MiSTed: Skippy’s Mom (part 4 of 12)


It’s now the fourth part, which is somehow the third chapter, of “Skippy’s Mom”, a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction that I published first sometime in the late 90s. The entire the series should be collected at this link. Let me know if they end up not being.

Slappy Squirrel took Skippy to the fabulous Hall of Records, only to learn there’s no trace of who Skippy’s mother is or where she’s gone. They now go to the hospital to learn what an INK test might reveal about the cute young squirrel.

“I’m going to write in ‘Beethoven”’ is surely a Peanuts riff, but I think not to any specific strip. The references to Orgeon and Gabe Kaplan are, I think, from Bloom County strips when Berkeley Breathed needed to fill out a magazine cover joke. You can see where the inspiration from ripping off better comic writers wore off there. “Ask Beth” was a syndicated advice column in the 90s that somehow managed to be less square than Dear Abby or Dear Ann Landers. The My Little Pony referenced here would have been … uh … three? … cartoon shows back of the current one.

There’s no riffs I need to apologize for, but that one about “no, that’s what happens in a cartoon” is more mean than I would write today.


>
> Chapter 2 – INK
> —————
> Skippy sat nervously in the waiting room, Slappy beside him
> equally as nervous.

CROW: I got edgy just reading that sentence.

> A George Clooney clone

TOM: Clooney cloney Clooney cloney Clooney cloney.

[ JOEL puts his arm on TOM’s shoulder. ]

> walked by causing both of them to stare as he
> went.

CROW: Both of them?

> "Skippy Squirel to room 1, Skippy Squirel to room 1."

TOM: B-14. B-14.

JOEL: Captain Picard to the bridge. Captain Picard to the bridge.

CROW: Service manager to register three, please. Service manager to register three, please.

> The voice came
> over the intercom.

TOM: The face came over the jukebox.

> "No matter what happens inside…" Slappy started speaking very softly.
> "You still be there for me…" Skippy finished.

JOEL: In that Ambrose Bierce way she has.

> The doctor looked very stern as Skippy entered the room, it was pretty
> much a normal ‘toon doctor’s office.

CROW: So we’re not going to waste time with setting.

> If you can call a ‘toon’s doctor
> office normal…

JOEL: If you give a mouse a cookie.

> "Look Skippy, I’ll be honest with you, these results are A) Not good and
> B) very strange."

TOM: Uh… I’ll take A.

CROW: B! I want B!

TOM: B! Maybe!

CROW: I’ll take ‘True’!

JOEL: I’m going to write in ‘Beethoven.’

> The doctor said with great precision.
> "Oh, there’s nothing wrong with me…"

CROW: Eh… nothing an apprenticeship to Rocky the Flying Squirrel couldn’t cure.

> Skippy started, "I’m just here for
> an INK sample.."
> "Yes, I know that, but unfortunatly the tests revealed something we did
> not expect,

CROW: So there’s no point in taking the sample first.

> if you would not mind waiting outside Skipy, I’d like to have
> a word with your Aunt…"

TOM: Specifically, the word ‘anisotropic.’

> Skippy looked up at his aunt with _that_ pleading looking in his eye.
> "Sorry, kid. If the doctor says wait outside,

CROW: You go into the wacky routine where you keep showing up in his coat pockets and his cabinets and his sink and his car until he gives up and tells you the cool stuff?

TOM: No; that’s what happens in a cartoon.

> you wait outside…" Slappy
> finished quickly looking away from Skippy.
> Skippy jumped down off the chair and left the doctor’s office closing the
> door behind him.

CROW: Nice of the doctor’s office to close the door for him.

> He pressed his ear hard against the door but it was sound proofed and he
> could not here anything. So he sat outside

TOM: And found somebody’d stolen the fire escape. Whoops!

JOEL: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuu!

> and waited reading one of the
> terrible magazines that are indigionus to doctor’s offices everywhere.

JOEL: National Geographic report on "Oregon: Idaho’s tricky pal."

CROW: People magazine tells us about the wild life of Gabe Kaplan.

TOM: Popular Mechanics shows us the future of Popular Mechanics covers.

> After reading every magazine several times the doctor’s office finally
> reopened.

JOEL: [ As Doctor ] Are you still here?

> Slappy stepped outsidem something was really wrong as even her flower was
> drooping more then normal.

TOM: Somebody forget to water the squirrel this morning.

> She took Skippy by the hand and lead him in without saying a word.

CROW: I’ve seen better bedside manners from tests of the Emergency Alert System.

> "Skippy, I’ve had a long chat with your ahem, aunt here."

JOEL: And your aardvark over there.

> The doctor
> stared, he said aunt with a tone of disgust.
> "Yes I had noticed…" Skippy retorted.
> The doctor continued unpreturbed by Skippy’s remark. "and well you’ve
> probably already guessed

TOM: What would happen if you sneezed and hiccoughed at the same time.

> that something must be pretty wrong.." The
> doctor continued.
> "Oh boy here it comes…" Skippy whispered.

JOEL: You’re scheduled to guest star in a Due South/Babylon 5/My Little Pony crossover fanfic.

> "The fact is that your INK is not that of a toon squirrel."
> Skippy looked at the doctor in disbelif.

CROW: Yes, I’m afraid your ink is actually distilled "Ask Beth" columns.

> "Come again!" He said shocked.
> "You are not a squirrel, your INK is more that of a toon cat…"

JOEL: Toon cat! The most incredible leader of the pack!

TOM: INK! Get it?!

> The
> doctor concluded.
> "Get real!" Skippy managed to joke.
> "I am quite serious, we checked the results three times, each time they
> came up the same…"

TOM: Your original character design involved bellbottom pants.

> Was the last thing Skippy heard before he
> fainted….
>


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Skippy’s Mom (part 3 of 12)


And back to “Skippy’s Mom”, a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction that I published first sometime in the late 90s. The whole of the series should appear at this link. So far, though, In the story so far, Skippy is wondering who his mother is, and Aunt Slappy’s decided to take him to the Hall of Records and see. I suppose this means his mom’s not Slappy’s sister but who can say, really?

Let’s see what needlessly obscure references I can clear up here. Hm. John Randolph Bray was an animation pioneer of the 1910s; he held the patent on cel animation, where you have a background and draw the characters on a clear sheet put over it. “I”m only three and a half years old” is an Abbott and Costello catchphrase that a lot of Looney Tunes ripped off. Lottery was a 1980s hourlong drama about people who’d won a million bucks in just what it says there, and how this screws up their lives. SpeedScript was a word processor that Compute! magazine published; you could type it in to your Commodore, Apple, or Atari eight-bit computer and process what words you had. “I don’t go to the hospital, but I play someone who does” references a 1980s commercial for … oh, I think cough syrup … in which someone explained he was not a doctor, but he plays one on TV, so that’s why he can endorse whatever this was. I have never seen an episode of Histeria but I remember everyone who was online in the 90s hating it. On the other hand, everyone who was online in the 90s hated a big friendly purple dinosaur who sang silly songs for the little kids in his audience, so maybe we were bad at evaluating things.


> Chapter 1 – Hall of Records

TOM: [ As Ted Knight ] Here at the fabulous Hall of Records, the Superfriends struggle to complete a property title search.

> —————————
> The hazy sunlight filtered into Skippy’s room, Skippy still asleep
> bundled the blanket around his head to keep the light out.
> "Skippy, it’s time to get up…"

JOEL: C’mon, they spun off Buttons and Mindy to another show and we have to do double duty.

> Slappy shouted from somewhere
> donwstairs.
> "Okay Aunt Slappy." Skippy said tiredly.
> Skippy clambered out of bed

CROW: And awoke with a clatter; he sprung to the window to see what was the matter.

> and headed down stairs.
> "You ready to find out about your Mom?" Slappy asked sarcasticly.
> "Hunh?" Skippy replied still half asleep, in fact more like 75% asleep…

TOM: 83 and 94/44ths percent asleep.

CROW: What, he doesn’t know whether he’s awake or asleep?

JOEL: Must be a school day.

> "Hall of records this morning, no?" prompted Slappy.

CROW: Touch any part of this squirrel to continue.

TOM: "I don’t see the ‘Any’ part."

> "Oh of course…" Skippy said tiredly.

CROW:Adverbs: The bread crumbs of the English language.

>
> After a filling breakfast of Nutritionly lacking suger coated generic
> ceral

JOEL: Generic cereal. For your generic comedic needs.

> Skippy and Slappy went to the hall of records for all the ‘toons
> in Burbank.

TOM: But they’re in Lompoc.

> "Here we are kiddo, you’re about to meet with your past,

CROW: I *told* you to wash out your lunchbox at the start of summer.

> it may
> be unpleasant…" Slappy intoned.
> "That’s okay, no matter what I find inside,

JOEL: I’ll still have a song in my heart.

> you’ll still be here
> for me Aunt Slappy." Skippy said cheerfully.
> The big double doors to the hall of records swung open

CROW: Hellooooooooooooo…

JOEL: Helloooooooooo…

TOM: Hellooooooo…

> as skippy
> and slappy walked inside.
> "Good morning…" Said a familer voice from behind the counter, it was
> Hello Nurse.
> "What are you doing here?" Demanded Slappy.

TOM: Chapter 18A-65A of the Uniform Fanfic Code requires that as many bit characters as the author can name be jammed into the story somewhere.

> "Oh Warners don’t pay me enogth to work as just a nurse so I work
> here part time to make ends meet, and I’ve not be in a cameo for quite
> some time…" Hello Nurse replied.

JOEL: Say what you want about the rest of the story, but Hello Nurse is showing ten times as much personality here as she ever did on the TV show.

> "Oh Carefull there.." She shouted as skippy was about to step in some
> oil. "Yakko and Wakko came here earlier, they’re still not quite over
> it.." Hello Nurse said pointing to the pools of oil.

CROW: Apparently Yakko and Wakko just joined the Autobots.

> "Yeah yeah yeah…" Slappy said impatiently.

JOEL: [ Flatly ] She loves you; you know you should be glad.

> "Look can you tell
> my nephew here who his mom was?"

CROW: I hope it’s that lethally cute squirrel from that old Chuck Jones cartoon that tried to open a coconut, remember?

> "No." Hello Nurse said promptly.
> "Okaaayy Then what are we doing here?" Slappy asked.

TOM: [ Whispering ] We’re ganging up on "Histeria." Don’t snicker.

CROW: Not a problem.

> "Oh no Miss Squirrel, I can’t tell your nephew,

JOEL: That would be cheating.

> but I can
> show him which file it would be in.." Hello nurse replied.
> "Well, we don’t have all day…" Slappy impatiently muttered.

CROW: It’s the file marked "Who is Skippy’s Mom?"

> "Let me just feed his details into the computer, okay Name,

TOM: John Randolph Bray Process.

> Age,

CROW: I’m only three and a half years old.

> Character

JOEL: Half-orc Fourth-level Paladin/Magic-User.

> and ID#"

TOM: Or monsters of the ID number.

> Hello nurse asked politely
> "Skippy, I’m 8 and I’m a squirrel!" Skippy exlaimed.

