW: Unfortunately, only her head and torso made it through before the portal closed again.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

JOEL: It’s an ergonomically designed light saber.

>
> Part Twenty-Three

TOM: Skidoo!

>
> Symble stood warily as this virus approached him. He didn’t
> like the way she was looking at him.

JOEL: He’s creeped out by that popping out the eye and waving it around.

> It made him feel like a peice of
> hardware on sale in the shops lining Picadilly Circuits.

CROW: Picadilly? I hardly even know a … wait.
[ JOEL puts a hand on CROW’s shoulder. ]

TOM: Since this story was written Picadilly Circuits has become a Radio Shack in Houghton, Michigan.

> "Who are
> you?" he asked. The virus smiled, revealing sharp teeth.

TOM: Martha Ray, Denture Wearer.

> Symble
> stepped back cautiously. "You needn’t fear me yet." Hexadecimal said.
> "I am Hexadecimal,

JOEL: Thinkit will be so glad to know.

> and I control Lost Angles, for now." She stepped
> closer, and Symble hissed warningly, baring his fangs.

CROW: Wouldn’t it be funny if his teeth fell out right now?

TOM: The vampire fangs would be scarier if he didn’t have the kooky googley eye glasses and Groucho nose too.

> "I may be half
> virus, but don’t provoke me.

TOM: Unless his other half is Neville Chamberlain.

> I will erase anyone who threatens me.
> Virus or Sprite." Hexadecimal giggled.

CROW: Hey, they’re chattering vampire teeth!

> It was a rather unpleasant
> sound, and it made Symble all the more uncomfotable around this virus.

JOEL: He should change his laugh sound to that charming ting noise.

> He was getting very close to the portal now, and he could feel the
> energy radiating from it.

TOM: [ As Bela Lugosi ] PULL the STRINGS!

> "Come now." Hexadecimal said. "You’re new
> around here, and I want to know who you are."
>

CROW: Why not check his web site?

JOEL: There’s spiders in it.

> Suddenly, someone stepped out of the portal. He was a virus
> once again, and he prefered it that way.

TOM: We now join our plot already in progress.

> He looked over to find the
> virus that had sent him through the portal in the first place standing
> in front of Hexadecimal.

JOEL: Enik?

> This virus was poised defensively, and he
> could tell that Hex found this rather amusing.

CROW: It is … oh, you kind of have to be here.

> Megabyte extended his
> claws.

TOM: I bet it’s a real bad day when that happens by accident.

> Virus or no virus, this newcomer had meddled in business other
> than his own, and he would pay dearly. Before Megabyte could do
> anything, he was hit from behind.

JOEL: Uh … woops … I meant to say, ‘Fore’ …

> He was thrown to the ground, and he
> could feel someone standing on his back. "Attack my partner?

TOM: Please!

> I don’t
> think so." Bob looked down at Megabyte, and then stepped off him.

CROW: This way Megabyte can escape and wreak havoc again.

> "I
> agreed to get you here, but I’m still not going to let you hurt anyone
> ." Megabyte stood up, and casually brushed himself off.

TOM: Oh, he’s doing his classic "Little Tramp" routine.

> Symble
> turned and looked at Bob. "So, you’ve returned." He said. "I guess
> this means the next move is mine."

CROW: They’re playing checkers by e-mail.

>
> He turned toward the portal, fully extending his blades.

JOEL: And he’s embarassed because today he only put on the cheese slicers.

> Before he could reach it, someone came diving through it.

TOM: Uh-oh … we could be looking at a Carrie-ka-bob.

> Symble
> caught the figure, and looked into the face. It was Carrie. She was
> unconcious and partially erased.

CROW: Fortunately, Bob read the article in Compute!’s Gazette about how to undo the ‘NEW’ command.

> Symble turned to Bob as he ran
> forward. "Oh no!" Bob said, "I told her not to follow me!"

TOM: Maybe this was pure coincidence.

> He took
> Carrie from Symble and picked her up. She was very weak. Her energy
> had been almost completly drained.

JOEL: The Pizza Hut didn’t save her life after all?

> She was even becoming transparent.

CROW: Aw, that’s just because her skin’s the Chroma-Key color.

> *I have to get help!* he thought. He pulled out his zip-board.
> Before he could get on it, Megabyte grabbed his arm. "Guardian." he
> said.

TOM: You said you’d call.

> "You still have your end of the bargain." Bob just looked at
> him. "I’ll keep my end." he told him.

JOEL: Look, it’s the fifth door on the right, just after the bathroom. Sheesh.

> "But first, I have to help
> Carrie." Megabyte frowned. "Only if I go with you." he rumbled,
> ominously.

TOM: Or what, he’s going to attack Bob and almost kill Carrie?

> Bob started to protest, then thought the better of it.
> "Alright." he said. "Let’s go."
>

TOM: Did they even need to *go* to Canada?

JOEL: With those scenes the story qualifies for better tariff rates in the Commonwealth.

TOM: Oh.

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 10 of 16)


Welcome to part 10 of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic, “Breaking the Barriers”. You can read, and I hope enjoy, the whole story at this link. You can read, and I hope enjoy, all my MiSTings at this link.

A mysterious portal opened between our protagonist and author Carrie’s home and the world of Reboot. After journeying into the pioneering animated series, its characters went and pioneered right back into Carrie’s small Canadian hometown. Big series bad guy Megabyte, translated into the real world, turns out to be a vampire and to hang out at the mall. And what’s on at the food court but Carrie?

Back when I wrote this around 2002, that Google could give you results in any language or even “Elmer Fudd-ese” was a new and fresh and weird discovery. The Thundarr the Barbarian riff alludes to one episode where Ariel magically gigantifies some dimes so they can be shields. I have replaced one riff that I think was too easy to mis-read as sexist. And otherwise I’m not sure there are any other riffs that could benefit from explanation. So, failing that, please enjoy.


>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

JOEL: Hadrian’s Wall, the early years.

> Part Twenty
>
> Carrie’s mind began to whirl. Nothing like this had ever
> happened to her before.

CROW: Except that one weekend she saw Yancy Street.

> She began to panick, kicking and fighting
> feebly against Megabyte’s iron grip. She could feel herself losing
> conciousness, when Megabyte suddenly pulled away and looked at Bob.

TOM: His venom turned her into Silver Age Lois Lane.

> "Now, Bob." he rumbled, " Your friend will not be harmed any further
> if you do as I asked."

JOEL: Hey, should Carrie and Bob have garlic breath that chases him off?

> Carrie hung limply in Megabyte’s arms. She
> tried desperately to speak or lift her head, but she had no energy.

CROW: Her neck deflated!

> She could see Bob out of the corner of her eye, and she watched in
> horror as he looked down at the ground, submissively. "Alright,
> Megabyte."

TOM: Megabyte is *this* close to crossing the line.

> He whispered. "I’ll bring you back, but you have to allow
> me to look after Carrie." Megabyte chuckled.

CROW: [ As Megabyte ] "Dilbert" was really funny today!

> "You are in no position
> to bargain, Guardian." Then he smiled, "But, I am not totally without
> mercy."

TOM: Aren’t you supposed to be?

> He held Carrie out for Bob to take. Carrie could feel Bob’s
> arms, and suddenly she was free of Megabyte’s grip.

CROW: [ As Megabyte ] Whoops — slipped!

>
> She felt safer in Bob’s arms, yet she was terrified at the
> same time.

JOEL: Megabyte doesn’t have a way of soothing people around him.

> Bob couldn’t let Megabyte into the Supercomputer!! He
> could conquer any system if he got into the Armory!

TOM: Within days the world could be flooded with spam and dopey online petitions.

> She struggled to
> force her body to move. She had to tell Bob not to do it!! Then she
> realized something.

JOEL: Turning into a vampire could be really cool.

> If Bob had Glitch, then the tear wasn’t a portal
> anymore.

CROW: That’s a sentence we’ve never seen before.

> How had Bob gotten through?

TOM: Maybe the tear was still a portal.

> Did he have someone helping
> him? Her mind was a jumble of questions as they entered her house and
> went down into the basement.

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] Why does Megabyte want my laundry?

> As they approached her computer,
> Carrie’s fear grew.

CROW: They might find her archive of naughty Animaniacs pictures!

> This meant that Bob really was going to allow
> Megabyte into the Supercomputer to save her. She had to stop him!!

TOM: They’re not saying a lot on this hike home.

JOEL: It’s that awkward silence where they were quiet too long to just start talking again.

>
> "Now, Bob. I want a portal to the Supercomputer’s Armory."
> Megabyte demanded.

CROW: [ As Bob, bargaining ] I know how to make Google’s translate-to-Elmer-Fudd your home page.

> Bob gently placed Carrie on her couch, brushing
> the hair off her forehead gently. "Don’t worry," Bob whispered to
> her. "I know what I’m doing."

TOM: First time for everything, huh?

> Carrie smiled weakly, "I don’t want you
> to let him through just to save me." She whispered hoarsely.

JOEL: But a promise is a promise…

> "Now,
> Guardian." Megabyte interrupted. Bob stood up and turned to Megabyte.
> "I’ll do it." Bob said,

TOM: But before I do, I want you to sing "You’re A Grand Old Flag." Two verses.

> "But you have to allow Carrie to stay behind,
> to make sure she’ll be okay."

CROW: [ As Bob ] Uhh… will you fall for that?

> Megabyte smiled. "Certainly," he said
> softly,

TOM: We wouldn’t want to keep his hostage around until after his demands are met.

> "We wouldn’t want her to suffer, would we?" Bob pulled Glitch
> from his pocket and opened it.

JOEL: Scotty, beam us up.

> He quickly pressed the ‘send recorded
> transmission’ button Glitch had provided.

TOM: He’s pirating free TV!

> Silently, Glitch sent the
> message to Bob’s accomplice waiting on the other side.
>

JOEL: Unfortunately, it’s mistaken for that Nigerian financial scam.

> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

CROW: It’s a road map of Shipshewana, Indiana.

> Part Twenty-One
>

TOM: This is the chapter Charles van Doren helped with.

> He stood silently, peering at the tear before him. *Why do I
> always do this?* he thought.

CROW: For the love of the game?

> *I have better things to do.* He
> crouched down, extending his right blade slightly, and started to draw
> in the dust on the ground.

JOEL: If Marvel Comics owned Marvin the Paranoid Android.

> He was just becoming interested in his
> doodles, when his Web-Echo Collector chirped softly.

CROW: He accidentally created Flash animation.

> Looking around
> quickly, Symble made sure there were no more viral binomes around.

TOM: He sent them all back to Newton for binomial expansion.

> He
> had dealt with the ones that had followed Megabyte quickly enough that
> they had no time to call for backup.

JOEL: And by ‘dealt with’ we mean ‘killed.’

> He pulled the small Collector
> from his belt and listened to the message from Bob.

TOM: [ As Collector ] Bob Bob bo bob, banana fana fo fob, mee mi mo mob —

CROW: Click! Bzzzzzzz…

> ‘Symble,’

JOEL: Shephard.

> his
> Collector said, ‘I need you to open a portal to the Chalo Omega
> System’s energy transport.

TOM: Wouldn’t it solve the problem to beam Megabyte to whatever company owns Amiga this week and let them go bankrupt?

> You have to be ready for Megabyte.’
>

CROW: How scared can we get of a villain who fits on one three and a half inch floppy?

> The transmission ended and Symble stood up. He walked toward
> the tear, and extended both blades.

JOEL: Oh, this scene’s just here for the symbolism.

> He stopped just in front of it,
> and closed his eyes in concentration.

TOM: Ohwaaaaa…

JOEL: Tagooooo…

CROW: Siammmmm…

> His breathing slowed and he
> lifted his blades toward the tear.

TOM: If those are conductive blades he could be setting himself up for a *nasty* shock.

> As they approached the sides, he
> opened his eyes again. They had become completely silver.

CROW: The sides, the blades, or his eyes? You make the call.

JOEL: Silver the color, or silver the metal?

> He looked
> forward unseeingly as his blades touched the sides of the tear. The
> energy began to course through his arms, and then his body,

CROW: Found the capacitor!

> yet he
> didn’t react in any way. He stood like that for a nano, then
> something incredible happened.

JOEL: He was hired as acting coach for "Enterprise."

> The tear flickered briefly, then
> became a silver sphere,

CROW: It’s a giant dime! Thundarr the Barbarian was looking for those!

> the same silver as Symble’s eyes had become.
> He stepped back and, blinking, his eyes returned to the usual black on
> red.

JOEL: This is a strange form of color-blindness to catch.

>
> Another person was looking on, quietly from the shadows.

CROW: Polonius!

> She
> had witnessed the whole scene with Megabyte and a sprite she had never
> seen before.

TOM: It’s Carrie’s mom, she’s reading the story!

> The Guardian had followed behind, after foolishly
> testing this new virus.

JOEL: These British newspapers are quirky.

> What she couldn’t figure out was why this
> virus had helped Bob follow her brother. Hexadecimal was glad to see
> him go.

CROW: Binary, octal, and sexagesimal were torn and undecided.

> Now she had all of Mainframe to herself. Yet, she felt
> compelled to simply sit and watch the virus as he guarded the portal.

TOM: It’s not the virus so much as it is the flying toasters.

> She found him intriguing, almost as though she knew him from
> somewhere.

JOEL: She saw him on an earlier episode of the show!

> What she found especially facinating was the fact that
> this virus could also form portals, but by using tear energy, rather
> than his own, as she did.

CROW: Never underestimate the power of a good cry.

> *I must meet this new one.* she thought,
> then stepped from the shadows.
>
> Symble’s ears turned as they picked up a sound behind him. He
> whirled and looked around warily. "Who is out there?"

CROW: Carrie hasn’t decided yet who to have in the story. Sorry.

> he asked the
> silence, "Show yourself!"

JOEL: At least do some funny shadow puppet tricks!

> He stood, poised on the balls of his feet,
> ready to pounce, when a very feminine virus stepped out from the
> shadows.

TOM: What makes a computer virus feminine?

CROW: When she holds your files you only pay 71 cents on the dollar ransom.

> "You don’t have to worry about me." she murmured,

JOEL: I worry for me, so you don’t have to!

> "I pose
> you no harm…yet." Symble watched as her mask changed to a
> suspitious one.

TOM: [ Laser noises ] Ptoo… ptoo ptoo…

> "But, what are you doing in my brother’s territory?"
> Symble looked at her, surprised. "Your….Brother?"

CROW: Luke?

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 9 of 16)


We’ve reached the halfway point in my current Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This is of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fan fiction, “Breaking the Barriers”. You can read the whole MiSTing here, and I hope you enjoy it. The mysterious portal that brought Carrie into the world of beloved animated series Reboot has returned, dropping her, Bob, Glitch, and the villain Megabyte in her Canadian hometown. And now — Megabyte has gone to the mall!

This was always one of my favorite MiSTings and the whole mall sequence is one of my favorite parts. I felt, at the time, like everything was landing well, and I still think so. The mall riffs have dated, but gloriously so. I couldn’t have written the jokes to be so late-90s/early-2000s if I’d tried. The host sketch to open this is also a weird delight. I kept up the conceit of playing out the Monopoly game while talking about other stuff. I think the Adam West jokes were from a first draft at a show-opener sketch that I could’t make work. But it served as a great introduction to Tom Servo’s thing. This sketch is packed with local riffs, and they’re based on Troy, New York, where I had just finished grad school. So the Latham Circle Diner, the 76 Diner, and the Chinese restaurant just south of it were real places. As the name suggests they were near, though not attached to, the Latham Circle Mall beloved in dead-mall … circles. Shalimar’s was this Pakistani-Indian restaurant in downtown Troy that I never ate at enough, but enjoyed each time I did, and am delighted to learn is still there. (Also the comic book shop across the street is still there, somehow.)

Kaya buns, meanwhile, are this kind of Malaysian/Singaporean treat, bread buns with sweet coconut jam filling. Also in the early 2000s Coke experimented with flavors like Lemon Coke, thus, the Durian Coke riff. Scooter Computer and Mister Chips (they’ve got the answers at their fingertips) was a set of public service advertisements ABC ran on Saturday mornings in the 80s trying to explain computers to kids. The “Kirsten to Bridge? Kirsten to Engineering?” riffs reference the legendary Stephen Ratliff Kids Crew/Marrissa Picard stories. I participated in the riffing on many of those. I’d like to share them, but I’m not sure if I ought without permission from the co-authors. At least the editor. (Where possible. Bill Livingston, one of the greatest MST3K fanfic writers of the era, died about a decade ago, for example.)

This segment closes on the riff “If Carrie had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened”. This was a line I put in pretty near every MiSTing I wrote for a long while. It was drawn from the Woody Woodpecker cartoon Bunco Busters, a cop show spoof, in which Woody keeps falling for Buzz Buzzard’s cons while the stern narrator tells us how this could have been avoided. Turns out I got the line wrong. The narrator says “If Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened.” The difference is tiny but it hurts me that I got it wrong. But it had been like fifteen years since I’d seen the cartoon, and it was basically impossible to watch videos online in 2002, even if Woody Woodpecker cartoons had been online. So I must live with a misquoted riff in, like, everything I wrote. Too bad.

Alex Trebek was from what is now Greater Sudbury, Ontario. This fact exhausts what I knew of the place in 2002 as well as what I know now.



[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. The Monopoly set is still on the desk, with the pieces pretty well moved around; a few houses are scattered around the board, including one on Free Parking. GYPSY, CROW, and JOEL are waiting. CROW seems deep in thought. ]

MAGIC VOICE: Why is it always the guy whose turn it is who goes missing?

GYPSY: Would you notice if somebody else left?

JOEL: OK, we give him another minute then go on.

[ TOM SERVO pops up. ]

JOEL: Hey, Magic Voice, can I buy the Peanuts edition from you?

MAGIC VOICE: But you can’t do anything with it.

JOEL: I know, but I like Peanuts.

MAGIC VOICE: Give me a turn to think it over.

JOEL: Fair enough. Hey, Crow, buddy, you awake?

CROW: [ As JOEL nudges him. ] Oh! Joel, do we really know that Ariel (Disney’s The Little Mermaid) and Adam West were different people?

JOEL: [ Taken aback ] Well, one was a cartoon, who could sing, and who was surrounded by colorful and zany characters.

GYPSY: And the other was a mermaid.

CROW: Yeah, but did we ever see them both at the *same* *time*? And if we did, did we know the ‘Adam West’ wasn’t a robot or Alfred in disguise?

JOEL: Uh … well …

[ As ALL ponder this, TOM jumps up. ]

TOM: Greetings!

JOEL: Ah, Tom, it’s your turn. [ He rolls the dice. ]

TOM: Please, do not be alarmed by my presence!

CROW: We’re not. We want to know if you’re buying the Disney edition.

TOM: Yes, I am Thomas Servo. I come to you from the “real world”! In it, you are all the beloved characters from a famous television show.

[ Two beats. ]

CROW: All right, Tom, and where are you going with —

TOM: I’m new to this world! Don’t fear me.

GYPSY: He’s not gonna buy the title.

JOEL: [ Giggling ] So would you like some of our un-real food?

TOM: Why, yes, please.

JOEL: OK. So what do we give a visitor to our reality?

CROW: Ten seconds to go or pass.

GYPSY: How about a RAM chip?

JOEL: Or a block of cheddar cheese?

TOM: White Castle burger would be nice.

CROW: Roll for Cambot, Joel.

[ CAMBOT quickly nods. JOEL rolls; he moves the piece. ]

JOEL: You know what I’d like, my first meal in a new dimension? A thick chocolate shake.

CROW: Fine, then. Kaya buns.

GYPSY: Hey, that’s my square. [ JOEL takes $80 from CAMBOT’s pile and gives it to GYPSY. ] Maybe we should take him to a restaurant?

JOEL: Old Country Buffet for somebody from another dimension?

TOM: I’d be fine with Popeye’s too.

CROW: Now, see, I’d say the Latham Circle Diner or Shalimar’s is more representative of our reality.

GYPSY: Or the 76 Diner, on Route 9.

JOEL: The Chinese buffet just south of there.

[ JOEL rolls, advances GYPSY’s token. ]

MAGIC VOICE: The one with the pizza slices? And the Philly cheesesteaks?

GYPSY: Yeah!

JOEL: That’s the one.

TOM: Yes, this will do nicely.

CROW: Ok, you going to drive, Joel?

JOEL: Yeah, let’s go.

[ JOEL starts to leave; GYPSY and CROW follow, leaving TOM alone. ]

GYPSY: Shotgun!

MAGIC VOICE: [ A moment behind GYPSY ] Shotgun!

CROW: [ Leaving camera ] Aw, you always get shotgun.

JOEL: [ Leaving camera, voice fading ] The rules are the rules. Hey, what’s with this Adam West/Little Mermaid thing?

GYPSY: [ Off-camera, fading ] Usually you think like that at the start of the day’s experiment.

CROW: [ off-camera, faint ] I don’t know, it just came up is all.

[ Several beats. ]

TOM: I don’t think I’m interacting with this reality well.

[ TOM looks around. ]

TOM: Hey, the Coca-Cola edition’s mine! Crow owes me!

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes ]

TOM: And now we’ve got movie sign too… JOEL!

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

[ THEATER. TOM is by himself. ]

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

TOM: It’s a very confused trail of ants.

>
> Part Eighteen

TOM: This was the original title of Part Twenty-Two.

>
> As Megabyte wandered through the crowd, he wondered if
> everything about him had changed.

TOM: You ever feel like the world’s Manhattan and you’re Greater Sudbury, Ontario?

> He certainly felt different. His
> normal viral impulses had given way to stronger and stranger ones.

TOM: He’s becoming a compulsive spender.

> For some reason, all these people surrounding him, seemed like prey.

TOM: Even his bunny books seem empty to him.

> Yet, they only talked to and interacted with each other. He could see
> no evidence that anyone looked upon him as a predator.

TOM: Maybe Canadians just don’t naturally distrust mall-walkers.

> And he also
> had this knowledge that he was now able to infect them, but not as a
> virus.

TOM: So interdimensional portals give you a lot of exposition?

> Unsure of these feelings, he simply continued to wander
> through the crowds.

TOM: And he’s attacked by a focus group that wants to know if he likes new Durian Coke.

>
> As Carrie and Bob ran into the crowd of people, they began
> looking for Megabyte.

TOM: He’ll be easy to spot, since he’s the only guy at the mall with a proper name.

> "Can you see him?" Carrie asked. "No." Bob
> said.

[ JOEL, CROW file in. JOEL cracks open a fortune cookie. ]

TOM: About *time*, guys.

JOEL: "Your friends are often surprised by your kindness."

TOM: That’s an ambiguous fortune.

CROW: It’s your cookie, Tom.

[ JOEL feeds the cookie pieces to TOM. ]

> "He’s no where in sight." "Maybe we should split up and look
> for him that way." Carrie said. Bob thought about that for a second.

JOEL: Scooby, Shaggy, and Velma can check the basement. We’ll check the attic.

> "O.K." he said, "But, I’m giving you Glitch’s extension peice. If you
> find him, call me through Glitch. Don’t confront him alone."

CROW: Yeah, that advice will last for seconds.

> Carrie
> blushed at his concern for her well being. "Thanks," she said, taking
> the extension. "I’ll be careful."

MAGIC VOICE: [ Startling JOEL, TOM, and CROW ] Fifteen seconds until Carrie is captured. Fifteen seconds.

JOEL: [ Recovering his composure ] I knew that.

TOM: Did *not*.

> Bob smiled shyly, then did
> something really unexpected. He stepped close to Carrie, and kissed
> her gently on the cheek. "I don’t want you to get hurt."

CROW: But it is, after all, Ape Law.

> He
> whispered, then turned and entered the crowd. Carrie just stood there
> for a moment, shocked and pleasantly surprised.

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] Boy, this couldn’t be any better, nothing could possibly happen to me now …

> *I’m glad Dot’s not
> here.* she thought, *Or I’d be in BIG trouble now.*

CROW: [ As Carrie ] I’m glad I started wearing high heels today. And this chic tight skirt, sure, I can’t run, but I look great!

> Smiling, she took
> off in the other direction to look for Megabyte.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] It’s going to be a nice easy shift, and good, ’cause it’s just two days until my retirement.

>
> As Bob ran swiftly through the crowd, his mind raced at an
> even greater speed.

JOEL: Did you know the fastest computer in the world is a PDP-11 that’s been dropped from a helicopter?

> *Where did that come from?* he wondered, *Why in
> the world would I kiss Carrie, and never Dot? Is she so different?*

TOM: [ As Bob ] Maybe it’s me. Maybe *I’m* Carrie, and she’s Dot. Does that make sense?

> His mind was a flurry of questions as he realized something. He
> didn’t even know what Megabyte looked like as a human.

CROW: D’oh!

TOM: Just because he’s the Guardian of Mainframe doesn’t mean he can handle a Kaybee Toys.

> Carrie hadn’t
> told him. *Well, no wonder,* he thought, *After what you did, how
> could she be thinking straight?*

JOEL: ‘Cause girls turn stupid when they kiss.

> Bob knew Carrie liked him. He
> turned, deciding to see if he could find her.

CROW: You left her ten seconds ago, how hard do you have to look?

> *Wait,* he thought, and
> pulled Glitch from his pocket. "Glitch," he said, "communication to
> extension."

JOEL: Kirsten to Bridge?

> Glitch beeped, then processed the request. After a
> couple of seconds, it beeped again, this time, puzzledly.

JOEL: Kirsten to Engineering?

> ‘Connection
> unsuccessful. No reply.’ Glitch displayed. Bob stared at the screen in
> shock.

CROW: Bob’s the kind of person who hangs up on the second ring.

> "Glitch, trace location of extension." Glitch displayed a
> small map with a blinking dot.

TOM: You’re here, and she’s got the traveller’s cheques there.

> Closing Glitch, Bob ran to the spot it
> had shown him. Looking around, Bob couldn’t see Carrie anywhere.

CROW: I bet he wishes he had traceroute up and running now.

> Then, he looked down at the ground. There was Glitch’s extension, and
> it was crushed.

JOEL: Absolutely heartbroken!

> The gravel on the ground showed signs of a struggle.

TOM: Yes, Carrie’s pager fought back brilliantly.

> *No!* Bob thought, then something else caught his eye. Picking it up,
> he realized what it was.

CROW: Shiny things are pretty!

> It was a broken necklace, bearing the name
> ‘Mouse’.

TOM: [ As Bob ] Somebody else had a "Mouse" necklace too!

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

CROW: Couple more pieces and we can make a Lego axe.

> Part Nineteen
>
> Carrie struggled and fought against Megabyte, trying
> desperately to break free.

JOEL: She should trace a little green marker around his edge.

> "Now now," He rumbled, "You know that
> won’t do you any good."

TOM: You’d think this could attract the attention of the mall cops.

> Carrie continued to fight, hoping to loosen
> his grip enough that she could slip away. *If I can just get to Bob,
> or tell him about this somehow!!*

CROW: [ As Carrie ] Oh, why couldn’t I have been pulled into the world of Scooter Computer and Mister Chips?

> she thought, *He could get me out of
> here.* Megabyte dragged Carrie behind one of the generator trucks,
> and set her on the ground. "If you scream," Megabyte said,

TOM: You’ll be in SOOOOO much trouble…

> "Your
> punishment will be very severe." Carrie’s eyes widened as he spoke.

JOEL: He’s not a very good makeout artist.

> *Oh, God!!* she thought. Megabyte was no longer a virus, but he
> wasn’t human either.

TOM: Not to suggest that all Armani-wearing white guys are evil inhuman monsters out to destroy the world.

CROW: There are nearly two dozen guys who aren’t.

> He looked normal, except for one thing. He had
> fangs. *Just like a…Oh No!!* Carrie’s mind raced. Only one kind of
> creature had teeth like that, but they weren’t supposed to exist.

CROW: They’re not real, like Megabyte.

> They were myths!! *He’s a….a ….Vampire!!* Carrie’s mind screamed
> at her. She sat unmoving as Megabyte removed his hand from her mouth.

TOM: Oh, sheesh… now cut that out!

JOEL: I dunno, I could buy it when the computer pulled Carrie into "Reboot," but this is getting kind of out there.

> "Good." he said, standing up straight. Carrie looked up at him.
> "What do you want with me?" She asked him. He chuckled richly. "You
> are the bait to catch a Guardian." He said.

JOEL: You and this can of mealworms.

> "You are my ensurance
> that he will send me back to Mainframe."

TOM: You just *left* Mainframe.

> He thought silently for a
> few seconds, then smiled, evily. "Maybe even to the Supercomputer!"

CROW: Did he even have to *go* to the mall?

JOEL: His plan was to get out of Carrie’s bedroom, lose Carrie and Bob, wander around, find Carrie and Bob, and get to Carrie’s bedroom.

>
> Carrie pulled her knees up to her chest, and hugged them
> tightly. *What am I going to do?* she thought, *I can’t let this
> happen!*

TOM: Dare him to squeeze into a wireless networking card!

> She started to try and come up with a plan. If she could at
> least get him away from the Carnival, that would help.

CROW: What good luck — outside the Hudson’s Bay they just opened a new "World of Garlic and Silver Bullets"!

> She looked
> over at Megabyte. he was turned, looking at the Midway, expecting Bob
> from that direction.

TOM: We all expect Bob from one direction or another.

> *Maybe I can get away by going around the other
> way.* She straightened her legs, silently, then tried to stand up.

CROW: With her legs straightened that’s kind of tricky.

> "I wouldn’t try that if I were you." Megabyte said, not even turning.
> Carrie looked at him, surprised. *How did he know?* she wondered.

JOEL: He’s got eyes in the back of his head!

TOM: It’s not well known, but Megabyte *is* a Mom.

>
> Suddenly, Megabyte was hit in the chest by a flying brick.

CROW: Ignatz Mouse is *way* off base this time.

> He
> stumbled slightly as Bob came racing around the corner of the booth
> beside the truck. "Alright, Megabyte."

TOM: I’d give Carrie ten bucks to put Dig Dug here instead.

> He said, "This ends here!"
> Megabyte picked up the offending brick, and casually tossed it to the
> side. "Now, Bob."

JOEL: You could have hit someone with that. In fact, you did!

> He rumbled, "If you want your friend returned in
> one peice, I suggest you take me into the Supercomputer."

CROW: And, uh, any supplies of Krazy Glue you have would be appreciated.

> Reaching
> over, Megabyte caught Carrie before she could even attempt to run.
> Carrie turned to Megabyte.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Oh, yeah, big strong guy, you can catch a girl who’s *sitting*.

> "I don’t care what you do!" She shouted at
> him. "I would rather have you kill me then see you get into the
> Supercomputer!!"

JOEL: [ As Bob ] Don’t look at me, I don’t know how you get into the Supercomputer from here.

> Megabyte smiled evily, and Carrie began to tremble
> with fear.

CROW: [ As Megabyte ] Run that first part by me again …

> "I don’t have to kill you," he said, "I have another
> ability I can use."

TOM: He can apply his extensive knowledge of Gilbert and Sullivan.

> Carrie’s eyes widened in fear as he once again
> clamped his hand over her mouth. He lifted her off the ground
> slightly, and pulled her head to the side.

JOEL: Bob’s got other things to do this scene.

> Smiling quickly at Bob, he
> opened his mouth, revealing his long fangs, then his head descended
> towards Carrie’s neck.

CROW: How does he know to do that?

> *Nooooo!!!* Carrie’s mind echoed Bob’s scream
> as she felt Megabyte’s fangs sink deeply into her skin.

JOEL: We’re veering dangerously close to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" territory now.

TOM: If Carrie had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened.

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 8 of 16)


And now we reach the halfway point in my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic “Breaking the Barriers”. The whole MiSTing of this work should be at this link.

The story so far: Carrie, our author, was messing around on the computer one day when she got zapped into cyberspace! Or at least into the world of Reboot. She goes with Bob to investigate a weird energy portal thingy and finds series villain Megabyte. Megabyte captures her, and Symble the cat virus shoves the two of them through the portal before she can break free.

The riff about Chuck Woolery after a mention of “greed” referenced a short-lived game show, Greed, that he hosted back when every network was trying to clone Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. The mention of “Valentina” refers to a series of novellas that Analog Science Fiction ran in the early 80s about some science types who accidentally created an artificial intelligence computer goddess. You know, like people did all the time back then. In hindsight, science fiction writers overestimated the capabilities of programming in PILOT. The stories got collected into a book that I remember as being a fast read.

The reference to Megabyte trying “to comprehend an Eckart” confuses me too. I think that it’s a typo and I meant “an Eckert”, as in Max Eckert’s various map projections. If it’s not that then I have no idea what it could mean. Crow’s riff about the fake note from Carrie’s parents strikes me as terribly mean, now, and I wouldn’t make it if I were writing this today. I say this acknowledging that it’s the sort of joke the show would make, at least in the 90s. (I can think of specific riffs, many delivered by Crow, built on the same premise.) Canadian 2-for-1 pizza was a Singapore pizza chain. I liked their pizza, but their gimmick — two pies for the price of one — meant they were selling too much pizza for me to get often. “Marlboro Day” reflects that I used to live in Marlboro and now and then they had Days.

I’ve edited this slightly, removing the name given to Carrie’s hometown, out of the concern for not unintentionally embarrassing her eighteen years later by naming what seems a pretty small place. This took out one riff, also, that was just the obvious riff to make about the place’s name anyway. I left in the bit where she named her best friend because I believe the character to be fictional.


