What’s Going On In Judge Parker? Who’s drawing Judge Parker now? May – July 2022


Mike Manley again, if you’re reading this after about the end of July 2022. D D Degg at The Daily Cartoonist reports that Manley’s work for the weekday strip should resume the 25th of July. Sunday strips, produced farther in advance, will likely take a little longer.

Meanwhile, Scott Cohn, comic book artist with a lot of Marvel and DC work, has been filling in. Cohn has also been doing fill-in work on The Phantom. Cohn has been putting glorious black-and-white prints of his Phantom work on his DeviantArt gallery.

So this should catch you up to mid-July 2022 in Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley and Scott Cohn’s Judge Parker. If you’re reading this after about October 2022 or more news about the strip breaks I should have a more useful essay here. Now to catch up.

Judge Parker.

1 May – 17 July 2022.

So as sometimes happens the comic strip did its own pretty good plot recap, the 26th of June. The Sunday strip has the vibe of something put together to give the artist time to catch up, but it does also advance the story. And it makes a good jumping-off point. There are two major threads going on right now. Let me take them separately.

A series of panels illustrating the narration: 'Story recap - Sam and Abbey had a huge fight after she found out he had kept footage of her supposedly committing arson a secret ... No one knows where Abbey is now. Her phone is off ... Marie has returned to Spencer Farms to help the fracturing family ... April, having been captured by the CIA for being a rogue agent and assassin is in solitary confinement ... And her husband Randy, with nowhere else to turn, makes a desperate call ... ' Randy says to someone (Neddy Spencer) on the phone, 'You've been wanting to talk? So let's talk.'
Francesco Marciuliani and Scott Cohn’s Judge Parker for the 26th of June, 2022. I see the occasional snarky comment about how the story’s become incomprehensible. But a perfectly adequate recap like this needing only five panels shows that comics snarkers are maybe not always reading with a reasonable charity.

Randy Parker has readjusted to his normal life fitfully at best. Mostly he wants to not talk about the year he spent on the lam with April Parker and her mother. When Alan Parker insists on talking about how April emotionally abused Randy he throws his father out of the house. This sets Alan to fighting with his wife when she tries to get him to acknowledge Randy’s side of things.

One of Marciuliano’s strengths writing has been how his characters can with justice say how others are being the jerks here. It’s a good handle on motivation even if the result is a lot of unhappy scenes prone to yelling. He’s also good at the dynamic where people ask you to see the other person’s side, as though you wouldn’t be on your own side if you were aware of the other.

So he invites Neddy Spencer for a talk. Her streaming TV show about April Parker and Godiva Danube became a hit as the CIA grabbed their rogue agent. She needs material for a second season. She was thinking of April’s story hiding from the law. Randy offers something far better. April Parker’s troubles began when a rogue CIA faction suborned her into doing evil spy stuff for them instead of the CIA’s main evil spy stuff. All the agents of that rogue faction are dead, by her hands or by her father Norton’s. But April Parker has data on the whole operation, as best she could put it together. And, great news for TV production, libel laws don’t apply to the dead. So they can make a show about this and clear April Parker’s name in the Court of Public Opinion, if not in the Star Chamber courts.

Neddy, on the phone: 'Ronnie! You won't believe what just happened! I went to talk with Randy about April --- you know, for the second season of our show --- and he gave me *all* the secret CIA intel!' Ronnie: 'WHAT?' Neddy: 'I know! Top-level files, agent dossiers, proof of multiple illegal CIA operations ... phone records, satellite photos, just data and more data about every corrupt thing the agency has done --- ALL FOR OUR SHOW!' Ronnie: 'And you fel this is something you should be saying over a cellphone?' Neddy: 'What? No! This is a joke! To anyone listening, this is a joke! Oh, and my name is 'Steve'.'
Francesco Marciuliani and Scott Cohn’s Judge Parker for the 10th of July, 2022. Gads, we had better operational security at my undergraduate student newspaper and the nearest we ever did to something that could get us in trouble was saying the Board of Governors sucked.

I admit to tripping on this plot point. Not Randy’s giving this data to Neddy rather than a journalist. That I can understand. I don’t see how the CIA has allowed Randy Parker to have a hard drive of data from April Parker. I’m not even sure how she would have gotten it to him; his leaving their safe house was a surprise thing done (to him) on the spur of the moment. I have to imagine that the super-ultra-duper secret agents already know of and have copies of this hard drive. So they must have let Randy have this for reasons of their own. I don’t see what those are, but I’m willing to let the story unfold.


The other thread regards Abbey Spencer. She was cleared from suspicion of burning down her failed bed-and-breakfast when Deputy Mayor Stewart turned against his boss. Except her husband, Sam Driver, has suspicions, because Stewart shared a drone video showing Abbey setting fire to the building. Stewart’s bought Driver’s support for usurping his boss by burying the video.

Sam doesn’t really believe the footage is real. But what if it is? That’s been twisting him for months. Sophie Spencer, home from college, lets Neddy in on this secret. She also lets in her college roommate Reena, who’d invited herself to the Spencers’ place. I cannot imagine being a person like Reena, but I understand there are people like that. (I feel it’s too forward of me to call Marciuliano “Ces” the way all the successful comics bloggers seem to.) And it does some good in providing exposition that reinforces what readers might have forgotten about the situation.

Neddy cuts the Gordian knot of whether the footage is real by asking her video editor friend Brad … I’m going to say ‘Gordian’ … what he thinks. He thinks it’s all but certainly fake. They share the good news with Sam, who goes off to yell at Now Mayor Stewart. Stewart laughs him off: so what that it was fake? Sam acted on the presumption it was true and what is he going to do, blow up his marriage by telling Abbey what he thinks she would do? So Sam goes to blow up his marriage by telling Abbey about the footage and what he thought.

Stewart: 'Haha! 'No timetable'? Mr Driver, now you want to discuss the truth? After I helped your suit against the city? After I got your enemy out of office? After you looked at that video and saw what you believed in your heart? Now you want your wife to learn what you've really thought of her all this time? Are you willing to pay that price? All so you can just tell me 'gotcha!'?'
Francesco Marciuliani and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 11th of June, 2022. It’s interesting that Mayor Stewart didn’t try to insist the video was real, or that he believed it was. Driver might not have bought it, but the attempt might have confused the issue. Or might have made Driver say who revealed the fake and how. (Driver didn’t know, but Stewart couldn’t know that.) It is not a plot hole that Stewart didn’t do that, understand, since not every character has to be the craftiest version of themselves at every moment. But Stewart must have had some idea what to say if Driver decided the video was fake, and he had settled on something like this. (Or he didn’t have a better idea.)

Here, I admit, I’m not sure I follow the motivation. I get Sam’s. But the implication is Stewart used what he knew to be fake video to get Sam Driver’s support in throwing Mayor Sanderson out of office. I don’t see why Stewart needed to buy Sam’s support here. It’s like giving me ten thousand dollars so I’ll go play pinball Tuesday night. I get Stewart wanting a strong ally in Sam Driver and Abbey Spencer. But he’d have that anyway for getting Mayor Sanderson out of office. And he has to have anticipated that Sam would learn, or decide, the video was fake. And, as Sophie observes, whoever faked the video can blackmail Stewart at any time. (I had thought we saw Stewart discovering the footage, but I seem to be wrong.) Also, please give me ten thousand dollars to play pinball Tuesday night.

Sam goes to talk with Abbey about the video in a scene we don’t see. We stick instead on Sophie and Neddy and Reena waiting for news. It’s suspenseful, and ominous, although I understand people for whom it doesn’t work. One of Marciuliano’s regular tricks on this strip has been to jump ahead three months and fill in the aftermath of some big event, rather than show it. This comes close to being that. I understand Marciuliano’s desire, to keep us off-screen and go to characters reacting, but it keeps us from seeing a juicy fight.

Sam texts Neddy that Abbey stormed out. The people we were watching rush home and Sam mourns that Abbey has given up on the town and the family. He mourns that everyone was right, he should have told Abbey about the video the moment he saw it. Abbey, after demanding to know how long everyone else knew about this video, disappears. Neddy calls in an expert on fixing their family: Marie, their trusty … uh … maid? Or former maid, anyway. Last we saw her she was working part-time at the bed-and-breakfast but I imagine it’d be impolite if she were still drawing a salary for that.

Marie: 'Abbey, you can't --- ' Abbey: 'No, Marie. I can. I can certainly leave Sam. Everyone's saying 'Oh, Sam only tried to help'. But they never focus on how he was too afraid to talk with me because he was too scared to have an honest conversation.'
Francesco Marciuliani and Scott Cohn’s Judge Parker for the 14th of July, 2022. In fairness to Sam, an honest conversation would have required him answering the questions, “Why did you believe the footage was real just because Stewart said it was? Is it just because I’m still the most logical suspect? Since the alternative is someone trying to bust up my marriage for no good reason — oh, good grief, it’s my half-sister Senna Lewiston back from the dead, isn’t it?”

Marie is able to get Abbey on the phone, and they meet for a talk at some restaurant carefully ignoring them. Marie tries to suggest Abbey consider Sam’s point of view, but Abbey knows it. And she’s more interested in how Sam hurt her — rather than have a direct if frightening conversation with her — than in how he feels. I can’t argue with that. Marie can’t either. Given this, she plans to leave Sam. She may leave Cavelton entirely. It’s hard to say she’s wrong to plan this.

Next Week!

What do Leonardo da Vinci and a gigantic crow have in common? That they’re not in the current story in Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop! But they are in the story just concluded, which I plan to recap next week. Thanks for reading.

What’s Going On In Judge Parker? Why does the CIA even want April Parker? February – May 2022


So, most important thing, before even that: Norton Dumont is dead, according to April Parker, on the 18th of February. She’s speaking to her mother, the one person she could not deceive about this point. But I believe there is still a way he could squeeze back out of death. My recollection (I’m not checking) is that it was April Parker’s mother who killed Norton. We don’t know that April saw the corpse; she could be taking her mother’s word and her mother might lie. But we do have what appears to be the author’s intention as of early 2022.

