Meanwhile In Science Designed To Sound Like Jokes About Science


So Reuters asked me to pay some attention to them with this headline and I did.

Apes show complex cognitive skills watching ‘King Kong’ videos

Turns out they’re not investigating whether the great apes have feelings about movies, which is a shame. I bet they’d have some interesting thoughts about how the Dino De Laurentiis version slapped the original premise with a Seventies Movies stick by making sure we knew everyone in the movie, including the natives on Skull Island, ended up depressingly worse off. Instead:

As individual apes were shown videos featuring a human actor and a costumed ape-like King Kong character, researchers tracked their eye movements. In the video, the human watches King Kong hide an object in one of two boxes. When the person leaves, King Kong moves the object to a new location.

When the person returns to find the object, the apes looked intently at the original spot in anticipation of the person searching there. Even though the apes knew the object had been moved, they understood that the human thought it was still there, said study co-leader Fumihiro Kano, a comparative psychologist at Kyoto University in Japan.

This is an important result for studying the theory of mind, because now we can know that our fellow primates can tell when someone’s being fooled. I bet it won’t be long before we have great apes who can watch three-camera sitcoms or beer advertisements for us. Then we just have to find the ones who want to.

Still, I worry that over on Ape Twitter there’s a bunch of Ape Tweetstorms where they’re all about how hilariously fake the King Kong costume are. I bet the researchers didn’t include that in their report. It would look bad to the funding committee that for all they spent on the outfit the apes still weren’t buying it. Or worse if they spent so much on the ape costumes that the actual apes were buying it.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

At this point the Another Blog, Meanwhile index is feeling pretty sure about the world and would like to grab passers-by and proclaim how awesome everything is. The only warning sign is someone just published a quickie book titled Another Blog, Meanwhile Index 300 proclaiming how high it was going to go by the end of the year. We just can’t see that happening, no, but that sort of wild enthusiasm is what always happens right before a crash and now we’re just feeling so very tetchy. Ooh, hey, it’s October 8th this Saturday. We should have made a Dave Barry reference or something.

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Caption This: The Consultant’s Review


Picard and Dr Crusher awkwardly offering handshakes to the seated Vash.
Yes yes I know the woman is Vash and she’s Captain Picard’s slightly out-of-character lightly-romantic entanglement from that Indiana Jones ripoff episode that we all thought was pretty swell at the time but haven’t looked back on, and this still is from that Robin Hood ripoff episode that I certainly thought was one of the worst things they had done not featuring The Outrageous Okona but haven’t looked back on, even if I admit Worf had two good lines only one of which was ripped off from Animal House which I haven’t seen either and don’t judge me.

Woman: “All right, I’ve seen enough. Well. While this may look bad, I don’t think you have reason to worry. I have helped people with even more severe difficulties in high-fiving. And, as they say, the mere fact that you realize you need help indicates that you’re not too far gone.”


And I enjoy when people have their own ideas, so here’s some space for that:


As usual for Sundays I reviewed comic strips over on my other blog. Includes two comics to look at directly instead of just clicking links to read later on! Which for some reason I don’t do for every comic strip I talk about. I don’t know either.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose slightly when analysts remembered this Dave Barry crack about employment figures being eaten by a goat. In context it makes sense and you can see why analysts would be thinking about goats eating things.

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When We All Stopped Watching Deep Space Nine


Before I get into this, a couple days ago my mathematics blog had another group of comic strips to talk about. I like that sort of talk and I hope you’ll at least give it a read and see whether you like it too. That done, remember like 1992 when we tried out watching Deep Space Nine? Remember that we stopped, but not why? Here’s why. It’s an episode called “Move Along Home”, when a flock of tabletop gamers from the Gamma Quadrant invaded the station. Anyway, here’s what you missed from that episode, if you didn’t watch it in the first place:

In a foggy room Deep Space Nine's Commander Sisko takes a swig of a vaguely orange drink.
They’re from a different quadrant, that’s why they buy their party glasses from the dollar store.