> Part Sixteen
>
> As Carrie came to, she struggled to remember what had
> happened.

TOM: It’s kind of that way for us, too.

> She looked up to find her computer running and her chair
> tipped over on its side.

CROW: It must have been a very small, localized earthquake…

> *Now I remember!* She thought, standing up.

JOEL: It was stuffing *instead* of potatoes!

> *Was it only a dream?* She picked up the chair, then noticed that
> the top was scratched.

CROW: It must’ve itched something terrible.

> As she inspected the gouges, her throat
> tightened. Only one thing could account for marks like that.

JOEL: She’s got a cat!

> She
> turned slowly, hoping against hope that she wouldn’t find him there.
> She gasped and stepped back when she saw him. He had changed.

CROW: He was trying to make himself good enough for her.

> He was
> dressed elegantly, in an expensive looking Armani style suit.

TOM: Withholding antecedents doesn’t make the story more dramatic!

> His
> hair was like fire,

JOEL: And vice-versa.

> but his skin was pale.

CROW: Oh, yeah, computer science guys.

> He was powerfully built as
> he had been as a virus,

TOM: Only now he wasn’t that scared of Norton Disk Doctor.

> and his face looked like the envy of every
> male model. He had the classic GQ gentlemanly look,

CROW: This is not to suggest every man wearing an Armani suit is evil.

TOM: But they are.

> yet he still had
> a look of power and greed to him.

JOEL: President Chuck Woolery!

> Even unconcious, Carrie recognized
> him immediately.

CROW: I thought she woke up?

> *So, * she thought, *that’s what Megabyte looks like
> as a human.*

TOM: I wonder what other humanoid bodies he might have turned into.

> She had often wondered that, but now, she would rather
> not have had to find out.

CROW: If her parents walk in this is going to be *so* weird to explain.

>
> Suddenly, her computer began beeping strangely.

JOEL: Is that you, Valentina darling?

> She turned,
> and then she was struck by something. She fell, with a limp body
> sprawled across her.

TOM: I hope telemarketers never figure out this trick.

> She pushed out from under it, and gasped as she
> saw the face. "Oh my God!" she whispered. It was Bob. He had
> followed her through the portal.

CROW: You’ve got male!

> He was dressed in blue jeans, a grey
> T-shirt and had a jean shirt over top. His hair had become light
> brown shoulder length dreads and his skin was a deep tan.

JOEL: He’s in the real world and he can still fit in the Commodore 64 color set.

> "Bob!"
> Carrie said. "Wake up!" she shook him gently. "Please, wake up!"

CROW: Oh, now he’s just being difficult.

>
> He stirred, and Carrie smiled.

JOEL: Someday he’ll be able to mix his own hot cocoa.

> Bob sat up, holding his head in his
> hands. "Oh, man." he moaned.

TOM: He looks around and discovers *he’s* been pulled into the world of *his* favorite cartoon.

>
> Carrie got up and helped him to his feet. "Thank goodness
> you’re alright!" Carrie said. Bob looked up at her and smiled.

CROW: [ As Bob ] Actually, half of me is —

TOM: [ Sternly ] No.

> "Nothing can bring a Guardian down."

JOEL: That’s why he’s so bad in escalators.

> He said, then winced in pain.

TOM: Aw, he’s going to Shatner all over the place.

> "Oh, brother," he said, "Does my head ever hurt!" Carrie giggled,
> then turned and stiffened. "We’ve got a problem."

CROW: I hope it’s not a word problem.

TOM: Yeah, that stupid dancing paperclip is back.

> She told Bob. Bob
> looked at her, puzzled. "What?" He asked.

TOM: There’s like eight thousand words to go and the only thing going on is some flirting.

> Carrie pointed at the
> floor beside them. "What? There’s nothing there." Bob said. Carrie
> nodded.

CROW: Those two trains left Chicago!

> "Exactly." she whispered, "Megabyte’s gone!"

TOM: So he regained consciousnessness, figured out where he was, planned what to do, and snuck out under cover of day, all in about sixteen seconds.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

JOEL: [ Singing ] Well, she was …

> Part Seventeen

JOEL: [ Continuing ] — you know what I mean —

>
> Megabyte stood silently, surveying the land that spread before
> him.

TOM: Most people don’t know this, but Megabyte’s a top geologist.

> He had never seen anything like this. *Quite strange.*

CROW: Megabyte tries to comprehend an Eckart.

> he
> thought, as he inspected the horizon. Carrie’s hometown [ … ] was
> a small place, dominated by empty feilds, even though she lived in
> what was considered the heart of the town, closest to the small
> shopping mall.

TOM: It’s not so much a town as it is the setting *for* a town.

> Even from here, Megabyte could hear people and
> laughter. Turning, he headed toward the source of the noises.
>

CROW: That’s a pretty loud mall.

TOM: Both of Canada’s rowdy guys are there today.

> Carrie and Bob raced upstairs. "MOM!?!" Carrie shouted,

JOEL: Wait, that’s not his name, it was …

> "DAD!?!

JOEL: Yeah, that’s it … or, wait, was it …

> Anybody!?!"

JOEL: They’ll have to answer me now!

> She ran into the kitchen

JOEL: Oh, no sense waiting.

> to find a note on the
> table.

CROW: Dear Carrie: Saw you drawn into computer, couldn’t pass up chance, goodbye forever — hey, wait!

> *Dear Mouse, we decided to out to dinner, and when we couldn’t
> find you, we figured you’d gone to see Bob.

TOM: But you don’t know anyone named Bob, so we worried about you. We hope it’s just a phase.

> We’ll be back by nine
> o’clock. There’s leftover pizza in the fridge for you. Love Mom.*
> Carrie sighed. "Thank goodness!" she said.

CROW: She’s at that awkward age where she needs her parents, but is embarassed to be in the same fan fiction with them.

> She looked at Bob, and he
> gave her a puzzled look. "How did they know you’d end up in
> Mainframe?" Carrie giggled.

TOM: It was a lucky guess.

> "Not you, silly!" she said, "My best
> friend!

JOEL: Bob Bobbobbobovich.

> His name is Robert T. Gardien,

TOM: Famed for Crockett’s Victory Gardien.

> but everybody calls him Bob!"

CROW: I wonder what the ‘T’ stands for.

> Bob smiled "Bob T. _Gardien_?" he said, "And I just happen to be Bob
> the _Gaurdian_? No coincedence, right?"

TOM: Heh heh heh heh heh … I don’t get it.

> Carrie blushed. "If you’re
> ego gets any bigger," she teased, "you won’t fit in my house!"

JOEL: How’s he going to fit back in her computer?

> Then
> she grabbed his hand. "Come on!" she said, "We still have to find
> Megabyte!!"

TOM: He’s in the living room watching "The Raccoons."

>
> Before she left, she turned to the fridge. "Oh, just a sec."

JOEL: She needs to leave it a few instructions before she goes. [ As Carrie ] Ahem. Stay cool. There, that’ll do.

> she said, tugging the door open. "I’m hungry."

CROW: Forget saving the world! I want a Tim Horton’s doughnut!

> She pulled out a pizza
> box with the Pizza Hut symbol emblazened on it.

JOEL: Hey, product placement.

TOM: On second thought, let’s try starving to death.

> She put it on the
> table and opened it. "Yumm!" she said, "Full toppings! My fave!!"

JOEL: Toppings’ll make us sleepy.

> She pulled out a peice and took an enormous bite out of it. As she
> chewed enthusiastically, Bob looked down at the contents of the box.

CROW: That’s … not … pepperoni.

> "What’s that?" he asked. Carrie started to choke, swallowed hard,
> then started to laugh.

TOM: It’s funny ’cause it’s pizza.

> "You don’t know what a pizza is?" She asked
> him, surprised. "No." Bob said.

CROW: Think of it as a "Burger Time" gone horribly wrong.

> "Remember, you never had an energy
> shake, either."

JOEL: Shouldn’t she be eating Canadian 2-for-1 Pizza instead?

> Carrie blushed again. Then she offered her peice to
> him. "Wanna try some?" she asked.

TOM: How can a computer guy not live on pizza and Mountain Dew?

JOEL: He eats a lot of Thai.

> Bob took it gingerly, then, took a
> bite the same way Carrie had. She smiled as Bob closed his eyes in
> pleasure.

CROW: The warm and tender moment is interrupted only briefly by the screams of Megabyte’s victims.

> When he had swallowed it, he opened his eyes and looked
> into hers. "That’s delicious!!" He said, and Carrie giggled. "I knew
> you’d like it!" She said. She grabbed another peice, "Let’s go."

JOEL: And, hey — let’s be careful out there.

>
> As they entered her backyard, they could hear noises coming
> from the area of the mall. "Oh no!!" Carrie shouted,

TOM: Augustus has fallen into the gloop!

> "He must have
> gone over there! It’s the Carnival this weekend!!"

CROW: They’re just celebrating the idea of malls.

> She turned to
> Bob. "There’s got to be tons of kids over there!!"

JOEL: Cumulatively, anyway, sure.

> Bob put his hands
> on his hips, and looked over at the mall.

TOM: I’m Hans Christian Anderson!

> He could see the midway
> rides and could hear the people laughing and shouting.

CROW: It’s terrible! They’re celebrating Marlboro Day! And it’s not Marlboro!

> "Glitch," he
> said, raising his left arm, only to find nothing there. "Glitch!?!"

JOEL: Uh, more like minor blooper, thanks.

> Carrie turned to find Bob looking at her, worry etched into his face.
> "Where’s Glitch?" He said. Carrie looked at the empty spot above his
> left wrist.

CROW: Shouldn’t there be a hand there?

> "I don’t know." She said. "Wait! What’s in your pocket?"

TOM: Twenty-two cents, an unidentified key and three pieces of string.

> Bob reached into his pocket, and pulled out what looked like a tiny
> computer.

CROW: Awww…

TOM: Oh, it’s so cute at that age!

CROW: Bet it wants its mommy.

> It was grey and black with the word ‘Glitch’ inscribed on
> it in metallic blue. "Glitch?" Bob asked, and the little computer
> beeped almost cheerfully.

JOEL: I hope we get to see it grow up into an Artoo droid.

> "Well," Carrie said, "Now I know what
> Glitch looks like in my world, too."

TOM: Yup.

CROW: Sure do.

TOM: There’s no gainsaying the obvious.

> Bob smiled, and put Glitch back
> in his pocket. "O.K.," he said, taking Carrie’s hand, much to her
> delight. "Let’s go!" and they headed towards the mall.

JOEL: [ Picking up TOM ] Oh, let’s just go to Borders instead.

[ TOM, JOEL, and CROW exit. ]

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 7 of 16)


I hope you’re all continuing to enjoy Reboot: Breaking the Barriers, written by Carrie L— long ago, and turned into Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction by me a little less long ago. This whole MiSTing should be gathered at this link for your convenient reading.

The story so far: Carrie has fallen through a weird portal into her computer and, more, the world of pioneering computer-animated cartoon Reboot. She’s met up with the heroes and they’re all getting along great. So all she needs is to get home again — and hey, there’s some kind of roaming tear in space puttering around the digital world. Might be worth checking out.

I lived in Singapore when I wrote this, which is why there’s references to Mos Burger (a hamburger place, with some neat rice-bun burgers that I miss). The reference to Guardian and Watsons is about a couple of pharmacy chains. Bennie the Ball is one of the supporting cats from Top Cat, a series I figured was consigned to obscurity by the early 2000s. The Retlaw Plant poisoned Mr Sulu in an episode of the original Star Trek cartoon that Walter Koenig wrote. (Get the name yet?)


>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>
> Part Fourteen
>

JOEL: See, and that’s just thirteen dots, for chapter fourteen.

CROW: That’s eleven dots.

JOEL: No, that was … wait …

> The structure they approached was stunning yet foreboding at
> the same time.

TOM: Sounds like the Registrar’s office.

> Carrie knew this place well, and her knowledge of
> it made her nervous and apprehensive. As they crossed the border,
> Carrie’s throat constricted.

CROW: Oh no! The "Mouse" bracelet is taking over!

> *Silicon Tor,*

JOEL: Younger brother of Gigan Tor.

TOM: Next-door neighbor to Phosphorus Tor.

> she thought, *The home of
> Megabyte.*

JOEL: All our servings come in three sizes, bit, byte, and megabyte.

> A shiver went through her as she thought of the things
> Megabyte would do to them if her caught them in his territory.

CROW: He might force them to watch his vacation slides.

> *I
> wonder if he can infect sprites?* she thought,

TOM: Sprite, Dr Pepper, Pepsi Twist…

> then turned away from
> such thoughts. It wouldn’t help to be negative now.

CROW: No negatives? Are you positive?

JOEL: Neither. She’s a Carrie bit.

>
> Carrie looked over at Bob. He was intently studying the map
> Glitch was displaying.

CROW: You Are Here … Ah, there’s the Mos Burger … Walden’s … Pet Safari … ah, pathway into other reality, right next to the As Seen On TV store.

> he stood Glitch down, then turned to Carrie.
> "It’s just ahead."

TOM: It’s the big tear-shaped thing.

> he whispered, then moved forward, turning into an
> alley.

JOEL: I can’t get enough of that "morph" trick.

> Carrie followed behind him. When she turned the corner, her
> eyes were bombarded by a bright light.

TOM: And long-lost relatives standing nearby…

> Shading her eyes, she took in
> a sight she was strangely happy to see.

CROW: It looks just like a puppy dog!

> The tear was now stationary
> and was as stable as a tear could really be.

TOM: And it will lead them back to the Alpha quadrant!

> It was impressive to see
> this form of energy up close for the first time.

CROW: Boy, it’s like we’re right here.

>
> "Glitch," Bob said, "Key direct portal to energy transport
> beam in the Chalo Omega system."

JOEL: Chalo Omega … didn’t he rule the Autobots before Optimus Prime?

> He aimed Glitch at the tear and it
> flew out. As it approached it, the tear transformed into a silvery
> sphere with Glitch attatched to the front.

TOM: [ As Glitch ] Yeee–aaaaaahhhh — JANE! STOP THIS CRAZY THING!

> On the other side, seen
> through Glitch was an orange beam of energy.

JOEL: They’ve tapped into the Orange Julius dimension!

> Bob looked over at
> Carrie. "This is the only place we could find that could bring you
> home."

TOM: You *do* live in a pumpkin, right?

> he told her. "Phong says that the computer attatched to the end
> of this beam should be yours."

CROW: It *should* be, but it’s too danged lazy.

>
> Carrie smiled. "Thank you." she said, "For everything."

JOEL: And, hey … call sometime, OK?

> Bob
> returned her smile, and offered her his hand. She took it gently,
> expecting to recieve a warm handshake.

CROW: You suppose if she downloaded some MP3’s right now then when she gets back she’ll never get them out of her head?

> Instead, she suddenly found
> herself in Bob’s arms.

JOEL: She was shrinking, and kind of liked it.

> She stiffly wrapped her arms around him,
> returning his friendly embrace.

TOM: He’s showing a lot of affection for not knowing who she is.

> Stepping back, he placed his hands on
> her shoulders. "Good luck." he whispered, his eyes shining.

CROW: Will she stay blue and digital when she gets back to Canada?

> "Don’t
> worry," Carrie said, "I’ll visit the next time my computer decides to
> swallow me whole."

TOM: Isn’t there a bandwidth issue in computers swallowing people?

> Bob smiled. "Well," he said, "I guess this is
> goodbye."

JOEL: I bet there’s a surprise coming right up.

>
> "Oh, not just yet."

CROW: You haven’t filled out your complimentary survey card.

> A deep, velvet voice intoned behind them.

TOM: They’re being attacked by melTorme.com!

> "I haven’t been introduced to your friend, Guardian."

JOEL: Or your rival, Watsons.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

CROW: See? It’s eleven dots.

JOEL: It’s a tough market for dots this year.

> Part Fifteen
>
> Before she could react to what was happenng,

CROW: We took a break for a word from these sponsors.

> Carrie found
> herself being lifted off the ground by a grip of steel.

TOM: That’s *buns* of steel, thank you.

JOEL: Ew.

> She tried to
> scream,

CROW: That’s your standard response.

> but a large viral hand clamped over her mouth and spun her
> around.

TOM: Being twirled by salmonella … that’s no responsible way to live.

> Carrie looked up to find herself staring into the mesmerising
> red on green

CROW: Ho ho ho!

> eyes of Megabyte.

JOEL: [ As Megabyte ] Oh, I’m not *that* Mega … you’re too kind.

> "Really, Bob." Megabyte rumbled,

TOM: Bill Daly cracks down.

> "How
> rude." Carrie grabbed Megabyte’s arm and pulled at it futally.

CROW: [ As Carrie ] I hope I wasn’t out of line with that crack about the gorillas.

> All
> he did was laugh, amused by her terror.

JOEL: Megabyte needs more hobbies.

>
> "Let her go, Megabyte!" Bob shouted, aiming Glitch at him.
> Megabyte looked at him. "No, I don’t think so." he said.

TOM: They have the same fight every *week*. The marriage counselor is this close to giving up.

> "Now, you
> do as I ask,

JOEL: Not as I do.

> or your friend suffers an early erasure."

CROW: That’s a threat we haven’t heard before.

> He turned
> Carrie around so she was facing Bob,

TOM: He’s aiming her for Dish TV.

> then held his free hand above her
> threateningly.

CROW: Big bucks … no whammies …

> As his hand began to descend towards Carrie, Bob
> lowered his arm.

CROW: STOP!

> "Alright!" he said, "What do you want?" Megabyte
> chuckled richly. "Oh, it’s very minor."

JOEL: Forty-niner.

[ CROW looks at JOEL. ]

> he drawled, "I want what
> every virus wants from a Guardian, your keytool." Carrie’s eyes
> widened in fear.

TOM: See, that would’ve been my third guess.

> *No!* she thought, *Don’t give it to him!*

CROW: Spit on it first, then he’ll be too grossed out to take it.

> She
> started struggling and kicking,

TOM: [ As Curly ] Whum – WHUM wulluwullwull.

> trying to break free, or at least
> distract Megabyte long enough for Bob to get them out of there.

JOEL: Hey, look, a big distracting thing!

>
> As it turned out, she didn’t need to.

TOM: Megabyte suddenly remembered a big dental appointment.

> Suddenly, a large bolt
> of bright red energy slammed into Megabyte’s chest.

JOEL: A tip for young writers: Story stalled out? Get it going again with a random explosion.

> It threw him off
> balance long enough for a fast moving figure to get in front of him.

CROW: Speedy Gonzales, hooray!

> With a sudden swipe of a long, pale green blade protruding from it’s
> hand,

TOM: Oh, this better not be Wesley Snipes.

> the figure pushed Megabyte through the portal.
>
> Megabyte let go of Carrie’s mouth, but succeded in grabbing
> her arm.

CROW: Pop!

> With a scream of terror, Carrie reached out to Bob as she
> was pulled in after Megabyte.

TOM: Hey, isn’t this the cliffhanger from "Beast Wars"?

> "Nooo!" Bob shouted. Then he whirled
> to face the figure. "Look what you’ve done!"

JOEL: And all over the floor!

> he yelled. The figure
> moved suddenly

CROW: And a pirate ship appeared over the horizon.

> and Bob found himself suspended against the wall with
> the end of a large blade against his throat.

TOM: [ Sheepishly ] "I didn’t mean you *personally*"…

> "Look, Guardian," the
> figure breathed, "I just saved you from deletion.

JOEL: So hurry up and get to making that CD-ROM backup of yourself.

> Don’t force me do
> it myself." Bob looked down at this person.

CROW: You shouldn’t be looking down at people.

> He was wearing a grey
> outfit with gold trim and gloves. He had pale green skin with blue
> triangular markings.

TOM: So a Retlaw plant joined the Superfriends?

> His hair was white with two blue and red
> streaks, but the most stunning part about him was his face.

JOEL: Mister Potato-Head?

> His
> features were feline with black on red eyes.

TOM: Bennie the Ball — Cybercop!

> He had the same
> triangular markings on his cheeks.

CROW: His cheeks are not to be stood on.

> "I didn’t have to save you, now
> did I?"

JOEL: No, but it’s wise to save a little extra Bob in case of a rainy day.

> As he spoke, Bob noticed large fangs and pointed teeth.

TOM: Vampires!

> Only
> one kind of creature looked like that, a feline virus.

CROW: Kitty!

TOM: So ThunderCat Cheetara became a Microsoft Word macro?

>
> "Where did you come from?" Bob asked.

JOEL: Nowhere particular.

CROW: Man, I wish I was you.

> The virus dropped him.
> "That is not important." he said.

TOM: What is important is can’t you see what I’m trying to tell you, I *love* you?

> "Your friend is." Turning, he
> headed toward the shadows, retracting his blades into his wrists.

JOEL: [ Yelping in pain ] Gee-yow! That *hurts*! What was I *think*ing?

> "Wait!" Bob said, "What’s your name?" he asked.

TOM: If he’s Batman I’m gonna slap this story so hard —

CROW: Catman.

> The figure paused
> long enough to glance over his shoulder. "Symble."

TOM: I think it’s pretty complex.

> He said, then
> vanished into the shadows.

CROW: And *that’s* my only line.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

JOEL: Holding at eleven spots before liftoff.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 6 of 16)


I hope you’ve been enjoying my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction-sharing here. I plan to keep it going a while yet, which you knew from the subject line there. Also surely known to you: this is a continuation of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fan fiction, “Breaking the Barriers”. You can read the whole MiSTing, as it’s posted, here. You can read all of my MiSTings here, if I remember to tag them right.

The story so far: protagonist Carrie has disappeared into the world of pioneering computer-animated series Reboot. She’s met the main heroes of the show for real now. And she and series star Bob survived the perils of a Game thanks to Carrie’s expert play. But will they survive Bob’s girlfriend Dot asking why they were in a Game together?

The riff about Paul Frees references the 1953 Tom and Jerry cartoon The Missing Mouse. The “last time I had a good cry” bit references an episode of Taxi for no good reason. This segment has another instance of the joke where in-text a character asks why don’t they ask something, and then I riff the character asking that. I love that joke structure, but I feel like I probably swiped it from Get Smart. This week’s cryptic eight-bit Commodore machine-language bit: FFD8 was the routine to save computer memory to a device, such as cassette tape or disk drive.


>
> Part Twelve

JOEL: All this time and we’re barely started.

>
> Carrie stood there patiently as Enzo began to ask her question
> after question.

TOM: He should wait for an answer.

> "You’re new around here, aren’t you? Where’d you come
> from? How do you know Bob? Huh, huh?"

CROW: Why does it rain? Why is the sky blue? Is Santa Claus real? Can I have a nickel? I want a bicycle. Why does —
[ JOEL puts a hand on CROW’s shoulder. ]

> Carrie smiled at Enzo’s
> enthusiasm,

TOM: [ As Carrie ] He’s cute. I’ll eat him last.

> and answered his first and last questions,

CROW: By Olaf Stapledon.

> carefully
> avoiding the other.

JOEL: She didn’t know why the sky was blue.

> "This is my first time in Mainframe." she told
> him, "I’ve never been here before."

CROW: But I already saved the star of the show. I’m ahead of schedule.

> She smiled down at his curious
> face. "Actually, I ended up here by accident. That’s how I met Bob.

JOEL: Ask your mother. She’ll tell you.

> I’d heard of him before, but I just met him this cycle."

CROW: We’re very close to our motorcycles.

>
> Dot looked over at Carrie, frowning in suspition.

JOEL: [ As Dot ] I don’t think she’s eight-bit.

> "So she
> says she a user," she said to Bob, who shrugged and nodded. "How do
> we know if she’s telling the truth?" She asked him.

JOEL: Hold a survey on your web site?

> "I’m not sure,"
> Bob said, "she seemed to know alot about us,

CROW: She knows stuff we don’t know about ourselves.

> maybe she knows things
> only the user could know?"

TOM: How would Dot know what those things are?

> Dot mulled that over for a nano, then
> smiled slightly. "Why don’t we ask her and find out."

CROW: [ As Dot ] Carrie, how would you ask us who you are?

> she said slyly,
> and they both turned to look at Carrie.

TOM: You ask her. I’m bitter.

>
> When Carrie was at home, she always wore a necklace that her
> mother had given to her that bore her nickname, also given to her by
> her mother.

CROW: It’s a very personal thing that hasn’t been mentioned until now.

JOEL: I bet it’ll give us a touching insight into her character.

> The name ‘Mouse’.

ALL: Ooooh.

> When she had been pulled into
> Mainframe, it had been reformatted

CROW: How much of its space was free now?

> into an almost choker style band
> with a gold charm bearing the same inscription.

JOEL: [ Reading ] Over hill, over dale, Carrie Mouse will never fail.

> Enzo’s eagle eyes had
> spotted it,

[ TOM screeches, like an eagle ]

> and he immeadiately began to ask her about it. "How come
> it says ‘Mouse’?

CROW: It’s so she doesn’t forget her favorite rodent.

> Do you know her? Are you her sister or cousin or
> something?

JOEL: Are you her twin from the future of the mirror universe?

> Are you really her in disguise?"

TOM: To look like human guys?

>
> Carrie reached up and touched the charm.

JOEL: [ Giggling, ticklish ]

> The thought of her
> mother suddenly made her very homesick,

TOM: The first week at college is the hardest.

> and her eyes began to burn
> with tears. She closed her eyes, holding back the tears that wanted
> to escape.

CROW: She shouldn’t do that, she’ll pop!

TOM: Remember what Paul Frees taught us. The white Mouse will not explode.

> She thought about home and her family, about how she may
> never see them again,

JOEL: She remembers her last words to Mom were, "Don’t worry, I won’t get pulled into the computer and into a TV show" …

> and finally the tears began to escape. Covering
> her face with her hands, Carrie fought for control.

CROW: Must… fulfill… prime directive…

> She didn’t want
> to worry Enzo. As she began to regain control,

TOM: Damage control … all systems non-responsive … whirrr whirrrrrrrr … beedooop.

> she felt a hand on her
> shoulder and looked up into Bob’s worried eyes. "Are you alright?" he
> asked. Carrie smiled through the last of her tears.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] You know when’s the last time I had a good cry?

JOEL: [ As Bob ] No… when?

TOM: [ As Carrie ] This morning.

> "Yeah," she
> whispered, "I was just thinking of home and my family.

CROW: And whether I left the VCR set.

> I really miss
> them, and I want to go home."

TOM: I’m tired and I want to go to bed.

> Dot came up beside her, "I’m sure we
> can try and get you home," she said,

JOEL: Can she be sent parcel post?

> "But we need to ask you some
> questions first." Carrie looked at her, puzzled. "Questions?" she
> asked, "About what?"

CROW: The quadratic formula.

> Dot looked at her, and then decided to just tell
> her. "I just need proof that you’re really a user, so I want to know
> everything you know about us.

JOEL: Because … Dot knows how to send users home?

> Let’s go to the Diner."

ALL: [ Singing ] Let’s all go to the diner … let’s all go to the diner … let’s all go to the diner … and have ourselves a snack!

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>
> Part Thirteen

CROW: Hey, that was only eleven dots. This can’t be part thirteen.

>
> The four of them sat together in the booth at Dot’s Diner.

TOM: [ Singing the ‘Seinfeld’ lick ] Beeow de dow dee dow

> Carrie’s little emotional episode had worried Bob, so he insisted on
> sitting beside her, much to Dot’s chagrin.

CROW: Bob’s got to sit either next to or across from her. Choose your poison.

> Carrie sat silently,
> staring at her folded hands

JOEL: Digital digits.

> on the table in front of her. Dot cleared
> her throat gently.

TOM: Uh, one of us has to order.

> "Carrie," she said, "We need you to tell us what
> you know about us."

JOEL: Use both sides of the paper if necessary.

> Carrie looked up, confused. "Why?" she
> whispered. Dot sighed quietly. "It’s the only way I know of finding
> proof that you’re a User."

CROW: Didn’t we just come from this scene?

> Carrie looked over at Bob, who flashed his
> killer smile,

JOEL: Aaah! Your smile — it’s … poi … son …

CROW: You did that already.

> and told her it was okay.

ALL: It’s OK.

>
> Carrie swallowed hard. This was exactly what she had wanted
> to avoid.

CROW: She’s got odd streaks of shyness.

> She didn’t want to reveal all her knowledge of Mainframe
> because she didn’t want to be looked upon as someone who encroached
> upon their privacy.

TOM: Oh, yeah, I can see how … huh?

> *Still,* she thought, *if it means getting home,
> I’ll tell them everything.*

JOEL: Begin with a comprehensive report about riboflavin.

> So taking a deep breath, Carrie began to
> tell them what she knew.
>
> Before she could really start, she was interrupted by a
> beeping.

CROW: Uh-oh. The plot’s getting in the way.

> Bob looked down at Glitch, then allowed the message through.

TOM: It’s from Star Fleet Command. It seems we have 139 star dates to kill the 26 invading Klingons before full-scale war breaks out. There are six star bases in our sector.

> The cube-shaped face of a one binome looked up from the circular
> viewscreen.

JOEL: For extra credit, see how many ways you can rearrange the words in that sentence and have it still make equal sense.

> He wore the distinct green helmet with visor of the
> CPU’s, alerting Carrie to the fact that this was important. "Excuse
> me, sir." the binome saluted,

JOEL: Hail Caesar.

> "Sorry to bother you,

TOM: But WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!

ALL: [ Screaming ]

> but we’ve just
> recieved reports of a roaming tear left by the last game."

CROW: It’s making us look less manly.

> Bob
> nodded. "I’ll be over in a nano."

TOM: Nano … Visitor?

> he said, getting to his feet.
> "Where’s it located?" he asked.

JOEL: It’s a direct portal from FFD8 to Ontario. It may be plot-related.

> The binome looked down at the
> organizer he held, then returned Bob’s gaze. "That’s the problem,
> sir."

CROW: It doesn’t exist. Look, we were lonely, okay?

> he reported, "It’s located near Silicon Tor."
>

TOM: [ As Tor Johnson ] Time for go to net!

JOEL: That’s the new district. The ancient one is Germanium Tor.

> "Silicon Tor?!" Enzo said, "Dude! Can I come? Can I, can I?
> Huh?"

CROW: Enzo’s this close to getting his mouth module deactivated.

> Dot shushed him. "No, Enzo." she said, "Bob can do this
> alone."

TOM: No sense us risking *our* necks.

> Bob looked over at her as Glitch closed, ending the
> transmission. "No, not alone." Carrie interrupted,

JOEL: There is one other.

> and all three
> whirled to face her. "I know about tears." she said,

CROW: I’ve been holding them back for years … but I really love them!

> "And that little
> ball of energy could be my ticket home."

JOEL: Enzo?

> She slid out of the booth,
> and stood in front of Bob. "I’m going with you."

TOM: [ As Bob ] I wasn’t going.

> she told him,
> determindly. "Besides, I’ve always wanted to see the Tor."

CROW: His one-man show is to die for.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 5 of 16)


The fifth part of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction begins with a tag for commercials. This reflects a tradition, at least in people writing long-form MiSTings, to structure their stories the way the actual show was. Which, in those days, was divided into four pieces. The first piece had two host sketches to start and one to finish, and the rest in the theater. The second had nothing but theater time. The third piece had a host sketch to start and another to end. The last piece had mostly theater time, but a host sketch to conclude, plus credits.

I enjoyed, when I had the energy to write long pieces, respecting this structure. If I ever reorganize the Tale of Fatty Raccoon I’ll try to frame it with host sketches in that way.

This MiSTing is of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fan fiction, “Breaking the Barriers”. Again, while Carrie L— liked my work in around 2002 when it was published, that was a long while ago. And as the protagonist is a version of the author, I’m withholding the name so as to avoid unnecessary humiliation.

The story so far — you can find the whole thing at this link — has seen Carrie mysteriously journey into the world within the computer. She’s met up with the heroes of the pioneering computer-animation show Reboot. And now, with series-hero Bob, she faces one of the great perils of the series. The mysterious User of the Reboot computer has started to play a game. For the user, it’s a pastime. For those trapped within the game, it’s life or deletion.

I have no recollection at all what the “red card key” line refers to. I’m open to nominations for what it could possibly have meant. To help frame your answers please remember this was written, I believe, in late 2002 but certainly no later than 2003. Also while my interests have changed some in the past 18 years, I’ve always thought about things the same way I do now.


[ COMMERCIALS ]

[ THEATER. TOM, JOEL, and CROW file in. ]

> * * * * * * * *
> * *

CROW: This is the toughest piece to play in Tetris.

>
> Part Ten
>
> Dot and Enzo stood outside the game cube watching for a sign
> that Bob had won the game.

JOEL: [ As Dot ] They’re watching back at us!

> "Come on, Bob!" Enzo shouted, "Kick their
> bitmaps!!" Dot pulled out her organizer and called Phong.

TOM: Isn’t he busy helping A-tor?

> As his
> face appeared on the small screen, Dot asked him if he knew how things
> were going in the game.

JOEL: [ As Enzo ] The Babylonians just wiped out the Russians, and the Aztecs built Marco Polo’s Embassy so I’m redirecting my project to Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop … I think we can pull this out.

> "Bob is doing quite well, my child," Phong
> assured her, "they should be out soon."

CROW: Just like the last 68 times you asked.