On to why the CIA wants April Parker. I admit it’s hard remembering. But Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley told the essentials of it back in July and August 2017. Super-Hyper-Ultra-Duper CIA Spy April Parker discovered she’d been sent on make-work assignments. Smuggling blank papers into Scary Countries, that kind of thing. It was a test of loyalty, yes, along with some missions “to get [her] hands a little dirty”. This to suborn her into a rogue sub-agency within the CIA. She couldn’t reveal them without admitting her role in selling intelligence to non-approved countries. And between that, and her father (Norton Dumont) selling weapons to any and all takers, they figured they had a reliable agent.

[ A year ago, in a Vienna hotel ... ] April: 'Dad, they trapped me. They're going to say I sold state secrets. And they sold arms to --- HOW COULD YOU SUPPLY ARMS TO ROGUE AGENTS?!' Norton: 'It was through a subsidiary of a subsidiary. When I found out, that's how I found you here.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 22d of August, 2017. Once again a reminder that any company large enough to have subsidiaries is probably too large to be any good.
She wouldn’t go along with it. Her father, aware of all this from his connections, shot the person trying to recruit April. Also his bodyguards. So the CIA — whether the “legitimate” or the “rogue” agents I’m not sure — want April and Norton for killing CIA agents. Also for whatever their role is in selling arms and information. In any case she’s the patsy for the whole scandal that you maybe missed because, jeez, can you remember any specific thing from 2017? Be honest now.

So this should catch you up to the start of May, 2022 in Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker. If you’re reading this after about August 2022, a more up-do-date plot recap should be here. So let’s catch up on what happened since my last plot recap.

Judge Parker.

13 February – 1 May 2022.

Randy Parker’s choice to take Charlotte and run off with April Parker last year was becoming a strain. Randy argued their lives had become constrained to whatever safe house April and her mother, whose name I still haven’t caught, set them in. The argument about how being on the run is itself a prison is a good one, and that hints at what they’ve been doing off-screen. We don’t see specifics yet and I know some will say we’ll never get specifics. I am trying to not be so cynical a reader.

April makes a big decision: she will turn herself in to the CIA. She wakes Randy and their daughter Charlotte for a farewell hug, telling him only that she’s going for “supplies”. Once she leaves, her mother tells Randy to go with Charlotte to any airport and check in at any counter; that’ll do the rest. Randy’s confusion I know prompted some to snark about his slowness. But we readers have information Randy doesn’t about April’s plans. I’d expect April has accustomed Randy to sudden changes of plans for concealed reasons. For all he knows April may have decided they’re relocating to that island the Katzenjammer Kids are on or something.

Male CIA agent: 'Why would Parker lead us into a trap? We havne't been able to find her for years. Why not just stay hidden?' Female CIA Agent: 'Because in her eyes we've taken everything from her ... her life. Her family's safety. Her very reputation. After a while that kind of anger builds and builds until you just want to burn down the world.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 9th of March, 2022. Before anyone asks how April Parker’s cell phone could be useful after years of inactivity I note my cell phone is from 2008 and I once went twelve months without receiving an incoming call on it. I am very well-liked.

April drives to a remote alley and turns on her old phone. The CIA detects this immediately, and has agents in to scoop her up in minutes. Randy, as April’s Mother directs, takes Charlotte to the airport and checks in at any airline, getting them arrested immediately. Both these feats suggest a CIA more effective than my reading about the actual agency suggests, but we are in the world of fiction. Meanwhile April’s Mother blows up their safe house, allowing the reasons for this to escape me. I guess to cover her own tracks somehow?

Alan Parker: 'Katherine! They found Randy and Charlotte! The CIA found them! They're alive!' Katherine: 'Oh, thank heavens!' Alan: 'I ... I can't believe this is happening! I can't believe I'm going to see them again!' Katherine: 'Where are they?' Alan: 'I ... I don't know.' Katherine: 'When are they coming home?' Alan: 'I'm not sure.' Katherine: 'How are --- ' Alan: 'Okay, in my utter shock I forgot to ask a few crucial questions. But focus on the big picture here!'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 27th of March, 2022. On the one hand, it’s reasonable Alan would be so overwhelmed by the information as not to be able to think of the obvious follow-up questions. On the other, he was a lawyer(?) and a judge and should have follow-up questions as a matter of reflex. But then he has been retired a long, long time. And this is about intensely personal matters, which put anyone off their game. Anyway, this is one of those installments where you can see Marciuliano’s comedic training from Sally Forth sneak through.

The CIA tries to debrief Randy, but he doesn’t know anything about what April had been doing or where she even is now. (She’s in CIA custody, something Randy correctly surmises.) So he and his daughter are set loose, as Randy observes, under close scrutiny. Alan Parker is overjoyed, bursting with happiness in a way that I’d like to feel myself sometime. Randy feels overwhelmed with everybody wanting to comfort him and ask what the heck happened. We also learn that after Randy abandoned his home nobody, like, cleaned out the fridge or turned off the air conditioning or anything. I would have thought a month or two in his father would at least have started mowing his lawn.

Eileen, producer: 'Listen, Ned, not gonna lie. Was all prepared this week to give you the hard news your series was dead and our partnership was ending ... ' Neddy: 'Please tell me there's a 'but' in all this.' Eileen: '*But*, with April back in the news and your series about her all over social media, things have changed *dramatically*!'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 12th of April, 2022. Neddy Spencer and Ronnie Huerta were afraid of what may happen if they didn’t tell April’s story right, in the eyes of the ultra-mega-super-spy. And we readers learned April hated the show as made, though Neddy and Ronnie can’t know that yet. They would reasonably be afraid of that, though. So a not-yet-stated bit of drama is Neddy and Ronnie committed to writing about a person they have reason to fear will be violent if they are wrong in their guesses about what she’s been doing.

And then some good news drops for Neddy Spencer and Ronnie Huerta. Their show, Convergence, based on April Parker and Godiva Danube’s lives, was floundering on streaming service Plus+. But with April Parker back in the headlines, the show about her became popular enough to need a second season, about April’s time in hiding. Neddy and Huerta don’t know anything about that, but they know enough to promise they’ll have something.

And this is where we stand as May begins.

Next Week!

To bring back things from 2017, Spider-Man has been running the story of Curt “The Lizard” Connors and Bruce “The Incredible Hulk” Banner. Mary Jane just interrupted the ritual meeting-fight between the two superheroes. So since that’s all explained I’ll check in on Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop. Alley and Ooola went to a far-future utopia, but does it have a secret? Of course it does. Does that secret involve pneumatic tubes? It’s utopia, of course it has pneumatic tubes. Let’s not be silly here. I’ll get to that plot’s recap next week, if all goes well.

MiSTed: JSH: War of attrition (Part 3 of 3)


And now I close out this Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of the sci.math rant JSH: War of Attrition. I never did get around to other Harris rants; he was prolific in the mathematics newsgroup for years, arguing that he had great amazing new breakthroughs. The last and oddest that I remember is his bragging about his facility in describing what a tweet was in exactly 140 characters, this back when Twitter was limited to 140 characters. I don’t get it either.

The riff about donor type AB-elian puns on the blood type and on Abelian groups. Abelian groups are sets of things on which you can define an addition that commutes, just like regular arithmetic does. It’s possible to have additions that don’t commute, which is why it’s worth having a name for these. The closing sketch puts Professor Bobo in an example of the Infinite Monkey Theorem. It’s funny, yes, but it also challenges our intuitions about what probability means.


>
> Yeah only to use you in the Math Wars.

TOM: I need reserves in case a Tom Lehrer song breaks out.

> I want mathematicians around
> the world to keep thinking about what you are thinking.

CROW: I think that’s what I want to think I want you thinking about.

> I want them
> working hard to figure out how well they have you in hand.

MIKE: Touching and caressing you with loving grace.

>
> I want them working to keep you.

TOM: Make sure they call you daily to see how you’re doing.

>
> I want them to demean themselves, crawl on their hands and knees to
> keep you believing in them.

MIKE: To sit up on their nests and keep a bundle of chicken eggs warm.

>
> And they are doing it.

CROW: They’re the *best*, guys.

>
> While the war of attrition continues and it is all about inertia and
> momentum as I have always needed time.

MIKE: Time, and a bit of money, and — don’t ask why — my own Phillies Phanatic costume.

>
> If the world knew too quickly what my discoveries really are, then the
> true targets could have escaped,

CROW: Spooking the herd and causing a stampede from the watering hole.

> but now the net closes, and you are
> the fish that were always part of the trap.

TOM: I … don’t put fish in traps.

CROW: It’s for when you want to capture herring-eating mice.

>
> You were always the bait.

TOM: And I was the naughty sporting goods cashier … heh-heh-*heh*.

>
> They care so [ beep ] much about what you people think of them that they
> are willing to lose everything, grasping for what they cannot hold.

MIKE: Why don’t they just kiss you instead of talking you to death?

>
> Public opinion is such a great thing. I love it. Public opinion is
> all about perception.

CROW: Remember always to judge people by how you think your neighbors judge them.

>
> People like Andrew Wiles are nothing without the applause or the
> dreams of it.

TOM: Groupies gathered outside his door, women throwing panties
onto his Fermat’s Last Theorem galley sheets …

> They’ll hold on, and hold on, and hold on,

CROW: His needle’s stuck.

[ MIKE reaches up and “shoves” Mr Harris. ]

> and give
> their energy, their very life blood to hold on to it,

CROW: They’re donor type AB-elian positive.

> even if that is
> the means that is used to build the energy to end the wars.

MIKE: And with it RULE the WORLD!

>
> They give their life’s blood for you to believe in them.

TOM: So everyone in the audience, clap, clap as loud and as hard as you can and just maybe if we all believe enough we can save Dracula!

> And that is
> the energy that drives this forward.
>
> That is the hope of the world.

CROW: That hope, and a cuddly little bunny.

>
> It was always about time. I have always needed time.

MIKE: Time and my new … *LETTERS*!

TOM: He thought up an acronym and that’s enough for us?

>
>
> James Harris

TOM: Thank you, thank you, you’ve been a great crowd. Remember to tip your cows.

CROW: Waitresses.

TOM: Tip your waitresses’s cows.

>
>

MIKE: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL exit, as appropriate. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6.. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. TOM, MIKE, and CROW shake out their heads. ]

MIKE: I think after that we’ve all learned an important lesson.

