MiSTed: Safety First (part 11 of 16)


Welcome back to more MiSTings, bundled under the treatment of Johnny Pez’s “Safety First”. This part is deep into a Usenet rant explaining the past history of galactic warfare in the solar system and how it blew up the planet that was between Mars and Jupiter and all that, but the Galactic Federation of Light is trying to work on that. This seemed like a sensible thematic match to Pez’s story, which has the terraforming of Venus as its setting.

I have no idea why I put scare quotes around Waffle House, a restaurant I’d never been in when I wrote this MiSTing. Agway’s a farm and landscaping supply company in tne Northeast. The line about Hungary isn’t a complete non sequitur. It references a joke among mathematicians and physicists that Hungarian mathematicians and physicists are extraterrestrials. The sneering at Star Trek: First Contact is slightly me being all hip in disliking what the rest of the fanbase likes, but I do sincerely dislike a lot of the things baked into its premise. The line about “a pretty darned Cretaceous period” is a straight lift from a Dave Barry column where he talked about dinosaurs. The flea market in Englishtown, New Jersey, looms large in my childhood memories because it always seemed bigger and emptier and dustier than it should have been and they didn’t have as many comic books as you’d think. The flea market with the comic books was the Collingwood Flea Market, on Route 33.

Here’s the previous installment, in case you want to catch up on where this started.


> Most of her formerly abundant water reserves drained into
> deep crevices

JOEL: They’re not wrinkles, they’re smile lines.

> formed by the attacks and mixed with gases and burnt
> topsoil remnants. This sticky mess remains.

CROW: Coating the floor of every "Waffle House" in existence.

> It contains microbes and
> other organic substances

TOM: Like, uh, goo.

> that, eventually, will be able to recreate her
> former glories.

JOEL: It’s a real fixer-upper, I can tell you that.

> Mars is much more encouraging.

TOM: [ As a voice-over ] Good self-esteem makes even hard jobs seem easier.

> It teems with life

JOEL: And its music scene is just way too cool.

> and
> needs only to recreate its complex atmosphere

TOM: Why be complex? Keep it simple, guys.

> and restore its formerly
> enormous supplies of surface waters and topsoil.

CROW: So, we’re going down to Agway, but we need your credit card.

> We presently are
> carrying this out in well thought-out stages.

JOEL: And those memorials we were leaving to the people killed in the war? Did more research. Turned out they were all jerks and deserved it.

> We do not wish to alarm
> you,

TOM: But there’s something crawling up your leg.

> nor do we desire to fail to achieve our most elaborate plans.

CROW: We must not fail to succeed!

JOEL: If we fail to succeed we will have failed!

> Therefore, we have begun a method to increase surface waters

TOM: That just means they’re leaving the faucet running.

> and to
> return Mars’ craggy surface back to usable topsoil.

JOEL: With this, the Garden Weasel and the Garden Claw.

>
> "The key to this activity lies in making the best use of Mars’
> continuing water cycle.

CROW: It turns out we were wrong to use it to make Jell-O rivers.

> Presently, her waters are trapped in
> underground streams, lakes or oceans

JOEL: Inlets, channels, bays…

TOM: Seas, puddles, rivers…

CROW: Straits, whirlpools, and glasses at the restaurants.

> or encased in glacier caps located
> near her North and South Poles.

TOM: We heard there’s one at the East Pole but nobody knows where that is.

> Our task is to fill her atmosphere with
> water or dust,

JOEL: They’re pretty much interchangeable.

> thereby reworking her surface.

TOM: And readying her for the firm but loving touches of our farm hands.

> This procedure has
> produced several surface areas where a degree of life has returned.

CROW: But it all closes up after eight p.m. It needs some work.

> Moreover, her atmosphere is gradually able to retain the more stable
> temperatures that will allow life to exist and flourish.

JOEL: Just having all life put on sweaters turned out not to work well.

> To further
> these efforts, we have established a large presence upon your nearest
> celestial neighbor.

TOM: Tim Allen?

> At this time, we maintain over 16 of these bases

CROW: Seventeen, if you count Hungary.

> and plan to add yet another six very soon.

JOEL: Four in the National League, two in the American.

> The largest underground base
> is greater in area than the whole of Los Angeles County.

TOM: Million-year-old aliens reconstructing Venus after intergalactic warfare? That doesn’t even come close to explaining Los Angeles.

> Created in the
> 1950s

JOEL: To serve you better!

> and enlarged to its present capacity in the late 1990s,

CROW: When they passed that new Highways and Extraterrestrial Bases bond referendum.

> it serves
> as a headquarters to coordinate our first contact with you.

TOM: We’d like to apologize for that Star Trek film. We didn’t realize it was going to be that dumb.

>
> "As Mars moves into position to be ‘terra-formed’,

CROW: It has to wait in line for its turn.

> we also are
> evaluating her sister, Venus, and judging how best to proceed.

JOEL: Robots are *definitely* not the way to go.

> Our
> answer has been the recent hyper-activation of her volcanic cycles,

CROW: Because it really needed the molten lava to be perfect.

> which we are using to begin the process of preparing her surface and
> her atmosphere for life.

TOM: Just trust us. That’s the way it works.

> Although to your scientists, the organic
> chemicals we are now introducing may appear inert,

JOEL: They’re not inert, they’re just underachievers.

> to ours, they are
> indispensable to our next step.

TOM: Mudpies!

> This leads us to emphasize how vital it
> is that we work closely with a planet’s Spiritual Hierarchy.

CROW: The Pope’s in charge of Venus?

> Venus’
> divas have long kept alive the sacred energies of her flora and fauna,

JOEL: The spirits of Venusian squirrels are here!

> which they showed us when we began to plan the process of ‘terra-
> forming’ her.

TOM: They wanted to put in a bay window, but we think it’ll just leak. We’ll figure it out.

> In size and appearance, Venus is closest to your present
> home-world.

JOEL: It’s kind of a home-away-from-home-world.

> Her existing decay will be quickly redressed in the year
> that follows your first contact with our ships and personnel.

TOM: As soon as we cash in our tech stocks for a quick couple billion dollars–

>
> "Until then, we have decided simply to prepare your worlds for
> their coming transformation.

CROW: We think Earth will look much better once it evolves into a Raichu.

> An interesting example exists on the
> former world of Maldek.

TOM: Come with us now on an exciting tour of the former world of Maldek!

> Originally, it was over 29,000 miles (more than
> 46,000 kilometers)

CROW: 2,038 million centipedes!

> in diameter. Like your world,

TOM: But much more minty fresh…

> Maldek contained many
> oceans, continents and lakes.

JOEL: And pool halls.

> Its atmosphere consisted of a three-
> layered firmament

CROW: The ice cream, the bananas, and the whipped cream.

> that, along with a specially designed atmosphere,
> kept its surface conditions nearly semi-tropical from pole to pole.

TOM: The weather was nice, but the constant luau music drives you crazy.

> Unlike your world, it became a planet

JOEL: Oh, is that what we should do with worlds?

> on which reptiles and various
> species of dinosaurs achieved high levels of sentiency.

TOM: Plus their Roman Empire didn’t fall, and their zeppelins never went out of style.

> It reached a
> level of diversity in these creatures roughly equal to that experienced
> in your world during the late Cretaceous period.

CROW: Which gets its name from the fact that it was a pretty darned Cretaceous period.

> However, they became a
> society that was encouraged

JOEL: By being given cute plush toys at their employee reviews.

> and later exploited by the dark forces

TOM: Like the Wesayso Corporation.

> that
> hurtled into your reality about one million years ago.

CROW: And bonked your worlds on the head.

>
> "Part of our task has been to monitor the movement of large
> asteroids throughout the solar system.

TOM: When that got boring we just started racing them.

> Some originated at your solar
> system’s birth.

JOEL: Others we got at the flea market down in Englishtown.

> Most resulted from the galactic wars

CROW: And a couple of stragglers just followed where all the cool asteroids were going.

> that destroyed
> several of your solar system’s moons and utterly destroyed Maldek.

CROW: Maldek was the sensitive one.

> The
> dark forces heavily armed this large planet

JOEL: I’m picturing big, Popeye-type arms growing out of South America.

> and made it their
> headquarters.

TOM: They just liked dinosaurs.

> For forces of the Federation of Light to move into this
> galactic sector,

CROW: They’d need somebody to help them with the couch.

> Maldek first had to be neutralized and a large battle
> planet was assigned to the task.

JOEL: By covering it with baking soda.

> It succeeded, but only by blowing
> Maldek into literally millions of pieces.

TOM: Whoops!

CROW: Well, heck, who needs *another* life-sustaining water planet with many advanced species of sentient dinosaurs anyway?

> Its moons were dispersed to
> other worlds in this solar system

JOEL: If they hadn’t found new positions they’d have had to be laid off.

> and its destroyer was assigned to
> duty as a protector.

CROW: They were doing such a good job keeping the planets safe before.

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 10 of 16)


We’re now past all the real Isaac Asimov fanfiction content of this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction treatment of Johnny Pez’s “Safety First.” If you’d like to read the whole thing, every part should be at this link, sooner or later. We’re now into a miscellaneous bunch of shorts, all of them rants posted to various Usenet groups that drew my attention around the time that Pez published his Isaac Asimov fanfiction.

There isn’t much that needs explaining here. The Battlestar Galactica reference alludes to the opening credits of the original series, where the Cylons blow up a large floral decoration reading “PEACE”. The new or “good” series hadn’t yet started or, I think, been announced when I published this back in 2001. I don’t know, still haven’t caught it yet. Charlie Brown’s ZIP code is — arguably — 95472. There was a one-week sequence in September 1963 introducing a kid, 5, whose father had been broken by all the numbers intruding on life and changed the family name to the ZIP code. The room for argument is that we don’t know whether the family had just moved there or not. 5 never did much after that first week, although he’d make appearances in the background through to 1983(!). He’s the kid in the yellow shirt doing the weird head-sideways dance in A Charlie Brown Christmas. His sisters 3 and 4 are the ones in purple dancing next to him, also with a weird head-sideways movement. 5 also brings out the boom box for It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown.


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

> >Newsgroups: sci.space.history
> >Date: 08 Aug 2001 07:17:19 GMT

CROW: 8-8-1. Very organized.

> >Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com

TOM: Everyone who didn’t see *that* coming?

> >Subject: Past GALACTIC WARFARE in OUR Solar System !

JOEL: A love story.

> >Message-ID: <20010808031719…@ng-fq1.aol.com>

TOM: And monsters from the Message-ID.

> >Xref: rpi sci.space.history:85191

CROW: Isn’t that Charlie Brown’s ZIP code?

>
>
> The surface conditions on Venus and Mars,

CROW: Need work.

> the asteroid belt,

TOM: Is too tight. We should let it out a couple of notches.

> the
> extreme tilt of Uranus’ axis,

JOEL: It’s not so extreme, it’s just way out there.

> the mess of Miranda,

TOM: The untidiness of Raoul.

> the strange orbit of
> Pluto,

JOEL: The wacky antics of Donald and Daisy…

> etc., can all be summed up in two words:

TOM: Poor posture!

> GALACTIC WARFARE !

TOM: That was my next guess.

>
> "Update by Sheldan Nidle

CROW: For Meineke.

> for the Spiritual Hierarchy
> and the Galactic Federation

JOEL: And all the ships at sea! Flash!

> 6 Cimi, 9 Pop, 10 Caban

TOM: And two hardboiled eggs.

CROW: Honk!

TOM: Make that three hardboiled eggs.

> (August 4, 2001):
>
> "Greetings!!

CROW: Howdy!

TOM: Friendly suckers, aren’t they?

> We come with more interesting topics for our
> dialogue.

CROW: Now, Fred, you be the annoyed wife who’s trying to get to work, and Carol, you be the determined meter reader who won’t go away and… go!

> As you know, many intriguing changes are taking place in your
> reality.

JOEL: Until very recently the existence of Tom Green would have defied natural law.

> One item of particular interest involves our activities on
> Mars.

TOM: Did you see us waving?

> Over the past few galactic years,

CROW: We’ve been having astro-fun!

> we have been preparing the
> Martian surface and its atmosphere for a return

JOEL: Oh, they must want the deposit back.

> to its original
> condition.

TOM: And then vacuum-seal it in a plastic bag and store it in a cool, dry location and in forty years sell it for a fortune!

> Further, we have also expanded our base on Venus

JOEL: By instituting protocol "Eat More Fudge."

> and
> reactivated the electromagnetic qualities of her inner core.

CROW: It’s a sensitive coming-of-age tale in the inner solar system.

> Presently,
> these two worlds are examples of the extremes

TOM: Planetssss… EX-TREME! REME… reme… reme…

> often left behind by the
> galactic wars

JOEL: Was this before or after the Clone Wars?

> that long have ravaged this section of our galaxy.

TOM: We could really use a couple of Lensmen around to clean up the place.

> We
> look, with great anticipation,

CROW: Through a high-powered telescope whenever you’re undressing.

> upon the grand peace brought about by
> your awakening.

JOEL: We have been disappointed by your snooze buttons.

> As a result of these events, your galaxy has been
> unified

TOM: So that’s why there’s that web of sticky stuff running from here to Vega.

> and a long period of peace and growth has begun.

CROW: But only if you stop picking at it.

> On Mars and on
> Venus,

JOEL: And with our franchise outlet in Esconaba.

> we are constructing a new memorial to peace

TOM: To replace the ones the Cylons blew up in the opening credits.

> to signify the
> arrival, at long last, of an unparalleled moment in our common
> experiences!

CROW: The very moment everyone realizes how overrated Stephen Spielberg is!

> To help you to better understand, let us examine the
> history of these worlds

TOM: And how they would have gone differently if the whole time England had been underwater.

> and our plans to correct it.

JOEL: Our plan is to travel back in time, move a can of beans from one shelf to another, and this will have ripple effects that blink the galactic wars out of existence.

>
> "Approximately one million years ago,

CROW: As of next Thursday.

> the dark forces of Anchara

JOEL: The dark forces of Anchorage?

> savagely invaded your solar system,

TOM: "Your" solar system? When we bought it it was "our" solar system.

> leaving Mars with a very thin
> atmosphere

JOEL: It’s a small-boned atmosphere.

> and destroying her vast oceans, lakes and streams.

CROW: But her SeaWorld exhibits were left intact.

> And, by
> burning off Mars’ topsoil, these attacks left behind a planet totally
> inhospitable to life.

TOM: Frankly, we suspect the invaders were just being jerks.

> Any remaining life went underground

JOEL: That’s where the cooler jazz bars were anyway.

> and has
> stayed there, in its vast interconnected caverns,

CROW: Inspiring thousands of episodes of Star Trek…

> for nearly a million
> years.

TOM: Somebody should tell those guys it’s OK to come up now.

> Just beneath her surface lie the remnants of Mars’ formerly vast
> reserves of salt and fresh water,

JOEL: It was a vicious fight over Mars’s taffy mines!

> initially exploited by her dark
> conquerors for almost 100,000 years.

TOM: Then they moved on to Perrier.

> At that point, the forces of the
> Galactic Federation of Light

CROW: "Galactic Federation of Light, I’m here to read your meter."

> drove the dark invaders from your solar
> system.

JOEL: And they can’t come back because they should’ve arranged for a ride before they left. We are *not* operating Mom’s Galactic Taxi Service.

> Although we were initially appalled at the levels of
> destruction endured by your solar system,

TOM: It made for some really cool movies.

> the Main Federation Council,
> after some consultation,

JOEL: Declared the Klingons were way cooler than the Cardassians ever were.

> decreed that both Mars and Venus should remain

CROW: Which is good, since they weren’t going anywhere.

> in their current devastation as memorials to victims of the attacks
> upon your solar system’s four water worlds.

TOM: Starring Kevin Costner.

>
> "Only two water planets, Maldek and Mother Earth,

JOEL: Father Earth had nothing to do with it.

> retained their
> water atmosphere and life-giving topsoil.

CROW: So Mars and Venus would be fine if only somebody brought some sod there?

> Attacks on Venus severely
> distorted her electro-magnetic fields,

JOEL: Messing up TV reception all over the block.

> causing her to overheat

CROW: Should’ve checked the radiator fluid before they left.

> and
> quickly turning her leftover, acrid atmosphere into a hot, vile
> concoction.

TOM: [ As a voice-over ] This is what poor self-esteem does to you.

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 9 of 16)


At last I start the second half of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction treatment of Johnny Pez’s Isaac Asimov fanfiction “Safety First”. It begins with answering the question of how can I have this much more to do when I’ve already finished Johnny Pez’s Isaac Asimov fanfiction “Safety First”. The idea — put shorts after the feature — is directly imitative of that time on the show that the movie ended “early” and they got some more shorts to do. It also draws on that time the Mads didn’t say what the movie was until after the short was done.

Foundation And Its Friends here must be the highest-concept host sketch I ever wrote. Probably that I could ever hope to write. Condensing Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series into one sketch and then doing that in the form of a Rocky and Bullwinkle episode? Madness, but a good sort of that.

And challenging. First because there are a lot of words in the series, even if (as I do here) you only worry about the classic Trilogy from the 1940/50s and then Foundation’s Edge, the early-80s follow-up. There were drafts of this much longer before I learned that it’s okay to leave stuff out.

The second challenge was fitting in enough puns. I have a slightly higher-than-average tendency to make puns, and the Jay Ward idiom requires so many more. For a long while I was blocked, with a better premise than I could write. My friend Rob Rice, an author and filk-writer, would come to my aid with a long e-mail of Isaac Asimov-themed puns. Most of them I ended up not finding a place for in this sketch, although a good number got used in a later sketch. This caused him needless hurt and I regret that.

A third challenge is I had to ask the reader to do more work than usual reading the script. Many of these are slant puns, where you have to depend on the actor pronouncing things between the original word and the reference. That’s not much problem for a performed piece — and putting things in a Boris Badenov voice gives you a lot of leeway for pronunciation — but when it’s just text on the page? I ended up doubting my own writing, and including in brackets prompts to cue the reader what the joke was supposed to be. Maybe I should have trusted that people would work it out, or decide they don’t care and move on. But part of me sees these MiSTings as scripts, and a script would note to the actor when the intended pronunciation is important.

Anyway, as you read this, if you have no idea what Magic Voice as Bill Conrad is speaking about, trust that it’s some plot point from somewhere in the first four Foundation books. (Eg, there’s a line there about ‘Filial piety’, and that character’s story has an encounter with a customs officer for the planet Filia.) An exception: that Anderson Cooper line references his early-2000s reality show The Mole. Also, Asimov’s Foundation books have very little to do with the Robot stories that Johnny Pez’s fanfiction was based on. (They share a universe in a very loose continuity.) But the Robot stories are basically a long string of logic puzzles as stories and you can read them in any order or skip any without missing anything. The Foundation stories have an overall narrative, and that’s needed to give the spoof any shape.

Also, somehow Mystery Science Theater 3000 never did a host sketch where they imitated a Bullwinkle episode. How is that possible? Wouldn’t you have bet money that, especially in the Joel era, they’d have done at least one of those?


[ SOL. DESK. JOEL is close to the camera; fiddling with something off-screen. GYPSY, CROW, and TOM SERVO mill about, with scripts. TOM wears a silly, oversized moustache. ]

JOEL: All right… Bill Conrad sequencer up and running…

MAGIC VOICE: [ With a nasal voice, like the narrator on "Rocky and Bullwinkle" ] Testing, test… sibilance… one two three… [ keeps counting ]

JOEL: [ Jumping back towards the desk ] Perfect! All right, everybody, places and it’s on in five.

[ CROW, JOEL, and TOM hide behind the desk; GYPSY slips off stage left as MAGIC VOICE stops counting and clears her throat. ]

MAGIC VOICE: Last time you’ll recall psychohistorian Hari Seldon had discovered the Galactic Empire was about to fall.

[ JOEL, wearing fake sideburns, pops up, and speaks to the camera. ]

JOEL: I told them if they leave the Galactic Empire there it’ll fall.

MAGIC VOICE: Working quickly he started a Foundation to build a new and better Second Empire.

CROW: [ Popping up ] Hi there!

JOEL: And a second, just for good measure. (Ssh! It’s a secret!)

MAGIC VOICE: Soon after the First Foundation found itself isolated, surrounded by little barbarian kingdoms and struggling for survival. Mayor Salvin Hardin went to face the danger.

TOM: [ Popping up; and speaking in a Boris Badenov voice ] Allow me to introducing myself! Anacreon Rex!

CROW: We were kind of hoping that it wouldn’t in our case.

MAGIC VOICE: [ As JOEL sets a piece of flash paper in CROW’s hand ] Arming himself with strongly worded statements and stage magic —

[ JOEL sets the flash paper on fire ] — they soon turn the tables.

TOM: Aah! It’s a night-mayor { nightmare }.

[ TOM dashes off camera. ]

JOEL: [ Patting CROW ] Now you just have to wait for sanctions to work.

CROW: Well, at least nothing else can go wrong.

MAGIC VOICE: But then —

CROW: I knew I spoke too soon.

MAGIC VOICE: They found themselves facing the declining Galactic Empire, first in economic warfare —

CROW: We could send out the Free Traders.

JOEL: Call them off. They charge too much.

MAGIC VOICE: And then their military men —

TOM: [ Sliding in. ] Allow me to introducing myself! Call me Bel Riose.

CROW: Bel? Is he serious?

TOM: He’s asking if Bel is serious { Belisarius }?

[ CROW, TOM wince, look to JOEL. ]

JOEL: [ Shrugging ] You had to expect a little give and take.

CROW: I see we’re in for a lot of Gibbon taking.

MAGIC VOICE: But even Bel Riose couldn’t see what would keep him from conquering the Foundation —

GYPSY: [ From off stage ] Bel! You come in here right this minute! You’re late for your show trial.

TOM: Aw, phooey.

[ TOM slides off. ]

MAGIC VOICE: That’s right, the Empire called him out!

JOEL: He charged too much, too.

CROW: Well, at least nothing else can go wrong.

JOEL: You really didn’t want to say that.

MAGIC VOICE: Just then —

TOM: [ Sliding in ] Allow me to introducing myself! I am … The Mule.

MAGIC VOICE: This mysterious stranger —

JOEL: Anderson Cooper knows who he is.

MAGIC VOICE: … was even powerful enough to crush the Foundation! [ CROW slumps ] He might have ruled the Galaxy, too, if not for —

GYPSY: [ Sliding in ] Bayta Darrel, at your service.

MAGIC VOICE: But a Mule and his honey are soon parted!

TOM: Even after such a display of Filial loyalty?

GYPSY: You’re not getting to Second Foundation with *me*, buddy.

[ GYPSY turns and leaves. ]

TOM: But … aw, phooey.

[ JOEL reaches around and taps TOM’s far shoulder. TOM spins his head to look; JOEL taps TOM’s other shoulder. This repeats a few times as MAGIC VOICE’s narration continues. ]

MAGIC VOICE: But the Mule soon finds himself no match for the Second Foundation’s relentless counterattack.

[ After several more taps TOM screams in frustration and dashes off. CROW stands up again. ]

MAGIC VOICE: And soon everything got nice and quiet.

MAGIC VOICE, CROW, JOEL, TOM, GYPSY [ TOM and GYPSY leaning into frame ]: Too Quiet.

MAGIC VOICE: Foundation M.P. Golan Trevize suspects there’s more going on than meets the eye.

CROW: The I, the you, the he, the she, all of us.

MAGIC VOICE: He learned that all was *not* as it seems as, by following a trail of bread crumbs he soon discovers the incredible living planet-wide consciousness of Gaia.

GYPSY: [ Leaning in ] "A", for short.

MAGIC VOICE: But that’s not all!

JOEL: I knew I overlooked something.

MAGIC VOICE: What happens next? Will the Galaxy become a giant lifeform? Will the Second Empire be established? Is there a threat from outside the Milky Way? What does the secret hand manipulating all history have in store for us? And — what about Naomi?

CROW: I think I liked it better when I thought everything was just as it seems.

MAGIC VOICE: Be with us next time for our next inciting extollment of Foundation And Its Friends: "The Best Laid Plans" or — "Often Wrong but Seldon Uncertain."

JOEL: What do you think, sirs?

[ JOEL taps MADS SIGN. ]

[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER is laying all over a couch, rolling a pen back and forth and trancelike watching the ink roll. TV’s FRANK sits at a card table, building a little wall with plastic architect’s model-type toy blocks. An open bottle of soda is next to him. Neither notices at first. After a few beats: ]

FRANK: Psst! Steve!

DR. F: [ Snapping out of it ] What? They? [ He sits up ] You’re done?

[ SOL DESK. TOM, JOEL, and CROW are annoyed. ]

TOM: They’re not even paying attention!

CROW: What are we *doing* in the theater if you’re not even watching?

JOEL: Are we *boring* you?

[ DEEP 13. The sofa and card table are gone. DR. FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK stand closer to the camera, leering. ]

FRANK: No, no. No. Maybe.

DR. F: It… ran short, is all. Frank, what have we got?

FRANK: [ Holding up a clipboard. ] We could send them a couple shorts.

[ SOL DESK. As above. ]

CROW: Hey! You can’t do that!