CROW: Don’t you watch the show? What’s your problem?

> "My Id number is A1SQIP3"

TOM: Aluminum Squip Oxide?

> "Thank you Skippy.." Hello nurse gently spoke, "The computer is coming
> up with the details now.."

JOEL: Ah, here it is. You’re scheduled for crossovers with the Rescue Rangers, Battlestar Galactica, and Lottery.

> The computer made lots of grindy disk noises,

TOM: You know, DOS 3.3 did include the ‘black pepper’ option.

> Skippy, Slappy
> and Hello Nurse covered thier ears in pain.
> The computer suddenly stopped,

CROW: Looked at the audience, shouted "People!" and ran through the wall.

> Hello nurse looked shocked as she
> looked at the screen.
> "Is something wrong?" Asked Skippy.
> "I’m not sure…"

TOM: "What do words mean, again?"

> She replied. "Look!" She said turning the screen
> around. Skippy stared at the screen, large flashing red letters continuly
> blipped up. "NO RECORD FOUND?!"
> Slappy shouted, "What’s that supposed to mean?!"

CROW: [ Eagerly ] It means anyone who does even *one* upside-down jumping jack on a bed of pizza rolls gets in the Guinness Book!

> "It may just be a system failure I’ll get the mechanic on to it right
> away."

TOM: We must rotoscope the turtle I have Minnesota saw marbles once.

> She said running off to fetch a mechanic.
>
> A short while later Hello nurse returned with a monkey.
> "Who’s he?" Skippy asked indignetly.

JOEL: Head of programming for UPN.

> "Abu, pleased ta meet ya!"

CROW: We’ve really needed to runt you out to someone!

> The monkey replied, "I’m the mechanic."
> Abu took out a small laptop and plugged it into the large PC that _was_
> the hall of records mainframe.

JOEL: Back in the good old days, before SpeedScript ruined everything.

TOM: What?

> Abu tapped away franticly with the keyboard and it was almost an hour
> before he said anything.

CROW: Maybe he should wiggle the plug?

> "This is not good…" Abu said looking at Skippy.

TOM: I am *so* tanking on NetTrek.

> "According to this there is no Skippy Squirrel…" Abu finished.
> "How can that be?" Asked Skippy tearfully.

JOWL: The crossover you were scheduled to do with "Sportsnight" vanished without a trace, and took you with it.

> "Probably just a mistake at the hospital kid." Abu said trying to
> cheer Skippy up.

CROW: That is a pretty cheery thing to say.

> "A hospital could do a INK test on you Skippy." Hello Nurse offered,

TOM: ‘Cause, see, INK is like DNA for a cartoon.

> "That way we could then match your INK

CROW: Get it? ‘Cause a cartoon has INK rather than DNA.

> to all the INK’s in our database
> and find out that way.."

JOEL: [ Slapping TOM’s shoulder ] HA HA! INK! Get it? INK!

TOM: That hurt.

> "I’m not sure…" Slappy started, but then she saw Skippy crying.
> "Come on, let’s go to the hospital…"

TOM: I don’t go to the hospital, but I play someone who does on TV.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Skippy’s Mom (part 2 of 12)


We’re finally to the start of “Skippy’s Mom”, the next Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction I have for you. The whole of the series should appear at this link. So far, though, we’ve just had the introductory host sketch. They’re about to enter the theater.

These Are The Days was a short-lived Hanna-Barbera cartoon of the 70s. It was set in a small rural town around the turn of the century and was so well-meaning yet dull. Vitagraph was a silent movie studio — they did newsreels of the Spanish-American War — that Warner Brothers bought in 1925. Warner Brothers slapped the name on some 60s cartoons for mysterious reasons, probably to keep the trademark just in case. The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t is an early 70s Hanna-Barbera move in which Jeremy Squirrel and the squirrel family have to save The First Thanksgiving. Cartoon Network ran it a bunch back in the 90s as part of their campaign to bore the audience away.


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

[ ALL file in. ]

> ————–29934A6D602B

TOM: In the year twenty-nine ninety-three… uh… four A six D six hundred and two B.

> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
>
> Due to circumstances outwith my control

CROW: For example, the images in Pringles commercials…

> and the fact that I’m a sick
> puppy (No really I have a killer headcold

JOEL: From outer space!

> …) here _is_ the CORRECT
> version of Skippy’s Mom. (I Hope)
> I would personally like to apolgise

CROW: Maybe ‘correct’ is an exaggeration?

> to anyone who has already read the
> orginal posting

TOM: It’s the latest in fanfic technology, the story that makes fun of itself.

> found that it did not finshed and has given the entire
> plot away.
> Anywho at last a mere 28+ hours over due here is Skippy’s Mom

JOEL: This is good. I’ve always wanted to see a "Family Ties" fanfic.

>
> ————–29934A6D602B

> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; name="PS6.TXT"

TOM: It’s us-ascii versus them-ascii in an all-out battle for world domination!

> Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

CROW: Shave and an inflation-adjusted haircut.

> Content-Disposition: inline; filename="PS6.TXT"
>
> /—————\
> | Skippy’s | Charles "runt-abu" Brown would like to dedicate this
> | Mom | story

JOEL: Before the second reel is out, to landing a cartoon character on the moon and bringing him safely back to Max and Dave Fleischer.

> to the following individuals who lived in a
> |An A! Fanfic by| world full of darkness but are now in the light.

CROW: Thomas Edison, Christine McGlade, and Morris Udall.

> | runt-abu | Princess Diana, Mother Teresa and to all those who morn

TOM: Need an Abu but can’t afford to own one? Come on down and runt one, on daily or weekly schedules. Exit 13 on the Northway.

> \—————/ them; This is there space of memorial:
> ========================================================================
> =========================
>
>
>
>
>

CROW: Is it naptime?

>
>
>
>
>
>

JOEL: This is the worst Rorschach test I’ve ever seen.

>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>

TOM: It is a chance for us to get a spoon and tunnel our way out.

>
> ========================================================================
> =========================
> Thank you for remebering

JOEL: We forget what.

> ========================================================================
> =========================

> Legal type stuff:

CROW: You know, 14 inch paper, note pads, writs, attainers. *Stuff.*

>
> This document is Copyright (C) 1997 Charles "Runt-Abu" Brown
> (runt@—.——.–.–). All rights reserved.

TOM: In fact, they’re downright timid. They’ve got to meet new people.

>
> The characters of the Warner Siblings and related characters are
> copyright and trademark Warner Bros. Animation, and are used without
> permission.

JOEL: Also without socks.

> Their use within this work of fiction is in no
> way, meant to infringe or steal that copyright, nor to dilute the
> characters themselves.

TOM: That happened by accident when I spilled paint thinner.

> No profit on the part of the author is made
> from this document, and this document is used only for entertainment
> purposes. If there are any legal problems with this document,

CROW: Please review randomly selected episodes of "These Are The Days" until your head explodes.

> please
> contact the author to make arrangements to amend these legal
> difficulties.

JOEL: [ Raising his hand ] Uh, waiter? There’s a lawyer in my soup.

TOM: Keep your voice down, or everybody’ll want one.

>
> This work may be freely distributed in any media

CROW: So if you ever wanted to compose a Gregorian Chant based on an Animaniacs fanfic, here’s your chance.

> as long as it is not; altered for its original
> form, and that no money is charged for the document itself.

JOEL: I like reading these notices just to see credit given to the Vitagraph Corporation.

CROW: [ Announcer voice ] Vitagraph. You know the name, you have no idea what we do, and that’s the way we want it. Vitagraph.

> It may be
> included on any archive collection under the same terms.

TOM: It’s only to be included in free-range archives.

> ========================================================================
> =========================
> ————————————————————————
> ——

JOEL: This is going to be a hard "Hangman" puzzle.

> Prelogue

CROW: That’s it. Did somebody go back in time and step on a butterfly while we weren’t looking?

> ——–
> Skippy Squirrel stared out his wooden window into the dark night,

TOM: Oh, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo…

> clouds over head covered the half moon and obscured the stars.
> His aunt slappy came in, "What’cha thinking about Skippy?" She asked
> gently.

CROW: [ As Skippy ] Whether the Trix rabbit is actually being tortured by various kids or if he just stumbled across the alien technology from "Forbidden Planet" and is now denied cereal by the monsters of his own id.

> "Oh nothing.." Skippy replied instinctivly.
> "You were wondering about your mom again weren’t you." Slappy said
> softly.

JOEL: The way you never do on the show.

> Skippy’s attitude suddenly changed, became darker, sadder.

CROW: Skippy Squirrel *is* Batman!

JOEL: Or… Bat… Squirrel… Man.

> "Yeah… I.. I just wish I had know who she was.." He whispered.

TOM: Mostly he hopes it wasn’t any of the squirrels from "The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t."

> "Now Skippy what have I always told you?" Slappy demanded.
> "Never to mix up dynamite with candy." Skippy paused for a second;
> "Always use live ammunition

CROW: As a hand lotion?

> and …."
> "And actions do things; thoughts don’t…" Slappy finshed for him.

TOM: Unless your thoughts are being dubbed in for the audience.

> "Tommorrow morning we’ll go down to the hall of records and find your

JOEL: Embarassing 70s glam rock album.

> mom… If you go to bed now…"
> "Gee that’d be great Aunt Slappy!" Skippy said excitedly.
> "Come on kiddo, time for lights out…."

CROW: Our animators ran out of money.

> Slappy said tucking Skippy in.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Skippy’s Mom (part 1 of 12)


I have a fresh Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction to share! Way back in the 20th century I came upon one Charles Brown’s Animaniacs fan fiction “Skippy’s Mom”. Its inspiration: if Skippy is Slappy’s nephew, who is his mother? Answering this sort of question is just what we created fan fiction to solve. Brown’s answer is … not what you might have imagined.

I wrote longer fan fictions back in the day, so this one goes on a bit. This section doesn’t even get out of the introductory host sketches. Those sketches were inspired by watching a bunch of Cartoon Network, as you can tell. Also from my annoyance at bad snarking on Scooby-Doo. There was not a horde of comedians making bad jokes about Scooby-Doo, unless you count people on Usenet having fun. I like think I’m a bit kinder these days to snark that doesn’t meet my high standards, but I know deep down I’m cranky about people doing the same stuff I do. One hazard of MiSTing is it gets very easy to get mean and I’ve tried to get better about that.

Not many references to explain here. Hal Jordan was the Green Lantern when I was a kid. Ken Connell was the hero of the New Universe comic Star Brand, in the 80s. He got a magic alien tattoo that gave him all the superpowers and he accidentally blew up Pittsburgh with it. Ralph Hinkley, or Hanley as they abruptly renamed him for some reason in the middle of 1981, was the star of The Greatest American Hero, or as you might recognize better if you read it while you were eight, only the most greatest TV show in the history of ever. The goofball scenarios they reference were all things the Green Lantern did in the Challenge Of The Superfriends cartoon, keeping this animation theme going. I used to write more thematically unified back then.