TOM: And if you don’t want me to put you on the spot by asking what it was you’d better give me a quarter.

MIKE: What are you, Charlie McCarthy? I’m not afraid to explain it.

CROW: Ooh, ooh, ooh, I know, I know what that was all about, can I tell?

MIKE: Yes, yes, you may, Master Crow.

TOM: Fink.

CROW: [ Standing tall ] Ahem. Thank you and thank *you*.
[ TOM snorts. ] That was all about … *cats*. Thank you.

MIKE: [ Touching his shoulder. ] That was elegantly wrong, thank you.

[ AIRLOCK opens and closes. GYPSY enters. ]

MIKE: GYPSY! Hey, good to see you.

TOM: [ Simultaneously ] Gypsy’s back! Yay!

CROW: [ A second later ] Why not cats?

GYPSY: What is … likewise?

TOM: Um …

CROW: It’s been a madhouse without you.

GYPSY: What is … I’d imagined so?

[ MIKE buries his head in his hands. ]

TOM: Don’t say it … you’re suffering from the heartbreak of …

ALL: What is Trebekiasis?

[ MADS sign flashes; MIKE sticks out a hand enough to hit it. ]


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is still in his bed, with a portable typewriter precariously perched on his stomach. The teddy bear is by the typewriter. Occasionally BOBO taps a key. PEARL FORRESTER watches over with blue pencil. OBSERVER is up front. ]

OBSERVER: And welcome back. As long as Professor Bobo’s incapacitated Pearl and I thought it would be a real kick to test out that bit about monkeys at typewriters producing the complete works of Shakespeare, so there you have it.

BOBO: You know, I’m fairly sure I am recovered.

PEARL: Type.

[ BOBO whimpers and then with a single finger hits one key, then another, then gets his fingers jammed between two keys, and whimpers again. ]

PEARL: This just … this isn’t working.

OBSERVER: No, not in the slightest.

PEARL: We need to throw more monkeys at the problem.

[ BOBO grunts while looking up? ]

OBSERVER: I’ll materialize the catapult. [ He walks off. ]

PEARL: [ Surprised, following ] Now that’s the kind of thinking
I want around here.

BOBO: [ Looking at the camera ] Uh-oh.

[ BOBO hides under the blanket, and after a pause, reaches his hand out to grab the teddy bear and pull it under. ]

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

This Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of the James S Harris post “War of Attrition” is done without the explicit permission of any of the many parties who should probably have given it, among them James S Harris, renowned citizen of sci.math; Best Brains Incorportated, renowned production company for Mystery Science Theater 3000; the fine legacy of game shows the world over; and in some unexplained but important fashion, Major League Baseball. No infringement on or challenge to any copyrights, trademarks, service marks, or anything else is intended nor should be inferred. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who probably had more useful things to do with his time, but who is beginning to despair of Dr Mike Neylon ever returning. Thank you.

> The Math Wars are to me all about how some people with position and
> power forget the power of the pen, and sit letting the pot slowly come
> to a boil.


[ The End ]

MiSTed: JSH: War of attrition (Part 2 of 3)


Thanks for joining me for the second part of JSH: War of Attrition, a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic based on James S Harris’s long-forgotten rant on Usenet group sci.math.

The riff about “Frishtory” references a recurring minor villain on Dave The Barbarian, a fun mid-2000s cartoon that like four people remember even counting people who were on its production staff. And I think that’s all that’s particularly baffling in this set of riffs. Other than that nobody remembers Dave The Barbarian.


>
> When I feel a bit down

MIKE: The clerk tells me to stop fondling pillows.

> –like if insulting posters start getting to me–

CROW: Sneaking in under the door while I whap with my flyswatter …

> I can do things like do Google searches on my open source project
> "Class Viewer" which took the number one spot for that search string,
> years ago.

TOM: After the original first-place holder was disqualified for steroid use.

>
> It is all over the world.

CROW: Did you see it waving at you?

> I especially feel honored looking at the
> Chinese page,

MIKE: Which was all Greek to me.

> where words I typed years ago to describe my project
> have been translated.

CROW: If I had typed the words on time they would have been transpunctualled.

>
> That is an odd feeling.

TOM: Like when you think your socks are inside-out.

> And that is just one thing.

MIKE: I have many odd feelings and look forward to sharing every one of them.

>
> Just a few days ago I started talking about a "managed copy" idea of
> mine

CROW: Copies include a full Dilbert’s boss.

> and just typing up a post on my blog I found myself talking about
> it as digital media equipment self-encryption and of course went to
> the initials to designate it DMESE.

MIKE: [ Starting dramatically ] DUN DUN … d … huh?

TOM: He’s … made an acronym? Who cares?

MIKE: Maybe he’s bragging he’s had the idea of initials?

CROW: Or he’s found a flaw in our whole system of letters?

TOM: [ Narrating ] With my new *letters*, words and even *acronyms* can be created even by the likes of foolish unworthy peasants such as *yourself*!

>
> That is just one more thing.

CROW: Funny feelings *and* he has a blog — can nothing stop this man?

>
> Archimedes said that with a level long enough and a place to stand he
> could move the world

MIKE: Sheesh, my dad can barely use the level and a place to stand
to hang pictures straight.

> because he could conceive of greatness on a scale
> that most people cannot.

TOM: Ah, but could he imagine greatness with *letters*?

MIKE: It’s got to be more than making an acronym.

>
> I can move the world.
>
> Not one of you can say the same.

CROW: Not without my *letters*!

TOM: Guy puts initials together, wants world to know. We can play
that game, I guess.

>
> My posts get translated to languages across the planet. I watch ideas
> of mine travel around the world.

MIKE: I see whole civilizations transmitting my messages back in time
to change the course of history!

TOM: Frishtory!

>
> Yet I am still stopped by academics who are dead-set on fighting the
> Math Wars to the bitter end, and mostly they just wait.

CROW: Plus his freshman Calc TA has lousy office hours.

>
> Yes, Princeton academics can stop me today.

MIKE: Yes, they can wrap me head to toe in duct tape and leave me
in the back room. I’ll bring the tape.

> Yes, Harvard academics
> can hold the line today.

TOM: I won’t need the line until the weekend anyway.

>
> But they burn everything their universities have built up over the
> years in the process and I let them.

CROW: To be honest, I’m not sure why I did that. I hope I left myself a note about it.

MIKE: A note made almost entirely of *letters*!

>
> I emailed the University of California at Berkeley to note some
> unethical behavior by Arturo Magidin,

MIKE: Who was clearly abusing the “take all you want” rule at the Golden Prawn Chinese Buffet.

> and noticed at that point that
> Ralph McKenzie is listed as faculty,

TOM: And not as a Decepticon underling.

> where it notes he is at my alma
> mater Vanderbilt University.

CROW: Case closed.

>
> Yup, I know that as I visited him there years ago,

MIKE: But don’t be jealous. Many people can visit professors at Vanderbilt University if they learn my invention of *letters*.

> before my paper was
> published,

TOM: When there were concerts in the park.

> retracted after sci.math’ers including Magidin trumped the
> formal peer review system with some emails,

CROW: Before they sent a squad of highly physically developed
“Mathletes” to do a pole vault over an obelus.

> and the freaking math
> journal died.

TOM: That’s _The Journal of Freaking Math_.

MIKE: The official mathematics journal of Freakazoid.

>
> Academics can only sit and wait, while I move forward over time.

CROW: Occasionally I move too far forward, and bump into the railing overlooking the balcony. I move to the side a little, and start moving forward again.

> Knowing that at the end, I go for the entire system to reform it.
>
> And I will change their world.

MIKE: I will infuse it with drawn butter baked right in.

>
> I send papers to math journals and I [ beep ] well get a reply.

CROW: Like “No” and “Who are you again, exactly?”

> Sure,
> they’re polite rejections but they had better reply to me.

TOM: Or else I may visit people at *more* universities and withhold from them my vitally needed *letters*!

>
> You people don’t get it because I post among you, and you think that
> because I post I must be at your level.

MIKE: I’m actually posting things that are nine-dimensional and subject to rotation in fourteen dimensions at once.


[ To conclude … ]

MiSTed: JSH: War of attrition (Part 1 of 3)


Now may I share the second and I think last James S Harris post I turned into Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. It’s not that Harris stopped writing (at least back then), or even stopped being a wonder to behold. But a lot of his posts tried to argue for his astounding mathematical discoveries everyone else understood wrongly. But that can be hard reading, especially when his error is a big unproven assumption in the middle of a lot of dense reasoning. And just railing against the conspiracy to suppress him gets repetitious. (And, where it got personal, uncomfortable to root on.) So maybe this is as much as I needed to do.

The game-show-themed-diseases thing grew out of like one night where for like half an hour my friends and I were adding “… and a new car!” to the ends of references to things. I think it shows. The segue between “the 23rd of May” and Allan Sherman is the “Don’t Buy The Liverwurst” segment in his medley Shticks Of One And Half A Dozen Of The Other. Fun song. Crow’s line setting it up has the meter of Sherman’s tune. Other cryptic riffs: Hm. Something about the specificity of saying “G4.872” in a riff makes me think I was referencing something, but I don’t remember what. Maybe it was my Mac’s model number or something. Baudot Code was a telegraphic alphabet where each symbol had a five-bit code. It was invented by Émile Baudot, who’s the person referenced in the unit “baud”.


[ OPENING CREDITS. As per season ten. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. DESK. DAY. DENNIS. Behind the desk are a harried CROW and MIKE, accompanied by TOM, in a bathrobe, who’s in the middle of enunciating in his best overblown style. ]

TOM: … and you’ll love the view of the Satellite of Love you get from behind the wheel of … *your new car*!

[ CROW barely suppresses a frustrated cry. ]

MIKE: Hi, everyone. If Crow and I seem to be on the edge of losing all moral judgement it’s because our own Tom Servo here has contracted a nagging case of The Price Is Right Announcer Showcase Segue Syndrome, or Johnny Olson’s Disease …

TOM: … and you’ll recover from your bout with The Price Is Right Announcer Showcase Segue Syndrome by taking a ride to the hospital in … *your new car*!

CROW: [ Staring, jaw-dropped, at CAMBOT. ] He’s gone on just this way on almost everything we say ever since the 23rd of May.