TOM: We’re done for the week!

JOEL: You’re cheating!

[ DEEP 13. As above. ]

DR. F: [ Holding up a hand ] Wait… wait… [ a silent beat ]
Yes, there’s the sound of me not caring.

[ SOL. Movie sign. General alarm and chaos. ]

ALL: We got movie sign!

CROW: I’m gonna spit in their icing.

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


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 8 of 16)


I resume again my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction treatment of Johnny Pez’s Isaac Asimov fanfiction “Safety First”. Mike Donovan and Greg Powell, troubleshooters for wayward robots, hope convince the Robots on the Venus terraforming station that a recent accident is no reason to evacuate all the humans. But the First Law of Robots, forbidding a Robot to let a human come to harm, seems insurmountable.

Breezley and Sneezley was a mid-60s Hanna-Barbera cartoon, pretty much “Yogi the Polar Bear”. A SuperChunk was a 90s Cartoon Network thing, a three-hour marathon of some cartoon that wasn’t the good ones — or at least the hilariously incompetent ones — as often as you would hope. Joel’s riff about “spell my name with a Zow” riffs on Asimov’s short story “Spell My Name With An S”, in which a nuclear physics researcher named Zebatinski is convinced to change the first letter of his name. I don’t know that Johnny Pez was making a reference to that story with the character’s name, except, yeah, I know he was. (“Spell My Name With An S” is a clever story, and has the metatextual fun of the title being Asimov’s plea to stop misspelling his own name already. As another person whose name can’t get spelled right, boy do I relate.)

There are a couple of times Arthur the robot says a drawn-out “yyyyes”, which I responded to with a Gale Gordon reference. This may be true to MST3K but, really, I (and they) should have made Frank Nelson references instead. I apologize for my error.


>
> Arthur’s photocells lit up,

TOM: *Good* morning!

> and he said, "I must evacuate all
> the humans from this station.

JOEL: "So, quick, into the Litttle Humans Room."

> Please reactivate my motor controls."
>
> "Arthur," said Donovan,

TOM: "Donovan," said Arthur, and we found ourselves at the same impasse.

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

CROW: "Five thousand dollars and a SuperChunk of ‘Breezley and Sneezley’ cartoons."

>
> "I would need proof that every possible source of danger had
> been guarded against."

JOEL: Couldn’t they just put up a bunch of signs that read "Every possible source of danger has been guarded against" all over the place?

>
> "All of which basically involve exposure to the Venusian
> environment," said Donovan.

TOM: The Venusian environment’s the big one. The cinder-block attack weasels are a close second.

> "Right?"
>
> The robot remained silent while it evaluated Donovan’s
> proposition.

JOEL: [ Impersonating Groucho Marx ] "Can’t you see what I’m trying to tell you, Missus Rittenhouse, I *love* you."

> "There are certain dangers of a physical nature," the
> robot said slowly,

TOM: And then there’s those mental risks, like having that dream where you show up naked to the final exam for a class you never heard of, and you have to give a talk in front of the whole faculty too…

> "such as injuries sustained due to errors in
> judgment."

CROW: Like joining in annual "Smash Your Head Into The Wall" day.

>
> "But those kinds of dangers aren’t unique to the station,"

JOEL: They’re just what makes it so much fun.

> Donovan pointed out. "Humans are prone to such dangers everywhere."

TOM: Essentially, humans are big goofy klutzes you can’t leave alone for five minutes.

JOEL: And then there’s our bad days.

>
> Arthur’s photocells flickered for a moment before he said,

CROW: "Is there something funny with the lights in here?"

> "True. Very well, I concede your point. Exposure to the Venusian
> environment is the chief danger posed to humans on this station.

TOM: That’s why I keep telling you to keep the door *closed*, what, are we terraforming the whole outdoors here?

> This still requires that they be evacuated."
>
> "So you think," said Donovan,

CROW: That doesn’t mean you *are*.

TOM: It kinda does, Crow.

CROW: Oh.

> "that the way to deal with the
> situation is to remove the humans from the threatening environment."

JOEL: With a little effort we could come up with a much more complicated solution that’s much harder to do and way less likely to work.

>
> "That seems to be the most straightforward way to proceed,"
> said Arthur.

TOM: Wait — that’s just what they *want* us to think! It’s a trap! Get out!

>
> "Wouldn’t it be even more straightforward to remove the
> threatening environment from the humans?"

CROW: Maybe, but cleaning up Venus would take a *lot* of Didi-Seven.

>
> Arthur was silent for another time before he said, "How would
> that be more straightforward?"

JOEL: It turns out Venus is just a scary matte painting, it’s no work at all to change one of *those*.

>
> "Well," said Donovan, "there’s always a certain amount of
> risk involved when transporting humans."

CROW: What with getting split into your good and evil halves, or being thrown into the mirror universe or being turned into a little kid or something.

>
> "Yyyes," said the robot slowly.

JOEL: [ As Mr. Mooney ] Luuuuuucille.

>
> "So if a solution were to present itself

CROW: Presents? Where?

TOM: For us?

> that would involve
> not transporting humans, that would be preferable, right?"
>
> "Yyyyyyes," the robot said again, even more slowly.

JOEL: Give him a nudge — I think he’s sleeping.

>
> "So it would actually be safer for the humans to remain here

TOM: With our bunny suits on, if need be…

> while the Venusian environment was made less dangerous. Right?"

CROW: Oh, so just go to the "Biosphere" control panel and turn down the Greenhouse Effect, drop a couple Oxygen generators and a couple vaporizers, and you’re set.

> Powell, standing behind Donovan, saw him cross his fingers behind his
> back.

JOEL: Oh, that means the story doesn’t count.

>
> There was a long, long pause

[ ALL snore. ]

> while the robot considered
> Donovan’s arguement.

CROW: Wouldn’t the robot just pretend to agree with the humans, put a padlock on his motor controls, and get back to getting them off the station?

> When the robot finally said, "There seems to be
> a certain logic to your position,"

TOM: It follows directly from your premise "I reserve the right to do what I want."

> Donovan felt himself sag with
> relief.

CROW: And the robot tells him not to slouch.

> "It would indeed be safer for the humans to remain here
> while the Venusian environment was made less dangerous.

JOEL: Still, I want to see you wearing those little inflatable rings around your arms from now on.

> I must
> resume my work culturing algae for the buoys.

TOM: And picking flowers for the goils!

> Please reactivate my
> motor controls."

CROW: Isn’t this where we came in?

JOEL: The story just avoided lapping itself.

>
> By the next morning, all the station’s robots had been
> convinced of the need to continue their work terraforming Venus.

TOM: Hey — if they’re not happy except when they’re terraforming Venus, what are they going to do when they’re done with Venus?

JOEL: They’ll go back and try doing it again, only this time holding their breath.

TOM: Oh… huh?

> Powell and Donovan had been showered with accolades by the station
> staff.

ALL: [ Dully ] Yay.

> The Station Manager, Irina Zebutinska,

JOEL: Spell my name with a *Zow*!

> met them in the
> shuttle bay as they prepared to leave.

TOM: [ As Irina ] "Wait, we were hearing some things about you from Billie Jean."

> "Once again," she said, "I’d
> like to thank you both for putting the Project back on track."

CROW: Ah-wocka-chicka-wocka-chicka…

[ JOEL puts a hand on CROW’s shoulder; CROW stops. ]

>
> Powell gave her a reassuring nod. "All in a day’s work,
> ma’am."

TOM: It’s been a hard day’s work, and we’ve been working like a dog…

> A glance to his left showed him Donovan rolling his eyes.
> He’d be hearing about that one for months.

CROW: I can’t see that line being worth several months teasing.

>
> The two were about to board their shuttle when they found it

TOM: I would *hope* they found it before boarding.

> blocked by one of the station’s robots, an SPD model.

CROW: By Revell.

> "Sirs," the
> robot said,

JOEL: … and, you too, Powell … and you, Donovan.

> "it would be safer for the two of you to remain on the
> station."

TOM: We’d also like you to put on this construction helmet, and strap these pillows around your body.

>
> Powell glared at Donovan.

CROW: [ As Donovan ] "How was I to know they’d join the Center for Science in the Public Interest?"

> The other man shrugged and said,
> "Hey, I did my part

TOM: [ Quickly, under his breath ] National Recovery Agency.

> by convincing them to let us stay.

CROW: They don’t usually even let tourists in at all.

> It’s your
> turn to convince them to let us go."

JOEL: Tell them the Mads found another "Master Ninja" movie, that’ll convince them it’s safer to leave.

>

CROW: And they were stuck on Aphrodite Station for the rest of their lives until they all died, the end.

> THE END
>

CROW: Ooh! That never worked before.

TOM: Hey, that can’t be all — nobody said anything "sardonically."

JOEL: We’ll have to tell on him.

> — Johnny Pez Newport, Rhode Island September 2001
>
>

CROW: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL leave. ]

[ COMMERCIALS. ]


[ to continue … ]

[ As this segment reaches the end of the story you may ask how this MiSTing is only part eight of sixteen. Well, there’s a host segment needed yet, and then — eh, you’ll figure it out. ]

Please Write to Me After I’m Tossed in FCC Jail


So you know, I’ve been spending a lot of time feeling sad and watching Buzzr, that other game show channel. So I’m thinking this might be my week to edit some portions of the preceding game show that did affect the outcome. Just for the novelty, you know? I’m sure it’s just the thing to spruce up this episode of The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour.

MiSTed: Safety First (part 7 of 16)


I resume again my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction treatment of Johnny Pez’s Isaac Asimov fanfiction “Safety First”. After a small accident on the terraforming station floating high in Venus’s atmosphere the Robots there refuse to do anything but evacuate humans. Mike Donovan and Greg Powell, troubleshooters for this sort of thing, had an ide to get things back to normal: what if they just erase the Robots’ memories of the accident? They’re trying it now on lead troublesome robot Arthur.

Not to brag but you have me to thank for this whole segment. I’d suggested to Pez that his story needed a false resolution. He came back with this just-erase-the-memories thread, and I think the story’s better for it. The original went right from setting up the problem to the resolution, which you’ll see soon.

There are a couple Asimov deep cuts in my riffs, as you’d expect. The line about the 575th Century references one of the eras mentioned in Isaac Asimov’s time-travel novel The End Of Eternity. The mention about Henry the waiter references the person who always knew the resolution in Asimov’s Black Widowers series of puzzle mysteries. The bit about acknowledging second-best science robots and second-best science fiction robots references an agreement Asimov had with Arthur C Clarke, about who to acknowledge as the best science-fiction and pop-science writers. The reference to “Henry Bott” now mystifies me. I have the impression this is the name of someone Asimov had some petty fandom quarrel with, but I can’t give details anymore. Past that, I don’t think there are any references so obscure as to need explanation. Let’s continue the story.


>
> Arthur’s photocells dimmed for a time

CROW: Computers are working harder when the lights go out.

> as the specified memory
> traces within his positronic brain were tracked down and deleted one
> by one.

TOM: Except for that time he whapped that pesky Robbie in the face with a slushball.

> When the photocells resumed their normal intensity,

CROW: It’s so festive!

TOM: It’s very Christmassy.

> Arthur
> said, "There appears to be a seventeen day gap in my memory.

JOEL: [ As Powell ] "Funny, that’s what you said the first three times too."

> What
> has happened, who are you, and why are my motor controls
> deactivated?"

CROW: What is your name?

TOM: Why did you resign?

JOEL: We seek — information.

>
> "My name is Gregory Powell,

CROW: I’m a lover. *Not* a fighter.

> I’m a field operative for U. S.
> Robots and Mechanical Men."

JOEL: I’m working deep undercover; no one must know who I am or what group I work for — whoops.

> He recited a ten-digit code number that
> established his bona-fides as an authorized agent of U. S. Robots,

TOM: [ As Donovan ] "Hey, your code’s 1234567890 too? What are the odds?"

> then finished, "There was an event sixteen days ago that caused a
> program malfunction in all the robots on Aphrodite Station.

JOEL: "But your malfunction was the cutest of all, snookie-pie."

> Correction of the malfunction required the deletion of the last
> seventeen days from your memory.

CROW: Uh, did I say seventeen? I mean eighteen. Eighteen. So we had to erase at least twenty days… oh, what the heck. Arthur, we’re well into the 575th century.

> As soon as we’ve established that
> the malfunction has been corrected, your motor controls will be
> reactivated."

TOM: [ As Arthur ] "That explains the multiple choice test. But why have me do a thousand pushups?"

>
> "Acknowledged," said Arthur.

JOEL: Now, is he supposed to acknowledge that he’s the second-best science robot, or the second-best science fiction robot of all time?

>
> Powell breathed a sigh of relief. "It worked."

TOM: [ As Powell ] "I’m brilliant! Mike, you could kiss me."

>
> Donovan was not so pleased. "Do you mean we’re going to have
> to do this to every single robot on the station?

CROW: Except for the guy that works the escape pod, anyway.

> There are over
> three hundred of them!"

TOM: "And some of them are scary!"

>
> Powell shrugged. "Those are the breaks."

JOEL: Yeah, someday we’ll look back on this and laugh.

> He turned back to
> the robot. "Arthur, what is your primary function aboard Aphrodite
> Station?"

CROW: Blue! No, gree–aaaaaaah… [ Distant ‘sploosh.’ ]

>
> Arthur said, "My primary function is the cultivation of algae
> for the terraforming buoys."

JOEL: "My hobbies include pinball, plastic modeling, and making fun of Henry Bott."

>
> "Are you currently capable of carrying out your primary
> function?"

TOM: Nah, but I’m close enough for government work.

>
> "I am unable to function due to my inability to access my
> motor controls."

CROW: Plus I heard there’s spiders down there.

>
> Donovan grinned as Powell frowned in irritation. "Once your
> motor controls have been reactivated,

JOEL: *And* you check with your mom to see if it’s OK…

> will you be capable of carrying
> out your primary function?"
>

TOM: And the minute you hear about the station almost crashing are you going to obsess about getting us out of here — d’oh!

> Arthur was silent for a moment before saying, "Primary
> function override.

CROW: Secondary function along for the ride.

> First Law priority.

TOM: Sonic the Hedgehog is trying to break in!

> Station logs show that an
> accident occurred sixteen days ago

CROW: But we can’t always be living in the past.

> resulting in loss of buoyancy on
> the station.

JOEL: [ Calmly ] So if I may be permitted to summarize… [ panicked ] WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!

[ ALL shake around, yell. ]

> This station is unsafe for human habitation.

TOM: Gallagher is coming. This is not a drill.

> I must
> evacuate all the humans from this station.

JOEL: And you guys, too.

> Please reactivate my
> motor controls."

CROW: [ As Arthur ] "Pretty please with sugar and ramchips on top."

>
> Donovan swore again. "Right back where we started!

JOEL: Yeah, except for warping poor Arthur’s personality by wiping out a big chunk of his life experiences, anyway.

> What
> happened?"

TOM: We hit the essential narrative hook of the plausible but incorrect solution, which serves to make the situation look more dire as the story approaches its climax and to make the correct solution more triumphant in comparison. Nothing to worry about.

>
> Powell had one hand over his eyes.

CROW: "I think I’d make a great pirate. Do you think I’d make a great pirate? I think I would."

> "I bet he had to access
> the station logs to check on the status of the algae farms.

JOEL: And, uh… ar, matey.

> And as
> soon as he found out about the accident . . ."

TOM: Hey, were any robots harmed in the making of this story?

>
> ". . . he went right back into his Reluctance Loop.

JOEL: Now, I’m wise to this ploy, guys, so don’t try using a "Reluctance Loop" as an excuse in the future.

CROW, TOM: [ Dutifully ] Yes, Joel.

> Of all
> the rotten luck!"

TOM: Well, shiver me timbers.

>
> Arthur began to repeat his request that his motor functions
> be restored,

JOEL: And that they get the Game Show Network on the cable box.

> and Donovan switched him off again.

CROW: Aah!

TOM: This is what causes robots to rise up against their creators.

> He said to Powell,

JOEL: "If you’re gonna be a pirate I wanna be the Royal Navy officer tracking you down."

> "Do you suppose we could erase the accident from the station logs
> too?"

TOM: It’s too much work. Let’s just have Captain Kirk tell the computer it has to destroy itself to fulfill its prime directive.

>
> "We can’t," said Powell. "They’re triple-redundant
> safeguarded against erasure.

CROW: Plus somebody put them on the web, and Google’s copied it already.

> We’d have to completely lobotomize the
> station computer.

JOEL: And it really creeps me out when it starts singing "Daisy, Daisy."

> The Project would be in worse shape than it is
> now."

TOM: That’s it. From now on, we only terraform the easy places.

CROW: Five years after this courageous new "easy places" doctrine, humanity could inhabit Maryland!

>
> "Well then, maybe we could order him not to access the
> station logs."

JOEL: I think this is where they learn the answer from Henry the waiter.

>
> Powell shook his head. "He has to access them

CROW: He’s kind of funny that way.

> to carry out
> his primary function.

JOEL: He must have all that data, lest they get inaccurate plans from the algae psychohistorians.

> If we don’t let him, he can’t do his job, and
> he’ll go into a Second Law fugue."

TOM: By Verdi, for piano and theremin.

>
> Donovan brooded at the deactivated robot for a time, then
> said,

CROW: "Maybe we could use him as modern art?"

> "If we can’t bring Mohammed to the mountain, maybe we can bring
> the mountain to Mohammed."

JOEL: The repeated mentions of "Mohammed" in one sentence cause this story to become monitored by the Office of Homeland Security.

>
> Puzzled, Powell said, "What’s that supposed to mean?"

CROW: Get the Radio Flyer wagon and the biggest bucket you’ve got, we have work to do!

>
> "It means I’m going to try a long shot," said Donovan.

TOM: I think they’ll be able to understand it better if we express it in — a song!

> He
> reached forward and switched on the power supply.

CROW: [ Excessively feminine, seductive voice. ] "Ooh, yes, I love when you flip my switches *there*."

JOEL: [ As Donovan ] "Uh — nothing! Nothing, no — uh … "


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 6 of 16)


I resume again my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction treatment of Johnny Pez’s Isaac Asimov fanfiction “Safety First”. The story so far: Robot troubleshooters Mike Donovan and Greg Powell are on the floating Venusian terraforming station. Arthur, the station’s chief Robot is trying to get the humans to leave already before they get killed. But how to get the terraforming done if there aren’t any humans around to supervise?

The cry of The Year 2018! references James Blish’s novel They Shall Have Stars, which had an alternate publication title of Year 2018!. The story has humans building a bridge on Jupiter for obscure reasons, which explains Crow’s follow-up riff. You know, if I had a nickel for every science fiction novel from before 1980 that I’ve read that’s specifically and explicitly set in the year 2018, I would have only two nickels, which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that it happened twice.

The talk about the “Environmental Control” panel and the Monolith tool are references to SimEarth. The “offog came apart in warp” references Eric Frank Russell’s classic sf shaggy-dog story Allamagoosa.


>
> When he was done, Powell said, "Mike, the creativity of your
> profanity never ceases to amaze me."

TOM: Now if your profoundity could do half as well we’d be somewhere.

>
> "I’ve got an endless source of inspiration here," said
> Donovan in frustration,

CROW: "I’m a Red Sox fan."

> indicating the dormant robot. "For Pete’s
> sake, Greg,

TOM: Wait, Pete’s not here.

> what’s it going to take to convince these metal morons

CROW: I’m starting to take his attitude personally.

> that the station’s not going to crash into the surface of Venus in
> the next ten minutes?"

TOM: We could crash it in the next five minutes. That’d show him.

>
> "If we figure *that* out," said Powell, "we’ll have the
> Reluctance Problem licked."

JOEL: Wait, I’ve got it! Quick, get me an aquarium, five gallons of talcum powder, two eggs, and a bathing suit!

>
> It was a major embarassment for U. S. Robots. Two years
> before,

TOM: The year 2018!

> the Earth’s Regional governments had agreed to embark on the
> Aphrodite Project,

CROW: As soon as they were finished with that bridge on Jupiter.

> an ambitious attempt to terraform Venus.

JOEL: There are halfhearted attempts to terraform Venus?

> It would
> take decades of effort before Venus’s greenhouse climate would change
> enough to allow human settlement.

TOM: It’d go faster if humans got over their hangup about rivers of molten lead.

> Dozens of "bubble buoys" were
> floating through the hot, dense atmosphere of Venus, each with a

CROW: John Travolta of their own…

> cargo of genetically engineered algae that fixed the gases into solid
> particles that drifted down to become part of the planet’s soil.

TOM: Then, they’ll go to the "Environment Control" panel, turn down the greenhouse effect, and use the Monolith Tool to drop some multicellular life forms.

> Eventually there would be hundreds, then thousands,

JOEL: Then dozens, then they’d go back to trying thousands again.

> of buoys floating
> throught the atmosphere, all launched from Aphrodite Station.

TOM: Except one for good luck.

>
> Everything had been going on schedule until

CROW: Day two.

> sixteen days
> before, when an explosion had rocked the station,

JOEL: Just one of those explosions you get now and then.

> causing a sudden
> loss of buoyancy that had sent it plunging several kilometers down
> into the atmosphere.

TOM: And shaking the camera viciously.

> The explosion had been caused by an unlikely
> series of equipment failures,

CROW: Starting when their offog came apart in warp.

> and steps had indeed been taken to
> prevent anything like it from happening again.

TOM: By installing a gigantic space hammock under them.

> But the hundreds of
> robots that carried out most of the station’s routine work had been
> traumatized by the event,

JOEL: They shouldn’t have hired robopsychologist Gilligan to help.

> and they had all decided that the station
> was too dangerous for human occupancy.

CROW: A vicious crackdown by the Robo-Home Owners Association.

> Until they were shut down,

[ TOM, CROW boo. ]

> they had been intent on gently forcing the station’s eighteen human
> occupants

TOM: To wear frillier garments.

> to board the docked space shuttle and leave.

JOEL: Just… head off somewhere.

CROW: Yeah, most humans are fine left to themselves like that.

>
> "It’s impossible," Donovan continued. "How can we prove to
> them that we’ve thought of everything that could go wrong?

TOM: You could challenge them to prove they haven’t thought of nothing that could go right and work backwards.

JOEL: *What?*

> Nobody
> can think of *everything* that could go wrong!

CROW: Just wander around saying, "At least nothing else can go wrong," and then you’ll find out.

> And if we can’t get
> the robots to go back to work,

JOEL: We’ll have to get the work to go back to the robots!

TOM: Now I’m just confused.

> they’ll have to abandon the whole
> Aphrodite Project!"

CROW: They shouldn’t abandon it. They should return the unused part for a full refund.

>
> "It’s a pity the robots can’t run the station by themselves,"

TOM: They could if they’d hire Uniblab.

> said Powell. "That would solve the problem quickly enough."
>
> "If only," said Donovan ruefully. A fully roboticized
> station had been one of the possibilities floated by the Project
> director,

TOM: Name withheld to protect our sources.

> but U. S. Robot’s Director of Research, Dr. Alfred Lanning,

JOEL: Ph.D., J.D., M.Sc., L.L.C., RSTLNE.

CROW: And the fabulous Dancing Lannette Girls!

> had vetoed the idea. There would be too many complex decisions
> involved in running Aphrodite Station for robots to cope with it.

CROW: For example, guiding the robots in case the algae stampede.

> The station required a human presence,

TOM: And a woman’s touch.

> and would for the foreseeable
> future.

JOEL: The forseeable future of this forseen future?

>
> On the other hand, staffing the station entirely with humans
> would cause the Project’s costs to quadruple at least,

CROW: It’d take a small fortune just to transport their Pokemon cards.

> and the
> Regional governments were unwilling to maintain such an expense.

JOEL: What if they just tuck it in under "petty cash"?

> It
> had to be a mixed crew of humans and robots.

TOM: And puppies.

>
> "I don’t suppose we could replace all the current crew of
> robots

CROW: Depends with what. With other robots, fine. With race-winning hamsters, no go.

> with new ones that don’t know about the accident," said
> Donovan.

CROW: Ooooh. Them.

JOEL: The way robots gossip? You’ll never find any that haven’t heard.

>
> Powell shook his head. "That would cost as much as replacing
> them with humans. The budget people would never go for it."

CROW: What if we replace the budget people with robots?

>
> "There must be something we can do. What if they just didn’t
> remember the accident?"

TOM: Then they’d have to remember it on purpose!

>
> Powell thought it over,

JOEL: Hummmmmmmmmmmmmmm… ding!

> then reached forward and switched on
> the robot’s power supply.

CROW: Non-system disk or robot error.

>
> Arthur’s photocells lit up,

TOM: Artoo! Where are we? Oh, my!

> and he said, "I must evacuate all
> the humans from this station. Please reactivate my motor controls."

TOM: He needs his wheels, man.

>
> "Arthur," said Powell. "This is a direct order.

JOEL: Listen very carefully now. Flubbityblubblediflufflubbeeblubble!

> You must
> erase everything from your memory between this moment and a period
> exactly seventeen days ago."

CROW: Oh, except for — oh, drat it.


