MiSTed: Safety First (part 11 of 16)


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

> It contains microbes and
> other organic substances

TOM: Like, uh, goo.

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

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

> Mars is much more encouraging.

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

> It teems with life

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

> and
> needs only to recreate its complex atmosphere

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

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

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

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

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

> We do not wish to alarm
> you,

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

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

CROW: We must not fail to succeed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOEL: Inlets, channels, bays…

TOM: Seas, puddles, rivers…

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

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

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

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

JOEL: They’re pretty much interchangeable.

> thereby reworking her surface.

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: Tim Allen?

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

CROW: Seventeen, if you count Hungary.

> and plan to add yet another six very soon.

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

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

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

> Created in the
> 1950s

JOEL: To serve you better!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: Mudpies!

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

CROW: The Pope’s in charge of Venus?

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

JOEL: The spirits of Venusian squirrels are here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: 2,038 million centipedes!

> in diameter. Like your world,

TOM: But much more minty fresh…

> Maldek contained many
> oceans, continents and lakes.

JOEL: And pool halls.

> Its atmosphere consisted of a three-
> layered firmament

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

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

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

> Unlike your world, it became a planet

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

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

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

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

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

> However, they became a
> society that was encouraged

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

> and later exploited by the dark forces

TOM: Like the Wesayso Corporation.

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

CROW: And bonked your worlds on the head.

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

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

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

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

> Most resulted from the galactic wars

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

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

CROW: Maldek was the sensitive one.

> The
> dark forces heavily armed this large planet

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

> and made it their
> headquarters.

TOM: They just liked dinosaurs.

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

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

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

JOEL: By covering it with baking soda.

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

TOM: Whoops!

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

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

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

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

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

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 10 of 16)


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

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


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

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

CROW: 8-8-1. Very organized.

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

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

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

JOEL: A love story.

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

TOM: And monsters from the Message-ID.

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

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

>
>
> The surface conditions on Venus and Mars,

CROW: Need work.

> the asteroid belt,

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

> the
> extreme tilt of Uranus’ axis,

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

> the mess of Miranda,

TOM: The untidiness of Raoul.

> the strange orbit of
> Pluto,

JOEL: The wacky antics of Donald and Daisy…

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

TOM: Poor posture!

> GALACTIC WARFARE !

TOM: That was my next guess.

>
> "Update by Sheldan Nidle

CROW: For Meineke.

> for the Spiritual Hierarchy
> and the Galactic Federation

JOEL: And all the ships at sea! Flash!

> 6 Cimi, 9 Pop, 10 Caban

TOM: And two hardboiled eggs.

CROW: Honk!

TOM: Make that three hardboiled eggs.

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

CROW: Howdy!

TOM: Friendly suckers, aren’t they?

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: Did you see us waving?

> Over the past few galactic years,

CROW: We’ve been having astro-fun!

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

JOEL: Oh, they must want the deposit back.

> to its original
> condition.

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

> Further, we have also expanded our base on Venus

JOEL: By instituting protocol "Eat More Fudge."

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

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

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

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

> often left behind by the
> galactic wars

JOEL: Was this before or after the Clone Wars?

> that long have ravaged this section of our galaxy.

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

> We
> look, with great anticipation,

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

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

JOEL: We have been disappointed by your snooze buttons.

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

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

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

CROW: But only if you stop picking at it.

> On Mars and on
> Venus,

JOEL: And with our franchise outlet in Esconaba.

> we are constructing a new memorial to peace

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

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

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

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

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

> and our plans to correct it.

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

>
> "Approximately one million years ago,

CROW: As of next Thursday.

> the dark forces of Anchara

JOEL: The dark forces of Anchorage?

> savagely invaded your solar system,

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

> leaving Mars with a very thin
> atmosphere

JOEL: It’s a small-boned atmosphere.

> and destroying her vast oceans, lakes and streams.

CROW: But her SeaWorld exhibits were left intact.

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

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

> Any remaining life went underground

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

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

CROW: Inspiring thousands of episodes of Star Trek…

> for nearly a million
> years.

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

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

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

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

TOM: Then they moved on to Perrier.

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

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

> drove the dark invaders from your solar
> system.

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

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

TOM: It made for some really cool movies.

> the Main Federation Council,
> after some consultation,

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

> decreed that both Mars and Venus should remain

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

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

TOM: Starring Kevin Costner.

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

JOEL: Father Earth had nothing to do with it.

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

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

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

JOEL: Messing up TV reception all over the block.

> causing her to overheat

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

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

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

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 9 of 16)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: [ Popping up ] Hi there!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ TOM dashes off camera. ]

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

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

MAGIC VOICE: But then —

CROW: I knew I spoke too soon.

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

CROW: We could send out the Free Traders.

JOEL: Call them off. They charge too much.

MAGIC VOICE: And then their military men —

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

CROW: Bel? Is he serious?

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

[ CROW, TOM wince, look to JOEL. ]

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

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

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

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

TOM: Aw, phooey.

[ TOM slides off. ]

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

JOEL: He charged too much, too.

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

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

MAGIC VOICE: Just then —

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

MAGIC VOICE: This mysterious stranger —

JOEL: Anderson Cooper knows who he is.

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

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

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

TOM: Even after such a display of Filial loyalty?

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

[ GYPSY turns and leaves. ]

TOM: But … aw, phooey.

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

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

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

MAGIC VOICE: And soon everything got nice and quiet.

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

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

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

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

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

MAGIC VOICE: But that’s not all!

JOEL: I knew I overlooked something.

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

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

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

JOEL: What do you think, sirs?

[ JOEL taps MADS SIGN. ]

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

FRANK: Psst! Steve!

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

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

TOM: They’re not even paying attention!

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

JOEL: Are we *boring* you?

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

FRANK: No, no. No. Maybe.

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

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

[ SOL DESK. As above. ]

CROW: Hey! You can’t do that!

TOM: We’re done for the week!

JOEL: You’re cheating!

[ DEEP 13. As above. ]

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

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

ALL: We got movie sign!

CROW: I’m gonna spit in their icing.

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


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 8 of 16)


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

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

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


>
> Arthur’s photocells lit up,

TOM: *Good* morning!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOEL: And then there’s our bad days.

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: That doesn’t mean you *are*.

TOM: It kinda does, Crow.

CROW: Oh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>
> "Yyyes," said the robot slowly.

JOEL: [ As Mr. Mooney ] Luuuuuucille.

>
> "So if a solution were to present itself

CROW: Presents? Where?

TOM: For us?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>
> There was a long, long pause

[ ALL snore. ]

> while the robot considered
> Donovan’s arguement.

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

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

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

> Donovan felt himself sag with
> relief.

CROW: And the robot tells him not to slouch.

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

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

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

TOM: And picking flowers for the goils!

> Please reactivate my
> motor controls."

CROW: Isn’t this where we came in?

JOEL: The story just avoided lapping itself.

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

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

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

TOM: Oh… huh?

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

ALL: [ Dully ] Yay.

> The Station Manager, Irina Zebutinska,

JOEL: Spell my name with a *Zow*!

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

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

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

CROW: Ah-wocka-chicka-wocka-chicka…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: By Revell.

> "Sirs," the
> robot said,

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

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

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

>
> Powell glared at Donovan.

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

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

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

> by convincing them to let us stay.

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

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

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

>

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

> THE END
>

CROW: Ooh! That never worked before.

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

JOEL: We’ll have to tell on him.

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

CROW: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL leave. ]

[ COMMERCIALS. ]


[ to continue … ]

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

MiSTed: Safety First (part 7 of 16)


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

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

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


>
> Arthur’s photocells dimmed for a time

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

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

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

> When the photocells resumed their normal intensity,

CROW: It’s so festive!

TOM: It’s very Christmassy.

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

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

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

CROW: What is your name?

TOM: Why did you resign?

JOEL: We seek — information.

>
> "My name is Gregory Powell,

CROW: I’m a lover. *Not* a fighter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>
> "Acknowledged," said Arthur.

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

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

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

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

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

> There are over
> three hundred of them!"

TOM: "And some of them are scary!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: Secondary function along for the ride.

> First Law priority.

TOM: Sonic the Hedgehog is trying to break in!

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

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

> resulting in loss of buoyancy on
> the station.

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

[ ALL shake around, yell. ]

> This station is unsafe for human habitation.