TOM: … and you’ll love listening to your Allan Sherman CD collection on the deluxe collectible sound system in … *your new car*!

MIKE: Gypsy ejected herself into space on Memorial Day.

TOM: … when you can take the season’s first trip to the Shore in —

[ MIKE, screaming, grabs TOM’s dome and tosses it away. ]

TOM: Well, now, *that’s* just overreacting.

[ MADS sign flashes. ]

CROW: Hey, uh, Kitty Carlisle, Mark Goodson, and Bill Todman are calling.

MIKE: Yello?

[ MIKE taps the sign. ]


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PROFESSOR BOBO is laying in bed, clutching a teddy bear and his sheets; OBSERVER is his nurse. PEARL is nibbling from a box of get-well chocolates. ]

BOBO: C … M …

OBSERVER: One more.

BOBO: K … and an I.

PEARL: Oh, stop whining. Bobo’s had Acute Wheel of Fortune Bonus Round Condition for a week and you don’t see Brain Guy about to smack him silly, do you?

BOBO: Licorice tabernacle?

OBSERVER: Actually, Pearl, if you’re asking —

[ PEARL turns around and glares at him. ]

OBSERVER: — Right, then. Three consonants and a vowel, Professor.

BOBO: V … F … H …

OBSERVER: And a vowel?

BOBO: A.

PEARL: Say, you know what’s good for your brain being fried by the incomprehensible ravings of others?

BOBO: Marzipan doorknob?

OBSERVER: You have R, S, T, L, N, E.

BOBO: G … P … W …

PEARL: Why don’t you scurry on into the theater and fry your brains on the incomprehensible ravings of James Harris?

BOBO: U?

PEARL: Scurry along, little ones. Servo. *Now*.

[ PEARL waits confidently while nothing happens. ]

BOBO: Ticonderoga gumdrop?

PEARL: [ Less confident ] Now?

OBSERVER: Giving you R, S, T, L, N, and for a change, E.

BOBO: J … D … R …

OBSERVER: Ooooh. You already had R, sorry.

[ PEARL swats OBSERVER with the candy box, sending some chocolates in the air, which BOBO scoops up eagerly. ]

BRAIN: Oh, yes, right, Mike, sorry. War of Attrition, you know?

[ He does the mind-sending thingy with the sound effect thing. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As above; TOM hasn’t got his dome back yet. ]

TOM: Boy, glad I don’t have an annoying disease like that.

CROW: [ Restrained single-handed by MIKE. ] Lemme at him! Lemme at him! I’ll splat him!

[ MOVIE SIGN ]

MIKE: Save it —

ALL: WE GOT MOVIE SIGN!

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ THEATER. ALL enter, TOM still dome-less. ]

> Path: rpi!news.usc.edu!

TOM: Your USC news feeders coming to you by way of *your new car*!

CROW: Hit him!

[ MIKE puts a fresh dome on TOM. ]

TOM: I’ll be good.

> newsfeed.news.ucla.edu!

CROW: I understand “Newsucla” is a dirty word in some places.

> newsfeed.stanford.edu!postnews.google.com!

MIKE: Post-News-Herald-Dispatch-Tribune-Chronicle-Times-Journal.

> a26g2000pre.googlegroups.com!not-for-mail

TOM: Not for chain mail.

> From: jst…@gmail.com
> Newsgroups: alt.math.undergrad,alt.math,alt.math.recreational,sci.math

CROW: And the sci.math all-number-theory cheerleaders!

> Subject: JSH: War of attrition

MIKE: Isn’t that a Gwar album?

> Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 22:>37:09 -0700

TOM: So it’s … negative 678:37:09?

> Organization: http://groups.google.com
> Lines: 104

CROW: Straight Lines: 75.

> Message-ID: <1180676229.3…@a26g2000pre.googlegroups.com>

MIKE: Remember to pre-Google. You don’t want to search for ‘lentil bathtub’ without warming up.

> NNTP-Posting-Host: 67.164.117.60
> Mime-Version: 1.0

CROW: Nine-Version: 0.1.

> Content-Type: text/plain;

MIKE: But you can decorate it with maybe a cheery scarf or a smiling button?

> charset="iso-8859-1"
> X-Trace: posting.google.com 1180676229 31488 127.0.0.1

TOM: Aren’t those our orbital elements?

> (1 Jun 2007 05:37:09 GMT)

CROW: Grover Meridian Time — the time zone of Grover everywhere!

> X-Complaints-To: groups…@google.com
> NNTP-Posting-Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 05:37:09 +0000 (UTC)

MIKE: The Universal Tickle Company has nothing to add to the time!

> User-Agent: G2/1.0

TOM: G2, G1.0, give or take.

CROW: It’s really G4.872.

> X-HTTP-UserAgent: Mozilla/5.0

MIKE: A fifth of Mozilla?

TOM: With a spot of gin.

> (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.1.4)

CROW: It’s like when the thunderstorm messes up the closed captioning.

> Gecko/20070515 Firefox/2.0.0.4,gzip(gfe),gzip(gfe)

MIKE: [ As Tigger ] G-zip G-zoo, woo hoo hoo hoo!

> Complaints-To: groups…@google.com
> Injection-Info: a26g2000pre.googlegroups.com; posting-host=67.164.117.60;

TOM: But no carbohydrates, so it’s Atkins-friendly.

> posting-account=Q2zO6wwAAABSLuGzZIjG0efOtB9n8fUY

CROW: When computers curse in Baudot code!

> Xref: rpi sci.math:396490

MIKE: I was never good at these analogy questions.

>
> The Math Wars

[ TOM hums the opening to ‘Star Wars’, as in, dum-dum-dum-DAAAA-DUM! ]

> are to me all about how some people with position and
> power forget the power of the pen,

MIKE: To the brew that is true.

CROW: Don’t say a line like that when you’ve just had garlic.

> and sit letting the pot slowly come
> to a boil.

CROW: This week on baffling metaphor theater!

TOM: Then add three cups of sliced carrots and a dash of mustard.


[ To continue … ]

What’s Going On In Judge Parker? Why is April angry the show she wanted made got made? November 2021 – February 2022


So back in 2019, April Parker learned Neddy Spencer and Ronnie Huerta were writing a screenplay based on her life. And demanded they rewrite it to be correct. To tell the truth about her situation, on the run from CIA super-high-ultra-duper prison and all. This past month, the show finally debuted, and she was livid. Offended that someone was using her life to make a show.

This inconsistency hasn’t been explained. I’m not sure there is a way around it. The hypothesis I was working from was wild but not impossible: that the whole series was made by the CIA to flush April Parker out of hiding. In this interpretation, the woman who gave Neddy and Ronnie all those notes was a CIA (or equivalent) agent, trying to get things going. (Neddy Spencer would be involved so they’d know who April Parker would seek out and harass.) It’s a bit wild, but no wilder than actual things done.

But I don’t see how that’s tenable. In August 2019 we saw Norton say he had sent April “elsewhere” from Cavelton. And the woman identified as April refers to “the reason my Dad sent us here”, the screenplay she didn’t suspect existed. There is still some slender room there, in case the plan is to retcon that person as yet another April Parker lookalike. Norton had one (so far as we know) working for him, Agent Strand. The show chose to cast another. That becomes a reasonable choice if the whole show was some bonkers sting operation.

But it’s hard to see how to square this all so it fits. More plausible may be that what April Parker imagined in 2019 was so different from the reality in 2022 that it was not what she wanted. Or that she loved the dream of a TV show based on her life (don’t many of us?) and found the reality too much to bear.

So this is my attempt to bring you up to speed for Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for mid-February 2022. If you’re reading this after about May 2022, or if any news about the comic strip breaks, you should be able to find a more relevant essay here.

And on my other blog I hope tomorrow to resume my Little 2021 Mathematics A-to-Z. This is a glossary project, looking at words from mathematics. Tomorrow’s word? Triangle.

Judge Parker.

21 November 2021 – 13 February 2022.

Last time you’ll recall, Deputy Mayor Stewart took time off his job of making mopey frowny faces to show Sam Driver a video. It’s drone footage that appears to show Abbey Spencer setting fire to her bed-and-breakfast. Stewart is ready to propose something when Alan Parker interrupts the two, and the Deputy Mayor flees.

Driver: 'SO IS THE VIDEO REAL OR NOT?' Stewart: 'You saw the footage. Footage the mayor never saw and I could bury ... just as I alert the media that in good faith as deputy mayor I can't stand by a lie anymore, revealing the mayor alone committed arson, so much was his hatred for Ms Spencer. Then I'm no longer just 'deputy'.'
Francesco Marciuliani and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 2nd of December, 2021. A part of Comics Kingdom’s current web site borkery is that the permanent links aren’t working. I can’t create them, and old ones aren’t working. So I have to make do with temporary ones that I think non-subscribers can only use for a week. If this changes I’ll try to fix these.

They meet up in the park. Stewart avoids answering whether the drone footage is true. And asserts he left the flash drive with video on it by mistake. But he has a deal: he’ll tell the public that Mayor Sanderson burned down the bed-and-breakfast. The motive? Sanderson’s ongoing irrational hatred for the Spencers. Why would he do this? Well, he’ll become mayor. And he’ll have some wealthy, grateful patrons when it’s time to run in his own right. So, do they have a deal?

Woman: 'You've done nothing but attack Ms Spencer for months. 70% of those polled say they can easily see you burning down her property.' Man: 'And now businesses are refusing to work with you. We have a giant, brand-new warehouse that sits empty.' Sanderson: 'BUT WHERE IS THE PROOF?!?' Man: 'This is bigger than that now. This is about business.'
Francesco Marciuliani and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 12th of January, 2022. I like the Network vibe of this scene. The attitude that it doesn’t matter whether Sanderson committed arson that completely destroyed a building and could have killed people and animals. All that matters is there’s money a warehouse isn’t making.

