Distracted by, you know, That Cartoon


I’m sorry for running late but made me aware of the 1973 Rankin/Bass cartoon That Girl In Wonderland, made for the Saturday Superstar Movie. You know, for all the kids who loved the career-and-boyfriend shenanigans of That Girl but wanted a dose of Goldilocks and the Three Bears mixed in. And everyone voice-acting like they’re sad or tired. And there’s a weird side point about guitar lessons. And I’ve been watching it, trying to figure out whether this is actually happened or if I’m part of a hoax of no discernable purpose. Were there a lot of kids sitting up Saturday mornings hoping they’d get to see That Girl dealing with the petty nastiness of the switchboard operator? Were there many adults who enjoyed Ann Marie trying to establish her life in the city but wished it were a non-fanciful cartoon instead? Who were they expecting would watch?

Anyway, now that I have seen The Animated Adventures of That Girl, I’m finally open to trying out Mary Tyler Moore Show Babies.

If you want to watch, it’s up at Archive.org. It’s also up on YouTube. Just be warned that it is a cartoon based on That Girl. Also that the version Archive.org has is about 32 by 20 pixels. Also that the animation in the first scene of Marlo Thomas blinking is weirdly hypnotic. And, like, I meant to just watch two or three minutes to get the feel for the thing, but I kept going on a little more to see if I could figure out who the audience for this was supposed to be.

And, you know, I’m not a serious Thattie — or Thatster, as the stuffier fans insist on being called — but if Ann Marie and Donald Hollinger get along like this in the real show, they definitely weren’t ready to marry. For how much they refuse to listen to one another they probably shouldn’t even know the other exists.

My Non-Cold Related Excuse For The Day


I’m sorry, I’d really like to get something done, but I’ve been reading Fred M Grandinetti’s Popeye: An Illustrated Cultural History and trying to figure out just how many times in the 1960s cartoons they did “Brutus or the Sea Hag builds a Robot Popeye”. It’s somehow even more if you include “Brutus or the Sea Hag builds a Robot Olive Oyl”. And none of that considers the time the Whiffle Hen turned Wimpy into a werewolf.

Also the book doesn’t have a word to say about the pinball game, somehow.

If I Were To Find Myself On The Constitution-Writing Committee


I got back to thinking of my old childhood fear. I mean the one I wrote about last week. The one caused by my misunderstanding. I mean about parliamentary governments. Back when I didn’t understand the difference between “the government has fallen” in a parliamentary government and “the government has fallen” in any given Latin American country that had decided a United States corporation should pay a tax, prompting the United States to send in some helpful young men with guns who would correct their mistake. But as a kid I misunderstood when I heard how Italy had, at that point, had more governments than years since World War II. Got the background?

So here’s what I said, describing what the young me thought about all this:

I tried to imagine how you could write even that many different constitutions. If I were on the constitution-writing committee of the Provisional Government I’d run out of ideas of what to even do differently. About four governments in I’d start submitting what we used three Republics ago and hope nobody noticed. I’d be so scared I forgot to update the number and someone would ask me why this was the Constitution for the 52nd Italian Postwar Republic when we were on the 54th.

And then just today I realized what I should do, in that case. I should look at the person who noticed me reusing the old constitution and say, “You’re wrong!” (In Italian, if I spoke Italian, although if they’ve put me on the Constitution-writing committee they’re probably willing to put up with some of my eccentricities, like not being able to speak Italian and being very afraid that the restaurant staff resents the way I said “gnocchi”.) “This is the 56th Italian Postwar Republic!” Or 57th, or whatever. Any number that wouldn’t be either of our Republic counts. The point would be to confuse the matter about just how many Republics there had been. Ideally, my accuser would realize it’s so very easy to lose track of how many governments we’ve been on, and demonstrate sympathy. Or if there were several people accusing me, we might get a good argument going between them about the count. Maybe I’d say it was the 58th. I could sneak out in the confusion.

Ah, well. It’s decades since I’ve had to worry about this particular scenario, now that I know a little more of parliamentary governments. But it’s always nice to work out what you should have said in a situation however long it takes. The French have a word for it, l’esprit de l’escalier, which is three or arguably five words. I don’t know what the Italians call it. You’d think something in Italian, but what the heck, I call it something in French. And I don’t want to brag about the two years in middle school and two years in high school I spent learning French. But when I was in France for a week a couple years ago, you know who got us successfully through every social interaction? My love, who had a couple years of Spanish in high school. All I could do was affirm that the convenience store with the really great four-cheese paninis was closed on Tuesday even though its name was 24/7. All I could suggest is that maybe they meant to promise the store was open three and three-sevenths of the days of the week. There was something we weren’t understanding, and it was in French.