A daring choice at the Stardate 46600 Sommelier Competition as Commander Sisko decides to pair a Denebian coq au vin with a tall glass of Strawberry Fanta Zero.

Deep Space Nine's Major Kira stares into the wide-open mouth of some guy with different face markings from the usual.
Crow: Uvula?
Tom Servo: No, I went to William and Mary, actually.

“The little dangly thing at the back of your throat has a smiley face on it.”

The Deep Space Nine crew bangs at one of those diamond-shaped space doors while a kid plays hopscotch without them.
If you’re not sure whether you remember the episode, see if this is still in your head: “Allamaraine, count to four, allamaraine, then three more, allamaraine, if you can see, allamaraine, you’ll come with me,” and then repeat that for thirty-five minutes before the characters catch on.

“Oh, please open up, Family Feud door, that we may compete against the stars of the hit CBS sitcom Dave’s World!

And that’s about it, except that the episode was — really! — nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series. Which is an actual thing, which is kind of wonderful.

Oh, also, just yesterday I had another bunch of mathematically-themed comic strips so if you wanted to read about those too I’d be glad. Thank you.

Ian Shoales: What I Like


Ian Shoales has this attitude that could be sneering and cynical without being nihilistic, and if that weren’t a neat enough balance, a prose style that just invited me to keep following sharply-crafted sentences to punchy ends. I knew comic writing that was gut-wrenchingly funny; but this could be gut-wrenchingly funny and incisive, occasionally with gripping insights (as in one essay about movies and their intended audience, which just tossed off a hypothesis about why Dracula might be the perfect subject for movies). Coming off Dave Barry or old Bob Newhart albums — and those aren’t bad things, especially for the era I’m speaking of — this was a discovery.

But he had a generally useful lesson even for people facing huge content holes, said most explicitly in an essay that was way too long to include in this little Ian Shoales Week: you do not owe your thoughts gratitude for occurring to you. This may sound particularly cranky, but in context, it amounts to a lesson of expectations. Demand better ideas out of everyone, yourself included. This encouraged a little tradition of self-doubt in me, one I still feel, especially of any writing that seems to come too easily: was I demanding enough of my creation? I inevitably end up publishing stuff that I suspect I could do better if I worked harder at it, but he did push my default to working harder.

I mention Ian Shoales’s sneering because it does look like his most prominent characteristic, especially if you watch the videos he used to do for World News Now and, before that, Nightline. But the character was never all bitterness and rage, and here’s an essay that gathers together a lot of the things that he liked, and that, as far as I can tell, he still likes. It’s a good reminder for people who want to write in comic crankiness: even cranky people have stuff that they enjoy, and that can anchor a character very well. Although, Randy Newman? Really? Huh.


What I Like

I know you people out there are mighty grateful to me for setting you straight on issues of cultural importance, and I’d like to thank you in turn for all the letters I get —

All right, it’s just one letter, a thankful letter from Maryland, who likes my incisive comments but thinks I spend too much time on sarcasm and not enough on constructive criticism. This kind soul is worried about my emotional health and recommends, among other things, that I read the Findhorn Garden Book and take up horseback riding.

In response, let me say that I enjoy sarcasm, but I don’t enjoy horses or gardens. Horses and gardens are large and lumpy, and you have to go outside to appreciate them I don’t go outside until the sun’s set, that’s the way I am. It’s my responsibility to say No in a world that says Yes to every lame idea that comes down the pike. It’s my destiny and my joy to tear down without building up.

But to make you feel better (I feel fine), let me share with you a few of the things I actually like about the modern world.

I like strong beer. I like animated cartoons — not those Oscar-winning political allegories from Hungary, but real cartoons with fuzzy animals trying to kill each other in cute ways. I like electric typewriters and answering machines; I like any machine I can turn off. I like the novels by Elmore Leonard and Thomas Pynchon. I like good sex if it doesn’t last too long. I enjoy playing video games with other people’s quarters. Like most Americans, I enjoy being afraid of Cuba. It’s a harmless fear that makes America feel better and Cuba too. Cuba gets an inflated sense of national worth from the weight of our paranoia. I like getting large checks in the mail, especially if I’ve done nothing to earn them. I like the aroma of popcorn and women who like to hear me talk. I like to laugh at dogs. I like to call toll-free numbers and chat with the operators. I like phones that ring instead of chirp, clocks that have a face, Audie Murphy westerns, duck à l’orange and onion rings, old movies on television, and every tenth video on MTV.