What’s one more illicit deal for Sam Driver? He goes for it. Days before Christmas, Stewart announces what he “knows”. And while I’m not clear what evidence Stewart gives the public, he is believed. Mayor Sanderson’s backers inform him it’s over. It doesn’t matter whether there’s proof. “This is about business.” And so he resigns, in a humiliating speech calling for the people to rise up and demand their voice be heard. That’s another interesting choice because while Sanderson has been presented as a short-tempered, irrational, and awful person … we don’t have evidence that he actually did anything here. All we’ve seen is the video that seems to show Abbey Spencer burning down her money pit of a bed-and-breakfast. The text, so far, shows this as rich and ambitious people overthrowing the legitimate and innocent mayor of Cavelton.

[ Sophie watches the drone footage of Abbey supposedly committing arson ... ] Sophie: 'This is BAD, Sam.' Driver: 'But we both know there's no way Abbey could actually have done that, right?' Sophie: 'It's not just that. It's how you agreed with the Deputy Mayor's terms. It's how he has you in possession of evidence. It's everything. And it's how you don't sound entirely convinced that Abbey is innocent. You do believe she's innocent, don't you, Sam?' Driver: 'Of course I do. I do! It's just, well, the video ... ' Sophie: 'This is all BAD, Sam.'
Francesco Marciuliani and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 9th of January, 2022. Oh, also, about fixing these links? I will absolutely forget unless somebody nags me into fixing them. So if you’re reading this sometime in the distant future of, like, March 2022, and want me to fix the links, leave a comment, please.
The Spencers celebrate, of course. But Sophie — preparing to return to college — notices how Sam Driver’s still stressed. She spies on him, catching him with the flash drive. He can only explain it by showing the video, and Sophie points out how this is all kinds of bad. Stewart could not have left the flash drive by accident. Stewart must want Driver to have incredibly incriminating evidence. And there is something really wrong that Driver treated the video as legitimate.

But we still don’t have an explanation for what it truly is.


Meanwhile, some happy news. Ronnie Huerta and Kat’s relationship had shattered when Huerta tried to get some space before their wedding. Huerta had spent every moment from their breakup calling asking to talk with Kat again. Kat finally took a call. And they had a serious and meaningful talk. One where they talked about what was going wrong. One that’s better than any relationship advice I’ve seen in Mary Worth. Their problem was a plausible pattern. Huerta felt overwhelmed by Kat’s determination and energy. Kat felt she needed to put more into the wedding plans because Huerta was withdrawing. And these reactions to the problems encouraged the original problems to worsen.

Kat, on the phone: 'Ronnie, I ... I'm not sure if I should confess this --- because I really feel my anger is justified --- but I still miss you.' Ronnie: 'I miss you, too.' Kat: 'Well, duh.' Ronnie: 'Hahaha and now I'm laughing awkwardly because I'm not sure if we're at that point yet.'
Francesco Marciuliani and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 17th of December, 2021. By “a comment” I mean “a string of comments” because I am sure to need that.

The thing is they both want to be together. And that’s a good thing. My experience is, if two parties want to get along, they can. And they do, moving back together in time for the debut of their show, Converge, on streaming service Plus+.


The debut comes the 24th of January, reader time. The reactions are … mixed. Sophie’s college roommate Reena is impressed, wondering why Sophie never told her she was interesting. Alan Parker is traumatized by the sight of an actor playing April Parker and demands that monster out of their home, even in TV version. Neddy and Ronnie … are pretty sure the show will get better. And April Parker …

[ As Alan storms out after catching a glimpse of April on Neddy's show ... ] Alan: 'HOW COULD YOU BRING THAT MONSTER INTO OUR HOME?!' Katherine: 'ALAN!' [ Someone starts building their own head of steam about the April character ... ] April: 'Seriously, does that person act or sound like me AT ALL?!' Randy: 'Is this really our biggest concern right now, April?'
Francesco Marciuliani and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 29th of January, 2022. Randy Parker thinks it’s much more important that the plotting problems be resolved, and soon, or the show won’t be picked up for a second season.
She is angry. She can’t believe the casting, for one. And she’s offended someone “stole [her] life and put it on TV”. It inspires a fight between her and Randy Parker. Also at last we see Randy in whatever secluded secret hideout they’re at with April Parker’s mother. And with little Charlotte Parker, who wants to go back to their real home. Randy does too, or at least, he’s realized hiding out from the world of super-duper-hyper-spy etc is no kind of life. (We also get a mention that April’s mother “put [ Norton ] out of his misery”, which reinforces the idea he’s dead. I don’t believe it either.) It’s a bad situation. And we’re left with the mystery of why April Parker is so angry with a show she demanded.

Also the stress of being an international(?) super-fugitive is breaking down Randy’s feelings for his possibly-ex-wife. We’ll see how that develops by the next time I check in, I expect.

Next Week!

Did our heroes prevent the destruction of Earth twenty years ago? And did it involve a suppressed-to-history female scientist? I’ll answer these questions ‘yes’ using more words when I look at Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop next week, all going well.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about The Amazing Spider-Man reruns? The past three months of that have covered roughly what this essay does. Glad to catch you up there.

MiSTed: JSH: So They Lied (Part 3 of 3)


And now let me wrap up my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of James S Harris’s Usenet rant, “So They Lied”. When I split this piece up for easier reading, I thought this last piece was longer than it was. In word count it’s about the same as the first two segments. This may be some lesson about how the back-and-forth of text and riffing will seem different from the dialogue of host sketches.

At one point one of the sci.math regulars, trying to give James Harris every possible benefit, tried to use his revolutionary new factoring method as it existed that month (it saw many, many revisions) to decompose 15 into 3 times 5. The proof went on and on and on, and bringing in bigger and bigger numbers, and not showing any hints of producing a ‘3’ or a ‘5’ from all this. It’s the only time I have ever seen factoring numbers be laugh-out-loud funny. Mr Harris did not see the humor.

When I wrote this it was a safe bet that the Cubs would lose in excruciating ways. We’ve lost all our traditions lately. Bobo factoring large numbers in his head is another expression of my liking dumb characters having weird corners of hypercompetence. (And I remember doing some fishing around looking for a good prime number somewhere in the millions. The other numbers I think I found by taking some small prime numbers and multiplying them together.) I feel like Pearl’s fuming and then finally doing nothing more than throwing some papers around is a reference to something, but I can’t think what. The little “closing credits” line about the alien soccer tournament certainly refers to something, but I don’t remember if it was an in-joke with my friends or something that could possibly communicate.


>
> Is life really not fair, or are most people cowards to the truth?

MIKE: Uhm … I say ‘not fair’.

TOM: I say ‘coward’.

CROW: ‘Coward’, definitely.

TOM: Make mine ‘not fair’.

MIKE: I want to change to ‘coward’ now.

CROW: Maybe it is just ‘not fair’.

TOM: I’m gonna write in ‘The Beatles’.

>
> A person like me comes around only every hundred years or so,

CROW: The mathematics of Brigadoon.

> and
> people forget.
>
> And then a LOT of people die,

MIKE: So World War I was started by the mathematicians?

> and then the mythologies are written,

CROW: About … mathematicians.

> legends are born.

TOM: About …

MIKE: Right.

CROW: Yeah, I remember this one mathematician who … uhm …

>
> But make no mistake, you might be one of those people who die THIS
> time.

MIKE: But *only* if you finish your chores.

>
> I suggest to you that even if you don’t give a damn about mathematics,

CROW: Give a *darn*, thank you.

> couldn’t care less about what is truth, why should you protect fakes
> who have betrayed you, yet again,

MIKE: Maybe you like the fakes. Some of them have great parties.

CROW: I love those parties. You know, “Isn’t everyone here so really?”

> and in their inability to understand
> and their lack of intelligence, they leave the world vulnerable,

MIKE: The world is just feeling very fragile right this minute.

> because this time, to stop this post, all they had to do was step
> up–and protect the world?

CROW: Step right up! Protect three worlds for a nickel!

>
> TODAY they could have stepped up to protect the world.

MIKE: Tomorrow, they could step up to protect Neptune.

>
> Die for them?

CROW: Who?

>
> Why?

TOM: Good question.

>
> And even if you won’t die, why let anyone else?

CROW: Strap a mathematician into a protective baby seat!

>
> Their quiet is your answer if you had questions.

MIKE: So it’s a good thing you asked them what quiet sounded like.

>
> Yes, they lied. They betrayed the world. And they lost.

TOM: But they’ve got a pocket full of quarters and can play all day.

>
> Question now is, who loses with them?

MIKE: I’m guessing the Cubs.

>
> James Harris

MIKE: Or yeah, he’ll do too.

[ ALL exit. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. TOM SERVO, MIKE, and CROW are filling out a form. ]

MIKE: All right, so, who was running the world according to that?

TOM: Uh … I don’t know … mathematicians were running mathematics?

MIKE: [ Writing ] And what was their objective?

CROW: We don’t have any idea.

MIKE: [ Still writing ] Don’t … have … idea. Method of ruling the world?

CROW: Something to do with prime numbers.

MIKE: Prime … numbers. Likelihood of success?

TOM: We have no idea what that was all about.

MIKE: … Was … all … about. Okay, Pearl, good luck with your world conquest through prime numbers.


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PROFESSOR BOBO and OBSERVER are working as above; PEARL is in front, by the camera. After a pause OBSERVER does that brain-wave thing, and MIKE’s report pops into her hand. ]

PEARL: Excellent! And when we take over this … cabal … we’ll be able to … uh … factorize numbers like … twenty-eight thousand, eight hundred fifty eight in —

BOBO: [ Without looking up ] Two times forty-seven times three hundred seven.

PEARL: [ Slighty thrown ] Or … one million, five hundred thirty-one thousand, one hundred twelve …

BOBO: Two to the third power times eleven times one hundred twenty-seven times one hundred thirty-seven.

PEARL: [ Challenging ] 89 thousand, one hundred seventy-five.

BOBO: [ Finally looking at her ] Three times five squared times twenty-nine times forty-one.

PEARL: [ Testy ] Nine million … three hundred eighty six thousand … seven hundred thirty-one.

BOBO: Is already prime.


[ PEARL stares at BOBO. OBSERVER slips his pile of papers onto BOBO’s table while she fumes, and then slips away. After letting her temper build, PEARL grabs all the papers on BOBO’s table and throws them in the air, creating a flurry of sheets of paper. ]

PEARL: [ Turning to the camera; oddly pleasant ] Thanks for the help.
We’ll be in touch over the holiday season.