Also the long-time reader may have started to suspect I don’t have any life-coping strategies besides “create a distraction” and maybe “hide underneath the bed”. This isn’t so. Hiding under the bed is a privilege I temporarily have because we had a rabbit who quite liked rooting around under there and we wanted to have a chance of accessing her in case we needed to. When I talk about handling something by hiding under the bed, I am talking about hiding metaphorically underneath an allegorical bed. And good luck finding me there. I don’t even promise that there is such a thing as a bed, and I’m not sure I want to confirm to any of you that I’m here, either. I am also able to procrastinate until I can write a thoughtful enough memo, which is different from merely creating a distraction because I will either get to a point you admit is good or I’ve gotten all literary in this discussion about how to set up Microsoft IIS.

In any case, I am content to have this ancient fear resolved, and what have you done this week that was nearly as good?

Today’s Excuse For Getting Nothing Done Involves Doctor Who


And, you know, a lot of aimless pondering about whether The Doctor has got any honorary degrees. I mean, The Doctor goes puttering around time and space saving planets from greedy stupidheads all the time. That’s got to be worth at least the occasional Doctor of Humane Letters, like for that time he made it possible for letters to continue existing and for the recipients to not be eaten by a Lizardarian army’s device that converts gravity into space-dollars. I’d understand The Doctor not sticking around for these things, since academic ceremonies aren’t to everyone’s tastes. Me, I like them, but I don’t have much reason to hang around since nobody cares to send me any honors and there was kind of the one where I got my boogers on the President of Singapore basically by accident.

Anyway, the cluttered state of that paragraph tells you how this has kept me from anything practical.

My Excuse For Today, Which Involves Calzones, But Indirectly


I’m very sorry, but I’ve been staring hard at The Food Timeline and I’m trying to process the information that stromboli can’t be proven to have existed any earlier than the 1990s. I mean, think of all the things that were invented before strombolis: calzones, well, that’s natural enough. But also, like, eight-track cassette tapes, the Hubble Space Telescope, and fajitas. Wait, fajitas were only invented in the early 70s? Well, so you can see why I’ve just been a mess all day.

My Excuse For Today


I’d like to go into more detail about anything today. But I’ve just learned from my spell checker that apparently a single piece of confetti can be correctly called a “confetto”. So now I just have to sit down and stare at that all night until the world starts to make sense again.

My Excuse For Not Being Able To Get Anything Done Today


And I’m sorry for it. But I got to remembering how I took violin lessons in elementary school. So I have to have gotten the violin from home to school, and back again. So … I must have walked to school on violin-class days carrying the thing, right? Yes, I’m with me so far. (I was with me then, too, but it was earlier on.) So this part I’m fine with. It’s just that I’m trying to think what I did when it was violin-class day and it was raining. I can’t have just carried the violin, in its case, out in the rain, right? I can’t figure how I would put up with letting the violin case get rained on all the way to school and back again. And yeah, I know when we look back at ourselves as young kids, we always imagine that we were basically the same people with the same foibles and quirks and issues, except that then we were basically happy and not tired all the time. But I can’t see how I would just let my violin case get rained on. And I can’t imagine deliberately leaving it home. And I certainly wouldn’t use a borrowed violin from school, not when I had a perfectly good one at home that I could bring. I have to conclude that either it never rained back then, or I didn’t actually go to elementary school, or I never actually took violin lessons in which case why did I still have the violin as recently as 2012, or I don’t exist. And I’m not sure I want to know the answer if it turns out my non-existence is on the table.

Anyway the server problem is with something called “Roslyn”. I don’t know here but apparently she’s known in the Microsoft IIS communities on StackOverflow. Maybe you can do something.

My Excuse For The Year, Apparently


So Amazon finally remembered that I ordered a Peanuts page-a-day calendar from them a month ago. And after thinking it over plenty they decided to cancel the order on the grounds that they couldn’t find a copy to send me.

But their e-mail wasn’t a complete pit of Funky Winkerbean-esque hopeless despair. They suggested that it might just be available yet, if I wanted to try ordering it on Amazon. For example, they figure there’s calendars on hand here:

The Peanuts 2018 Day-to-Day Calendar that Amazon couldn't get me because of the lack of availability. It lists 14 new from $7.65, and lists them as In Stock.
Yes, yes, I could get a wall calendar that shows the whole month at a time. But I had a moment of doubt about how they work and now I don’t dare approach them again. I mean, “I don’t remember what day it is. What if someone showed me a list of 31 days it could possibly be? Oh yes, now I’ve got it!” What’s going on there? Also, why isn’t this an app/e-Book you can just download and look at on the computer?