Reggae music, Motown, and the songs of Randy Newman are an undiluted pleasure. I like the way rock singers pronounce the word baby — Bay-Buh. Bay-Buh. It never fails to amuse me. These are a few of my favorite things — about all of my favorite things. Make me feel real loose like a long necked goose and — o-oh bay buh — that’s what I like.

        — Reading my mail, 1/28/83

Ian Shoales: Temp Work


Ian Shoales, as I said in introducing this week, was the creation of Merle Kessler, and he’s a great character: sneering and cranky without, at least for me, losing his likability, even if I probably wouldn’t want to spend too much time with him. Kessler developed Shoales’s persona with a biography full of the frustrated ambitions that sound right for someone aiming to be a creative success and carrying on even though the lottery of fame doesn’t pay out much. Shoales’s life is marked with failed relationships and annoyed bosses and indignities petty and grand. I don’t know whether Kessler, or anyone he knew, ever was sued for libel by his high school principal, but it’s the kind of thing I find easy to imagine happening to someone like him, and to see it mentioned as an aside in an essay on, oh, say, Elvis Presley has an electrifying effect that I didn’t realize I wasn’t getting from Dave Barry or old Bob Newhart records (much as I cherished them).

Here, from 1984, is one of these partly biographically-informed essays by Ian Shoales. I can believe that what he describes in the first paragraph really happened, if not to Kessler then to someone. While it’s all quite funny, to me anyway, it’s also all fairly good advice if you’re hoping to make it as an artist. If I ever give it a try I’ll take this advice.


Temp Work

Along the way to my present success I’ve had to work for a living, usually at “temp work”, as it’s called in professional circles. I have moved furniture, filed, typed, answered phones, and I probably have the world’s record for getting fired. This is because I’d show up at work unshaven, wearing sunglasses, and not wearing socks. I figured, “I’m not an executive, who’s gonna care?” Well, after my third temp job in a week, I finally took Mom’s long-distance advice, and got a beige seersucker three-piece for five bucks at Goodwill. It fit me like a glove, and I wore it to my next temp job. But when the permanent employees saw me approach the water cooler, they all scattered. Nobody would come near me. Finally a little bald guy worked up the courage to ask me who I was. He had me pegged as some corporate honcho checking up on worker efficiency, I guess, because when I told him I was a temp worker, a look of relief passed over his face. Then he replaced that look with one of utter disregard. By noon, all employee fear of me had vanished. So the next day my suit vanished to be replaced by blue jeans, and the next day my job vanished to be replaced by poverty.

But if you’re an artist of any kind, it means you’re going to have to get the kind of job you get till you get to do what you want to do. So let me give you some advice about the temp-worker scene.

  • Never drink beer at your desk. Supervisors don’t like it.
  • Permanent employees probably won’t appreciate your Joe Cocker impression.
  • If you’re moving furniture, don’t move a desk if somebody’s sitting at it.
  • Never call corporate executives by their first name, or ask them if they want to play a couple of holes on Saturday.
  • Don’t try to find Pac Man on the personal computer unless you’re invited by your supervisor.
  • Never ask the supervisor for a date.
  • If you’re answering the company phone, say, “Hello,” not, “Yeah, what do ya want?”
  • I know temp work can get dull, but never rearrange the filing system without permission.
  • Don’t rewrite business letters in blank verse.
  • If you’re supposed to show up at work on Tuesday don’t come in on Wednesday.

I know this is basic stuff, but don’t draw faces with white-out on the desk; don’t make jewelry out of the paper clips; don’t compose melodies on the Touch-Tone phone; don’t ask to borrow the Selectric overnight — remember always, you’re just a ghost in the working world.