[ OPENING SEQUENCE ]

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

[ SOL DESK. JOEL, TOM and CROW are at the desk, deep in discussion. ]

CROW: I’d say he would grow up with eating habits memorized, but not internalized. He’d eat healthily but not understand why.

TOM: The answer has to depend on whether the child can shapeshift. That changes everything.

JOEL: [ Touching CROW and TOM’s shoulders ] Oh, hey, we’re on, everyone. Hi there, and welcome to the Satellite of Love. This afternoon we’re going to participate in a hideously evil experiment, and before that we’re discussing a ‘Winnie the Witch’ cartoon Hanna-Barbera made in the 60s.

TOM: In this short, stork error delivers a baby to Winnie Witch, a feeble simulacrum of Witch Hazel, and she adopts it.

CROW: But the baby’s reluctant to drink milk, so she turns it into a kitten.

JOEL: And we’re debating the long-term developmental challenges this may inflict on the baby.

CROW: Such as confusion over self-identity and body image.

TOM: And whether it’d ever learn to eat healthily. If habits are learned by storing memories in that big ol’ chemical soup of the human brain, then how are they wrecked by completely rewriting the kid’s biochemistry, from cat to kid and so on?

JOEL: So far we don’t know.

TOM: I’d say it depends if the kid can shapeshift on his own. If he can, then when he’s hungry for — let’s say — Brussels sprouts,he’ll turn into a beaver or whatever eats them. When he needs meat, he’ll become a basset hound or something.

CROW: When he needs plankton he’ll turn into a whale.

TOM: Exactly, Crow, you get it.

JOEL: Uh, guys, humans don’t eat plankton.

TOM: Just because you don’t, don’t assume nobody ever does, Joel.

JOEL: It’s just not something we can eat.

CROW: Maybe that’s the problem. Did anyone ever transmogrify *you* when you were growing up, Joel? [ JOEL shakes his head and starts to answer ] Aha! That’s it!

TOM: Yeah! Your problem isn’t that this kid is getting the benefits of a proper polytheriomorphic childhood.
[ JOEL skeptically mouths the word "polytheriomorphic." ]

CROW: You’re just jealous that you never got to be anything other than a poor little human.

TOM: Aw, Joel, why didn’t you share your pain with us?

CROW: We’d have understood.

JOEL: Guys, it’s not like that. Humans aren’t supposed to —

CROW: No, no, don’t talk.

TOM: We love you no matter what you weren’t in your past.

CROW: We’ll help you through this.

TOM: You can hold us, if you like.

[ JOEL sighs, gives up, and hugs TOM and CROW. ]

JOEL: You guys are true friends. Thank you.

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial sign in five seconds. Cambot and I are here for you too, Joel.

JOEL: Thanks, Magic Voice. I’m sure Gypsy is too.

[ COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes. JOEL taps it. ]

GYPSY: [ Calling from offstage ] You said it!

JOEL: We’ll be right back.

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]


[ SOL DESK. Zoobooks are scattered over the table. JOEL, TOM, and CROW are examining different pamphlets. ]

CROW: How about the rock hyrax?

JOEL: And what’s a rock hyrax?

CROW: We can give you a weeklong tryout with it, maybe try a bush or tree hyrax if you’re not fully satisfied …

TOM: I’m holding out for you as a woylie. It’s a cute little kangaroo that feeds on roots, tubers, seeds, and legumes. See the picture?

JOEL: Yeah, nice. And what’s the hyrax, Crow?

CROW: I… uh… have no idea. But if you became one, then we’d know, right?

TOM: Yeah, unless he got caught in the mouse traps.

[ MADS sign flashes ]

JOEL: Hang on, Loopy the Lion and Hardee Har Har are calling.


[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER has what looks like a plunger mounted on a water gun; TV’S FRANK is in the background, wearing a bullseye target and holding a SCOOBY-DOO T-shirt. DR. FORRESTER is by a table with considerable clutter on it.]

DR.F: Touche, turtle. Our invention this week is based on beating back the horde of comedians who make incredibly trivial comments about ‘Scooby-Doo.’ It’s a high-powered gun designed to stop them. It tracks certain characteristics of people who’ve figured out they can approach being amusing by talking about this overexposed show — rising levels of unjustified smugness, a clumsily jocular air around them, Scooby Snack Powder… who needs details? TV’s Frank will demonstrate.

FRANK: [ Sheepish ] Now?

DR.F: No, Frank, next week.

FRANK: Oh.

DR.F: [ Growls, lowers the gun, riffles through the stuff on the desk, making a mess and loud noise. ] NOW!

FRANK: OK, like, you notice how it’s always the creepy old guy wearing a dumb mask? And how these kids don’t have jobs or school or parents or anything? And was Shaggy stoned or what?


[ As FRANK talks, DR. F raises the gun and aims. As FRANK finishes talking, DR. F fires the gun, sending the plunger flying to the bullseye. FRANK, "impaled," begins a prolongued death scene as BUGS BUNNY might do. ]

DR.F: A sharp, thin needle at the end of the plunger makes your displeasure really stick. [ He begins cackling, and suddenly stops. ] Over to you, Hokey.


[ SOL DESK. The brouchures are cleared away; JOEL, TOM, and CROW all have hefty instruction manuals. TOM and CROW’s are opened. ]

JOEL: Anyone who lives long enough, be he Hal Jordan, Ken Connell, Ralph Hinkley, or Joel Robinson, will eventually be host to benevolent aliens who grant one a ring, tatoo, suit, or some other token of almost unlimited power to use for the good of humanity.

CROW: But will you know how to use it?

TOM: Great power carries with it great responsibility, and you must be prepared to use that power efficiently and for the good of all.

JOEL: [ Showing off his book ] Which is why we’ve created the nigh-omnipotent token’s user’s manual!

TOM: Indexed, cross-referenced and with a web site for newly discovered twists, this guide will help any new superhero do his or her best possible good.

CROW: See, here, ‘Earth threatened by gigantic comets’…simply power up and move the comets out of the way.

TOM: Whereas under ‘City threatened by nuclear missiles’… use your powers to turn the missiles into giant sticks of butter.

JOEL: Have to move your entire legion of friends in a hurry? Fire up your token and expand your hands, then fly them all there!

CROW: Keep your excessively large hands out of your line of sight, or flight will become erratic.

TOM: What do you think, sirs?


[ DEEP 13. FRANK is gasping, continuing the act. DR. FORRESTER is at the camera, sneering. DR. FORRESTER makes quote marks with his hands where appropriate. ]

DR.F: Infinitely clever, mes amis. Your pain this week is a beauty of an Animaniacs fanfic entitled "Skippy’s Mom," by one Charles "Runt-Abu" Brown. It’s the heartworming story of Skippy Squirrel as — could you see this one coming — he finds his Mom. Read it and weep, my little Nimrods of the nitrate stocks.

[ FRANK groans ]

DR.F: Oh, suck it in, wimpy.

[ SOL. As before. ]

CROW: Heartworming?

TOM: Runt-abu?

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes ]

JOEL: Later! We got movie sign!


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: The Jovian Jest (part 4 of 4)


And now it’s the final installment of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction of Lilith Lorraine’s “The Jovian Jest”. This short story first appeared in May 1930 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. The whole of the MiSTing should be at this link. Let me know if it’s not.

The story so far: a flying saucer has landed. The amoebic creature from it pokes tentacles into cattleman Bill Jones and pompous professor Ralston, slurping up their cognitive facilities. Now able to talk to humans Amoeboy begins to share where they’re from and what their deal is.

Not much needing explanation here. The Excelsior – Tuebor riff is jumping from Amoeboy’s ‘Forge on’ to the state mottos of New York and then Michigan. Oh, you may think the line about ‘Rock Gulch’ is a reference to the Fallout video games but no, I don’t know anything about Fallout. I forget exactly how I came up with that name but I’m pretty sure it’s an SCTV reference. Maybe to the Six Gun Justice serial they did that weird final season? If somebody knows what I was thinking please let me know. Oh, the Clown Sightings of 2016 … see, back when we thought 2016 was just the worst a year could get there was this weird rash of Mysterious Clown Sightings in summer and early fall. Some weird little mass hysteria that somehow ended abruptly the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.

Note that despite the title, the alien Amoeboy does not come from Jupiter. It’s from somewhere a million light-years away. ‘Jovian’ refers to the size of the joke played at the end of this tale. Enjoy!


>
>
>
> We can dissolve our bodies at will, retaining only the permanent
> atom of our being, the seed of life dropped on the soil of our
> planet by Infinite Intelligence.

JOEL: Decluttering tip! Shed every part of your existence that doesn’t bring you joy!

> We can propel this indestructible
> seed on light rays through the depths of space.

CROW: However I confess we are not yet able to tell a cabbage from a lettuce.

> We can visit the
> farthest universe with the velocity of light, since light is our
> conveyance.

TOM: *Now* how much would you pay? But wait, there’s more!

> In reaching your little world, I have consumed a
> million years, for my world is a million light-years distant: yet to
> my race a million years is as one of your days.

JOEL: For us three of our popcorn balls are like two of your candy corns!

TOM: To my race seven of your Star Wars movies are like three of our Thanksgiving Day parades!

CROW: Four things that you perceive as green are equivalent to one of our yellowy-blues!

>
> "On arrival at any given destination, we can build our bodies from
> the elements of the foreign planet.

CROW: We can make them stronger, faster, well, you get the drill.

> We attain our knowledge of
> conditions on any given planet by absorbing the thought-content of
> the brains of a few representative members of its dominant race.

TOM: Isn’t that going to be, like, some microbe?

JOEL: So, the amoebas?

TOM: Oooooooooh.

> Every well-balanced mind contains the experience of the race, the
> essence of the wisdom that the race-soul has gained during its
> residence in matter.

JOEL: The longer that sentence ran the more I dreaded it.

> We make this knowledge a part of our own
> thought-content, and thus the Universe lies like an open book before
> us.

TOM: Even when we’re in the bathroom?

>
> "At the end of a given experiment in thought absorption, we return
> the borrowed mind-stuff to the brain of its possessor.

CROW: Who’s … uh … us, now! Neat how that works, isn’t it? Thanks.

> We reward
> our subject for his momentary discomfiture by pouring into his body
> our splendid vitality.

TOM: Also a $20 gift card to Jersey Mike’s.

> This lengthens his life expectancy
> immeasurably,

CROW: We hush it up because it would ruin the insurance companies.

> by literally burning from his system the germs of
> actual or incipient ills that contaminate the blood-stream.

JOEL: We leave behind the broken arm, we don’t have an administrative code for that.

>
>
>
> This, I believe, will conclude my explanation, an explanation to
> which you, as a race in whom intelligence is beginning to dawn, are
> entitled.

TOM: So, any questions? Yes, you there.

CROW: The *heck* was that all about?

> But you have a long road to travel yet. Your
> thought-channels are pitifully blocked and criss-crossed with
> nonsensical and inhibitory complexes that stand in the way of true
> progress.

JOEL: Oh dear lord it’s a Dianetics ad.