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

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

JOEL: And you guys, too.

> Please reactivate my
> motor controls."

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

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

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

> What
> happened?"

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

>
> Powell had one hand over his eyes.

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

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

JOEL: And, uh… ar, matey.

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

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

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

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

CROW, TOM: [ Dutifully ] Yes, Joel.

> Of all
> the rotten luck!"

TOM: Well, shiver me timbers.

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

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

> and Donovan switched him off again.

CROW: Aah!

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

> He said to Powell,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: He’s kind of funny that way.

> to carry out
> his primary function.

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

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

TOM: By Verdi, for piano and theremin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 6 of 16)


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

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

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


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

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

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

CROW: "I’m a Red Sox fan."

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

TOM: Wait, Pete’s not here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: The year 2018!

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

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

> an ambitious attempt to terraform Venus.

JOEL: There are halfhearted attempts to terraform Venus?

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

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

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

CROW: John Travolta of their own…

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

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

> Eventually there would be hundreds, then thousands,

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

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

TOM: Except one for good luck.

>
> Everything had been going on schedule until

CROW: Day two.

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

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

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

TOM: And shaking the camera viciously.

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

CROW: Starting when their offog came apart in warp.

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

TOM: By installing a gigantic space hammock under them.

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

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

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

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

> Until they were shut down,

[ TOM, CROW boo. ]

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

TOM: To wear frillier garments.

> to board the docked space shuttle and leave.

JOEL: Just… head off somewhere.

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

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

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

JOEL: *What?*

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

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

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

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

TOM: Now I’m just confused.

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

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

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

TOM: They could if they’d hire Uniblab.

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

TOM: Name withheld to protect our sources.

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

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

CROW: And the fabulous Dancing Lannette Girls!

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

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

> The station required a human presence,

TOM: And a woman’s touch.

> and would for the foreseeable
> future.

JOEL: The forseeable future of this forseen future?

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: And puppies.

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

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

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

CROW: Ooooh. Them.

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

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

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

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

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

>
> Powell thought it over,

JOEL: Hummmmmmmmmmmmmmm… ding!

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

CROW: Non-system disk or robot error.

>
> Arthur’s photocells lit up,

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

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

TOM: He needs his wheels, man.

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

JOEL: Listen very carefully now. Flubbityblubblediflufflubbeeblubble!

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

CROW: Oh, except for — oh, drat it.


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 5 of 16)


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

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

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

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

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


[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

TOM: I can’t wait for this.

> From: johnn…@aol.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>
> "Safety First"

TOM: Line dancing second.

>
> By Johnny Pez

[ JOEL hums the "Jonny Quest" theme. ]

TOM: Johnny Pez.

>
> The Three Laws of Robotics.

CROW: The *what*?

TOM: *Laws*? On *us*?

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

>

TOM: Since when do we follow laws?

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

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

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

CROW: Except Val Kilmer.

[ TOM snickers. ]

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

[ TOM, CROW titter. ]

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

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

[ CROW laughs openly. ]

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

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

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

>

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

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

> 3. A robot must protect its own existence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ CROW and TOM snicker. ]

>

> Aphrodite Station,

JOEL: It’s a beautiful place.

> Venus AD 2020

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

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

>
> Michael Donovan

JOEL: [ Raising his hand ] "Present."

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

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

JOEL: What?

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

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

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

TOM: Did you try saying "please"?

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

CROW: Hey!

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

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

>
> "Arthur," said Powell,

CROW: [ Snickering ] A robot named Arthur.

JOEL: I almost named you Arthur.

[ CROW’s beak hangs open. ]

TOM: Dudley Moorebot 6000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: Overboard you go!

> Please reactivate
> my motor controls."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: So who’s working?

> I must evacuate all the humans from this station.

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

> Please reactivate my motor controls."

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

CROW: What?

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

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

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

TOM: Hey!

CROW: That’s *naughty*!

TOM: What gets *in* to some humans?

> Then he swore.

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


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 4 of 16)


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

> This also applies to the reviewers.

JOEL: So is Roger Ebert mainstream or fringe?

TOM: Mainstream.

JOEL: Leonard Maltin?

CROW: Mainstream.

JOEL: Elvis Mitchell?

TOM: Fringe.

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

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

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

TOM: Except bathroom breaks.

> A mainstream
> reviewer can only review mainstream proposals

CROW: Plus the new "Star Wars" movie.

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

TOM: What about Groucho Marx’s proposals?

JOEL: Fringe.

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

TOM: Brother, can you spare a MacArthur grant?

>
> With the above proposal,

CROW: And a little slice of lime…

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

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

>
> The sad thing about the present system

CROW: Is how droopy it makes my cheeks look.

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

TOM: Escape to find an audience.

> appear to
> have enormous potentials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>
>
> Sincerely,

JOEL: This is such a sincere guy.

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

>
> Ken H. Seto

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

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

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

>
>

TOM: Oh, wait, we’re done.

CROW: Nifty.

[ ALL exit. ]

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

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

TOM: Joel? We need to have a talk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: Yeah!

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

CROW: And TV’s Frank?

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

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

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

CROW: Gosh.

TOM: Wow.

CROW: I feel kind of sorry for them now.

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

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial Sign in five seconds.

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

[ JOEL taps COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ COMMERCIALS ]


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 3 of 16)


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

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

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


>
>
> 2/15/96

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

TOM: Yeah.

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

JOEL: Oh, right.

>
> President Bill Clinton

TOM: Of the starship Enterprise.

> White House

CROW: At just $25,000 a night.

> Washington, DC 20500

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

>
> Dear President Clinton,

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

>
> Enclosed please find a copy of my book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: Snakes are meeting in St. Louis?

JOEL: That’s *asps*.

CROW: Asps! That’s even worse!

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

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

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

CROW: Coincidence? Read the book.

JOEL: We can’t, it wasn’t published.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: A Model Mechanics Model Mathematics Model?

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

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

JOEL: Aw, you should think positive, honey!

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

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

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

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

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

> This is OK if only private funding is used.

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

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

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

CROW: The ones with the, the, the —

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

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

TOM: No, no, the other one, the —

JOEL: I got it, right. Them.

TOM: Right, them.

CROW: I got it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

> Clearly, this is very unfair.

CROW: Nobody should be frustrated.

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

TOM: First, we all get naked.

>
> The government should set up two separate funds.

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

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

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


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 2 of 16)


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

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

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


>
> If that was you

TOM: You’d be me by now.

> starving to death you would want someone

CROW: We all need someone, sometimes.

> to give you something wouldn’t you.

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

>
> QUICKLY GIVE ME MONEY !

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

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

JOEL: Ten… Banana-creme-pies!

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

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

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

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

> Jesus Loves ALL OF YOU !

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

> Praise
> the Lord !

CROW: Where you work, or bank!

>
> Now don’t try saying there

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

> is too many starving people,

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

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

CROW: Awkward family reunions…

> poverty, crime,

TOM: Rupert Murdoch’s empire…

> abortion etc. worldwide.

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

> That is not the problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

> That’s the problem.

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

>
> And no no no

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

> I don’t pay taxes

CROW: I *play* them!

> the money is for the poor.

JOEL: The carpet remnants are for the spare bedroom.

>
> Well got to go

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

> and build more churches

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

> in all the rich
> neighborhoods.

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

>
> I am the pope !

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

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

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

> TRY TO GET VIOLENT

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

> KILL THEM

JOEL: Oh, boo.

TOM: Boooooo!

CROW: This guy was fun up until now.

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

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

JOEL: About time for the next track, right?

TOM: I think so.

> From: Ken Seto (ken…@erinet.com)

TOM: With love.

> Subject: OPEN LETTER

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

> TO PRESIDENT CLINTON

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

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

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

TOM:Bet it was posted at 1:59.

>
>
> Dear Follow Fringe Scientists,

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

TOM: Follow the yellow fringe scientists!

> The following letter was sent to President Clinton

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

> and his reply was
> a standard form letter.

TOM: Sent in the standard plain brown wrapper.

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

CROW: We really ought to set traps or something.

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

TOM: In crayon?

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

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

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

TOM: First: get online.

CROW: Second: fire up your web browser.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOEL: They like that sort of personal touch.