Somebody will eventually publish the 1,500-page rock-and-roll novel gathering dust in your sock drawer. Your ship will come in, and then you’ll have temps of your own. And they better not call you by your first name.

         — Not rich, 1/15/84.

Statistics Saturday on a Monday: October 2014 for my Humor Blog


OK, so, that was a bit of a freak month. October 2014 proved to be my most-read month in the history of the blog. This is largely because of a freak event: the folks at kinkakinks.net noted my blog post mentioning Ray Davies and put it on their news page, and it turns out a lot of Kinks fans will follow a link that doesn’t actually say much about what’s on the other end of the link. I hope they enjoyed it; the first day after the kindakinks link 212 people read mostly that, and another 108 people came the day after. The numbers settled back closer to normal the next day, but still, they settled to the high side of normal.

So. While the blog’s readership has been growing the last several months, October’s total of 1,389 views is anomalously high and I’m all set for disappointment come November unless I do something to attract the interest of a leading Paul McCartney fan site. That’s way up from September’s 827, for example. The number of unique visitors in October was also obviously a record, 895 and don’t think I didn’t notice that’s more unique visitors than I had pages read at all in September. It’s not quite twice the number of unique visitors — 468 — from September but it’s near enough. Obviously the number of people who came to see Ray Davies mentioned and then left distorted the views-per-visitor link; that dropped from 1.77 in September to 1.55, my lowest figure ever, but again, that’s a freak event.

I had a satisfyingly large number of posts get at least twenty viewers this past month. That less-exclusive-than-usual set includes:

Now for the popular part: what countries sent me the most and the fewest readers? For yet another month in a row the United States sent me the most, with 1,060 viewers. The United Kingdom sent just 98, which would be impressive for other months but suggests the kindakinks.net readers are more American than British. Australia came in at 25, Germany at 24, Canada at 22, and the Netherlands at 21.

This month’s single-reader countries were Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Greece, Iceland, India, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, and Viet Nam. Turkey’s the only one that was a single-reader country in September, so, thanks, whoever you are in Turkey, for sticking with me, even though you weren’t sticking much. India had sent me eight readers in September, though, so I’m doing something wrong there.

Among the good search terms that brought people here the past month:

  • flashing at theme parks (also theme park flashers and amusment [sic] park flasher so apparently I’m getting a reputation)
  • snowflakes that look like bees
  • computoon
  • cool facts about turbo movie
  • turbo movie facts
  • how to develope [sic] a sense of humor
  • fan rage statistics
  • turbo movie what is it about fact (yes, what is it about fact?)
  • ray davies
  • king nebus
  • an awful terrible romance mark twain
  • tea light holder /cartoon bomb

The mysterious thing is only one person searching for “ray davies” got here in October. This is a strange world.

Math Comics and Dave Barry


My mathematics blog has got a fresh bunch of comic strips to talk about, thanks largely to Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and Eric the Circle, but there’s also The Little King, if you have a vague memory of seeing that somewhere.

Meanwhile, today is after all the 8th of October, an important running joke in Dave Barry Slept Here, a truly grand mock history of the United States. So I’d like to not explain that and instead point to “The Chuckletrousers Decades”, about a moment of the early Popular Internet and Dave Barry’s role in it. Thank you, won’t you?

Statistics Saturday on a Tuesday: June 2014 In Humor Blogging


Now if I may my monthly post on how the daily posts are doing. In June 2014 I didn’t have quite as good a month for being read as I did in May: the number of total views dropped from a record 571 down to a second-best 495. The number of unique visitors, as WordPress defines these things, dropped only from 186 to 181, which is pretty much getting lost in the noise, which means the views per visitor went from a record 3.07 to a less recorded 2.73. That’s actually also a second-best-on-record for me, so I’m not too hurt by all that. I swear. And I reached my 6,478th page view that WordPress will tell me about. Between WordPress and Twitter there’s allegedly 498 people following the blog, although they probably don’t all check at once.