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 5 of 16)


At last Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction treatment of Johnny Pez’s Isaac Asimov fanfiction “Safety First” has reached the start of Johnny Pez’s Isaac Asimov fanfiction “Safety First”. Please do not panic. The story is set in the world of the I, Robot collection, one of the Powell-and-Donovan series about people who figure out why robots aren’t doing their jobs. This story is set in the far-future world of … uh … 2020.

“Safety First” was originally published in August 2001. As alluded to in Johnny Pez’s note, he rewrote it some from a suggestion of mine. And somehow the new draft was posted the 13th of September, 2001, when you’d think we would have anything else to think about. To give you some idea how weird and confusing and scary a time it was to do something normal like posting fanfics or getting permission to riff them? It was like living in today, only back then.

The “seventh law” Joel references is ripping off one of the “Li’l Folks” panel strips Charles Schulz did before Peanuts. A prototype Charlie Brown gave the warning to a proto-Snoopy before bed.

I don’t know that Pez named the robot “Arthur” in a reference to Arthur C Clarke but I would not be surprised if he did. Joel saying he almost named Crow “Arthur” alludes to his Art nickname.

At no point in this fan fiction involving a robot named Arthur do I reference any of the Kinks songs from the album Arthur (Or, the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). I apologize for my error.


[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

TOM: I can’t wait for this.

> From: johnn…@aol.com

CROW: The 9 is to distinguish him from all the other Johnny Pezzes on AOL.

> (Johnny Pez)
> Newsgroups: alt.books.isaac-asimov
> Date: 13 Sep 2001

JOEL: Two years after the Moon was blasted out of orbit.

> 05:40:49 GMT
> Subject: Safety First – version 2.0

TOM: They fixed the bug where the first version ran with scissors.

>
> As requested by Joseph Nebus, here is "Safety First" with a
> middle added.

JOEL: Thanks, Joseph, we needed more adventure in our lives.

>
> "Safety First"

TOM: Line dancing second.

>
> By Johnny Pez

[ JOEL hums the "Jonny Quest" theme. ]

TOM: Johnny Pez.

>
> The Three Laws of Robotics.

CROW: The *what*?

TOM: *Laws*? On *us*?

JOEL: I knew we’d have to have this talk someday.

>

TOM: Since when do we follow laws?

CROW: Can’t we write to our Congressman or something?

JOEL: You don’t even know what they are yet.

> 1. A robot may not injure a human being,

CROW: Except Val Kilmer.

[ TOM snickers. ]

> or, through
> inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

[ TOM, CROW titter. ]

JOEL: I don’t have a good feeling about this.

>
> 2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings

[ CROW laughs openly. ]

TOM: [ Giddy ] You know, alphabetical, numerical, that sort of thing.

> except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

CROW: [ Through laughs ] Yeah, would you like fries with that?

>

JOEL: See, I told you guys you had to clean the load pan bays.

[ TOM, CROW quiet for a moment, look at JOEL, and resume laughing. ]

> 3. A robot must protect its own existence

CROW: [ Calming down ] By going back in time and seeking out Sarah Connor.

> as long as such
> protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

JOEL: And if there’s nothing good on TV.

TOM: Fourth Law. A robot must be allowed to win when playing "Sorry."

CROW: Fifth Law. A robot must be darned cute and, where possible, a pleasing golden yellow in color.

TOM: Ahem. Sixth Law. Red, hovering robots get to pick which cartoons we’re watching today.

JOEL: [ Touching their shoulders ] Seventh Law. The robots are to knock off that coming into my room, turning off the alarm clock, and going back to sleep, OK?

CROW, TOM: [ In unison, dutifully ] Yes, Joel.

[ CROW and TOM snicker. ]

>

> Aphrodite Station,

JOEL: It’s a beautiful place.

> Venus AD 2020

CROW: Is it Tuesday? It feels like a Tuesday.

TOM: Venus A.D.! This fall on CBS.

>
> Michael Donovan

JOEL: [ Raising his hand ] "Present."

> glared out at the always-changing cloudscape
> visible beyond the viewport.

CROW: And conversely did not glare out at the cloudscape not visible not outside the viewport.

JOEL: What?

> He and Gregory Powell had been here on
> Aphrodite Station for two days,

TOM: But days on Venus are over a year long.

> and they were no closer to solving
> the Reluctance Problem than they had been to begin with.

TOM: Did you try saying "please"?

JOEL: Or taking away their "Tiny Toons" videotapes?

CROW: Hey!

>
> Behind him, Powell was in the middle of interviewing robot
> RTR-17.

JOEL: [ As Powell ] "So if you did get the job, what do you think you could bring the Burger King corporation?"

>
> "Arthur," said Powell,

CROW: [ Snickering ] A robot named Arthur.

JOEL: I almost named you Arthur.

[ CROW’s beak hangs open. ]

TOM: Dudley Moorebot 6000.

> "you know perfectly well that
> Aphrodite Station was never in any serious danger of losing total
> buoyancy."

TOM: I mean, we built the station out of bubble wrap, what do you *want*?

>
> "I know no such thing," Arthur replied. "I was *told* that
> the station was not in danger of losing buoyancy.

CROW: And as a result, I [ trailing the word off, as if falling ] knooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwww….. (Sploosh!)

> My experience
> during the emergency sixteen days ago demonstrated to me that there
> *is* an appreciable danger of losing buoyancy.

JOEL: "And between this and the Easter Bunnybot thing, I’m having a hard time taking you seriously anymore."

> I must evacuate all
> the humans from this station before that happens.

TOM: Overboard you go!

> Please reactivate
> my motor controls."

CROW: Especially the control that keeps me from eating cheesecake — it goes right to my thighs.

>
> "Arthur," said Powell, "I’ve explained the steps that have
> been taken to prevent any recurrence of the accident."

JOEL: We taped a big "NO" sign over the "crash into the surface of Venus" button, and we’re looking seriously at getting rid of that button completely.

>
> "I agree," said Arthur, "that that particular type of
> accident has been safely guarded against.

CROW: At least, as long as Underdog *does* hear our cry for help.

> However, the fact that it
> was not anticipated and prevented from occuring in the first place

JOEL: … well, it hurt my feelings. Stop doing that.

> raises the possibility that other equally unanticipated dangers may
> exist.

TOM: One of you may try telling a cabbage from a lettuce.

> Until I am assured that *all* possible dangers have been
> anticipated and prevented,

JOEL: And where appropriate turned into a movie-of-the-week…

> I cannot allow humans to continue to work
> on this station.

TOM: So who’s working?

> I must evacuate all the humans from this station.

CROW: And none of you need to check what web sites I’ve been reading.

> Please reactivate my motor controls."

TOM: If you don’t, then when you do, I’ll give you *such* a pinch.

CROW: What?

>
> Donovan wanted to start swearing at the stubborn robot, but
> he knew that it would only make things worse.

JOEL: Let me explain the situation more clearly, Arthur, using this large tire iron.

> So he waited until
> Powell was finished with his interview and had shut down Arthur’s
> positronic brain.

TOM: Hey!

CROW: That’s *naughty*!

TOM: What gets *in* to some humans?

> Then he swore.

JOEL: Oh, see, the robot’s just a little kid so he can’t hear cuss words.


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 4 of 16)


And now we get to the end of the preliminary shorts for my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction treatment of Johnny Pez’s Isaac Asimov fanfiction “Safety First”. Right now, we’re in the middle of a short by Ken S Eto arguing that there’s something unfair in science funding decisions being affected mostly by scientists, and he has the fix for that. It depends on choosing whether one is a “mainstream” or a “fringe” researcher.

The long line about moving Venus and renaming the chemical elements and the hole at the North Pole and Yul Brown’s gas and all is a mash-up of a bunch of notorious Usenet cranks from the 90s. Some of them, like Ludwig “Archimedes” Plutonium, were common subjects of MiSTings, although I don’t remember that I ever got at the big guys like that. SU(3) symmetries are from a mathematical construct known as group theory that turns out to describe subatomic particle interactions well.

The sketch about Crow and Tom Servo realizing Dr Forrester’s scheme makes no sense is … eh. The idea is all right, I guess, and the sketch resolves properly. But it has the energy of a sketch where the participants reject the sketch and break out of its logic, like a lot of those sketches the show did in Season Two. A bit of that is fun but too much and you don’t have a premise anymore.

When I first published this, the host sketch had a bunch of casual talk about Dr Forrester being “crazy” and his plan “insane”. I’ve rewritten it some to be less bad. But the skeleton of the premise is still there, baked into the axiom that Dr Forrester is a mad scientist.


> Anybody applies for
> public funding must declare that he or she is mainstream or fringe.

CROW: Must they declare whether they’re he or she?

> Once declared he or she must remain in that group for at least five
> years.

TOM: So, uh, they may want to bring something to read while they wait.

> This also applies to the reviewers.

JOEL: So is Roger Ebert mainstream or fringe?

TOM: Mainstream.

JOEL: Leonard Maltin?

CROW: Mainstream.

JOEL: Elvis Mitchell?

TOM: Fringe.

JOEL: Those guys on the BBC’s "Talking Movies"?

CROW: Mainstream, but they don’t know it yet.

> They must also remain in
> his or her declared group for at least five years.

TOM: Except bathroom breaks.

> A mainstream
> reviewer can only review mainstream proposals

CROW: Plus the new "Star Wars" movie.

> and a fringe reviewer
> can only review fringe proposals.

TOM: What about Groucho Marx’s proposals?

JOEL: Fringe.

> A declared reviewer can only apply
> for funding from his own group.

TOM: Brother, can you spare a MacArthur grant?

>
> With the above proposal,

CROW: And a little slice of lime…

> the ideas and concepts of 99% of the
> population will have a chance to be heard.

JOEL: So the theory is human knowledge will advance faster if Andrew Wiles spends more time listening to Archimedes Plutonium.

>
> The sad thing about the present system

CROW: Is how droopy it makes my cheeks look.

> is that some of the
> fringe ideas and concepts that are posted in the Internet

TOM: Escape to find an audience.

> appear to
> have enormous potentials

JOEL: Oh, they’re just not living up to their potentials.

CROW: I bet they don’t feel challenged in class is why.

> but they are being ignored by the mainstream
> physicists. In the case of Model Mechanics,

TOM: They offer us a way to repair our Micro Machines.

> if it is confirmed, it
> could save the government billions of dollars

JOEL: Oh, like saving money has ever got the government to do something.

> annually by eliminating
> wasteful and pointless government sponsored research projects.

CROW: Freeing up the cash to move Venus out to the orbit of Mars so Earth can have springlike weather forever by renaming all the chemical elements after useful forms of grain making it easier to launch an expedition through the giant hole at the North Pole into the center of the Earth where the aliens have been taking people to reveal how Yul Brown’s gas can cure cancer and find how the universe is a giant Plutonium atom.

>
> President Clinton, I am writing to appeal to you

TOM: So *that’s* why he’s wearing the bikini top.

> to put a stop
> to this abuse of power by the mainstream physicists

JOEL: See, the physicists pretend they’re talking about how SU(3) symmetries help model pion decay, but they’re really building a big zap ray to take over the world.

> and to initiate a
> program that utilizes the ideas and concepts of all our citizens.

CROW: Except Errol. He doesn’t know what the heck he’s doing.

>
>
> Sincerely,

JOEL: This is such a sincere guy.

TOM: I bet the Great Pumpkin appears in him some Halloween.

>
> Ken H. Seto

TOM: Maybe the H stands for "Hoppy" instead?

JOEL: Or "Handy." He must be good with tools to have all those model mechanics.

CROW: I bet it stands for "hep," like he’s a real hep cat.

>
>

TOM: Oh, wait, we’re done.

CROW: Nifty.

[ ALL exit. ]

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

[ SOL DESK. JOEL reads a comic book; CROW and TOM approach. ]

TOM: Joel? We need to have a talk.

JOEL: [ Looking up ] What’s wrong, my fair-haired young wards?

TOM: We’ve been doing some serious, hard thinking.

CROW: And we’ve concluded this whole scenario just doesn’t make sense.

JOEL: Stuff from Usenet never makes sense. It’s nothing personal.

CROW: No, we mean *here*. This satellite. That we have to watch lousy movies and read dumb rants and all that as part of a scheme to take over the world.

TOM: It just doesn’t hold water. Even if the mads find a movie so bad it leaves people helpless, he can’t *force* people to watch it unless he’s already taken over the world —

CROW: And if he already did *that*, he doesn’t need to make people watch bad movies so he can take over the world.

TOM: Plus, two of his experimental subjects are robots —

CROW: Astoundingly clever and witty robots, to be sure —

TOM: But there just aren’t that many thinking robots on Earth, and almost none in positions of power.

CROW: So the best he could do is find out how to make *you* crack, and from what we know of humans, which isn’t a lot, aren’t many folks like you on Earth. What crushes you may not even bug the average person.

TOM: Plus, why a satellite? He could keep us just as isolated and beyond all hope of rescue just by putting us on UPN. It’s a big expense and bother and there’s no way it’s worth it.

CROW: It’s illogical, it’s implausible, it’s contrived — it makes no sense, and all we want…

TOM: We want… we want you to tell us the *truth*.

CROW: Or else we’ll have to figure it out from our own, and, to be perfectly honest …

TOM: We’re likely to settle down on some hairbrained scheme even sillier than reality is.

CROW: Yeah!

JOEL: Well… guys, Doctor Forrester is a *mad* scientist. Not the angry type. I mean the type that’s no longer interested in what could ever possibly happen. Of course his scheme won’t work.

CROW: And TV’s Frank?

JOEL: He’s training to *be* mad. He can’t argue that their scheme won’t work until he passes his qualifiers and candidacy exam and presents a mad thesis proposal.

TOM: So not only does their plan to torment us fail every time they try —

JOEL: Even if they succeeded on us, they’d be setting themselves up for a bigger failure.

CROW: Gosh.

TOM: Wow.

CROW: I feel kind of sorry for them now.

TOM: Yeah! Joel, we ought to send them a cake or something.

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial Sign in five seconds.

JOEL: I’ll get the Makery Bakery. We’ll be right back.

[ JOEL taps COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ COMMERCIALS ]


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 3 of 16)


I resume again my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction treatment of Johnny Pez’s Isaac Asimov fanfiction “Safety First”. Not that we’ve got there yet; there’s a lot of shorts padding out this story, and we haven’t got to the main feature yet. Soo, I promise.

The line about the White House “at just $25,000 a night” references a late-90s scandal in which the right wing decided President Clinton sold nights in the Lincoln Bedroom to donors. Otherwise, not much in obscure references this segment.

I feel Crow’s confusion about snakes and asps captures a particular style of absurdity he’d get in.


>
>
> 2/15/96

JOEL: Do you guys remember where you were on February 15, 1996?

TOM: Yeah.

CROW: We were here, being forced by the Mads to watch bad movies.

JOEL: Oh, right.

>
> President Bill Clinton

TOM: Of the starship Enterprise.

> White House

CROW: At just $25,000 a night.

> Washington, DC 20500

JOEL: The *very* belated sequel to "Hawaii 5-0."

>
> Dear President Clinton,

TOM: [ Sexy feminine voice ] "You were right, we looked behind the sofa and found –"
[ JOEL puts his hand on TOM’s shoulder. ]

>
> Enclosed please find a copy of my book

CROW: If you could autograph it "To my best pal ever, Ken" I’d show everybody on my block.

> entitled "Model
> Mechanics: A New Interpretation of Nature."

JOEL: The book’s a great Revell-ation.

TOM: It’s got some fantastic work in HO gauge theory.

CROW: Finally we unite gravity, electromagnetism, and Heidi Klum!

> Also, enclosed is a copy
> of a paper entitled "Eliminatiing The Duality Concept with New
> Interpretations of Past Experiments".

TOM: Read the Marmaduke comic. It’s a howl.

> I will be presenting this paper
> at the March meeting of APS in St. Louis.

CROW: Snakes are meeting in St. Louis?

JOEL: That’s *asps*.

CROW: Asps! That’s even worse!

> The theory of Model
> Mechanics has been in existence for almost 10 years

TOM: They’re the guys who fix up the diorama of the F4D planes approaching the aircraft carrier.

> but it was never
> published or reviewed by mainstream physicists.

CROW: Coincidence? Read the book.

JOEL: We can’t, it wasn’t published.

> I had made dozens of
> attempts to have it reviewed or published but I was totally ignored.

TOM: I thought it was particularly gratuitous when the editor of Physical Review Letters covered his ears and shouted, "LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!"

> In those cases where there were replies the standard short answers

CROW: And a few nonstandard medium answers like "yes, please set my beard on fire."

> were that Model Mechanics was too speculative, too ambitious and that
> quantum mechanics and relativity had been confirmed countless times.

JOEL: Plus, who would really want Kathy Ireland fixing their ’75 Volkswagen van?

>
> I will be applying for funding from the National Science
> Foundation to develop a mathematical model for Model Mechanics.

TOM: A Model Mechanics Model Mathematics Model?

CROW: He needs the cash to buy extra M’s.

> I
> expect that I will be getting the same short standard rejection

JOEL: Aw, you should think positive, honey!

> since
> all the funding requests are being reviewed by mainstream physicists.

CROW: This is kind of passive-aggressive activism, isn’t it?

JOEL: Fund my project or I’ll abandon this box of kittens in the street!

>
> The present funding system cuts out the ideas and concepts of
> 99% of the population.

TOM: As long as we’re ignoring the people who pay to see Joel Schumacher movies, that’s fine by me.

> This is OK if only private funding is used.

CROW: What if it’s not private, but it is very discreet?

> Since public fund is sponsoring almost all of the mainstream research
> at the various universities and institutions,

TOM: Oh, and those other places, you know —

CROW: The ones with the, the, the —

JOEL: Right, with the bells and the copper, the silver —

CROW: Yeah, you know, the stuff with the corned beef —

TOM: No, no, the other one, the —

JOEL: I got it, right. Them.

TOM: Right, them.

CROW: I got it.

> these mainstream
> physicists should be obligated to review some of the fringe ideas of
> the population.

JOEL: I take it he means outside of Silly Breaks.

> Under the present system, the only tool available to a
> fringe player is to write down his idea and concept on paper

TOM: In my system, we’ll also be able to write it in spray cheese!

> but if
> the establishment refuse to review or publish it then his idea is
> forever buried.

CROW: You could always sell it to "Star Trek" — they’ll buy anything.

> I think that’s when the frustration will set in.

JOEL: See, you get into a good lather, rinse, and repeat, and that’s when the frustration sets in.

> Clearly, this is very unfair.

CROW: Nobody should be frustrated.

> One remedies is to modify the present
> funding system as follows:

TOM: First, we all get naked.

>
> The government should set up two separate funds.

JOEL: Call them "Oliver" and "Marybelle." Write stories about them.

> One for the
> mainstream group and one for the fringe group.

TOM: And one for the wishy-washy guys in between.


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 2 of 16)


Now I resume my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction, riffing Johnny Pez’s Isaac Asimov fanfiction “Safety First”. And a bunch of shorts, to the point that even at the end of this segment we haven’t started his story. (One that, I’ll repeat, isn’t actually bad; it was pleasant enough to read, and he was quite kind to let me riff it.)

The “Beat the Black Knight” riff references the classic 1989 pinball game Black Knight 2000. Its attract mode has a fun little song in which the Black Knight demands you “give me your money” and a chorus sings back, “Beat the Black Knight!”. The riff about opening mail being a risk is a timely and thus dated joke. When I wrote this in late 2001 or early 2002 we had that mystery of anthrax-laced letters sent through the mail. For a few months my parents would occasionally get a mail delivery that was very late and had been microwaved. I don’t know how I had a spam from 1996 sitting around for riffing in 2001; maybe it was sitting in the Web Site Number Nine Dibs List repository? March 1996 was before I had even seen a whole episode of the show, much less would go looking to write fan fiction. I’m delighted to have anticipated Pi Day with my riffs.

I have a vague idea that the web site of celebrities with digitally enlarged noses was a short-lived actual thing, but it may have been one of those fake sketches Conan O’Brien did for the “Visible Closed Captioning” sketches. (He’d do a bit where the closed caption person rebelled against the show, but to have something for him to “caption”, they’d use a plausible-but-not-developed-enough sketch.) The Northway here is the spur of the New York Thruway leading from Albany north; I went to grad school just outside Albany. Yes, near exit six.


>
> If that was you

TOM: You’d be me by now.

> starving to death you would want someone

CROW: We all need someone, sometimes.

> to give you something wouldn’t you.

JOEL: That depends what they’d give. Food? Sure. A soccer ball? Probably not.

>
> QUICKLY GIVE ME MONEY !

CROW, TOM: [ falsetto, in harmony ] "Beat the Black Knight!"

>
> $1, $2, $3, $4, $5, $6, $7, $8, $9, $10

JOEL: Ten… Banana-creme-pies!

ALL: [ Singing ] And that’s… our… song… of ten!

> Here ALL you poor
> people here is $1 for all of you

CROW: There are only ten poor people in the world?

TOM: Hey, poverty’s not as big a problem as we thought.

> Jesus Loves ALL OF YOU !

JOEL: Except that dent in your toenail. That kind of creeps Jesus out.

> Praise
> the Lord !

CROW: Where you work, or bank!

>
> Now don’t try saying there

TOM: It’s too hot and you’ll burn your foot.

> is too many starving people,

JOEL: "There is too many starving purpluff" — hey, you *can’t* say that!

> or that overpopulating the world to death creates wars, starvation,

CROW: Awkward family reunions…

> poverty, crime,

TOM: Rupert Murdoch’s empire…

> abortion etc. worldwide.

JOEL: Hey, do you suppose there are rants like this on Bizarro Superman’s world?

> That is not the problem

CROW: But it is extra credit if any of you need help for your final exam.

> the problem is that YOU are not giving me enough money

JOEL: I feel the same way about you, Jack McKenna.

> to take care
> of all those good and wonderful starving people.

TOM: Look at all the good and wonderful starving people down there — they look like ants.

CROW: Those are ants. You’re looking where you dropped a gumball.

> That’s the problem.

JOEL: That, and how you can’t get a good pizza in this town.

>
> And no no no

TOM: He’s kind of a nihilist Santa Claus.

> I don’t pay taxes

CROW: I *play* them!

> the money is for the poor.

JOEL: The carpet remnants are for the spare bedroom.

>
> Well got to go

TOM: Big old world out there and it’s not gonna overpopulate itself!

> and build more churches

JOEL: Oh, and also zone for a seaport, and put up a zoo before the Sims get all cranky.

> in all the rich
> neighborhoods.

CROW: Don’t say anything to them, I want it to be a surprise.

>
> I am the pope !

JOEL: [ Singing ] I am an iiii-ii-iiii-island!

>
> *** AND IF ANY OF THOSE STARVING PEOPLE

TOM: How hungry can they be? You gave them all a dollar just now.

> TRY TO GET VIOLENT

CROW: Don’t take the law into your own hands. Take them to "The People’s Court."

> KILL THEM

JOEL: Oh, boo.

TOM: Boooooo!

CROW: This guy was fun up until now.

> THEY ARE THE "BAD" ONES ***
>

CROW: How can we say they’re bad? I’m really sure deciding who’s bad is Santa’s job.

JOEL: About time for the next track, right?

TOM: I think so.

> From: Ken Seto (ken…@erinet.com)

TOM: With love.

> Subject: OPEN LETTER

JOEL: Who would take that kind of risk these days?

> TO PRESIDENT CLINTON

CROW:"Dear President Clinton: I’m a junior at a small midwestern college…"

> Newsgroups: sci.math
> Date: 1996/03/14

JOEL: Oh, see, a math article would go up on 3-14.

TOM:Bet it was posted at 1:59.

>
>
> Dear Follow Fringe Scientists,

CROW: "Hi! How you doing? Weather’s great, sorry you’re not here!"

TOM: Follow the yellow fringe scientists!

> The following letter was sent to President Clinton

JOEL: ‘Cause I didn’t have the address for Mayor McCheese.

> and his reply was
> a standard form letter.

TOM: Sent in the standard plain brown wrapper.

> After many months of posting in the Net I
> notice that there are thousands of us around.

CROW: We really ought to set traps or something.

> If we all write to
> President Clinton the way I did,

TOM: In crayon?

> he will surely take our collective
> opinion into consideration.

CROW:"Dear President Clinton: I have been a good boy all year and
would like a Nintendo and a horse. Thank you."

> I think the Internet is a perfect vehicle
> to accomplish this task. Here’s how:

TOM: First: get online.

CROW: Second: fire up your web browser.

JOEL: Third: suddenly notice you’ve spent six hours looking at pictures of celebrities with digitally enlarged noses.

>
> 1. Make a posting in this thread and address it to President Clinton

TOM: He’s got time to read it. He’s not doing much else these days.

> or just merely say that you support the format that I outlined in
> my letter to him.

CROW: Or just don’t beat me up and take my lunch money.

> 2. I will personally make copy of your posting and forwarded it to the
> White House.

JOEL: They like that sort of personal touch.

> 3. I will acculmulate the list

TOM: I will control the horizontal! I will control the vertical!

> of those who had made a posting in this
> thread

CROW: Except those who use this thread to voice insults toward Wesley Crusher.