> 3. I will acculmulate the list

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

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

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

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

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

> 4. Tell your friends

TOM: They won’t want to be left out!

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

CROW: All perfectly legal! Ask the Post Office!

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

JOEL: Newsgroups have such IN-teresting postings.

> 6. For more information

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

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

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

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

TOM: Remember to bring a housewarming present!

>
> Sincerely,

JOEL: I question his sincerity.

> Ken H. Seto

TOM: The H stands for Happy!


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 1 of 16)


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

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

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

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


[ OPENING CREDITS ]

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

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

JOEL: Nope, that was "First Contact."

TOM: How about that poker game Picard joined in?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: "Deep Space Nine."

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

JOEL: That was a Betty Boop song cartoon.

[ GYPSY grumbles. ]

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

CROW: That was "Galaxy Quest."

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

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

TOM: That was a TV episode.

CROW: I give up. We’ve got *nothing*.

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

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

JOEL: I’m stumped.

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

GYPSY: Thanks.

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial sign now.

[ COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes. ]

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

[ JOEL taps COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]

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

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

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

[ MADS SIGN flashes ]

JOEL: Captain Decker and Lieutenant Ilia are calling.

[ JOEL taps MADS SIGN ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOEL: Ready to see what we’ve got?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW, TOM: Robots? Hooray!

[ DEEP 13. As above. ]

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

[ SOL DESK. MOVIE SIGN flashing. ]

ALL: AAh! We’ve got movie sign!

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

[ ALL settle in ]

> From: jmck…@bonzai.net

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

> To: jmck…@bonzai.net

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

> Subject: I want to sue the murderous pope !

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

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

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

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

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

JOEL: You’re forgetting the International Date Line.

CROW: Oh.

> Status: OR

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

>
>
> He creates wars

JOEL: And passes the savings on to you!

> starvation poverty

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

> crime etc. worldwide

CROW: Is this the Pope or the Penguin?

> by
> overpopulating the world to death,

[ ALL giggle. ]

JOEL: Well, you know Catholics.

> he kills millions of people

CROW: He hurts the feelings of thousands of others.

> and
> has billions of people

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

> living in total dispair with his;

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

>
> Come on now

CROW: Come on down!

> more more more

TOM: *Now* how much would you pay?

> just keep having more children

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

> NO BIRTH CONTROL.

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

>
> LOOK LOOK LOOK

TOM: But don’t touch!

> everybody look at all that starvation over
> there!

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

>
> Quickly give me money!

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


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 4 of 4)


And now the end of this MiSTing of the Robert McElwaine GALACTIC FEDERATION Update. I’ll have something else next week, I don’t know what.

MOS Burgers is this hamburger chain I got into when I lived in Singapore. They had a lot of advertising copy about being in harmony with nature and such. Good burgers, including the option to get a “bun” made of steamed-rice patties. The Klindesteron beademungen were friendly but incomprehensible aliens encountered in the James Blish short story “Common time”.

Marissa Picard is of course the hero of Stephen Ratliff’s famous Kids Crew Star Trek fanfic series, the series that also made Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic a thing. Jay Gordon was a supporting character in the series. There was no MiSTing with a host sketch where the Brains made Jay Gordon cry, though. I don’t think there was even a host sketch where they met. Marrissa Picard got a few appearances, though. Sonic the Hedgehog also produced a bunch of fanfic that was good for MiSTing.

The mention of Heidi Klum references a Usenet crank of the early 2000s, who held that the aliens who control human destiny leave hints to the future in the career of Heidi Klum. He’d show up in the relevant newsgroup whenever Klum appeared on, say, Conan O’Brien’s show, explaining how to decode her amiable small talk.


>
> Today, we have discussed segments of our shared history that
> explain your origins and the basis of your present condition of
> consciousness.

MIKE: Next week, remember, we’re doing the Polish-Lithuanian monarchy, so read up chapter eight and be ready with questions, people.

> We ask you to use this awareness to examine how far you
> actually have come!

CROW: I’m suddenly more aware of my tongue.

TOM: You don’t have a tongue.

CROW: Then I’m suddenly confused and distressed.

> Your liberation and new world service are truly
> within reach!

TOM: As soon as you pay up your library fines!

> We now take our leave.

MIKE: [ As Groucho ] I’ve had a wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.

> Blessings, dear Ones! Know, in
> your Heart of Hearts,

CROW: In your Diamond of Diamonds,

MIKE: In your Spade of Spades,

TOM: In your Club of Clubs..

> that the eternal Supply and perpetual Prosperity
> of Heaven is yours!

MIKE: This reads like the advertising materials for MOS Burgers.

> So Be It! Selamat Gajun! Selamat Kasijaram!

CROW: They’re either Malay or the Klindesteron beademungen.

> (Sirian
> for Be One! Blessed in Love and in Joy!)

TOM: And there’s some fine print where you sign up to buy two CDs each month for a year.

>
> Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: Somebody check the Earth’s batteries. Venus was dead three months before we noticed.


> http:
//www.paoweb.com
>
> This copy was reposted by Robert E. McElwaine

TOM: The `E’ stands for `Extra.’

CROW: Robert E. McExtralwaine?

> PAO Member
> Eckankar Initiate

MIKE: And a good friend.

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

CROW: Hah … Mike?

MIKE: Not my fault, guys.


> http:
//members.aol.com/rem547 PLUS

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

TOM: That adds up to rem 1007.

>


> See also http:
//www.paoweb.com/sn122600.htm ,

CROW: A URL actually created by a snore.


> http:
//www.disclosureproject.org .
>

> P.S.:
PASS IT ON !

MIKE: You’ll never guess which of your close friends is waiting for this very message!

>

> ok

TOM: OK? Is that all you have to say for yourself?

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. GYPSY, TOM SERVO, and CROW are there, with many papers scattered on the desk. A pencil is wedged into CROW’s hand. ]

GYPSY: You need line 17 from form 8-E.

CROW: I know, I’m just — look, how many amiable characters from the movies and shorts we watch have visited us on the Hex Field View Screen this year?

TOM: 28, including four visits from Marrissa Picard.

GYPSY: You have to tell them how you made Jay Gordon cry.

TOM: Tell them 35.

CROW: I’m not cheating on these forms!

TOM: Oh, like they’ll check?

GYPSY: It kind of goes against the spirit —

[ MIKE enters. They all hush up for a few seconds. ]

MIKE: So. Who wants to —

[ Simultaneously: ]

GYPSY: Crow.

CROW: Tom.

TOM: Crow.

MIKE: Well?

CROW: We realized we haven’t filled in our reports for the Galactic Federation of Light this year yet.

TOM: You wouldn’t believe how many forms it is, either, but it’s worth doing.

GYPSY: It’s an important part of bringing light to the universe.

MIKE: [ Playing along ] Plus you might get to be Head Beagle.

GYPSY: So we’re listing all this year’s light-bringing.

CROW: You got anything you want reported?

MIKE: I, uh, cleaned the burnt pizza stuff out of the toaster oven.

CROW: That’s good! What else do we have?

TOM: We played keep-away with Observer’s brain for like ten minutes.

MIKE: That didn’t really uplift anyone’s soul.

CROW: Well … what about that fun we had playing backgammon? That had to bring something good into the world.

GYPSY: We just moved the checkers around randomly for five minutes, got bored, then you threw them like ninja stars until you broke the McVote McDLT glasses.

CROW: Oh yeah.

TOM: Well … we had to have done something, right?

GYPSY: We didn’t stop anyone from bringing light.

TOM: Yeah!

CROW: OK, I’m writing that in — Mike, you have any stamps? We need to mail this to the Galactic Federation of Light Central Processing Bureau in Menominee, Michigan.

MIKE: Oh, fresh out. Let’s check in on Pittney-Bowes, shall we?

TOM: Four, five — hey, does Sonic the Hedgehog still exist?

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. The stage is filled by shipping cartons of all sizes, marked “LIGHT BULBS” and stacked precariously high. BOBO, PEARL, and OBSERVER are squeezed in front, reading
papers on a business envelope. ]

OBSERVER: Dahdahdaaah … appreciate your filing early … blah de blah … having reviewed your Federation of Light returns this year … yeah, uh-huh … computed against withholding reported in form 671-X …

PEARL: So how much of a light-bringing refund did we *get*?