> "Thanks Phong." Dot said, and
> left him to continue scanning the game. Looking up at the cube, she
> frowned. The cube had landed on an empty sector,

TOM: And the only starship in it was the Enterprise.

> yet Phong had said
> ‘they’, was that just a slip up, or did Bob have another sprite in
> there with him.

JOEL: That would imply Mainframe has more than eight people in it.

>
> ———————————————————————-
> ——————————-

CROW: This is gonna be a tough "Hangman."

>
> Meanwhile,

TOM: [ As the narrator from "Dangermouse" ] Look, is that all I’m going to have to say this episode?

> inside the game…..
>
> Carrie and Bob raced through the corridors. Bob looked down
> at Glitch. "Game Stats."

CROW: The Cubs lost.

> he ordered and Glitch whired to life. "How
> are we doing?" Carrie panted,

JOEL: We checked the game stats almost perfectly.

> as they continued to run down the hall.
> "We’re almost there," He said, "just down this hallway, to the right.

TOM: [ Snickering ] Swing the door wide open, don’t turn the light on!

> "Where’s The User?" she asked.

CROW: The one that isn’t you?

TOM: Yeah, hey, if this is Carrie’s computer then who’s on it?

> Bob pushed one of the buttons on
> Glitch, then laughed. "The User hasn’t even passed the third level
> yet!"

CROW: [ Snorting ] The schmuckle balls they let on computers these days.

JOEL: He’s trying to figure out how to get the red card key.

> He stopped running, and Carrie started to catch her breath.
> "The third level?" She gasped, "That’s five behind us!!" Bob nodded,
> and Carrie laughed.

TOM: Tournament Chutes and Ladders.

> "I guess we have no worries about it beating us
> there!" she giggled. "Let’s get into the chamber."

CROW: Won’t John McEnroe torment them, then?

> He turned towards
> the door, then stopped and faced Carrie again.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Should we go kick sand in the user’s face some?

> He flashed her his
> killer smile, then grabbed her hand.

JOEL: Aack! Your smile — it’s — poi…son…

> He pushed the heavy door open,
> and they walked in together.
>
> The room sparkled and shone brightly. The walls of the
> chamber were made of the finest crystal in all colours.

TOM: *This* is where all that money invested in dot-coms went.

> Light was
> reflecting in all directions, the source was a beautifully ingraved
> gold box

JOEL: It’s where Grandmom keeps her sewing kit.

> set on a pedestal that appeared to be able to generate it’s
> own light.

CROW: It’s got Quentin Tarantino’s whole career in there.

> They walked toward it, marvelling in the splendor they
> were witnessing.

TOM: To sum up, it was way cool.

> Bob still hadn’t released Carrie’s hand, but she
> didn’t notice, or care for that matter, she quite enjoyed it.

TOM: She’s enjoying the sensation she’s not experiencing.

> They
> slowly approached the pedestal, staring in awe at this beautiful
> artifact.

CROW: [ As Carrie ] Ahem. The *Box*.

TOM: [ As Bob ] Right, right, sorry.

> "I guess that’s what we’re looking for." Carrie breathed,

JOEL: Now look for the little dot that says "You are here."

> afraid to speak in more than a whisper. "I guess so." Bob whispered,
> then he reached out to touch it.

JOEL: [ As the Wizard of Oz ] COME FORWARD, Cowardly Lion!

> "Wait!" Carrie said, grabbing his
> wrist.

TOM: No! Don’t touch it! It’s EEEEEvil!

> Bob looked at her, confused. "This is the biggest trick of
> all." She explained.

CROW: So remember which is your card.

> "When there’s more than one player, we have to
> touch the box at the same time or it releases the final trap.

TOM: It’s a little trap the game designer put in because he knew it’d be a plot point someday.

> I
> learned that the hard way a few times." Releasing his wrist, she
> smiled at him, then squeezed his other hand gently.

CROW: OK, let’s take a countdown, right? One, two, three …

> He returned her
> smile, and they reached out to the box at the same time.

TOM: I thought you were going to touch on three!

CROW: NO, I was going to count three and then say, "NOW!"

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * *
>
> Part Eleven

TOM: Now stepping out onto the high dive…

>
> The box was small, so when Carrie and Bob touched it, their
> hands overlapped gently.

JOEL: Oh, I think their rasters just interrupted the methods.

>
> "GAME OVER! GAME OVER!"

TOM: This is a bug hunt, man!

>
> Carrie closed her eyes as the game cube began to ascend into
> the sky.

JOEL: Cube-on, take me away!

> She could feel the bottom of the cube sweep over her,

CROW: OOh! You naughty, naughty cube.

> taking
> her game character with it.

TOM: That just means she changed clothes.

> As she opened her eyes, she looked at Bob
> and smiled.

JOEL: What would happen if they were dropped into a game of The Sims?

> As he returned her smile, they heard a sound behind them.

TOM: [ "Law and Order" type sting ] Dum-dummm!

> "Ahem."
>
> Bob and Carrie turned. There stood Dot and Enzo.

CROW: Enzo’s jealous ’cause Bob promised to kiss him next.

> Enzo looked
> as if his jaw was going to hit the ground and Dot looked like she was
> ready to delete someone.

JOEL: Let’s hope it’s Carson Daly.

> "Bob," she said, her anger tightly
> controlled, "Who is that?"

TOM: [ As Carrie ] It’s Bob.

JOEL: [ As Bob ] She means you, dear.

> Bob and Carrie looked at each other, then
> realized that they were still holding each others hands.

JOEL: Quick, pass them back to each other and put them back on.

> Carrie
> pulled her hands away, and stuck them behind her back. Bob smiled
> nervously, trying to lighten the subject.

TOM: So! Any questions?

> "Oh," he said, waving a
> hand at Carrie neutrally. "Dot, this is Carrie.

CROW: Add, this is carry. Clear?

> She’s…uh…she’s
> new to Mainframe." he stammered, "Carrie, this is Dot Matrix."

JOEL: Joan Rivers? Here?

>
> Carrie smiled at Dot, hoping to change her obvious first
> impression. "Hello."

TOM: She should try ‘READY.’

> Carrie said, "It’s a pleasure to finally meet
> you."

CROW: Aw, first dates are so awkward.

> Carrie’s mind raced. *Say something positive!* she thought.

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] Three minus five! D’oh!

> "Bob’s told me so much about you.

TOM: Just don’t ask Bob to tell you what.

> You’re Mainframe’s best
> entrepreneur, aren’t you?"

CROW: Shouldn’t that be info-preneur?

TOM: Not while we have a shred of dignity left in the world.

> Bob and Dot both looked at her surprised.
> "Well," Dot said, "I run a data diner in Baudway."

TOM: So let’s put on a show!

> Carrie smiled.
> *Good! I hit the right subject!*

JOEL: Talk *about* the other person’s interest, it can work!

>
> Carrie looked at Bob. "Oh yes," she said, "Bob told me about
> that. ‘Fastest food in Mainframe’!"

TOM: And he didn’t say a word about those five dead health inspec– [ Embarassed ] –tors.

> Dot smiled, obviously flattered
> by Carrie’s comments. "Why, thank you."

CROW: To show gratitude? To be polite?

JOEL: Huh?

> Dot said, then she frowned
> at Bob. "May I have a word with you?"

TOM: Only if it’s not "factotum."

> she asked him, "Please excuse
> us for a moment."

JOEL: You’re excused.

> she told Carrie and Enzo, and she pulled Bob off to
> the side.

TOM: [ As Dot ] I told you no-more-fanfic-writers!

> "Bob, why were you two in the game together?"

CROW: A big cube fell on them.

> Bob glanced
> over at Carrie, who was talking to an excited Enzo.

JOEL: Enzo’s easily excited.

> Taking a deep
> breath, Bob began to explain what had happened.

CROW: In the beginning, there was FORTRAN.

>
> * * * * * * * *

TOM: didididit didididit

> * *

TOM: didit.

CROW: A Muppet News Bulletin.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 4 of 16)


And now the fourth part of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic, ”Breaking The Barriers”. Again, this MiSTing was done with Carrie L—‘s approval, but as it is a self-insertion fan fiction, I want to obscure her name unless she communicates to me that she’s not embarrassed with a youthful presentation of her story-ready self.

The full MiSTing should be available at this link. So far in the story, Carrie was puttering around on her computer when she got mysteriously zapped to the world inside. She met up with Bob and Phong of the pioneering animated cartoon Reboot. Carrie’s reluctant to reveal her true origins, lest she sound daft. But otherwise it looks like everyone is happy and everything is fine and there’ll be no problems from here on out!

The host sketch at the end, Joel talking about the eight-bit computer era, is one of my first exercises in exploring my own nostalgia. It began as a rambling monologue, along the lines of Joel talking about the swinging 60s in the episode “Catalina Caper”, but a friend said it was too self-indulgent. I think it could have played well, but that depends on the performer. And it’s asking a lot of the reader to go through a wall of text and read it funny. Breaking it up into dialogue makes it much better. Easier to read and easier to read funny in your head. This even though (as I recall) I didn’t really change the lines or where they were placed. Just putting them in different character’s mouths changed how the scene played.

I still use “the computer had 16 colors, and three of them were grey” to talk about what computing in the 80s was like. “We may not have been there, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know all about it” is a line I don’t use much but appreciate for the attitude it captures.

There’s lines in there about all the big eight-bit computers but my experience was centered on the Commodore 64 so that’s where the jokes default. Also note how in 2002 when I wrote this I somehow couldn’t think of a more universal annoying computer experience than “there’s a lot of spam in that there e-mail thing, you know”.


>
> Part Eight
>

JOEL: We’re going to have every part except the one that completes the jigsaw puzzle.

> Since Phong wasn’t able to do much more for them,

TOM: He’s genial, but kind of helpless.

> and had
> responsibilities for running the Principle Office,

CROW: That’s where they get their ethics.

> Bob and Carrie
> headed back to his apartment to try and work out how to get Carrie
> home.

JOEL: Why doesn’t Carrie just try saying "Xyzzy" some?

> On the way there, Bob called Dot and told her to meet him at
> his apartment.

TOM: But in a wacky mixup they go to different Bob’s apartments!

> On the way there, Bob began to ask Carrie about her
> home. He was curious to know what it was like.

JOEL: [ As Bob ] So, do you have people where you come from?

TOM: [ As Carrie ] I don’t know… I never talked to one.

> As Carrie was
> describing her hometown, the sky suddenly darkened, and the sound of
> crackling static could be heard everywhere. "WARNING! INCOMING GAME!
> WARNING! INCOMING GAME!"

CROW: Red alert! It’s the Atari 2600 "E.T." cartridge!

JOEL: We’re surrounded! It’s "Superman" in the other direction!

>
> As the voice boomed through the sky, Bob cursed quietly under
> his breath. "Not now!!" He shouted, "Why now!?!"

TOM: Why not? You got someplace else to be?

> Carrie looked at
> him, fear etched into her delicate features. Bob looked over at her.
> *What am I going to do?* he thought, *I can’t let that game close
> without me, but I don’t want to endanger Carrie!*

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] Oh, all right, you go and *play* your little *game*, dear, I’ll wait up for *you*, I don’t have anything else to do.

> Bob saw the fear
> flash in Carrie’s eyes, then she smiled and the fear changed to
> burning fire. "What are you waiting for?"

CROW: I want to check the web site for cheat codes first.

> she asked, "We can’t let
> that game drop onto that empty sector, or it’ll be nullified for sure
> with no one to beat the User.

TOM: So get in there fast, before nobody’s at risk!

> You’re the one who knows the most about
> games,

CROW: You and Sid Meier.

> you’ve got to go." Bob marveled at her courage. "I’m not
> willing to risk your life!" He said.

TOM: Oh, just burn a copy of her to CD and don’t worry about it.

> Carrie shifted in her seat so
> that she was facing him squarely. "You don’t have a choice!" She
> shouted over the static, "The whole sector will get nullified if you
> don’t enter that Game!!"

JOEL: They should really just turn "disasters off" and maybe try auto-budgeting too.

CROW: There’s also the .% bond trick.

> Bob stared at her, then turned his car
> sharply. The engine in his 262 whined

TOM: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…ricky…

> as it strained to pick up
> speed. "Hang on!" Bob shouted, "This is gonna be close!!"
>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

CROW: Made it in just under the chapter break.

>
> Part Nine
>
> Carrie opened her eyes slowly.

CROW: o/~ Ding o/~ Welcome to Carrie OS.

> She had tried to enter the
> game as fearlessly as Bob, but it had gotten the best of her and she
> had closed her eyes in fright.

TOM: She’s afraid of Q*Bert?

> As her eyes focused in the dim light,
> she began to recognize her surroundings. They were standing in a
> large cavern lit by a single flickering torch.

JOEL: She’s in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

> "I know this game…"
> Bob started. "It’s Crystal Chambers."

TOM: That’s not a video game, that’s a porn starlet.

[ JOEL, CROW look at TOM. ]

CROW: I think it’s the one with the bear collecting gems.

> Carrie said, and Bob turned,
> surprised. "The idea is to be the first to get to the final chamber a
> retrive the artifact without releasing any of the traps."

CROW: Hey, it’s inhumane to keep traps all trapped up like that!

JOEL: Let the traps go!

> Bob just
> stared at her, and Carrie giggled. "Don’t look so shocked, I’ve
> played this game before.

TOM: And make sure you don’t get caught by the Wumpus.

> I know all the secrets."

JOEL: Boy, she’s just got the *best* luck.

> Feeling confident,
> she reached up and touched her icon twice gently. "ReBoot!"

TOM: Ribbit!

> She
> could feel a wave of energy sweep over her. When it was gone, she
> opened her eyes and turned to Bob. "ReBoot!"

CROW: C’mon, reboot, darned you! Aw… would you jiggle the thing?

>
> Bob was surrounded by a beam of fluorescent green energy.

JOEL: [ Electrocution noises ] Buzzuzzuzzuzuzzuzzuzzerzzzert!

> When the beam faded, Carrie’s eyes began to wander down along Bob’s
> well formatted body.

TOM: Unfortunately, she was Mac, he was MS-DOS… they could never get along.

> His blue uniform had morphed into a worn leather
> jacket over a white shirt with brown pants and hiking boots.

JOEL: It’s a digital Fonzie.

> He was
> equipped with a carrying bag and a long bullwhip. Sitting fashionably
> on the top of his head was a rather beat-up looking fedora.

CROW: This is a weird Dixon Hill episode.

> He turned
> to face Carrie, and her heart skipped a beat.

TOM: Null pointer error in class Heart method advance(int beat).

> In that outfit, he
> looked absolutely stunning!! She let her eyes trace his body once
> again, then carefully returned his gaze.

CROW, TOM: [ In unison ] "What is ‘kiss’?"

> "You look like Indiana
> Jones." Carrie remarked, placing her hand on her hip. "You don’t
> look so bad yourself." Bob smirked, but his real thoughts were very
> different.

TOM: [ As Bob ] Who’s this Deanna Jones I’m supposed to be in?

> Carrie was wearing short cutoff jeans with a baby blue
> midriff blouse tied in a knot. She had tall brown boots with a long
> jewelled dagger attached to the right one. She also had a large gun
> holsted around her waist.

JOEL: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Daisy Dukes.

>
> *Wow!* Bob thought, *She looks awesome! I wonder if she
> dresses like that at home?*

TOM: And he accidentally sends that to an IRC channel.

> Then he reached up and tilted the fedora
> slightly. "Well," he said,

CROW: The problems of two sprites don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy mixed-up world…

> "If we’re gonna win this game, we better
> get a move on."

JOEL: They’re stored on ROM page four. We can get any move we need.

> Reaching up, he removed the torch from its holder,
> and they moved forward together into the unknown.
>

TOM: Let’s get back to the real game.

JOEL: [ Picking up TOM ] Works for me.

[ ALL leave. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6.. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. The Monopoly set is on the center of the
table; GYPSY, CROW, JOEL, and TOM are gathered around to play.
All their tokens are on "Go" — the game is about to start.
JOEL rolls the dice. ]

JOEL: OK, that’s a six, that puts Gypsy [ moving her piece ] on the
State Forests edition … you want to buy it?

GYPSY: Yeah.

TOM: [ As JOEL takes cash from GYPSY’s pile, and gives a title card ]
Joel, what is it with human fantasies about going into the
computer’s world?

CROW: Yeah, there’s Reboot, there’s Tron, there’s … um …

TOM: Uh …

[ An awkward pause. JOEL rolls the dice, and advances MAGIC VOICE’s token ]

JOEL: [ Not paying attention as TOM and CROW think of an example ] You want the Peanuts edition?

MAGIC VOICE: Yes, please.

GYPSY: I hope I get the Lionel Train edition.

CROW: There’s…

[ As JOEL takes cash from MAGIC VOICE’s pile and turns over a card ]

GYPSY: Automan.

CROW: [ Leaping on it ] Yeah! Automan!

TOM: Yeah, and … uh … well, just lots of stuff. What’s with it?

JOEL: [ Rolling ] Ooh, sorry, Tom, you got a four.

TOM: [ As JOEL moves his piece to "Income Tax" ] Aw, sheesh. Still.

JOEL: [ Taking 10 percent from TOM’s pile. ] In the 80s we suddenly
had computers going from the mysterious impersonal things sending
Johnny Carson comically misaddressed letters to these curious and
friendly things in every home.

CROW: [ As JOEL rolls, and moves CROW’s piece up seven. ] Ooh, chance.

JOEL: [ Taking a card. ] Advance to London Edition.

CROW: I’ll take it. So, what, people just jumped on the newest thing?

JOEL: [ Rolling, advancing his piece to GYPSY’s, and giving her some cash. ] Well, there were a lot of articles about how computers think differently from you and me … me, anyway. How everything’s binary, yes/no, on/off, how they could turn ninety degrees but not just a smidgen to the side … it fired the imagination, there was this alien worldview there for the price of an RF adaptor to hook your Color Computer up to the living room set.

TOM: And that’s an excuse to put Desi Arnaz Junior on TV?

JOEL: Hey, the eight-bit computing era was a great time.

CROW: Hold on now. We may not have been there, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know all about it.

TOM: Mostly it was people saying you could keep recipes on an Atari 800 and being deservedly ridiculed.

JOEL: The Micro Adventure book series gave us a world of international espionage with the fantasy of portable computers and secret messages given us in X-Men comics. A few far-thinkers worked out schemes where two programs would run at the same time but we never knew why we’d want to.

TOM: The computer had sixteen colors, and three of them were grey.

CROW: It was an achievement to have both text and a graphic on screen.

JOEL: Or it was HIRES2 mode.

GYPSY: They thought everybody would have to learn BASIC.

JOEL: We knew something about Wordstar.

TOM: Another point for us.

CROW: You had to *type in* programs, especially if you forgot your *tape* drive.

JOEL: [ Noddding, happily ] And there were rumors how if you used the modem just right you could get free phone calls, of if you had the right sound programs you didn’t need a modem, you could just hold the phone up to the TV set.

GYPSY: Couldn’t you lose your program by looking at the disk directory?

JOEL: Yeah, if you didn’t move the start of memory for the listing, like who didn’t know how to do that?

CROW: Radio Shack pushed comic books.

JOEL: The Microcomputer Kids told us Superman’s brain was exactly as powerful as a TRS-80 Model I.

TOM: That was the pre-Crisis Superman, right?

JOEL: Yeah.

CROW: Mmm… that’s probably fair.

JOEL: They also said someday in the future we’d read the Metropolis Daily Planet on the computer, and play chess with students thousands of miles away, and shop online or even send electronic mail messages.

TOM: Yeah, the Coleco Adam was a slice of the 21st century dropped on your desk.

JOEL: We knew how to swap out ROM and fix the ASC function bug even if we never used it, ever.

TOM: The only thing animated on a computer was that guy juggling checkered balls on Amiga screens.

JOEL: Yeah! They’d never imagine the movie Rocky and Bullwinkle, Scooby-Doo, or Stuart Little 2.

CROW: Your disk drive got faster if you blanked out the screen.

JOEL: A good seven percent faster! Try that on today’s hardware.

TOM: And it went out of alignment whenever anybody in the county sneezed.

JOEL: Mine never did. Except once.

GYPSY: Wasn’t there a save-with-replace bug?

JOEL: Yeah, but if you remember how the 4040 turned into the 1540 and then the 1541 and 1571 it was completely avoidable. A lot of the time.

TOM: 3-2-1 Contact magazine claimed you needed to know what "modem" stands for.

JOEL: That was Enter magazine. It only folded *into* 3-2-1 Contact.

CROW: They put membrane keyboards on computers!

JOEL: On the Mattel Aquarius. We didn’t buy it then either.

GYPSY: A sprite could have color or be big enough to see.

TOM: The only messaging was to whoever logged on the bulletin board system after you freed up the line.

JOEL: But they helped you change your cursor to the USS Discovery from "2001".

CROW: You never got an upgrade or a bug patch either.

JOEL: And the computer was ready the second you turned on the power.

TOM: They tried to sell people the Commodore 16.

JOEL: And then somehow we got GEOS, Omni bought out Compute!’s Gazette and in the blink of an eye it was all gone. Computers became an expensive way to play solitaire and get fifty unwanted e-mails a day. But for a little while there was magic, there was love, there was a dream that was … Camelot.

CROW: And it came with lines to change if you were typing it in to an Apple IIc.

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial sign in five seconds.

JOEL: It was a golden age.

TOM: The computers were slow, cranky, and awkward.

[ COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes ]

JOEL: They couldn’t have been better. We’ll be right back.

[ JOEL taps COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 3 of 16)


Welcome back to my tour of old Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This piece from around 2003 is “Breaking the Barriers”, a Reboot fanfic by Carrie L—. Name truncated because the protagonist is a version of the author. While she was happy with my writing in 2003, I don’t know that this would not be horribly embarrassing eighteen years later.

The entirety of this MiSTing is, or should be, at this link. In the first part a mysterious computer thingy brought Carrie into the world of her computer. In the second part she got to meet Bob and Phong and other characters of the Reboot show she loves.

I come down surprisingly hard on the idea that Reboot is a popular show here. I don’t know; the joke seems quite petty. My recollection is that even at the time it was obvious Reboot would be a show people remembered and that would have influence, even if it wasn’t an Animaniacs-class success. One problem with the MiSTing habit is snarking mindlessly. Good snark, I suspect, needs to target sloppy or malicious thinking. “I like this cartoon” is neither sloppy nor malicious.


>
> Part Six
>
> Taking a deep breath,

TOM: Hey, give that back!

> Carrie sat up, but then looked down at
> the floor.

JOEL: The action here has the flow of a game of Arkanoid.

> "What I’m going to tell you is confidential," She
> whispered,

CROW: So I hope you’re just very confident.

> "and it’s going to sound like I’ve gone random.

TOM: But I’m really just sampling voice chip three.

> You have
> got to believe me, I could not just make this up."

ALL: MAKEUP!

[ JOEL pulls out a pillow, bops TOM, CROW. ]

> She looked up to
> find Bob and Phong watching her with rapt attention.

CROW: You got — you got something on — something on your — right —

> Licking her lips
> unconciously,

TOM: She’s going to have to get some CyberLip Balm if she keeps doing that.

> Carrie began to run through what she was going to say,
> in her mind.

JOEL: I probably shouldn’t talk too much about radiator fluids, it’s just too much of a diversion.

>
> "I come from a place called Earth."

CROW: [ As Bob ] You do? Do you know Peter?

> She said, "I am a human,
> not a sprite.

TOM: I am not a binary-coded-decimal number!

> Where I come from, you aren’t supposed to really
> exist."

JOEL: You’re just a metaphor for improved comprehension.

> she smiled a little at Bob’s startled reaction,

TOM: [ As Bob ] Yeah, well, where we come from *you* don’t exist, so double-dumb nyah on you!

> then kept
> going. "You see, where I am from, you are known only

CROW: To a select group of Cartoon Network junkies.

> as characters in
> a cartoon. Now I’m sure you’re wondering what a cartoon is,

JOEL: And why I’ve brought you here together.

> but I’ll
> have to explain that some other time."

TOM: Next time she’s freakishly pulled into the world of a cartoon?

> She raced through all the
> things she could say,

CROW: I bet there are some things she *could* say that she is *not* considering.

> and all the things she couldn’t say.

JOEL: Saying them would violate the Prime Directive.

> "This
> cartoon is called ‘ReBoot’, and it is very popular.

CROW: …mostly among people who ever bid more than thirty dollars on eBay for an SLP recording of the Transformers where Sea Spray meets the mermaid.

> You were
> wondering why I knew who you were, it’s because,

TOM: I’m assembling you into my Impossible Missions force.

> in this show, you are
> the main character.

CROW: Unless it’s that year you don’t appear at all.

> Anyone who’s even seen just part of the show
> knows who Bob is because you’re in every episode."

TOM: OK, OK, Bob’s the king of the world, OK? Good for you.

>
> It was then that Carrie realized that Phong had moved to his
> retrieval Vid- Window,

TOM: Which immediately crashes.

> and was skimming through the information there.

CROW: Huh … make money fast sending emails to pet kittens at home…

> "What are you looking for, Phong?" Bob asked, curiously.

JOEL: Phong? The fish is ready.

> Phong
> looked up at him, then at Carrie.

TOM: Sorry, I stumbled on the "Red Hot RS-232C Action" site by mistake.

> "I remembered hearing a story once
> before

JOEL: It was amusing. I liked it.

> about a species called ‘humans’, and I am looking to see if I
> can find a reference to them."

CROW: So far Google’s returned 2,038 billion sites, and a cute cartoon of a guy getting gumballs out of an ‘o’ in its logo.

> Phong began to race through the
> information, as Bob went over to see what he was looking at. "Ah,
> here it is." Phong said,

TOM: Search results found. Entries deleted. Have a nice day.

> "The term ‘human’ was once used by a visitor
> to another system, by the name of Jeff Bridges.

JOEL: A system named Jeff Bridges?

CROW: They’re so advanced they can get the behind-the-scenes documentary of "Tron."

> He claimed to come
> from Earth, just as you do." Phong looked up at Carrie, and she
> swallowed hard.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] I knew I shouldn’t have written all those tank programs!

>
> "That’s not the only way you know humans." She said, and
> Phong looked surprised.

CROW: Does taking the clown hat off help you recognize us?

> "And how else should we know of ‘humans’?" he
> asked.

JOEL: Have you tried our web site? http://www.humans.int/ ?

> Carrie looked down at her feet, and stayed silent, not sure
> how to tell them.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Hey, when’d I get ruby slippers?

> She felt a hand on her shoulder, and looked up.

CROW: Why, thank you, Thing.

> She found herself looking into Bob’s eyes as he sat down next to her.
> "It’s O.K.," he said, quietly, "you can tell us." As he flashed her
> his killer smile, her fears and her heart, began to melt.

TOM: This is what happens when the cooling fan breaks.

CROW: They should’ve packed her on dry ice.

> "Well,"
> she whispered, "Not only am I human, but when I am home on Earth, I
> would be known to you as…."

JOEL: Darkwing Duck!

> She swallowed and looked at Bob for
> reassurance. When he smiled and placed his hand on her shoulder
> again,

CROW: They’re running out of hands there.

TOM: Shoulders too.

> she looked up at the ceiling and took a deep breath. "I am
> known to you as a ‘User’."

JOEL: I had no respect for individuals, just what I could make them do.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * *

CROW: It’s a badly written square root sign.

>
> Part Seven
>
> Carrie sat silently as Phong and Bob stared at her in shock
> and disbelief.

TOM: [ As Phong ] Another one of *these*.

CROW: [ As Bob ] I tell ya, full moon, that’s when the crazies come out.

> She had known this was going to happen eventually, and
> she was sure that they would think she was random.

TOM: Why is telling them she’s a User going to make them like her more?

> Instead of smiling
> nicely and then quietly locking her away, Bob stood up. "I don’t know
> what to say." he whispered,

CROW: Perhaps I could use a Markov chain generator to create some generic poetry product for you.

> and then turned slightly, avoiding her
> gaze. Carrie clasped her hands together, and looked at him with
> pleading eyes. "I know how bad it sounds," she whispered, "but you’ve
> got to believe me.

TOM: Why?

> This is the truth, no matter how weird it sounds."
> She let her eyes trace his gorgeous profile, looking for any signs of
> belief, or slight acceptance.
>
> As she watched his face began to change, slowly.

JOEL: Uhoh. Morph programs. Trouble.

> Then he did
> something unexpected, he whirled around to face her, his face a mask
> of fierce concentration and withheld emotions.

TOM: Must… be… bland!

> "I can’t accept that
> you’re a User!" He almost shouted, "The User is threat to the sprites
> of Mainframe!"

CROW: This pretty accurately gets how computers feel about their users.

> He looked down at the floor, his hands clenched into
> fists at his sides, breathing hard with the exertion used to hold back
> his anger. Carrie sat back, surprised and shocked at the outburst.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] I just know they’re going to think I’m a Mary Sue…

> Her throat constricted, and she could feel tears begin to burn in her
> eyes. The last thing she had wanted to do was to upset Bob or anyone,
> and now she had done just that.

JOEL: Oh, *that’s* what she did. I forgot.

> She waited for him to storm away or
> hit something, she was sure he was mad at her.

TOM: [ As Bob ] I oughta interrupt your raster vectoring…

> "I just can’t accept
> that." he whispered, then looked up at her, his eyes glistening with
> tears of his own.

JOEL: Hey, there’s no crying in cyberspace!

> "I know you can’t be a User because you just don’t
> come across as one."

CROW: That sounds like a major dis, really.

>
> Carrie slid gracefully off the bio-bed, and walked forward.
> She stopped just in front of him, and looked up into his eyes.

TOM: Is she shrinking?

CROW: She’s conserving disk space.

> "I
> know you don’t believe me," she said, "but you’re going to have to. I
> can’t stay here, I have to return to Earth and my home."

JOEL: So she can get on the ‘net and sit there all week.

> Bob just
> looked at her for a while, but couldn’t say anything. "I know that
> you have the ability to get me back home." Carrie said,

CROW: Yeah, right after he gets the kid from Voyager, the Dungeons and Dragons kids, Samurai Jack, and Kidd Video back home.

TOM: I’m going to stick around until he gets the kid from Liddsville home, and that’s it.

> "I just hope
> you’re willing to believe me enough to do it." Bob looked away for a
> bit, deep in thought, then turned back to face her.

TOM: [ Harshly ] Abort, Retry… [ Softly ] Ignore?

> "I don’t know if
> I can," he sighed, " No Mainframer has ever been to the world of the
> User, so I don’t think there’s anyway you can get there."

JOEL: Well. Can you direct me to Max Headroom, then?

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

TOM: That’s a signature so abstract nobody knows who it is.

[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 2 of 16)


Welcome back to my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic treatment of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic “Breaking The Barriers”. Everything posted from “Breaking the Barriers” should be at this link”. And all of my reposted MiSTings should be at this link, someday.

In the first part of this story, Carrie L—, Canadian author, admired how many things there were on the Internet. (Name partly redacted because this was a self-insertion fanfic and I don’t wish to force the author to be too easily embarrassed, if she would be.) Then came a mysterious error and she woke to discover she’s now one of those things. Join us now as she wakes to meet the cast of Reboot.

I don’t remember why I took on this MiSTing. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t only for the chance to toss in a bunch of old-time-even-then computer jokes. But it would be like me for that. Crow’s line about “Just go 4C E2 FC” is the machine language instructions for a Commodore 64 to reset the computer. There are a bunch of good dumb jokes I still like, such as Phong inquiring as to Carrie’s former appearance, or Joel’s energy shake. Hope you enjoy.

It was an article of Internet lore in the 90s that you could only get decaffeinated Mountain Dew in Canada. I don’t know whether that was true, or true in a shaded way, like, it only had less caffeine. But that’s what makes that line a correctly formed joke, which to a know-it-all like me is even better than a funny joke.


>
> Part Three

JOEL: The part of the third part will be known in this fanfic as the part of the third part.

>
> After a bit of confusion,

ALL: [ Muttering loudly to themselves, to the effect of "Where am I? Who are you? Where are we? What’s going on? Should we be doing something? ]

TOM: At some point she might want to ask how she got there.

> Carrie managed to calm down and was
> able to answer and ask questions normally.

CROW: [ As Carrie ] Oh, I dunno, what do you wanna do?

JOEL: [ As Bob ] I dunno. What do you wanna do?

> Looking up from the energy
> shake she had been given,

TOM: You’re sure I can’t get that supersized?

> Carrie found herself once again staring into
> those eyes.

JOEL: You have a liiiiiittle booger, right there.

>
> "You really are Bob, aren’t you?" she asked, sheepishly.
> "Last time I checked." he said, then he looked at her funny.

CROW: What was Mister Carlin telling you?

> "How do
> you know me?"

TOM: Let me count the ways.

> he asked, "I know you’re not from Mainframe." Looking
> back down at her energy shake,

JOEL: So she’s got no tea, right?

> Carrie tried to think of a good answer.

CROW: How would it be if I just spelled Mississippi?

> "Uh…well…you’re pretty well known where I come from."

TOM: In about the same way that Mister Spaceley is a leading industrialist back where she comes from.

> She said,
> then took a cautious sip of her shake.

JOEL: It was unlike any shake she had cautiously sipped before.

> It was as if she were drinking
> adrenaline or something.