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc, so kindly nobody tell them about this and we’ll all be better off. The essay “So They Lied” is the property of James S Harris as posted to sci.math. This MiSTing as a whole is the property of Joseph Nebus, who doesn’t intend anything mean-spirited or hostile to James Harris, Brad Guth, Best Brains, or the concept of Mystery Science Theater 3000. If they just won the alien soccer tournament, they’re going to be too tired to fly all the way to Earth just for dessert toppings. Please come back, Dr Mike Neylon!

> Now I have found a new factoring method.
>
> Literally trillions of dollars WILL move as a result, but for now, you
> can see the quiet as these people keep lying.


[ The end ]

MiSTed: JSH: So They Lied (Part 2 of 3)


And now the second of three parts of James Harris’s declaration to Usenet group sci.math, “So They Lied”. Rants were always good for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment; they had much of the energy of a really strident mental-hygiene film but were about even more ridiculous things than, like, whether you were brushing your teeth in the correct order.

I’m not sure there’s any riffs that need explaining here. Maybe just the note that Gauss was one of those spectacular once-in-a-century mathematicians. I think I’m more obscure in the last part. Oh, Fermat’s Little Theorem is this cute little thing. If p is a prime number, and a is a whole number, then a^p - a is some whole multiple of p. It’s not hard to prove but it feels like it is, in Intro to Abstract Algebra, where you learn to do that stuff. It has nothing to do with Fermat’s Last Theorem.

I tend not to make riffs where the characters wish they weren’t reading the thing. I can’t get past how I-the-author don’t just choose to read the original but choose to go out of my way to focus on it. But Mike and the Bots offering to let Mr Harris, and them, do other stuff was too solidly in-character. Also, probably, good advice too. If you’re getting very worked up about your revolutionary new concept in number theory and arguing about it online, you maybe need to do something else until you find the part where your work wasn’t as correct as you had supposed.


>
> Trouble is, the worst thing for people faking at being mathematicians
> is someone who actually is a mathematician.

TOM: The second-worst thing is being caught by a cop for
differentiating in public.

>
> So they beat up such people,

CROW: [ Snickering ]

MIKE: Yeah, my Freshman Calc TA could beat up … well …

TOM: The other Freshman Calc TA?

MIKE: Maybe.

> force them out of the discipline,

CROW: Turn their backs and go “nyah nyah nyah I can’t hear you”!

> and
> drown them out with crowd forces.

TOM: Challenge them to sword fights with their old slide rules!

>
> Their loophole was the reality that major mathematicians only come
> around once every couple of hundred years,

CROW: Everybody, look busy, Gauss is coming through!

> so they got away with it for
> a bit over a hundred years,

MIKE: Makes it sound like a pretty good deal, actually.

> and I was forced into my destiny.

TOM: I held aloft my magic sword, and said, “By the power of Greyskull” and then … well, nothing happened, and I felt kind of silly.

>
> If it were up to me, I’d be doing so many other things than this.

CROW: Well, don’t let us stop you.

MIKE: Hey, I’ve got some stuff to do if you need new projects.

>
> But it’s not up to me,

TOM: It’s up to my mom.

> I’m driven by some overwhelming force that makes
> me fight against these people pretending to be real mathematicians, and
> so, here we are.

MIKE: Don’t you see, what I’m trying to say is, will you marry me?

>
> The encryption system that they said was so powerful–because they’re
> not real mathematicians–is now, as I type this,

TOM: Pig Latin.

> broken. The world
> does not know this

CROW: Don’t tell it. You’ll just wreck its sleep.

> because the social forces are that strong, but
> eventually the truth will be known.

TOM: It will be whispered to David Duchovny, who won’t understand it.

>
> These people are people some of you admire and trust,

CROW: Real people. Salt of the earth types.

> who have sat
> back, for years now, clearly I think,

MIKE: In groups of, three words or, so.

> believing that social forces
> could stop someone like me.

TOM: Stopping *you*, or stopping someone who’s only *like* you?

>
> But mathematics is more than just a word.

CROW: It’s a whole kooky groovy far-out scene, man.

>
> The proof for those of you who hoped, believed, or just wanted to deny
> the truth is in that new factoring method,

MIKE: Identify the factors of fifteen in under three hours!

> which if the people you
> thought were mathematicians actually were, then they’d be talking about
> it everywhere, warning the world,

CROW: GANGWAY!

MIKE: THE NEW FACTORING METHOD IS HERE!

TOM: RUN TO YOUR DESIGNATED PRIME NUMBERS!

> excited about it, and working on
> solutions to protect OUR WORLD.

TOM: Or at least maybe save Delaware.

>
> But instead, they are quiet, leaving the doors open, leaving the world
> vulnerable.

CROW: We *just* can’t have nice things, can we?

> Leaving it possible for innocents to suffer or even die
> because they are not who they claim to be.

MIKE: Death by greatest common denominator!

>
> But I am.

TOM: You’re leaving the world vulnerable?

>
> The choice is yours. I can’t do it alone.

CROW: Funny how life changes, huh, guy fiddles around with Fermat’s Little Theorem, the hunter becomes the hunted, well, what’re you gonna do?

>
> These people will let civilization crumble. They will let terrorists
> and other criminals,

MIKE: And people who return library books late.

> or anyone who has the will and know-how to use the
> mathematics in an evil way,

TOM: Or who foolishly open up an evil parabola.

CROW: The cosecants of doom!

MIKE: The quadratic formula for MURDER!

> do it, without the world knowing because it
> trusts them because they are not who they claim to be.

CROW: It’s not even our world! It’s Mars, isn’t that the weirdest thing?

>
> You may die if you do nothing, and isn’t that fair?

TOM: We all have to die of something, you know, a heart attack, a car accident, being shot by the snipers of the worldwide mathematics conspiracy.


[ To conclude … ]

MiSTed: JSH: So They Lied (Part 1 of 3)


For my next Mystery Science Theater 3000 performance, it’s a Usenet rant. James S Harris was — possibly still is — a regular on sci.math, a group for just what you’d think. Like everyone who loves mathematics, he tried to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem. Like many people, he thought he had something; it’s not difficult to come up with work that looks like it should prove that thing about a^n + b^n = c^n . Also like everyone taking that tack, including Fermat, he was wrong. He spent a lot of time arguing with the sci.math Actual Mathematicians about how no, maybe the whole of professional mathematics was wrong and not him.

As a sideline to his Fermat work, he thought he found a new scheme for factoring numbers. And spent a lot of time arguing with the sci.math Actual Mathematicians about how no, maybe the whole of professional mathematics was wrong and not him. So this is one piece of those many fights.

In the introduction sketch I imagine rattling apart a very fragile Tom Servo doll, one like the Crow T Robot that gets frozen to pieces in Eegah. I like writing sketches that have some visual action while staying something basic cable could produce in the 90s. The Izah fat evaporator was based on some similarly-named “make your muscles twitch so you lose weight” scam device I saw ads for in Singapore in the early 2000s. They were oddly hypnotic, showing this box put on various parts of the body while the singer chanted, “zap zap thigh, zap zap thigh, zap zap tummy, zap zap tummy”, and so on. The 17/23 Correlation is some weird conspiracy thing I know about because it got mentioned, and not explained, in The Straight Dope. The “such a Ratliff” that Pearl Forrester warns she has waiting was Stephen Ratliff’s story “Endeavor’s Beginning”, a group project to which I donated riffs. If it was ever finished and published I missed the news. Shame; I remember doing some good work on that. I think the “a kind of fish” line was originally one of Dave Barry’s jokes and forget from where.


[ OPENING CREDITS, SEASON TEN STYLE. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW, MIKE, and TOM SERVO are behind the desk. TOM has a bright yellow power brick-size contraption strapped to his chest; it has an oversized spiral paper disc in front. ]

CROW: [ Taunting ] Tom, you’re gonna die.

TOM: Am not.

MIKE: Gotta side with Crow. [ Looking up: ] Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Satellite of Love, and, uh, Tom is worried about his figure.

TOM: My friends wouldn’t say anything, but I have been packing on a few too many pounds and I don’t have time for a good exercise program, so instead I got an Izah fat evaporator. By stimulating my many muscle groups in rhythmic oscillatory pulses I can shed pounds without any work.

CROW: He’s gonna die.

MIKE: Crow’s right, but hey, you want, you want.

TOM: Right! Fire me up to fitness, Mike!


[ MIKE touches a button on the brick; the paper wheel starts spinning. TOM rattles around like an unbalanced washing machine. TOM makes all sorts of aggedy-aggedy-aggedy and acking type noises, while pieces go flying off — his cap, his head, his skirt, his arms one at a time, the front of his barrel, and finally he collapses behind the desk. ]

CROW: Told you so!

MIKE: Crow, hush, that’s not very nice.

[ MIKE leans down and digs around on the floor. He picks up the small cylinder with TOM’s mouth on it. ]

TOM: [ Dazedly ] I … feel … … lithe.

[ MADS SIGN flashes. ]

MIKE: Aw, great, and now Pearl needs us … Hello down there …

[ MIKE hits the MADS SIGN with TOM, who goes ‘Ow!’. ]


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL, PROFESSOR BOBO, and OBSERVER are seated behind card tables covered with books, papers, scrawled notes, strangely marked globes, astrolabes, for that `stuff’ theme. A bare light on a long electrical wire hangs over their heads. BOBO and OBSERVER mutter their lines to each other. ]

BOBO: Federal Reserve …

OBSERVER: Opus Dei …

PEARL: [ To BOBO and OBSERVER, muttering ] Just, keep me posted.
[ To camera, boisterously ] All right, Nel-sonnnn … [ She drags out the ‘n’, thinking of a way to twist it, finally giving up with: ] N. I got to thinking: why go to all the hard work of taking over the world when I can just find the guys who *do* rule the world and take *them* over?

[ BOBO holds up a piece of paper with “17/23” written across it, which OBSERVER does not find interesting. ]

PEARL: So now I just have to find them, and by ‘I’ I mean ‘you’, so, get into that theater and tell me what this tells you about who’s ruling the world, got it?

OBSERVER: Heidi Klum …

BOBO: Goo goo ga joob.

PEARL: BRAIN GUY!