> But you will work this out, for the Divine Spark that
> pulses through us of the Larger Universe, pulses also through you.

TOM: This might explain why you feel like you’re ticking and also part of the Galactic Federation of Light.

> That spark, once lighted, can never be extinguished, can never be
> swallowed up again in the primeval slime.

CROW: As long as you remember one thing: always — I mean, never — I mean, you have to make sure [ Cough, wheezes ] THUD!

>
> "There is nothing more that I can learn from you — nothing that I
> can teach you at this stage of your evolution.

JOEL: Nothing at all? Not, like, antibiotics —

TOM: Nope! Nothing to teach you.

CROW: Maybe how to make electronics —

TOM: Negatory! You’ve got all you can handle.

JOEL: Could you give a hint about grand unification theory?

TOM: Nah! What wouldn’t be redundant?

> I have but one
> message to give you, one thought to leave with you — forge on!

CROW: Counterfeit *everything*!

> You are on the path, the stars are over you, their light is flashing
> into your souls the slogan of the Federated Suns beyond the
> frontiers of your little warring worlds. Forge on!"

TOM: Excelsior!

CROW: Tuebor!

JOEL: Here’s mud in your eye!

>
> The Voice died out like the chiming of a great bell receding into
> immeasurable distance.

TOM: The time is now 11:00.

> The supercilious tones of the professor had
> yielded to the sweetness and the light of the Greater Mind whose
> instrument he had momentarily become.

CROW: And now he’s going back to a career of explaining to waitresses that if the choice is cole slaw *or* home fries he’s entitled to get both.

> It was charged at the last
> with a golden resonance that seemed to echo down vast spaceless
> corridors beyond the furthermost outposts of time.
>
>
>
> As the Voice faded out into a sacramental silence, the strangely
> assorted throng, moved by a common impulse, lowered their heads as
> though in prayer.

CROW: [ As Amoeboy ] “Sorry, ah, this thing usually takes off right away. Think the battery’s a bit low is all.”

> The great globe pulsed and shimmered throughout
> its sentient depths like a sea of liquid jewels.

TOM: [ As the Terminator ] Liquid Jewels.

JOEL: For the Twee-1000.

> Then the tentacle
> that grasped the professor drew him back toward the scintillating
> nucleus.

TOM: [ Amoeboy ] ‘C’mon and gimme a hug!’

> Simultaneously another arm reached out and grasped Bill
> Jones, who,

CROW: Was still in the story we guess?

> during the strange lecture, had ceased his wooden
> soldier marching and had stood stiffly at attention.

TOM: [ Amoeboy ] ‘You give me a hug too! It’s a hug party and everyone’s invited! Not you, Ray.’

>
> The bodies of both men within the nucleus were encircled once more
> by the single current. From it again put forth the tentacles,
> cupping their heads, but the smokelike essence flowed back to them
> this time,

JOEL: [ Amoeboy ] And what the heck, you’ll cluck like a chicken every time someone says ‘cabinet’.

> and with it flowed a tiny threadlike stream of violet
> light. Then came the heaving motion when the shimmering currents
> caught the two men

[ CROW, TOM scream in agony ]

> and tossed them forth unharmed but visibly
> dowered with the radiance of more abundant life.

JOEL: And they fall down the ravine to Rock Gulch.

> Their faces were
> positively glowing and their eyes were illuminated by a light that
> was surely not of earth.

CROW: They look at each other and say, wulp, nothing to do now but make out, right?

>
> Then, before the very eyes of the marveling people, the great globe
> began to dwindle.

[ TOM makes a low hissing noise, as a balloon deflates. ]

> The jeweled lights intensified, concentrated,
> merged, until at last remained only a single spot no larger than a
> pin-head,

JOEL: Are we having alien yet?

> but whose radiance was, notwithstanding, searing,
> excruciating.

CROW: Strangely lemon-scented.

> Then the spot leaped up — up into the heavens,
> whirling, dipping and circling as in a gesture of farewell, and
> finally soaring into invisibility with the blinding speed of light.

TOM: Travels for a million years, you’d think it could stay for dinner.

CROW: Got a look at this bunch and headed right out.

>
> The whole wildly improbable occurrence might have been dismissed as
> a queer case of mass delusion,

JOEL: Like the Clown Sightings of 2016 or the so-called state of ‘Tennessee’.

> for such cases are not unknown to
> history, had it not been followed by a convincing aftermath.

TOM: The alien coming back to ask if anyone had seen its flagellum.

>
> The culmination of a series of startling coincidences, both
> ridiculous and tragic, at last brought men face to face with an
> incontestable fact:

CROW: If Woody had gone right to the police this would never have happened!

> namely, that Bill Jones had emerged from his
> fiery baptism endowed with the thought-expressing facilities of
> Professor Ralston, while the professor was forced to struggle along
> with the meager educational appliances of Bill Jones!

JOEL: Whoo-hoo-hoo-oops!

TOM: Ha ha!

>
> In this ironic manner the Space-Wanderer had left unquestionable
> proof of his visit by rendering a tribute to "innate intelligence"
> and playing a Jovian Jest upon an educated fool — a neat
> transposition.

CROW: It’s funny ’cause it’s … I don’t know, playing on elitist pretentions? Something?

>
> A Columbus from a vaster, kindlier universe had paused for a moment
> to learn the story of our pigmy system.

TOM: Wonder what would’ve happened if it had eaten, like, a raccoon’s brain?

> He had brought us a message
> from the outermost citadels of life and had flashed out again on his
> aeonic voyage from everlasting unto everlasting.
>

JOEL: A strange visitor from beyond the stars comes to Earth with a chilling message: yeah, do whatever you’re doing.

>

TOM: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

JOEL: Works for me.

CROW: [ Slowly, seriously ] Dum DA-dum!

[ ALL file out. ]

                             \  |  /
                              \ | /
                               \|/
                             ---O---
                               /|\
                              / | \
                             /  |  \

	

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its characters and situations are the property of Satellite of Love, LLC, if the footer on mst3kinfo.com doesn’t lead me wrong. I’m still geting used to thinking of Best Brains as a part of the past. I don’t know. _The Jovian Jest_ was written by Lilith Loraine and appeared in the May 1930 issue of _Astounding Stories of Super-Science_ which I believe to be out of copyright. It can be found through Project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29809/29809-h/29809-h.htm#The_Jovian_Jest at your leisure. I’m Joseph Nebus and this is 2017 for me.

> The homogeneous force of
> our omni-substance subjects the plural world to the processing of a
> powerful unity.


[ The end ??? ]

MiSTed: The Jovian Jest (part 3 of 4)


Returning now to my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction of Lilith Lorraine’s “The Jovian Jest”, a short story from the May 1930 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. The whole of the MiSTing should be at this link. Let me know if you don’t see it.

That flying-saucer-at-Farmer-Burns’s-place situation heated up last time, as the blobby mass from the spaceship took over the body of cattleman Bill Jones and insufferably pompous Professor Ralston. Using the body of Professor Ralston the creature, calling itself an amoeba of the alien universe, began to explain its deal. Also, sorry about the Bill Jones thing but he didn’t have a sophisticated enough vocabulary to be able to explain what the aliens were up to.

I don’t see any riffs in this segment that need explanation. Even better, I don’t spot any that need apology. So let’s get back to the action, then.


> He possesses more of what you would call ‘innate
> intelligence,’ but he has not perfected the mechanical brain through
> whose operation this innate intelligence can be transmitted to
> others and, applied for practical advantage.

TOM: Oh, c’mon, how many people do you know perfect mechanical brains?

CROW: Joel did!

TOM: Sycophant.

>
>
>
> Now this creature that I am using is, as you might say, full of
> sound without meaning.

JOEL: How we might say? How would you say?

> His brain is a lumber-room in which he has
> hoarded a conglomeration of clever and appropriate word-forms with
> which to disguise the paucity of his ideas, with which to express
> nothing!

CROW: Um …

> Yet the very abundance of the material in his storeroom
> furnishes a discriminating mind with excellent tools for the
> transportation of its ideas into other minds.

TOM: [ Professor Ralston ] Are you calling me stupid?

JOEL: [ As Amoeba ] I’m saying you have an abundance of deficiencies!

TOM: [ Professor Ralston ] Well … okay then.

>
> "Know, then, that I am not here by accident.

CROW: I had long and fully planned to land my flying saucer at a 50 degree angle in the middle of this corn silo!

> I am a Space Wanderer,
> an explorer from a super-universe whose evolution has proceeded
> without variation along the line of your amoeba.

TOM: Look, I don’t want to nitpick.

JOEL: Of course you don’t, honey.

TOM: Just, ‘evolution’ or ‘variation’, which of those words aren’t they using right?

> Your evolution, as
> I perceive from an analysis of the brain-content of your professor,
> began its unfoldment in somewhat the same manner as our own.

CROW: With cartoons of fish stepping up on land.

> But in
> your smaller system, less perfectly adjusted than our own to the
> cosmic mechanism, a series of cataclysms occurred.

JOEL: Does this involve blowing up the moon and jolting Earth into a new orbit?

> In fact, your
> planetary system was itself the result of a catastrophe, or of what
> might have been a catastrophe, had the two great suns collided whose
> near approach caused the wrenching off of your planets.

CROW: And if their diplomats weren’t able to find a face-saving solution to the crisis.

> From this
> colossal accident, rare, indeed, in the annals of the stars, an
> endless chain of accidents was born, a chain of which this specimen,
> this professor, and the species that he represents, is one of the
> weakest links.

TOM: Is Lilith Lorraine getting back at one of her professors?

CROW: Show *you* to give me a B *minus*.

>
> "Your infinite variety of species is directly due to the variety of
> adaptations necessitated by this train of accidents.

JOEL: If only no planets had formed then we’d all be amoebas!

TOM: Huh?

> In the
> super-universe from which I come, such derangements of the celestial
> machinery simply do not happen.

CROW: Amoeba-boy’s getting a little snobby there.

> For this reason, our evolution has
> unfolded harmoniously along one line of development, whereas yours
> has branched out into diversified and grotesque expressions of the
> Life-Principle.

TOM: Why, thank you for noticing!

> Your so-called highest manifestation of this
> principle, namely, your own species, is characterized by a great
> number of specialized organs.

CROW: Is … is Amoeba-boy talking about breasts?

JOEL: Oy, aliens, always like this …

> Through this very specialization of
> functions, however, you have forfeited your individual immortality,
> and it has come about that only your life-stream is immortal. The
> primal cell is inherently immortal, but death follows in the wake of
> specialization.

TOM: Also in the wake of being eaten by a bear. Just saying.

>
>
>
> We, the beings of this amoeba universe, are individually immortal.

CROW: So there’s no escape from Great-Aunt Carol and her inappropriate questions.

> We have no highly specialized organs to break down under the stress
> of environment. When we want an organ, we create it.

TOM: From … ?

JOEL: Never you mind!

> When it has
> served its purpose, we withdraw it into ourselves.

CROW: We draw the shades and hide from neighbors.

> We reach out our
> tentacles and draw to ourselves whatsoever we desire. Should a
> tentacle be destroyed, we can put forth another.