TOM: MM-mmm. Endocrine solutions, just like Mom used to distill.

> Her whole body felt revitalized and her head
> started to clear. With a feeling of both surprise and pleasure, she
> started to gulp down the shake.

TOM: What the — no, get your head out of there! You’ll get stuck!

>
> "Whoa!" Bob said, "Be careful or you’re gonna choke!"

JOEL: Oh, and your face will freeze like that.

> Putting
> her drink down, Carrie smiled shyly. "I’ve never tasted, or felt,

CROW: Or deliberately bathed in…

> anything like that before!" she said. "You mean you’ve never had an
> energy shake?"

JOEL: I think an energy shake would go something… like this.
[ ALL stand up and start wiggling around. ]

> Bob asked, surprised. "No," Carrie whispered, "They
> don’t have these where I come from."

TOM: Yeah, they decaffeinate Mountain Dew too.

> She looked back up at Bob, and
> found him staring at her.

CROW: Sooner or later, one of them has to blink.

> "Just where do you come from anyway?" He
> asked.

TOM: Come from. Go to’s considered harmful.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

CROW: The barriers will never heal if you don’t stop picking at them.

>
> Part Four
>
> Carrie swallowed hard. How was she going to explain the fact
> that she was a user to Bob without him thinking

CROW: You could jingle your car keys and distract him.

> she was completely
> random?

JOEL: Don’t throw in an unpredictable series of digits?

> She glanced down at her feet,

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Wait a minute, *three*?

> thinking of something to say,
> when she realized that her shoes and clothes were all wrong.

CROW: They were *so* fifteen milliseconds ago.

> Instead
> of her usual blue jeans and high-top runners, she was wearing black
> leather pants

JOEL: And felt-tip socks.

> and knee-high black boots. Each boot had a symbol

CROW: And vice-versa.

> crested at the top under the knee, a black and white bisected circle,

JOEL: The mark of the standardized test!

> impaled by a black and white diamond. She stretched her arms out and
> began to examine the sleeves of her shirt.

TOM: Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat!

CROW: But that trick *never* works!

> What had been a plain grey
> sweatshirt, was now a maroon bodysuit

CROW: Without that suit, she wouldn’t have a body at all.

> with chrome trim.

TOM: And huge fins and that Edsel horse-collar grille.

> Her hands,
> once the sun-kissed brown

JOEL: If the sun kissed me I’d probably get third degree burns.

> of a Native-Canadian, had instead become an
> aquamarine colour.

CROW: Of a Newfoundlander.

JOEL: Or one of Namor’s armies.

>
> With a starled gasp, she jumped off the couch and ran to the
> mirror on the other side of the room.

TOM: Bob keeps that mirror around so he can put on his makeup.

> The face that stared back at
> her bore the same aquamarine colour as her hands, and she now had
> metallic blue hair.

JOEL: I guess she’s going through her Blue Period.

TOM: She’s really got to *steel* herself for this look!

> Her lips were a deep turquoise

CROW: Two feet deep, in fact.

> and her eyes…
> fortunately, her eyes were still the same hazel that had always stared
> back at her.

CROW: She clashes with every conceivable color and style.

JOEL: Black, white, maroon, and turquoise. She’s become a CGA graphic.

> With a small shriek of disbelief, she turned to Bob who
> had come up beside her.

TOM: I hope he doesn’t frighten Miss Muffet away.

>
> "What’s wrong?" he asked, worried. "I don’t look the same!!"

CROW: Uh… wait… new haircut? Different dress?

> Carrie almost shouted. "What’s happened to me?" I…I…" She turned
> back to the mirror again,

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Oh, magic mirror, take me away from this all.

> and now noticed the same black and white
> bisected circle that was on her boots was also placed near her left
> collarbone.

JOEL: So her neck’s become a boot?

> Reaching up to touch it,

TOM: If that’s a hot spot, she’s going to be in a lot of trouble.

> she looked at Bob’s worried face
> in the mirror.

CROW: It looks like a mirror, but it’s actually a web camera serving over five thousand people a day.

> "This is all wrong!" she whispered, "I’m not a
> sprite!"

JOEL: You’d rather be a raster interrupt method?

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * *

TOM: There’s one now.

>
> Part Five

CROW: Part Five is alive!

>
> At Carrie’s shock and dismay at her appearence,

TOM: I like her appearance.

> and her
> insistance that she was not a sprite, Bob decided it would be a good
> idea to take her to see Phong.

TOM: It *was* a good idea…

ALL: At first.

> Upon arriving at the Principle Office,
> Phong took her to the Infirmary

CROW: Because they were on the Infirmaration Superhighway.

> to see if there was anything the
> scanners could pick up.

JOEL: Hey, those aren’t scanners, they’re just an alpha channel effect.

> As he ran the tests,

CROW: Carrie regretted not studying earlier.

> Phong began to ask
> Carrie questions.

JOEL: Live around here much?

TOM: If you were a natural-born human transported by freakish accident to the world inside the computer, how would you convince people you weren’t insane?

>
> "You say that you do not look as you are supposed to." Phong
> said, "May I inquire as to your former appearence?"

CROW: [ As Carrie ] Go right ahead.

TOM: [ As Phong ] What is your former appearance?

> Carrie stared up
> at the ceiling,

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] What the… there’s people dancing on it!

> and started to recount her human appearence to them,

TOM: [ As Phong ] So you were the most beautiful person we ever saw… and we’re drawn to your beautiful eyes, that are quiet pools of tranquility that still betray a deep secret and still penetrate our souls… any distinguishing features?

> being careful not to sound like she was crazy.

CROW: So she had to keep from honking.

> "Well, I had brown
> hair before,

JOEL: But not on my head!

> and my skin was a dark beige colour. My lips were not
> turquoise, more of a pink colour.

CROW: Carrie L—, for the new Color Trinitron.

> These aren’t even my clothes!" She
> sighed deeply,

TOM: Inhaling over four kilobytes of memory.

> and turned her head to look at Phong.

[ CROW makes a slow, squeaking, hinge-in-need-of-oil sound. ]

> "I know it
> sounds crazy," she said, "but you’ve gotta believe me.

TOM: [ As Phong ] Sure thing, Mister Napoleon.

> I don’t belong
> here, and I need to get back home."

CROW: She’s only been gone fifteen milliseconds and already her ISP’s disconnected her forty times.

> Bob looked over at her

JOEL: Good woman. Tasty.

> and gave
> her a look she didn’t quite understand.

TOM: He gives looks in Klingon.

> "I can try and get you home."

CROW: Just go ‘4C E2 FC’, ‘4C E2 FC’, ‘4C E2 FC’ while clicking your VIC-IIs together three times.

> he said, "The only thing is, I need to know where you’re from.

JOEL: And if you can pay half tolls.

> You
> still haven’t told me."

TOM: Why, it almost makes me not want to trust the person I’ve never met before and know almost nothing about.

> Carrie swallowed hard,

CROW: There goes another 24 k of the stack.

> and looked up into his
> eyes.

TOM: As a sprite, would you feel more comfortable if we put you into a Snoopy Versus The Red Baron game?

> "Um.. well…I…you see," she stammered. From the look on his
> face,

JOEL: And the banner ad running across his forehead…

> she decided then and there, that she was going to have to tell
> him the truth,

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] This isn’t as cool as I thought it would be.

> no matter what the conciquences.

CROW: Is that the Canadian spelling?

TOM: That’s the Canadian misspelling.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

JOEL: They haven’t gotten very far building that wall.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 1 of 16)


I’d like to begin another Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic summoned from the murky depths of the late 90s here. It’s set in the Reboot universe. Reboot is a show I never watched regularly. This isn’t a mark against the show. I was just at a place in the 90s when I had stopped picking up many new shows. I’m pretty much still there.

Editorial notes: I’ve obscured the author’s name for this story, Breaking the Barriers. This is because the fanfic was a self-insertion piece, putting a version of the author in as protagonist. Carrie L— volunteered this fanfic to the Web Site Number Nine Dibs List, as I recall. (I apologize if I have remembered how I came to this piece wrong.) And did enjoy the MiSTing and thought I treated it, and her character, fairly. But that was twenty years ago, and people’s views of themselves and their creative works change.

So I grant someone might work out the identity of the author from the clues available. But I can at least make it a little harder to do. Should the author happen to have an opinion about this reprinting — including wanting it taken down — please contact me, in a screened comment if need be, and I’ll act accordingly.

When I wrote this instead of my thesis, back around 2002, I was unaware of Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire. Nor did I know of Santa’s Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire. Nor of Story Land in Glen, New Hampshire. If I had been, the Stuff For New Hampshire sketch would have been very different, I assure you. As you maybe guessed, it was based on a road trip I took once. I think the address specified “Suite 12” because that was my apartment number at the time. Meanwhile, please take care to not cut yourself on the sharp edge of my joke about the many editions of Monopoly, which I believe were all ones I had seen on store shelves when this was written.


[ OPENING SEQUENCE ]

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

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. CROW and TOM stand behind the desk; a science fair project-style folding board with a map of New Hampshire stands by CROW’s side. ]

CROW: Good evening. Tom Servo and I, Crow T. Robot, speak to you on behalf of one of the Republic’s most needy states. As becomes obvious on considering or trying to drive across the state, the horrible truth is:

TOM: New Hampshire doesn’t have enough stuff in it. There are the small antiques stores that infest every square mile of New England, plenty of places to get maple syrup, plus some gas stations that are out of gas and won’t let you use the rest rooms, and that’s about it.

CROW: Compared to such exciting and dynamic states as Massachusetts, home to the Professional Basketball Hall of Fame, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and the Mount Greylock Expeditionary Force, loyal sons of New Hampshire can only look despairingly at their empty state.

TOM: Some naive people may assert New Hampshire is no worse off than nearby Vermont. Not so! Those in Vermont can partake of the benefits of being one of the four states to have been independent nations before joining the Union, such as the Hemmings Motor News (Full-Service) Gas Station, and the northernmost battle site of the U.S. Civil War.

CROW: [ Leadingly curious ] How’s that, Tom?

TOM: Yes, in 1864 Confederate soldiers descended from Canada to seize Saint Albans. They left three days later, taking with them some lovely antiques and fine maple syrup, and leaving Vermont with yet another piece of the rich tapestry of a history not shared by New Hampshire.

CROW: Others might argue states like Wisconsin deserve attention first. Not so! Oh, sure, Wisconsin has lots of empty space too, but its residents can enjoy cultural attractions like The House On The Rock, Tommy Bartlett’s Water Show, the actual filming locations of "The Giant Spider Invasion," and convenient access to Escanaba, Michigan.

TOM: But what have our poor New Hampshire…olo..gists got to look forward to, except catching a peek at Brattleboro, Vermont? That’s no future for the proud residents of an upstanding state, and it’s no future for New Hampshire either.

[ JOEL, carrying another sheet of cardboard, and GYPSY, enter, and listen aghast at what CROW and TOM are saying. ]

CROW: So if you’ve got any extra stuff — a museum, a potato chip collection, a cultural heritage, an Interstate, heck, a strip mall would do — please, donate it to the cause.

TOM: Send your extra stuff to:

[ CAMBOT puts the address on screen ]
Stuff for New Hampshire
1788 New Hampshire Boulevard, Suite 12
New Hampshireopolis, New Hampshire 01173
TOM: Thank you, won’t you?

JOEL: [ Startling, scaring TOM and CROW ] Thomas! Crow! I’m shocked at you both!

GYPSY: You knew we were going to do the — [ JOEL reveals his cardboard as a cutout of Nebraska ] — Stuff for Nebraska appeal!

JOEL: Yeah, guys, show a little consideration!

TOM: Uh, gosh, well, you know, we, uh …

CROW: [ As JOEL and GYPSY approach them ] Yeah, uh, we …

[ GYPSY pushes over their New Hampshire display ]

CROW, TOM: [ Dutifully ] We’re sorry.

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial sign in ten seconds.

JOEL: That’s more like it. And you two won’t ever do that again?

TOM: We didn’t say we *learned* anything, Joel, just that we’re sorry.

GYPSY: Get them!

[ TOM and CROW dash off to the sides of the screen as COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes. ]

JOEL: [ Giving chase, tapping COMMERCIAL SIGN ] We’ll be right back!

[ COMMERCIALS ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. CROW, JOEL, TOM, and GYPSY are tossing out cardboard cutouts of various states. JOEL holds a cutout of Indiana. ]

CROW: Indiana.

TOM: Farmer’s Market in Shipshewana.

GYPSY: [ As JOEL tosses out Indiana, picks up Colorado. ] Colorado.

CROW: Setting for "Mork and Mindy." [ JOEL tosses off Colorado, picks up Missouri. ]

GYPSY: Represented in both the Union and Confederate Congresses during the Civil War.

CROW: [ As JOEL tosses off Missouri, picks up Delaware. ] Actually has a land border with New Jersey.

JOEL: New Jersey, then?

TOM: The Turnpike’s Richard Stockton Service Plaza is named for the only signer to later repudiate the Declaration of Independence.

[ MADS SIGN flashes ]

JOEL: Oh, wait. Goober and the Ghost Chasers are calling.

[ JOEL taps MADS SIGN ]

[ DEEP 13. A steel girder is in the background, several feet off the ground; after a beat, DR. FORRESTER pokes his head into frame. ]

DR. F:Hello, Casper. Space Angels. Breakfast cereal: it’s not just for breakfast anymore, but it mostly is. Nevertheless, it offers our invention exchange for this week.

FRANK: [ Off-screen ] You noticed how the last Cheerios in the bowl stick together?

DR. F: Sure, we all have. And we realized the great potential if this adhesive power could be harnessed for non-grain applications.

FRANK: [ Off-screen ] So we went to work trying to reproduce Cheerio adhesion in a portable and easily applied liquid or gel form.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As above. ]

TOM: So you’ve got a demonstration for us?

[ DEEP 13. As above. ]

DR. F: Well …

[ DR. FORRESTER shuffles around, clumsily, revealing that across his back TV’s FRANK is stuck, at an odd angle, his back to DR. FORRESTER’s back, his arm twisted to fit behind DR. FORRESTER’s shoulders and head. ]

FRANK: We’re working the bugs out.

DR. F: [ Shuffling back around ] Your turn.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. JOEL is at the desk, putting a large thimble over TOM’s dome. GYPSY has wheels and a racecar front on her head. CROW has a papier mache top hat on. On the desk is a Monopoly board and the associated clutter. ]

JOEL: Our invention this week begins with the provocative question: What do Singapore, Betty Boop, the original six pro hockey teams, and the dot-com industry have in common? One great theme.

TOM: All these nouns have all been turned into editions of the classic Parker Brothers board game, Monopoly.

GYPSY: Monopoly has dozens of licensed theme variations.

JOEL: From cities, to Marvel comics, to Major League Baseball.

CROW:So we unite them all with a hopefully soon-to-be-licensed variant:

[ JOEL holds the board up ]

JOEL: The Monopoly Edition edition of Monopoly!

TOM: Tired of Saint Charles Place? Try buying and building up the National Geographic Mountaineering Edition. That dowdy old green color block? Now it’s I Love Lucy, Star Trek, and The Simpsons.

CROW: Free Parking becomes the concept of landing on somebody else’s hotel without their noticing.

GYPSY: Those old railroads? Now they’re the Standard Edition set; the Monopoly set you lost when you were twelve; the set with two checkers, a pawn, and a piece from Sorry replacing missing tokens; and the set that’s hidden under the couch at Grandma’s.

JOEL: It’s an exciting new twist on a classic game, and one we hope will delight the world. What do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. TV’s FRANK is facing forward now, DR. FORRESTER stuck turned away. ]

FRANK: Joel, I think you’re going to delight in this week’s experiment. For a change, it’s *fan fiction* where the author puts a version of herself into the story, and soon wins the hearts of all the show’s characters, heroes and villains alike.

[ They turn around again, showing DR. FORRESTER. ]

DR. F: Your target for tonight is… Reboot: Breaking the Barriers by Canada’s own Carrie L—.

[ They turn around again, showing TV’s FRANK. ]

FRANK: Good luck breaking on through to the other side!

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. GYPSY, CROW, JOEL, and TOM are beginning to play the Monopoly edition. ]

TOM: I wanna be the thimble.

JOEL: You are the thimble.

CROW: Are we gonna play where you get cash for landing on Free Parking?

GYPSY: No, we’re playing the basic rules.

TOM: Can we make investment trusts with the banker?

JOEL: No, it’s just the plain old rules.

CROW: Do we have to go around the board once before buying property?

GYPSY: No, we’re just playing the real —

[ MOVIE SIGN goes off ]

ALL: Aaaah! We got movie sign!

CROW: I wanna be the racecar!

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

[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

> Breaking the Barriers

CROW: Somebody get the Krazy Glue.

TOM: Or the Cheerios.

> By Carrie L—

>
> Blinking and rubbing her eyes,

TOM: An elderly Samantha Stevens tries to work her magic again.

> Carrie leaned back in her
> chair.

JOEL: If she leans too far she’ll fall in Yosemite Sam’s trap.

TOM: He’s going to get rid of her and make it look like an accident.

> She had been sitting in front of her computer for hours now.

CROW: Gina Smith, the early years.

> "Boy," she thought, "there sure is alot of things to look at on the
> ‘Net. I could be here forever!"

JOEL: "I could be here forever" — it’s foreshadowing! We never get foreshadowing!

> Reaching up, she rubbed the back of
> her neck,

TOM: I hope she’s not looking for the parachute release cord.

> trying to get rid of the kinks that were forming. Then,
> suddenly, her screen flashed a blue color

JOEL: I think she’s being visited by Jaga.

> and she got an "Error 2001"

TOM: A pretty routine odyssey.

> message. "Error 2001?" she said, "Fatal error,

CROW: They’re going to have to call off finding the monolith?

> system destabylizing,

JOEL: But feeling better about itself.

> auto-transport device activated?" she read aloud, "What the heck is an
> auto-transport device?"

TOM: Isn’t that when Amtrak takes you and your car down to Florida?

>
> Suddenly, the screen began to flash a bright white light

CROW: Oh, somebody’s poking random numbers into 53281 again.

> and
> she felt herself being lifted off her seat.

JOEL: I hope she drives the villains crazy, ’cause she’s a lunatic.

> She watched in horror and
> surprise as her feet began to pass through her screen into,

TOM: This is the technology that let Deep Space Nine appear in the tribbles episode.

> who knows
> what? With a scream of terror,

JOEL: Scream.

ALL: [ Halfheartedly ] Aaah.

> she was pulled into her computer and
> everything went black.

JOEL: You suppose this would’ve happend if Carrie had a surge protector?

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

CROW: Hey, isn’t that one of the barriers there?

>
> Part Two
>
> Carrie felt groggy and her head was spinning as she came to.

CROW: Must be a loose socket somewhere.

> Gently, she began to open her eyes.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Aw, mom, it’s not a school day…

> As they fluttered open, she could
> hear a voice announce that she was waking up.

JOEL: Please remain in the waking-up position until the fan fiction has come to a complete stop.

> As her eyes came into
> focus, she could see that she was in a room she had never seen before.

CROW: Oh, OK. Now I know exactly what it looks like.

> ‘What happened?’ she thought, then gasped as someone’s face appeared
> above hers.

TOM: [ Distorted ] Hi, I’m Leonard Maltin.

>
> She found herself staring

JOEL: Isn’t that a bit rude, Carrie?

> into the most gorgeous pair of brown
> eyes she had ever seen.

TOM: They were unlike any eyes she had ever seen before.

> She then realized that the face that housed
> the eyes bore blue skin and chrome hair.

CROW: Oh, great. Honey? We got Andorians.

> As her eyes began to travel
> down the face,

TOM: A little glue can keep them from slipping like that.

> she noticed that this figure was wearing a blue uniform
> with gold and silver trim.

JOEL: He’s painted like Jay Ramos’s house down the street.

> Suddenly, it registered, and she bolted
> upright, gasping in surprise and total disbelief.

CROW: [ As Carrie ] I’m on "Silverhawks"!

>
> "Oh man,oh man,oh man!" she whispered, "I must be dreaming! It
> can’t be you!! You can’t be him!

TOM: I’m not, but a lot of people say I look just like him.

> Can you?"

JOEL: *May* you.

> She looked into the eyes
> again and whispered, "Are you Bob?"

TOM: Newhart?

JOEL: Dylan?

CROW: –White?

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

CROW: OK, a little string… we let it sit for a few hours, this barrier should be good as new again.

MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 4 of 4)


We come now to the end of Arthur Claude Munyan’s mysterious rant, On Beards And Evolution. Munyan’s rant does include the insulting notion that some peoples — not white people, of course — might have extraterrestrial genes. If you don’t need that racist nonsense in your recreational reading, you are right, and we’ll catch up next week when I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m enjoying digging out old Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction of mine even if I come across jokes that I now regret. (For example, here, a pretty cheap shot at individuals who might “have extraterrestrial genetic material”.)

If you do decide to finish this fanfic, though, it’s got some of my favorite goofy riffs, particularly the set of science fiction stories. You should always be suspicious of jokes you love a little too much, but that exchange? Even the weaker lines in that are great lines and I won’t hear otherwise. The bit in the closing sketch about “authentic interviews” is also an adjective-noun combination that keeps making me smile.

Dr Alan Chartok and Steve Kmetko were Albany (New York) local news personalities in the late 90s/early 2000s. I don’t know where they now are. Gurmit Singh is a Singaporean comic actor. Madonna is someone I was startled to learn is from Bay City, Michigan because I just assumed she was from New Jersey. Doesn’t she seem like someone who’d be from New Jersey? Right? Also back then we all just thought it was merry fun to mock Michael Jackson like that and I regret that now. I don’t believe Zheng He’s armada circumnavigated the world, but I accept for the purposes of making a joke that it might have been able to. The riff about where the Ancient Egyptians are today is adapted from a Robert Benchley line about Napoleon. Please also appreciate how I really nailed the quirks of the History Channel of the late 90s.

All four parts of this MiSTing should be at this tag. If you’d rather read them in order here is the first part, and this link is the second, and here’s the third part. The fourth and final part starts … now.


>
> An interesting and related note is that the Egyptians used to
> harbor an incredible revulsion for facial hair.

JOEL: Oh, sure, I can see how that’s related — huh?

> Many of them would
> depilate their entire bodies, pencil in their eyebrows, and wear
> elaborate wigs made of human hair or wool.

CROW: Yeah, and just look where the ancient Egyptians are today.

>
> Indeed, much of the wisdom of the ancients became lost with the
> advent of later civilizations.

TOM: So they gave up Zheng He’s armada capable of circumnavigating the world, but they got to shave.

>
> I shall now come to the final phase of my theory.

CROW: I’m going to grow a beard and see if I get dumber.

> For the past
> several years, I have become personally involved in a body of
> research which points to the possibility of the existence of
> extraterrestrial aliens.

[ ALL burst out laughing. ]

TOM: I was afraid the theory was going to be silly!

> I have read extensively the works of such
> noted scholars in the field as Dr. John Mack, David Jacobs, Whitley
> Strieber, and Budd Hopkins.

JOEL: Plus a couple Piers Anthony things for flavor.

TOM: H. G. Wells’s “The Shave Of Things To Come”!

CROW: Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever Wax”!

>
> While reviewing the vast number of sketches that have been made
> of these alien beings, whether you want to believe they’re real,

JOEL: Fred Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth’s “The Moustache Plague”!

CROW: Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonriders of Perm”!

TOM: Cordwainder Smith’s “Alpha Ralpha Barbershop”!

> imagined, or intentionally fabricated, one common denominator among
> them stands out.

CROW: E. M. Forster’s “The Machine Crops”!

TOM: James Blish’s “Surface Tonsure”!

JOEL: Douglas Adams’s “Salon, and Thanks For All the Fish”!

>
> Out of all these sketches, not one of them depicts an alien
> wearing a beard.

[ ALL laugh again. ]

JOEL: Nor do they depict aliens playing T-ball, does that mean T-ball shouldn’t exist?

CROW: No, and the failure of depictions of aliens to show them paying the electric bill indicates power companies are doomed!

TOM: It is abundantly clear that aliens never wear bunny slippers! I am adjusting my lifestyle to compensate!

>
> Not one.

CROW: Actually, the ones in “Cocoon” are *all* beard.

>
> I believe that there may very well be a connection between these
> alien beings and the Mongolian race.

TOM: They are all connected in the great Circle of Goofiness.

> A careful study of these
> sketches reveals that these beings resemble the Mongolian race to a
> greater extent than the other races.

CROW: If you kinda squint.

JOEL: I’ve noticed as well aliens are never depicted painting houses, spackling drywall, or replacing window trim. This bodes ill for the future of odd-jobs workers!

> The most obvious similarity is
> that both tend to exhibit a sloping pattern to their foreheads.

TOM: Unless you’re on Star Trek, when it’s where they put bumps.

>
> A more significant similarity is that they both appear to
> exhibit a trait which is clearly indigenous to the Mongolian race.

JOEL: Jellyfish ready for barbecue.

TOM: Come to think of it, aliens never stop off at Burger King. You know what this means!

> This trait is known as the "epicanthal fold."

CROW: Hey, you can’t say “epicanthal.”

> This is a biological
> trait that accounts for the distinctive shape of the eyes that
> Asiatic people possess. This same trait also appears evident in
> many the alien sketches I have studied.

TOM: Case closed.

CROW: Notice, too, no depictions of extraterrestrials feature them picking up jumbo boxes of Cheez-Its at Kmart. This is why the retailer’s emergence from bankruptcy is a waste of effort!

>
> Could it be that the Mongolian race is our closest genetic human
> link to these extraterrestrial beings?

CROW: How many humans have extraterrestrial genetic material?

JOEL: At a guess, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Gurmit Singh, and Doctor Alan Chartok.

> I don’t know. We are
> probably eons away from finding out.

JOEL: Longer, if we hit the red lights.

>
> However, the physical similarities between the Mongolian race
> and the alien sketches I have studied are compelling enough to
> warrant further investigation in this direction.

TOM: How, by watching more “Space Kidettes” cartoons until a new breakthrough shows up?

JOEL: I have observed that space aliens almost never play Monopoly.

>
> As stated earlier,

TOM: Was this before or after beards won the Thirty Years War?

> members of the Mongolian race wear beards to
> a lesser frequency and of lesser thickness than do males of any
> other race.

CROW: Including the 10-K fun-run.

> If the sketches of the extraterrestrial aliens I have
> seen are any indication, they don’t appear to wear beards at all.

TOM: So if you see a man without a beard, he’s probably an alien.

JOEL: It occurs to me now that there are no depictions of aliens who eat cold canned ravioli, so shape up! You know who you are.

>
> The implications facing modern men today should now be obvious.

CROW: I’m in way over my head.

>
> In my considered opinion,

JOEL: I’m glad he considered this. If he just posted off the top of his head he might’ve said something goofy and embarassing.

> these advanced beings are trying to
> tell us something.

TOM: They’re telling us to point and snicker at him.

>
> In keeping with the spirit of the new millenium,

CROW: We must abandon our music boxes, to live up to the standards of the aliens who never play them!

> I propose that
> bearded men everywhere surrender to the will of evolution and follow
> their example by shaving them off.

JOEL: But the example of bearded men is wearing beards.

TOM:Our shining new future: Short, pudgy, hairless, big-eyed entities with no way to differentiate between individuals!

>
> Our cooperation will surely facilitate the evolutionary pattern
> that our Creator,

[ CROW, TOM stare at JOEL. ]

> in His divine wisdom,

[ CROW, TOM snicker. ]

JOEL: Don’t start, you two.

> has set in motion for the
> future course of human civilization.

CROW: Under the petty totalitarianism of high school principals.

JOEL: This guy’s his own sort of Woolly Bully.

>
> Arthur Claude Munyan, Sr.

TOM: Not to be taken internally.

CROW: “Arthur Claude Munyan”? That’s not a name, that’s a minor Charles Dickens character.

>
>

CROW: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

JOEL: [ Picking up TOM ] Not a minute too soon.

TOM: What of the aliens, who never watch Steve Kmetko?

CROW: We don’t care.

[ ALL exit. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. GYPSY, CROW, JOEL, and TOM SERVO are there. ]

JOEL: Hello. I’m Sam Waterston, and you’re watching the Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel.

[ CAMBOT puts up a yellow serifed `MH’ in a circle, covering most of the screen, for a moment. ]

JOEL: If you just joined us you’ve missed “The Moustache That Never Was,” the incredible true story of how British intelligence diverted the Germans away from the invasion of Sicily by planting facial hair on the body of a “drowned” British courier.

CROW: I’m David Aykroyd, and you can catch it again at 11:00 tonight. Coming up next, “Barbershops of the Third Reich” explores how a chance allergic reaction to that blue liquid foiled a plot which could have ended the war in 1942.

GYPSY: And now an Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel Moment.

[ ALL stand stand silent for a few seconds. JOEL holds his breath. ]

GYPSY: This has been an Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel Moment.

TOM: I’m Roger Daltrey. On Civil War Journal we explore to what extent was General George Thomas mislead by his follicles? You’ll find out at midnight in “The Tweezer of Chickamauga.”

JOEL: Tomorrow at ten we use authentic interviews, amazing dramatic re-creations and actual computer analysis to help solve the greatest crime of the 20th century. Tune in to see “The Men Who Shaved Kennedy.”

CROW: All this and more on the Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel!

[ CAMBOT puts the `MH’ logo back up, for a moment. ]

GYPSY: Let’s all be there!

JOEL: What do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK are crouched on the ground and studying a random patch of it closely. ]

DR. F: Yes, yes, all well and good, Joel, now just hold a second.

FRANK: Here it comes!

DR. F: And there’s the one at platform C!

FRANK: And A and B are pulling up!

DR. F: We got it, man! All four platforms!

FRANK: Yes!
[ They high-five each other. ]

DR. F: Ssh! Ssh! We have to savor this.
[ They both pause, listening. ]

FRANK: We did really build something, right?
[ DR. FORRESTER glares at TV’s FRANK for a second. ]

DR. F: Push the button already.
[ TV’s FRANK leans over, reaching out of camera. DR. FORRESTER looks directly at the camera. ]
DR. F: Well, folks … goodnight.

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc. The essay “On Beards and Evolution” is the property of Arthur Claude Munyan, Sr. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who intends no particular ill-will towards Arthur Claude Munyan, Mystery Science Theater 3000, or the History Channel. All beards used in this MiSTing were fictional and any resemblance to actual beards, whether living or shorn, is entirely coincidental. I’m pretty sure that model subways already exist, but the idea I find funny enough to use as an Invention Exchange even though it is so visually boring. When in Singapore be sure to enjoy the shiny new North-East Line, which is fully automated and has windows on the front and back cars, so you can stand there and pretend you’re the engineer. Come back, Dr. Mike Neylon!

> Out of all these sketches, not one of them depicts an alien
> wearing a beard.

MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 3 of 4)


Now to the third part of another Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This one ridiculing Arthur Claude Munyan’s rant On Beards And Evolution. Part 1 ran two weeks ago, and part 2 ran one week ago. This is how things should work but when I write it like that it sounds harder than it needs to be.

This part includes my original addressing of the question: is this guy for real? And my conclusion, as mentioned last week: does it matter? If the piece was written sincerely, then it deserves its ridicule. If it was written to spoof a particular attitude — a racist, sexist, authoritarian attitude — then it did well. I would hope my falling for the joke makes the original better, then.

Speaking of the joke. This is the part where Munyan asserts he is not a white supremacist but wishes to make a “bioracial” argument. So if you don’t need that kind of white supremacist drivel in your life, even as it’s held up for ridicule, you are right and we’ll catch up again later.

And speaking of that ridicule. I have changed some of my ridicule. One change was of a riff mocking professional racist Phillipe Rushton’s name. The man deserves ridicule but “Phillipe” by itself doesn’t. I remember having doubts about the riff when I wrote it, fifteen or more years ago. But I ignored those doubts because the line sounded, to me, like the riff the Brains would make. And maybe they would have, in the 90s, and maybe they’d regret going for mocking someone’s name. I need to better listen to those doubts in myself.

There were also a couple of riffs about Munyan’s assessment of Asian people. As I re-read this, I saw too much of a gap between my anti-racist intent and how a reasonable person who had not invested the effort to know me might take my exact words. So the thing to do is say something better and I have taken that chance.


>
> Even the courageous victory of Mayor Daley’s Chicago police
> force against the demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic National
> Convention

JOEL: Oh, yeah, glorious victory. They’re still cheering about that one.

> failed to bring us back to our senses. It wasn’t until
> Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency more than ten years later that
> much of our dignity and national pride began to return.

TOM: By running up the debt, slashing environmental protection laws, pretending AIDS would go away by itself, and selling weapons to terrorists.

>
> Today, we are blessed with the definitive knowledge that beards
> are unsanitary.

CROW: Not if you don’t use them to scrub the toilet.

> The excess hair of a beard on a man’s face secretes
> oils which clog up the pores of the underlying skin at an
> accelerated rate.

JOEL: And it passes the savings on to you!

>
> These oils can lead to increased productions of harmful
> bacteria,

TOM: But only if they’ve completed their studies.

> resulting in formations of acne and other skin problems.
> A beard does nothing more than obstruct the surface area of the
> face,

CROW: Which is why shaven people never have pimples.

> preventing it from getting the thorough cleansing that it
> needs.