The countries sending me the greatest number of viewers were the United States (407), Jamaica (12), and Canada (10), and I could swear that’s the first time Jamaica’s made the top three. It’s certainly the first top-two appearance. Hi, whoever you are in Jamaica. Sending a lone visitor each in June were Ecuador, India, Indonesia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia, and Venezuela. That’s a fair showing from the “the” countries, I suppose (the Lesser Antilles were nowhere to be seen). India’s the only country to have also sent me a single visitor in May. I admit feeling a little disappointed by this; I mean, there’s more than a billion people in India. I’d think at least two would have happened across my humor blog just by accident, while they were looking for something else. Maybe I’m being vain. Maybe I need to measure per-capita readership since my faithful Singaporean audience would really help my statistics there.

The five most popular posts in June were:

The ones about wanton purchases of pliers and about Dave Barry’s Chuckletrousers Incident were also popular, just, not quite as popular.

Chuckletrousers in various guises were a popular search term, as was the search for Python Anghelo’s crazy backstory for the Popeye pinball game. The several people looking for “sanitarium museum missouri” I hope weren’t disappointed, and, turns out, people are looking for Compu-Toon, maybe because they can’t quite believe what they read either. I don’t know.

Robert Benchley: Noting An Increase In Bigamy


[ I’d like to turn again to the pages of Love Conquers All and Robert Benchley writing about … well, nominally, about a rash of bigamy reports that I suppose were current sometime around 1920. Benchley starts from that and follows a series of distractions that cause me to think he was self-satirizing. Benchley articles often pull in marginally related topics, and this reaches a relative extreme. The result is, despite a couple reminders that the article is from about 85 years ago, strikingly modern. Make a handful of edits to remove distractingly dated terms and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Dave Barry submitting this same piece. ]

Either more men are marrying more wives than ever before, or they are getting more careless about it. During the past week bigamy has crowded baseball out of the papers, and while this may be due in part to the fact that it was a cold, rainy week and little baseball could be played, yet there is a tendency to be noted there somewhere. All those wishing to note a tendency will continue on into the next paragraph.

There is, of course, nothing new in bigamy. Anyone who goes in for it with the idea of originating a new fad which shall be known by his name, like the daguerreotype or potatoes O’Brien, will have to reckon with the priority claims of several hundred generations of historical characters, most of them wearing brown beards. Just why beards and bigamy seem to have gone hand in hand through the ages is a matter for the professional humorists to determine. We certainly haven’t got time to do it here.

But the multiple-marriages unearthed during the past week have a certain homey flavor lacking in some of those which have gone before. For instance, the man in New Jersey who had two wives living right with him all of the time in the same apartment. No need for subterfuge here, no deceiving one about the other. It was just a matter of walking back and forth between the dining-room and the study. This is, of course, bigamy under ideal conditions.

But in tracing a tendency like this, we must not deal so much with concrete cases as with drifts and curves. A couple of statistics are also necessary, especially if it is an alarming tendency that is being traced. The statistics follow, in alphabetical order:

In the United States during the years 1918 – 1919 there were 4,956,673 weddings. 2,485,845 of these were church weddings, strongly against the wishes of the bridegrooms concerned. In these weddings 10,489,392 silver olive-forks were received as gifts.

Starting with these figures as a basis, we turn to the report of the Pennsylvania State Committee on Outdoor Gymnastics for the year beginning January 4th, 1920, and ending a year later.

This report being pretty fairly uninteresting, we leave it and turn to another report, which covers the manufacture and sale of rugs. This has a picture of a rug in it, and a darned good likeness it is, too.

In this rug report we find that it takes a Navajo Indian only eleven days to weave a rug 12 x 5, with a swastika design in the middle. Eleven days. It seems incredible. Why, it takes only 365 days to make a year!

Now, having seen that there are 73,000 men and women in this country today who can neither read nor write, and that of these only 4%, or a little over half, are colored, what are we to conclude? What is to be the effect on our national morale? Who is to pay this gigantic bill for naval armament?

Before answering these questions any further than this, let us quote from an authority on the subject, a man who has given the best years, or at any rate some very good years, of his life to research in this field, and who now takes exactly the stand which we have been outlining in this article.