OBSERVER: Hup … one conspiracy in 35 millimeters, coming up.

[ BRAIN GUY noise. ]

PEARL: And you better get it right or I have *such* a Ratliff waiting.


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. MIKE is trying out putting the gumball dome under TOM’s mouth, while CROW snickers. ]

TOM: This just feels funny.

[ MOVIE SIGN; ALL panic. ]

ALL: MOVIE SIGN!

[ INTO THE THEATER … 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ MIKE carries in just TOM’s mouthpiece, and hides it behind the chair. ]

> From: jst…@msn.com

CROW: Hail the Missin’com!

> Newsgroups: sci.math,alt.math.undergrad

MIKE: o/` old.math.river, that old.math.river … o/`

> Subject: JSH: So they lied

CROW: It happens.

> Lines: 109

CROW: Polygons: 28.

[ TOM, back to normal, emerges in silhouette. ]

> Message-ID: <1150354125….@g10g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>

TOM: It’s ten to one hundredth power of giddy, groupy fun!

>
> I first began to get a real grasp of the true situation when I was
> arguing about my prime counting function,

CROW: We’re … so very sorry for you.

> which is actually THE prime
> counting function,

MIKE: The prime counting function of the whole tri-city area!

> and after yet another useless argument on sci.math
> with some regulars, it occurred to me, they had to know.

TOM: How do you tell when an argument on Usenet is useless?

MIKE: It’s on Usenet?

>
> They had to know that what I had actually was different from what was
> previously known in key ways,

CROW: Like in its delightful lemony scent.

> but they were deliberately lying about
> it.

TOM: I confronted them. They denied it. Case closed.

>
> Now I have found a new factoring method.

MIKE: [ Mad science laughter ] Mwu-hu-ha-hA-HA-HA-HA-HAAA … huh?

>
> Literally trillions of dollars WILL move as a result, but for now, you
> can see the quiet as these people keep lying.

TOM: It was visible out there. Too, too visible.

>
> How is it possible?

MIKE: Can this mixed-up world be as zany as I hope?

>
> Mathematics is a difficult discipline.

CROW: And a worse toothpaste.

>
> Or you can say, math is hard.

TOM: But with a crunchy peanut buttery center.

>
> Most people shy away from it because it IS so hard,

MIKE: Others avoid it because they’re afraid a rogue
isosceles triangle will impale them.

> but a few people
> learned that while doing real mathematics was hard, LOOKING like you
> were doing real mathematics was easier.

TOM: Finally we learn why Sudoku has caught on!

>
> So they fake it.

MIKE: But they were caught when they identified the square root symbol as “a kind of fish”.


[ To continue … ]

What’s Going On In Judge Parker? Where did Randy Parker vanish to? March – June 2021


We don’t know! The past few months of Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker saw a crazification, where what had been a stable arrangement blew up. It’s too soon to say where Randy Parker, April Parker, and their daughter Charlotte are. Nor whether they’re going to run into Ted Forth and shock him by being The Chadwells.

This should catch you up to early June 2021. If you’re reading this after about September 2021, or any news about the strip breaks, I’ll try to have an essay at this link which might help you more.

Judge Parker.

14 March – 5 June 2021.

Charlotte Parker was seeing her mother walk by the house every day. This perturbed her father, Randy Parker, because April was off in Super Hyper Ultra Duper Spy Assassin World. It’s a dangerous world, one in which we’re likely to run into Norton, even though April Parker said on-screen that he’s dead. (Norton will never be dead.) Retired Judge Alan Parker asked Sam Driver to check. Is April Parker lurking around her (ex?)-husband’s home, and if so, why? And this leads to a day in which everything happens at once.

Deputy Mayor Stewart: 'It's just ... you had some properties reassessed at almost double their previous value. Properties that belonged to your opponent's supporters.' Mayor Sanderson: 'It's been a helluva real estate market the last year, Stewart! People had to expect to pay more property taxes.' Stewart: 'You also have Spencer Farms paying triple in taxes from last year.' Sanderson: 'They put a B-and-B on their property. Last year there was no business. But with the pandemic nearing a hopeful end, the value has changed.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 24th of March, 2021. Abbey Spencer has to spend some part of her day wondering why Mayor Sanderson isn’t always dealing with never-suspected evil half-siblings and ultra-hyper-super-duper assassins and drug-dealer starlets and stuff, right? Why does he get to just sit back and do Stephen Colbert Eyebrow Push-Ups at his staff?

The easy stuff, first. Cavelton’s reelected crazypants mayor Phil Sanderson sent out the new property taxes. They include punitive tax hikes on his political opponents, such as Abbey Spencer. This seems like something one could challenge in court. But Sanderson’s already looking ahead to his third term in office. Also to changing the town laws so he can serve a third term. Deputy Mayor Stewart, who I bet has a second name, takes this news with a sequence of faces of pouty concern.

[ While on a stakeout, Sam gets a call from ... ] Sam: 'Neddy! That's wonderful news!' Neddy: 'I KNOW! I can't believe Ronnie's and my show is actually going to series! IT WILL ACTUALLY BE STREAMING FOR ACTUAL PEOPLE TO SEE!' Sam: 'Which channel?' Neddy ;'A new streaming service called Plus+!' (Silent penultimate panel.) Sam: 'Please excuse the silence, but I wasn't sure if you were joking with that name or ... ' Neddy: 'I know. I can't even find the app on Roku. But who cares?!? IT'S ALL HAPPENING!!!'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 4th of April, 2021. “It’s all happening”; hold that thought.

Second, and happy news: Neddy Spencer and Ronnie Huerta’s series got picked up! The show is based on what they imagine the April Parker/Godiva Danube relationship was like. It’s to run on a streaming service that exists in the minds of its investors. Still, a show credit is a show credit. They call that in to home as everything else explodes.

Now the explosions. Almost all the past three months of Judge Parker took place over a single day. Sam Driver, staking out Randy’s home, sees who he thinks is April Parker. He chases her, until a bicyclist accidentally collides with him. The bicyclist has nothing to do with anything and is happy to leave when the woman draws a knife on him. The woman is not April Parker. She’s Rogue Agent Strand, former partner to Norton and a woman who looks rather like April.

[ As an unconscious Sam lies on the street ... Randy wants the full truth ... ] Randy Parker: 'How did you just happen to be here the moment I realized 'Agent Strand' was outside my house? The moment Sam showed up?' April: 'I ... I still have you tapped. I have everyone tapped. I've been tracking the CIA's movements for months.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 3rd of May, 2021. “Really? You have Randy Parker and the CIA tapped?” ponders The Phantom, pausing between his jobs as protector and fair arbiter of the Bangallan natives, and the Unknown Commander of the Jungle Patrol, and the globetrotting terrorist-fighting super-vigilante who answers letters sent to Box 7, Mawitaan. “That’s a lot of cognitive overhead you’re putting on yourself there. Is that really a plausible workload for a human being? Really?”

Meanwhile inside Randy’s house is April Parker. She and Randy have a furious argument about how this does too make sense. April’s thesis is that the CIA is going to capture her by killing Randy and kidnapping Charlotte. Strand, who needs back in the CIA Good Graces file, is there to provide credible sightings of April Parker. April can then be framed for the murder of Randy and kidnapping of Charlotte. And this would leave April with no contact with her former life. Unless she turned herself in and revealed everything she’s learned in her rogue super-agent days. The only way for Randy to live, and Charlotte to be free, is to abandon their lives now and join April on the super-assassin circuit.

It’s a lot to swallow. And Randy’s under a lot of pressure. Like, everybody in the world is calling him at once. You tried calling him. If I have two phone calls in a day I’m useless until next Tuesday. The pressure keeps up. “They” get cited as closing in. April insists they must go now. Here the fact that story comics only get two or three panels a day fights the drama. This whole scene takes a month and a half of reader time to finish. It allows for unwanted giggles about April’s insistence they don’t have much time. In-universe, yes. I think you could do Randy and April’s whole scene in as little as five minutes. But, especially with the cutaways to everyone calling or driving to the scene? It was hard to feel the rush day-by-day.

Randy: 'Why ... why would they take Charlotte?' April: 'As leverage to draw me out! They want me dead, but they want my intel on others, too. So ... listen ... ' Randy: 'What?' April: 'I don't hear a sound coming from Charlotte's room.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 6th of May, 2021. Charlotte’s okay! She’s just scared by all this arguing about whether the plot makes sense so she hid a while. Nothing to worry about.

Sam Driver recovers consciousness and races back to Randy’s house. He and Abbey Spencer converge inside, in time to be surrounded by police. Who called them? Unknown. (I’d guess the bicyclist, if it isn’t someone in on the conspiracy.) Where are Randy and April and Charlotte? Unknown. Randy gave his father a quick choking good-bye call and left behind … everything.

The 31st of May saw another several-month time jump, a common Marciuliano response to having crazyfied the story. Randy and Charlotte and April Parker are all missing still. The police and the CIA questioned Sam Driver and everybody they could find. But none of them know anything about anything. That’s about where we readers stand too. (Among other things we don’t know whether anyone in authority believes Sam and all know nothing.) And Sam’s feeling guilty about failing Alan Parker.

How does this all develop? If the pattern follows, we’ll see a couple weeks of rationalizing and stepping back from the craziest parts of what just happened. I can’t guess whether that involves showing Randy and Charlotte Parker. Or showing everyone else reacting to their absence.

Next Week!

Roy Thomas and Larry Leiber’s The Amazing Spider-Man draws nearer to the end of my coverage, but does so in style. By “in style” I mean “with Rocket Raccoon mocking Peter Parker a lot”. Hope to see you next week, True Believers!

What’s Going On In The Amazing Spider-Man? Have they hired new cartoonists yet? January – April 2020


Nope, no cartoonists yet. We’re still rerunning a Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber story from 2015-16. If the story will repeat in full, then it will end in the middle of June. The following story would be a team-up with Doctor Strange to fight Xandu. I have not heard anything about hiring a new creative team. Given the lead time needed for comics that run on Sundays, I expect this means the strip is not leaving reruns anytime soon.

If I get any news, I will post it in an essay at this link, where you can find other plot recaps for The Amazing Spider-Man. At least until I decide that rerun Spidey has had enough of my attention.