TOM: Killing hundreds of thousands of people each year — deaths covered up by the powerful Commissar of Beards!

>
> Common sense says that the cleaning of any type of surface is
> best achieved in a succession of layers.

JOEL: My gramma says it’s best achieved starting from the top and working down to the bottom.

> Consider the task of
> cleaning a floor that is cluttered with dust clods.

TOM: I think it would go … something like this:

> One would not
> rush right in and mop the floor without first sweeping or vacuuming
> all that dust.

CROW: Why not? It’s fun!

> Doing so is just as futile as trying to wash a face
> that is cluttered with the stubbles of a beard.

JOEL: So mop your beards after every meal.

>
> One only needs to examine the face of a man who has just shaven
> off his beard to verify the truth of these words.

TOM: Warning: Use only volunteers for this experiment.

> What you
> typically see is a pallid and pasty skin tone, populated by the
> presence of one or more unsightly pimples.

CROW: Munyan’s the kind of guy Singapore tells to lighten up.

>
> In addition to all the oil and bacteria they generate, beards
> prevent the facial skin cells from receiving the amount of
> circulation and sunlight they need.

TOM: Circulation? What, they’re vampire beards?

> A bearded face is not a happy
> face.

JOEL: Even if the person wearing the beard is happy.

>
> The scalp is different. It was designed for hair,

TOM: And not for porridge.

> and that is
> where it belongs. God made it that way.

CROW: And beards were created by, who, General Mills?

> With the hard bony surface
> of the skull directly beneath, there are fewer subcutaneous layers
> of skin where bacteria can grow. This is why pimples hardly ever
> grow on the scalp.
>
> I will say nothing derogatory about nose hairs.

TOM: He doesn’t want to get in trouble with their advocacy groups.

CROW: Oh, come on! This guy can’t be for real. “I will say nothing derogatory about nose hairs?” Who *writes* stuff like that?

> They play a

TOM: You think Munyan’s insincere about his beard feelings?

CROW: This has got to be somebody’s parody of Internet rants.

> vital role in keeping bacteria and dust from entering one’s

TOM: So they sent us a counterfeit?

JOEL: I don’t know … the Mads are evil and all, but that would be mean.

> respiratory system. Ear hair also plays an important function in

CROW: Yeah, but *nobody* connects politics and beards.

TOM: No, no, there’s nothing so stupid it doesn’t have some advocate on the Internet somewhere.

> helping to filter out foreign bodies from entering too deeply into

JOEL: Well, whether Principal Professor Munyan’s man or myth, guys, there’s one thing I know for sure.

CROW: Yeah, and what’s that?

> the ear canal, thus serving to prevent harmful infections.

JOEL: We’re stuck reading the rest of him.

TOM: Great.

CROW: Sheesh. I just feel lied to somehow.

>
> Armpit hairs serve their purpose as well.

JOEL: They’re no shirkers.

> They work in
> synchronocity with the sweat glands

TOM: Let me draw a ridiculous diagram to illustrate.

> in regulating a man’s body
> temperatures during times of physical exertion and stress.

JOEL: I can’t tell you how many times I was stressed out, but the thought of armpit hair kept me going.

>
> Unfortunately, evolution has yet to eliminate the unneeded
> armpit hairs of women.

TOM: Yeah, get on the ball, you mutative processes!

> They look a lot better without them, and
> they certainly don’t need them for their housework.

CROW: What about for their armpit puppet shows?

TOM: And, of course, women can’t do anything else in life.

> A truly
> feminine woman in this day and age keeps her armpits shaven.

JOEL: *IF* she knows what’s good for her.

>
> Hair is good.

TOM: Think about it, won’t you?

> As long as it is kept in the right places.

JOEL: Do not keep your hair in the fridge.

CROW: Avoid storing surplus hair under the car’s distributor cap.

TOM: Under no circumstances put your hair on another person’s tongue.

>
> However, the most compelling reason for modern man to shun the
> wearing of beards

CROW: …is to make it easier for us to find the real Santa Claus.

> is to humbly cooperate with the evolutionary
> pattern of human civilization which has been destined for us.

JOEL: You know, I kind of bought it when he said beards brought an end to slavery, but now I think he’s getting a little silly.

>
> I herewith present a bioracial basis for this argument.

TOM: Good. Nothing makes our lives more pleasant than hearing somebody’s “bioracial” arguments.

>
> But before I do, let me make one thing perfectly clear. Contrary
> to a lot of popular suspicion, I am not a white supremacist.

CROW: Somebody warning you he’s not a white supremacist is usually letting you know he’s a white supremacist.

> Being
> a Caucasian male, I do not consider myself to be a member of a
> superior race.

CROW: We agree.

>
> Instead, I believe this distinction may very well belong to the
> Mongoloid race,

JOEL: The “Mongoloid race”? Where does this guy teach, 1912?

CROW: He *can’t* be for real.

> which includes the various peoples of Asiatic
> descent. The Chinese and the Japanese are our best known examples.
>

TOM: In that they’re the only ones Munyan’s heard of.

> Marco Polo himself expressed this view in the year 1290 when he
> said:

CROW: “Hi! I’m Marco Polo! And I’m padding my travel voucher!”

> “The Chinese are the wisest people in the world.”

ALL: — In bed.

> It is no
> secret that Asians have generally overwhelmed the other races in the
> academic arenas in our nation’s public and private schools and
> institutions of higher learning.

JOEL: That’s just ’cause they got the help of Gamera.

>
> According to Professor Phillipe Rushton of the University of
> Western Ontario,

TOM: “Hi! I’m Marco Polo! And I’m *still* padding my travel voucher!”

> who is one of our leading scholars in the
> scientific investigation of racial differences, there exist various
> indices of significant and striking Asiatic superioity.

CROW: Why, the superioity in their spell checking alone …

>
> When compared to identical average measures for Caucasians, for
> example, Asians have been generally shown to possess larger brains,
> more brain cells,

JOEL: Better fluency in Asian languages!

CROW: More family in Asia!

TOM: Greater average distance from Stamford, Connecticut!

> and higher average IQ scores. They have also been
> shown to have higher marital stability, greater tendencies to abide
> by the laws of their governments, and better mental health and
> administrative capacities.

JOEL: Which I learned from playing them in Civilization II!

>
> They also put us to shame when it comes to sexual restraint.

CROW: Heck, they embarassed us all with that foot binding stuff.

> As
> a whole, the Asians display a significantly reduced proclivity to
> sexual promiscuity in comparison to all other racial groups.

TOM: Which is why there’s three billion people in Asia.

>
> Another difference not yet mentioned is that Asian males have
> fewer beards and beards of less thickness than do males of other
> races. How often do you see a Chinaman with a full length beard?

JOEL: How often do I see a “Chinaman”? I don’t know, depends how often I go building the Transcontinental Railroad.

> My guess would be not very often.
>
> There is a wok chef in one of our local Chinese restaurants who
> has worn a beard for as long as I can remember.

TOM: Case closed.

> Although it has
> reached a considerable length, it is of a very thin and wispy
> thickness and texture. Such is the case of every beard I have ever
> seen worn by an Asian male.

JOEL: And I’ve seen three!

>
> The reason for the lower incidence of beards and reduced beard
> thickness among Asian males is not entirely clear.

CROW: Perhaps the beards are simply waiting to ambush us.

> One theory holds
> that the early Mongolian people used to burn the faces of their
> young male children with heated metal in order to stop the growth of
> facial hair, sparing the lip areas for the growth of mustaches.

TOM: Evolution doesn’t work that way, but where would Comparative Beardology Science be if we rejected every theory that doesn’t work?


[ To be concluded … ]

MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 2 of 4)


Another special consideration with MiSTing rants? How did you know they were sincere? How do you tell a genuine loopy argument from someone mocking a loopy argument? Like, I remember one Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic that mocked an argument we had proof of time travellers meddling with history by how some events were put inexplicably out of order. The argument gave an example: how could Bruce Lee’s Return of the Dragon, released in 1972, have logically come out before Enter the Dragon, released in 1973? The MiSTing snarked that oh, yeah, one reference book gets movie dates wrong and that proves time travel? Except that, yeah, Return of the Dragon was made before Enter the Dragon. So was the original time-travel-conspiracy rant in earnest? Or making a really sly joke?

Arthur Claude Munyan’s On Beards And Evolution gave me similar vibes. It still does, some. Like, this is an expertly-crafted parody of a particular kind of petty-authoritarian attitude, right? The author didn’t really believe it, right? And yeah, I know, we have the coward excuse that however dumb an argument is someone believes it. But did I get taken in? Or was I ridiculing something actually deserving the ridicule?

Ultimately, I decided, it doesn’t matter. When I say something facetious and find it taken in earnest, I am delighted (and my love offended). If the person behind this rant had similar intentions, I hope they are similarly delighted. Anyway, there’s a lot of riffs in here that I really like, and only a couple that I regret.

And, again, a content warning: Munyan’s piece contains racist attitudes and while my riffing sneers at that, you’re right if that’s not something you want in your recreational reading. We’ll catch up again with, I don’t know, that old Reboot fanfic or something.


Last week featured part 1 of this rant. It’s got two weeks to run yet.

>
> I never cease to be amazed at all the male high school students
> I see who are wearing beards.

TOM: Yes, some minds can find amazement in the most mundane things.

CROW: I thought he stopped all the high schoolers from growing beards?

> Misguided parents who allow this to go
> on are guilty of the worst form of permissiveness.

JOEL: They don’t hate dandruff enough!

>
> These parents ought to be teaching and modeling the true
> meanings of manhood

TOM: Like playing sports and blowing stuff up.

> instead of encouraging their sons to flaunt such
> false symbols thereof under the phony banners of freedom and
> self-expression.

CROW: True individualism consists of watching what everybody else does and conforming without being told.

>
> Let me make it clear that the grooming standards I am promoting
> apply to the twentieth century and beyond.

JOEL: He does not *necessarily* endorse travelling back in time and shaving historical figures. But he wants to keep the option open.

> Before then, we did not
> have the knowledge of good grooming and personal hygiene that we
> have today.

TOM: Basically, everybody before about 1957 was stupid.

>
> Many Americans lived under very adverse frontier conditions.

JOEL: Today, they just struggle to survive network TV.

> By
> necessity, daily survival itself was more important than shaving.

CROW: Hm, should I survive today, or should I shave?

TOM: Well, Billy decided to shave yesterday.

CROW: Did he survive?

TOM: Nope.

>
> Pre-twentieth century man was guided by a different set of
> priorities. Most honorable among them was our noble quest to
> fulfill our divine mission of completing our western expansion.

JOEL: Hm, should I massacre the Sioux today, or should I shave?

CROW: Well, Hank decided to shave yesterday.

JOEL: What happened?

CROW: The Sioux hung on to a scrap of their territory.

JOEL: Dang!

>
> The many savage Indian tribes who constantly tried to stop us
> kept our hands full. Shaving was the least of our worries.

CROW: Being on “Gunsmoke” was worse.

>
> As Americans, we prevailed. Because we are Americans.

TOM: Except for the Americans who were here first.

>
> Therefore, I fault no man for wearing a beard prior to the
> twentieth century. After all, many of our most famous Civil War
> generals wore beards.
>

CROW: And … that’s the only example he can think of.

> However, I cannot help but wonder

JOEL: How *can* I tell a cabbage from a lettuce?

> if the fate of the confederacy
> might have turned out differently if some of Robert E. Lee’s faulty
> military decisions had been made without the itchy distraction of
> his beard.

TOM: So slavery ended because of beards? Good for facial hair!

> I also suspect that Abraham Lincoln was similarly
> distracted when he put forth his Emancipation Proclamation.

CROW: Well, again, yay for beards!

>
> During the early part of the twentieth century, our armed forces
> finally wised up.

TOM: Not to hear the enlisted men tell it.

> They adopted the practice of giving all recruits a
> decent haircut, and a shave if necessary,

JOEL: Two bits.

TOM: And a pantsing where applicable.

> on their first day of
> basic training.

JOEL: And that has to last them *all* year.

>
> They finally realized that they can more effectively tap into
> and train the "inner man" into the fighting machine he was meant to
> become without a lot of superfluous hair in the way.

CROW: What, the beard absorbs orders that would otherwise be followed?

>
> History has shown us that military decisions are best made with
> a clear head.

TOM: And a lot of shouting.

> A clean shaven face and a decent haircut go hand in
> hand with a clear head.

JOEL: Wait a minute — hands don’t go in heads!

> Even the Roman warriors favored clean shaven
> faces, in order to give their adversaries less area to grab hold and
> pull during hand to hand encounters.

TOM: And by having all males shave now, that’ll save us ten minutes before starting at the next war!

>
> They were also among the first to adopt the "high and tight"
> hairstyles

CROW: ‘Nuff said.

> that most of our recruits wear with honor and pride in
> our military boot camps today. It is most unfortunate that our
> Civil War heroes failed to follow their example.

TOM: Or the North could’ve won two years earlier.

>
> The twentieth century marked a major turning point in the
> history of grooming practices among our leaders.

CROW: Yes, the twentieth century will be remembered for automobiles, airplanes, computers, *and* the Gilette triple razor blade.

> The last U.S.
> president to wear a beard was Benjamin Harrison, who served his term
> from 1889 to 1993.

JOEL: His first 20 years were OK, but the last 84 kind of stank.

CROW: His effectiveness declined sharply after he died.

>
> Since then, not one of our presidents has ever sported a beard.
>
> Not one.

TOM: Their loss.

>
> Indeed, the first sixty years of the twentieth century was a
> golden age of grooming among men.

TOM: Soon they started grooming each other, but found they liked it too much.

> Most men were clean cut and
> shaved on a regular basis. Barber shops in practically every town
> and city in America fluorished.

TOM: Charlie Brown’s dad had steady work!

>
> However, this glorious era was temporarily interrupted during
> the turbulent and ugly decade of the sixties.

JOEL: What’s so funny about peace, love, and Wildroot creme oil?

>
> Perhaps, the first omen of what was yet to come took place when
> Richard Nixon himself failed to give himself a proper shave before
> his televised debates with JFK in 1960.

CROW: He explained it as his Flintstone fandom, but nobody bought it.

> His five ‘o clock shadows
> clearly did him in,

TOM: When it grabbed a knife and attacked Jack Paar.

> as he came across as a character on a wanted
> poster instead of the dedicated communist fighter he truly was.

CROW: If he was a dedicated communist fighter, shouldn’t he at some point in his career have found a communist instead of just mudslinging Daniel Ellsworth?

>
> As a result of being duped by a more clean shaven and
> charismatic Kennedy,

JOEL: People stopped wearing enough hats.

> the American electorate had to endure eight
> years of Democratic rule and all the turmoil that it wrought.
>
> Shortly after this fateful election,

TOM: Fate stepped in.

> the Beatles came along with
> their mop style hair cuts. Teenage boys everywhere began to forsake
> their Brylcream and started growing their hair like the mangy
> sheepdogs that their heroes emulated.

JOEL: Oh, yeah, remember the “longhair” Beatles of ’64, with hair that grew as much as two and a *half* inches long.

> Popular American culture was
> just beginning its rapid descent into depravity.

CROW: What, when “Gilligan’s Island” came on?

>
> The cancer grew even worse with the emergence of the hippies a
> few short years later,

CROW: Short years are like regular years, but staffed by Munchkins.

> with even longer, more unkempt hairstyles and
> beards. Their influence on our American youth was devastating.

JOEL: Those pesky minorities started acting like they should have actual civil rights and stuff.

> Clean cut young men everywhere were seduced into their ranks, taking
> up pot smoking, internalizing anti-American ideas,

CROW: Watching Adam West on Batman.

> and protesting
> our nation’s gallant efforts to stop the spread of communism in
> Southeast Asia.

TOM: Efforts which were cancelled to make room for the Vietnam War.

>
> Instead of listening to leaders like Richard Nixon and Spiro T.
> Agnew,

CROW: They followed people with souls.

> they started following the likes of Jerry Rubin, Abbie
> Hoffman, and scores of other political agitators

JOEL: Vince Lombardi!

CROW: Tommy Smothers!

JOEL: Rowan and Martin!

TOM: Bubble Puppy!

JOEL: Robbie the Robot!

TOM: Sandy Koufax!

CROW: Underdog!

JOEL: Neil Armstrong!

TOM: Danny Bonaduce!

> who were glorified
> to high heaven by our liberal news media.
>
> Rock stars with beards and long dirty stringy hair started to
> multiply like rabbits.

CROW: I loved seeing their cute little bunny paws working slide rules.

> Clean cut wholesome musicians like Lawrence
> Welk and Pat Boone became passe.

JOEL: Oh, they were passe even when they were hot.

CROW: Notice he says nothing about Liberace.

>
> Something was wrong. Our nation was going to hell.

TOM: If Woody had gone straight to the police this would never have happened.

> The chaos
> and decline of traditional moral values the hippies wrought was
> clear evidence that long hair and beards were clearly inappropriate
> for modern twentieth century man.

CROW: Every other century could handle beards, but they were just too much for the 60s, man.


[ To be continued … ]

MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 1 of 4)


I mentioned last week needing time to figure out who this Arthur Claude Munyan name I referenced was. Munyan was the name given as writing a lovely little rant that I had MiSTed, On Beards And Evolution. So I’d like to share that. Bit of a content warning for the whole piece, although not so much this week’s installment: Munyan shows some racist attitudes and vocabulary, terms along the lines of “Asiatic People” or referencing professional racist Phillipe Rushton in apparent sincerity. If you don’t need that in your recreational reading, you are right and we’ll catch up on a later piece.

Rants were a special sort of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. Since they were never solicited, and were rarely even on topic for the Usenet group, they were treated with a particular disdain. This included refusing the courtesy of asking authors for permission to MiST them. How did we rationalize disregarding someone’s copyright in this way? Well, the normal mode of Usenet was for people to reply to posts, with new text inserted into the old. If you published on Usenet you accepted that, at least in principle, anyone might do that. So, we did.


[ OPENING THEME ]

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


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. At the desk are GYPSY, CROW, JOEL, and TOM. All looks normal. Too normal. ]

JOEL: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Satellite of Love. I’m Joel Robinson, these are my bots Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Crow, and it’s a holiday week.

CROW: So you know what that means …

GYPSY: It’s a half day!

TOM: And there’s inexplicable TV specials that have nothing to do with the holidays on.

JOEL: Also it’s your mother’s birthday on Friday, don’t forget to call her, so we’re going to jump right into the invention exchange.

TOM: We’re inspired by the electric toothbrush, which many dentists say is a good way to adequately brush even those hard-to-reach back teeth —

CROW: Especially if you’re incredibly lazy.

[ JOEL takes from behind the desk a two-foot tall electric toothbrush. ]

JOEL: So we’ve invented the electric soap-brush! Just lather it up, turn it on —

[ JOEL presses the side, and the soapbrush starts whirring. It splashes foam everywhere, in as excessive a manner possible. ]

GYPSY: And gently wave it over your body…

CROW: Scrubbing you clean!

JOEL: So you don’t have to!

TOM: Coming for Father’s Day, the power loofah.

JOEL: Now down to you, Bausch and Loam.


[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER is wearing a train engineer’s uniform, down to the striped cap, with Deep 13 patches sewn on. TV’s FRANK is standing behind, similarly dressed. The floor is bare. ]

DR. F: And hello, Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe. Like many generic middle-aged men, TV’s Frank is an avid model railroader.

FRANK: I *am* the God of PlasticVille USA!

DR. F: Much as model railroads excel in simulating vaguely 1953 small-town America, if you want the thrill of the big city and of high-population-density transportation networks, you have to look to our invention this week.

FRANK: It’s the model subway!

DR. F: In O, HO, Z, or N gauge now you too can recreate the experience of shuttling hundreds of thousands of tiny passengers far beneath your busy city streets.


[ TV’s FRANK goes to the upper left of the screen, half kneels, and holds his hands out, `showcasing’ the floor. ]

DR. F: There’s the New York City Interboro Rapid Transit lines (Brooklyn Mass Transit sold separately).
[ TV’s FRANK moves to the upper right, and repeats his gestures. ]
DR. F: The stylish and elegant Paris Metro!

[ TV’s FRANK stands stage center and kneels. ]

FRANK: Boston’s MTA — Charlie sold separately! Also available in MBTA.

[ TV’s FRANK moves just behind and left of DR. FORRESTER and gestures. ]

DR. F: The granddaddy of them all, the London Underground!
[ TV’s FRANK moves to the right, and gestures. ]
DR. F: And for the novice, Singapore’s shiny new North-East Line MRT.

[ TV’s FRANK and DR. FORRESTER begin grinning at a private joke. ]

DR. F: What station you at, Frank?

FRANK: Dhoby Ghaut!

DR. F: [ As Ernie Anderson ] In Color!

FRANK: [ Also as Ernie Anderson ] A Quinn Martin Production!

[ BOTH giggle for several seconds, and look to the camera. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. JOEL is toweling off TOM SERVO and CROW. ]

CROW: They’re just amusing themselves now, right?

JOEL: I think they shouldn’t have skimped on their oxygen budget.

[ DEEP 13. As above. TV’s FRANK is humming a generic 70s detective- show-style theme song. ]

DR. F: Well, Robert Moses, your experiment this week is a little piece all about facial hair and political destiny. It’s sure to make you think you’re hallucinating. Bon appetit!

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As above. ]

TOM: Did they actually make anything?

CROW: I’d buy the Washington Metro, if they’ve got it.

JOEL: I’m thinking of the fantasy line for Madison.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General alarm. ]

ALL: Aaah! We got movie sign!

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ ALL enter theater. ]

> Path: rpi!usc.edu!attla2!ip.att.net!in.100proofnews.com!in.

CROW: The only news source that’s constantly drunk!

> 100proofnews.com!cycny01.gnilink.net!cyclone1.gnilink.net!ngpeer.
> news.aol.com!audrey-m1.news.aol.com!not-for-mail
> Lines:

JOEL: Line? Anyone?

> 329
> X-Admin: news@aol.com
> From: professormunyan@aol.com (Professor Munyan)

TOM: Professor Munyan and his bunion enjoy some Funyuns!

> Newsgroups:alt.fan.cecil-adams
> Date: 22 Sep 2003 10:21:20 GMT
> Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com

CROW: So all of AOL sent this post?

> Subject: On Beards And Evolution

JOEL: I was wondering when somebody would finally connect them.

> Message-ID: <20030922062120.08275.00001245@mb-m14.aol.com>
> Xref: rpi alt.fan.cecil-adams:653846

TOM: It’s the Xref that makes this extra special.

>
>
>
>
> ON BEARDS AND EVOLUTION

CROW: Oh .. uhm …

TOM: This is gonna be good.

>
>
> I am an educator and an American.

CROW: When Miss Brooks ruled the world!

>
> As an educator, I fulfilled a dream two years ago by becoming
> principal of my high school.

CROW: Finally he gets to show the bullies in gym class who’s boss!

> Prior to that, I taught American
> history for over twenty years.

JOEL: He stopped when somebody pointed out America has almost four hundred years of history, not just twenty.

>
> I taught with a passion for the patriotism and traditional
> American values that made our country great.

CROW: Memorization, rote learning, conformity and mindless obedience!

> As a member of our
> local American Legion, I was also the faculty sponsor for our Boys
> State Club.
>
> I made damned sure

CROW: *Darned* sure.

> that our members dressed, groomed, and
> conducted themselves like young clean cut gentlemen.

TOM: He was embarassed to learn he taught at a girls’ school.

> This meant no
> punk or hippie haircuts.

JOEL: Which served him well when he was teleported back to 1968.

> No earrings, no tattoos, and no beards.

CROW: Oh, yeah, tough guy stopping ninth graders from growing beards. What next, you suspend the girls who grow feathers?

>
> Today, I want to talk about beards.

TOM: We’re all mighty excited to hear that.

>
> We have just embarked upon a new millenium,

JOEL: Please keep your hands and feet inside the cart until we come to a complete stop.

> one whose beginning
> marks a critical juncture in the evolution of human civilization.

TOM: Unlike the rest of human civilization.

> In order to facilitate its progress, it behooves modern men today to
> abstain from the wearing of beards.

CROW: Oh, well, sure, if you put it like — huh?

>
> I will grant three exceptions.

JOEL: Oh, *thank* you, Mister Munyan.

>
> First, I will excuse the actors.

TOM: So Skeet Ulrich, you go ahead and grow a beard.

> Sometimes, an actor is called
> upon to portray a historical figure who wore a beard.
>
> I can relate to this personally.

JOEL: I was afraid he’d have to relate to it only through other people.

> About ten years ago, I was
> offered the opportunity to play the role of General Stonewall
> Jackson in a school play.

CROW: But the play was “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

>
> Normally, I would have considered it a dream come true to play
> a man like Stonewall Jackson.

TOM: Men like him, such as Braxton Bragg.

> But with deep regret, I had to turn
> it down.
>
> It was early in life when I learned that my face was not cut out

JOEL: No, your face is supposed to be attached to you. That’s how it works.

> for the beard I would have had to grow for the part.

TOM: So this guy can only grow pathetic wispy beards, and we have to hear about it?

>
> During a survival camping expedition during my twenties, I went
> an entire week without shaving,

JOEL: I barely escaped with my life!

> and that was about all that I could
> stand.

TOM: Coincidence? Read the book.

> My face itched to high heaven until I was able to seek the
> relief of a razor.

CROW: Then it took another two weeks till I remembered which way the blade is supposed to face.

>
> Second, I will excuse certain religious groups.

CROW: He’ll grant permission to people who don’t care about getting his approval.

> The Amish, in
> particular, have earned my highest admiration for their old
> fashioned morality and simple way of life. They deserve a lot of
> credit.

JOEL: So you can have buttons, or you can have a beard. Choose wisely.

>
> The Orthodox Jews are another example. So are the Sikhs.
>
> Finally, I will excuse the liberals.

JOEL: And the occasional Labour MP.

> If they want to look like
> the leftover overaged hippies they truly are, then I won’t stand in
> their way.

CROW: Yeah, he’s scared somebody’s going to drag him into their psychedellic circus.

> In the meantime, I call upon any good conservative out
> there who is still wearing a beard to shave it off.
>
> Otherwise, I see no other legitimate reason for any modern man
> in this day and age to wear a beard.

TOM: Except for Will Riker.

> Any man who does so without
> just cause is obviously suffering from a deep seated personal
> inadequacy.

JOEL: So why are *you* growing a beard?

TOM: Just ’cause.

JOEL: Well, you pass.

>
> If a man is truly content with his manhood, then why does he
> need to grow all that excess hair?

JOEL: They’re selling it on the black market!

> What is he trying to hide?

CROW: Communism!


[ To be continued … ]

MiSTed: What’s Actually HOT and NASTY About Venus? Part 2 of 2


And today I conclude another MiSTing. This of Brad Guth’s essay demanding that someone explain what in fact makes Venus a nasty place for us. The first half of this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic ran last week, and next week? We’ll just see what I do.

The reference at the far end to Arthur Claude Munyan is an allusion to the author of another rant I had MiSTed. I’d completely forgotten and needed about twenty minutes of work to figure out what the heck I was on about. The weird non sequitur bit about tennis nets is from a Robert Benchley essay because I was going through a phase where I thought adding silly nonsense made the credits longer and therefore better. I apologize for my error.


> In fact, the acclamation to that sort of environment might
> even become humanly doable,

TOM: You just have to find the fun.

> within as little as 0.1% O2 and the bulk
> of the remainder as CO2

JOEL: CO2 — The Wrath of Khan!

> or perhaps artificially accommodated by a gas
> of some other element that’s quite likely already within the
> technology that’s at hand.

CROW: Like those dancing soda cans.

>
> There’s certainly no shortage of green/renewable energy at one’s
> disposal,

TOM: In fact, there’s none at all.

> thus no amount of raw energy need be imported.

JOEL: Just refill your thermos at the natural fountains of Red Bull.

> There’s
> certainly no shortage of H2O that’s sequestered within them
> relatively cool clouds

CROW: Them’s cool clouds, baby.

TOM: They’re the Barry Whites of strato-cumulus formations.

> (especially those of their nighttime season).

JOEL: In the nighttime season’s when we let it all hang out.

>
> I have a good number of other qualifiers

CROW: A couple conditionals, and three uses of the subjunctive tense …

> plus my humanly subjective
> interpretations of an image (nearly 3D at 36 looks per 8-bit pixel)

TOM: It’s just an ASCII art calendar of Snoopy.

> closeup look-see at what can be reviewed as every bit as most likely
> artificial,

JOEL: Venus is dyeing her hair?

> as otherwise nicely surrounded by whatever else is
> supposedly so freaking hot and nasty about Venus

CROW: Like her bratty kids and obnoxious dog.

> (whereas hot being
> almost entirely in reference to geological/geothermal heat since so
> little solar energy ever migrates into the surface).

JOEL: Um … you’re dangling participles there, Brad.

TOM: He’s dangling *everything* there.

> Of course, this
> information as having been deductively obtained from my
> observationology

CROW: Brad’s a certified expert in observationologicalizationalizing.

> perspective is now nearly 6 years old,

JOEL: Obervationologicalisms are so cute at that age.

> whereas I’d
> informed our NASA as to sharing my SWAG (scientific wild [ bleep ]
> guess) upon a few specific items of interest,

TOM: They were most interested in the chance at saving up to fifteen percent by switching to Geico.

> as having been so
> nicely imaged by way of their Magellan mission,

CROW: They’re not bad observationologicalisticalizers themselves.

> as to my sharing upon
> exactly what was worth taking a second unbiased review upon whatever
> Venus has to offer.

TOM: I called dibs on the chewey caramel inside.

> Silly me for thinking outside the box,

CROW: Or on top of spaghetti.

> much less
> upon anything the least bit positive or in my expecting something
> other of productive considerations

TOM: Does he mean money?

> as would have come by way of our
> nay-say (nondisclosure) folks at NASA,

JOEL: They say nay-say, we say, yes-way.

> that which apparently still
> had a good cash of way more than their fair share of "the right
> stuff",

CROW: Space rant mention of “The Right Stuff”, check.

> rather than having to risk dealing with anything as having to
> do with our moon nor Venus

JOEL: Wait, what’s the moon got to do with this?

TOM: Joel, have you not been observationalicologizing the same thing as the rest of us?

> regardless of whatever science and
> discovery potential may have been previously overlooked or simply
> underestimated, thus unappreciated.

JOEL: Okay, I’ll give five dollars to the first person who can diagram that sentence correctly.

>
> BTW; I’ve included "news.admin.censorship"

CROW: I want to be censored. Daily. By Barbara Feldon.

> in order to minimise
> topic/author stalking, topic diversions into unrelated forums

JOEL: Well, sure, I can see how that … huh?

> and MOS
> spermware attacks upon my PC.

ALL: AAAAH!

TOM: GAH!

CROW: Don’t DO that!

JOEL: Hey, these are young bots!

CROW: I always thought MOS was more into serving chicken burgers with rice patty buns and smiley suns and stuff.

> The previous topic of "What’s so HOT
> and NASTY about Venus?"

TOM: Previous?

CROW: Did we fall into a time vortex?

JOEL: We’ll need more careful observationaligisticalication to be sure.

> http://groups.google.com/group/

JOEL: googles/com/ …

TOM: group/google/coms/ …

> sci.space.history/browse_frm/

CROW: Browse Ferret.

> thread/
> 7a7cab487beb942d/a7f016c63e03207b?

ALL: o/`It’s the most remarkable word I’ve ever seen! o/`

> lnk=st&q=brad+guth&rnum=8&hl=en#
> a7f016c63e03207b

JOEL: Queen to Queen’s level three.

> offers good info at least from myself but, otherwise
> having been quite thoroughly hammered by those encharge

TOM: Encharge!

CROW: Guard! Turn!

JOEL: Parry! Thrust! Spin!

> of keeping
> our perpetrated cold-war(s) and space-race lids on tight, thus giving
> need for a fresh topic reset. ~

JOEL: This is all going to tie in to the Legion of Superheroes at some point.

>
> Life on Venus, Township w/Bridge

CROW: A Venusian haiku.

> and ET/UFO Park-n-Ride Tarmac:

TOM: And the Ferris Wheel to Jupiter!

> http://guthvenus.tripod.com/gv-town.htm

TOM: Forget it, Jake, it’s gv-town.

> The Russian/China LSE-CM/ISS

JOEL: And write in `pizza’ where it says `machine gun’.

> (Lunar Space Elevator)

CROW: With Bubble Puppy, tonight in concert.

> http://guthvenus.tripod.com/lunar-space-elevator.htm Venus ETs, plus

TOM: Neptunian Encounters of the Third Kind.

> the updated sub-topics; Brad Guth / GASA-IEIS

JOEL: Well, try some Chloretts.

> http://guthvenus.tripod.com/gv-topics.htm
> "In war there are no rules" –

CROW: Not even in tactical field backgammon.

> Brad Guth

TOM: He certainly did.

CROW: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL exit. ]

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


[ SOL DESK. JOEL is sitting down, head on his hands on the desk,
and he’s wet. TOM and CROW are by his side, holding water guns,
squirting his face and hair regularly. The scene holds, JOEL
getting progressively damper, for several seconds; the longer,
the better. ]

GYPSY: [ Leaning into view ] Remember to keep your humans moist. This message brought to you by the Church of Latter-Day Venus.