BOBO: [ Pointing at a line ] Fifty-five thousand, three hundred forty three!

[ A pause, as PEARL simmers. ]

PEARL: That’s our Zip code, you — [ She pinches his nose. ]

[ BOBO barks, Curly style; his left arm windmills around and hits OBSERVER’s brain, which he drops, apparently onto PEARL’s foot as she grabs her foot and hops. She trips into BOBO, who bounces against one pile of boxes, sending it crashing. He rebounds to knock PEARL and OBSERVER into their own huge stacks, which sends off volleys of crashing and imploding light bulb sounds through the credits … ]

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc. The essay “GALACTIC FEDERATION Update: August 5, 2003” comes to us from Robert McElwaine and Sheldan Nidle. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who intends no particular ill-will towards Robert McElwaine, Sheldan Nidle, or any nigh-omnipotent beings guiding humanity towards a glorious new destiny in the stars, but does enjoy following Kansan’s reports of how they signal their intents through the life and career of Heidi Klum. Come back, Dr. Mike Neylon!

> Greetings, dear Hearts! We return with more interesting topics to
> share with you.

[ The end … for now. ]

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 3 of 4)


I hope that you’re enjoying this circa-2003 Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction, riffing on Robert McElwaine’s update from the Galactic Federation of Light. You can read the whole of the MiSTing here. If you don’t like it, that’s all right, I’ll have something else running here in two weeks.

“If [someone] had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened” has always been one of my running jokes in MiSTings. It’s a mistaken reference to the Woody Woodpecker cartoons Bronco Busters. In the cartoon, about how Woody gets taken by a scammer time and time again, the narrator repeatedly says “if Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened”. But I started using it as a reference ages before YouTube was a thing and there was just no checking these things.

Gurmit Singh’s a Singaporean actor and comedian. There’s no good reason to reference him, just, tossing in some local-for-me-at-the-writing color is all. Blue Kryptonite was harmless to Superman but crippled Bizarro. (Usually; the stories, somehow, were not always perfectly consistent.)

Please do not cut yourself on the razor-sharp edge of my takedown of Star Trek: Enterprise.


> At times, these wars seemed endless.

CROW: It was like watching the History Channel.

> The
> devastation’s intensity was inconceivable. We were always astonished at
> the extent to which the star-nations of Anchara would go in order to
> ‘win’ these wars.

MIKE: Star-nations of Anchara? There’s galactic warfare about whether to accept Captain Archer and Team Bland on `Enterprise’?

> Their fierce stockpile of weapons and unspeakably
> brutal military forces sparked a reign of terror across this galaxy.

CROW: Yet still they can’t explain John Ashcroft.

>
> Eventually, our growing alliances led to the Galactic Federation
> of Light.

TOM: And that’ll have to be enough for you.

> The Galactic Federation was one of a number of organizations
> – neutral, dark or one with the Light – operating in this galaxy.

MIKE: And all striving to become the Master of Orion.

> At
> any rate, the wars produced a vast number of ‘wandering’ star-nations
> that moved about according to the circumstances caused by the wars.

CROW: If the Galactic Federation of Light had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened.

> From them, we learned a great deal about the hate and the needless
> actions and divisions caused by limited consciousness

MIKE: You know, like when you overdo the Robitussin.

> and its constant
> train of fear and wrongly-derived assumptions. We found this quite an
> eye-opener.

TOM: It was zesty, and it had a great minty taste!

> We also learned the extent of the Ancharites’ deception.

CROW: The Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Dionne Warwick — none of them ever really existed!

TOM: What?

> Although we were shocked, initially, at how dark this galaxy had
> become, we realized, deep in our Hearts, that this insanity would
> definitely end.

MIKE: Oh, yeah. Superadvanced cosmic being and I bet they just whip out the Ritalin.

> Until that divine moment, we had to do whatever we
> could to stalemate the continuous wars.

TOM: But the Galactic League of Nations proved to be a disappointment.

> Thus, we created technologies
> and strategies that would bring about the required results.

CROW: That seemed too hard, so we started playing Europa Universalis II for a couple millennia to kill time.

>
> Ultimately, just over two million years ago, these wars produced
> conditions that allowed us to colonize your solar system.

MIKE: And we’ve still got half our stuff in cardboard boxes.

> A new set of
> broad-based attacks by the Ancharites, nearly one million years ago,
> destroyed these first human colonies.

TOM: A million years these Federation of Light creeps float about the planet and none of them remembers to not leave sitting ducks all around.

> Later, a counter-attack by
> Galactic Federation forces culminated in the second Earth colony of
> Lemuria

CROW: So Joey the Lemur was a space alien?

TOM: Actually, yeah.

> and the destruction of the Ancharites’ main planetary world.

MIKE: The genocide was necessary, as otherwise some of the Ancharites might have lived.

> Its explosive end produced the asteroid belt that now revolves between
> Mars and Jupiter.

CROW: Explosive ending! No one will be admitted during the last five minutes of the Ancharites’ home world.

> Moreover, many of the smaller moons of Mars, Jupiter
> and the solar system’s other outer planets are the result of the
> carnage from these explosions.

TOM: A couple of them were just tchochkes we picked up at garage sales.

> Indeed, your solar system is a curious
> monument to the violence that was part of these wars.

CROW: Please observe silence while visiting the Solar System.

> It even extends
> to the outer layers of cosmic dust and larger particles that form the
> edge of your solar system.

MIKE: This is all related to Blue Kryptonite, isn’t it?

> Because these clouds were unduly charged,
> the outcome was a constant barrage of comets and asteroids.

TOM: But they do all look really festive come Christmas time.

>
> Even your Sun was not spared the degrees of violence of which the
> Ancharites were capable.

MIKE: And with our powers and a million years to try it was too much work to fix it up again.

> They attempted to permanently disrupt your
> Sun’s interaction with her planetary daughters,

TOM: By being vicious gossips.

> resulting in the highly
> elliptical orbits that still characterize the way your solar system’s
> planets circle your Sun.

MIKE: The tragic result of putting unbalanced loads in the washer.

> Initially, these orbits were almost circular.
> For that reason, a circle has a 360-degree arc.

CROW: Bake your circle at that 360 degree arc for fifteen to twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

> In your world, this
> commemorates the original solar year of 360 days, each lasting 24
> hours.

TOM: Is that mean solar or sidereal time?

> The first colonists of ancient Lemuria decided not to alter this
> situation,

CROW: This reminds me of a story that happened once in … Zobooland.

> and kept this anomaly as a sign to future generations of
> what had actually occurred in this once splendid and beautiful solar
> system.

MIKE: Nice of them to leave us such a hint.

> These wars also caused the conditions needed to plunge you into
> the morass that we know as limited consciousness.

CROW: So, the Federation of Light wants to bring Light to the universe and does it by leaving a broken-down solar system and dropping colonists on it who’ll be too stupid to do any Light-bringing?

TOM: It’s the Galactic Federation of Durrr.

>
> Clearly, the dispersion of humanity into your solar system – even
> your fall into limited consciousness – are by-products of these galaxy-
> wide wars.

TOM: As soon as you leave the solar system, though, you’ll figure out how to travel interstellar distances.

> Furthermore, the Galactic Federation’s acceptance of a
> nearly ‘hands-off’ policy was the result of circumstances brought about
> by these same wars.

MIKE: That hands-off policy that did so well to avoid the war in the first place.

> This policy allowed the Anunnaki to become your
> overlords, and their earthly minions to secretly control you for the
> past 13 millennia.

TOM: Oh, *good* one, Galactic Federation of Light.

> However, this situation was dramatically changed by
> your rise in consciousness and by the Anunnaki’s recent turn to the
> Light.

CROW: And, what the heck, nothing good on TV this week anyway.

> These events have made possible the Galactic Federation’s direct
> intervention in your affairs.

MIKE: The protection money we demand will be reasonable and collected infrequently.

> It has also given us an opportunity to
> assist those forces of Light that are laboring to transform your world.

TOM: Unfortunately, the only agents they have on the scene are Judge Reinhold and Gurmit Singh, so it’s taking a while.

> This has resulted in the agreements that are about to be revealed.

CROW: I’m betting they call for people to wear less black, though.

>
> Heaven and your collective self are co-creating your reality.

MIKE: You put it that way, I feel so *naked*.