At this point I’m torn between actually trying to order a calendar or just taking 2007 out of storage and working with that again. But, you know, Amazon’s got this list of sellers on Amazon that they figure I can negotiate with that they can’t, what with their just being Amazon or whatever their issue is. I don’t know.

Still no idea what those used calendars were used for.

My Excuse For Today, Which Is A Different Day


Again I’m sorry, and I should know better, and I think on some level I do kind of know better. But I’m just all upset about this week’s Inspector Danger’s Crime Quiz because once again Werner Wejp-Olsen has come up with a minute bit of crime detection that I just can’t buy and this is far more important than everything else on my plate right now, including whether I actually finish a project for work. And at the risk of bringing the productivity of all of you to a screeching, crashing halt, I want you to see the strip and agree with me strongly that this is just daft.

Danger: 'For more than two weeks The Strangler has been terrorizing this area and ... ' Bystander: 'STOP! ... Somebody has been mugged!' Danger: 'The Strangler has struck again!' Female victim: 'H-He tried to strangle me from behind with a belt --- my purse is gone!' Bystander: 'Outrageous, that's what it is!' Danger: 'Relax, buddy, this Strangler is behind bars before sunset!' Bystander: 'Ha! That remains to be seen!' (Back in the car.) Danger: 'She didn't mange to get a look at The Strangler. Let's circle around, Alfie, so ...' Male Victim: 'OH-oh!' Danger: 'The Strangler has struck again with a few minutes!' Male Victim: 'My money!' Bystander: 'Ha! The police have failed again!' Danger: 'I promised that The Strangler would be behind bars before sunset.' (Points snub-nosed revolver at Bystander.) 'I always keep my promises! Mr Strangler --- you're under arrest!' ANSWER: Using his belt to strangle his victims the different positions of the buckle [ it's been reversed ] before and after the second mugging gave The Strangler away.
Werner Wejp-Olsen’s Inspector Danger’s Crime Quiz for the 12th of February, 2018. Watch, in five months Wejp-Olsen’s going to rerun this strip, only it’s going to turn out the guy is innocent because the second appearance is by the guy’s identical-except-for-being-lefthanded twin, trying to frame him, and somehow being lefthanded makes you put belts on the wrong way around. Which I’ve never noticed someone doing, but would be willing to accept as a thing that a human being might possibly do under some circumstance, unlike this.

And I’m sorry, no, I will not accept that somebody just happens to put his belt on the wrong way. No. That is not how belts work. I may have many legitimate questions about how belts can work, but this is not one that is in dispute. OK, they’re not legitimate questions I have; they’re more one little bit of nonsense that you could confuse a child with but not someone who’s looked at his or her pants.

(OK, here. Friction can’t make something cling vertically. But if someone’s standing up, their pants are clinging vertically to their body. And I majored in physics as an undergraduate and nobody addressed this nonsense contradiction, which is at least as big as the how-can-bumblebees-fly nonsense.)

In short, I do not see how anyone can be expected to get anything done when the comics are sharing lies about pants.

My Excuse For Today


Yeah, I’m sorry I’m not keeping up with like anything that I ought to be. But I’m very busy workshopping a joke where the punch line is “and that one sentence completely changed everything I ever thought about Heraclitus!” That I’m having trouble figuring out how to frame it is definitely not because it’s too minor a jest to use as anything but an offhand remark in a professional setting. I know there’s some setup that’ll make it a killer joke when I’m just chatting with, say, the guy at Penn Station subs taking my order for a grilled artichoke and mushroom. It’s out there somewhere. I know I’m in fighting form to get this joke worked out. Just yesterday I was able to deliver “Oh, no, that’s Tiamat of Samos you’re thinking of. This is Tiamat of Ephesus”. That’s a great joke about the pre-Socratic philosophers plus dragons marred only by how I couldn’t think of Ephesus right away and had to say “that other place”. But that’s still the level I’m working at and that’s why I know it’s going to be worth it getting this Heraclitus setup figured out. Oh, Miletus would also have worked there. Thank you. Also Philosophers and Dragons should be a thing so I’ll thank somebody to work on that now. I’m busy with my project.