[ TOM and CROW squirt one last time. ]

JOEL: What do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. DR FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK are both on the couch, holding half-eaten TV lunches, watching TV. DR FORRESTER groans still; TV’s FRANK is chipper as ever. ]

FRANK: Want more of the macaroni and cheese made from slightly sour milk and that gnarly little half-pat of butter meal?

DR F: [ Whimpers ]

FRANK: Right-O, pushing the button, boss.

[ TV’s FRANK reaches over and … ]

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc, and are used while they aren’t looking. The essay “What’s actually HOT and NASTY about Venus?” is the property of Brad Guth. This MiSTing as a whole is the property of Joseph Nebus, who intends no ill-will towards Brad Guth, Best Brains, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Arthur Claude Munyan, or the Swanson’s corporation. The tennis net does not appear until the 17th century. Up until that time a rope, either fringed or tasseled, was stretched across the court. This probably had to be abandoned because it was so easy to crawl under it and chase your opponent. Come back, Dr Mike Neylon!

> BTW; I’ve included "news.admin.censorship" in order to minimise
> topic/author stalking, topic diversions into unrelated forums and MOS
> spermware attacks upon my PC.

MiSTed: What’s Actually HOT and NASTY About Venus? Part 1 of 2


I share today the start of another MiSTing. As I’ve been doing this, first, I’ve been worrying a lot less about what to write for the big Thursday pieces. Second, I’ve been discovering a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction that I forgot I ever wrote. It’s neat finding these old pieces and I’m glad to share them with you.

So today and next week I hope to share Brad Guth’s essay/rant “What’s actually HOT and NASTY about Venus?” It is a companion piece to “Venus for Dummies”, as Mr Guth was eager to dispel the common vision of Venus as, at least, a planet with some issues. As of 5:50 this afternoon Brad Guth has not revolutionized the world’s understanding of Venus.

Please be careful, when reading this, not to cut yourself on the sharp edge of that TV Lunches Invention Exchange.

I’ve ridden reverse bungees twice, on opposite sides of the world, so I count at least one of those as being a normal-bungee ride.


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ] GYPSY, CROW, and JOEL are behind the desk;
a wide slingshot-style rubber band reaches across the view. ]

JOEL: Hi, everyone, welcome to the Satellite of Love. This is Gypsy, Crow, and demonstrating our invention this week is Tom Servo.

TOM: [ Off-screen ] SAVE ME!

GYPSY: Our idea was based on one’s natural inclination to go bungee jumping.

CROW: But most people aren’t insane or Australian enough to plunge headfirst into the unknown.

TOM: I’M NOT AUSTRALIAN!

JOEL: And reverse bungee, where you sit in a cannister and fling upwards, isn’t much better.

GYPSY: So we unveil — the sideways bungee!

TOM: LEMME OUT!

CROW: Tom has his hoverskirt, but normal customers would just wear roller skates for a reasonably friction-free experience.

JOEL: Everybody ready?

TOM: NO!

CROW: You heard him, Gypsy, go!

[ GYPSY’s light blinks; TOM, screaming, is flung across the camera,
and — after a few seconds — flung the opposite way. He does
not crash into anything. GYPSY, CROW, and JOEL watch TOM go
through several oscillations this way. MADS SIGN flashes. ]

JOEL: So, uh, what do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. FRANK hosts; DR FORRESTER sits listlessly on a couch,
behind a TV set (screen hidden from view), with a TV dinner
tray on a snack stand, and he holds and stares at a half-eaten
peanut butter and jelly sandwich, without moving. ]

FRANK: [ Cheery as always ] TV Dinners: one of the great American contributions to humanity, like atom bombs and `Night Court’. Besides inventing a use for this country’s vast annual tater tot output, it allows many bachelors to consume nutrition-inspired yet unsatisfying suppers alone in a fraction of the time! So we thought, why not extend this to other meals?

[ DR FORRESTER groans. ]

FRANK: Thus we present — the TV Lunch! Not enough food to make you stop being hungry, but just cheap enough to make fixing a real lunch seem like too much trouble. We’ve got … peanut butter sandwiches with that swipe of the last jelly in the jar; single slices of ham and cheese with plenty of mayo and a couple drops of mustard-stained water; and many more. Each sandwich entree comes with a second half-sandwich made by folding a crust end over. A damp salad of lima beans, squash, and string beans leaks over into the chipped cookie, and overall you have the perfect meal that says: I’m eating this while watching McLean Stevenson blow a question on `Match Game 78′.

[ DR FORRESTER whimpers. ]

FRANK: We think it’ll be a big hit. So, Joeleroo, we’ve got a little trip for you this week through molten rock, carbon dioxide narcosis, and of course, Usenet.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ]

CROW: I don’t like when he calls you ‘Joeleroo’.

GYPSY: He means well.

TOM: [ Bungeeing across the screen again. ] LET ME OUT!

JOEL: Gypsy, you’ll let him out when he comes to a stop, please?

GYPSY: Sure.
[ MOVIE SIGN begins flashing; general alarum ]

JOEL: Good, ’cause WE’VE GOT MOVIE SIGN!

TOM: [ Bungeeing back the other way ] GOOD FOR YOU!

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

> Path:

CROW: Ineligible Rethiever.

> rpi!news.usc.edu!newsfeed.news.ucla.edu!news.maxwell.syr.edu!postnews

TOM: Boy, this thing’s better-travelled than we are.

> . google.com!o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com!not-for-mail

> From: "Brad Guth" <ieisbradguth@yahoo.com>

JOEL: Hi, Brad.

> Newsgroups:
> sci.space.history,sci.astro.seti,

TOM: Sci Astro City, five miles.

> sci.astro,sci.philosophy.tech,news.
> admin.censorship

JOEL: talk.poofy.hair.

TOM: comp.sys.amiga.fondlers.

CROW: alt.temporary.pants.lad.

> Subject: What’s actually HOT and NASTY about Venus?

CROW: Besides the pools of molten lead, I mean.

> Date: 3 Sep 2005 15:26:37 -0700
> Organization: http://groups.google.com
> Lines: 76

TOM: Trombones: Lead the big parade.

> Message-ID: <1125786396.973436.280800@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com>

JOEL: Monsters of the Message Id.

> NNTP-Posting-Host: 64.40.55.39
> Mime-Version: 1.0

CROW: Aah … he’s trapped in a glass box?

> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

JOEL: That’s a sarcastic way of referring to a charset.

TOM: Isn’t a charset the only thing that beats a bulbasaur?

> X-Trace:

CROW: EXTREEEEEEME! Trace!

> posting.google.com 1125786403 9973 127.0.0.1 (3 Sep 2005

> 22:26:43 GMT)
> X-Complaints-To: groups-abuse@google.com

TOM: It’s a sin to google groups yourself, you know.

> NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 3 Sep 2005 22:26:43 +0000 (UTC)
> User-Agent: G2/0.2

CROW: So that’s … G10?

> X-HTTP-UserAgent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSN 2.5; Windows
> 98; T312461),gzip(gfe),gzip(gfe)

JOEL: … rstln(e) …

TOM: … plorfnop(rezniz) …

CROW: … potrzebie.

> Complaints-To: groups-abuse@google.com
> Injection-Info:

TOM: Once daily under physician’s or nurse’s approval.

JOEL: Symptoms may persist.

> o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com;
> posting-host=64.40.55.39;

TOM: Hike!

> posting-account=mSmX5Q0AAABAOTfKTkCm7WO5PvgF8_A4

CROW: They really should encode stuff like this.

> Xref: rpi sci.space.history:59672 sci.astro.seti:8583 sci.astro:73410
> sci.philosophy.tech:1443 news.admin.censorship:1093

TOM: [ As arena announcer ] The totals on the board are correct-ect-ect
… sci.astro is the winner-ner-ner …

>
> Simply stated;

JOEL: Because I’m not that bright,

> Venus is not insurmountably hot,

CROW: It’s cold at the center. Try nuking it a couple minutes.

> and furthermore,
> because it’s surface and whatever else that’s situated below an
> altitude of 25~35 km remains reasonably dry,

TOM: Past the sulphuric acid rains …

> as such it’s actually
> not all that nasty.

CROW: And it’s got a great personality.

>
> Upon Earth; http:>//www.valleywater.net/hydration.htm

JOEL: Valley water. Water for clean, clean people.

> 1500 ml/day excretion by kidneys in the form of urine

CROW: Shape of, a kangaroo.

> 500 ml/day evaporation and perspiration from the skin

TOM: So if you’re coming to Venus, don’t bring your skin.

> 300 ml/day from the lungs

CROW: 150 milliliters per day from the adenoids.

> 200 ml/day from the gastrointestinal tract

JOEL: And field.

TOM: 84 milliliters per day angrily skipping commercials at the front of DVDs.

CROW: 108 milliliters per day, gratuity.

>
> Human metabolic perspiration (internal as well as external
> excretions)

JOEL: And their afterschool activities.

> represents a wee bit of a testy if not terribly corrosive
> problem at 2500 ml/day,

CROW: But remember at all times to keep your humans moist.

> whereas everything that’s fluid effectively
> leaks out,

TOM: Well, who would want ineffective leaking?

> boils off and/or evaporates at reduced ambient pressure,

JOEL: Peer pressure.

> and just the opposite for having to survive within a greater ambient
> pressure,

CROW: When streams of Sprite Ice are injected daily into your face.

> though please do try to remember that I’m not the village
> idiot

TOM: He’s just goofball for the Fourth Ward.

> that’s even remotely suggesting we should be going there in
> person.

JOEL: So get that foolish thought out of your head, you silly, silly man.

> However, under nearly 100 bar of pressure

TOM: *Chocolate* bars of pressure.

> that’ll have
> essentially equalized throughout our body

JOEL: Under the mighty wrath of the Hershey’s corporation.

> and thus affecting every
> organ and molecule

TOM: With a lovely concerto for organ and molecule.

> involved isn’t all that likely to sweat nearly as
> much, if at all.

CROW: Perspiration declines quickly after death.

JOEL: Mitchum. So effective you can even skip a death.

>
> Thereby even CO2 as a replacement for N2 isn’t nearly as lethal as
> we’d thought,

TOM: It’s only *mostly* lethal.

> or from having been told by all of our NASA certified
> wizards.

CROW: I love seeing Wally Schirra wave that sparkly magic wand around.


[ To be concluded … ]

MiSTed: Dreams of a Lost Past/Loss, Part 4 of 4


And now to wrap up this vintage Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic, based on Doug Atkinson’s own Legion of Superheroes fanfics, “Dreams of a Lost Past” and “Loss”. The incomplete “Dreams of a Lost Past” was riffed in the first part of this series. It was starting from the second part that “Loss” began. It’s set after Supergirl died, part of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Brainiac-5, super-intelligent but kinda dumb 30th century super-teen, has a plan he very much needs to be talked out of.

In the credit blurb at the end I mention having taken one sketch from another MiSTing I was procrastinating. I no longer remember what MiSTing that was, but imagine a time when I might have two whole projects under way at once. Seems impossible, doesn’t it?

And now, the conclusion. I don’t know what I’ll do next week, but I am leaning toward sharing another forgotten MiSTing.


> "All
> right, who says it’ll even work? Lightning Lad

JOEL: A daring hero from the world of typing exercises.

> wasn’t really
> dead when Proty used his life-force to revive him. I bet
> Mon-El wasn’t really dead when Eltro Gand

CROW: [ Giggles ]

> used this Exchanger
> to do the same thing. It probably just has some sort of
> mysterious healing powers that bring people back from comas,

JOEL: Maybe even semicomas and the occasional parenthetical expression.

> and Supergirl isn’t just in a coma. She’s *dead*, and people
> don’t come back from that. You wouldn’t want to die for
> nothing."

CROW: Not that you’d be in a position to complain about it.

> "I never had a good chance to examine Garth, because he
> was quickly shoved in that glass coffin and put on display.

JOEL: It was cool.

> I suspect he was really dead, though, because how many people
> in comas survive for weeks without food or water?"

TOM: Uhm…nine. No, thirteen.

> Jo
> shrugged. "And Superboy will tell you that Mon-El was dead,
> too. Lead poisoning kills Daxamites quickly,

JOEL: And Mon-El was a professional Daxamatician.

> and there was
> no breathing and no pulse. ‘Life-force’ isn’t something that
> can be isolated in a laboratory,

CROW: Unless it gets naughty and has to be grounded.

> but mystics like the White
> Witch will tell you that it exists. Although I reject terms
> like ‘soul’ that they would use,

JOEL: I also reject the term "pH balanced," so what do I know?

> the evidence requires me to
> agree with them."

TOM: That is to say, I reject the notion of a soul, but accept wholeheartedly the evidence for it and the consequences of that idea.

> "Not buying the arguments, I see. How about this? The
> Legion Constitution forbids killing.

CROW: Except for the badnasty jumpjumps.

> If you used this
> machine, you’d be killing yourself. That means you’d be
> kicked out of the Legion, and you don’t want that, do you?"

TOM: You’d miss out on Meat Loaf Mondays.

> "That is the most illogical–" Brainy caught himself,
> and smiled slightly. "You’re joking, of course."

JOEL: I have heard of these jokes; perhaps we might witness one someday.

> "A smile…there’s hope for you. Look, are you still
> going to do this?"

CROW: I don’t know; I have to wait for the zoning commission to meet.

> Brainy sighed. "Weighing the benefits and costs, I’m
> still forced to conclude that I’m willing to sacrifice
> everything for her."

CROW: Except my "McVote ’86" commemorative glasses celebrating the McD.L.T.

> "Wow…that’s selfless, since you wouldn’t be around to
> reap the benefits.

TOM: Unless she goes back in time to before when he’s dead and fulfills the relationship they didn’t have because she didn’t know she’d be dead later on.

> I think I love Tinya that much, but I
> don’t know if I’d be able to follow through. Think, though.

JOEL: Hong Kong Phooey and the cartoon Pac-Man had exactly the same voice. Doesn’t it make you wonder about the universe?

> You don’t think it was right for Supergirl to die, even
> though it slowed the Anti-Monitor and possibly saved the
> lives of billions?"
> "No, of course not."

CROW: How about if she slowed the Anti-Monitor, saved the lives of billions, and got you what’s behind door number three?

TOM: Mmm…I’m thinking.

> "So it would be even less just if she died for just one
> life…even if it was yours."
> "No. She’s too important to the universe, and to me."

CROW: Slowed the Anti-Monitor, saved the billions, door number three, *and* five hundred dollars.

TOM: Uhm…no, not this time.

> "Then why do you think she would want you to reverse
> your positions? You may think you’re below her, but I know
> she didn’t.

CROW: All of the above, with *seven* hundred dollars.

TOM: Maybe…no, not gonna take it.

> Was she that selfish, to put herself on the same
> pedestal you put her on?"
> Brainy was caught flat-footed. "I–" He paused. "I never
> saw it like that. You have a point."

CROW: Last offer, slow the Anti-Monitor, save billions, door number three, one *thousand* dollars and what’s behind the box!

TOM: I’ll take it! I’ll take it!

> "Damn right I do. Look, Brainy, all the Legionnaires
> are willing to put our lives on the line for others,

JOEL: Except Ray. He is not working out.

> and she
> was no exception. But it shouldn’t be robbed of its meaning,

TOM: Because heroism is negated by living afterwards.

> should it? All the dead Legionnaires gave their lives saving
> others. Ferro Lad…Invisible Kid…Chemical King…Karate
> Kid,

CROW: Actually, Ferro Lad just died of embarassment.

> just recently, and now Supergirl. Even Garth and
> Luornu’s third body were willing to give up their lives if it
> meant protecting others.

TOM: Even if those others were the cast of "Jesse."

> "That doesn’t mean that what you’re trying isn’t noble,
> of course.

JOEL: Just that it’s loopy.

> It’s just that those other deaths had some
> meaning, while you’d just be throwing your life away for
> someone who knew the risks she was taking.

CROW: So, if you become a superhero, you have to stop fighting the inevitability of your own death.

> All of us liked
> Supergirl, but we like you too, believe it or not. It’s not
> just a matter of weighing costs to the world–we’d miss you,
> and you’d be hurting a lot of people.

JOEL: ‘Course, that’s kind of balanced out by the people who won’t be accidentally killed by some goofy new invention of yours.

> Kara wouldn’t have
> wanted that, and I don’t think she’d want a second chance
> with a cost like that attached."

TOM: Maybe they could just keep the Exchanger and swap life-forces every week?

> Querl was silent. He reached out to the corpse and
> stroked its hair while contemplating.

JOEL: Ew, is this danduff shampoo? What the heck is this? Are people supposed to seep there?

> Finally he said, "My
> twelfth-level brain can’t compute emotional equations. I
> think you’ve convinced me, though.

TOM: But we’ll have to wait for my subcommittees to vote on it before I can go ahead with a new plan of action.

> As long as I have the
> body here, there’s one thing we can do, though."

CROW: Get the funny hat.

>
> * * * * *
>
> A group of Legionnaires stood on Shanghalla, the
> asteroid where the galaxy’s greatest heroes are buried.

JOEL: Those buried preposthumously were most upset about it.

> All
> the active Legionnaires who’d known Supergirl were here,
> while those who hadn’t–all the new members except Polar Boy
> and, surprisingly, Sensor Girl–remained to guard Earth.

CROW: Ooh, that Sensor Girl…one surprise after another.

> The
> others were gathered in the shadow of the Ferro Lad memorial
> to pay their final respects.

TOM: [ Whispering ] Psst! Did you bring the poem magnets?

> Brainiac 5 stood before the hole Element Lad’s powers
> had created. "The Twentieth Century has already paid its
> respects to one of its greatest heroes,

CROW: Back around the first couple times that Superman died.

> but I doubt they
> would deny us the chance for our own personal observance,"

JOEL: Even one made possible by grave robbing and borderline necrophilia.

> he
> said, his eyes on the black coffin embossed with the "S"
> symbol.

TOM: Ahem. Chuckles loved to laugh…tears were abhorrent to him…

> "All of us knew Supergirl, and fought alongside her.

JOEL: Except for *you*, Ray.

> We were her friends–some of us were more.

TOM: Some of us were androids she constructed in her sleep, too.

> "I am very poor at emotional speeches, as some of you
> know." Jo caught his eye briefly and smiled encouragingly.

JOEL: [ As Jo ] You’re doing a great job saying stuff that couldn’t be said at every other eulogy ever delivered.

> "It’s difficult to put Supergirl’s value to the universe into
> words.

CROW: Watch me try. "Slookelty bopplenerf weantroolub blix." See how difficult it is?

> Moreover, I know each of you have your own special
> memories of her. I would suggest we pause a moment and
> remember Kara."

TOM: HmmmmmmmMMMMMM…There! I’m done. What did you get?

> The group was silent for a minute. Some Legionnaires
> smiled as they remembered her; some cried softly; a few were
> incapable of showing their emotions on their faces.

JOEL: Some of the Legionnaires didn’t even exist.

> Brainiac
> 5 was stoic throughout.
> He broke into the reverie by putting his hand on the
> coffin. "Farewell, Kara. We will never forget you."

TOM: [ Stage whisper ] Who’s Kara?

CROW: [ As above ] I think we’re in the wrong room.

> He
> turned to the pallbearers and said, "You may commence."
> As Mon-El and Timber Wolf lowered the coffin into the
> ground, Element Lad prepared to fill in the grave again.

JOEL: Real friends show love by synthesizing manganese.

> Blok placed a block of marble at the head of the grave, and
> rumbled, "Wait until I am out of the way before you begin
> carving, Wildfire."
> "Hey, I’m always careful," said the energy man.

CROW: [ As Wildfire ] So — white or dark meat?

> He
> raised an arm of his containment suit and, with a tightly
> controlled beam of energy,

TOM: Is that the blue hand-ray or the red hand-ray?

JOEL: It’s the green hand-ray.

> carved words into the surface of
> the stone:
>
> Here Lies
>
> SUPERGIRL
>
> Kara Zor-El
>
> Linda Lee Danvers

TOM: Caroline Rhea.

JOEL: Angela "Scoop" Quickly.

CROW: Wheelie *and* the Chopper Bunch.

>
> Legionnaire and Friend
>
>
> When the burial was complete, the group split up.

JOEL: So, uh, wanna hit Big Stosh’s?

CROW: Knockwurst bar open?

JOEL: You bet.

> Jo
> and Tinya approached Brainy, who was still standing by the
> grave.
> "Great speech, man," Jo said, laying his hand on
> Brainy’s shoulder. Tinya gently put her hand on his arm.

CROW: It’s a slow-motion tackle.

> "Opening up like that was the bravest thing I’ve seen you do,
> Brainy.

JOEL: He opened up?

TOM: Yeah, didn’t you notice his eye twitching?

> I’m glad to see you’re coming to terms with this."
> "Indeed." He raised his eyes from the grave to the
> stars. "I was able to fight my obsessive tendencies for once,

TOM: And nobody new got killed by them.

> which is probably just as well. Who knows what might have
> gone wrong with the Exchanger?

CROW: He could have ended up with the body of a chicken and the mind of a Power Puff Girl.

> "We should make haste. There won’t be room on the
> Legion cruisers if we stay here to long."

JOEL: Rush hour is horrible around these desolate cemetary asteroids.

> They hurried
> towards the spaceship, leaving the asteroid’s memorials to
> departed heroes behind them.

CROW: They tried taking the memorials with them but realized that was dumb.

> [Credit where credit is due dep’t:

TOM: Ooh, it’s the introduction to a Mad Magazine article.

CROW: I love these.

> Superman’s speech is
> quoted from CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #7,

JOEL: Except on Earth Two, where it was Crisis On Infinite Earths #9.

> and was written by
> Marv Wolfman. The Exchanger was created by Jim Shooter,

CROW: Yeah — on a dare.

> based on a concept by Jerry Siegel. The initial inspiration
> for this story came from LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (third
> series) #16,

TOM: Or maybe sixteenth series, number three…it’s hard to keep track.

> written by Paul Levitz.]

JOEL: You’ll love it, Paul Levitz!

CROW: And that’s a wrap.

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

[ SOL DESK. JOEL is standing, a little embarassed, in a Superman-style costume with a cursive ‘J’ at the center. He looks around, puts his arms out and starts a tiny hop. CROW and TOM enter from the right. ]

JOEL: [ Noticing them, slapping his arms to his side ] Aaugh!

CROW: Uhm…Joel?

JOEL: No, no, citizen. I do not know this "Joel" of whom you speak.

TOM: Joel, you’re just embarassing yourself now.

JOEL: I am not Joel! I am a friendly but powerful being from another star, here to help save you from your imminent peril.

CROW: That’s nice, honey, but we’re not in any imminent peril.

TOM: The story’s already done, remember? And you’re going to embarass *us* if you keep that up.

JOEL: [ Crestfallen ] Aw, c’mon, guys. Do you have to be so cynical?

CROW: I’m not saying it’s a bad look for you, you understand.

JOEL: Why not be silly? What’s it going to hurt? What kind of a world do we live in if whimsy, if silliness, if daydreams are rudely and immediately squashed flat? Is a world without levity worth getting out of bed for?

TOM: We’re not calling for the death of the imaginative spirit, we’re just asking that it show some dignity.

CROW: Can I be your sidekick?

JOEL: Of course, Crow. We’ll pick out a sensible yet identity-concealing costume for you right after we’re done with this. [ JOEL pats CROW on the head. ]

TOM: Crow! You’re betraying your trust as a keeper of public decorum and sensible frivolity!

CROW: Yeah, but it’s fun.

TOM: But…but I…I…

JOEL: Aw, c’mon, Tom. Join the legion.

TOM: [ Sobbing, and leaning into JOEL ] I will, I will.

JOEL: [ Hugging and patting TOM ] That’s a good robot. [ Looking to the camera ] What do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER is studying TV’S FRANK’s snow brain. ]

FRANK: I’m so…woozy…

DR. F: Ah, yes, I think I see the problem… [ Noticing JOEL ] Ah, yes, Joel, a fine costume. I’ll be sure to whip up a hearty Kryptonite cheesecake to help you celebrate.
[ DR. FORRESTER takes out a container of fish food, pops open the top of FRANK’s snow brain, and sprinkles some food in. ]

FRANK: [ Sighs happily ]

DR. F: Until next time, Silverhawks…push the button, Frank.

FRANK: Can I do it with my mind?

DR. F: Oh, if you insist.

[ FRANK leans over, hitting his head on the desk. ]

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its related characters and situations are trademarks of and Copyright to Best Brains, Inc. The Legion of Superheroes is Copyright DC Comics, a subsidiary of Time Warner, a corporation so vast and powerful if it wanted it could have all traces of my existence wiped out.

Use of copyrighted and trademarked material is for entertainment only; no infringement on or challenge to the copyrights and trademarks held by Best Brains or DC Comics is intended or should be inferred. The stories "Dreams of a Lost Past" and "Loss" are by Doug Atkinson and are used with permission. Whatever original material is in this MST3K fanfic is the creation of Joseph Nebus. This MiSTing is meant solely for personal entertainment and is not intended to be an insult to the creators or fans of the Legion of Superheros, Mystery Scence Theater 3000, the Game Show Network, or the Silverhawks. Discontinue use if rash persists.

The midshow sketch started out as the introductory piece, and only moved when I had no ideas for the midshow sketch, and could steal an introduction from another MiSTing I’m procrastinating. Sorry if it seems weird.

> Brainiac 5 looked at Jo with undisguised hostility. "I’m
> working on a private project, Ultra Boy. Leave me alone."

On How Technology Has Changed the Way We Discover Dialects


Overall, yes, I appreciate how easy the Internet makes it for people to discover dialects and regionalisms. Not just learning of others’, but of learning of your own unique phrasings and common idioms and vowel mergers.

But the change is losing something too, and that’s worth mention. Think, now, of going through your whole college career without that night of hanging out in the dorm lounge, and discovering, in a moment of giddy delight for your friends, a moment which earns you a nickname that lasts intensely for two weeks and then makes occasional reappearances for the rest of your four years, that it is only people from your half of Livingston County, New Jersey (plus a zone around New Danzig, Oklahoma) who have ever called mayonnaise “sandwich gravy”. I don’t know if this is the world we would choose, but it’s the one we’re coming to live in.

MiSTed: Dreams of a Lost Past/Loss, Part 3 of 4


Thanks for joining me on another day of reusing a late-90s Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This continues Doug Atkinson’s “Loss”, a story about talking Brainiac-5 out of doing something really dumb, which the Legion of Superheroes gang had to do a lot back in the day. Probably still does. I don’t know; I haven’t read a recent Legion of Superheroes book except for the crossover issue they did with Batman ’66, which was everything I had hoped for. Nothing against comic books, I’m just not very good at reading new ones. At heart, I like the Silver Age Nonsense parade.

So the mid-show host sketch here is inspired by some Silver Age Nonsense. I’d picked up a collection of Silver Age Superman story reprints from the closing sale of a comic book shop in the legendary Latham Circle Mall. So that’s where that sketch comes from, and I’m happy to say I was ahead of the curve on the Internet noticing Silver Age Superman was like that. Of course, nobody cared that I was there ahead of time. All the references are accurate and unexaggerated.

I regret the line that just assumed obesity was by itself a health threat. I accepted uncritically the social consensus about that. I stand by the thesis of the sketch; I would hope I’d write it better today.

Part 1 of the MiSTing covered the incomplete “Dreams of a Lost Past”. And then Part 2 started “Loss”, set in the aftermath of the death of Supergirl in the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I haven’t decided what to do after this is done. I’m leaning toward bringing out another MiSTing. If you dimly remember an old piece of mine you’d like to see reprinted and maybe apologetically explained, please let me know. I’ve got stuff I forgot I ever did. Not sharing the Lynn Johnston piece.


[ SOL DESK. JOEL is sitting behind the desk, playing with the courderoy starship. ]

JOEL: [ Looking up ] Welcome back, folks. It’s quiet right now, but I expect my youthful wards Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot to come to me momentarily with some silly but endearing crisis of faith in our pop cultural world.

TOM: [ From offscreen ] JOEL!

CROW: [ Also offscreen ] We need to talk!

JOEL: [ Calling ] That’s what I’m here for, guys.

[ TOM and CROW suddenly enter on opposite sides of JOEL. TOM is holding "Giant Superman Annual" #1. ]

CROW: OK, we were reading this bunch of old Superman stories.

TOM: And there’s this sick one where Lois Lane witnesses a murder but can’t give a good description of who did it.
[ JOEL picks up TOM’s comic book and shows it to the camera. ]

CROW: But afterwards she gets accidentally zapped with this experimental ray that’s supposed to make plants grow better and it makes her enormously fat.

TOM: And it turns out Metropolis is basically worldwide headquarters for ways to embarass fat people.

CROW: And after a month of feeling horribly ashamed at Superman seeing her overweight Lois runs into the murderer and he gets ready to shoot her when Superman comes and catches him. Turns out he was watching her the whole time for the muderer to show himself.

JOEL: [ Nodding ] I’m with you so far.

TOM: OK, but then Superman reveals Lois *wasn’t* accidentally zapped with the fat ray. He arranged for it to happen on purpose while he used her — without *telling* her — as bait to drag out the bad guy.

CROW: And he knew how to get her back to normal anytime he wanted.

TOM: So why did Superman want to do anything that changed how she looked?

CROW: The fact is, putting aside his non-consenting use of her to trap a crook, the Supester subjected the putative love of his life to an experimental ray that did all sorts of screwball stuff to her metabolism, inflicted who knows what long-term trauma to her cardiac and skeletal systems, and blasted her self-esteem into subatomic pieces, without even thinking to ask her…

TOM: And for absolutely no comprehensible reason other than he wanted to watch her being fat!

JOEL: Well, hey, nothing wrong with liking a heavy-set girlfriend, right?

TOM: Nothing wrong with it, except what kind of *creep* do you have to be to *mutate* your girlfriend to please your own eye?

CROW: Yeah! Where’s the consideration? Where’s the respect? What kind of animals raised Superman anyway?

JOEL: That would be his foster parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent.

CROW: And could they not take a moment to explain to Clark he should ask someone before transmogrifying her?

TOM: Isn’t this basic, common courtesy?

JOEL: Guys, it’s just an old comic book…you shouldn’t try to read too much into it.

[ MOVIE SIGN. General alarm. ]

JOEL: We gotta run, guys!

CROW: Oh, and don’t get us *started* on the comic where Lois gets turned into a witch!

TOM: Crow, come on!

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

[ ALL enter theater ]

TOM: And then right here in the back of the book, Batman and Superman play this duel of mind-warping games in pursuit of some mad birthday prank!

CROW: Not to mention the mermaid!

JOEL: I wouldn’t.

> Whacked-out Querl Dox,

JOEL: [ Singing ] Querl Dox…a little dox’ll do ya!

> who builds the machines
> that go berserk."

CROW: Just ’cause they accidentally blew up seventeen planets you think I’m the problem.

> He pointed the electronic spanner at Jo
> viciously.

TOM: Heh…you know what he’s *really* saying…

CROW: No, actually, I don’t.

TOM: [ After a pause ] Me neither.

> "Supergirl died to save the universe from the
> Anti-Monitor.

CROW: Isn’t that always the way?

> She was always risking her life to save
> others.

TOM: And vice-versa.

> That devotion…that selflessness shouldn’t be
> allowed to perish from the universe before its time! She was
> only in her twenties…

JOEL: Oh, but that’s actually in dog-twenties.

> who knows how long she could have
> lived, fighting all the time to save others."

TOM: Uhm…I’ll say eight. No, ten. Definitely ten.

> He dropped his head and arm abruptly. "Not like me. I
> try to good, and what happens?

CROW: Maybe if he tried to great instead, things would average out?

> People die. I build the
> Earth’s most powerful AI, and it rampages through Metropolis.

JOEL: That’s Metropolis’s fault, though, for not enacting those no-rampaging-AI ordinances a few years back.

> Pulsar Stargrave uses my genius, and I channel all the
> universe’s evil into Omega."

TOM: I set the VCR to tape "Pokemon" and it melts Spain.

> A broad arm gesture took in the
> Exchanger, the two flat bed with the powerful apparatus
> connecting them.

CROW: So this exchanger is pretty much your generic Two-Victim Bad Guy Machine.

> "Once this is working again, I’ll be able to
> transfer my life energy into Kara and bring her back to life.

JOEL: Even though everything else I’ve ever tried has screwed up in horrible, terrifying ways.

> I’m willing to die to bring her back."
> _Dr. Frankenstein has entered the headquarters_, thought
> Jo. "Don’t talk like that, Brainy.

TOM: Let’s just cuddle instead.

> You don’t really want to
> die. Is it really worth it?"
> "Ask Matter-Eater Lad,

CROW: Oh, he’s the guy with the power to turn anything in the world into garlic bread.

> who went insane because of me.
> Ask Duo Damsel, whose third body was killed by Computo.

JOEL: Fortunately Duo doesn’t hold grudges.

> Ask
> the people whose homes were leveled by Omega, or whose loved
> ones he killed. They’d say it’s a fair exchange."
> Jo held his hands up in a T. "All right, time out.

TOM: Offensive holding; ten yard penalty.

> Enough with the death talk for a moment, and for God’s sake
> put down the spanner."

CROW: You have no idea where it’s been.

> Jo’s blue eyes met Brainy’s yellow-
> and-green ones, and locked with them. Finally Brainy lowered
> his gaze and placed the spanner on a table.