> You
> are interconnected Beings who are sharing the same destiny. That
> destiny is to be returned to fully conscious Beings of Light.

CROW: Just two weekends a month, and two millennia a geologic age.

> The
> concluding phase, before this divine transition can be fully revealed
> to you, has taken much too long for our liking.

TOM: Frankly, you’re on the verge of failing this class!

> Finally, the last
> vestiges of the dark have begun to see that their continuing battle is
> truly in vain.

CROW: The movies of Jerry Bruckheimer will get more desperate.

> This acknowledgement has allowed a new energy of
> positive intention to envelop your beautiful, blue orb.

MIKE: Clean it every other weekend with a damp cloth, and keep it out of direct sunlight.

CROW: This is what the Mirror Universe had instead of “Highlander 2.”

> This energy has
> provided additional courage to those who are enforcing the agreements,

TOM: This is all going to end up at the World Trade Organization somehow.

> which guarantee that a new reality can be manifested, now, upon your
> world.

CROW: Watch your doorknobs for signs of opening blue eyes.

> We thank all who have helped and, especially, convey our deepest
> gratitude to all Light workers. Your victory is approaching!

TOM: No, really. Going to be here soon. Can’t see it taking more than another 375,000 years at the *latest*.


[ to conclude … ]

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 2 of 4)


Thanks for being with me for the next part of this update from the Galactic Federation of Light. The whole Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic based on this rant should be here. Robert McElwaine was one of the great glorious cranks of the Usenet era, often posting things like this which weren’t necessarily bad but were difficult to take seriously.

“The Swan” was a short-lived reality-TV show about taking people who were Hollywood Ugly and dressing them up until they could attract A MAN. This sort of thing seemed important to denounce back then.

The Rydburg constant is from quantum mechanics. It’s part of describing how a hydrogen spectrum looks.

One of my all-time favorite riffs is Crow saying how “one of my most endearing features is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the physical universe”.


>”Robt McElwain” <rmcelwaine@visto.com
> wrote in message

news:87befcb5.0308151233.2e7aa480@posting.google.com…

CROW: It’s the 21st century and we’re *still* getting Robert McElwaine. Could we get some new cranks in here?

>
>
> Update from the REAL Galactic Federation

MIKE: The other Galactic Federation is just full of phonies.

> and The Spiritual Hierarchy
> August 5, 2003

TOM: They’re masters of space, time, and dimension, but their Usenet servers are kept up by turtles.

> Communicated thru Sheldan Nidle of The Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: So stop teasing him.

CROW: Shel-*dan*?


> http:
//www.paoweb.com/updates.htm
>
> Greetings, dear Hearts!

TOM: Howdy, lovey-kins.

> We return with more interesting topics to
> share with you.

MIKE: And we’ll give you six of them for four easy monthly payments of $24.99 each.

> One of the things that we find most interesting is how
> your concepts of cosmology have distorted the origins of this physical
> universe.

CROW: Why, thank you. I think one of my most endearing features is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the physical universe.

> Its genesis lies not in a ‘big bang’, but rather in a simple
> series of multiple creations.

TOM: This `Big Bang Burrito’ theory we expect will be slow to catch on.

> These creations produce many different
> dimensions and an abundance of realities. The crucial element is

MIKE: Erbium.

> divine
> consciousness. All of us dwell in a living, conscious universe.

TOM: Except for the audience of “The Swan.”

> That
> universe is composed of inter-dimensional Light and Time, which
> combine, in infinite ways, to form space.

CROW: Is this gonna be on the final?

> It, in turn, creates
> realities and shapes physicality’s countless dimensions. The physical
> universe is a magical place.

MIKE: So that’s why everyone’s after me Lucky Charms.

> The only limitations that exist in any
> reality are those that its inhabitants and its heavenly guardians,
> together, permit.

CROW: I already saw “Free To Be You And Me.” Can I go?

> Your laws of physics are a true misnomer.

TOM: They’re more nagging suggestions of physics instead.

> Your growth
> in awareness or new collective perceptions can instantly alter these
> so-called ‘laws’.

MIKE: One morning I took too much Sudafed and the Rydburg constant? Pfft. Out like a light.

> Now, this important process has begun.

TOM: No, no, no, don’t go rushing into anything right now.

> It promises to
> create an entirely new reality for you and indeed for the rest of
> physicality.

CROW: You know, I can’t get “2000 Flushes” to work right.
Should I be part of creating a new reality for everybody?

>
> Creation is a continuously unfolding phenomenon. The divine plan
> has dealt out to us all a multiplicity of sudden twists and turns.

TOM: You are in a maze of twisty divine plans, all alike.

> Now,
> as a direct result, countless sentient species live in the physical
> universe.

MIKE: The Asian short-clawed otter alone occupies four galaxies.

> Their many different languages, cultures and rituals create
> an immensely wide range of traditions and perceptions that center upon
> the origins of their realities.

TOM: Yet they cannot tell a cabbage from a lettuce.

> They have inspired us to closely study
> the residences of this nearly infinite universe. In our galaxy, it gave
> rise to the creation of

CROW: Kickapoo Joy Juice.

> numerous spiritual sciences, dedicated to
> developing a full understanding of this knowledge, and to discovering
> its precise part in the whole.

TOM: In order to make more efficient ABC Afterschool Specials.

> Eventually, this study laid the first
> foundations for a spiritual anthropology and, later, a spiritual
> sociology.

MIKE: And later still, spiritual philately.

TOM: Spiritual geology was a big hit.

CROW: People say spiritual ichtyology is an easy major, but there’s a lot to it you don’t see.

> These sciences gave us a wealth of information about our
> common origins,

CROW: For example, origins turn out to be common.

> which are far greater than the processes that brought
> about human evolution on the third planet of the Vega solar system more
> than six million years ago.

TOM: As of next Thursday.

> Actually, our beginnings filled a physical
> and spiritual niche foreseen by the divine plan.

MIKE: I mean, it’s like they had God or something setting things out.

> Prior to that event,
> we were all spiritual Beings hanging tenaciously to the vast Life-
> streams of Heaven.

TOM: Oh, here it comes.

CROW: Yup. This is the hard sell. How much, McElwaine?

>
> As humanity advanced through this galaxy,

TOM: We started shooting everything we didn’t understand.

> we encountered physical
> Beings quite unlike us in form, culture and language.

CROW: We would have given them the chance to surrender,
but we didn’t want to look weak.

> If we did not
> succeed in bridging these huge differences, war often resulted.

MIKE: And, really, we went out with the best of intentions.

> At
> first, those who aggressively followed the dark principles of their
> creator-Being, Anchara,

CROW: Leader of the Imperium Sweaters.

> distressed us greatly. Suddenly, we were
> involved in an enormous galactic war that had woven itself across the
> breadth of our galaxy for many tens of millions of years.

TOM: A most savage alien race, they were. When we shot them they fought back.

> This struggle
> created a need for many alliances to form with thousands of other like-
> minded star-nations.

MIKE: We had to shoot first. We had them surrounded.

> It also introduced us to the continuing strange
> and violent process that is destined to transform this galaxy from the
> darkness that has engulfed it.

TOM: They’re using the F-U-N-D cheat, aren’t they?


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 1 of 4)


I’d wanted to move into sharing a fresh Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. I discovered that a folder I thought had a bunch of long-forgotten MiSTings did not have anything of note in it. So, to give me a month to work this all out, please enjoy this mildly forgotten MiSTing. I shared this update from the Galactic Federation of Light back in 2017, but that was like twenty years ago.

The reference here to “Commodore Schmidlapp” is to Doctor Mike Neylon, who had hosted Web Site Number Nine, the center of the MiSTing community in the 90s. About a year before this MiSTing was posted, he took the site down “for a weekend” for some upgrades or whatnot and he hadn’t been seen since. Observer’s reference to a “force-ten brain-imploder” I’m pretty sure was to whatever MiSTing I was working on next. I don’t have records good enough to say what I thought it was. Possibly a Stephen Ratliff piece. I contributed riffs to many of those and there’s at least one that, so far as I know, never got organized and finished into a complete piece. That might be worth sharing if I could be confident that Mr Ratliff, who was always very kind about people filling his stuff with jokes, would not object.