The Amazing Spider-Man.

27 January – 18 April 2020.

Namor, the Sub-Mariner, ruler of Atlantis, is condemning the surface world for its crimes against the oceans again. He’s not exactly wrong, again. He has noticed this Mary Jane Parker is a feisty woman-type and wants to marry her. Namor declares he’ll take her as a princess anytime she wants, and heads off to make war on the world’s shipping. Mary Jane kind of swoons, thinking she might talk him out of this round of condemning the surface world and all.

News: 'The cargo vessel was sunk at the Sub-Mariner's command!' Peter: 'And you thought Namor wouldn't sink any ships!' Mary Jane: 'At least he let everyone reach a lifeboat. If only I could talk to him!' Peter, chewing down on a cob of corn: 'Hey, just because he proposed to you doesn't mean you could change his mind!'
Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber’s Amazing Spider-Man for the 2nd of February, 2020. (Ahem.) “Gosh, what corny dialogue!” I’ll see myself out.

Atlantis starts sinking ships, although gently, to avoid loss of life at first. And then Water Force One, carrying Namor, shows up at the East River docks. Namor’s come to scold the United Nations. And he’s brought along an adorable water moppet. He’s Pharus, a kid who’s contracted Backstory Syndrome, suffering from human pollution and doomed never to recover. Namor says the Atlantean hospitals can’t help him. Spidey asks, well, why not try human hospitals? They’re sure to do great with a non-human child who can’t breathe air without taking an oxygen pill and who’s got all the symptoms of mer-consumption. As they punch each other, Mary Jane kidnaps Pharus. With the help of Dr Liz Bellman she gets him away from the Atlantean guards and over to Metro General Hospital.

Atlantean Guard: 'HALT or we open fire!' Mary Jane, holding a terrified Atlantean boy in her arms: 'Please, I'm trying to save this boy!' Pharus: 'LET ME GO!' Guard: 'Namor ordered us to guard the lad.' Other Guard: 'You leave us no choice ... ' Dr Bellman, swinging a stick that cracks open the guard's helmet, so his water spills out: 'There's always a choice, little boy blue!' Shocked guard: 'WHAT IN NEPTUNE'S NAME?'
Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber’s Amazing Spider-Man for the 16th of March, 2020. The art in the newspaper Spider-Man strip, at least its last decades, was mostly serviceable. But I appreciate that, by luck or design, in that first panel there Pharus’s face perfectly captures that moment when everything is spinning out of control into something new and horrifying and bad. It’s amazing to think that it was drawn well before 2016.

Namor tosses Spider-Man into the water, where they can fight on the Sub-Mariner’s home lack-of-ground. Mary Jane scolds Namor, who says there’s no reason for him to keep fighting now that he’s beaten. Namor accepts Mary Jane’s answer to where Pharus went, and then heads to the United Nations, in session.

He informs the assembled heads of state that he’s taking over the seas. If the surface-dwellers keep control, after all, Earth will soon be dead. It’s a complaint he’s made before and, again, he’s not exactly wrong. He gives the United Nations one day to figure out how it’s going to fix pollution and that’s it. And then he leaves, before anyone can stop him. And almost before Spider-Man wakes up again.

Robbie Robertson: 'How can you think Spider-Man's IN LEAGUE with Namor, when Peter's photos show the Atlantean dragging him in the water?' Jameson: 'Pictures can lie, Robbie. I say the two of them headed underwater to avoid witnesses while they plotted strategy!'
Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber’s Amazing Spider-Man for the 10th of April, 2020. I don’t read the comic books, except that one where the “I don’t want to cure cancer, I want to turn people into dinosaurs” meme came from, and I’m an estimated sixteen Spider-Man movies behind current. Am I correct in supposing, though, that when Robinson feels things are a little slow he just tosses out, like, three names and a place to hear Jameson’s conspiracy theory for Spider-Man connecting them? If not, then I am happy to sell this scene to Marvel Entertainment Products LLC for a reasonable rate, inquire within.

Well, at least Peter Parker can sell some pictures of Spider-Man fighting with Namor. J Jonah Jameson is delighted to have proof that Spider-Man and Namor are in a state of cahootery. While Jameson explains his reasoning, though, the still-woozy Peter Parker faints. Parker says he got hit by debris during the fight. Jameson sees a chance to rush to Metro General Hospital. Which turns out to be a lucky break: Peter Parker mentions that’s where Mary Jane said the Atlantean boy was. So now Jameson figures to prowl around the hospital until he finds Pharus.


Will Jameson, and Spider-Man, find the Atlantean boy? Will there be some act of human kindness that melts Namor’s hardened heart? Will the surface world remain in control of the seas? Will there be an astounding link to the policewoman Betty Dean who headed off the Sub-Mariner’s destruction of the surface world in 1940? Will Scrooge become a second father to the boy, who did not die? There are two ways to find out, one of them coming back here around mid-July and the other looking at late 2015 and early 2016 on Comics Kingdom. Your choice.

Next Week!

Eh, nothing much. What’s Moo with you?

Suddenly Clickbait Gets Me Worried


So then I saw this ad.

Picture of a guy standing in a cemetery with the headline 'Surprising Look At Who's Going Bankrupt In America'

Um … who … uh … is it dead people? Dead people are going bankrupt at surprising rates? What rate of dead-person bankruptcy wouldn’t be surprising? I mean, dead people may have few expenses but they’ve got no income and over a long enough time, you know, these things add up. Or is it cemetery caretakers? Maybe … groundskeepers who look kind of like they’re wearing a Post Office shirt? I’m confused by all this.

Well, meanwhile, my mathematics blog has some more comic strips to talk about. And also remember last week I wrote about conspiracy theories and this one where the Illuminati had Whitney Houston killed? I’m not saying this Vulture article was a coincidence, but when’s the last time you saw a mention of Whitney Houston an the Illuminati in the same essay? Just linking.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Traders don’t see what’s so funny about this after the index lost another five points overnight when they were being so reasonable about it all..

90

The Triangle Code


My love and I were talking about the Pythagoreans because that’s the kind of people we are. Also because the Pythagoreans are interesting. They have that mix of philosophical and mathematical ideas fused into something too nutty for Ancient Greece to put up with. It’s hard to be sure we know much about the Pythagoreans that’s true and not the result of people making fun of them.

Thing is, Pythagoras must have had something going for him. Remember, he was able to tell people he could write on the moon, appear in many places at once, and show off a golden thigh in the Olympics. And he still got followers. Most of us couldn’t lie about our cell phone’s camera resolution and get anyone to believe it. Maybe he was just that charismatic; maybe he had a good organization behind him.

There’s stories that Pythagoras had children. Maybe that’s a pious myth from his followers, attributing all the cult’s children to him. Maybe he figured he had a mass of children inside the Sun. Maybe he actually did, though. Maybe there’s, even now, people directly descended from Pythagoras out there. What’s got me is that after Pythagoras’s cult got broken up, possibly by running them into beans, that’s the last we hear of them. There’s no sad little attempt to put the gang back together led by his son or some fan who figured the thing just needed better presentation. It’s just gone.

Or is it? What if the Pythagoreans just went underground, building their number in the strictest of secrecy? And then working to alter the world to their liking? They might pull stunts like rejiggering the way we write numbers so that it’s based on “ten” or pushing the idea that the planets move around the sun. We realized we’ve got the seeds here for a nice and stupid Dan Brown-esque novel here. And every time we need comic relief just stuff in one of those stories people keep telling about the Pythagoreans.

This got me thinking about conspiracy theories. Why do people like secret-masters-of-the-world conspiracy theories? The traditional answer is that the world is big and scary and looks crazy most of the time. But if some secret organization is manipulating everything to their benefit, well, all right. It may make no sense but at least there’s some plan behind it all.

A couple months back I heard of a conspiracy theory behind Whitney Houston’s death. Apparently she said something about the Illuminati while appearing on Ellen and they got her for it. And that’s got me wondering. Suppose the theory’s true. That implies someone found the Illuminati and thought joining the secret rulers of the world was a great idea. And the guy went through the intense screening and interview process. Think what his résumé must have looked like. Think of his getting letters of reference from imaginary people so far as anyone can prove. The guy showed up for the first day of Illuminati work — imagine what the paperwork is like! — and watched all the training and harassment and drug policy videos. And then after all that, he gets his first assignment. And it’s “watch the daytime talk shows in case popular singers mention the Illuminati”. And he couldn’t even complain to people about the lousy job he’s got. He knows he’s monitored by the guy in Secret Cubicle SOC1-L7-07A. (The cubicles go right from SOC1-L7-07 to SOC1-L7-08 without an ‘A’ in-between.) And that guy’s fed up with IlluminaTwitter notifications.

OK, maybe some super-technological monitoring system means they don’t have to watch everything. Maybe their IlluminaComputer tells them when someone said something too much. That means there’s secret rulers of society having meetings about whether the time has come to kill Whitney Houston. Maybe the appeal of conspiracies is the fantasy of being part of an organization that has purposeful meetings.

I mean, you never do hear about someone who joins into the secret conspiracy ruling humanity, and finds it’s full of the same petty office politics and dreary paperwork and meaningless action as anyone else’s job is. Though in that circumstance, you know, well-done.

Confidential to guy in SOC1-L7-07A: I’m not saying the Illuminati have any connection to the Pythagoreans. I know you guys brand around a pyramid, which is a completely different kind of triangle, unless you imagine folding it in half. I’m not looking for any trouble. I only watch Ellen when someone left it on at the vet’s office. And I didn’t even realize Whitney Houston had died. I guess she did. That would be a weird thing to fake, unless she was needed in some secret bean work.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose three points today, reaching our FM radio home of just the hits of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, and today. We think the station was abandoned years ago and someone left their iPod on shuffle.

104

Capsule Dream Movie Reviews: Circle of Blue


Look, it’s really effective when that amusement park scenic-railroad ride dives under the surface and turns into an impossibly long trail leading Night Court‘s Dan Fielding into the discovery of the shadowy conspiracy and their fiendish machine that’s apparently setting up to destroy the world. It’s just that Circle of Blue as a title seems way off-point for a Muppet movie that as far as I can tell doesn’t even have any Muppets in it.

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