> and this list will be available to all those who are in
> this list.

JOEL: You may visit this list, but when you do, it will spend
all its time complaining about how you never visit it.

> 4. Tell your friends

TOM: They won’t want to be left out!

> to make posting in this thread and tell your
> friends to tell their friends to make postings……etc.

CROW: All perfectly legal! Ask the Post Office!

> 5. This posting will appear in all intereted newsgroups.

JOEL: Newsgroups have such IN-teresting postings.

> 6. For more information

TOM: Write to "President Clinton," Pueblo, Colorado 81009.

> please e-mail me at <ken…@erinet.com> also

CROW: Come on down to Ken’s Eto, just ten big steps off the Northway at exit six.

> visit my web site <http://www.erinet.com/kenseto/book.html>.

TOM: Remember to bring a housewarming present!

>
> Sincerely,

JOEL: I question his sincerity.

> Ken H. Seto

TOM: The H stands for Happy!


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 1 of 16)


And now? I bring a really long piece, a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic that I think dates to late 2001 or early 2002. Its centerpiece is “Safety First”, a piece of Isaac Asimov fanfiction that alt.books.isaac-asimov centerpiece Johnny Pez posted, originally in August 2001. When we get there you’ll see Pez offer thanks to me for comments. This is that I thought his story basically good, but too short: it lacked a false resolution before the real solution could be found. He rewrote the story and added that, and we all think came out with a better version of the story.

You might ask: when I MiSTed “Reboot: Breaking the Barriers” I obscured author Carrie L—‘s name. Why not Pez’s? That’s because “Breaking the Barriers” had Carrie L— as character in the story. Pez wrote a story centered around Powell and Donovan, two Robot-problem-fixers that Asimov himself created before he learned how to write characters. So this seems to have a much smaller chance of being personally embarrassing.

There are a bunch of shorts attached to this MiSTing, all rants or rant-like constructs. This is because the original story, even as expanded, seemed too slight for my purposes, which demanded four segments and six host segments. Later, I would grow comfortable with much more pared-down MiSTings.

Please do not cut yourself on the devastatingly sharp jabs I give to Star Trek: Insurrection or to Ken Burns documentaries. I think I wrote this before the Mac had that screensaver that does the “Ken Burns Effect” panning across pictures drawn at random from your photo library. Might be wrong. Chris Kapostasy and Doctor Alan Chartock were reporters on Albany local news back then. I imagine the Ken Burns Doc-u-Matic to work rather like the Car-Tuner. La Follette’s Seamen’s Act of 1915 was a major step forward in providing for the safety and security of United States seamen, as it established things like that seamen should be paid, and fed while at sea, and there should be lifeboats for when the ship sinks and stuff.


[ OPENING CREDITS ]

[ SOL DESK. GYPSY, CROW, JOEL, and TOM are sitting behind the desk, thinking. CROW rests an arm on the desk. ]

CROW: They had that scene with all the escape pods swarming in orbit?

JOEL: Nope, that was "First Contact."

TOM: How about that poker game Picard joined in?

JOEL: No, that was in the last episode of the series.

GYPSY: There were some aliens getting their faces lifted up and stretched out.

[ JOEL, TOM, and CROW think, but shake their heads… ]

JOEL: No, no, that was a Voyager episode.

TOM: There was that scene in stellar cartography… no, that was "Generations."

JOEL: [ Looking up. ] Hi, everyone, welcome to the Satellite of Love. I’m Joel Robinson and I’m trapped in space by a mad attempt to take over the world. My robot companions [ pointing them out ] Gypsy, Crow, and Tom Servo, and I got together and watched "Star Trek: Insurrection" last night, and now, we’re trying to remember *anything* from it.

CROW: They went back in time to the tribble episode.

TOM: "Deep Space Nine."

GYPSY: Data and Picard were flying shuttlecraft and following the bouncing ball to sing along.

JOEL: That was a Betty Boop song cartoon.

[ GYPSY grumbles. ]

TOM: Oh, they saved the Captain from fighting that alien pig monster thingy by beaming it up, only it came up backwards.

CROW: That was "Galaxy Quest."

GYPSY: And those nice people moved from their homes into a holodeck.

JOEL: No, no… what was the one with the superpowerful being pretending to be a human, and the colony he’s living on is attacked by some aliens and they kill his wife and he responds without thinking and kills them all everywhere?

TOM: That was a TV episode.

CROW: I give up. We’ve got *nothing*.

GYPSY: And Picard goes on some dates with a woman who warps time and space so it’s more like a perfume commercial.

TOM: Yeah, there’s nothing to remember from "Insurrection."

JOEL: I’m stumped.

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial sign in five seconds. I believe in you, Gypsy.

GYPSY: Thanks.

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial sign now.

[ COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes. ]

JOEL: Thanks, Magic Voice. We’ll be right back.

[ JOEL taps COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]

[ SOL DESK. GYPSY rests her head on the desk, apparently sulking. TOM, JOEL, and CROW are still wondering. ]

TOM: Maybe we just didn’t *see* "Insurrection" after all.

CROW: It’s the only thing that makes sense.

[ MADS SIGN flashes ]

JOEL: Captain Decker and Lieutenant Ilia are calling.

[ JOEL taps MADS SIGN ]

[ DEEP 13. TV’s FRANK is sitting in front of a small plastic table, on which two cups of flat soda, with cards labelled "A" and "B" in front of them and unlabelled bottles behind. DR. FORRESTER stands very near and at an odd angle to the camera. ]

DR. F: Hello, redshirts. Ready to be blown away by our invention this week? Sure you are. Have you ever had your soda go flat?

FRANK: I know I have! [ He takes a big sip of soda "A". ]

DR. F: [ Without looking back at TV’s FRANK. ] And there’s nothing to be done about it… until… [ DR. FORRESTER holds up a packet of powder. ] We’ve created a polymerized Alka Seltzer-Pop Rocks alloy in combination with… well, it would take a food chemist to explain. Let me show you.

[ DR. FORRESTER sits behind the table, and tears open the powder and sprinkles it into soda "B". As it fizzes, TV’s FRANK sips. ]

DR. F: Ever-vescent Crystal instantaneously puts an enormous, concentrated burst of carbon dioxide back into any drink.

[ SOL DESK. A device, with a 8-1/2 inch vaccuum cleaner slot, a set of metal calipers stood up to hold a card, and a videotape in a mechanical case held up by a slinky hose, with a crank on the front and a page feeder on the top; a portable film screen is behind the desk. JOEL and CROW are fiddling with the device. ]

TOM: Wait a minute… concentrated Pop-Rocks effect… is that going to make Frank’s head explode?

[ DEEP 13. TV’s FRANK is continuing to drink. DR. FORRESTER watches TV’s FRANK; he holds up a hand, a "just wait" gesture, and holds it while TV’s FRANK finishes drinking, and for a beat after that. ]

DR. F: [ Faintly disappointed. ] No. Back to you, Chris Kapostasy.

[ SOL DESK. There is now a harmonica on the desk. ]

JOEL: Thanks, Doctor Alan Chartock. [ He nods to TOM. ] Our turn.

TOM: The Civil War. Baseball. Lewis and Clark. Jazz. Mark Twain. If there’s a subject tugging the heartstrings of faithful PBS pledgers, we’ll see Ken Burns, a Sam Watterston-class narrator, and a wheelbarrow full of videotape putting together a documentary.

CROW: Still, fast as Ken Burns grinds down the story of La Follette’s Seamen’s Act of 1915 down to its essential 87 hours of classic programming, it’s a long wait for us faithful viewers.

JOEL: Which is why we’ve invented The Ken Burns Doc-u-Matic! Just feed your subject matter in on a standard Hollerith punch card [ JOEL fits a card into the calipers; they fall backward and the machine makes a Star Trek-like noise ], add as many old photographs and hand-written letters as you like [ JOEL holds several photographs and letters up, one at a time, before feeding them into the vacuum cleaner attachment ], turn the crank and let it go.

[ JOEL turns the crank, lowering the videotape until it touches the desk. The machine hisses and a few pages of script feed out the top. ]

JOEL: Ready to see what we’ve got?

[ JOEL takes out the tape and leans forward, "giving" it to CAMBOT. He hands a page of script to TOM and another page to CROW. The film leader countdown begins on the projector screen as CAMBOT moves in on it. JOEL picks up the harmonica and begins playing it. ]

[ Documentary picture — CROW, wearing a Confederate soldier’s cap. The camera pans across the picture slowly. ]

TOM: [ Narrating ] Little did anyone suspect that a revolution was forming under their noses. When Crow Thomas Hewett Edward Robot emerged from an almost unnoticed Chattanooga apprenticeship, it was like the world had refolded — and this imaginative youngster was its new center.

[ Documentary picture — an illegible letter, with the camera tracking up to its top. ]

CROW: [ Reading, with exaggerated Scarlett O’Hara accent ] I remember the first time Crow stood up in the madness, with a blaze of red hair and an enthusiastic glitter in his eye — it seemed like a dream as he hypnotized a city. Joel Robinson, 1993.

[ Documentary picture — GYPSY, on a black background. Nobody says a word for several beats. ]

[ Documentary picture — TOM, wearing an astronaut suit. ]

TOM: [ Narrating ] But his era could not last. The world soon slept again — until a new robot stood up and demanded to be counted.

CROW: [ Reading ] Thomas Servo has been an effective employee. He brings a concerted effort to every task, is punctual, and keeps his work areas clean. Only his occasional spat with co-worker Crow degrades his performance. — Employee review, February 1997.

JOEL: [ As TOM and CROW continue in this vein, and the screen continues like this. ] You get the picture. What do you think?

[ DEEP 13. TV’s FRANK’s head still hasn’t exploded; DR. FORRESTER still watches. ]

DR. F: Well. Got a bit of a change of pace for you today; it’s a robot story.

[ SOL DESK. The Doc-u-matic and the screen are gone. JOEL still plays the harmonica. ]

CROW, TOM: Robots? Hooray!

[ DEEP 13. As above. ]

DR. F: A charming little piece of Isaac Asimov fan fiction called "Safety First." Just to make it sporting, first you’ll read a little piece by a guy who hates the Pope, and another guy who thinks scientists know too much science. Read it and weep.

[ SOL DESK. MOVIE SIGN flashing. ]

ALL: AAh! We’ve got movie sign!

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

[ ALL settle in ]

> From: jmck…@bonzai.net

JOEL: Isn’t he the Finder of Lost Loves?

> To: jmck…@bonzai.net

TOM: From Jack McKenna, *to* Jack McKenna. A Jack McKenna production.

> Subject: I want to sue the murderous pope !

CROW: I see a lawsuit and I want it painted red.

> Message-Id: <20010806205…@bonzai.net>

TOM: This keeps it straight from all the other e-mails we get about suing the "murderous" Pope.

> Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2001 20:53:09 -0400

CROW: So … that’s 8:53 p.m., minus 400, gives us… it was sent at negative 392:53 p.m.?

JOEL: You’re forgetting the International Date Line.

CROW: Oh.

> Status: OR

TOM: Status: Oregon — a dynamic state for the world of tomorrow!

>
>
> He creates wars

JOEL: And passes the savings on to you!

> starvation poverty

TOM: Because the "gorged poverty" turned out to not work that well.

> crime etc. worldwide

CROW: Is this the Pope or the Penguin?

> by
> overpopulating the world to death,

[ ALL giggle. ]

JOEL: Well, you know Catholics.

> he kills millions of people

CROW: He hurts the feelings of thousands of others.

> and
> has billions of people

JOEL: He keeps them in a really big dresser drawer.

> living in total dispair with his;

TOM: What, the Pope has a couple billion people crashing on his couch?

>
> Come on now

CROW: Come on down!

> more more more

TOM: *Now* how much would you pay?

> just keep having more children

JOEL: But we haven’t finished the ones we already have!

> NO BIRTH CONTROL.

CROW: You’ll just have to hold it in until we get to the hospial, honey.

>
> LOOK LOOK LOOK

TOM: But don’t touch!

> everybody look at all that starvation over
> there!

CROW: Pick it up! You’re getting dirt all over it!

>
> Quickly give me money!

JOEL: Uh, can you lend me a five ’till payday?


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: What To Invent (part 3 of 3)


And now the conclusion Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of Raymond Yates’s essay “What To Invent”. I’ll have something else next week, and it’ll probably be more MiSTings.

I have the nagging feeling that the riff about making “even the idea of dirtiness seem clean” is an attenuated Bill and Ted reference, but I’m not confident. This whole essay was fun to riff. I think I still have Yates’s book, which is something like a thousand inventions like this. If I can find it I should riff some of those.

This thing needed a host sketch for the conclusion, no doubt about that.


>
> The manufacturers of electrically operated ice
> boxes are looking for a simple mechanism to permit such
> boxes to defrost themselves within a minute’s time.

CROW: I have one that does it in 75 seconds?

MIKE: No! You have failed electrically operated ice box manufacturers worldwide! Hang your head in shame!

CROW: Okay.

>
> A great many uses could be found for a
> self-closing cork to be applied to pop and other bottles.

TOM: Like … closing?

> Such a device should permit fluid to flow only when the
> bottle is inverted. A gadget of this kind would be very
> handy. It could be sold separately in the chain stores.

MIKE: It must be carefully guarded lest the secret fall into German hands!

>
> Millions of people in this country keep canary
> birds.

TOM: Some of them have to be stool pigeons.

> The ordinary cage presents many hazzards and
> birds often hang themselves or otherwise meet with death
> in some of the “ornamental” boxes.

CROW: Suicidal canaries? Who gets them, the cast of _Funky Winkerbean_?

> What is needed is a
> safety cage—one that will make it impossible for
> accidents of any kind to happen.

TOM: Or you could just leave the canaries alone.

>
> Pocket nail clippers have never been really
> popular for the simple reason that one must use a file
> afterwards because a very rough edge is left.

CROW: Which kills thousands every year.

TOM: In tragic nose-picking accidents.

> Men and
> women would use such clippers in greater number if smooth
> cuts were produced.

MIKE: Because if there’s one thing men are looking for, it’s improved nail-trimming smoothness technology.

>
> Now that the bathing season is here again

CROW: o/` Bathing season is here again! The skies above are clear again! o/`

> we are
> reminded that the ladies still want a leakproof cap which
> will not be so tight as to stop, or interfere with the
> circulation of blood,

TOM: Your hair is your body’s largest consumer of blood!

> but will, at the same time prevent
> any water from seeping through. This invention, without
> exaggeration, would be worth at least $500,000.

MIKE: Aw, forget it, man, I won’t do it for less than five hundred thousand, two hundred seventy-five dollars.

>
> Now that pianos are becoming popular again,
> manufacturers could use a moth-proof substitute for the
> felt on the hammers, etc.

CROW: Etc?

MIKE: You know, like a wallaby-proof substitute for the keys.

TOM: Or a dinosaur-proof substitute for the legs.

>
> The inventor of a really sanitary pillow

MIKE: I’m not talking your ordinary sanitary pillow. I’m talking about something that’s *so* sanitary it makes even the idea of dirtiness seem clean.

> permitting a large volume of air to circulate through it
> and, at the same time, soft and comfortable, would be a
> fortunate person.

CROW: A person who naps in a superior manner.

> Rubber as a material is ruled out.

TOM: People get all weird about it.

> Such pillows, unlike the pillows of today, should be
> washable.

MIKE: A washable pillow? Why not dream about flying cars and computers that fit in your phone while you’re at it?

>

TOM: Yeah, let’s blow this popsicle stand.

CROW: The man who invented a self-blowing popsicle stand …

MIKE: Let’s let that thought end right there, shall we?

[ OUR HEROES file out. ]

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

Thank you for reading all this. “What To Invent” was written by Raymond Francis Yates, who would go on to write a book listing a couple thousand needed inventions, some of which would still make life reasonably better, so if you can think of one, please do. Many more of the things have already been thought of
since the late 30s, so don’t go hurrying on your typewriter improvements just now, please. The article is either Yates’s or else Modern Mechanix’s property and is used here just to be amusing. Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its characters and schtick aren’t mine either, but the actual writing of the making fun of this was done by Joseph Nebus, who hopes you liked it. Enjoy your own inventive nature, please.

> But what is wrong with shoe polish?

MiSTed: What To Invent (part 2 of 3)


And now to the second part of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of Raymond Yates’s essay “What To Invent”. There’s not any riffs of particular obscurity, or that I much feel I need to apologize for. Still, you know, it was the 2010’s, things were different then. Anyway this was all great fun to write and I love re-reading it. And I have one little note I’ll put at the end.

Having now made a couple window screens, yeah, Yates had a point about something to keep them taut and flat. Maybe there is something now and I didn’t know about it and the hardware store supposed of course I knew. I’ve been able to carry on since I don’t have to make so many window screens that the inconvenience becomes too annoying.


>
> The typewriter eraser is a combination of
> fine-ground sand and rubber.

TOM: Plus a typewriter! A typewriter eraser is nothing without a typewriter.

> When such an eraser is used

MIKE: Yes it is. A typewriter eraser without a typewriter is still an *eraser*.

TOM: I think we both know if you want to argue this point we’re going to end up hating each other bitterly.

> on a typewriter a quantity of this sand falls down into

MIKE: Yeah, I pass.

> the mechanism where it causes undue wear. Sand is fatal
> to machinery of any kind.

CROW: Excepting the sandcastle-o-matic, I mean.

TOM: Plus you’ll still be wrong.

> This problem may be solved in
> two ways;

MIKE: Three, if you count not making mistakes.

> either by the production of a more efficient
> eraser, without sand,

TOM: Maybe use raw mud instead.

> or some sort of a guard on
> typewriters

CROW: Authorized to use deadly force!

MIKE: How is raw mud different from just dirt?

> to prevent the sand from sifting down into

TOM: Um … yeah, I withdraw the invention.

> the works. Either answer should be worth $50,000.

CROW: Is that, like, $50,000 for your whole life, or like $50,000 a year?

TOM: $50,000 a typewriter.

>
> The home mechanic, or the carpenter who has
> either made or repaired screens for windows,

MIKE: Or the window screen hobbyist.

> knows how
> difficult it is to stretch the screening so that it will
> be taut and perfectly flat after the moulding has been
> put in place.

TOM: Why, thousands die every year in the struggle against window screens.

> Surely some sort of a tool could be
> invented to assure this result.

CROW: It could be a widget or it might even be a mount of some fashion.

> It should be able to
> grasp the screening and to keep it pulled tight until it
> is tacked into place. At least 50 manufacturers stand
> ready to obtain the rights to such a product.

TOM: I’ve asked them extensively! They fear my coming round to ask again!

> Speaking of
> screens reminds one of the difficulty of raising and
> lowering awnings on screened windows.

MIKE: Just trust me on this one, folks.

> The screen has to
> be unhooked and pushed out of the way—a very
> inconvenient and bothersome procedure.

TOM: Of … unhooking and pushing?

CROW: I’ve never awned, myself, but this …

MIKE: [ Shrugging ] Look, it’s just really complicated, okay?

> Is it not
> possible to overcome this objection either by a new
> method of raising and lowering screens or by the use of a
> simple mechanism that may be manipulated from inside the
> screen?

MIKE: Is there hope for sanity in this world gone mad?

> The solution to this problem would produce an
> ample reward.

TOM: But the real reward is knowing you’ve made the life of window awning raiser-and-lowererers substantially better.

>
> “Why I could have invented that,” says the
> would-be inventor when he sees some new and clever little
> improvement that is known to be making plenty of money
> for its creator.

MIKE: What does he say after seeing some dopey little improvement that somebody’s taking a bath on?

CROW: Why could *I* have invented that?

> Yes, indeed, many inventors, like many
> amateur speculators in the stock market, find it very
> easy to make money with their hind sight.

TOM: That’s it! Keister glasses!

> The thing to
> do is to beat the other fellow to the design.

CROW: And steal Elisha Grey’s patent.

> And here
> is a good chance to win out. Everyone knows that ash
> trays tip over and that the housewife is called upon to
> clean up many such resulting messes.

TOM: If only someone could invent the ashless tray?

> It would seem
> fairly easy to make an ash tray which would automatically
> cover itself when tipped beyond a certain critical angle.

MIKE: Hey wait … I just invented it! That’s great!

> Such a tray could be dropped on the floor without danger
> of dumping its contents.

TOM: Until we perfect the lid-evading ash!

>
> What was said for the non-tipable or unspillable
> ash tray also might be said for coasters used for
> glasses.

CROW: So get your improved cigarette coasters now.

> The number of bridge table accidents, wherein
> glasses are tipped during dealing, is legend.

TOM: As recounted in song and woolen tapestry.

> We need
> coasters that will make such accidents impossible.

MIKE: Try our new “dry” drinks.

>
> In line with our previous comment in connection
> with hobbies it should be borne in mind that archery is
> now receiving a great deal of attention,

TOM: … buh?

MIKE: That would’ve been, like, my 46th guess.

> and that a newly
> designed, cheap and powerful metal bow would be a winner,
> especially for the younger folk.

CROW: People might be interested in new, cheap, powerful tools for their hobby? Why am I just hearing of this now?

> Naturally such a bow
> would have to be as light as the wooden ones.

TOM: Building an antigravity machine small enough to fit on an arrow will be a considerable challenge.

> (Metal
> bows are available but could be improved greatly.)

CROW: What isn’t that true of?

> When
> little Willie, all dressed up in his Sunday best, gets
> his hands on an ice cream cone he rapidly degenerates
> into a most unpromising spectacle.

MIKE: So … shoot him with an arrow?

> If mother could buy a
> dripless cone for him she would make the inventor of that
> cone a very happy man—

CROW: If a woman invents it, call the whole thing off.

> and little Willie would remain a
> respectable person while satisfying his appetite for ice
> cream.

TOM: I’ve got it! I could invent a new name for Willie!

MIKE: Willie, Willie … Tillie? Dillie? Quillie?

CROW: I think we’re getting worse somehow.


[ To conclude … ]

Also, “That’s it! Keister glasses!” makes me giggle every time I read it and if someone were to hire Kevin Murphy to record that line for me I would be most grateful. … It would work as a Crow riff, too (most riffs can be arbitrarily assigned), so I wouldn’t turn down Trace Beaulieu or Bill Corbett. I haven’t seen the Season 11-and-onward episodes, is the only reason I don’t say anything about the new guys.

MiSTed: What To Invent (part 1 of 3)


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

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

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

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


[ Into the Theater. ALL file in. ]

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

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

>
> WHAT TO INVENT

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

>
> The author will be glad to answer questions

TOM: Why is there France?

MIKE: And why is there Spain?

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

> relating to these and to other types of inventions.

ALL: Oh.

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

MIKE: You have been warned!

>
> By Raymond Francis Yates

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

>
> HOW is your ingenuity today?

CROW: And if not, WHY not?

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

MIKE: If it knows what’s good for it.

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: First problem, a useful counterfeiting engine.

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

CROW: Sounds kinda needy, actually.

TOM: Low self-esteem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: Man, inventors are *creeps*.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: Point out they have cell phones?

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

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

>
> CAN YOU INVENT THESE THINGS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: The time of the moon.

CROW: The time our lives.

MIKE: The time of the apes.

CROW: The time of tea.

TOM: Huh?

CROW: I dunno, it was a Google autocomplete.

MIKE: I don’t believe you.

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: And cabbages and kings.

> But what is wrong with shoe polish?

MIKE: Well, that we all wear sneakers anymore?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIKE: Maybe a tonic or an ointment?

CROW: Perhaps something in an unguent or an excretion?

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

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


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: JSH: War of attrition (Part 3 of 3)


And now I close out this Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of the sci.math rant JSH: War of Attrition. I never did get around to other Harris rants; he was prolific in the mathematics newsgroup for years, arguing that he had great amazing new breakthroughs. The last and oddest that I remember is his bragging about his facility in describing what a tweet was in exactly 140 characters, this back when Twitter was limited to 140 characters. I don’t get it either.

The riff about donor type AB-elian puns on the blood type and on Abelian groups. Abelian groups are sets of things on which you can define an addition that commutes, just like regular arithmetic does. It’s possible to have additions that don’t commute, which is why it’s worth having a name for these. The closing sketch puts Professor Bobo in an example of the Infinite Monkey Theorem. It’s funny, yes, but it also challenges our intuitions about what probability means.


>
> Yeah only to use you in the Math Wars.

TOM: I need reserves in case a Tom Lehrer song breaks out.

> I want mathematicians around
> the world to keep thinking about what you are thinking.

CROW: I think that’s what I want to think I want you thinking about.

> I want them
> working hard to figure out how well they have you in hand.

MIKE: Touching and caressing you with loving grace.

>
> I want them working to keep you.

TOM: Make sure they call you daily to see how you’re doing.

>
> I want them to demean themselves, crawl on their hands and knees to
> keep you believing in them.

MIKE: To sit up on their nests and keep a bundle of chicken eggs warm.

>
> And they are doing it.

CROW: They’re the *best*, guys.

>
> While the war of attrition continues and it is all about inertia and
> momentum as I have always needed time.

MIKE: Time, and a bit of money, and — don’t ask why — my own Phillies Phanatic costume.