[ OPENING CREDITS ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE BRIDGE. TOM SERVO is behind the desk. MIKE is sitting up front, near the camera, facing TOM. ]

TOM: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Satellite of Love. I’m Tom Servo, your host. Today we’ve got wonderful news for all of our loving and devoted fans. Starting Tuesday you’ll be able to find our new Special Collectible Crow T. Robot Gold Edition.

[ CROW, looking as he always does, enters from the left. ]

CROW: Hi, everyone. The gold edition me comes complete with netting, fresh-polished nose module, top-of-the-line sarcasm resequencer and an array of opinions on Peter Potamus. But there’s more —

MIKE: [ Raising his hand ] Does that come with director’s commentary?

TOM: Uhm —

CROW: Sure! Lots of commentary.

TOM: Won’t be able to shut him up!

[ GYPSY enters from the right. ]

GYPSY: And with the Ruby Edition collectible Tom Servo —

MIKE: Hold it; does the Crow come with trailers?

CROW: I — uh —

GYPSY: A trailer hitch.

MIKE: Is he in 5.1?

TOM: He’s … in … 8.3. I think.

MIKE: Anamorphic?

CROW: I’ve heard of that.

TOM: Is it good?

GYPSY: I think so.

CROW: Yes! Any further questions?

[ MADS SIGN flashes. MIKE walks back to the table to get it. ]

MIKE: Hang on, the deleted scenes are calling.

[ MIKE taps the sign. ]

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL and BOBO are at a desk working on a great many forms; BOBO is dressed as accountant. OBSERVER watches the camera, curious. Calculators, notepads, and slide rules complete the table clutter. ]

OBSERVER: Does Crow come with animated chapter breaks?

BOBO: Deducting form 8-E, line 17 …

PEARL: Hello, Mike. Peculiar doll-thingies.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ]

CROW: Hey, we’re action figures!

GYPSY: Yeah!

TOM: I’m comfortable being a doll.

MIKE: Ah, what’re you doing, Pearl?

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is muttering to PEARL. A bell rings from off-camera. ]

PEARL: [ To BOBO ] Oh, what, *again*? We’ve had him in the dungeon a *year* now and we’re not getting through.

BOBO: For the capital invested in keeping Doctor Mike — you can’t argue the return-on-evil. Look at the figures.

PEARL: Brain Guy, can’t you do this?

OBSERVER: Oh, Pearl, you know Bobo does forms better than I.

PEARL: [ To MIKE ] What are we doing? Oh, wouldn’t YOU like to know?

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW, TOM, MIKE, and GYPSY are there. ]

MIKE: Well … yeah.

GYPSY: [ To TOM ] I just never saw you as a doll before.

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is fiddling with a slide rule. ]

OBSERVER: Sorry up there, Mike; we’ve got some reports to fill in.

PEARL: Something *you* will understand perfectly after you get through this week’s experiment — if you DARE!

[ PEARL begins to cackle; OBSERVER pats her shoulder. ]

OBSERVER: [ Low-key ] It’s not all that evil.

PEARL: [ Similarly ] No? I thought we were picking these —

OBSERVER: You have to give them a change-up, something odd and then you let go with the force-ten brain-imploder. It works better.

PEARL: You’re the brain guy, but I want them to suffer more —

[ The bell rings again. ]

PEARL: Oh, somebody get Commodore Schmidlapp his tea already.

[ BOBO hits his palm against the slide rule, launching it to stage right. There follow several crashing glass noises, and then the hissing and bubbling of horrid liquids seeping places. BOBO whimpers. ]

PEARL: Brainy?

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As before. ]

GYPSY: They’re getting stranger.

CROW: I just never saw you as a doll.

TOM: You should try accepting an expanded self-image.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General alarm. ]

MIKE: Oh, great, save it — guys, we got movie sign!

[ Screaming and such continues. ]

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ ALL enter theater. ]

MIKE: Wait, she’s torturing other Mikes?


>Path:
rpi!uwm.edu!newsfeed.cs.utexas.edu!in.100proofnews.com!in.100

>proofnews.com!news-out.visi.com!petbe.visi.com!feed.news.qwest.net!

>news.uswest.net.POSTED!not-for-mail

>Reply-To:
“Baron Maximillian von Schwartzmeinoppenhause”

CROW: Zany? You’re soaking in it!

><schwartz@baronville.com
>


>From:
“Baron Maximillian von Schwartzmeinoppenhause”

><schwartz@baronville.com
>

TOM: That’s for everyone who missed the zany before.


>Newsgroups:
24hoursupport.helpdesk,alt.alien.research,alt.alien.visitors,

>alt.revisionism,sci.astro,soc.history.what-if

MIKE: The gang.


>References:
<20030814025106.21510.00001411@mb-m07.aol.com
>

><87befcb5.0308151233.2e7aa480@posting.google.com
>

>Subject:
Re: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update: August 5, 2003

CROW: Attention Mister and Missus Galaxy and all the ships at sea! Flash!


>Lines:
159

>X-Priority:
3

TOM: Better tell Wolverine and Professor Xaiver.


>X-MSMail-Priority:
Normal

>X-Newsreader:
Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1158

>X-MimeOLE:
Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2800.1165

MIKE: [ Clapping his hands ] Ole’!


>Message-ID:
<hqX5b.733$Qa.55492@news.uswest.net
>

>Date:
Fri, 5 Sep 2003 02:02:48 -0600

TOM: We get the August update in September?

CROW: They’re pretty laid back in this part of the federation.


>NNTP-Posting-Host:
67.1.139.151

>X-Trace:
news.uswest.net 1062748941 67.1.139.151 (Fri, 05 Sep 2003

>03:
02:21 CDT)

>NNTP-Posting-Date:
Fri, 05 Sep 2003 03:02:21 CDT

MIKE: There, see? Told you it was Central Daylight Time.


>Xref:
rpi alt.alien.visitors:516492 alt.revisionism:1566553

>sci.astro:
445867 soc.history.what-if:738420

TOM: Inside The GPS Signal.


To continue …

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 16 of 16)


And now, finally, the end of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic “Breaking The Barriers”. And my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic treatment of it. You can find the whole of my MiSTing here, at last.

The story so far: young author Carrie L— had a portal open between her home and the world of pioneering computer-animated series Reboot. She’s met Bob, the guardian of Mainframe, and the various other important characters, hero and villain. The evil Megabyte’s come to Canada’s mall, turned into a vampire, and bitten Carrie. Then they all went back and got her fixed up again. And now she hopes to get safely home again.

The “indirect-addressing jump opcode bug” is a thing from assembly-language code on the 6502 chip, used in all the cheap home computers of the 80s. It’s about making references to something stored at the end of a page of memory. This annoyed programmers in like 1984 and I don’t think you need to worry about it now. Crow’s Price is Right dream is one that I actually had and thought noteworthy enough to save for some later use. The “times change, and newspapers evolve” is another thing from the undergraduate left-wing student newspaper I was on. I think it started as a sincere statement about how groups must continuously work on their self-improvement. But we also recognized it, and treated it, as the sort of earnest yet pompous reason everyone treated us like that. They ignored us.


>
> * * * * * * * *
> * *

TOM: Even the dumb mice can solve this maze.

>
> Part Twenty-Seven

CROW: Three to the third.

>
> Carrie sat up straight. *Where am I?* she thought.

JOEL: Halfway between H and J.

> Then her
> eyes adjusted to the light. *I’m back home!!* She looked around.
> She was in her room, on her bed.

TOM: It’s a good thing she didn’t get slurped up into a laptop and back.

> *How long have I been asleep?* she
> wondered. Then it clicked.

TOM: I’ve *never* been awake!

> "No!" she whispered, "It couldn’t have
> been a dream! It was so life-like!"

JOEL: Maybe it was just another holodeck episode?

> She flopped back down, upset and
> depressed at the thought that all her wonderful adventures were merely
> a figment of her overactive imagination.

TOM: What’re the odds?

> Suddenly, someone knocked on
> her door.

CROW: Pirates!

>
> "Come in." she moaned.

JOEL: It’s somebody looking for Captain Picard.

> Her mother opened the door. "Carrie,
> Robert’s at the door looking for you."

CROW: Please. Call him Ted.

> Sighing, Carrie got up and
> went upstairs to see her best friend.

TOM: This is going to make Robert feel good.