TOM: Secretly unknown to Brainiac 5, Jo is his older brother Rex who disappeared in the mountain ranges of Krypton several years earlier.

> "Now. I understand that we aren’t the best of friends.
> You’ve never been the type to pal around, and we tend to move
> in different circles.

JOEL: Plus there was that time you tore my brain out of my skull and planted it in a large wolverine.

> But I know that it’s difficult losing
> a loved one, and that’s it’s good to talk things out.

TOM: Yes, a bland, impersonal conversation with a casual acquaintance helps you recover from losing the love of your life.

> Especially for someone like you,

CROW: Such as Benton Frazier’s boss on "Due South."

> who keeps his feelings
> bottled up all the time.
> "Why are you having so much trouble accepting her death?

JOEL: ‘Cause I wasn’t there to sign for it and the delivery company’s a pain.

> Not to sound insensitive, but it wasn’t exactly a surprise."
> Brainy kept his eyes on the floor for a while.

TOM: Hey…the wood trim isn’t level.

> When he
> spoke, his voice was hoarse. "I loved Kara from the time we
> first met, at her membership trial.

CROW: I told her so after she got her first twelve CDs for a penny.

> I never stopped loving
> her during all the time she hardly ever came to the Thirtieth
> Century. I valued the short times I spent with her, knowing

JOEL: That if we stand on tippy-toes the times would seem taller.

> I wouldn’t have very many of them.
> "It hurt when she decided not to pursue our romance any
> further.

TOM: It was like she had the idea I was some borderline-psychotic mad scientist who keeps accidentally unleashing destruction on the world.

> I went a little crazy then…you remember the
> Supergirl robot I built in my sleep?" Jo nodded.

CROW: Did you ever build a Supergirl robot in your sleep, Joel?

JOEL: I’ll talk with you about that when you’re older, dear.

> "And all
> that time I had to keep my distance a little, because she was
> living under a death sentence. It was like loving someone
> with a terminal disease, except that she didn’t know it was
> coming…and I couldn’t tell her.

TOM: Mind you, it is really hard to work into casual conversation.

> Knowledge of the future is
> a curse…it’s why Superboy quit for a couple of years.

CROW: Er, why he’s going to quit, next year.

> "I never learned to let my feelings out as a child–
> Coluans aren’t encouraged to.

JOEL: And, by the way, I’m Coluan.

TOM: You know, when in Colua, you should do like the Coluans do.

> My parents were dead, and the
> other children resented my intelligence so much that I never
> made any friends.

CROW: The only guy who’d play with me was that Keith Aksland guy.

> I’d never had someone I could let myself
> open up to before. But I resented having this barrier
> between us,

TOM: And it hurt all the worse that it was the Cone of Silence.

> that I always knew we wouldn’t have much longer,
> and she didn’t. Perhaps if she had, she’d have visited more
> often, I thought, but telling her would be far too cruel.

JOEL: Unless I broke it to her with sock puppets. They make anything fun.

> It
> might also cause a paradox, and even I couldn’t predict the
> results.

TOM: Heck, who couldn’t call *that* one from miles away?

> "I hate feeling powerless, Jo. My whole scientific
> career has been devoting to pushing the limits of natural
> law.

JOEL: Except for that sabbatical year I spent developing new flavors for Velveeta.

> Science tells us that time only moves forward, so I
> work on time travel.

CROW: Actually, it tells us the most probable sequence of events is one which maximizes entropy, which is commonly interpreted to represent the forward flow of time.

> Science tells us that tons of material
> can’t be stored in a closet,

TOM: Unless you try.

> so I invent the storage
> tesseract. Science tells us that inanimate materials can’t
> think–Blok notwithstanding–so I design a supercomputer.

JOEL: Science just keeps calling up late at night, snickering at me, and hanging up.

> I
> don’t like thinking that there are forces behind my control
> that I can’t harness.

TOM: If we could just make the forces of nature run on a really *big* hamster wheel…

> "I especially don’t accept the idea of ‘fate,’ or
> whatever you want to call it.

CROW: OK. I want to call it "Destiny."

TOM: I want to call it "Thor."

JOEL: How about "Mookie?"

CROW: On second thought "Fate" is fine by me.

> Projectra or the White Witch

JOEL: Hey, they were bit characters on H.R. Pufnstuf.

> would call me hopelessly hard-headed and small-minded, but I
> can’t accept that Kara had a predestined time to die, and
> that nothing could have been done to stop it.

CROW: I mean, c’mon, she’s a superhero. They never die for more than maybe two months at the outside.

> It’s in my
> hands to reverse that." He cast a glance at the Exchanger.
> "Perhaps you don’t understand–you and Phantom Girl have been
> together for years now."
> "I understand losing a loved one.

JOEL: I still have a shrine to my dead hamster Benny.

> Maybe you remember An
> Ryd? Y’know, the woman you killed and framed me for the
> murder?

TOM: [ As Brainiac 5 ] What, you’re not over that yet?

> I know it wasn’t your fault, but I still loved her
> once." Brainy bit his lip, and Jo decided to change the
> subject.

TOM: [ As Jo ] What do you think of ginger ale?

> "What about the paradox problem? I’m no temporal
> scientist like you, but I thought the history books couldn’t
> be changed. History says that Supergirl died in 1985."

JOEL: ‘Course, History also says Jay Ward was the 14th president of the United States. I think it’s drunk or something.

> "First of all, I don’t think history is all that
> trustworthy. Supergirl was seen to die,

CROW: But heck, who hasn’t been seen to die at least a couple times?

> but we all saw you
> killed in an explosion, too. As I recall, you returned in
> Superboy’s body and calling yourself ‘Reflecto.’

TOM: So he lost his sense of dignity in the explosion.

> While I
> don’t pretend to understand that convoluted series of events,
> it tells me that Supergirl’s perceived ‘death’ isn’t
> incompatible with her living under an another name."

JOEL: As…uh…Superlady…woman…hero. Or something.

> Brainiac seemed to animate with the argument.

CROW: Sketch Quick Draw McGraw in only four easy moves.

> "Secondly,
> who says history is immutable?

JOEL: R. L. Stein, that’s who.

> The Legion decided early on
> to go back in time and meet Supergirl, invite her to join us.
> Later on we did the same thing with Superboy.

TOM: Still later we traveled back in time to warn our younger selves not to request "Clyde’s Car Crusher" as a birthday present.

> Later on we
> found historical evidence that they’d time travelled
> occasionally.

CROW: The evidence for this being that the Sphinx suddenly resembled Gleek the Wonder Monkey.

> Were the time trips predestined? As I said, I
> don’t accept that. I believe history would heal itself,

JOEL: Or would wipe us out of existence. Whichever.

> and
> we’d come to accept that Supergirl miraculously returned to
> life, after she was thought dead. Alternatively, she could
> live in our century, causing no conflict with our history
> books."

TOM: Alternatively, she could move to Long Island and come into the city for special occasions.

> Jo realized that Querl could run circles around him in
> temporal arguments. He decided to change his tactics.

CROW: [ As Jo ] If I invade Russia in winter it’s bound to impress him!


[ To be concluded … ]

MiSTed: Dreams of a Lost Past/Loss, Part 2 of 4


Last week I began sharing a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic from the late 90s. This was based on two pieces of Legion of Superheroes fan fiction, the incomplete “Dreams of a Lost Past” and the complete “Loss”. “Dreams … ” was run in full last week. Now, let me begin “Loss”.

The Legion of Superheroes written about here were a 30th Century team of teenagers using their superpowers to play a never-ending bonkers game of “The Floor Is Lava”, each round of which had a 15% chance of blowing up the Universe. Anyway, a longrunning piece of the setup was how Brainiac-5, descendant of the city-shrinking-and-stealing computer-brain supervillain Brainiac, had a doomed crush on Supergirl. Not because Supergirl lived in the 20th century — they were up to their hips in time-travel — but because she died for real and good and this time we mean it in a pivotal issue of the Crisis On Infinite Earths series. And Brainac-5, most intelligent being in the galaxy, with a whole twelfth-level computer brain, with access to a time machine and the ability to make robot duplicates of whatever the heck he pleased, couldn’t figure a way to keep her in the 30th century while she’s seen to have died in the 20th. If you’re going to keep looking at me like that we aren’t going to have any superhero comic books to read at all. Anyway, “Loss” is about Brainiac-5 dealing with how Supergirl just died in 1985. Let’s read.


>
>
> LOSS

CROW: The inside story of the New Jersey Nets.

>
> An untold tale of the Legion of Super-Heroes

TOM: All the tales too ticklish to untell.

>
> by Doug Atkinson

TOM: Or At Dougkinson. Whichever.

>
> The Man of Steel soared into space,

JOEL: Hey, look, there he is.

> carrying his grim
> red-wrapped burden.

CROW: So that’s Krypto’s Super-Pooper-Scooper.

> He came to a stop somewhere outside the
> orbit of Jupiter,

TOM: He’ll have to swerve to avoid hitting the monolith.

> and released it with a gentle push. As it
> slowly tumbled towards the giant planet,

CROW: Bet Irwin Allen’s behind this story too.

> he bowed his head
> and whispered, "Good-bye, Kara…Linda Lee…Supergirl.

JOEL: And all the ships at sea.

> I
> will miss you forever."

TOM: At least if you keep ducking.

> He remained there for a moment, then
> turned back towards Earth. There was a Crisis that demanded
> his attention.

JOEL: Wendy and Marvin need help on their homework.

> The corpse of Supergirl, wrapped in her cape of
> stretchable Kryptonian cloth,

CROW: [ Singing ] It’s magically delicious!

> drifted until it impacted the
> surface of the moon Callisto. With a faint spray of methane
> snow, it settled into the ice.

CROW: Give me a Supergirl, straight up, on the rocks.

> A short time later, a large sphere of metal and glass
> appeared from nowhere. Its front opened, and a purple-clad,
> green-skinned man stepped forth.

JOEL: The Incredible Hulk?

TOM: The Mask?

CROW: Rattfink?

> Although seemingly
> undefended from the vacuum and near-absolute zero
> temperature, his molecule-thin transuit served as more than
> adequate protection.

TOM: So don’t think he was a dummy.

> Gathering the corpse into his arms, he whispered, "At
> last I have a chance to correct one of the greatest
> injustices in history."

JOEL: Excuse me, it’s called Social Studies now.

> He cradled the corpse for a second
> before stepping back into the time sphere and activating the
> return control.

TOM: No, Mr. Beckett, I’m not going to give you a ride home.

> The sphere entered the time stream, vast
> bands of hallucinogenic color shooting past with neon
> numbers.

CROW: Or neon colors with hallucinogenic numbers. Whichever.

> 11111000001….11111001011…11111010101…until he
> at last 101110101001 flashed past, and the sphere came to a
> stop.

JOEL: [ Singing, roughly, "21" ] So it seems like 101110101001 is gonna be a good year…

> Its pilot stepped into an enormous laboratory and
> carried his prize to a strange device, which looked archaic
> and out-of-place amongst the high-tech wonders surrounding
> it.

TOM: It’s hard to explain the love a person has for his first Mattell Aquarius.

> He gently placed the body on a bench that had been
> specially cleared for this purpose, and turned to work.

JOEL: You know, sawing a woman in half doesn’t have the same suspense when she’s dead.

>
> * * * * *
>
> A brown-haired man in an exotic red-and-green costume
> stood before the thick door and hammered futilely.

CROW: So he’s visiting a Christmas ornament?

> "C’mon,
> Brainy. Open up already. You don’t want me using my ultra-
> strength to tear this door open, do you?" There was no
> response.

TOM: [ Whining, nerdily ] Aw, c’mon, let me in… I’ll cry!

> His hands and feet were braced to rip open the blast-
> shielded door when a foot-wide sphere of metal and energy
> floated to him.

JOEL: Ooh, Carl Sagan’s spaceship is visiting.

> "*breep* Legionnaire Jo Nah will refrain from
> damaging Legion headquarters. *breep*"

TOM: [ Sinister voice ] Oh, yes, you will *indeed* refrain from damaging Legion headquarters. Mwuh-ha-ha-ha-HA!

> Jo turned from the door to face the floating major-domo.
> "Computo, I have to talk to Brainy. Open the door."
> "*breep* My master has set the privacy warning

JOEL: Bet he’s looking for dirty pictures of Catwoman on the Internet.

> and has
> indicated his desire not to be disturbed. No one is allowed
> past this door. *breep*"

TOM: You know, I think Computo is being typecast as the *breep*ing boy.

> _I hate this obstinate bundle of
> circuits_, Jo thought.
> "This is on Element Lad’s orders,

CROW: Element Lad.

JOEL: A lad, a plan, a canal, lanthanum.

> Computo, on his
> authority as leader. Priority override the door…now."

TOM: You cross me, boy, and I’ll get the whole series of actinides on your case.

> "*breep* Complying…" The doors slid open.

JOEL: Such airtight security. You really see why computer locks have replaced latch and key ones that can’t be overridden.

> Jo didn’t
> bother to thank the computer; he just walked in, the doors,
> shutting behind him.
> Brainiac 5

CROW: Detroit 4, in ten innings.

> looked at Jo with undisguised hostility. "I’m
> working on a private project, Ultra Boy. Leave me alone."
> "Yeah, I know what your ‘private project’ is.

TOM: Gerbil farming for fun and profit.

> He
> squinted. "My penetra-vision shows me Supergirl’s body on
> that bench, so don’t try to pretend.

CROW: You’re planning to go to the Genesis planet!

> I figured this was what
> you were up to."
> "How did you know?

JOEL: I don’t…actually I’m kind of winging this whole deal.

> I hid my traces when I stole the
> time sphere."
> "Rond and Dr. Chaseer knew something was wrong when you

CROW: Put on that Afro wig and demanded we address you as "Courageous Cat."

> got that look in your eyes and took of from the bar like a
> Korbalian lightning beast was on your tail.

TOM: The lightning beast’s not Korbal?

> You may have
> designed the time travel monitor at the Time Institute,

JOEL: I mean, sure you may have. I don’t know. Heck, I don’t even know who you are.

> but
> you can’t sabotage humanoid intuition. And when we saw the
> Exchanger was gone from the security room, it didn’t take a
> twelfth-level computer brain to figure out what you were up
> to."

CROW: So… what are you up to?

> "Well, now that you’ve satisfied your curiosity, you can
> leave." He turned back to the Exchanger and began making
> small adjustments to its circuitry.

JOEL: Stupid picture-in-picture button never works…

> "Not so fast, pal. Dreamy thinks you’re going to try
> something desperate, and I think she’s right. You’ve never
> been good at handling emotions.

TOM: But you make up for it with your telephone skills.

> You need someone to talk to
> before you do something crazy."

CROW: Now step away from the corpse, return the magic machine to the library, and leave the frozen moons of Jupiter in peace.

> "Crazy?" Brainy’s voice raised for the first time as he
> spun on Jo. "Crazy?

JOEL: [ Cheery ] And proud of it.

> That’s what I am, isn’t it?

CROW: [ As above ] Well, yeah!

> The crazy
> Legionnaire!

TOM: Man, it’s like you’re reading our minds.

JOEL: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

CROW: Sure.

[ ALL file out. ]

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]

[ To be continued … ]

MiSTed: Dreams of a Lost Past/Loss, Part 1 of 4


So I have another Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction to share here. This is a really old one, first published on Usenet in the 1990s. You’ll only be able to tell by how dated some particular riffs are but, you know? I like just how extremely dated they are.

This pair of stories — the incomplete “Dreams of a Lost Past” and the complete “Loss” — are fan fiction for the Legion of Superheroes, a comic book I had never read at the time and knew almost nothing about. I have since learned a bit more about the bonkiest superhero group outside the Metal Men. It turns out everything preposterous I made up about Brainiac-5 and his gang was pretty much real and actually literally true. So that’s fun.

I believe that this pair of stories was volunteered by their author, Doug Atkinson, to the Web Site Number Nine Dibs List, an e-mail chain that tried to match up original fanfic authors and Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic writers. I can say that, at least back then, Atkinson was pleased with my work. I hope that, wherever he is, he still is, or at least that he is no more embarrassed by his youthful writing than I am by mine.


[ OPENING SEQUENCE ]

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

[ SOL DESK. CROW is wearing a polyester suit and has a card propped up in his hand. TOM is standing in front of JOEL, with the cap on his head replaced with a balloon-like pad. JOEL is holding his hands over TOM’s head. TOM is making sound effects. Sketch is fast paced; no break between lines. ]

JOEL: Come on, big money, big money, no whammies… [ Hitting TOM’s head ] STOP!

TOM: Ow!

CROW: OK, you stop on our survey question; we asked 100 people at random the following question; top five answers on the board. ‘What is a refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day?’

JOEL: I’m gonna say… an ice cream soda!

TOM: Good answer, good answer.

CROW: Show meeeeeeee…ice cream soda!

TOM: Ding ding ding ding ding!

JOEL: Wahoo!

CROW: Bringing you to the Speed Round; seven-letter word on the board, you start with an L and a D and twenty-five seconds.

JOEL: L!

TOM: Ping!

JOEL: J!

TOM: Ping!

JOEL: E!

TOM: Ping!

JOEL: D!

TOM: Ping!

JOEL: ‘Pharmacist’

TOM: Ding ding ding ding ding!

CROW: That puts you on the board with a Five.

JOEL: I’m gonna say, 300 dollars, higher! [ Pointing up with both thumbs. ]

CROW: Reveals a Three.

TOM: Ding.

JOEL: 250 dollars, Lower, lower. [ Again motions with his thumbs. ]

CROW: Got a Jack.

TOM: Ding.

JOEL: Everything I got, higher!

CROW: And we have an Eight!

TOM: Ding.

JOEL: Gonna freeze.

CROW: Freeze, freeze at four cards in, and that takes you to the prizes.

JOEL: [ Looking around ] I’d like the Amana freezer for three hundred forty-nine dollars…

CROW: Freezer.

JOEL: The microwave oven for one hundred eighty-five…

CROW: It’s yours.

JOEL: The Presidential chess set replica for seventy dollars…and the rest on a gift certificate.

[ CAMBOT pulls back to reveal GYPSY ]

GYPSY: Things you see on the Game Show Network. Things that were junk the first time around. Things you remember too well.

TOM: Ding ding ding ding ding!

[ TOM, CROW, GYPSY, and JOEL start jumping gleefuly as CAMBOT flashes $25,000 on the bottom of the screen and a simulacrum of the $25,000 Pyramid plays. ]

JOEL: We did it!

[ COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes ]

MAGIC VOICE: Thanks for playing, and we’ll be right back after this word from our sponsors.

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]

[ SOL. Calmed down considerably from above. JOEL is polishing CROW’s beak.TOM is reading a comic book. ]

JOEL: We ever figure out what to buy with that gift certificate?

TOM: They gave us a service certificate instead.

CROW: What’s the difference?

TOM: This wasn’t good for anything.

JOEL: Still, that was fun.

CROW: We should do that more often.

TOM: Can’t. You can’t be on another game show for at least ninety days.

JOEL: Says who?

TOM: It’s a rule.

CROW: I never heard that rule.

TOM: You dare question me?

JOEL: Hang on, boys, the trylon and the perisphere are on the line.

[ JOEL taps MADS SIGN ]

[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER and TV’S FRANK are wearing large sacks covering some kind of globes on top of their heads. ]

DR. F: Ahoy, hoy, lackeys and layabouts. Are you prepared to see yourselves bested in yet another Invention Exchange?

FRANK: I know I am!

[ SOL DESK. JOEL and the bots have a model spaceship covered by a piece of velvet. The desk is cleaned and TOM has nothing in his hands ]

JOEL: You bet.

TOM: We were thinking, as we often do, about the 70s.

CROW: And we realized there were some stylistic touches about that much maligned decade which, while goofy, were still kind of fun.

JOEL: So, combining that with our own precarious situation in space, we decided to create… [ Pulls off the velvet to reveal…]

ALL: The courderoy starship!

CROW: Warm, durable, and easily washed, this vision of tomorrow from the days of yesterday is sure to keep you at least as comfortable as a wood-paneled station wagon while waiting in line at the antimatter refilling module.

JOEL: Plus it makes the cutest little "fwit-fwit" noise when you go into warp.

TOM: [ Disclaimer voice ] Stephen Collins and Robert Forster sold separately. James Brolin not available in all areas.

[ DEEP 13. As before; their heads are still covered. ]

DR. F:Fascinating. Now then: Many, many — perhaps too many — science fiction and comic book writers have tried to look into the future of human evolution and concluded that in the future, people willhave vastly larger brains.

FRANK: Which means they’re going to need bigger heads.

DR. F: Right. But since evolution is slow, inexact, and ugly, we’re giving it a little hand up.

[ DR. FORRESTER and TV’S FRANK pull of the sacks, revealing snow globe-like shapes on their heads. ]

FRANK: But rather than fill this extra space with hair, we got creative!
[ They turn around, revealing cityscapes with the white snowflakes. ]

DR. F: So that you can display civic pride or make an amusing conversation piece while you wait for superhuman intelligence and psychic powers.

FRANK: We call them, ‘Snow brains.’

[ They turn back to the camera. ]

DR. F: Now then. Your medicine this week is a pair of "Legion of Superheros" works by one Doug Atkinson — the start of a story called "Dreams of a Lost Past," in which events almost happen, and "Loss," in which the main character is argued out of doing something interesting. Read ’em and weep, boyos.

[ SOL DESK. JOEL is holding the starship and making fwit-fwit noises ]

TOM: I think they stole my look.

CROW: They can keep it.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General chaos. ]

JOEL: We got movie sign!

TOM: Yaaaaa!

CROW: Woo-hoo!

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

[ ALL enter theater ]

> DREAMS OF A LOST PAST

CROW: An untold tale of another tomorrow in which "Squiddly Diddly" rules the world!

>
> An untold story of the Legion of Super-Heroes

TOM: Not any more. Thanks *so much*, Doug Atkinson.

>
> by Doug Atkinson

JOEL: Oh, the defendants have to go talk to him after they see Rusty the bailiff.

>
> Jacques Foccart tossed on his bed as his slumbering
> brain was wracked by uneasy dreams.

CROW: [ As if talking in his sleep ] Scott Adams…stairmaster…horse shampoo…term life insurance…AAAUGH!

> In his sleeping visions,
> he was in a vague land of mists and shadows, seen as if out
> of the corner of the eye.

TOM: So he’s mostly seeing the annoying network logo.

> He wandered aimlessly, but there
> seemed no escape.

JOEL: Danged foolproof travelers’ alarm clocks…

> A blurred, humanoid figure drifted in front of him. It
> began to say something…

CROW: [ Gasping ] Warranty restrictions…may not be valid…in some states.

> Jacques awoke and sat bolt upright. _Sacre couer…what
> a dream. I cannot say why it disturbed me so,

TOM: Maybe ’cause it was a *bad* dream?

> but my sheets
> are soaked in sweat. Perhaps it reminded me of something?_

CROW: I know…it’s a signal. This time, I must be serious. I must reorganize my spice drawer.

> He shook his head and resolved to put it out of his
> mind. Element Lad had assigned him to Mission Monitor Board
> duty,

TOM: Element Lad really knows how to let other folks in on the party.

> and it would not do to be distracted when other
> Legionnaires’ lives depended on him.

JOEL: He should be asleep instead.

> Blearily he pulled on
> his yellow-and-black costume and wandered to the command
> center.

CROW: Commander honeybee is on the job!

>
> * * * * *
>
> Blok looked up from the Legion history holo he was
> viewing.

JOEL: Those who do not study their history are doomed to see it in flashbacks.

> "Good morning, Invisible Kid," he rumbled. "Are you
> here to relieve me?"
> "Yes," said Jacques, rubbing his eyes. "Oh, good
> morning.

CROW: That’s a relief.

> Forgive my not observing the pleasantries, but I
> had an uneasy sleep, with strange dreams."

TOM: Hey, does it mean anything in your dream when your parents become 500 foot tall giants moaning about how you’ve failed them in everything you’ve ever tried and then when they notice you they think you’re a fly and stomp on you repeatedly?

> "Curious. I confess I do not fully understand these
> ‘dreams’ you organic beings experience. If you wish, I could
> take your turn at Board duty."
> "No, thank you." He suppressed a yawn. "I should not be
> derelict in my duty.

JOEL: It’s much better if I do it in an inattentive and distracted manner.

> Which Legionnaires are on missions?"
> Blok instructed the board to show current mission
> status. "Lightning Lass, Polar Boy,

CROW: And his sidekick, the amazing Cartesian Kid.

> Phantom Girl, Sun Boy,
> and Magnetic Kid are investigating a solar-powered satellite
> on Mars.

JOEL: Superheros just never stop having a good time.

> Tellus, Quislet, Wildfire, and the White Witch are
> undertaking extended duty on Tellus’ homeworld of Hykraius.

TOM: Rock me, Hykraius!

> Shadow Lass and Mon-El are returning from investigating
> Starfinger’s corpse on Labyrinth. Dream Girl is off-duty and
> somewhere in Metropolis, I believe."

CROW: You know how those Dream Girls get.

> "Thank you." Blok left, and Jacques pulled a normal
> chair to the Board to replace the heavy-duty and
> uncomfortable one Blok used. Idly he ran a duty check,
> confirming Blok’s information.

JOEL: Well. I’m done for the day. Anyone wanna hit Friendly’s? Got a coupon for free Fribbles.

> He saw that Star Boy had not
> been removed from the list of active Legionnaires, and began
> to instruct Computo to make the correction. _No. It is not
> my place–it should be left to Element Lad or Brainiac Five._

TOM: Red-hot protocol activity!

> He looked at the holo Blok had left behind. It was an
> account of one of the Legion’s earliest missions, when they
> captured the Concentrator from Lucifer Seven.

CROW: Finally, the orange juice consortium will bend to our will!

> He remembered
> the Concentrator–a fabulously powerful weapon that could
> take energy from any source and focus it against any target.
> It hadn’t been around the arsenal lately, however.

TOM: It had dropped out of its afterschool activities and rarely talked to its old friends. Many suspected it was depressed.

> A quick
> check with Computo told him that Element Lad had decided it
> was too dangerous to keep active; he’d turned its wires into
> Inertron and moved it to the trophy room.

JOEL: Isn’t Inertron the thing that makes tires resist hydroplaning?

> The holo was one
> he’d seen before, so he put it aside with a mental note to
> make sure Blok returned it to the library.
> That just about exhausted his ready sources of
> amusement.

CROW: [ As Jacques ] I wonder what joysticks taste like.

> Unless there was some emergency requiring the
> Legionnaires’ presence, Monitor Board duty didn’t take a lot
> of thought.

TOM: Uhm…I like twine.

> He yawned again, not suppressing it this time.

[ JOEL pantomimes throwing something into his yawn. ]

> Slowly his eyelids began drifting downwards. His head
> nodded…
> And he was back in the land of mists.

CROW: *And* honey.

> The figure
> hovered before him again. Although it was transparent, it
> was now distinct enough to be seen as female.
> *who are you?* he asked/thought.

TOM: [ Pleading ] Please say Mary Tyler Moore. Please say Mary Tyler Moore. Please say Mary Tyler Moore.

> Sound didn’t seem to
> work in this strange land, but he made himself understood
> nonetheless.

CROW: Finally his habit of carrying semaphore flags everywhere pays off!

> *ask lyle norg,* she responded. *he knew.*
> *lyle is dead,* he thought in alarm.

TOM: [ Chanting ] Long live the Lyle.

> *are you the dream
> demon?*

JOEL: The acid queen? Who’ll tear your soul apart?

> She shook her head. *no. just one who is unjustly
> condemned to an eternity in the beyond.

CROW: Uhm…wait. This is Ebeneezer’s house, right? The afterlife has lousy maps, y’know.

> my time had come…*
> *what do you need?*
> *free me…*

TOM: Well, 50 percent off me and the rest is a mail-in rebate.

> She drifted away, and Jacques was alone. A soft hand
> was on his shoulder. "Jacques…Jacques…wake up!"

CROW: You’re missing your boring, mind-crushingly routine job!

> His eyes opened and looked into a blue, long-lashed
> pair.

ALL: [ Jumping back ] Aaaugh!

> "Trying to take my niche? Jan wouldn’t like it if he
> found you napping on duty."
> "Dream Girl…" He blinked a few more times, bringing
> himself to full consciousness. "You are right.

CROW: You’re the only one who’s good at sleeping on duty.

> I should
> have some stim-bev.

TOM: Stim-bev: An exciting new flavorful liquid from TechCorp Inc.

> Oh, by the way…I must ask you about
> something."
> "Sure." She gently ran her hand down his arm.

JOEL: [ As Jacques ] Remember they did this remake of "Duck Amuck," only it’s Bugs Bunny who gets tormented by the animator who turns out to be Elmer Fudd? How come they never show that anymore?

> "If
> Monitor Board duty is that dull, I’m sure I could keep
> you…entertained."

CROW: Have you ever played…Go Fish?

> _Sacre bleu, if only she were still with Star Boy she
> might be under control…_ "Just talk, please, Nura. Your
> powers are the closest to what I have just experienced."

TOM: Only superpowers can match a bad dream.

> "All right." She sat in the chair next to him, crossing
> her long legs. "Shoot."

JOEL: [ Shuffling around, slightly embarassed ] I got my legs tied in a knot again…sorry about this. Won’t be a second.

> "A woman has been speaking to me in my dreams. She says
> she is entrapped, and that the first Invisible Kid, Lyle,
> knew her. I do not know what to make of this."

JOEL: I suspect she may have been his sled.

> "Hmmm. You’ve read about Lyle’s death, right?"
> "Of course. I have studied everything about my
> predecesor, in the hopes of emulating him."

CROW: Except I think I can do a cooler death than him.

> "I wasn’t in headquarters when it happened, but I heard
> about it. There was something about an interdimensional
> realm and a ghost…

TOM: Oh, the usual.

> that could be your mystery woman. Let’s
> look it up. Computo!"

JOEL: [ As if suddenly waking up ] Mommy! Oh, uh, nothing, nothing.

> The energy-and-metal sphere drifted to her. "*breep* May
> I serve you, Nura Nal? *breep*"
> "Connect the Monitor Board to the Legion holo-library
> and Brainiac Five’s log reports.

CROW: We need everything he’s got on dutch elm disease by five o’clock or we’re dead!

> We need June and July of
> 2981. Oh, and get Jacques a stim-bev."
> "*breep* Connecting…"
> Nura’s manicured fingers slid deftly across the control
> panel. "Okay. This seems useful."

TOM: Must’ve gone to http://www.what’s_wrong_with_Jacques.com.

> The board lit up with scrolling Interlac text. Nura
> pressed a key, and the system began transmitting the vocals.
> "Brainiac Five’s medical log, 26 June 2981.

JOEL: About…call it sixish.

> Report on
> condition of Lyle Norg.
> "Norg collapsed in the trophy room for no apparent
> reason.

TOM: On second examination it was determined his head was chopped off.

> When connected to the mento-scanner, he displayed
> memories of the realm he sometimes enters when becoming
> invisible (ref. log entry, 19 September 2978).

JOEL: In the Arts and Leisure section, page four.

> "Subject encountered humanoid woman (species unclear),
> addressed as ‘Myla.’

CROW: Which is of course ‘Alym’ spelled backwards.

> Interaction indicated several previous
> meetings and apparent mutual attraction. Myla stated she had
> a revelation for the subject. At that moment, the screen
> shattered and subject awakened.

TOM: He reported his faith in professional wrestling was shattered forever.

> He became upset when
> confronted with Myla, and refused to speak further.

JOEL: Subject was unable to tell a cabbage from a lettuce.

> "Suggested to Mon-El that subject was experiencing
> hysterical amnesia, causing scanner overload. Recommended
> placing Norg under surveillance.

CROW: Noted he was a boogerhead.

> Mon-El agreed to discuss
> matter with Phantom Girl." Nura pressed another key, and the
> screen faded.
> "Yes, it has occurred to me that Myla might have been
> the one to whom I spoke," said Jacques, rubbing his chin.

TOM: Hey…if I glued a big box of tissue paper to my chin, would it get me invited to more parties?

> "I
> am unsure if it is her, however…she spoke of her time
> having come, and being unjustly entrapped."
> "Well, let’s take a look at the holo-record.

JOEL: Oh, yeah, if you have an adaptor you can play those on a hi-fi turntable.

> I think we
> have one of her…June 27, 2981."
> An image appeared of the old Legion headquarters. Lyle
> lay unmoving and crushed on the floor, while Phantom Girl
> wept and Mon-El and Superboy consoled her.

TOM: [ As Superboy ] It’s all right, Phantom Girl…we’ll get a new Tamagotchi.

> Nura fast-
> forwarded until the spectral form of a long-haired woman in a
> dress appeared.

CROW: The Spirit of Saint Louis, graphically depicted.

> "Myla–the girl from the invisible world!" said Mon-El,
> his jaw dropping in astonishment.

TOM: Boing-oing-oing-oing-oing…

> "Not a girl, Mon-El…but a ghost! When I told Lyle
> what I really was…he couldn’t accept the truth!

JOEL: But I must follow my heart! I must edit plastic scale modeling magazines!

> He went
> into shock and collapsed at your feet!
> "I, myself, died several years ago…

CROW: That really hurt my ability to participate in community bake-offs.

> but my spirit-form
> was stranded in this dimensional realm Lyle discovered when
> he became invisible!