>
> If the world knew too quickly what my discoveries really are, then the
> true targets could have escaped,

CROW: Spooking the herd and causing a stampede from the watering hole.

> but now the net closes, and you are
> the fish that were always part of the trap.

TOM: I … don’t put fish in traps.

CROW: It’s for when you want to capture herring-eating mice.

>
> You were always the bait.

TOM: And I was the naughty sporting goods cashier … heh-heh-*heh*.

>
> They care so [ beep ] much about what you people think of them that they
> are willing to lose everything, grasping for what they cannot hold.

MIKE: Why don’t they just kiss you instead of talking you to death?

>
> Public opinion is such a great thing. I love it. Public opinion is
> all about perception.

CROW: Remember always to judge people by how you think your neighbors judge them.

>
> People like Andrew Wiles are nothing without the applause or the
> dreams of it.

TOM: Groupies gathered outside his door, women throwing panties
onto his Fermat’s Last Theorem galley sheets …

> They’ll hold on, and hold on, and hold on,

CROW: His needle’s stuck.

[ MIKE reaches up and “shoves” Mr Harris. ]

> and give
> their energy, their very life blood to hold on to it,

CROW: They’re donor type AB-elian positive.

> even if that is
> the means that is used to build the energy to end the wars.

MIKE: And with it RULE the WORLD!

>
> They give their life’s blood for you to believe in them.

TOM: So everyone in the audience, clap, clap as loud and as hard as you can and just maybe if we all believe enough we can save Dracula!

> And that is
> the energy that drives this forward.
>
> That is the hope of the world.

CROW: That hope, and a cuddly little bunny.

>
> It was always about time. I have always needed time.

MIKE: Time and my new … *LETTERS*!

TOM: He thought up an acronym and that’s enough for us?

>
>
> James Harris

TOM: Thank you, thank you, you’ve been a great crowd. Remember to tip your cows.

CROW: Waitresses.

TOM: Tip your waitresses’s cows.

>
>

MIKE: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL exit, as appropriate. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6.. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. TOM, MIKE, and CROW shake out their heads. ]

MIKE: I think after that we’ve all learned an important lesson.

TOM: And if you don’t want me to put you on the spot by asking what it was you’d better give me a quarter.

MIKE: What are you, Charlie McCarthy? I’m not afraid to explain it.

CROW: Ooh, ooh, ooh, I know, I know what that was all about, can I tell?

MIKE: Yes, yes, you may, Master Crow.

TOM: Fink.

CROW: [ Standing tall ] Ahem. Thank you and thank *you*.
[ TOM snorts. ] That was all about … *cats*. Thank you.

MIKE: [ Touching his shoulder. ] That was elegantly wrong, thank you.

[ AIRLOCK opens and closes. GYPSY enters. ]

MIKE: GYPSY! Hey, good to see you.

TOM: [ Simultaneously ] Gypsy’s back! Yay!

CROW: [ A second later ] Why not cats?

GYPSY: What is … likewise?

TOM: Um …

CROW: It’s been a madhouse without you.

GYPSY: What is … I’d imagined so?

[ MIKE buries his head in his hands. ]

TOM: Don’t say it … you’re suffering from the heartbreak of …

ALL: What is Trebekiasis?

[ MADS sign flashes; MIKE sticks out a hand enough to hit it. ]


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is still in his bed, with a portable typewriter precariously perched on his stomach. The teddy bear is by the typewriter. Occasionally BOBO taps a key. PEARL FORRESTER watches over with blue pencil. OBSERVER is up front. ]

OBSERVER: And welcome back. As long as Professor Bobo’s incapacitated Pearl and I thought it would be a real kick to test out that bit about monkeys at typewriters producing the complete works of Shakespeare, so there you have it.

BOBO: You know, I’m fairly sure I am recovered.

PEARL: Type.

[ BOBO whimpers and then with a single finger hits one key, then another, then gets his fingers jammed between two keys, and whimpers again. ]

PEARL: This just … this isn’t working.

OBSERVER: No, not in the slightest.

PEARL: We need to throw more monkeys at the problem.

[ BOBO grunts while looking up? ]

OBSERVER: I’ll materialize the catapult. [ He walks off. ]

PEARL: [ Surprised, following ] Now that’s the kind of thinking
I want around here.

BOBO: [ Looking at the camera ] Uh-oh.

[ BOBO hides under the blanket, and after a pause, reaches his hand out to grab the teddy bear and pull it under. ]

                    | 
                 \  |  /
                  \ | /
                   \|/
                ----O----
                   /|\
                  / | \
                 /  |  \
                    |

This Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of the James S Harris post “War of Attrition” is done without the explicit permission of any of the many parties who should probably have given it, among them James S Harris, renowned citizen of sci.math; Best Brains Incorportated, renowned production company for Mystery Science Theater 3000; the fine legacy of game shows the world over; and in some unexplained but important fashion, Major League Baseball. No infringement on or challenge to any copyrights, trademarks, service marks, or anything else is intended nor should be inferred. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who probably had more useful things to do with his time, but who is beginning to despair of Dr Mike Neylon ever returning. Thank you.

> The Math Wars are to me all about how some people with position and
> power forget the power of the pen, and sit letting the pot slowly come
> to a boil.


[ The End ]

MiSTed: JSH: War of attrition (Part 2 of 3)


Thanks for joining me for the second part of JSH: War of Attrition, a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic based on James S Harris’s long-forgotten rant on Usenet group sci.math.

The riff about “Frishtory” references a recurring minor villain on Dave The Barbarian, a fun mid-2000s cartoon that like four people remember even counting people who were on its production staff. And I think that’s all that’s particularly baffling in this set of riffs. Other than that nobody remembers Dave The Barbarian.


>
> When I feel a bit down

MIKE: The clerk tells me to stop fondling pillows.

> –like if insulting posters start getting to me–

CROW: Sneaking in under the door while I whap with my flyswatter …

> I can do things like do Google searches on my open source project
> "Class Viewer" which took the number one spot for that search string,
> years ago.

TOM: After the original first-place holder was disqualified for steroid use.

>
> It is all over the world.

CROW: Did you see it waving at you?

> I especially feel honored looking at the
> Chinese page,

MIKE: Which was all Greek to me.

> where words I typed years ago to describe my project
> have been translated.

CROW: If I had typed the words on time they would have been transpunctualled.

>
> That is an odd feeling.

TOM: Like when you think your socks are inside-out.

> And that is just one thing.

MIKE: I have many odd feelings and look forward to sharing every one of them.

>
> Just a few days ago I started talking about a "managed copy" idea of
> mine

CROW: Copies include a full Dilbert’s boss.

> and just typing up a post on my blog I found myself talking about
> it as digital media equipment self-encryption and of course went to
> the initials to designate it DMESE.

MIKE: [ Starting dramatically ] DUN DUN … d … huh?

TOM: He’s … made an acronym? Who cares?

MIKE: Maybe he’s bragging he’s had the idea of initials?

CROW: Or he’s found a flaw in our whole system of letters?

TOM: [ Narrating ] With my new *letters*, words and even *acronyms* can be created even by the likes of foolish unworthy peasants such as *yourself*!

>
> That is just one more thing.

CROW: Funny feelings *and* he has a blog — can nothing stop this man?

>
> Archimedes said that with a level long enough and a place to stand he
> could move the world

MIKE: Sheesh, my dad can barely use the level and a place to stand
to hang pictures straight.

> because he could conceive of greatness on a scale
> that most people cannot.

TOM: Ah, but could he imagine greatness with *letters*?

MIKE: It’s got to be more than making an acronym.

>
> I can move the world.
>
> Not one of you can say the same.

CROW: Not without my *letters*!

TOM: Guy puts initials together, wants world to know. We can play
that game, I guess.

>
> My posts get translated to languages across the planet. I watch ideas
> of mine travel around the world.

MIKE: I see whole civilizations transmitting my messages back in time
to change the course of history!

TOM: Frishtory!

>
> Yet I am still stopped by academics who are dead-set on fighting the
> Math Wars to the bitter end, and mostly they just wait.

CROW: Plus his freshman Calc TA has lousy office hours.

>
> Yes, Princeton academics can stop me today.

MIKE: Yes, they can wrap me head to toe in duct tape and leave me
in the back room. I’ll bring the tape.

> Yes, Harvard academics
> can hold the line today.

TOM: I won’t need the line until the weekend anyway.

>
> But they burn everything their universities have built up over the
> years in the process and I let them.

CROW: To be honest, I’m not sure why I did that. I hope I left myself a note about it.

MIKE: A note made almost entirely of *letters*!

>
> I emailed the University of California at Berkeley to note some
> unethical behavior by Arturo Magidin,

MIKE: Who was clearly abusing the “take all you want” rule at the Golden Prawn Chinese Buffet.

> and noticed at that point that
> Ralph McKenzie is listed as faculty,

TOM: And not as a Decepticon underling.

> where it notes he is at my alma
> mater Vanderbilt University.

CROW: Case closed.

>
> Yup, I know that as I visited him there years ago,

MIKE: But don’t be jealous. Many people can visit professors at Vanderbilt University if they learn my invention of *letters*.

> before my paper was
> published,

TOM: When there were concerts in the park.

> retracted after sci.math’ers including Magidin trumped the
> formal peer review system with some emails,

CROW: Before they sent a squad of highly physically developed
“Mathletes” to do a pole vault over an obelus.

> and the freaking math
> journal died.

TOM: That’s _The Journal of Freaking Math_.

MIKE: The official mathematics journal of Freakazoid.

>
> Academics can only sit and wait, while I move forward over time.

CROW: Occasionally I move too far forward, and bump into the railing overlooking the balcony. I move to the side a little, and start moving forward again.

> Knowing that at the end, I go for the entire system to reform it.
>
> And I will change their world.

MIKE: I will infuse it with drawn butter baked right in.

>
> I send papers to math journals and I [ beep ] well get a reply.

CROW: Like “No” and “Who are you again, exactly?”

> Sure,
> they’re polite rejections but they had better reply to me.

TOM: Or else I may visit people at *more* universities and withhold from them my vitally needed *letters*!

>
> You people don’t get it because I post among you, and you think that
> because I post I must be at your level.

MIKE: I’m actually posting things that are nine-dimensional and subject to rotation in fourteen dimensions at once.


[ To conclude … ]

MiSTed: JSH: War of attrition (Part 1 of 3)


Now may I share the second and I think last James S Harris post I turned into Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. It’s not that Harris stopped writing (at least back then), or even stopped being a wonder to behold. But a lot of his posts tried to argue for his astounding mathematical discoveries everyone else understood wrongly. But that can be hard reading, especially when his error is a big unproven assumption in the middle of a lot of dense reasoning. And just railing against the conspiracy to suppress him gets repetitious. (And, where it got personal, uncomfortable to root on.) So maybe this is as much as I needed to do.

The game-show-themed-diseases thing grew out of like one night where for like half an hour my friends and I were adding “… and a new car!” to the ends of references to things. I think it shows. The segue between “the 23rd of May” and Allan Sherman is the “Don’t Buy The Liverwurst” segment in his medley Shticks Of One And Half A Dozen Of The Other. Fun song. Crow’s line setting it up has the meter of Sherman’s tune. Other cryptic riffs: Hm. Something about the specificity of saying “G4.872” in a riff makes me think I was referencing something, but I don’t remember what. Maybe it was my Mac’s model number or something. Baudot Code was a telegraphic alphabet where each symbol had a five-bit code. It was invented by Émile Baudot, who’s the person referenced in the unit “baud”.


[ OPENING CREDITS. As per season ten. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. DESK. DAY. DENNIS. Behind the desk are a harried CROW and MIKE, accompanied by TOM, in a bathrobe, who’s in the middle of enunciating in his best overblown style. ]

TOM: … and you’ll love the view of the Satellite of Love you get from behind the wheel of … *your new car*!

[ CROW barely suppresses a frustrated cry. ]

MIKE: Hi, everyone. If Crow and I seem to be on the edge of losing all moral judgement it’s because our own Tom Servo here has contracted a nagging case of The Price Is Right Announcer Showcase Segue Syndrome, or Johnny Olson’s Disease …

TOM: … and you’ll recover from your bout with The Price Is Right Announcer Showcase Segue Syndrome by taking a ride to the hospital in … *your new car*!

CROW: [ Staring, jaw-dropped, at CAMBOT. ] He’s gone on just this way on almost everything we say ever since the 23rd of May.

TOM: … and you’ll love listening to your Allan Sherman CD collection on the deluxe collectible sound system in … *your new car*!

MIKE: Gypsy ejected herself into space on Memorial Day.

TOM: … when you can take the season’s first trip to the Shore in —

[ MIKE, screaming, grabs TOM’s dome and tosses it away. ]

TOM: Well, now, *that’s* just overreacting.

[ MADS sign flashes. ]

CROW: Hey, uh, Kitty Carlisle, Mark Goodson, and Bill Todman are calling.

MIKE: Yello?

[ MIKE taps the sign. ]


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PROFESSOR BOBO is laying in bed, clutching a teddy bear and his sheets; OBSERVER is his nurse. PEARL is nibbling from a box of get-well chocolates. ]

BOBO: C … M …

OBSERVER: One more.

BOBO: K … and an I.

PEARL: Oh, stop whining. Bobo’s had Acute Wheel of Fortune Bonus Round Condition for a week and you don’t see Brain Guy about to smack him silly, do you?

BOBO: Licorice tabernacle?

OBSERVER: Actually, Pearl, if you’re asking —

[ PEARL turns around and glares at him. ]

OBSERVER: — Right, then. Three consonants and a vowel, Professor.

BOBO: V … F … H …

OBSERVER: And a vowel?

BOBO: A.

PEARL: Say, you know what’s good for your brain being fried by the incomprehensible ravings of others?

BOBO: Marzipan doorknob?

OBSERVER: You have R, S, T, L, N, E.

BOBO: G … P … W …

PEARL: Why don’t you scurry on into the theater and fry your brains on the incomprehensible ravings of James Harris?

BOBO: U?

PEARL: Scurry along, little ones. Servo. *Now*.

[ PEARL waits confidently while nothing happens. ]

BOBO: Ticonderoga gumdrop?

PEARL: [ Less confident ] Now?

OBSERVER: Giving you R, S, T, L, N, and for a change, E.

BOBO: J … D … R …

OBSERVER: Ooooh. You already had R, sorry.

[ PEARL swats OBSERVER with the candy box, sending some chocolates in the air, which BOBO scoops up eagerly. ]

BRAIN: Oh, yes, right, Mike, sorry. War of Attrition, you know?

[ He does the mind-sending thingy with the sound effect thing. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As above; TOM hasn’t got his dome back yet. ]

TOM: Boy, glad I don’t have an annoying disease like that.

CROW: [ Restrained single-handed by MIKE. ] Lemme at him! Lemme at him! I’ll splat him!

[ MOVIE SIGN ]

MIKE: Save it —

ALL: WE GOT MOVIE SIGN!

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ THEATER. ALL enter, TOM still dome-less. ]

> Path: rpi!news.usc.edu!

TOM: Your USC news feeders coming to you by way of *your new car*!

CROW: Hit him!

[ MIKE puts a fresh dome on TOM. ]

TOM: I’ll be good.

> newsfeed.news.ucla.edu!

CROW: I understand “Newsucla” is a dirty word in some places.

> newsfeed.stanford.edu!postnews.google.com!

MIKE: Post-News-Herald-Dispatch-Tribune-Chronicle-Times-Journal.

> a26g2000pre.googlegroups.com!not-for-mail

TOM: Not for chain mail.

> From: jst…@gmail.com
> Newsgroups: alt.math.undergrad,alt.math,alt.math.recreational,sci.math

CROW: And the sci.math all-number-theory cheerleaders!

> Subject: JSH: War of attrition

MIKE: Isn’t that a Gwar album?

> Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 22:>37:09 -0700

TOM: So it’s … negative 678:37:09?

> Organization: http://groups.google.com
> Lines: 104

CROW: Straight Lines: 75.

> Message-ID: <1180676229.3…@a26g2000pre.googlegroups.com>

MIKE: Remember to pre-Google. You don’t want to search for ‘lentil bathtub’ without warming up.

> NNTP-Posting-Host: 67.164.117.60
> Mime-Version: 1.0

CROW: Nine-Version: 0.1.

> Content-Type: text/plain;

MIKE: But you can decorate it with maybe a cheery scarf or a smiling button?

> charset="iso-8859-1"
> X-Trace: posting.google.com 1180676229 31488 127.0.0.1

TOM: Aren’t those our orbital elements?

> (1 Jun 2007 05:37:09 GMT)

CROW: Grover Meridian Time — the time zone of Grover everywhere!

> X-Complaints-To: groups…@google.com
> NNTP-Posting-Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 05:37:09 +0000 (UTC)

MIKE: The Universal Tickle Company has nothing to add to the time!

> User-Agent: G2/1.0

TOM: G2, G1.0, give or take.

CROW: It’s really G4.872.

> X-HTTP-UserAgent: Mozilla/5.0

MIKE: A fifth of Mozilla?

TOM: With a spot of gin.

> (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.1.4)

CROW: It’s like when the thunderstorm messes up the closed captioning.

> Gecko/20070515 Firefox/2.0.0.4,gzip(gfe),gzip(gfe)

MIKE: [ As Tigger ] G-zip G-zoo, woo hoo hoo hoo!

> Complaints-To: groups…@google.com
> Injection-Info: a26g2000pre.googlegroups.com; posting-host=67.164.117.60;

TOM: But no carbohydrates, so it’s Atkins-friendly.

> posting-account=Q2zO6wwAAABSLuGzZIjG0efOtB9n8fUY

CROW: When computers curse in Baudot code!

> Xref: rpi sci.math:396490

MIKE: I was never good at these analogy questions.

>
> The Math Wars

[ TOM hums the opening to ‘Star Wars’, as in, dum-dum-dum-DAAAA-DUM! ]

> are to me all about how some people with position and
> power forget the power of the pen,

MIKE: To the brew that is true.

CROW: Don’t say a line like that when you’ve just had garlic.

> and sit letting the pot slowly come
> to a boil.

CROW: This week on baffling metaphor theater!

TOM: Then add three cups of sliced carrots and a dash of mustard.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Imagine! Your Christmas Greeting Inside a Chinese Fortune Cooky (Part 2 of 2)


And here I finish off the “Chinese Fortune Cooky” advertisement I started last week. I don’t find much in this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic that needs explanation. You can see I wrote this when I still thought I would make a go of that Web Site Number Nine replacement. At the end of this is a bit that’s supposed to be an ASCII art representation of the mailing blanks, and HTML, alas, cannot understand the concept of “I want blank spaces here”. (Yes, I know about the non-breaking space.)

The original advertisement has a line delivered in that insulting “Chinese” stereotype fashion and while I make fun of it, if you don’t want that stuff in your recreational reading, you are right, and can safely skip this. While it was a fun MiSTing to do I can’t say this has any all-time great lines you’d regret missing.


>
> Yes! If you order twelve of these amazing Christmas
> Greetings,

MIKE: Twelve? Who could possibly have twelve friends at Christmastime?

> the price is only $4.98 for the complete package delivered
> to your door — or only about 40c each!

CROW: 45 cents if you don’t have a door.

> If you order twenty-five,
> then each fortune cooky greeting gift cost you only 36c each!

MIKE: If you order 36, then each costs only twenty-five cents.

> If,
> however, you order fifty or more, then the price can be lowered to
> only 32c each, or $15.95 for fifty.

TOM: They sound hesitant.

CROW: Yeah, like they’re rethinking the whole cookie business model.

> This is far less than many good
> quality cards that cannot compare in the impact and joy that they will
> give your friends!

MIKE: I’d like to see a direct joy comparison on these cards.

>
> CHINESE SANTA CLAUS SAY:

TOM: Oh.

CROW: Please, no.

> “Have Happy Thought

MIKE: Oh, dear.

> — Give
> Greeting that is also Gift!”

TOM: That’s enough, please.

>

CROW: Oh, thank goodness.

> Rush your order today to get your cooky greetings in
> ample time for Christmas mailing.

MIKE: Lest Chinese Santa Claus pop back in with more directions.

> Orders received
> after Nov. 20th will be returned.

TOM: Orders received before November 20th will be rotted out before Christmas.

> So send coupon
> right away.

CROW: Please tell me that’s not more Chinese Santa Claus.

>
>
> +——————————————————————-+
> | HARRISON HOME PRODUCTS CORP.,

TOM: The only home products corporation named for President William Henry Harrison.

> DEPT. 10-DC |

MIKE: Department 10-DC, box 37, desk 4, altitude L-24.

> | 250 Passaic Street, Newark, N. J. |

CROW: Newark: where Christmas meets fortune cookies!

> | |

> | CHECK personalized greeting of your choice: |

TOM: Choose wisely. Wrong answers will be punished.

> | ___ Merry Christmas and Happy New Year |
> | Your Name Here |

MIKE: Ah, ‘Your Name Here’, renowned Chinese fortune cookie teller.

> | ___ Season’s Greetings |

CROW: o/` In our souls … o/`

TOM: o/` Yummy Fruity Pebbles in our bowls. o/`

MIKE: Stop, both of you.

> | Your Name Here |

MIKE: If you have no name, the name of someone you know may be substituted.

> | |
> | I want greetings signed ………………………….. |
> | PRINT PLAINLY |

TOM: I want greetings signed `PLAINLY’?

CROW: Worst Mad-Lib Ever.

> | |
> | Please send me ……….

MIKE: Please send me … [ drumroll … ]

> Personalized Fortune Cooky |

MIKE: [ Cymbal clash. ]

CROW: Yeah, still doesn’t quite work.

> | Greetings, complete with Gift Boxes and individual mailing |
> | cartons. |

TOM: Yes, but will they be mailed to you?

> | |
> | ___ Payment enclosed ……. |

CROW: They rolled it up and slipped it into a fortune cookie.

> | ___ Charge Diner’s Acc’t No. ……… |

MIKE: Charge! Diner’s accountant? No! [ Drumroll! ]

> | |
> | ___ 12 for $4.98

TOM: 13 for $5.38!

> ___ 25 for $8.98

CROW: Six will get you eggroll!

> ___ 50 for $15.95 |

MIKE: You know, I’d kind of like a hoagie instead.

> | SAVE MORE! For each additional 25 over fifty add $7.50 |

TOM: For 25 fewer under fifty subtract $7.50, and it’ll all work out.

> | |
> | NAME………………………………………………… |

[ CROW, TOM, and MIKE snicker overenthusiastically through this. ]

CROW: [ to MIKE and TOM ] All right, all right, ssh, shh, shhh …
[ to the ad ] FIRSTNAME …

[ ALL burst out laughing at this. ]

CROW: [ to MIKE and TOM ] Be cool, be cool. [ to the ad ] … M …

TOM: OOoh, hoo, hooooo, the silliness!

MIKE: Sssh, you’ll wreck it, Tom!

CROW: LASTNAME!
[ MIKE cackles ]

> | ADDRESS……………………………………………… |

TOM: [ to CROW and MIKE ] I got this one, ssh, stop giggling …
[ to the ad ] One Two Three …

[ CROW cackles and then keeps giggling ]

TOM: … 123 _MAIN STREET_!

MIKE: [ Clapping, and then to TOM and CROW ] I got this, you’ll love it.

CROW: Oh, how are gonna top …

> | CITY……………………………

MIKE: ANYTOWN!

[ TOM and CROW are bowled out of their seats laughing. ]

> ZONE….

[ TOM and CROW pull themselves up just enough for this ]

TOM: Zone? Zone is forbidden!

CROW: Take permits many.

> STATE……….. |

[ TOM and CROW giggle in anticipation. ]

MIKE: [ Stoner voice ] State of Confusion, man!

[ ALL cackle and hoot at all this, and then … ]

> | |

[ ALL stop abruptly. ]

TOM: Well. What next?

> | In Canada:

TOM: Oh. Canada.

CROW: My something something something land.

> Order from Harrison Home Products Ltd., |

MIKE: A *completely* different company.

> | 675 King St., W.,

CROW: [ As Jimmy Durante ] It’s under the big St!

> Toronto, Ontario |

TOM: Wait, Toronto doesn’t get zones?

MIKE: Canadians just don’t get zones, man.

> +——————————————————————-+
>

CROW: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. MIKE has a tray with some fortune cookies on top, and a paper-wrapped shoebox, and another similarly wrapped box about twice the size. TOM and CROW are to the side, watching this. ]

MIKE: Now, each of you has picked one fortune cookie and I’m giving Tom here the chance to trade what’s in the cookie for what’s in the little box, do you want to trade?

CROW: Take the box!

TOM: The box … the cookie … the box … yeah, I’m gonna go with the box.

MIKE: All right, and inside the box is … [ he lifts up the shoebox, revealing two fortune cookies inside ] Ah, another cookie!

[ CROW laughs at TOM. ]

MIKE: Now, do you want to look at the contents of the cookie, or do you want to trade it for the modestly larger box?

TOM: I … I …

CROW: Keep the cookie!

TOM: All right, the cookie.

MIKE: [ Cracking it open and eating the cookie ] And inside the cookie … ‘You get the modestly larger box!’