JOEL: Our contests of rock-paper-scissors can take years to decide!

>
> "Our universe is beautiful beyond the dreams of your most inspired
> poets.

TOM: So neener neener neener on you.

> Whereas your landscapes, though lovely, are stationary,
> unchangeable except through herculean efforts, ours are Protean,
> eternally changing.

CROW: [ As an onlooker ] Get me the one they call Heraclitus.

> With our own substance, we build our minarets
> of light, piercing the aura of infinity.

TOM: Your buildings are made out of people?

> At the bidding of our
> wills we create, preserve, destroy — only to build again more
> gloriously.

JOEL: It’s all great fun except when you’re signed up to be the sewer this week.

>
> "We draw our sustenance from the primates, as do your plants,

CROW: Are they telling us that ferns eat apes?

TOM: That’s how I make it out, yeah.

> and we
> constantly replace the electronic base of these primates with our
> own emanations,

JOEL: Your ferns charge up apes?

CROW: Even for aliens these are kinda weird mamma-jamas.

> in much the same manner as your nitrogenous plants
> revitalize your soil.

TOM: [ Onlooker ] “Um … are you completely sure you landed on the right planet here?”

>
> "While we create and withdraw organs at will, we have nothing to
> correspond to your five senses.

CROW: Though we have a perfect match for your Five Mrs Buchanans!

> We derive knowledge through one
> sense only, or, shall I say, a super-sense?

JOEL: We know everything through our hyperdimensional sense of taste!

TOM: Thus we travel the cosmos finding things to lick!

> We see and hear and
> touch and taste and smell and feel and know, not through any one
> organ, but through our whole structure.

CROW: You’re making this creepy, Amoe-boy.

> The homogeneous force of
> our omni-substance subjects the plural world to the processing of a
> powerful unity.

TOM: Dilute, dilute, okay?


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: The Jovian Jest (part 2 of 4)


Welcome now to the second part of Lilith Lorraine’s “The Jovian Jest”, a short story from the May 1930 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. Yes, it’s another of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fictions. The whole of the MiSTing should appear at this link.

Previously, a flying saucer landed at Farmer Burns’s yard, and a strange blobby Thing emerged. The blob threw a tentacle out to the awestruck crowd, grabbed cattleman Bill Jones, and pulled him in to the strange reddish core.

Not much to explain around here. Maybe that the “Too Fast For Love” thing isn’t a non sequitur, it’s a reference to Mötley Crüe. The line about “an abundance of deficiencies” is one of my favorites. I have the nagging feeling I lifted it from somewhere, but I can’t think where. Maybe I don’t believe I can write something I like.


>
>
>
> The absorption of the stone had taught them what to expect, and for
> a moment it seemed that their worst anticipations were to be
> realised.

CROW: Pebbles across the county might be no more!

> The sluggish currents circled through the Thing,

TOM, CROW: Dum DA-dum!

> swirling
> the victim’s body to the center. The giant tentacle drew back into
> the globe and became itself a current.

JOEL: Don’t fight the current! Swim out and then make it to shore!

> The concentric circles
> merged — tightened — became one gleaming cord that encircled the
> helpless prey.

TOM: Is … he turning into Sailor Moon?

> From the inner circumference of this cord shot
> forth, not the swords of light that had powdered the stone to atoms,
> but myriads of radiant tentacles that gripped and cupped the body in
> a thousand places.

CROW: [ Bill Jones, giggling ] No wait stop I’m ticklish aaaaaaugh
[ and breaks down laughing ]

>
> Suddenly the tentacles withdrew themselves, all save the ones that
> grasped the head.

JOEL: That’s his *hair*.

> These seemed to tighten their pressure — to
> swell and pulse with a grayish substance that was flowing from the
> cups into the cord and from the cord into the body of the mass.

TOM: And from the body of the mass into the grayish substance and
that’s what we call an ‘economy’.

> Yes, it was a grayish something, a smokelike Essence that was being
> drawn from the cranial cavity.

CROW: Mmm, fresh skull juice.

> Bill Jones was no longer screaming
> and gibbering, but was stiff with the rigidity of stone.

JOEL: [ Bill Jones ] ‘Mondays, am I right?’

> Notwithstanding, there was no visible mark upon his body; his flesh
> seemed unharmed.

TOM: [ The Blob ] Oh yeah! Let me work on that.

JOEL: [ Bill Jones ] Whoa hey yeowwwowow!

>
> Swiftly came the awful climax. The waving tentacles withdrew
> themselves, the body of Bill Jones lost its rigidity, a heaving
> motion from the center of the Thing

CROW, JOEL: Dum DA-dum!

> propelled its cargo to the
> surface — and Bill Jones stepped out!

TOM: And he holds up the eight of diamonds — your card?

>
> Yes, he stepped out and stood for a moment staring straight ahead,
> staring at nothing, glassily. Every person in the shivering,
> paralysed group knew instinctively that something unthinkable had
> happened to him.

CROW: You suppose Farmer Burns will give him a refund?

> Something had transpired, something hitherto
> possible only in the abysmal spaces of the Other Side of Things.

JOEL: Do … do you think he liked it?

> Finally he turned and faced the nameless object, raising his arm
> stiffly, automatically, as in a military salute.

CROW: Oh, do *not* go there, I don’t have the energy.

> Then he turned and
> walked jerkily, mindlessly, round and round the globe like a wooden
> soldier marching. Meanwhile the Thing

ALL: Dum DA-dum!

> lay quiescent — gorged!
>
>
>
> Professor Ralston was the first to find his voice. In fact,
> Professor Ralston was always finding his voice in the most
> unexpected places.

JOEL: One time he spent a week searching for it before it turned up
in Schenectady.

> But this time it had caught a chill. It was
> trembling.
>
> "Gentlemen," he began, looking down academically upon the motley
> crowd

TOM: Too Fast For Love.

> as though doubting the aptitude of his salutation.

CROW: ‘It appears the aliens are here to … play.’

> "Fellow-citizens," he corrected,

JOEL: Buh?

TOM: The ever-popular ‘unneeded correction that somehow makes
you sound like a jerk’.

> "the phenomenon we have just
> witnessed is, to the lay mind, inexplicable. To me — and to my
> honorable colleagues (added as an afterthought) it is quite clear.

CROW: Oh, *boo*.

> Quite clear, indeed. We have before us a specimen, a perfect
> specimen, I might say, of a — of a — "

JOEL: You know he’s a professor of accounting, right?

>
> He stammered in the presence of the unnamable.

TOM: Read the employee badge! Then you can name it.

> His hesitancy caused
> the rapt attention of the throng that was waiting breathlessly for
> an explanation, to flicker back to the inexplicable.

CROW: [ As Ralston ] ‘Hey, stop paying attention to the not-man here!’

> In the
> fraction of a second that their gaze had been diverted from the
> Thing

ALL: Dum DA-dum!

> to the professor, the object had shot forth another tentacle,
> gripping him round the neck and choking off his sentence with a
> horrid rasp that sounded like a death rattle.

[ ALL clap. ]

JOEL: ‘Wait! I needed him to sign my financial aid paperwork!’

>
> Needless to say,

JOEL: End paragraph.

> the revolting process that had turned Bill Jones
> from a human being into a mindless automaton was repeated with
> Professor Ralston.

TOM: Blob is going to get *such* a letter from the Faculty Senate.

> It happened as before, too rapidly for
> intervention, too suddenly for the minds of the onlookers to shake
> off the paralysis of an unprecedented nightmare.

JOEL: With too much joy from everyone who’s had to listen to
the Professor mansplaining the world.

> But when the
> victim was thrown to the surface, when he stepped out, drained of
> the grayish smokelike essence, a tentacle still gripped his neck and
> another rested directly on top of his head.

CROW: He’s ready for Stromboli’s puppet show!

> This latter tentacle,
> instead of absorbing from him, visibly poured into him what
> resembled a threadlike stream of violet light.

TOM: Heck of a way to pick a new Doctor Who.

>
>
>
> Facing the cowering audience with eyes staring glassily, still in
> the grip of the unknowable, Professor Ralston did an unbelievable
> thing.

CROW: Let’s … POLKA!

> He resumed his lecture at the exact point of interruption!
> But he spoke with the tonelessness of a machine, a machine that
> pulsed to the will of a dictator, inhuman and inexorable!

JOEL: I had this guy for pre-algebra!

>
> "What you see before you," the Voice continued — the Voice that no
> longer echoed the thoughts of the professor — "is what you would
> call an amoeba, a giant amoeba.

CROW: Would you believe … a giant amoeba with cupholders?

TOM: It’s, it’s, maybe more of a paramecium? Would you buy that?

> It is I — this amoeba, who am
> addressing you — children of an alien universe.

JOEL: [ As the Amoeba ] Are … are any of you buying this?

> It is I, who
> through this captured instrument of expression, whose queer language
> you can understand, am explaining my presence on your planet.

CROW: [ As the Amoeba ] I … you know, this got a better reaction when I tried it at open-mic night.

> I
> pour my thoughts into this specialised brain-box which I have
> previously drained of its meager thought-content." (Here the
> "honorable colleagues" nudged each other gleefully.)

TOM: Mind-wiping is fun when it’s someone else on the faculty senate getting it!

> "I have so
> drained it for the purpose of analysis and that the flow of my own
> ideas may pass from my mind to yours unimpeded by any distortion
> that might otherwise be caused by their conflict with the thoughts
> of this individual.

JOEL: Oh, uh, PS, we’re not the bad guys?

>
> "First I absorbed the brain-content of this being whom you call Bill
> Jones, but I found his mental instrument unavailable.

TOM: Oh, sheesh.

> It was
> technically untrained in the use of your words that would best
> convey my meaning.

CROW: [ Bill Jones ] Are you calling me stupid?

JOEL: [ As Amoeba ] I’m saying you have an abundance of deficiencies!

CROW: [ Bill Jones ] Well … okay then.

[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: The Jovian Jest (part 1 of 4)


I am kicking around yet for what to do next around here. I’m thinking of doing another Arthur Scott Bailey novel, although it is hard picking one that compares to the delights of The Tale of Fatty Raccoon. I might pick another story from the public domain, such as this one, which appeared in the May 1930 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. If I have somehow misunderstood things and it’s not in the public domain, just wait. In the event, I have run this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction before, but that was years ago, Some of you didn’t even know I was writing back then.

My whole MiSTing has a repeated joke of characters going “dum DA-dum” after a mention of The Thing. This riffs on Phil Harris’s 1950 novelty song, “The Thing”, which has a repeated drumbeat refrain in place of describing just what he found. It’s a fun song and itself inspired a science fiction story by Edward G Robles that I dimly remember and a pinball game I think I have played.

Is Twitter Moments still a thing? There is no way to know. The reference to “disco aliens” should have somehow alluded to the web comic Skin Horse, but does not.


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. THEATER. ALL file in. ]

TOM: So, an astounding tale from outer space, huh?

CROW: That’s the rumor.

>
>
>
> The Jovian Jest
>
> By Lilith Lorraine

CROW: Sponsored by the Alliteration Council.