Today’s Reason For Not Doing Anything Useful


I’m sorry, Uncle Albert, but I’ve been stuck thinking about something I witnessed when I was getting my car registration renewal and license plate tags at the Secretary of State office nearby. I avoided any embarrassing presumptions about what one might or might not do at a Secretary of State office. What’s interesting is as I was leaving, a woman came storming out, telling her companion, “My license is suspended — indefinitely!” And he then made this into my favorite genre of accidentally overheard conversation, People Telling Other People They Totally Have To Get A Lawyer. “They can’t do that to you. You should get a lawyer.”

“I haven’t even been in trouble,” she went on to explain, “not since I got those three tickets in one day.” And he agreed that this was outrageous and he bet any lawyer would love to take the case, since this could get a million-dollar settlement. “I’m not even dealing anymore!” And that’s when I realized that I was one of the background characters in the establishing scene of a comedy about a couple people who are about 75 percent capable of handling the caper they’re about to undertake.

So I want to know what the plot is, and whether the movie turns out to be any good. I think I’d make a great background character in this sort of story, what with how I have nice expressive eyebrows and always look like I don’t know why I was brought in to this meeting.

Today’s Reason For Not Doing Anything Useful


I’m sorry, Uncle Albert, but I’ve been caught up all day in rage. See, back in the 90s there was this New WKRP In Cincinnati. I understand why they’d make such a thing. It was just the thing to do back then, with stuff like Star Trek: The Next Generation and The New Monkees and another Johnny Quest and stuff like that. I’d have been glad to let that pass. But somehow I watched at least one episode. I know this because it was all about the controversy about whether WKRP would run this syndicated show by Rush Limbaugh expy “Lash Rambo”. After much shuffling back and forth including an appearance by “Lash Rambo”, Mister Carlson decides finally that it’s okay to have a racist hatemonger like that on the air since, hey, those rappers, they say mean stuff about cops who gun down black people.

And I am enraged that my brain has decided to latch onto this, of all the stupid things it possibly could have. Not just this stupid show. Not just this stupid episode. Not just stupid scenes with this stupid character but also the stupid name of this stupid character in this stupid scene of this stupid episode of this stupid show. And I know that it’s not even to any good point. I can’t even say that I was doing something valuable in carrying this little payload of unnecessary pop culture out to drop on you all here to get some comic value out of all that mental load, because it’s not like my brain is going to let this piece of stupidity go now. I’m stuck with this stupid thing for the rest of my life even as I can’t remember how many of my father’s uncles were named “Al” or “Vince”. (All of them were.) And they at least feature in cherished family stories about dubious choices and maybe the bookie at the town’s lead factory.

So anyway, I’m busy hating my brain for doing stuff like this to me and that’s why I couldn’t get anything done today.

Today’s Reason For Not Doing Anything Useful


I’m sorry, Uncle Albert, but I’ve been caught up all day in filling the water tanks we have in the basement. We keep the pond goldfish there all winter, and they seem happy enough. It’s great fun filling the tanks, since I get to do stuff like talk about doing a leak test by filling them partway and seeing if anything leaks, and that gives me all these nice NASA Engineer vibes. But I went and spoiled it by getting some five-way test strips that’ll let me know about the pH and the general hardness and the nitrate and the nitrite content of the water. We only ever measured ammonia before. So now I know all kinds of things.

Like, the pH is 7.0. I know that’s great. That’s almost as water-y as water can get. But, I understand that the General Hardness of our water is high. We live in a city with very hard water. Much of the year instead of a fine mist the shower sprays a refreshingly hot stream of grape-nuts. I like it, since that means I can shower and have breakfast at the same time, as long as I don’t mind Dr Bronners soap in my milk. But what does this mean for the fish? And does it mean anything considering we got water from the same tap and them from the same aquifer last year? Huh? I have a huge list of numbers and no context for them. Well, I have six numbers, and no context for four of them. One of the numbers is zero, which seems like it’s probably good, but the rest? So anyway, that’s why I couldn’t get anything done today.

Today’s Reason For Not Doing Anything Useful


I’m sorry, Uncle Albert, but I’ve realized that the length of time between discovering a new random-generator Twitter bot and realizing that I’ve seen all of its tricks is getting dangerously short. If current trends continue, it’s likely that by the middle of October this year I won’t be amused by any mashing up of stockpiles of sentence structures and a table of nouns with another table of verbs. Maybe even no matter how many verbs there are. And then I’ll have no choice but to stay amused by people who craft sentences with deliberation and thought and even editing. Which is great, but they can’t produce something every hour on the hour.

Well, thank goodness Magic Realism Bot is there to skew my averages.

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