[ CROW cackles ]

MIKE: And inside the modestly larger box is … [ lifting it up, to reveal another fortune cookie ] … another cookie, with … [ MIKE cracks it open, eating the cookie and reading the fortune ] … ah! You win the original two cookies!

TOM: [ Completely baffled ] Uh … yay?

CROW: Ah, Tom, loser-boy, you get … uh … wait …

[ MIKE slides both cookies over to TOM. ]

CROW: I’m confused.

MIKE: Then we’ve had a good day. And if you at home are having a good day, why not consider the new MiSTings archive lurching its way into existence at http://www.-.com/mst3000/ ? It’s got MiSTings, and … uh … quotes from MiSTings, and isn’t that plenty in these troubled times? Thank you, won’t you?

[ MADS sign flashes; MIKE taps it. ]

[ DEEP 13. PEARL FORRESTER and DR FORRESTER are looking over boxes of DEEP 13-labelled stuff which they study. ]

PEARL: You know, if we have them buy cookie dough, and set delivery …

DR. F: Yeah, then they forget it and we can keep the money and the dough.

PEARL: [ Breaking concentration ] Is that a pun?

DR. F: No! No no no no no no no no … no … wait, was it?

PEARL: That was *totally* a pun. and you know what that means.

[ DR FORRESTER reluctantly turns around and walks, ashamed, to stand in a corner. ]

DR. F: [ Calling out ] Ah, until next time, cookie puss?

PEARL: Clayton! Rules.

[ DR FORRESTER slumps sadly in his corner. ]

PEARL: Cookies. What were we thinking? It should have been pot luck.

[ She presses the button ]

                 \  |  /
                  \ | /
                   \|/
                 ---O---
                   /|\
                  / | \
                 /  |  \

Mystery Science Theater 3000, its characters and situations and everything are the property of Best Brains, Inc, and don’t think anyone is challenging that at all. The Fortune Cooky scheme belongs to the Harrison Home Products Corporation of Newark, New Jersey, of 1962, and was advertised as such in the Diners’ Club Magazine of October 1962. http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2009/01/29/imagine-your-christmas-greeting-inside-a-chinese-fortune-cooky/ for the original.

Keep circulating the posts.

> CHINESE SANTA CLAUS SAY: “Have Happy Thought — Give
> Greeting that is also Gift!”

MiSTed: Imagine! Your Christmas Greeting Inside a Chinese Fortune Cooky (Part 1 of 2)


Now for two weeks of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction I probably should have run back in December. Ah well. This is another advertisement reprinted on a now-defunct Modern Mechanics blog, offering just what the subject line suggests.

I set the host sketches for this MiSTing in Season 7 of the show — the Pearl-and-Dr-Forrester year — because there were almost none set then. I think there were more MiSTings where people came up with their own, post-season-6 “new settings” than that short season ever got.

The New Jersey Big Sea Day is something that I, a New Jersey native, never heard of before running across a mention in Walt Kelly’s Pogo. It’s this early-August festival in Manasquan, on the Shore, with sandcastle-building and stuff like that. Von Steuben Day is a late-September celebration of Friedrich von Steuben, the Prussian military officer who introduced General Washington’s Continental Army to “training”.

The riff about where fortune cookies came from reflected the best information I had on hand around a decade ago when I wrote this MiSTing. It’s also not any kind of joke, but what am I going to do with trivia, not shove it in front of people’s faces? That would be impossible.

Axiomatic to my riffing is the supposition that it’s a silly idea to have customized messages printed in fortune cookies. But it’s not that silly. It would definitely get people to talk about whatever you or your organization put in there. It’s just what they would say is, “Huh. Cute” and then stop. It probably would take more than ten minutes to make fortune cookies from scratch, but not that much longer. They only need, like, five minutes to bake, even if you have a 1962 oven.


[ SEASON SEVEN opening credits. ]

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. Desk. MIKE is reading the SATELLITE NEWS; CROW and TOM carrying bags slung over their shoulders enter. The bags are full of greeting cards. ]

TOM: [ Hesitantly ] Ahem?

CROW: [ Coughing ] Um … uh …

TOM: [ Nervous, once MIKE, perhaps unwisely, looks up ] Ah, good day or evening sir and/or ma’am?

CROW: [ Also as a frightened child ] And with the upcoming seasons of seasonal greetings with calling for celebrations of seasonal greetings to be given out around the holiday seasoning …

TOM: [ To CROW ] You’re skipping, let me! [ To MIKE ] And for only twenty cents per card on certain deals you can have a customized and personal message for convenient home delivery?

MIKE: [ Patiently putting down the newspaper ] Oh, let’s see. Tom? Crow? Trying to build an economy on me sending cards to you, Crow, and Gypsy for Christmas?

TOM: Not merely for Christmas mister and/or missus Mike but for any of the holidays you can send out cards for.

MIKE: So I could send my wishes to the three of you for any holiday that I felt like?

CROW: Our fine line of finely lined cards are open to many interpretative holiday acts.

MIKE: Ah-huh. So you’re actually getting me set for the New Jersey Big Sea Day, and not just, oh, running some thing where Doctor and Mrs Forrester get you to swipe my meager paycheck for a promise of delivery of cards about three months after I forget I ever wanted any at all?

[ DEEP 13. DR FORRESTER and PEARL FORRESTER are squinting into the camera. ]

DR.F: Mother, they’re on to us!

PEARL: Clayton, go deep, break left, watch for the long pass.

[ DR FORRESTER runs to the far end of Deep 13. ]

PEARL: All right, if we can’t get you on cards … [ She punches several miscellaneous buttons as DR FORRESTER prances back and forth in the background ] … We’ll get you *cookies*!

DR.F: I’m open!

[ PEARL grabs a piece of Deep 13-crusted camera gear and tosses it at DR FORRESTER, who catches it, knocking him over. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. MIKE is staring at the camera while TOM and CROW bump one another’s card bags. ]

MIKE: … the heck?

[ MOVIE SIGN starts up. ]

ALL: Aaaah! Movie sign!

TOM: I want cookies!

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1.. ]

[ ALL enter the theater. ]

> Imagine!

TOM: Now stop imagining! Settle! Now rationalize your settling!

> Your Christmas Greeting Inside a Chinese Fortune
> Cooky!

MIKE: A `cooky’?

CROW: What a kookie idea.

>
> Your Friends will be Amazed and Delighted

TOM: You know, the way people are often amazed by fortune cookies.

> When They Open this
> Gay Attractive Package

CROW: What, in public?!

> And See Your Personalized Greeting

MIKE: Even now their eyes are rolling and they’re sighing patiently at your kookieness.

>
> Think of it!

TOM: Keep thinking of it, until you have a good idea instead.

> Just picture this scene, taking place in each of
> your friends’ homes!

CROW: OK, we have a place, now, we need professions.

TOM: Dentists!

CROW: OK, a bunch of dentists at a friend’s home and what are they there for?

MIKE: Elvis impersonations!

CROW: Elvis-impersonating dentists at a friend’s home, there’s our scene, let’s go!

>
> Approximately one or two weeks before Christmas this year,
> your friends’ doorbell rings!

TOM: Sure, like your friends even know people who *ring* doorbells.

MIKE: That doesn’t even mean anything, Tom.

TOM: Er … hush.

> There, in the hands of their postman,

CROW: It’s a letter in the bag for me!

> along with the usual run of ordinary Christmas cards, is something
> completely different

TOM: It’s a Christmas Belgian Waffle!

> — a small, cardboard Christmas container, with
> their name and address on the front, but with no other
> identification!

MIKE: Immediately the bomb squad is called in.

>
> The ordinary cards are tossed aside!

TOM: The recipients panic, wrecking their home while fleeing!

> Eyes focus on this
> mysterious container as your friends slip it apart!

CROW: Your cookies are detonated at a secure facility in Utah!

> And just picture
> the expression on their faces when they draw out of that container a
> lovely Christmas Ornament Box

MIKE: A Box? Why, that’s even better than being *loved*!

> — with its brilliant red braided silk
> string to hang it on their tree

TOM: Murray, you’re supposed to hang it on the Christmas tree, not the diseased elm out back.

> — with the year 1962 in blazing red
> numerals on its face

CROW: The moldy, rotted remains of ancient cookies on the inside.

> — with its sides and bottom covered with gay
> white, red, yellow and brown Christmas figures

TOM: That certainly don’t reflect dopey old-time casual racist stereotypes so stop bracing for that shoe to drop.

> — and with its top
> printed with the command, in red letters, to “OPEN ME HERE”!

MIKE: OR SUFFER MY MIGHTY COOKIE WRATH!

> As
> your friends open that top, as they peer into the inside of that
> beautiful little Christmas box

CROW: .. as they free the unimaginable cookie spirits within …

> — what they see is a Chinese Fortune
> Cooky — the eternal symbol of good luck, good fortune and long-lived
> happiness!

TOM: That were invented around 1910.

CROW: By Japanese immigrants.

MIKE: To San Francisco.

TOM: That’s kind of eternal, right?

>
>
> ON YOUR TREE

MIKE: ON YOUR TREES, EVERYONE! This is *not* a cookie drill!

> — a Gift for Every Friend and Neighbor!

CROW: For up to four friends or neighbors.

> Hang your tree with colorful ornaments that become Gay

TOM: Wouldn’t a cookie drill just break?

MIKE: Huh?

> Greeting Gifts when neighbors and children drop in
> this Holiday Season.

CROW: But the holiday is Von Steuben Day.

TOM: I mean as soon as you tried drilling something with it. Cookies are fragile.

MIKE: Thanks for being on top of that, Tom.

>
> And when they break open that Fortune Cooky, there, inside,

CROW: Is the bomb!

> individually printed on colored Christmas paper, is your personal
> greeting — SIGNED BY YOUR OWN PRINTED NAME!

TOM: Oh, my stars.

MIKE: It’s like a Christmas card, only complicated!

>
> Yes! This Christmas, you can amaze your friends and loved
> ones

MIKE: Never before had they imagined such reasons to avoid you!

> with a completely different kind of Christmas Greeting Package —

TOM: A *box*!

> that gives them a thrilling surprise when they open it

CROW: Wait, you can *open* the box too? That changes everything!

> — that hangs
> as an attractive ornament on their Christmas tree after they open it

MIKE: Peeling the tree open with band saw and corkscrew.

> — that they’ll pick off that tree and show with pride to their
> friends for months to come

TOM: Your friends who leave their trees up for months after Christmas.

> — and yet, that costs you no more than a
> ordinary, good-quality Christmas Card that you buy in a store!

CROW: You know, the kinds of cards that people like.

>
> No wonder your phone will ring constantly the week before
> Christmas,

TOM: As your phone seeks revenge!

> congratulating you on this amazing Christmas greeting!

MIKE: It’s so amazing, you could buy something that takes nearly ten minutes to make from scratch!

> No
> wonder your friends will beg you to tell them where you got it!

CROW: And you’ll withhold the information, cackling with glee at your casual cruelty.

> No
> wonder they’ll hang it in a place of honor on their tree — take it
> off that tree to show to their friends.

TOM: Thereby defeating the point of hanging it on the tree.

>
> THE PERFECT GREETING FOR YOUR COMPANY OR ASSOCIATES

MIKE: “GREETINGS, COMPANY OR ASSOCIATES!”

TOM: Perfect!

> Wish your clients, customers and business associates
> Good Fortune and Good Luck for this Holiday Season
> and the New Year.

CROW: Their lucky numbers are 24, 33, and 33, and on the back are the Chinese words for “headache” and “potato”.

>
> And how much does all this fun cost you?

TOM: Remember to add the cost of lost dignity.

>
> As you know, regular good-quality Christmas Cards usually
> cost 50c — 75c—even $1

CROW: Two dollars!

TOM: Eighteen dollars!

MIKE: A million dollars!

> or more each!

TOM: Uphill! Both ways!

> But now, if you take
> advantage of this special offer, you can send your friends these
> personalized Chinese Fortune Cooky Christmas Packages — complete —

MIKE: What’s an incomplete fortune cookie?

CROW: That’s where they forget the little laminated bill for the buffet.

> for as little as 32c each!

TOM: That seems kind of pricey for a cookie for 1962.


[ To conclude … ]

MiSTed: I WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO TURN Potatoes into CASH! (Part 2 of 2)


And now let me conclude one of my most giddy, silly Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fictions. As mentioned last week, this started as an advertisement in a 1930s issue of Modern Mechanix. Seems like one of those things that might have been legitimate enough, if you wanted to spend your time and energy making and selling potato chips. I’m going to guess this isn’t how the Better Made chip empire was born, though.

The closing sketch is a riff on the old-time-radio series Lum and Abner, for not much reason besides I like the show. I was getting into it when I wrote this MiSTing originally. (It’s a great example of the 15-minute serial comedy.) And it would not be absurd if Lum and Abner — about two completely guileless Arkansas shopkeepers, often trying some scheme to get some extra money — had a story where they tried to get rich making potato chips.

The end of the sketch has Tom Servo announcing a replacement for Web Site Number Nine. This was a project I was doing back then, to learn PHP and database stuff that might get me a job and also serve the community. I never got happy with the finished project, but I use some of the scripts for that even today, to do all the nice formatting on these MiSTings that give the quoted text a light blue background and that highlights Mike and Joel and Crow and Tom Servo’s names. So if you know someone who’d be willing to pay me, oh let’s say $65,000 pa for that coloring scheme, let me know, okay? Thanks.

The “used Sklar” references the Sklar Brothers, whose Cheap Seats show on ESPN Classic(?) in the early 2000s scratched many of our Mystery Science Theater 3000 itches. But with more sports and spelling bees. I don’t remember whether the blogger gotten for trading Tom Servo meant anyone in particular or just a comment on how, hey, bloggers, they’re always making fun of stuff that doesn’t need it, right?


>
> BIG PROFITS

MIKE: No, bigger!

TOM: It’s a wild profiteeria!

>
> The profits in this business are enormous.

CROW: [ Amused ] They’re potato-y chip-tacular!

> You can
> take $11.50 in raw material

TOM: [ Announcing ] Any raw material! Have some bauxite? Make potato chips with that!

> — run it through the machine

CROW: [ Feebly ] We, ah, we’re still working on this part but it’s going to be great!

> and take out enough chips to bring you $35 cash

MIKE: [ Amused ] Cash or potato chips!

> — selling at
> wholesale. A clear profit for your time of $23.50.

TOM: Wow!

CROW: Why, that’s nearly twenty-four dollars!

MIKE: You can almost buy Manhattan on that potato chip fortune!

> And that’s
> one day’s output for the machine.

CROW: [ Humoring this ] Why, in two days you could make a profit of $47!

> At this rate it is possible
> for a man and wife working together to make $135.00 a week.

TOM: [ Humoring ] Hey, that’s a whole twenty-*seven* dollars a day!

MIKE: [ As the announcer ] The money is just pouring in! And it’s just potatoes and bauxite!

> And now the complete plant — with my new machine —

CROW: I call it … the POTATO machine!

MIKE: It’s amazingly fantastic and chip-based!

> can be
> put into your kitchen or basement

TOM: Or toss it immediately on the pile for the garage sale.

> for less than the down
> payment on a cheap car.

MIKE: Far less than the payment for a whole car company!

>
> SEND POSTAL FOR FREE INFORMATION

CROW: [ Announcing ] Mail anything to anything else!

MIKE: [ Likewise ] Just mail something! You’ll get valuable free information!

TOM: [ Likewise ] And if you meet a Postal then send it!

>
> Send your name and address today on a postal card.

MIKE: [ Announcing ] Include a sample of your favorite potato chip!

> I’ll send you pictures

TOM: *Uh*-oh.

> and information free showing exactly how
> you can start at home and make money the first day.

CROW: Full explanations of what a potato is!

TOM: Clear diagrams show what parts are the skin!

MIKE: Helpful “Frequently Asked Questions” show how to identify a potato in under twenty minutes a day!

> All
> information is Free.

TOM: We make our money selling potato chip toner!

> No obligation.

MIKE: Just your friends and family rolling their eyes and talking to you through clenched teeth!

>
> O. K. MILLER,

TOM: Didn’t he have a series on Mutual Broadcasting?

> 325 W. Huron St.,

CROW: Here on Huron?

TOM: Huron chips!

> Dept. 406 Chicago,
> Illinois

MIKE: Chicago! Potato chip by the Lake!

CROW: 406 potato chips by the Lake!

TOM: Time to blow this popsicle stand.

[ 1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … ]


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW and MIKE are behind the desk, with General Store-type toy junk scattered haphazardly. From one plastic barrel MIKE takes and eats a potato chip. ]

MIKE: [ With an Arkansan accent, kept until the note later on ] Well, if this weren’t one of the most underwhelmed p’tato chips I ever did see.

CROW: [ Similar accent, also kept until the note ] I doggies, Lum, I knowed it, but what are we s’pposed to do ‘gainst the Squire’s p’tato chip monopoly?

MIKE: [ As a jingling bell rings ] Hold on there, that’s a stranger come into our store, ain’t it?

[ TOM, with a bouquet of potato chips in his bubble, enters; he speaks normally but ebulliently. ]

TOM: Gentlemen! Could I interest you in as many potato chips as I have bauxite to make and pass the savings on to you? Please try a sample — my bubble is perfectly hygienic!

[ MIKE samples a chip. ]

MIKE: By gum — this here ‘tato chip tastes like more than p’tatoes!

CROW: Now, that’s plum silly, how can that happen?

MIKE: [ Giving CROW a chip ] But it’s got itself a tasting like they was sour cream and chives in it! Chives!

TOM: Yes! I bring you chives! And at under twenty-three dollars!

CROW: [ Finishing nibbling ] Why if it weren’t the most amazing thing I ever did see! What a future we got ourselves to live in!

TOM: And we are near a breakthrough on dip!

MIKE: [ Folding his hands together, and, bowing — with this, MIKE and CROW give up the accents and resume speaking normally ] And … scene. [ Eating another chip from TOM ] Thank you, gentlemen. Now, Tom, you had a special announcement, didn’t you?

TOM: Why, yes. Our potato chip bit is all in fun —

CROW: [ Muttering to himself ] Potato chip bite.

TOM: *Thank* you, Crow. But for Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fictions or MiSTings, whichever comes first, plus MiSTing quotes yanked out of all context, why not try the shiny new web site

http://www.—–.com/mst3000/

TOM: Thank you, won’t you?

CROW: And what about the Dibs List for future MiSTing authors?

TOM: [ Looking at CROW ] You can’t just let me have my moment, can you? For shame, Crow, for shame.

[ TOM exits, sulking. ]

MIKE: Right, ah, what do you think, sirs?


[ DEEP 13. DR FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK are piling up open baskets of potato chips. TV’s FRANK eats one. ]

FRANK: Dip? Dip?! Why, we’ve almost solved the problem of cheddar cheese potato chips! Get out of here with your dip!

DR F: As the henchling says, gentlemen. Why, at 23 dollars and 50 cents we’ll be rolling in crispy, fried money by tomorrow.

FRANK: Oh, and I’m going to trade Crow for a used Sklar.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW is riled up; MIKE is eating potato chips. ]

CROW: What? Me? What for? Which Sklar?

[ DEEP 13. As before. ]

FRANK: Who knows? Besides, I’m getting a blogger for trading Tom. Hey, Steve, shall I push the button?

DR F: No, Frank, you should push the button.

FRANK: Oh, OK, I’ll do that instea — huh?


                     | 
                  \  |  /
                   \ | /
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                -----O-----
                    /|\
                   / | \
                  /  |  \
                     |
                

Mystery Science Theater 3000, its characters and situations and everything are the property of Best Brains, Inc, and don’t think anyone is challenging that at all. O K Miller’s advertisement copy is used for non-commercial parody and commentary purposes so don’t get the idea any infringement-like things are meant. I’m curious how the machine worked. No defamation of the Squire was intended.

Rotisserie League sports have that name because of a group of Philadelphia Phillies fans in early 1980 who gathered at Manhattan’s Rotisserie Francaise restaurant on East 52nd Street for fantasy league meetings. Special thanks for the “tragedy … and party snacks” line as well as to my beta testers.

Keep circulating the posts.

> START YOU in a Profitable Potato Chip Business At Home


[ The End ]

MiSTed: I WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO TURN Potatoes into CASH! (Part 1 of 2)


I’m happy to bring another recovered MiSTing and one I don’t think I’ve read in a five years easily. I remembered having written it, but not most of the riffs on this old Modern Mechanix advertisement. So I’m happy for the rediscovery. This is among my silliest of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fictions. The great bombastic but silly lead of the original material makes it easy to stay goofy. I can certainly hear the Jam Handy Repertory Players narrator reading the advertising copy.

Dr Forrester’s line about “Did you know everything you can count can be turned into money for people who aren’t you?” feels like I’m somehow riffing on the NFT scam, a decade and a half before it was even invented.


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW and TOM, wearing glasses with pencils tucked against their heads, are going over a mess of papers, as MIKE, wearing a baseball glove and playing with a ball, enters and surveys the scene. ]

TOM: 48 out of 152 by my count.

CROW: Yeah, but there were like a dozen assists.

TOM: They don’t count when you get yelled at for them.

CROW: They do too! Mike! [ Startling MIKE, who drops the ball. ] Tell Tom they count!

MIKE: Tell Tom what counts and for who’s counting, Crow?

TOM: Oh, don’t pad, Mike.

CROW: Our *statistics*, Mike. We’ve got to update our statistics on riffs attempted, riffs completed, laughs gotten, bobbled references, all these things.

MIKE: And this is important … why?

TOM: For our rotisserie league! Sheesh, don’t you follow anything?

MIKE: Constantly. What rotisserie —

[ MADS SIGN flashes. ]

MIKE: Oh, for the love of … hello?

[ DEEP 13. TV’s FRANK is sitting at a collapsible table with many sheets of grid paper and books as he works. DR FORRESTER sits opposite him with a small pile of cash. ]

FRANK: So center seat I’ve got Mike … left seat I’m going to stick with Tom … right seat … what do you think, ten bucks for Crow?

DR F: Absolutely.

FRANK: [ Handing a bill over to DR F ] All right! I got a team!

DR F: [ Pocketing the bill ] You’ve got a rare talent, Frank.

[ DR FORRESTER faces the camera. ]

DR F: Well, now, minions. Did you know everything you can count can be turned into money for people who aren’t you? It can. Now off to the theater and let’s generate some statistics, mmm? Your game today is an advertisement for potato chip manufacture … riff all you want, boys, we’ll make more.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ]

TOM: Did he just Jay Leno all over us?

CROW: This can only end in tragedy. And party snacks.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes; general alarm. ]

MIKE: Later, we got movie sign!

[ 6 … 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 … ]

[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

CROW: All right! Tie game so far!

> MODERN MECHANIX

MIKE: And practical jokes!

CROW: Like the spelling.

> AND INVENTIONS
> June 1935

TOM: [ Snorting ] Blazing its way from print, to us, to you.

MIKE: It’s not so much snail-mail as continental-drift-mail.

> http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2006/05/03/turn-potatoes-into-cash/

TOM: Oh, now we’ve got blog all over the … potatoes into cash? The heck?

>
> I WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO TURN Potatoes into CASH!

MIKE: Worst counterfeiting scheme ever.

>
> START YOU in a Profitable Potato Chip Business At Home

CROW: [ Taking odd offense ] Yeah? Well … start *you* in a profitable potato chip business at home, then!

>
> THE invention of a marvelous new machine

MIKE: Excuse me, that’s [ Booming, announcing ] *A* marvelous *NEW* machine.

> throws the big
> potato-chip market wide open again.

TOM: After the big Ruffles-Lays bailout.

> Even if your community is
> being supplied with old fashioned chips,

CROW: Hand-carved by traditional artisans working under a stern but understanding taskmaster.

> I’ll show you how to
> step in and grab the market,

MIKE: [ Booming ] Unless you meet my demands immediately!

CROW: Won’t the potato chip market be all greasy and have that salt grit all over your fingers?

> rake the profits into your own
> pocket.

TOM: I don’t have a pocket.

MIKE: [ Announcing ] I’ll show you how to afford a pocket!

CROW: I don’t have a rake.

MIKE: [ As above ] You’ll be able to afford a rake!

TOM: A pocket rake!

> You simply manufacture and sell to stores at wholesale
> — let stores sell for you.

CROW: Stores selling things! Why, it’s brilliant!

MIKE: Oh, now, he’s thought of everything.

> I furnish complete plant and
> exact instructions for making profits the first day.

TOM: [ Announcing ] The fourth, sixth, and ninth days you have to wing it!

>
> "GREASELESS" Potato Chips Made by New Machine

MIKE: One hundred percent John-Travola-free in minutes!

>
> Think of it — for the first time —

CROW: They’re right! It’s amazing! For the first time!

TOM: Third time it’s just kind of `huh’.

> a Potato Chip
> from which all excess oil has been extracted by my new
> "wringer".

TOM: [ As the advertiser ] And sold to the worldwide potato oil cartels!

> Look better, taste better, stay fresh longer.

CROW: What if I want to stay fresh wider? What then?

> No
> wonder the public is crazy about this new kind of chip.