JOEL: You’d think that would be an association.

>
> There came to our pigmy planet a radiant wanderer with a message —

TOM: ‘Please remove us from your mailing list’.

> and a jest

JOEL: And a jape?

TOM: No, a *jest*. Pay attention.

> — from the vasty universe.

CROW: Vasty?

>
>
> Consternation reigned in Elsnore village

[ ALL make grumbly crowd noises. ]

TOM: Rar, argh.

JOEL: Consternation and uproar!

> when the Nameless Thing was
> discovered in Farmer Burns’ corn-patch.

CROW: Fatty Raccoon! Get out of here!

> When the rumor began to
> gain credence that it was some sort of meteor from inter-stellar
> space,

TOM: [ Nerdy ] I *believe* you mean it is a meteor*ite*, thank you.

> reporters, scientists and college professors flocked to the
> scene, desirous of prying off particles for analysis.

CROW: Scientists and college professors! That’s what we’re doing wrong. We never should’ve given all those samples to the pro wrestlers and the guy selling Dead Sea bath salts at the mall.

> But they soon
> discovered that the Thing was no ordinary meteor, for it glowed at
> night with a peculiar luminescence.

JOEL: We need a novelty song! Get Phil Harris, stat!

> They also observed that it was
> practically weightless, since it had embedded itself in the soft
> sand scarcely more than a few inches.

CROW: Also Farmer Burns was growing his corn in the sand.

TOM: It’s a little game he plays.

>
> By the time the first group of newspapermen and scientists had
> reached the farm, another phenomenon was plainly observable. The
> Thing

TOM: Dum DA-dum!

> was growing!

JOEL: Well, that’ll happen.

>
> Farmer Burns, with an eye to profit, had already built a picket
> fence around his starry visitor and was charging admission.

TOM: ‘All right, here’s my nickel. Now give me an admission.’

CROW: ‘I’m the guy that clicks on Twitter Moments on purpose.’

> He also
> flatly refused to permit the chipping off of specimens or even the
> touching of the object.

JOEL: ‘Can I lick it?’

TOM: ‘No.’

JOEL: ‘Can I lick it just a little?’

TOM: ‘No.’

JOEL: ‘C’mon, I just want to lick it.’

TOM: ‘Well … okay.’

> His attitude was severely criticized, but
> he stubbornly clung to the theory that possession is nine points in
> law.

CROW: So science is going to need at least a touchdown and a field goal to catch up.

>
>
>
> It was Professor Ralston of Princewell who, on the third day after
> the fall of the meteor, remarked upon its growth. His colleagues

TOM: Were frankly amazed he took that long to get to it.

CROW: ‘No, please, Ralston, talk about growing orbs some more.’

> crowded around him as he pointed out this peculiarity, and soon they
> discovered another factor — pulsation!

JOEL: My god … it’s disco aliens!

>
> Larger than a small balloon,

CROW: Yet smaller than a large balloon …

> and gradually, almost imperceptibly
> expanding, with its viscid transparency shot through with opalescent
> lights, the Thing

CROW: Dum DA-dum!

> lay there in the deepening twilight and palpably
> shivered.

JOEL: Aw, it’s space-chilly.

> As darkness descended, a sort of hellish radiance began
> to ooze from it. I say hellish, because there is no other word to
> describe that spectral, sulphurous emanation.

CROW: Well *you’re* pretty judgemental there, narrator.

>
> As the hangers-on around the pickets shudderingly shrank away from
> the weird light that was streaming out to them and tinting their
> faces with a ghastly, greenish pallor,

TOM: Sheesh, they act like they’ve never even tried a death-ray before.

> Farmer Burns’ small boy,
> moved by some imp of perversity, did a characteristically childish
> thing.

CROW: He ran around yelling for a while until he fell down and cried.

> He picked up a good-sized stone and flung it straight at the
> nameless mass!

JOEL: The mass answers back about sticks and stones may break its bones.

>
>
>
> Instead of veering off and falling to the ground as from an impact
> with metal, the stone sank right through the surface of the Thing

JOEL: Dum DA-dum!

> as
> into a pool of protoplastic slime. When it reached the central core
> of the object, a more abundant life suddenly leaped and pulsed from
> center to circumference.

TOM: Welp.

CROW: It’s like pouring sugar in the gas tank, that.

> Visible waves of sentient color circled
> round the solid stone.

JOEL: What’s an invisible wave of color?

> Stabbing swords of light leaped forth from
> them, piercing the stone, crumbling it, absorbing it. When it was
> gone, only a red spot, like a bloodshot eye, throbbed eerily where
> it had been.

TOM: [ As the kid ] ‘Uhm … can I have my rock back?’

>
> Before the now thoroughly mystified crowd had time to remark upon
> this inexplicable disintegration, a more horrible manifestation
> occurred. The Thing,

JOEL, TOM: Dum DA-dum!

> as though thoroughly awakened and vitalized by
> its unusual fare, was putting forth a tentacle.

CROW: That figures.

TOM: It’s always tentacles. Why is it never, like, sea lion flippers?

> Right from the top
> of the shivering globe it pushed, sluggishly weaving and prescient
> of doom.

ALL: [ As onlookers ] HE DID IT!

> Wavering, it hung for a moment, turning, twisting,
> groping. Finally it shot straight outward swift as a rattler’s
> strike!
>
> Before the closely packed crowd could give room for escape, it had
> circled the neck of the nearest bystander, Bill Jones, a cattleman,

CROW: Moo.

> and jerked him, writhing and screaming, into the reddish core.

TOM: [ Bill Jones ] ‘Tell my cattle … I love … aaaargh!’

> Stupefied with soul-chilling terror, with their mass-consciousness
> practically annihilated before a deed with which their minds could
> make no association, the crowd could only gasp in sobbing unison and
> await the outcome.

JOEL: You know the *Australian* alien space blob is like twenty times deadlier than this.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 16 of 16)


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

CROW: Except, strangely, for 1987.

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

JOEL: It was because he had low blood sugar.

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

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

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

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

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

JOEL: And a touch of R for good luck.

> represented the CURVATURE OF PSYCHOMETRIC SPACE,

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

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

CROW: The pursuit of girls!

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

JOEL: Everything else had a good alibi.

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

TOM: It does?

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

CROW: Wait, they were all Section A.

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

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

>
> Not only that, since the psychometry metric

JOEL: And its measurement in the psychometric metric metric…

> is CAUSED by the Space-time
> Metric…

CROW: So gravity causes personality?

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

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

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

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

CROW: Gravity and angular momentum.

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

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

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

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

> from anatomy, Biology, Neurology,

TOM: Ichthyology,

> Psychometry, Factor Analysis,

JOEL: Etymology,

> Relativity, Gravity,

TOM: Philology,

> Theology, Psychology,

CROW: Bicycleology,

> History, Zoology,

JOEL: Vexillology,

> Embryology, Philosophy etc.

TOM: Gun repair, bookkeeping, and accounting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

> SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF GOD.

ALL: Ta-da-daaaaa!

[ JOEL picks up TOM, starts to leave. ]

>
>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GYPSY: Do you suppose Seldon harried people often?

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

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

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

GYPSY: And who would believe Asimov as French?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DR. F: Frank! Do something!

FRANK: Do I get a medal?

DR. F: No, Frank.

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

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

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


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

[ SOUND of foaming continues through to teaser. ]

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

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


[ The End … ??? ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 15 of 16)


And now to the penultimate segment of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 loosely based around Johnny Pez’s “Safety First”. The whole of the MiSTing is at this link. The previous installment continued explaining how the Scientific Proof of God followed from how brains are like computers running a program called ‘Reality’. Unfortunately, it’s abandonware.

Not much of this week’s riffing needs to be explained. I think that I swiped the “get the hence, Sir Chilblain” line from Walt Kelly’s Pogo, a comic strip that needs a much better web presence. As for riffs that I need to apologize for, oh, that line about being 35 and living with your parents is one I regret. It echos actual riffs from the 90s show but a lot of 90s humor was bad, actually.


>
> a. On the basis of this we suspect that "miracles"

JOEL: And Miracle "Gro"s…

> would simply be when the brain in a given individual

CROW: Like Skeet Ulrich, Robert Urich, or Sally Jesse Raphael.

> suddenly obtains a small spurt of "growth" and

TOM: Pop!

> the entire persons "reality" changes because of it
> because his brain changed.

JOEL: So one day you change your mind, and you grow an extra nose?

> This is based on the
> "Brain as a Computer" model,

TOM: This is based on the Brain as a Computer Model on Drugs. Any questions?

> whereby the program
> running on the computer is called "reality",

CROW: And then we switch out to play Solitaire a while.

> and
> sudden brain growth is like "upgrading" the computer
> with a faster processor and more memory.

TOM: None of this will help you find where you left your car keys.

> As far
> as the "program" is concerned (reality)

JOEL: 21st Century or Weichart?

> this is a
> supernatural and unexplained event,

CROW: And it’s pretty darned cool.

> and is called
> a "MIRACLE".

JOEL: It’s the quote marks that make it really special.

>
> OK… all of this is only SUSPICION…

TOM: But I’m pretty sure it was Professor Plum, wherever it was.

> it looks reasonable to a
> SCIENTIST,

CROW: And a GENTLEMAN.

> but there is no PROOF that it is true.

JOEL: It’s so tempting to look in the back of the book.

>
> HOWEVER, in 1997 HAMMOND discovered

TOM: It’s HAMMOND time!

> an AMAZING PROOF

CROW: Some a*MAZ*ing discoveries!

> that in fact
> the above SUSPICION is ABSOLUTELY SCIENTIFICALLY TRUE.

JOEL: [ Sing-song ] Absolutely scientifically expialidocious!

>
> The proof begins with Hammond’s discovery of the STRUCTURAL MODEL
> in Psychology

CROW: It turns onto the Northway and hits the road for Canada!

> which he published in the peer reviewed literature

TOM: That means somebody was looking over his shoulder when he stuffed it in a copy of "Huckleberry Finn."

> in
> 1994 (Called the Cartesian Theory).

CROW: I think, therefore I think. I think.

> An online copy of this published

> paper is permanently stored at:

JOEL: www-dot-online-copy-is-permanently-stored-here-dot-com.

>

> http://people.ne.mediaone.net/ghammond/cart.html
>
> In this paper hammond

TOM: e.e. cumming hammond.

> explains how all of the EXISTING results
> in PSYCHOMETRY

CROW: Except that one about why we can’t resist checking the pay phone for loose change.

> can be explained by the "3-Axis orthogonal Geometry
> of the Human Body and Brain"

TOM: Icky though it may be.

> (called the "Cartesian Geometry" of
> the Brain).

JOEL: Or "Pookie," by its best friends.

>
> IOW,

TOM: More of that jargon again.

> it was already a known fact that there are 2,3,4,5,6,7,9,13

CROW: Hut! Hut! Hike!

> eigenvector models that can be extracted from any correlation matrix
> in Psychology.

JOEL: So we use that to redirect the tetryon beam through the deflector array an establish a duotronic field that rebalances the warp bubble dynamics.