> "Hi!" he said. "Hi." Carrie
> sighed, staring at the floor. "What’s wrong with you?" he asked. "Oh,
> nothing." Carrie moaned.

JOEL: [ As Bob ] Hey, you’re never gonna believe this, but last night I was fiddling on the computer and I got pulled into the world of Automan!

> Then she looked up. Surprise registered on
> her face. Behind her best friend stood someone who bore a striking
> resemblance to Guardian Bob in his human form. Robert smiled.

CROW: Do you think Robert Guardien is a person in Carrie’s real life?

> "Carrie, I’d like you to meet Bob. He just moved into the apartment
> across from mine last night."

JOEL: And if the landlord ever finds out will *he* be in trouble.

> Carrie stood there, speechless. Bob
> smiled. "Uh…We’ve met already." He whispered. Finally, Carrie
> snapped out of it. She ran forward and hugged Bob warmly.

TOM: Robert begins to suspect they went to school together or something.

> "See," he
> breathed, "I told you I’d see you again." Carrie looked up into his
> eyes. "But why…." Bob silenced her with a quick kiss.

JOEL: I decided it’d be the cruelest thing I could do to Dot.

> "I’m just
> taking some time off." he said. "I got a friend to look after
> Mainframe for a bit."

TOM: Now, if a nanosecond is to them like one second is to us, then every minute Bob spends in our world is, like, nineteen hundred years in theirs.

> Carrie looked at him confused. "A friend?" she
> asked. Bob smiled.

CROW: I didn’t know you had friends!

> "Yeah. His name is Symble,

TOM: Actually, over half his names are Symble…

> and he’s a great
> guy!"
>
> THE END?

JOEL: Uh … yes?

TOM: No! No, it’s not.

CROW: I’m going to write in "Beethoven."

>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

JOEL: I could watch the ocean all day.

>
> Ok! So it isn’t a really great ending,

TOM: It’s an ending, dear, and that’s all we ever want from experiments.

CROW: And we only get one about half the time.

> but it’s the only way I
> could come up with to get poor Carrie out of the mess I had her in and
> still let her be happy. If anybody has a better ending, I’d love to
> hear it.

CROW: How about simply accepting not every pleasant fling is meant to be a lifetime relationship?

JOEL: But they shared so much with Mainframe and Canada and all.

> I know that in the end the characters ended up probably
> being out of character, but, Hey!

TOM: It was the only way they could beat the Kobayashi Maru.

> I was really tapped on how to solve
> Carrie’s problem!!

JOEL: Just peek in the back of the book and work it out from there.

> [Without just having her sit up in bed and have it
> all be a dream, ’cause that ending really rots!! : ) ]

CROW: What if it turned out there was no monster?

> If anyone has
> a real major problem with it, just tell Max and she’ll tell me.

TOM: I have never known anybody named Max.

> Don’t
> worry, I don’t get mad about things like that. Critisim does more
> good than harm most of the time anyway.

JOEL: That’s what they all say …

ALL: At first.

> Hope you did like it, even
> though it is kinda weird.
>
> This story was taken from a recurring dream I always seem to
> have after going through my collection of fan fics.

CROW: Please. Don’t commit acts of fan fiction. And if you must commit fan fiction, don’t sleep.

> I never dream the
> ending though. Which makes me mad, but, can’t do anything about it.

TOM: Didn’t A.E. Van Vogt have the same technique?

JOEL: And he’s Canadian too! We’re on to something here.

> I had to make up my own ending ’cause my dreams end even before Carrie
> goes to see Hex!!

CROW: She should set her alarm for about ten minutes later.

> The last part of that dream is when Carrie passes
> out after she attempts to stop the delete command heading for
> Megabyte.

JOEL: Except this one time where they stumbled into Square One Television.

> Everything after that is all my daytime thoughts on how to
> get her out of that mess!!

TOM: That didn’t play like most of the daytime television I’ve seen.

JOEL: Not enough chair-throwing.

> [And besides! Who out there didn’t want
> to see her get together with Bob anyway!?! I know I wanted her to get
> the guy!!

CROW: Or Bob. Whoever.

> ; ) ]

JOEL: Hey, check it out, a double-chinned smiley.

TOM: A happy Marlon Brando winks.

>
> Hope you liked it!!!
>
> Later, sugah!!

CROW: Uh-huh-uh-huh-uh-huh … now, honey honey!

>
> ‘Mouse’ ; )
> (A.K.A. Carrie)

JOEL: Mouse, the sprite named Carrie.

TOM: Versus Carrie, the mouse named Sprite.

CROW: And Sprite, the carry named Mouse.

JOEL: [ Picking up TOM ] Thank you, Carrie, for making us laugh about the indirect-addressing jump opcode bug …. again.

[ They leave. ]

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

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. JOEL is counting up cash totals. GYPSY, CROW, and TOM are anxiously waiting for the winner. ]

CROW: Before today, I really hadn’t thought about ReBoot much. I’d never thought people would dream themselves into it.

TOM: It’s understandable. Many’s the time I woke up to realize I had just imagined myself the dashing leader of the Autobots.

CROW: Yeah, right. I betcha he really dreams of being Leader One.

TOM: [ As JOEL giggles ] Hey!

JOEL: And Gypsy I bet —

GYPSY, JOEL: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

CROW: What about you, Joel?

JOEL: [ Looking up ] Now and then I picture myself as host of "Saturday Night Live" … I’m standing there on stage, giving the monologue … one of the cast members just stood up as an audience member and asked a question and I’m staring out into the cameras and wading through the dead silence and I start walking out and feeling despair over what’s become of the show.

TOM: We all feel that. Now I remember one particularly vivid night I dreamed I was standing on a beach with Shaggy and Scooby-Doo as the tide was rolling in … I wanted to climb up the rocks and get away from the water, but none of us could move as the water rose ever-higher … and I kinda liked it that way.

GYPSY: Sometimes I dream I’m Popeye. But Crow is Olive Oyl.

TOM: Hah hah!

[ JOEL grins. ]

CROW: Hey!

MAGIC VOICE: My favorite dreams are when I’m narrating Bullwinkle.

JOEL: Fess up, Crow, what’s yours?

CROW: I’m alone in this open curved cement walkway. Suddenly I turn around and there’s a studio audience and a refrigerator. Bob Barker is standing there and he opens the fridge. It’s almost all full of men’s shirts inside plastic boxes, but there are a couple misshapen oranges and limes that look like bananas there. He explains he’s giving me a target price and I have to pick out something in there that’s under that price. The target price is 14 dollars, 95 cents … and I look hard at the shirts and the oranges and the limes and I see there’s a label pasted on the fruits, 35 cents each.

So I ask, I just pick out any single thing that’s less than 14.95, and he says yes, and I look again and the price tags are still on and it makes no sense. I start to ask again but the audience is booing me and I pick the lemon. Bob asks me to repeat it and I do and the audience boos louder. He asks if I really want it and I nod and the audience boos and he tells them they should let me make my pick whatever it is, and he asks one last time if I want to change my mind.But I don’t, and he reveals the price card, and the lime is 35 cents and the music starts up like I’ve won and the audience is mad and Bob waves for it all to stop and says now we play the super round if I want, and I start to say yes but the audience boos so loud I say no, and that just makes them boo *louder*. Bob gives me another chance but I just want to get out as soon as I possibly can.

JOEL: Wow.

GYPSY: Creepy.

TOM: I like Carrie L—‘s TV show dreams better.

JOEL: Me too.

CROW: Yeah. But in the Showcase Showdown my bid’s only four dollars low and I win both showcases, so mine’s cool too.

GYPSY: So who wins the game?

JOEL: [ Tapping the pad ] By forty dollars and the Atlantic City edition of Monopoly —

ALL: [ Quickly, facing the camera for just the word ] Huh?

JOEL: … Cambot!

TOM: [ As CAMBOT nods ] Fix!

[ MADS SIGN flashes. ]

JOEL: Can’t please everybody. What do you think, sirs?

[ JOEL taps MADS SIGN. ]

[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK are still stuck back-to-back. ]

FRANK: What if we just took off our shirts?

DR. F: One of my life’s goals is to never see you shirtless.

FRANK: What if you took yours off?

DR. F: Another is that you never see me shirtless.

FRANK: This is just like a dream I had about The Odd Couple.

DR. F: I’ve never dreamed myself into anything besides 60 Minutes.