MIKE: Potato chips with the great, great taste of guys who buy stuff from Modern Mechanics ads.

> No
> wonder my operators are having such big success,

TOM: And fabulous cash prizes!

> even with no
> experience.

CROW: Even with no potatoes!


[ To conclude … ]

MiSTed: JSH: So They Lied (Part 3 of 3)


And now let me wrap up my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of James S Harris’s Usenet rant, “So They Lied”. When I split this piece up for easier reading, I thought this last piece was longer than it was. In word count it’s about the same as the first two segments. This may be some lesson about how the back-and-forth of text and riffing will seem different from the dialogue of host sketches.

At one point one of the sci.math regulars, trying to give James Harris every possible benefit, tried to use his revolutionary new factoring method as it existed that month (it saw many, many revisions) to decompose 15 into 3 times 5. The proof went on and on and on, and bringing in bigger and bigger numbers, and not showing any hints of producing a ‘3’ or a ‘5’ from all this. It’s the only time I have ever seen factoring numbers be laugh-out-loud funny. Mr Harris did not see the humor.

When I wrote this it was a safe bet that the Cubs would lose in excruciating ways. We’ve lost all our traditions lately. Bobo factoring large numbers in his head is another expression of my liking dumb characters having weird corners of hypercompetence. (And I remember doing some fishing around looking for a good prime number somewhere in the millions. The other numbers I think I found by taking some small prime numbers and multiplying them together.) I feel like Pearl’s fuming and then finally doing nothing more than throwing some papers around is a reference to something, but I can’t think what. The little “closing credits” line about the alien soccer tournament certainly refers to something, but I don’t remember if it was an in-joke with my friends or something that could possibly communicate.


>
> Is life really not fair, or are most people cowards to the truth?

MIKE: Uhm … I say ‘not fair’.

TOM: I say ‘coward’.

CROW: ‘Coward’, definitely.

TOM: Make mine ‘not fair’.

MIKE: I want to change to ‘coward’ now.

CROW: Maybe it is just ‘not fair’.

TOM: I’m gonna write in ‘The Beatles’.

>
> A person like me comes around only every hundred years or so,

CROW: The mathematics of Brigadoon.

> and
> people forget.
>
> And then a LOT of people die,

MIKE: So World War I was started by the mathematicians?

> and then the mythologies are written,

CROW: About … mathematicians.

> legends are born.

TOM: About …

MIKE: Right.

CROW: Yeah, I remember this one mathematician who … uhm …

>
> But make no mistake, you might be one of those people who die THIS
> time.

MIKE: But *only* if you finish your chores.

>
> I suggest to you that even if you don’t give a damn about mathematics,

CROW: Give a *darn*, thank you.

> couldn’t care less about what is truth, why should you protect fakes
> who have betrayed you, yet again,

MIKE: Maybe you like the fakes. Some of them have great parties.

CROW: I love those parties. You know, “Isn’t everyone here so really?”

> and in their inability to understand
> and their lack of intelligence, they leave the world vulnerable,

MIKE: The world is just feeling very fragile right this minute.

> because this time, to stop this post, all they had to do was step
> up–and protect the world?

CROW: Step right up! Protect three worlds for a nickel!

>
> TODAY they could have stepped up to protect the world.

MIKE: Tomorrow, they could step up to protect Neptune.

>
> Die for them?

CROW: Who?

>
> Why?

TOM: Good question.

>
> And even if you won’t die, why let anyone else?

CROW: Strap a mathematician into a protective baby seat!

>
> Their quiet is your answer if you had questions.

MIKE: So it’s a good thing you asked them what quiet sounded like.

>
> Yes, they lied. They betrayed the world. And they lost.

TOM: But they’ve got a pocket full of quarters and can play all day.

>
> Question now is, who loses with them?

MIKE: I’m guessing the Cubs.

>
> James Harris

MIKE: Or yeah, he’ll do too.

[ ALL exit. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. TOM SERVO, MIKE, and CROW are filling out a form. ]

MIKE: All right, so, who was running the world according to that?

TOM: Uh … I don’t know … mathematicians were running mathematics?

MIKE: [ Writing ] And what was their objective?

CROW: We don’t have any idea.

MIKE: [ Still writing ] Don’t … have … idea. Method of ruling the world?

CROW: Something to do with prime numbers.

MIKE: Prime … numbers. Likelihood of success?

TOM: We have no idea what that was all about.

MIKE: … Was … all … about. Okay, Pearl, good luck with your world conquest through prime numbers.


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PROFESSOR BOBO and OBSERVER are working as above; PEARL is in front, by the camera. After a pause OBSERVER does that brain-wave thing, and MIKE’s report pops into her hand. ]

PEARL: Excellent! And when we take over this … cabal … we’ll be able to … uh … factorize numbers like … twenty-eight thousand, eight hundred fifty eight in —

BOBO: [ Without looking up ] Two times forty-seven times three hundred seven.

PEARL: [ Slighty thrown ] Or … one million, five hundred thirty-one thousand, one hundred twelve …

BOBO: Two to the third power times eleven times one hundred twenty-seven times one hundred thirty-seven.

PEARL: [ Challenging ] 89 thousand, one hundred seventy-five.

BOBO: [ Finally looking at her ] Three times five squared times twenty-nine times forty-one.

PEARL: [ Testy ] Nine million … three hundred eighty six thousand … seven hundred thirty-one.

BOBO: Is already prime.


[ PEARL stares at BOBO. OBSERVER slips his pile of papers onto BOBO’s table while she fumes, and then slips away. After letting her temper build, PEARL grabs all the papers on BOBO’s table and throws them in the air, creating a flurry of sheets of paper. ]

PEARL: [ Turning to the camera; oddly pleasant ] Thanks for the help.
We’ll be in touch over the holiday season.

                        \   |   /
                         \  |  /
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                        ----O----
                           /|\
                          / | \
                         /  |  \
                        /   |   \

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc, so kindly nobody tell them about this and we’ll all be better off. The essay “So They Lied” is the property of James S Harris as posted to sci.math. This MiSTing as a whole is the property of Joseph Nebus, who doesn’t intend anything mean-spirited or hostile to James Harris, Brad Guth, Best Brains, or the concept of Mystery Science Theater 3000. If they just won the alien soccer tournament, they’re going to be too tired to fly all the way to Earth just for dessert toppings. Please come back, Dr Mike Neylon!

> Now I have found a new factoring method.
>
> Literally trillions of dollars WILL move as a result, but for now, you
> can see the quiet as these people keep lying.


[ The end ]

MiSTed: JSH: So They Lied (Part 2 of 3)


And now the second of three parts of James Harris’s declaration to Usenet group sci.math, “So They Lied”. Rants were always good for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment; they had much of the energy of a really strident mental-hygiene film but were about even more ridiculous things than, like, whether you were brushing your teeth in the correct order.

I’m not sure there’s any riffs that need explaining here. Maybe just the note that Gauss was one of those spectacular once-in-a-century mathematicians. I think I’m more obscure in the last part. Oh, Fermat’s Little Theorem is this cute little thing. If p is a prime number, and a is a whole number, then a^p - a is some whole multiple of p. It’s not hard to prove but it feels like it is, in Intro to Abstract Algebra, where you learn to do that stuff. It has nothing to do with Fermat’s Last Theorem.

I tend not to make riffs where the characters wish they weren’t reading the thing. I can’t get past how I-the-author don’t just choose to read the original but choose to go out of my way to focus on it. But Mike and the Bots offering to let Mr Harris, and them, do other stuff was too solidly in-character. Also, probably, good advice too. If you’re getting very worked up about your revolutionary new concept in number theory and arguing about it online, you maybe need to do something else until you find the part where your work wasn’t as correct as you had supposed.


>
> Trouble is, the worst thing for people faking at being mathematicians
> is someone who actually is a mathematician.

TOM: The second-worst thing is being caught by a cop for
differentiating in public.

>
> So they beat up such people,

CROW: [ Snickering ]

MIKE: Yeah, my Freshman Calc TA could beat up … well …

TOM: The other Freshman Calc TA?

MIKE: Maybe.

> force them out of the discipline,

CROW: Turn their backs and go “nyah nyah nyah I can’t hear you”!

> and
> drown them out with crowd forces.

TOM: Challenge them to sword fights with their old slide rules!

>
> Their loophole was the reality that major mathematicians only come
> around once every couple of hundred years,

CROW: Everybody, look busy, Gauss is coming through!

> so they got away with it for
> a bit over a hundred years,

MIKE: Makes it sound like a pretty good deal, actually.

> and I was forced into my destiny.

TOM: I held aloft my magic sword, and said, “By the power of Greyskull” and then … well, nothing happened, and I felt kind of silly.

>
> If it were up to me, I’d be doing so many other things than this.

CROW: Well, don’t let us stop you.

MIKE: Hey, I’ve got some stuff to do if you need new projects.

>
> But it’s not up to me,

TOM: It’s up to my mom.

> I’m driven by some overwhelming force that makes
> me fight against these people pretending to be real mathematicians, and
> so, here we are.

MIKE: Don’t you see, what I’m trying to say is, will you marry me?

>
> The encryption system that they said was so powerful–because they’re
> not real mathematicians–is now, as I type this,

TOM: Pig Latin.

> broken. The world
> does not know this

CROW: Don’t tell it. You’ll just wreck its sleep.

> because the social forces are that strong, but
> eventually the truth will be known.

TOM: It will be whispered to David Duchovny, who won’t understand it.

>
> These people are people some of you admire and trust,

CROW: Real people. Salt of the earth types.

> who have sat
> back, for years now, clearly I think,

MIKE: In groups of, three words or, so.

> believing that social forces
> could stop someone like me.

TOM: Stopping *you*, or stopping someone who’s only *like* you?

>
> But mathematics is more than just a word.

CROW: It’s a whole kooky groovy far-out scene, man.

>
> The proof for those of you who hoped, believed, or just wanted to deny
> the truth is in that new factoring method,

MIKE: Identify the factors of fifteen in under three hours!

> which if the people you
> thought were mathematicians actually were, then they’d be talking about
> it everywhere, warning the world,

CROW: GANGWAY!

MIKE: THE NEW FACTORING METHOD IS HERE!

TOM: RUN TO YOUR DESIGNATED PRIME NUMBERS!

> excited about it, and working on
> solutions to protect OUR WORLD.

TOM: Or at least maybe save Delaware.

>
> But instead, they are quiet, leaving the doors open, leaving the world
> vulnerable.

CROW: We *just* can’t have nice things, can we?

> Leaving it possible for innocents to suffer or even die
> because they are not who they claim to be.

MIKE: Death by greatest common denominator!

>
> But I am.

TOM: You’re leaving the world vulnerable?

>
> The choice is yours. I can’t do it alone.

CROW: Funny how life changes, huh, guy fiddles around with Fermat’s Little Theorem, the hunter becomes the hunted, well, what’re you gonna do?

>
> These people will let civilization crumble. They will let terrorists
> and other criminals,

MIKE: And people who return library books late.

> or anyone who has the will and know-how to use the
> mathematics in an evil way,

TOM: Or who foolishly open up an evil parabola.

CROW: The cosecants of doom!

MIKE: The quadratic formula for MURDER!

> do it, without the world knowing because it
> trusts them because they are not who they claim to be.

CROW: It’s not even our world! It’s Mars, isn’t that the weirdest thing?

>
> You may die if you do nothing, and isn’t that fair?

TOM: We all have to die of something, you know, a heart attack, a car accident, being shot by the snipers of the worldwide mathematics conspiracy.


[ To conclude … ]

MiSTed: JSH: So They Lied (Part 1 of 3)


For my next Mystery Science Theater 3000 performance, it’s a Usenet rant. James S Harris was — possibly still is — a regular on sci.math, a group for just what you’d think. Like everyone who loves mathematics, he tried to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem. Like many people, he thought he had something; it’s not difficult to come up with work that looks like it should prove that thing about a^n + b^n = c^n . Also like everyone taking that tack, including Fermat, he was wrong. He spent a lot of time arguing with the sci.math Actual Mathematicians about how no, maybe the whole of professional mathematics was wrong and not him.

As a sideline to his Fermat work, he thought he found a new scheme for factoring numbers. And spent a lot of time arguing with the sci.math Actual Mathematicians about how no, maybe the whole of professional mathematics was wrong and not him. So this is one piece of those many fights.

In the introduction sketch I imagine rattling apart a very fragile Tom Servo doll, one like the Crow T Robot that gets frozen to pieces in Eegah. I like writing sketches that have some visual action while staying something basic cable could produce in the 90s. The Izah fat evaporator was based on some similarly-named “make your muscles twitch so you lose weight” scam device I saw ads for in Singapore in the early 2000s. They were oddly hypnotic, showing this box put on various parts of the body while the singer chanted, “zap zap thigh, zap zap thigh, zap zap tummy, zap zap tummy”, and so on. The 17/23 Correlation is some weird conspiracy thing I know about because it got mentioned, and not explained, in The Straight Dope. The “such a Ratliff” that Pearl Forrester warns she has waiting was Stephen Ratliff’s story “Endeavor’s Beginning”, a group project to which I donated riffs. If it was ever finished and published I missed the news. Shame; I remember doing some good work on that. I think the “a kind of fish” line was originally one of Dave Barry’s jokes and forget from where.


[ OPENING CREDITS, SEASON TEN STYLE. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW, MIKE, and TOM SERVO are behind the desk. TOM has a bright yellow power brick-size contraption strapped to his chest; it has an oversized spiral paper disc in front. ]

CROW: [ Taunting ] Tom, you’re gonna die.

TOM: Am not.

MIKE: Gotta side with Crow. [ Looking up: ] Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Satellite of Love, and, uh, Tom is worried about his figure.

TOM: My friends wouldn’t say anything, but I have been packing on a few too many pounds and I don’t have time for a good exercise program, so instead I got an Izah fat evaporator. By stimulating my many muscle groups in rhythmic oscillatory pulses I can shed pounds without any work.

CROW: He’s gonna die.

MIKE: Crow’s right, but hey, you want, you want.

TOM: Right! Fire me up to fitness, Mike!


[ MIKE touches a button on the brick; the paper wheel starts spinning. TOM rattles around like an unbalanced washing machine. TOM makes all sorts of aggedy-aggedy-aggedy and acking type noises, while pieces go flying off — his cap, his head, his skirt, his arms one at a time, the front of his barrel, and finally he collapses behind the desk. ]

CROW: Told you so!

MIKE: Crow, hush, that’s not very nice.

[ MIKE leans down and digs around on the floor. He picks up the small cylinder with TOM’s mouth on it. ]

TOM: [ Dazedly ] I … feel … … lithe.

[ MADS SIGN flashes. ]

MIKE: Aw, great, and now Pearl needs us … Hello down there …

[ MIKE hits the MADS SIGN with TOM, who goes ‘Ow!’. ]


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL, PROFESSOR BOBO, and OBSERVER are seated behind card tables covered with books, papers, scrawled notes, strangely marked globes, astrolabes, for that `stuff’ theme. A bare light on a long electrical wire hangs over their heads. BOBO and OBSERVER mutter their lines to each other. ]

BOBO: Federal Reserve …

OBSERVER: Opus Dei …

PEARL: [ To BOBO and OBSERVER, muttering ] Just, keep me posted.
[ To camera, boisterously ] All right, Nel-sonnnn … [ She drags out the ‘n’, thinking of a way to twist it, finally giving up with: ] N. I got to thinking: why go to all the hard work of taking over the world when I can just find the guys who *do* rule the world and take *them* over?

[ BOBO holds up a piece of paper with “17/23” written across it, which OBSERVER does not find interesting. ]

PEARL: So now I just have to find them, and by ‘I’ I mean ‘you’, so, get into that theater and tell me what this tells you about who’s ruling the world, got it?

OBSERVER: Heidi Klum …

BOBO: Goo goo ga joob.

PEARL: BRAIN GUY!

OBSERVER: Hup … one conspiracy in 35 millimeters, coming up.

[ BRAIN GUY noise. ]

PEARL: And you better get it right or I have *such* a Ratliff waiting.


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. MIKE is trying out putting the gumball dome under TOM’s mouth, while CROW snickers. ]

TOM: This just feels funny.

[ MOVIE SIGN; ALL panic. ]

ALL: MOVIE SIGN!

[ INTO THE THEATER … 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ MIKE carries in just TOM’s mouthpiece, and hides it behind the chair. ]

> From: jst…@msn.com

CROW: Hail the Missin’com!

> Newsgroups: sci.math,alt.math.undergrad

MIKE: o/` old.math.river, that old.math.river … o/`

> Subject: JSH: So they lied

CROW: It happens.

> Lines: 109

CROW: Polygons: 28.

[ TOM, back to normal, emerges in silhouette. ]

> Message-ID: <1150354125….@g10g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>

TOM: It’s ten to one hundredth power of giddy, groupy fun!

>
> I first began to get a real grasp of the true situation when I was
> arguing about my prime counting function,

CROW: We’re … so very sorry for you.

> which is actually THE prime
> counting function,

MIKE: The prime counting function of the whole tri-city area!

> and after yet another useless argument on sci.math
> with some regulars, it occurred to me, they had to know.

TOM: How do you tell when an argument on Usenet is useless?

MIKE: It’s on Usenet?

>
> They had to know that what I had actually was different from what was
> previously known in key ways,

CROW: Like in its delightful lemony scent.

> but they were deliberately lying about
> it.

TOM: I confronted them. They denied it. Case closed.

>
> Now I have found a new factoring method.

MIKE: [ Mad science laughter ] Mwu-hu-ha-hA-HA-HA-HA-HAAA … huh?

>
> Literally trillions of dollars WILL move as a result, but for now, you
> can see the quiet as these people keep lying.

TOM: It was visible out there. Too, too visible.

>
> How is it possible?

MIKE: Can this mixed-up world be as zany as I hope?

>
> Mathematics is a difficult discipline.

CROW: And a worse toothpaste.

>
> Or you can say, math is hard.

TOM: But with a crunchy peanut buttery center.

>
> Most people shy away from it because it IS so hard,

MIKE: Others avoid it because they’re afraid a rogue
isosceles triangle will impale them.

> but a few people
> learned that while doing real mathematics was hard, LOOKING like you
> were doing real mathematics was easier.

TOM: Finally we learn why Sudoku has caught on!

>
> So they fake it.

MIKE: But they were caught when they identified the square root symbol as “a kind of fish”.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: A Moment of Hack (Part 2 of 2)


You’ve all gotten this e-mail, and it proved its credentials by showing you a password you used back in 2006 and, uh, until about a week ago too. Still, let’s continue turning it into Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction, shall we?

The bitcoin address is munged, of course; even if it was valid I don’t want people supporting this nonsense by accident. I tossed in a reference to “automobile titles” as an example of adult content, not knowing that my whole autumn 2021 would be taken over — against stiff emotion-wracking competition — by how I can’t find the title for my 2009 Scion tC. Serious talk here, kids: get your automobile title, or a duplicate, and put it somewhere you can lay hands on without ransacking the house.

“Swiss-style match pairing” is a way of organizing a tournament where it’s not possible for every participant to play every other participant. Each round sets out trying to get everyone playing someone with a roughly similar record in the tournament that they haven’t played already. (If there’s enough rounds, this does turn into “everyone plays everyone else”.) The “an educated consumer is our best customer” was the longrunning advertising slogan for SYMS, a New York City-area discount clothiers chain. I still haven’t seen any of the Jonah episodes of MST3K.


>
> Oh, yes .. I’m know your secret life, which you are hiding from
> everyone.

CROW: The weed of crime bears bitter fruit!

>
> Oh my God, what are your like… I saw THIS …

TOM: With a Hubbard squash?

MIKE: In the library?

CROW: On Professor Plum?

> Oh, you dirty

> naughty person … : )

MIKE: [ As Elmer Fudd ] ‘I’m just as God made me, sir …. hehehehehehehehe.’

>
>
> I took photos and videos of your most passionate funs with adult
> content,

TOM: Not my adult content! My automobile titles, my disclosure paperworks from the Dental Maintenance Organization. Ream after ream of cadastral maps for the properties I bought at the tax sale!

MIKE: Jeez, all *my* adult content is sad little grunts of pain after I kneel down and stand up again.

> and synchronized them in real time with the image of your
> camera.

MIKE: Who cares about images of my camera?
[ CROW and TOM hide down in their chairs. ]

>
> Believe it turned out very high quality!

CROW: Sing the unwashed park bench gryphon!

>
>
> So, to the business!

MIKE: [ As Adam West ] To the business-pole, old chum!

>
> I’m sure you don’t want to show these files and visiting history to
> all your contacts.

TOM: *Including* that person at hotels.com that dealt with your weird duplicate-loyalty-card nonsense.

>
>

> Transfer $848 to my Bitcoin cryptocurrency wallet:

[ CROW just bursts out laughing ]

> 1GXazHVQxxUdJpe62UFozFibPlor8ToDoUn3

[ CROW continues giggling ]

MIKE: Foz Fib Plor?

TOM: I’m trying to figure this as like a Fozzie Bear branded Mister Pibb but it’s not coming together.

>
> Just copy and paste the wallet number when transferring.

TOM: It’s totally not the SimCity 2000 funding cheat code!

CROW: [ Still giggling ]

MIKE: You okay, buddy?

>

CROW: Yeah, I just, I mean, 848 dollars?

> If you do not know how to do this – ask Google.

MIKE: Well, he was going to demand $849 but figured, why be greedy?

>

TOM: I heard he was looking for $847.74 but rounded up the dollar to donate to the local food bank.

CROW: Oh, well that’s good of him, then.

>
> My system automatically recognizes the translation.

MIKE: ‘Translate from Latvian’? The heck?

>
> As soon as the specified amount is received, all your data will be
> destroyed from my server,

TOM: ‘Because I’m dealing with this annoying ransomware hacker myself.’

> and the rootkit will be automatically
> removed from your system.

CROW: Thanks to my self-propelled technogarden trowel!

>
> Do not worry, I really will delete everything,

MIKE: [ Warbly teenager voice ] E-e-everything?

TOM: ‘Well, not your DVR. That you have to watch on your own.’

> since I am ‘working’
> with many people who have fallen into your position.

CROW: Yeah, well, *I’m* taking pictures of you doing that on *your* web cam, how does *that* feel?

>
> You will only have to inform your provider about the vulnerabilities
> in the router so that other hackers will not use it.

MIKE: [ Extremely nerdy ] You know, even the most secure routers are vulnerable to a proton torpedo hitting their thermal exhaust port through a shaft right to the reactor system.

>
>
> Since opening this letter you have 48 hours.

CROW: 49, if it’s Daylight Saving Time.

>
> If funds not will be received, after the specified time has elapsed,

TOM: I’ll take $582.50 in bitcoin instead?

MIKE: How about $146 in dogecoin?

CROW: Would you believe what’s left on a $20 Borders gift card and a 50-pfennig coin I got going to Oberammergau in 1990?

> the disk of your device will be formatted,

MIKE: The format: Swiss-style match pairing, ten rounds or until 10:00.

>
> and from my server will automatically send email and sms

TOM: Oh, I don’t need all those sms, just send me one sm.

CROW: With sms an educated consumer is our best customer.

> to all your
> contacts with compromising material.

MIKE: It’s not ‘compromising’, it’s ‘seeking a pragmatic, centrist solution’!

TOM: Bad praxis, Mike.

>
>
> I advise you to remain prudent

CROW: When you’re prudent, you make a prune out of dents.
[ MIKE sets a hand on CROW’s shoulder. ]

> and not engage in nonsense (all files
> on my server).

MIKE: And all the ships at sea! Flash!

>
>
> Good luck!

TOM: If Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened.

MIKE: C’mon, let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL file out. ]

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                             /  |  \
                                |

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its characters and setup and situations and all are the property of … I guess it’s Satellite of Love LLC? I’m not sure anymore. The original spam was sent to my love’s work e-mail account so certain elements were modified so my love’s IT department didn’t get all cranky. It’s not a Jonah script because I still haven’t seen the Netflix series and while I started writing MiSTings after watching very few Joel and Mike episodes, ‘a few’ is still more than ‘literally zero’. Anyway, thanks for reading and let’s all have some hard funs, won’t we?

 

> I know what you like hard funs (adult sites).

MiSTed: A Moment of Hack (Part 1 of 2)


I have this logged in a folder marked “recently used MiSTings”, as I first published it here back in April 2020. But consider how long ago that was: back then, we were trying to end the Covid-19 pandemic. So, since the resource I thought had some older vintage MiSTings was less accessible than I thought, please, enjoy this bit, originally written in 2018, making fun of that guy who totally hacked your account and has the proof.

The only riff that really needs context here is that in 2018, we thought 2018 was a brutal year.


MiSTed: You password must be need changed (your password:group2) [ 0 / 1 ]

 

[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

> From: <group2@site.tld>

CROW: I love group2@site.tld’s writing!

> Subject: You password must be need changed (your password:group2)

TOM: Remember, you promised you’d walk and feed *and* change your password when we got you one!

> Date: November 15, 2018 at 4:36:12 PM EST
> To: group2 <group2@site.tld>

CROW: Group 2 is the cool group. We don’t need those Group 6 wieners.