JOEL: Cool beans, huh?

> I-I loved him…but I had to tell him I
> wasn’t among the living!"

TOM: Oh. Civil service.

> Myla faded out. "Sh-she’s fading…" Mon-El began.
> The scene vanished abruptly as Nura stopped the replay.

CROW: I’ll need a note from your mother to show you more.

> "That’s the relevant part. That thing about her time
> coming could refer to her death, and she’s obviously trapped
> there."
> "Perhaps. My experience was somewhat different,

JOEL: Like it occured later, under a different writer.

> although the mists were somewhat similar to what Lyle
> described. I entered other dimensions with my power myself,
> you know, until Brainiac Five removed that ability.

TOM: I was kinda peeved, but I guess I earned it when I transported a miniature solar system into his ear lobes.

> Could my
> dreaming mind still be able to reach into other worlds?"
> "Well, I know about reaching through time and space in
> dreams firsthand.

JOEL: It’s a neat way to gain valuable experience points and impress your Dungeon Master.

> There’s another possibility, though…"
> Her face went grim.
> "What is it?"

CROW: Space donkeys.

> "Lyle only encountered Myla a little while before
> Validus killed him. What if she’s some sort of banshee…a
> being who can only be seen by those who will die soon?"

TOM: What if she’s a lively puppet portrayed by a highly trained team of Brady siblings?

> "That is tres ridiculous, Dream Girl. Unless–have you
> had a vision of my death?"

CROW: Yup.

> "No." She looked uncomfortable.

TOM: [ As Dream Girl ] That means the same thing as yes, right?

> "What are you not telling me?"

JOEL: Uhm…I’m not telling you "yes."

> "I have had a vague dream about some sort of death or
> destruction. I didn’t sense any details, though…which
> means it might not have been a prophetic dream.

CROW: It might just have been foreshadowing.

> Those are
> usually pretty clear." She waved her hand. "It’s probably
> nothing.

JOEL: [ As Dream Girl ] By the way, long as we’re talking, next Thursday at 4:17 p.m., I’d avoid going to the Blockbuster Video and loitering around the fourth row, and absolutely don’t lean towards the stand of Comedy movies, accidentally knocking it over, dropping down on a display table causing it to fling a package of "Power Rangers" episode tapes into the ceiling, where it shorts out the electrical system and starts the sprinkers, which accidentally pour into just the spot to cause a massive sinkhole that swallows you and the building and the rest of the postal subdivision, killing you instantly. But you knew not to do that anyway.

TOM: C’mon, Joel, breathe.
[ JOEL gasps ]

> She’s not the dream demon you fought before, is
> it?"

[ JOEL coughs ]

> "I do not think so. I would know the feel of that mind
> if it attacked me again, and it is too clever to raise my
> suspicions this quickly.

CROW: So this would be a good disguise for you.
[ JOEL gulps ]

TOM: You all right, man?

JOEL: Yeah, I am.

> Perhaps I should wait until I have
> another dream to make a decision."

TOM: But I’m going to wait before making up my mind to do that.

> "I’d talk to Phantom Girl, too. There’s no record of
> what Lyle told her. Where is Tinya, anyway?"

CROW: You know, ‘Tinya’ is an anagram of ‘Viola.’

TOM: No, it isn’t.

CROW: Oh, right. I was confused.

>
> [end]

JOEL: That was a good place for the dramatic release.

[ To be continued … ]

MiSTed: Eating for Death, Part 2 of 2


Did you enjoy the first half of Eating For Death? This was another of my pieces of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fictions, written in late 2015 I believe, and taking apart an article from the March 1922 issue of Physical Culture. I bet Bernarr Macfadden is felling all foolish about his whole crusade to get people to eat when they’re hungry instead of bored or feeling obligated. The very unneeded joke about the Snorks is there because I was reading the Wikipedia article about the Snorks for some reason and that stuck in my mind. I apologize for putting the Snorks in your mind now too.


>
> The “eat-to-keep-up-your-strength” idea that
> has been advocated for generations by allopathic
> physicians,

CROW: *And* Popeye!

MIKE: Gotta respect Popeye on strength.

> has sent, literally, millions of people to
> premature graves.

TOM: Underneath a giant avalanche of casseroles and loaves of bread!

>
> Even a person in good health can miss one meal or
> fifty meals, for that matter, without serious results.

CROW: Fifty meals! You’d be spending your whole day eating at that rate.

TOM: You know you miss all the meals you don’t eat.

> But abstinence of some sort is absolutely essential if
> appetite is missing; and is especially necessary in many
> illnesses.

MIKE: Like chronic mouthlessness.

TOM: McWhirtle’s Indigestibility Fever.

CROW: Temporarily made of cardboard; can’t take liquids.

>
> There is no sauce better than hunger;

CROW: Except bleu cheese salad dressing.

> and there
> can be no health of a superior sort, unless food is eaten
> with enjoyment.

MIKE: Wait, so now enjoyment is a sauce?

CROW: *Yes*, and it’s made of bleu cheese.

>
> When you eat a meal with what is known as a
> “coming appetite”

TOM: My appetite went upstairs and it can’t find the way back.

CROW: “The stairs are past the third door!”

MIKE: “I can’t find the door!”

CROW: “Are you in a room or in the hall?”

MIKE: “I … don’t know?”

> you are often treading on dangerous
> ground. This “coming appetite” is often due to
> overstimulation of nerves

MIKE: By the penetrating electropasta needles.

> rather than to natural bodily
> demand, and is, therefore, frequently of the voracious
> character. It compels you to overeat.

TOM: To be fair, ordering a box of Hypnofood didn’t help.

> You are not
> satisfied until you eat so much you cannot hold any more.

CROW: Eat until fingers don’t work. Got it.

>
> At such times a fast is often necessary. But if
> you cannot do that it is absolutely essential that the
> meals should be very light,

TOM: Chew on a balloon, or possibly a bulb of some kind.

MIKE: Any method of general illumination will do.

> if you desire to avoid
> illness that might be serious in character.

CROW: Try illnesses that are lighthearted in character, such as clown flu and the a deficiency in vitamin giggle.

>
> Three square meals a day will send any one to an
> early grave.

TOM: Diversify your meal with triangles and ellipsoids.

> You may be able to follow a regime of this
> sort in growing years, but when full maturity arrives
> look out for trouble if you persist in this habit.

MIKE: In your fallow years just sit in the middle of a room not eating and waiting for death to overcome you.

>
> Three light meals or two medium heavy meals daily
> will prolong your life and increase your efficiency
> mentally and physically.

CROW: Four times a day grab an open-faced sandwich.

TOM: Six times a day, just gnaw on the kitchen counter.

MIKE: When feeling restless, lick an oven door.

>
> I eat but one hearty meal a day, and that is
> preferably taken at noon, though sometimes it is eaten in
> the evening. Occasionally I eat a light meal in the
> morning or evening,

MIKE: Thursdays I spend passed out in a bathtub full of potato salad.

> if I have a craving for food, though
> these light meals frequently consist of fruit alone or
> nuts and fruit with a warm or hot drink.

TOM: Occasionally I rub a slice of lettuce against one cheek.

>
> But the main point that I want to emphasize is

CROW: Food is a good idea but it will never be made practical.

> the necessity of avoiding the habit of eating by the
> clock — without appetite.

TOM: Wait until your clock cries and then feed it all it needs.

>
> Wait for a definite feeling of hunger. Let your
> stomach dictate your eating habits.

MIKE: And leave me some of the garlic-stuffed olives, people.

>

> http://blog.modernmechanix.com/eating-for-death/

CROW: I had death for lunch, can’t we have joi de vivre for supper?

MIKE: Who wants a bowl of hot, buttered MURDER?

TOM: And with that, everybody, good night and be merry!

MIKE: Happy.

TOM: Whichever.

CROW: Night, folks.

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

Disclaimer: Mystery Science Theater 3000, its characters and situations and premise and all that, are the property of … uh … I was going to say Best Brains, but I guess it’s Shout! Factory and Consolidated Puppets? Or something? I’m not positive. Well, it’s theirs, and I’m just using it as long as they don’t notice. Bernarr Macfadden’s “Eating For Death” appeared in the _Physical Culture_ magazine from March 1922 and I believe it to be in the public domain. I ran across it from the Modern Mechanix blog linked above, and it’s a crying shame that’s gone defunct because it was so much fascinating reading. Supporting Snorks: Sad Wikipedia sub-section, or saddest Wikipdia sub-section?

> You can be a palpitating force, a veritable human
> dynamo, or you can be a half-alive mass of human
> flesh — not unlike the jelly-fish.

MiSTed: Eating For Death, Part 1 of 2


So I’m going to run another Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic here. This one’s short enough to do in two segments — it’s a bit long for a single piece — and it’s riffing on an article of dietary advice that the Modern Mechanix blog ran years ago. They used to run weird bits from the back issues of their magazines and it was such a delight. I wrote this somewhere around late 2015, if my notes are right. See if you can spot where I future-proofed a riff!


[ START. The Brains are in the theater. ]

>
> Eating for Death

TOM: My favorite _Columbo_ episode! Patrick McGoohan plays this world-famous chef being blackmailed and …

>
> By Bernarr Macfadden

CROW: Um …

TOM: Yeah, exactly which parts of that name are spelled wrong?

>
> _Physical Culture_, March 1922

MIKE: I forgot to renew my subscription!

>
> THE crime of the age is meal time eating — without
> appetite.

CROW: Also that Sacco and Vanzetti thing. But mostly eating.

TOM: Snacking is the misdemeanor of the age!

>
> It is the direct cause of more suffering,
> weakness and disease than any other evil.

CROW: Even more than not appreciating your parents?

>
> It poisons the life stream at its very source.

TOM: Its Snackables!

>
> “The blood is the life.”

MIKE: The spice is the life?

TOM: The blood is spiced?

> The quality of this
> liquid determines vital activity throughout every part of
> the body.

CROW: I think Bernarr Macfadden grossly underestimates the importance of acetylcholinesterase.

MIKE: You’re *always* accusing people of underestimating the importance of acetylcholinesterase.

CROW: I just think it’s very important is all.

>
> You can be a palpitating force, a veritable human
> dynamo,

TOM: You can be a large turtle-like artificial intelligence!

CROW: You can be a leading importer of cheese to Denmark!

MIKE: You can be several key innovations in the history of Timothy hay!

> or you can be a half-alive mass of human
> flesh — not unlike the jelly-fish.

CROW: Jellyfish are made of human flesh?

TOM: Ew ew ew ew ew ew *ew*.

> It is the quality of
> your blood that determines entirely to which class you
> belong.

CROW: Is this gonna be one of those stories where Bernarr Macfadden finds out his blood was replaced with a high-grade polymer and suddenly nobody will talk to him anymore?

>
> Eating without appetite means devitalized blood.

MIKE: Or that you’re putting more melted cheese on everything.

> The stomach is not ready to digest food at such times.

TOM: It’s off wandering around, taking in museums, reading good books, and then you throw a big slab of bean-and-cheese burrito at it.

>
> It is appetite — a strong craving for food —

CROW: A lesser craving for pottery shards.

> which
> definitely indicates that the stomach is ready for
> digestion.

TOM: Why not just wait for the stomach to call?

CROW: Yeah, like, ‘Hey, stomach here. I’m raring to digest!’

> The food eaten is then keenly enjoyed.

MIKE: Well, it is like 2016.

TOM: So?

MIKE: So who calls for *that*? That’s more like a tweet or a text message or something.

CROW: Excuse *us* for maintaining some dignified propriety, Mike.

>
> The pleasure in eating serves a very valuable
> purpose.

MIKE: It gives us a reason to go eat a second time, sometime.

> It not only causes an unusual activity of the
> salivary glands, but also of the glands of the stomach.

TOM: Glands! Is your stomach going through puberty?

CROW: It’s so awkward to have esophageal zits.

> So that when the food arrives in this organ, digestion
> and assimilation progress rapidly and satisfactorily.

MIKE: Though not without some sarcasm.

>
> Now when you eat without appetite, these
> invaluable functional processes are inactive or entirely
> absent

TOM: They take one sabbatical year and everything comes crashing down!

> and the food can do nothing but lie like lead in
> the stomach.

MIKE: Stop eating lead! There’s your problem.

>
> You say it won’t digest.

TOM: *You* say it won’t digest. We’re just nibbling some here.

> Why should it? No
> self-respecting stomach will allow itself to be outraged
> in this manner, without protest.

MIKE: My stomach’s wracked with depression and low self-esteem though.

CROW: Well, so you can eat any old time.

MIKE: Which … fits.

>
> Eat at meal time if you are hungry, but if the
> food has no taste respect the mandates of your stomach

MIKE: And sprinkle on the MSG powder.

> and wait until the next meal or until your appetite
> appears, even if it takes several meals or several days.

TOM: If you never eat again, then you may be losing weight.

[ To conclude … ]

MiSTed: Brad Guth’s _Venus for Dummies_, Part 3 of 3


And now we come to the end of this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction I’d written in 2012. One may ask whether it’s fair or right to mock someone’s difficult-to-follow conspiracy theory about the space program. One may also ask, well, what else are you going to do? It’s a fair question. Another fair question: what am I going to do next week? I don’t know, but I’m eager to find out myself. The reference at the end to my own Still-Store web site is to a project I’d had, to make a MiSTing archive, which reached the point that I finished all the really hard programming problems and then never found the energy to actually complete. Good use of time there. Well, it accomplished something, anyway: the tools I use to give the MiSTing a nice style here are ones I developed for that web site project.

If you want to catch up on how we got here, here was Part 1 of the MiSTing and here was Part 2 of Venus For Dummies. And now, the conclusion.


> do reconsider
> as to bothering yourself to take another subjective look-see

CROW: Call ahead! It’d be embarrassing if Venus were out when you get there.

> and then
> honestly interpret this thick and dense atmospheric insulated terrain
> for yourself,

TOM: But ask for help understanding the dirty jokes in the Malagasy Orogeny.

> as to what some of those highly unusual patterns could
> possibly represent, as anything other than the random geology
> happenstance of hot rocks.

CROW: I see a bunny.

JOEL: I see a painting by Thomas Eakins.

>
> =93Guth Venus=94 1:1, plus 10x resample/enlargement of the area in
> question:

TOM: Are we to suppose this is some “magic late-bombardment protoplanet”?

> https://picasaweb.google.com/102736204560337818634/BradGuth#slideshow/5629579402364691314
>

JOEL: The picture is nice enough but I like seeing all those 3’s up there.

> This is not to say that 99.9999% of this Venus surface doesn’t look
> perfectly natural (at least it does to me),

CROW: And I’ve been looking at things for *years*!

> just like the surface of
> Earth might look if having to use the exact same SAR-C imaging methods

TOM: The same saucy imaging methods? Wow!

> and its limited resolution that could be easily improved upon by any
> new missions for mapping Venus in greater detail (such as 7.5 meters/
> pixel).

CROW: Oh, we’d just run out of pixels at that rate.

> After all, a millionth of that hot Venus surface area is
> still 4.6e8 m2, or 460 km2,

TOM: Or sixty barleycorns, two pottles, and half a Lords-Whacking-Stick!

> and this most complex area of =93Guth
> Venus=94 (100 x 100 pixels or 506 km2

CROW: 485 if you use coupon code GUTHVENUS!

> ) that which includes mostly
> natural geology, isn’t involving but a fraction more than a millionth
> of the Venus surface area,

JOEL: It all adds up to three squintillionths of a Venusian barleycorn!

> and yet it seems as though highly developed
> and to a large enough scale that makes for deductively interpreting
> those patterns

JOEL: Socrates is a mortal.

TOM: Pants are rarely worn on the head.

CROW: A person with plenty of time need not run for the train.

TOM: Oranges are not sharp metal instruments.

JOEL: Therefore, Socrates is being chased by a tiger!

> as rather easy and reliably pixel truthworthy items
> that do in fact exist because the image resampling process isn’t even
> capable of artificially creating them.

TOM: Iron-clad proof! These pictures are impossible to make!

>
> It can also be suggested and reasonably argued that initially (4+
> billion years ago)

JOEL: Actually it was 3.95 billion years ago. It just aged badly.

> our sun was 25% cooler than nowadays (possibly a
> third cooler),

CROW: Back when it wore those hipster glasses.

TOM: Hipster sunglasses.

> thereby making Venus quite Goldilocks approved even if
> she was naked and totally dumbfounded.

JOEL: Didn’t Theodore Sturgeon write this story?

> But even this cool beginning
> still doesn’t fully explain as to why such a large and complex
> geometric sale of a structured community

CROW: Featuring a golf course, a security booth, and a clubhouse!

> or mining operation was
> established,

TOM: Well, what’s mine is mine.

JOEL: Or Daffy Duck’s.

> and as to why Venus has been radiating such a large
> amount of its geothermal core energy

CROW: Maybe it’s trying to keep power the Autobots?

> plus having been creating all of
> that unprotected atmosphere that should have been extensively solar
> wind blown away as of more than a billion years ago,

CROW: Except Venus’s Mom made it wear a sensible woolen cap!

> whereas instead
> there’s more than enough new atmosphere created to make up for the
> lack of having a protective geomagnetosphere.

JOEL: An over-protective geomagnetosphere. It makes Venus call home every like ten minutes.

>
> BTW; there’s terrestrial objective proof that life even as we know
> it can adjust or acclimate to extreme pressures and even tolerate much
> higher temperatures,

TOM: What Guth means is, squirrels know how to work the thermostat.

> and yet lo and behold there’s still no American
> flags on Venus,

CROW: But there’s the flag of Burkina Faso on Neptune. Go figure.

> but there have been USSR/Russian flags on multiple
> landers that got there decades before us.

TOM: To be fair, the flag of Venus is all over Italy.

JOEL: Oh yeah.

> So, perhaps we’ll have to
> accept that Venus and all of its natural resources belongs to Russia.

CROW: Giving Russia a huge lead in the uninhabitable wasteland race.

> Otherwise NOVA as having been owned by Google could help all of us
> better understand and appreciate what the extremely nearby planet
> Venus has to offer, but only if they wanted to.

JOEL: Google is figuring they can use Venus to store Usenet.

> Obviously our NASA
> has been avoiding this extremely nearby planet,

TOM: They’re playing hard-to-get so Venus will be interested in NASA.

> perhaps because our
> expertise and talent for getting active probes to survive with that
> atmosphere is simply less than what Russians have accomplished.

CROW: Like crashing into Venus and melting.

>
> http://groups.google.com/groups/search
> http://translate.google.com/#

TOM: GuthVenus was tried in the fourth district court, county of Los Angeles. In a moment, the results of that trial.

CROW: [ Chanting the Dragnet theme ] Dun-dah-dun-dun.

> Brad Guth,Brad_Guth,Brad.Guth,BradGuth,BG,Guth Usenet/=94Guth Venus=94

TOM: GuthVenus was convicted of existing and sentenced to not more than twenty Venusian days of hard labor and between three and seven Latin pedants arguing about what its adjective should be.

CROW: [ Chanting the Dragnet theme ] Dun-dah-dun-dun-DAAAAAH.

JOEL: Well, nice seeing everyone again.

TOM: Yeah, let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL file out. ]

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the creation and the property of Best Brains. Brad Guth and Guth Venus are the creation and property of Brad Guth, and I certainly don’t mean to take over any of that. This fan fiction was created by Joseph Nebus, and should not be taken internally except as ordered by a Venusian. My little Still-Store web site will be back up and running soon with all sorts of new behind-the-scenes coding that petty Venusian minds could not begin to comprehend.

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Keep riffing the posts.

> honestly interpret this thick and dense atmospheric insulated terrain
> for yourself, as to what some of those highly unusual patterns could
> possibly represent, as anything other than the random geology
> happenstance of hot rocks.

MiSTed: Brad Guth’s _Venus for Dummies_, Part 2 of 3


And now please let me continue the 2012 vintage riffing of Brad Guth’s Venus for Dummies. Guth was one of the fine cranks to hang around the space newsgroups, telling people he and he alone knew the truth of Venus and whatever his plans for it were. If you do not care for making fun of someone’s sincere yet sad contrary view of things like “is Venus a lie?”, you’re right, and should probably skip this week’s and next week’s long-form piece. I’ll move on to something else soon enough.

If you’re just running across this you can read Part 1 right here, and will be able to find the conclusion soon enough.


>
> Interplanetary travel capability and especially that of interstellar
> also represents

CROW: Interplanet Janet!

> more than sufficient technical expertise to deal with
> any hellish planet like Venus,

JOEL: It also represents being able to get through La Guardia.

> or even those of whatever cryogenic
> nature,

CROW: Such as your Liquid Nitrogen Beetles or your Frost Rhododendrons.

> because that’s what advanced physics and good science is fully
> capable of doing in spite of the odds against us.

JOEL: They can live on Venus yet they still cannot tell a cabbage from a lettuce!

>
> If anything, the metallicity of Venus is somewhat greater than Earth,

TOM: But it’s still not greater than the good old U.S. of A, am I right, folks?

> and its ability to create and maintain its substantial atmosphere of
> mostly CO2 as having such an abundance (12 ppm) of helium that’s

CROW: That everyone talking about Venus has a silly voice.

> offering roughly 200+ times as much as Earth,

TOM: 210 times as much if you don’t count Iowa.

> and having sustained its
> terrific atmosphere without benefit of any moon or

CROW: Or even Moon Helper! Make your moon into a meal!

> the geomagnetic
> protection like our planet has to work with,

JOEL: The invaluable help of Earth’s jaunty Madagascar.

> is truly an impressive
> accomplishment,

TOM: Even bigger than that guy who ate 40 White Castle burgers at one sitting.

> and especially for a smaller than Earth like planet w/
> o moon and managed even though it’s so much closer to the sun.

CROW: And even though it’s in a region zoned “light commercial/sulfuric acid”.

>
> Firstly, our mainstream eyecandy cache of science infomercials via our
> public funded NASA and otherwise NOVA as owned by Google,

JOEL: Google, run by Rankin-Bass, operated by Cougartown, a division of RCA.

> could just
> as easily help with exploiting this ongoing research if they wanted
> to,

TOM: But they’re too busy making up Twitter accounts from Mars probes.

> and otherwise without their assistance you might try to understand
> that we really do not need to use microscopic or even much higher
> resolution

CROW: Wait, you’re bringing a microscope out to look at Venus?

TOM: I’m picturing a flock of astronomers with those little toy microscopes pointing up at the sky and looking at their fingerprints.

> than 75 m/pixel imaging when the items of most interest
> have always been so extremely or unusually big to begin with.

JOEL: It sounds so obvious when you hear it. Just look at Big Venus instead!

> So, you
> can continue to argue that these images as a derivative from a 36

CROW: Or you can have the halfback sneak around the corner right after the snap and run over to the concession stands.

> confirming look or scanned composite offering this initial 225 meters
> per pixel format are simply not good enough,

JOEL: But they made an honest effort and we appreciate them for that.

> but you’d only be proving
> to yourself and others as to how unintelligent and/or obstructive that
> sort of closed or naysay mindset really is stuck in denial more than
> reality.

TOM: This is that new shame-based astronomy you hear so much about.

CROW: It’s all the rage among space geeks with low self-esteem.

>
> Venus is perhaps not unlike hell,

JOEL: What isn’t?

CROW: Hades.

> but otherwise its unusually high
> metallicity as indicated by its radar reflective attributes and its
> considerable surplus of helium

TOM: And excessive supplies of silly bouncy balls.

CROW: Venus leads the inner solar system in paper cups with jokes written on the bottom!

JOEL: No other planet has so much Mork And Mindy themed bubble gum!

> plus the mostly geothermal driven
> environment, is at least technically manageable

CROW: For all those planets that need PERT charts.

TOM: They’re hoping to be the first ISO 9001-certified space thingy.

> as long as you have a
> functioning brain of at least a 5th grader

CROW: Or a third and a second grader put together.

TOM: Or a seventh grader and a minus-second grader.

JOEL: Two tenth-graders and a minus fifteenth grader.

> without all the usual
> mainstream status-quo tumors that disable your investigative skills
> and deductive reasoning,

JOEL: Have all your astronomy questions answered by Mark Trail!

> that’s otherwise considered as human
> intelligence.

CROW: We’re looking for the thinking men’s tumors here.

>
> Of course to most of you that have taken a basic look-see at this old
> Magellan radar obtained image of Venus,

TOM: You’re a bunch of peepers!

JOEL: Want to be a peeper too.

> and especially of the fuzzy or
> blocky pixel image of =93Guth Venus=94 or =93GuthVenus=94,

CROW: Guth Venus ’94!

TOM: He’s running with Vermin Supreme.

> is perhaps
> suggestive of nothing more than offering a nasty looking terrain of
> random geology

CROW: Just throw that glacial moraine anywhere. I’m kind of living out of my asthenosphere.

JOEL: Vermin knows better.

> with piles of extruded hot rock that just so happen to
> look as though artificial or as having been intelligently morphed into
> what seems to offer rational patterns.

TOM: Well, sure. Look at that big ‘EAT AT ZERBLATT’S’ sign on the equator.

> However, within these highly
> confirmed patterns of such mostly hot rock are several odd geometric
> items

JOEL: Like the sulfuric acid parallelogram.

CROW: Finally my geometry teacher will respect me!

> of somewhat large scale and offering us those extremely
> interesting formations,

TOM: Marching in uniform and playing brass instruments!

> that at least on Earth or upon any other
> imaged planet or moon

CROW: Or accretion disc!

TOM: Or black hole!

> hasn’t come remotely close to offering this
> level of sophisticated geology complexity

JOEL: They had little cozies for their martini glasses.

> and rational community
> looking configuration or modification of such a mountainous terrain
> site.

TOM: Perfect for filming Venus Car commercials!

JOEL: You’ll love cruising in the new Buick Aphrodite 8.

> This makes GuthVenus into a one of a kind off-world location,
> at least up until other better resolution images become available.

TOM: But you can join and operate a GuthPlanet Franchise today!

CROW: Prime locations still available.

JOEL: GuthSaturn closing soon!

>
> Besides merely following my deductive interpretations,

CROW: Socrates is a mortal.

JOEL: Planets will not last forever.

TOM: No two-headed person has ever been Vice-President.

CROW: The owner of the dog does not have a job as a plumber.

JOEL: Therefore Socrates is a mermaid!

TOM: Logical, logical.

[ To be concluded … ]

MiSTed: Brad Guth’s _Venus for Dummies_, Part 1 of 3


I am still deciding what I wish to do for these long-form pieces, now that The Tale Of Fatty Raccoon is finally complete. I’m inclined toward doing another big MiSTing, since they’re fun and easy and I like the old tradition of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. I haven’t decided, though. But I will come up with something.

In the meanwhile please enjoy a bit from the archives. This is a MiSTing I wrote back in early 2012. The original source was Usenet, and particularly, a crank named Brad Guth who was very sure that They were hiding all sorts of good stuff on Venus. He hung around the space-themed newsgroups for a long, long while. He was hard to take seriously, and I did not.

If you don’t care for snickering about someone’s elaborately explained yet still obscure conspiracy theory you are right in your tastes, and should skip the next three weeks of this.

You may not see the merry fun in riffing a bunch of newsgroup headers, long lines of what are mostly control messages. I don’t know either, exactly, but we always loved doing those in the Usenet days. It’s kind of like doing movie-credit riffs.

The reference to “LOLVenus” is alluding to “LOLcats”, a name sometimes used back in the days before dirt was invented for what we now call “memes”. I apologize for any confusion this term entails.


[ ALL file into theater ]

CROW: We don’t even get to say hello to anyone?

TOM: Man, austerity stinks.

JOEL: Don’t get political this early in the year, Tommy.

> >MIME-Version: 1.0

JOEL: Sure, now it’s mime, but when we got it it was ourms.

> >Path: reader1.panix.com!panix!usenet.stanford.edu!

TOM: Stanford! Topeka! Tahlequah! Watervliet!

> > l8no23395436qao.0!news-out.google.com!e10ni165558057qan.0!nntp.google.com!

CROW: Google. Because Google is watching you.

> > l8no23877973qao.0!postnews.google.com!e18g2000yqo.googlegroups.com!
> > not-for-mail

TOM: How did we get it, then?

> >Newsgroups: alt.astronomy,

JOEL: I like indie astronomy better.

> sci.space.policy,sci.space.history,

TOM: Space history.

CROW: “Well, used to be we didn’t walk on the Moon, then we did, then we didn’t again, and that brings us to the present day.”

> >alt.news-media,alt.journalism

TOM: I like that grunge journalism.

CROW: I’m here for the news-media gangnam style.

> >Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2012 16:42:04 -0700 (PDT)
> >Complaints-To: groups-abuse@google.com

CROW: Picture all Google coming to a stop because somebody complained about usenet there.

> >Injection-Info:

TOM: Shouldn’t this part be for the pharmacy majors?

> e18g2000yqo.googlegroups.com; posting-host=98.125.250.68; posting-account=nf79RwoAAABXjvy5ztMzmPxgY1WGoktI

JOEL: Discontinue use of GoktI if symptoms persist.

> >NNTP-Posting-Host: 98.125.250.68

CROW: Hike!

> >User-Agent: G2/1.0

TOM: That reduces to G2.0.

> >X-HTTP-UserAgent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:14.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/14.0.1,gzip(gfe)

JOEL: User Agent Mozilla 5.0.

TOM: Women want him. Men want to be him.

> >Message-ID: <fd6e54d7-cc91-498a-b08b-46db326ecea1@e18g2000yqo.googlegroups.com>

TOM: Hey, that’s a cracked Photoshop license key!

> >Subject: Venus for dummies (6.0) / Brad Guth (GuthVenus)

CROW: Finally, some relief from that *smart* Venus.

> >From: Brad Guth <bradguth@gmail.com>

TOM: He certainly *is*.

> >Injection-Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2012 23:42:04 +0000

JOEL: He’s in a pleasing time-release form.

> >Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252

CROW: Windows 1252 is the version that went to the Model Parliament, right?

> >Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

TOM: Cut! Print it, Raoul!

> >Lines: 137
> >Xref: panix

CROW: *I’M NOT PANICKING! WHO’S PANICKING?*

> alt.astronomy:502748 sci.space.policy:489326

TOM: So with 85 percent of the vote in we’re projecting a win for alt.astronomy.

> sci.space.history:317343 alt.news-media:339276 alt.journalism:263200

JOEL: And in the school board elections alt.news-media has taken the lead.

>
> What sort of weird planet geology, or that of its active geodynamics,
> looks or acts anything like this?

CROW: A pudding planet geology!

>
> Thumbnail images of Venus,

[ JOEL holds up his thumb. ]

TOM: That’s not Venus, that’s a wart.

> including mgn_c115s095_1.gif (225 m/pixel)

CROW: 225 men per pixel?!

> http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/thumbnail_pages/venus_thumbnails.html
> Lava channels, Lo Shen Valles, Venus from Magellan Cycle 1

TOM: o/` We didn’t start the fire … o/`

> http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/html/object_page/mgn_c115s095_1.html

JOEL: C115 S095 underscore 1.

CROW: You — you sank my battleship!

> http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/hires/mgn_c115s095_1.gif
> =93Guth Venus=94, at 1:1, then 10x resample/enlargement of the area in
> question:

TOM: You can see Oswald turn and shoot Mark David Chapman.

> https://picasaweb.google.com/bradguth/BradGuth#5630418595926178146

CROW: That’s not Venus, that’s a picture of my cat!

> https://picasaweb.google.com/bradguth/BradGuth#5629579402364691314

JOEL: Add some captions you can have your own LOLvenus.

TOM: I hate that you said that.

>

JOEL: [ Sheepish ] I’m sorry.

> Not even the most active moon of Jupiter being Io offers up anything
> like this

TOM: Io doesn’t even try! You invite it to the potluck and it brings a bag of Doritos every-single-time.

> remarkable degree of surface geology complexity,

CROW: Fine dentition, good arch in the back. A good mudder.

TOM: How’s its fadder?

> and there=92s

JOEL: Mostly oats and hay.

> certainly nothing remotely artificial looking with anything discovered
> about the planet Mars

TOM: Apart from the big ‘MADE IN TAIWAN’ across the Mariner Valley.

> or thus far of any other planet or moon to speak
> of,

JOEL: What about Unspeakable Moon?

CROW: We don’t talk about it.

> outside of Venus that gets within 110 LD every 19 months

TOM: Except when taken internally by a physician.

> (any
> closer and we=92d have to reevaluate Venus as a NEO).

CROW: So if you spot Venus coming any closer to Earth than Venus
ever comes, that’d be suspicious.

>
> Of any humanoids or other intelligent species that’s capable of
> surviving interstellar treks,

TOM: So, what, we’re ignoring the total morons who make it across space?

> at least technically should have no
> problems with remaining stealthy

CROW: ‘Sure, you’ll have no trouble being stealthy on Earth, mister
space alien. Just pull your ball cap down over your forehead …
yeah, all three heads.’

> or even capable of infiltrating and
> mingle within any community of existing life-forms upon any given
> planet they chose to study

CROW: I’m imagining a pack of Vulcans wearing costumes trying to hang around a pack of wallabies.

> or even to populate and commercialize by
> extracting valuable elements in order to suit their own needs.

TOM: I don’t want to be a nitpicker but that sentence was 62 words long and forgot to have a predicate.

[ To be continued … ]