> And all the Psychologists were arguing over which
> model was right,

TOM: And which ones just looked best.

> and above all else, arguing about WHERE THEY CAME
> FROM physically.

JOEL: Our leading theory: they’re made by Marx!

>
> Hammond (1994) showed that the entire human body is 3-Axis Cartesian
> geometrically,

TOM: He’s discovered humans are three dimensional?

> including the BRAIN, in fact that the brain is CUBIC

CROW: And featuring the power of CHEESE.

> (another word for Cartesian),

TOM: No it’s not.

> and therefore, since a common cube has
> 13-Symmetry axes,

JOEL: And uncommon cubes have four more they keep secret.

> that NATURALLY, there would be found 13 eigenvectors
> in Psychometry,

CROW: Yup. There’s no gainsaying the obvious.

> and that MOREOVER, the 2,3,4,5,6,7,9,13 Factor models
> were just GEOMETRICAL REDACTIONS of the CUBE.

TOM: You put the redactions on page two, under the table of contents.

> (SEE PAPER CITED ABOVE)

CROW: The Bible?

>
> OK, this OVERWHELMINGLY explains the Structural Model,

TOM: Hey, wasn’t this about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
at one point?

> and it turns
> out that all of the numerical data

JOEL: And a nice card from my mom.

> from psychometry confirms Hammond’s
> CARTESIAN THEORY

CROW: Hey, don’t… put the Cartesian before the horse here.

> as being the correct explanation of the long sought
> for Structural Model.

TOM: That’s where you have the building supported by Iman.

>
> Note, that Hammond’s 1994 Structural Model is a 3-dimensional
> structure, a Cube.

JOEL: Dashiel Hammond’s The Maltese Cube.

> It exists in 3-dimensional Psychometric eigevector
> space.

TOM: I just like the flow of the phrase "three-dimensional psychometric eigenvector space."

> In fact in "Personality" space,

CROW: That’s like outer space, but customized to fit the astronaut.

> it DOES NOT include Intelligence
> (IQ)

JOEL: But it does include free refills.

> which is the other major field of psychometry "Mental Ability"

CROW: And natural "fashion sense"

> which is usually called "Intelligence".

TOM: By those who don’t know any better.

>
> However, in 1997 Hammond found out that Cattell had discovered FOUR
> 3rd order Factors (eigenvectors),

CROW: The fourth fell behind the bookshelf and was hard to get out again.

> whereas Hammond’s theory held that
> there were only THREE dimensions.

JOEL: The only way to settle it: Thumb wrestling!

> Hammond was standing there in his
> 3rd floor garret apartment

TOM: Third floor Garrett Morris apartment.

> pondering "what could possibly be orthogonal
> to 3-dimensional space"…

CROW: And yet taste so much like regular space?

> when suddenly his knees collapsed from under
> him and he went into a faint.

TOM: I know linear algebra can cause unconsciousness,
but it’s not usually *that* way.

> Hammond suddenly realized on February
> 3rd 1997,

CROW: Hey, remember where we were on February 3, 1997?

TOM: We were stuck on the satellite, being forced to watch bad movies?

CROW: Yeah, I remember it like it was yesterday.

> that IQ (Intelligence) had to be a "4th dimension" to the
> Structural Model,

TOM: A dimension not of sight or sound, but of mind.

> and that this was because "Intelligence" was already
> known to be "mental speed"

CROW: That’s the measure of how fast [ shifting to an Ed Grimley impersonation ] you go completely mental, I must say, but then again, who doesn’t?

> and therefore it would correlate with the
> TIME dimension,

JOEL: But in the Newsweek spacetime continuum.

CROW: Hey, shouldn’t he be inventing the flux capacitor by now?

> whereas the other 3 Personality dimensions correlated
> with the 3-SPACE dimensions (3-symmetry axes of the brain).. HENCE,

TOM: Get thee hence, sir Chilblain! … We need the eggs.

> the theory of Psychometry was caused by the ENTIRE 4D SPACE-TIME METRIC.

CROW: Hey, wasn’t this about God at one point?

> He suddenly realized he had united the first 35 years of psychometry

JOEL: Psychometry’s 35 years old and it’s still living with its parents?


[ to conclude … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 14 of 16)


Continuing now with a Mystery Science Theater 3000 marching steadily away from Johnny Pez’s “Safety First”. The whole of the MiSTing is at this link. The previous installment began a discussion about the Scientific Proof of God. I hope it helps anyone who’d been worrying about God-proofing their lives.

A bit of content warning here. In this section the riffed material talks about mental disabilities. And particularly about third-world people suffering more disabilities owing to poor nutrition. If you don’t need someone talking about “IQ deficits” in your recreational reading, you are right, and you should skip this piece at least.

For obscure references this time around, not much. There’s a mention about “B.J. fiddling with your pants overnight” that refers to one of the like two episodes of M*A*S*H where B.J. was a prank master screwing with Major Winchester. Also, I am aware that “reify” is a word. I keep looking it up to learn what it means, and agreeing that’s a thing it’s nice to have a word for (it’s to treat an abstraction as if it had real existence), but I then forget the word’s meaning and that it is a word all over again.


> 5. [NOTE: I am now going to bend over backwards

TOM: Hammond’s CONTORTIONIST SPOG!

> as far as I
> can possibly bend

JOEL: He’s going to have to call Plastic-Man in as his technical advisor.

> to explain this SPOG in the simplest terms

CROW: While wearing my feety pajamas.

> w/o using any technical jargon or omitting any logical steps.

JOEL: Unfortunately, this darned margin is so small…

> …. please dummy up and pay attention,

TOM: Dummy up and slide right.

> this is your last chance]:

CROW: Your last chance for great savings!

>
> A. First, it is discovered

JOEL: See how easy that was?

> (basically by talking to a lot
> of crazy people),

TOM: Finally, years spent on the Internet pay off.

> the "suspicion" that it is "poor growth"
> that cause people to believe in "a higher power".

CROW: When really it’s just a guy standong on top of the ladder.

> IOW,

JOEL: Hey, I thought you said "no jargon."

> it
> is suspected that a large percent of the population is being
> affected

TOM: A large percent of the population is like a storm raging inside you.

> by the fact that their BRAINS

ALL: [ Zombie accents ] BRAINS!

> (just like the rest of
> their body BTW) is NOT FULLY GROWN.

JOEL: But that’ll all change when you’re visited by a special friend right about when you turn twelve or thirteen … or fourteen…

>
> a. This suspicion is further reified

CROW: Reified? Is that even a word?

TOM: I think that’s what happens when you crash into the Great Barrier Reef.

CROW: Oh.

> by the
> fact that a well known similar effect

JOEL: Known as tickling.

> is
> observed in nutritionally growth stunted
> people (by the millions)

CROW: All of them. They just gather around and observe.

> in 3rd World
> country’s where a severe IQ deficit is

TOM: A good line for those playing along at home to work from.

> caused by "brain growth stunting".

JOEL: This sounds like a depressing episode of "Pinky and the Brain."

>
> b. This is further reified

CROW: Rheostatted.

JOEL: Re-iffy-fileted.

> by observations on
> Mental Retardation,

TOM: Flowers for SPOGernon.

> which is generally
> attributed to "arrested growth"

JOEL: Pull over, growth. Get out of the car.

> (of the
> brain) on the normal growth curve.

CROW: Caution! Dangerous growth curves ahead.

>
> c. It is particularly noted that the large
> majority of "Mental Cases" are

TOM: Ed Norton.

> people of
> poor growth and development.

JOEL: They’re just generally bad people is all he’s saying.

> And all most
> of them do all day is talk about "God".

CROW: God, and the CIA-Martian alliance.

>
> d. Obviously such a thing as "incomplete brain
> growth" is a natural candidate for explaining
> "God".

TOM: Other explanations, like a sense of wonder and excitement at the incredible beauty and majesty of the world, fall short.

> As one person put it,

CROW: Another will un-put it.

> it can be seen
> as a candidate in the following way;

JOEL: Uh — has everybody got their 3-D glasses on?

> assume
> the brain is a computer running a program

> called "reality". Then:

TOM: I’m going to wait for the upgrade. Nobody wise runs the point-zero release.

>
> The Human Brain is like a computer,
> running a program called Reality.

JOEL: Is the human brain like a computer, running a program called reality?

TOM: No, I think the human brain is like a computer, running a program called reality.

CROW: You can think that if you want, but I saw the human brain is like a computer, and it runs a program called reality.

> Any change in the program is called
> a Law of Reality (science),

CROW: Hey, wait a minute — what if it’s running a program called "Realty" instead?

TOM: Deus ex Homeowners Association?

> but any
> change (‘upgrade’) in the Computer

JOEL: Comes out of your warranty.

> is called an Act of God.

TOM: So God handles hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and bug patches.

>
> Here, "grain growth" is compared to

JOEL: I never saw the connection between God and corn before.

TOM: Never heard about "Corn as high as the pastor’s eye"?

JOEL: Oh, you’re right.

> upgrading the computer with a faster
> processor and more memory,

CROW: As long as they keep that dancing paperclip out of the way I’m all right.

> and obviously
> would have a "supernatural", "miraculous"
> effect on the "reality" program.

TOM: Hey, if God keeps growing your brain, won’t that eventually make your skull pop open?

CROW: Cool!

>
>
> B. Secondly, it is KNOWN

JOEL: Yet it is not generally BELIEVED

> that there is such a thing as a
> SECULAR TREND in human growth.

TOM: Up until the point they become teenagers, and get all surly and hostile.

> That is, that the entire
> Human Race is achieving higher and higher levels of
> GROWTH with each passing generation.

CROW: Meaning in a few short generations we will *all* be able to look on top of the refrigerator!

> It is also known
> that this is NOT a genetic effect,

JOEL: It’s caused by B.J. fiddling with your pants overnight.

> that it is caused
> entirely by the RISING WORLD STANDARD OF LIVING,

TOM: Caused by the Giant World Escalator.

> particularly NUTRITION.

TOM: That too.

> This leads to a simple arithmetic

> formula:

JOEL: Vitamin E equals M Vitamin C squared.

>

> Growth curve deficit: GCD=Genotype-Phenotype

TOM: Trilobyte.

CROW: Neophyte.

JOEL: Anorthocite.

CROW: Palomite.

>

> see: http://people.ne.mediaone.net/ghammond/growth5.JPG
> for a
> picture of this.

TOM: And that great cartoon of "You Want It When?"

>
> According to the Secular Trend

JOEL: And anonymous sources close to the Secular Trend.

> then, the SUSPICION would be
> that there is and always has been, a "brain growth deficit"

TOM: It’s a Brain Growth Gap! The Commies are pulling out ahead of us!

> in the human population, and that this "deficit" has been
> slowly decreasing

JOEL: They’re finally getting over that brain deficit spending.

> for millenniums (probably rapidly since
> the Industrial Revolution BTW),

CROW: Slower in the no-passing zones.