>
>
> Dear user of site.tld!

MIKE: Hi! Been a crazy year, hasn’t it? So what’ve you been up to?

>
>
> I am a spyware software developer.

TOM: Well I’m a level-12 half-orc mage so don’t you go trying to beat my initiative roll.

>
> Your account has been hacked by me in the summer of 2018.

CROW: Man, you wanna feel old? The summer of 2018 was *this* *year*.

>
>
>
> I understand that it is hard to believe,

MIKE: But I can flare each nostril separately from the other!

> but here is my evidence:

TOM: [ Fumbling, feeble voice ] Um, heh, sorry, thought I had the thingy plugged in … uh … heh, see, it’s a mini USB … or micro … uh, heheh … maybe it’s upside-dowooops, dropped it.

>
> – I sent you this email from your account.

MIKE: It’s asking you to celebrate someone’s ‘work anniversary’ on LinkedIn for some reason?

>

> – Password from account group2@site.tld: group2 (on moment of hack).

TOM: Prices higher west of the Rocky Mountains.

>
>
>
> The hacking was carried out using a hardware vulnerability through
> which you went online

CROW: Yeah? Well I only respond to emotional vulnerability.

> (Cisco router, vulnerability CVE-2018-0296).

MIKE: [ Military Nerd voice ] Excuse me but the CVE-2018-0296 is the USS Ranger, a Forrestal-class supercarrier with a displacement of 81,000 long tons under full load *thank* you.

>
>
>
> I went around the security system in the router,

CROW: I jabbed my foot into an endtable.

> installed an
> exploit there.

TOM: Stepped on a Lego block … you know, your security is pretty *good*, I have to say.

>
> When you went online, my exploit downloaded my malicious code

MIKE: Well, it’s not malicious so much as it is passive-aggressive code.

CROW: ‘No, go ahead and read my page with the adblocker on, I’ll be fine.’

> (rootkit) to your device.

TOM: Hey, we’re trying to stay PG here!

>
> This is driver software,

CROW: This is driver software on drugs.

> I constantly updated it,

MIKE: The only way to foil it is to hit ‘postpone updates until tomorrow’ every single day!

> so your antivirus
> is silent all time.

TOM: Your Antivirus Silent All-time Hall of Famers!

>
>
> Since then I have been following you

CROW: Did you see me clicking like and share?

> (I can connect to your device
> via the VNC protocol).

MIKE: The VNC Protocol, starring Clint Eastwood, George Kennedy, and Vonetta McGee.

>
> That is, I can see absolutely everything that you do, view and
> download your files and any data to yourself.

TOM: [ Voice warbling ] Even my Knuckles/Marrissa Picard fanfic?

>
> I also have access to the camera on your device,

[ CROW and TOM squirm, uncomfortable. MIKE looks up so as not to have to acknowledge either. ]

 

> and I periodically
> take photos and videos with you.

MIKE: [ As though reading a postcard ] Having wonderful time, wish I were here …

>
>
> At the moment, I have harvested a solid dirt…

TOM: [ Dramatic sting ] DUN-dun-dunnnnnnnn!

> on you…

CROW: Gasp!

MIKE: Merciful heavens!

TOM: Oh, Professor Firefly!

>
> I saved all your email and chats from your messangers.

MIKE: Your mess angers.

TOM: Your Me’s Sangers.

> I also saved
> the entire history of the sites you visit.

TOM: You ah, got any copies of Web Site Number Nine kicking around there?

>
>

CROW: Your Mess an’ Gers?

MIKE: Oh, you always want a plate of those if you go to a British pub.

> I note that it is useless to change the passwords.

TOM: [ As Chico ] ‘Swordfish’?

> My malware update
> passwords from your accounts every times.

CROW: Yeah? Well … my festive clockwork bubbles from your kneepads every thermostat!

>
>
> I know what you like hard funs (adult sites).

TOM: Ooh, hard funs?

MIKE: Yeah, those are the anise-tasting funs your gramma keeps in that glass dish on the coffee table that still smells like smoke even though she quit eighteen years ago.
[ TOM makes a little disappointed groan. ]


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 4 of 4)


And now the end of this MiSTing of the Robert McElwaine GALACTIC FEDERATION Update. I’ll have something else next week, I don’t know what.

MOS Burgers is this hamburger chain I got into when I lived in Singapore. They had a lot of advertising copy about being in harmony with nature and such. Good burgers, including the option to get a “bun” made of steamed-rice patties. The Klindesteron beademungen were friendly but incomprehensible aliens encountered in the James Blish short story “Common time”.

Marissa Picard is of course the hero of Stephen Ratliff’s famous Kids Crew Star Trek fanfic series, the series that also made Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic a thing. Jay Gordon was a supporting character in the series. There was no MiSTing with a host sketch where the Brains made Jay Gordon cry, though. I don’t think there was even a host sketch where they met. Marrissa Picard got a few appearances, though. Sonic the Hedgehog also produced a bunch of fanfic that was good for MiSTing.

The mention of Heidi Klum references a Usenet crank of the early 2000s, who held that the aliens who control human destiny leave hints to the future in the career of Heidi Klum. He’d show up in the relevant newsgroup whenever Klum appeared on, say, Conan O’Brien’s show, explaining how to decode her amiable small talk.


>
> Today, we have discussed segments of our shared history that
> explain your origins and the basis of your present condition of
> consciousness.

MIKE: Next week, remember, we’re doing the Polish-Lithuanian monarchy, so read up chapter eight and be ready with questions, people.

> We ask you to use this awareness to examine how far you
> actually have come!

CROW: I’m suddenly more aware of my tongue.

TOM: You don’t have a tongue.

CROW: Then I’m suddenly confused and distressed.

> Your liberation and new world service are truly
> within reach!

TOM: As soon as you pay up your library fines!

> We now take our leave.

MIKE: [ As Groucho ] I’ve had a wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.

> Blessings, dear Ones! Know, in
> your Heart of Hearts,

CROW: In your Diamond of Diamonds,

MIKE: In your Spade of Spades,

TOM: In your Club of Clubs..

> that the eternal Supply and perpetual Prosperity
> of Heaven is yours!

MIKE: This reads like the advertising materials for MOS Burgers.

> So Be It! Selamat Gajun! Selamat Kasijaram!

CROW: They’re either Malay or the Klindesteron beademungen.

> (Sirian
> for Be One! Blessed in Love and in Joy!)

TOM: And there’s some fine print where you sign up to buy two CDs each month for a year.

>
> Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: Somebody check the Earth’s batteries. Venus was dead three months before we noticed.


> http:
//www.paoweb.com
>
> This copy was reposted by Robert E. McElwaine

TOM: The `E’ stands for `Extra.’

CROW: Robert E. McExtralwaine?

> PAO Member
> Eckankar Initiate

MIKE: And a good friend.

> B.S., Physics and Astronomy, UW-EC

CROW: Hah … Mike?

MIKE: Not my fault, guys.


> http:
//members.aol.com/rem547 PLUS

> http:
//members.aol.com/rem460

TOM: That adds up to rem 1007.

>


> See also http:
//www.paoweb.com/sn122600.htm ,

CROW: A URL actually created by a snore.


> http:
//www.disclosureproject.org .
>

> P.S.:
PASS IT ON !

MIKE: You’ll never guess which of your close friends is waiting for this very message!

>

> ok

TOM: OK? Is that all you have to say for yourself?

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. GYPSY, TOM SERVO, and CROW are there, with many papers scattered on the desk. A pencil is wedged into CROW’s hand. ]

GYPSY: You need line 17 from form 8-E.

CROW: I know, I’m just — look, how many amiable characters from the movies and shorts we watch have visited us on the Hex Field View Screen this year?

TOM: 28, including four visits from Marrissa Picard.

GYPSY: You have to tell them how you made Jay Gordon cry.

TOM: Tell them 35.

CROW: I’m not cheating on these forms!

TOM: Oh, like they’ll check?

GYPSY: It kind of goes against the spirit —

[ MIKE enters. They all hush up for a few seconds. ]

MIKE: So. Who wants to —

[ Simultaneously: ]

GYPSY: Crow.

CROW: Tom.

TOM: Crow.

MIKE: Well?

CROW: We realized we haven’t filled in our reports for the Galactic Federation of Light this year yet.

TOM: You wouldn’t believe how many forms it is, either, but it’s worth doing.

GYPSY: It’s an important part of bringing light to the universe.

MIKE: [ Playing along ] Plus you might get to be Head Beagle.

GYPSY: So we’re listing all this year’s light-bringing.

CROW: You got anything you want reported?

MIKE: I, uh, cleaned the burnt pizza stuff out of the toaster oven.

CROW: That’s good! What else do we have?

TOM: We played keep-away with Observer’s brain for like ten minutes.

MIKE: That didn’t really uplift anyone’s soul.

CROW: Well … what about that fun we had playing backgammon? That had to bring something good into the world.

GYPSY: We just moved the checkers around randomly for five minutes, got bored, then you threw them like ninja stars until you broke the McVote McDLT glasses.

CROW: Oh yeah.

TOM: Well … we had to have done something, right?

GYPSY: We didn’t stop anyone from bringing light.

TOM: Yeah!

CROW: OK, I’m writing that in — Mike, you have any stamps? We need to mail this to the Galactic Federation of Light Central Processing Bureau in Menominee, Michigan.

MIKE: Oh, fresh out. Let’s check in on Pittney-Bowes, shall we?

TOM: Four, five — hey, does Sonic the Hedgehog still exist?

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. The stage is filled by shipping cartons of all sizes, marked “LIGHT BULBS” and stacked precariously high. BOBO, PEARL, and OBSERVER are squeezed in front, reading
papers on a business envelope. ]

OBSERVER: Dahdahdaaah … appreciate your filing early … blah de blah … having reviewed your Federation of Light returns this year … yeah, uh-huh … computed against withholding reported in form 671-X …

PEARL: So how much of a light-bringing refund did we *get*?

BOBO: [ Pointing at a line ] Fifty-five thousand, three hundred forty three!

[ A pause, as PEARL simmers. ]

PEARL: That’s our Zip code, you — [ She pinches his nose. ]

[ BOBO barks, Curly style; his left arm windmills around and hits OBSERVER’s brain, which he drops, apparently onto PEARL’s foot as she grabs her foot and hops. She trips into BOBO, who bounces against one pile of boxes, sending it crashing. He rebounds to knock PEARL and OBSERVER into their own huge stacks, which sends off volleys of crashing and imploding light bulb sounds through the credits … ]

                            \  |  / 
                             \ | /  
                              \|/   
                            ---O--- 
                              /|\  
                             / | \  
                            /  |  \ 

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc. The essay “GALACTIC FEDERATION Update: August 5, 2003” comes to us from Robert McElwaine and Sheldan Nidle. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who intends no particular ill-will towards Robert McElwaine, Sheldan Nidle, or any nigh-omnipotent beings guiding humanity towards a glorious new destiny in the stars, but does enjoy following Kansan’s reports of how they signal their intents through the life and career of Heidi Klum. Come back, Dr. Mike Neylon!

> Greetings, dear Hearts! We return with more interesting topics to
> share with you.

[ The end … for now. ]

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 3 of 4)


I hope that you’re enjoying this circa-2003 Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction, riffing on Robert McElwaine’s update from the Galactic Federation of Light. You can read the whole of the MiSTing here. If you don’t like it, that’s all right, I’ll have something else running here in two weeks.

“If [someone] had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened” has always been one of my running jokes in MiSTings. It’s a mistaken reference to the Woody Woodpecker cartoons Bronco Busters. In the cartoon, about how Woody gets taken by a scammer time and time again, the narrator repeatedly says “if Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened”. But I started using it as a reference ages before YouTube was a thing and there was just no checking these things.

Gurmit Singh’s a Singaporean actor and comedian. There’s no good reason to reference him, just, tossing in some local-for-me-at-the-writing color is all. Blue Kryptonite was harmless to Superman but crippled Bizarro. (Usually; the stories, somehow, were not always perfectly consistent.)

Please do not cut yourself on the razor-sharp edge of my takedown of Star Trek: Enterprise.


> At times, these wars seemed endless.

CROW: It was like watching the History Channel.

> The
> devastation’s intensity was inconceivable. We were always astonished at
> the extent to which the star-nations of Anchara would go in order to
> ‘win’ these wars.

MIKE: Star-nations of Anchara? There’s galactic warfare about whether to accept Captain Archer and Team Bland on `Enterprise’?

> Their fierce stockpile of weapons and unspeakably
> brutal military forces sparked a reign of terror across this galaxy.

CROW: Yet still they can’t explain John Ashcroft.

>
> Eventually, our growing alliances led to the Galactic Federation
> of Light.

TOM: And that’ll have to be enough for you.

> The Galactic Federation was one of a number of organizations
> – neutral, dark or one with the Light – operating in this galaxy.

MIKE: And all striving to become the Master of Orion.

> At
> any rate, the wars produced a vast number of ‘wandering’ star-nations
> that moved about according to the circumstances caused by the wars.

CROW: If the Galactic Federation of Light had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened.

> From them, we learned a great deal about the hate and the needless
> actions and divisions caused by limited consciousness

MIKE: You know, like when you overdo the Robitussin.

> and its constant
> train of fear and wrongly-derived assumptions. We found this quite an
> eye-opener.

TOM: It was zesty, and it had a great minty taste!

> We also learned the extent of the Ancharites’ deception.

CROW: The Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Dionne Warwick — none of them ever really existed!

TOM: What?

> Although we were shocked, initially, at how dark this galaxy had
> become, we realized, deep in our Hearts, that this insanity would
> definitely end.

MIKE: Oh, yeah. Superadvanced cosmic being and I bet they just whip out the Ritalin.

> Until that divine moment, we had to do whatever we
> could to stalemate the continuous wars.

TOM: But the Galactic League of Nations proved to be a disappointment.

> Thus, we created technologies
> and strategies that would bring about the required results.

CROW: That seemed too hard, so we started playing Europa Universalis II for a couple millennia to kill time.

>
> Ultimately, just over two million years ago, these wars produced
> conditions that allowed us to colonize your solar system.

MIKE: And we’ve still got half our stuff in cardboard boxes.

> A new set of
> broad-based attacks by the Ancharites, nearly one million years ago,
> destroyed these first human colonies.

TOM: A million years these Federation of Light creeps float about the planet and none of them remembers to not leave sitting ducks all around.

> Later, a counter-attack by
> Galactic Federation forces culminated in the second Earth colony of
> Lemuria

CROW: So Joey the Lemur was a space alien?

TOM: Actually, yeah.

> and the destruction of the Ancharites’ main planetary world.

MIKE: The genocide was necessary, as otherwise some of the Ancharites might have lived.

> Its explosive end produced the asteroid belt that now revolves between
> Mars and Jupiter.

CROW: Explosive ending! No one will be admitted during the last five minutes of the Ancharites’ home world.

> Moreover, many of the smaller moons of Mars, Jupiter
> and the solar system’s other outer planets are the result of the
> carnage from these explosions.

TOM: A couple of them were just tchochkes we picked up at garage sales.

> Indeed, your solar system is a curious
> monument to the violence that was part of these wars.

CROW: Please observe silence while visiting the Solar System.

> It even extends
> to the outer layers of cosmic dust and larger particles that form the
> edge of your solar system.

MIKE: This is all related to Blue Kryptonite, isn’t it?

> Because these clouds were unduly charged,
> the outcome was a constant barrage of comets and asteroids.

TOM: But they do all look really festive come Christmas time.

>
> Even your Sun was not spared the degrees of violence of which the
> Ancharites were capable.

MIKE: And with our powers and a million years to try it was too much work to fix it up again.

> They attempted to permanently disrupt your
> Sun’s interaction with her planetary daughters,

TOM: By being vicious gossips.

> resulting in the highly
> elliptical orbits that still characterize the way your solar system’s
> planets circle your Sun.

MIKE: The tragic result of putting unbalanced loads in the washer.

> Initially, these orbits were almost circular.
> For that reason, a circle has a 360-degree arc.

CROW: Bake your circle at that 360 degree arc for fifteen to twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

> In your world, this
> commemorates the original solar year of 360 days, each lasting 24
> hours.

TOM: Is that mean solar or sidereal time?

> The first colonists of ancient Lemuria decided not to alter this
> situation,

CROW: This reminds me of a story that happened once in … Zobooland.

> and kept this anomaly as a sign to future generations of
> what had actually occurred in this once splendid and beautiful solar
> system.

MIKE: Nice of them to leave us such a hint.

> These wars also caused the conditions needed to plunge you into
> the morass that we know as limited consciousness.

CROW: So, the Federation of Light wants to bring Light to the universe and does it by leaving a broken-down solar system and dropping colonists on it who’ll be too stupid to do any Light-bringing?

TOM: It’s the Galactic Federation of Durrr.

>
> Clearly, the dispersion of humanity into your solar system – even
> your fall into limited consciousness – are by-products of these galaxy-
> wide wars.

TOM: As soon as you leave the solar system, though, you’ll figure out how to travel interstellar distances.

> Furthermore, the Galactic Federation’s acceptance of a
> nearly ‘hands-off’ policy was the result of circumstances brought about
> by these same wars.

MIKE: That hands-off policy that did so well to avoid the war in the first place.

> This policy allowed the Anunnaki to become your
> overlords, and their earthly minions to secretly control you for the
> past 13 millennia.

TOM: Oh, *good* one, Galactic Federation of Light.

> However, this situation was dramatically changed by
> your rise in consciousness and by the Anunnaki’s recent turn to the
> Light.

CROW: And, what the heck, nothing good on TV this week anyway.

> These events have made possible the Galactic Federation’s direct
> intervention in your affairs.

MIKE: The protection money we demand will be reasonable and collected infrequently.

> It has also given us an opportunity to
> assist those forces of Light that are laboring to transform your world.

TOM: Unfortunately, the only agents they have on the scene are Judge Reinhold and Gurmit Singh, so it’s taking a while.

> This has resulted in the agreements that are about to be revealed.

CROW: I’m betting they call for people to wear less black, though.

>
> Heaven and your collective self are co-creating your reality.

MIKE: You put it that way, I feel so *naked*.

> You
> are interconnected Beings who are sharing the same destiny. That
> destiny is to be returned to fully conscious Beings of Light.

CROW: Just two weekends a month, and two millennia a geologic age.

> The
> concluding phase, before this divine transition can be fully revealed
> to you, has taken much too long for our liking.

TOM: Frankly, you’re on the verge of failing this class!

> Finally, the last
> vestiges of the dark have begun to see that their continuing battle is
> truly in vain.

CROW: The movies of Jerry Bruckheimer will get more desperate.

> This acknowledgement has allowed a new energy of
> positive intention to envelop your beautiful, blue orb.

MIKE: Clean it every other weekend with a damp cloth, and keep it out of direct sunlight.

CROW: This is what the Mirror Universe had instead of “Highlander 2.”

> This energy has
> provided additional courage to those who are enforcing the agreements,

TOM: This is all going to end up at the World Trade Organization somehow.

> which guarantee that a new reality can be manifested, now, upon your
> world.

CROW: Watch your doorknobs for signs of opening blue eyes.

> We thank all who have helped and, especially, convey our deepest
> gratitude to all Light workers. Your victory is approaching!

TOM: No, really. Going to be here soon. Can’t see it taking more than another 375,000 years at the *latest*.


[ to conclude … ]

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 2 of 4)


Thanks for being with me for the next part of this update from the Galactic Federation of Light. The whole Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic based on this rant should be here. Robert McElwaine was one of the great glorious cranks of the Usenet era, often posting things like this which weren’t necessarily bad but were difficult to take seriously.

“The Swan” was a short-lived reality-TV show about taking people who were Hollywood Ugly and dressing them up until they could attract A MAN. This sort of thing seemed important to denounce back then.

The Rydburg constant is from quantum mechanics. It’s part of describing how a hydrogen spectrum looks.

One of my all-time favorite riffs is Crow saying how “one of my most endearing features is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the physical universe”.


>”Robt McElwain” <rmcelwaine@visto.com
> wrote in message

news:87befcb5.0308151233.2e7aa480@posting.google.com…

CROW: It’s the 21st century and we’re *still* getting Robert McElwaine. Could we get some new cranks in here?

>
>
> Update from the REAL Galactic Federation

MIKE: The other Galactic Federation is just full of phonies.

> and The Spiritual Hierarchy
> August 5, 2003

TOM: They’re masters of space, time, and dimension, but their Usenet servers are kept up by turtles.

> Communicated thru Sheldan Nidle of The Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: So stop teasing him.

CROW: Shel-*dan*?


> http:
//www.paoweb.com/updates.htm
>
> Greetings, dear Hearts!

TOM: Howdy, lovey-kins.

> We return with more interesting topics to
> share with you.

MIKE: And we’ll give you six of them for four easy monthly payments of $24.99 each.

> One of the things that we find most interesting is how
> your concepts of cosmology have distorted the origins of this physical
> universe.

CROW: Why, thank you. I think one of my most endearing features is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the physical universe.

> Its genesis lies not in a ‘big bang’, but rather in a simple
> series of multiple creations.

TOM: This `Big Bang Burrito’ theory we expect will be slow to catch on.

> These creations produce many different
> dimensions and an abundance of realities. The crucial element is

MIKE: Erbium.

> divine
> consciousness. All of us dwell in a living, conscious universe.

TOM: Except for the audience of “The Swan.”

> That
> universe is composed of inter-dimensional Light and Time, which
> combine, in infinite ways, to form space.

CROW: Is this gonna be on the final?

> It, in turn, creates
> realities and shapes physicality’s countless dimensions. The physical
> universe is a magical place.

MIKE: So that’s why everyone’s after me Lucky Charms.

> The only limitations that exist in any
> reality are those that its inhabitants and its heavenly guardians,
> together, permit.

CROW: I already saw “Free To Be You And Me.” Can I go?

> Your laws of physics are a true misnomer.

TOM: They’re more nagging suggestions of physics instead.

> Your growth
> in awareness or new collective perceptions can instantly alter these
> so-called ‘laws’.

MIKE: One morning I took too much Sudafed and the Rydburg constant? Pfft. Out like a light.

> Now, this important process has begun.

TOM: No, no, no, don’t go rushing into anything right now.

> It promises to
> create an entirely new reality for you and indeed for the rest of
> physicality.

CROW: You know, I can’t get “2000 Flushes” to work right.
Should I be part of creating a new reality for everybody?

>
> Creation is a continuously unfolding phenomenon. The divine plan
> has dealt out to us all a multiplicity of sudden twists and turns.

TOM: You are in a maze of twisty divine plans, all alike.

> Now,
> as a direct result, countless sentient species live in the physical
> universe.

MIKE: The Asian short-clawed otter alone occupies four galaxies.

> Their many different languages, cultures and rituals create
> an immensely wide range of traditions and perceptions that center upon
> the origins of their realities.

TOM: Yet they cannot tell a cabbage from a lettuce.

> They have inspired us to closely study
> the residences of this nearly infinite universe. In our galaxy, it gave
> rise to the creation of

CROW: Kickapoo Joy Juice.

> numerous spiritual sciences, dedicated to
> developing a full understanding of this knowledge, and to discovering
> its precise part in the whole.

TOM: In order to make more efficient ABC Afterschool Specials.

> Eventually, this study laid the first
> foundations for a spiritual anthropology and, later, a spiritual
> sociology.

MIKE: And later still, spiritual philately.

TOM: Spiritual geology was a big hit.

CROW: People say spiritual ichtyology is an easy major, but there’s a lot to it you don’t see.

> These sciences gave us a wealth of information about our
> common origins,

CROW: For example, origins turn out to be common.

> which are far greater than the processes that brought
> about human evolution on the third planet of the Vega solar system more
> than six million years ago.

TOM: As of next Thursday.

> Actually, our beginnings filled a physical
> and spiritual niche foreseen by the divine plan.

MIKE: I mean, it’s like they had God or something setting things out.

> Prior to that event,
> we were all spiritual Beings hanging tenaciously to the vast Life-
> streams of Heaven.

TOM: Oh, here it comes.

CROW: Yup. This is the hard sell. How much, McElwaine?

>
> As humanity advanced through this galaxy,

TOM: We started shooting everything we didn’t understand.

> we encountered physical
> Beings quite unlike us in form, culture and language.

CROW: We would have given them the chance to surrender,
but we didn’t want to look weak.

> If we did not
> succeed in bridging these huge differences, war often resulted.

MIKE: And, really, we went out with the best of intentions.

> At
> first, those who aggressively followed the dark principles of their
> creator-Being, Anchara,

CROW: Leader of the Imperium Sweaters.

> distressed us greatly. Suddenly, we were
> involved in an enormous galactic war that had woven itself across the
> breadth of our galaxy for many tens of millions of years.

TOM: A most savage alien race, they were. When we shot them they fought back.

> This struggle
> created a need for many alliances to form with thousands of other like-
> minded star-nations.

MIKE: We had to shoot first. We had them surrounded.

> It also introduced us to the continuing strange
> and violent process that is destined to transform this galaxy from the
> darkness that has engulfed it.

TOM: They’re using the F-U-N-D cheat, aren’t they?


[ to continue … ]

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