“I would not,” he says in a speech delivered before the Girls’ Friendly Society of Laurel Hill, “I would not for one minute detract from the glory of those who have brought this country to its present state of financial prominence among the nations of the world, and yet as I think back on those dark days, I am impelled to voice the protest of millions of American citizens yet unborn.”

Perhaps some of our little readers remember what the major premise of this article was. If so, will they please communicate with the writer.

Oh, yes! Bigamy!

Well, it certainly is funny how many cases of bigamy you hear about nowadays. Either more men are marrying more wives than ever before, or they are getting more careless about it. (That sounds very, very familiar. It is barely possible that it is the sentence with which this article opens. We say so many things in the course of one article that repetitions are quite likely to creep in).

At any rate, the tendency seems to be toward an increase in bigamy.

The Numbers And What They Were For April 2014


I’ve been tracking my statistics around these parts, and the start of a month is a good time to review neurotically how unpopular I am, so, here we go. According to WordPress, the humor blog here had 396 page views in April 2014. That’s down from March’s 468, but it’s still the third-highest monthly total I have on record. There were a relatively meager 167 unique visitors, down from 199, but that means the views per visitor grew imperceptibly from 2.35 to 2.37. That’s also the third-highest views-per-visitor for a month that I have on record, so, that’s something.

312 of the viewers came from the United States this past month, with nine each from Canada and the United Kingdom, and lesser counts from other nations of the world. Sending me a single visitor each were Greece, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, South Korea, Sovenia, and Spain. Pakistan’s the only repeat from last month. Nobody came here from Gambia, the Central African Republic, nor from Turks or Caicos.

The most popular posts this month were:

  1. Five Astounding Facts About Turbo, That Movie About A Snail in The Indianapolis 500, which really is going to outlast me. I had a friend run across it this month, while he was looking for facts about Turbo for some reason, and he was delighted to find he knew the author.
  2. The Record Offensive, helped into popularity, I think, because of its captivating central image of parachuted record players and also of the good-quality comments.
  3. Bunny Snacking, which had some strong appeal to the bunny community, I believe.
  4. Statistics Saturday: Country Populations Versus What I Thought, which I’m guessing got a lot of people who thought there was actual geography at work in there.
  5. Quarks of nature, a rare reblogging for me of A Labor Of Like’s writing.
  6. How To Write Out Numbers, which I dearly hope is being used as someone’s writing guide, but I know isn’t.

Terms that have brought viewers to my blog this past month have included, besides the abundance of Turbo search terms:

The Beatles’ Revolver Hits


The days of the year you’re most likely to hear the various songs from The Beatles’ Revolver on NewsRadio 88 or your equivalent news station:

Song Most Popular Day
Taxman November 15 (Tax Day for procrastinators)
Eleanor Rigby September 24 (Eleanor Day)
I’m Only Sleeping August 8 (Snoopy’s Birthday)
Love You To First Monday after First Tuesday of February (Why Not?)
Here, There and Everywhere October 8 (Dave Barry’s Son’s Birthday)
Yellow Submarine Second Weekend of August (Manasquan, NJ, Big Sea Day)
She Said She Said July 16 (Echo Eve)
Good Day Sunshine Penultimate Tuesday in March (first sunny day of year)
And Your Bird Can Sing May 5 (Bird Morning)
For No One December 2 (Nothing going on)
Doctor Robert October 28 (Robert defends his thesis)
I Want To Tell You Last Sunday before Last Monday in June (Honesty Day)
Got To Get You Into My Life January 14 (National Absorption Of Other Amoebas Day, Amoeba Orthodox calendar)
Tomorrow Never Knows April 16 (better get ready!)

What Nebus Humor Found In March 2014


To keep up the listing of things and numbers and especially countries that’s oddly popular around here let me review what WordPress says the humor blog did here the past month. The big news is I had my most popular month, by page views, on record, 468 things looked at, which is thrilling because I’d hoped that sometime I’d write stuff that was viewed by not more than ten percent less than 500 times in a single month. There were 199 unique visitors, too, which ties for second for my all-time records without being a suspiciously neat 200. I bet WordPress deducted one just so it wouldn’t look like too round a number was being reported. Anyway, all that’s up fro February 2014’s 337 views and 170 visitors, and even the views per visitor went up from 1.98 to 2.35.