> and that this explains the
> 4,000 year history of "God"

TOM: Isn’t that kind of overlooking, like, twelve thousand years of Egyptian history and their Gods too?

> and explains why we believe
> we are heading toward "Kingdom Come" or the Perfect
> World…

JOEL: Or a Different World.

CROW: Or just Cool World.

> since this would obviously be when the "Deficit"
> finally reaches zero.

TOM: And then we’ll blow it on a big tax cut for the rich.


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 13 of 16)


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

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


[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

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

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

>
> . SPOG FAQ

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

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

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

>
> (Relativity and Psychometry)

TOM: You got relativity on my psychometry!

CROW: You got psychometry on my relativity!

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

JOEL: You get interviewed by Doug Llewellyn after it?

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

CROW: I’m not so sure about that.

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

TOM: Absolut Vodka.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: Oh, and organs.

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

CROW: Except for the science part.

>
> Hammond’s SPOG is a classic,

JOEL: A triumph of the human spirit!

CROW: A story that will live through the ages!

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

> by the book,

CROW: Hours could seem like days.

> ordinary, rigorous,

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

> hard scientific proof, meeting all the canons of science

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

> and all

> the requirements for a proof:

CROW: Patent pending.

>

> The situation is this:

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

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

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

> based on many
> eyewitness testimonies,

CROW: And one article in "Variety."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: Ah, a wind-powered diety.

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

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

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

TOM: And occasionally a great card trick.

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

CROW: Or the Laws of Cartoon Physics.

>

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

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

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

CROW: Fair, turning partly cloudy overnight.

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

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

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

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

> "well, we’ll keep our
> eyes open

TOM: And our tongue to the grindstone!

CROW: Our ears to the … huh?

> in case any new scientific phenomena turn up

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

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

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

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

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

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

>
> 4. Sure enough, in 1997 HAMMOND

JOEL: As the superhero HAMMOND-MAN!

> discovered an OBVIOUS physical
> mechanism,

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

> which explains this 4,000 year history,

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

> so COMPLETELY,
> so SIMPLY, so COMPREHENSIVELY,

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

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

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

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

CROW: With Retsyn.

JOEL: Ting!

> of the existence of this "God"

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

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

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

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

>


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 12 of 16)


And now we get to three-quarters through my MiSTing centered around Johnny Pez’s “Safety First”. The whole of the MiSTing is at this link. If you’d like to just catch the previous segment of this rant, a report from the Galactic Federation of Light, you can find it here. Or you can just jump in. There’s not that many millions of years of backstory.

The line about “Diet Galactic Federation” references how, like, Diet Coke is sold in some countries as Coke Light. Imperialism II was a turn-based grand strategy game that I spent roughly all of 1999 and 2000 playing. Mac System 9.1 broke it, so it was the first game I ever postponed upgrading my operating system for.

The host sketch has the biggest cast of any of my host sketches (I’m sure). My recollection is that the sketch started as just Joel talking with the Bots about the Laws of Robotics, and I found I didn’t have enough of a punch line for it. Combining it with a second idea that’s amusing but not quite possessed of a punch line elevates both, I think. (Still, Gypsy’s clearly reading Tom Servo’s lines.) It at least makes the sketch feel more like a hangout with people it’s fun to see, anyway. The sketch ends up being one I like for feeling plausibly like something the show might do, although it would be a staging hassle to get so many groups of people entering and exiting the Hex Field View Screen stage without someone tripping or bursting into flame or something.

Coming up with costumes that felt like people that might be on the Hex Field View Screen was fun. Also, if Tom Servo is obsessively pursuing a weird, needless goal? You probably have a good host sketch there. He obsesses in a more methodical, rigorous way than Crow does.


> However, rebel groups captured it about 13,000
> years ago.

TOM: I know it was a Wednesday, because we had meat loaf at lunch.

>
> "You are quite familiar with the sorry tale of this battle planet-
> world.

JOEL: A tale of a fateful trip.

> Let us merely say that, due to the influence of your solar
> system’s Spiritual Hierarchy and the demise of its dark allies,

TOM: And our first-round draft pick that year…

> those
> who dwell in the realm that you call Niburu

CROW: Better not call them that to their face.

> have turned to the Light
> and joined the Galactic Federation of Light.

TOM: I thought it was Diet Galactic Federation?

> We have fully welcomed
> this wondrous development,

JOEL: The light doesn’t mess up the film development?

> which is yet another sign of the
> transformation of your present darkness into Light.

TOM: You kids stop leaving all the lights on! We’re not trying to light up the great outdoors!

> You should realize
> that your own changes reflect the shifts in your reality

CROW: So you’ll want to adjust yourself discretely.

> and are part
> of our complex preparations.

JOEL: Now, let’s rehearse. Earth, duck down behind the love seat and be ready to shout "SURPRISE!"

> Underlying them is the sacred hand of
> Heaven.

CROW: Oh, and the Care Bears.

> Everywhere, the decrees of the divine plan are visible.

TOM: Except on the home shopping channels.

> Always
> remember, Beloveds,

CROW: [ Giggles ] Ooh … not out here, Luvy-kins.

> that the sacred work of the Creator is carried out
> according to a divine timeframe.

TOM: Subject to union restrictions.

> The moment for your final
> transformation is fast approaching.

JOEL: So if you’ve got any library books, return them soon.

>
> "Today, we have discussed current events in your solar system.

CROW: Now I want you all to go home and read the newspapers and bring us a clipping and be prepared to explain it tomorrow!

> They are a sign that your preparations are approaching their
> culmination.

JOEL: We can’t just throw this all together at the last minute.

> As they do so, we are increasing our care and effort.

TOM: You better appreciate this, mister.

> We
> are determined to complete this operation

JOEL: Water on the knees? … oh, wait, right…

> in the time that the divine
> plan has assigned us.

CROW: We may need an extention. See, we just got Imperialism II and we’re kind of hooked on it.

> Know, Beloveds,

TOM: Remember, Snuggy-cakes.

> that many marvelous surprises are
> converging on you.

JOEL: It’s like Christmas all year round!

> We now take our leave.

CROW: You were getting fingerprints all over it.

> Blessings!

TOM: [ Sneezes … then after a beat … ] Wow!

> Know that the
> endless Abundance and Prosperity of Heaven is yours!

JOEL: We just need somebody to sign for the delivery.

> Amen.

CROW: Shouldn’t it be "a *man*" instead?

> Selamat
> Gajun!

TOM: Tiamat Cajun?

> Selamat Ja!

JOEL: [ Waving ] Tiamat right back at’cha!

> (Sirian for Be One!

CROW: Sirian for BreathAssure!

TOM: Wait a minute, ‘Selamat’ isn’t alien. It’s Malay!

CROW: So they’re not being Sirius with us?

> And Be in Joy!)"

JOEL: And be in fun!

TOM: And be in seasons in the sun!

>
> Planetary Activation Organization

JOEL: Try putting in the batteries the other way around.

> http://www.paoweb.com

TOM: Paa-a-a-ao! Paa-a-a-ao-web!

> http://www.paoweb.com/uf080401.htm

JOEL: UFO ate 401?

>
> This copy was sent or reposted by Robert E. McElwaine

CROW: And we thank you for it.

TOM: Hey! This was McElwaine? And Forrester didn’t even warn us?

JOEL: I think he’s getting sloppy.

> PA’O Member

JOEL: [ Exaggerated Irish accent ] Pay O’Member, me lads.

> Eckankar Initiate

TOM: Necking Car Institute?

> B.S., Physics and Astronomy, UW-EC

CROW: University of Weehauken — Easy Comics!

JOEL: Uncle Wobbly — Early Complainer!

TOM: United Wombats — Everyone Cheer!

> http://www.angelfire.com/wi/mcelwaine

JOEL: Where Angelfire goes, trouble follows.

> http://members.aol.com/rem460

TOM: Remember 460.

>

> See also the various web pages at http://www.disclosureproject.org .

CROW: Disclosureproject dot org dot com dot co dot uk dot edu dot dot dot.

>
>

TOM: Hey, we made it through to the other side.

[ ALL file out. ]

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

[ SOL DESK. TOM is on stage left of the desk, facing (and talking to) the Hex Field View Screen. JOEL, CROW, and GYPSY talk, stage right. The Hex Field View Screen closes as the sketch starts. ]

TOM: … yeah, OK, all right, *bye*.

JOEL: So you see, the "Three Laws of Robotics" reflect in a way the ideal for human behavior, the selflessness, faithfullness, and kindness humans want to believe they’re capable of.

[ The Hex Field View Screen opens; a guy in a jumpsuit and a dog costume head is in it. ]

TOM: Yeah, hi, look, can you leave a message? I’m expecting a really
big call any moment now.

[ The dog shrugs and the View Screen closes. ]

JOEL: Now, you’re all well and adorably made robots [ JOEL scratches GYPSY’s head ] if I may say so myself —

CROW: Please *do*

JOEL: So if I order you to clean the load pan bays, you respond …?

GYPSY: Can’t.

CROW: Yeah. First Law priority override whatwhoosis.

[ The Hex Field View Screen opens; a guy in aluminum-foil robot costume is in it. ]

TOM: Hi. Waiting on a call. See you later. No, later. Bye. Have to *go*. *Now*. Good*bye*.

[ The Hex Field View Screen closes. ]

JOEL: Uh– no, no, see, First Law is where you can’t do something because it’d hurt a human, as in, me.

GYPSY: Or the mads.

JOEL: Yes, or Doctor Forrester or TV’s Frank.

CROW: Still, it’s to protect you we mustn’t clean the load pan bays.

JOEL: All right, how do you figure that?

[ The Hex Field View Screen opens; a spacesuited woman with propeller beanie and "Cave Dwellers"-type sword and shield is in it. ]

TOM: Yeah, hi. Look, I’m sure you’re wonderful, can’t talk now. *Bye*.

[ The Hex Field View Screen closes. ]

CROW: Fact: We mean the world to you.

GYPSY: And fact: Something might happen to us while cleaning them.

CROW: So if it *did*

GYPSY: You’d never forgive yourself.

CROW: The only thing we can do is save you from that sense of guilt.

GYPSY: So we can’t clean them.

JOEL: OK, have I tried explaining the Three Laws are metaphorical —

GYPSY, CROW: Yeeeees.

[ The Hex Field View Screen opens; there’s a cricket player in it. ]

TOM: Hi. You’re not on Venus, right? Right. Can’t talk. Bye. Bye. Goodbye. Leave. Now.

[ The Hex Field View Screen Closes. ]

GYPSY: Who’s Tom waiting for on the Hex Field?

JOEL: Oh, he just thinks Powell and Donovan are sure to call us, and he wants to tease Arthur when they do.

CROW: Should you really leave him alone like that? He could start an intergalactic war or something.

[ COMMERCIAL SIGN begins flashing. ]

JOEL: It’s OK. I left him on the "harmless guys in silly costumes" chat hailing frequency.

CROW: Oh, he’ll be busy with them for *weeks*.

JOEL: Yeah. We’ll be right back.

[ JOEL taps COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ COMMERCIALS. ]


[ to continue … ]

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 … ]

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