The top five articles this month produced a four-way crash for fifth place, which isn’t that always the way? But here’s the list of them:

  1. The Chuckletrousers Decade, a lightly biographical bit about something funny that happened on Usenet back when Usenet happened.
  2. I’m No Good At Music, the really not at all exaggerated story of how bad I am with doing music.
  3. Next, The Comics, pointing over to my mathematics blog and showing off a Beetle Bailey cartoon printed literally days after the Soviet Union had the world’s first successful intercontinental ballistic missile launch.
  4. Dream World Investment Tips: My Little Pony Edition, as apparently there’s a very peculiar fortune to be made out of this show.
  5. Warnings From The Dream World: Trans-Dimensional Travel Edition, as there are hazards in going through dystopian alternate universes and hassling with their movie cashiers.
  6. Five Astounding Facts About Turbo, That Movie About A Snail In The Indianapolis 500, because really isn’t every fact about this movie astounding?
  7. Escaping To Lansing, and the various disasters you won’t see there.
  8. Better Eating For 2015, and how Olive Garden figures it will provide this.

The countries sending me many readers this month were the United States (342), the United Kingdom (22), and the Canada (11). Just a single reader each came from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Pakistan, Russia, and Switzerland. None of those were on the list for February, so again, the whole world is very gradually kind of tolerating my stuff.

Among the search terms that brought people here:

The Chuckletrousers Decades


So back on the 17th of March, 1994, the newspaper-syndicated humorist Dave Barry was reading something on Usenet, which was becoming a thing back then, and he wanted to write back to his friend who was there, and as is the fashion, he wrote a snarky little thing that used a couple of the words you can’t use as a newspaper-syndicated humorist, and made prominent use of the name “Mister Chuckletrousers”, which he’d recently picked up on a trip to Britain from a headline he didn’t understand. And after finishing his little reply he realized that instead of replying to the author, he’d replied to the post, putting it out for everyone in the newsgroup to see.

The newsgroup, where he’d been lurking, was alt.fan.dave_barry.

This was rather an exciting time to be in alt.fan.dave_barry, as you might imagine, as it set off a lot of debate about whether this was actually Dave Barry or just someone pretending to be him, and what the “Mister Chuckletrousers” thing could possibly mean, and, well, if it was him then what did it mean that the guy the group was gathered round to talk about was actually there in the group listening? Which doesn’t sound like anything today, but back in 1994, you only got direct contact with people you were a fan of by the traditional methods, like, their being minor characters on a Star Trek series and your going to a convention and paying money to get their autograph.

Anyway, somehow, the guy Dave Barry was responding to didn’t see it, and asked if someone could send him a copy of the post, and the newsgroup displayed an electrifying energy and complete lack of common sense and a few days later the guy asked that people please stop as he had received 2,038 copies and didn’t need any more.

Over the coming weeks there’d be confirmation that the Chuckletrousers Incident really did happen and really did involve Dave Barry: a guy who shared his ISP said it was him (and who could doubt that?), a mention of Chuckletrousers came up in his columns, and then, the number 2,038 started getting mentioned when the text needed some arbitrary number to be included. Eventually Dave Barry himself described the incident for his book Dave Barry In Cyberspace, which is the sort of late-90s explain-the-Internet book that’s fascinating because it captures a bunch of the memes and obsessions of the Internet of the summer of 1997. Both Chuckletrousers and 2,038 still turn up in Dave Barry’s writings, a little joke sent out to a community of people who witnessed flaming Pop-Tarts (which is what the Internet did back before the Mentos and Diet Coke thing was discovered) that has long since left behind alt.fan.dave_barry.

I also delurked on alt.fan.dave_barry in the middle of March, 1994, but nobody noticed at the time.

I also meant to write this in mid-February, because my brain insists on thinking this all happened shortly after Valentine’s Day that year, but it didn’t, so I didn’t, after I checked.