FRANK: If we get a little cereal residue in a water pistol, I bet we could make a tractor beam out of Cheerios!

DR. F: It’s time, Frank.


[ DR. FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK shuffle around backwards. Then DR. FORRESTER starts jumping backwards, not making TV’s FRANK move in the least. ]

DR. F: [ As he jumps back ] Come … on! Push … the … button!

FRANK: Oh!

[ TV’s FRANK leans forward, as DR. FORRESTER jumps back and rolls off, towards the camera and into another table and … ]

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its characters and situations are the creation of Best Brains, Inc. "Breaking the Barriers" is by Carrie L— and used with permission. Reboot and its characters and situations are the property of Mainframe Entertainment, if I don’t miss my guess. The MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus. Despite Gypsy’s claim they would follow the standard rules, the Monopoly game represented herein followed the time-limited rule variation. The management apologizes for any confusion. Times change, and newspapers evolve.

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 15 of 16)


Welcome to the next-to-final installment in my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic, “Breaking the Barriers”. You can read, and even enjoy, the whole at this link. I haven’t decided what to post next.

The story so far: A portal connects author Carrie L—‘s small Canadian home to pioneering Canadian computer-animated series Reboot. Everyone’s taken some time in the other reality. While Megabyte as a real-world vampire bit Carrie, she isn’t too bothered by it, and she’s back in the virtual world and recovered well. But to get home they have to brave a meeting with Hexadecimal.

Vulture Squadron was the outfit Dick Dastardly and company were flying from when they tried to catch Yankee Doodle Pigeon. Solarians are from Isaac Asimov’s science fiction mystery The Naked Sun. They’re humans who live on a severely and deliberately under-populated planet so people almost never see anyone in the actual flesh. And you see how long ago I wrote this that I thought “web log” was clearer than “blog”.

The Mer-Lion is a giant statue of a part-lion, part-fish that’s an icon of Singapore, where I was living at the time. It’s great to see, especially by night. The Mighty Thornberries is surely meant to be The Wild Thornberries, a cartoon I don’t know why I mentioned at all. It’s not even something I disliked; I don’t think I’ve ever seen an episode, unless it was on in-flight entertainment when I wasn’t paying attention.

I have replaced two jokes. One because it was a little more sexist, and hack, than I feel comfortable with now. The other was a quoting from M*A*S*H that I used because it was some nice quick wordplay nonsense. But the underlying joke in M*A*S*H relied on something edging up on gay panic for its delivery. I can do without that, so, I will.


>
>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

CROW: Kansas (detailed map).

>
> Carrie stood silently at the base of Hex’s tower, staring
> upwards in awe.

JOEL: And David Warner’s in there *somewhere*.

> Lost Angles was definately a place that one had to
> get used to.

TOM: It’s a good place to (ahem) make a point.

> She looked at Bob. "Don’t be nervous." he told her,
> "I’ll be right here with you."

CROW: Besides, you won the heroes over, you won the villains over, all that’s left is for you to win the landscaping over.

> Carrie smiled. "Thanks." she
> whispered, "I really appreciate it."

JOEL: It’s always the little things that count.

> She took a deep breath and
> reached out to press what looked to be some sort of doorbell. Before
> she had a chance to touch it, the door flew open.

CROW: Convenience store doorways of the future!

> Carrie gasped and
> jumped back. She smiled sheepishly at Bob. He returned her smile and
> chivalrously offered her his hand.

TOM: I hope they don’t put those on the wrong places.

> Carrie just looked at him,
> dumbfounded, for a nano, then shyly took his hand.

JOEL: Energy shake, hand shake, it’s literary counterpointing.

> She wasn’t sure
> why he was acting this way toward her, but she wasn’t going to say
> anything. Swallowing hard, she entered into the shadows.

CROW: And she bonks into Megabyte.

>
> As her eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, her surroundings
> became familiar.

JOEL: It’s the hangars of the infamous Vulture Squadron!

> This was yet another place that would be forever
> etched into her memory.

TOM: That’s the danger of becoming a sprite, you could get something from cartridge ROM mapped onto you.

> The room was enormous, yet the actual space
> that was accessable by normal sprites was rather small.

CROW: It’s like being at gramma’s, you have to stay on the plastic strips.

> *I guess it
> doesn’t matter whether you have a floor or not when you’re a Class
> Two!* Carrie thought.

JOEL: There’s a thought I wouldn’t have had today if the story didn’t help me along.

> Before them was a large and rather
> uncomfortable looking throne.

TOM: You are what you sit on.

JOEL: No.

> It seemed almost twisted and the back
> was several twisted spires with no bar ajoining them on top.

CROW: That’s not a throne, it’s a bad church organ.

> Bob
> started foreward, heading into the ever present spotlight that floated
> through the room. Carrie quickly pulled her hand from his grasp.

TOM: Shhhhhhweeee… *pop*!

> Bob
> stopped and looked at her. "What’s wrong?" he asked, worried. Carrie
> smiled. "Nothing."

JOEL: Bob Guardian, *this* is *your* life!

> she lied, *It’s just that I would prefer to stay
> on Hex’s good side!* she thought.

CROW: Offer to link to her from your web log.

>
> "Welcome to my Lair." The voice seemed to come from every
> corner of the Throne Room.

JOEL: But … the room is round.

> Carrie’s eyes darted around, trying to
> find the source. Then she saw it. Just a mask floated above the
> Throne before them.

TOM: WHAT would you have of the mighty Oz?

> There was a slight flash and Hex’s form
> materialized,

CROW: Hey, can I learn that trick?

> sitting gracefully on her throne. "I so rarely have
> visitors."

JOEL: She’s Solarian.

> She smiled almost evily and Carrie’s heart jumped. *Hex
> may be my favorite,

TOM: I’ll have to check and get back to you later.

> but she still scares the heck out of me!* Carrie
> thought. Then Hex’s mask changed to one of surprise. "Why, I wasn’t
> expecting you, Guardian!"

JOEL: If I’d known you were coming I’d have calculated a pi.

> Bob said nothing, but smiled slightly.
> Carrie stifled a smile. *I guess I’m not the only one who isn’t
> exactly comfortable around Hex. He’s got a good reason, though!*

CROW: They used to be roommates.

>
> Hex turned to Carrie again. "So," she murmered, "one of my
> many fans finally stands up to be counted."

JOEL: One!

TOM: One, too!

CROW: One, three!

JOEL: There’s one of us!

> "This is my first time in
> Mainframe."

CROW: Oh, make sure you get to see the Mer-Lion by night.

> Carrie whispered, "I really shouldn’t be here."

JOEL: It’s supposed to be my day off!

> Hexadecimal looked at Carrie suspitiously. "Why is that?" she asked.
> Carrie swallowed hard. "I’m….uh…..I’m a…." her throat caught
> and she couldn’t say anything else.

TOM: Her next word was going to be "Ima."

> Hex laughed quietly. "I know,"
> she said, "You’re a User."

CROW: You have it written all over your .plan file.

> Carrie’s head snapped up and she stared at
> Hex in shock. Hex laughed again. "You must know that I know just
> about everything that happens in Mainframe."

TOM: She’s been port-sniffing.

JOEL: No, she’s the *real* Carrie L—! *She’s* been writing this whole fan fiction!

> She waved her hand
> casually and a familiar purring sounded.

CROW: She digitized a tribble!

> Scuzzy zoomed into the light
> and stopped just in front of Carrie. He tilted forward slightly and a
> picture appeared in the top of his head.

TOM: "The Mighty Thornberries"? What’s wrong with you?

> It was Carrie, Dot, Enzo and
> Bob sitting in the diner. Carrie looked up at Hex.

CROW: She has the power to look at flashbacks!

> "I guess I should
> have known that." she said.
>
> "Now!" Hex said, "I know how to get you home." Carrie’s eyes
> sparkled.

TOM: Bring me a couple mice, a pumpkin, and my magic wand.

> "Oh! Thank You!!" she spluttered. Hex waved a hand and
> Carrie quickly subsided into silence. "I ask only one thing." she
> said.

JOEL: You must start a Robert Benchley web site for me.

> Carrie said nothing at first. "If I can, I will do what you
> ask." she whispered. Hex laughed, amused. "It isn’t as difficult as
> you think." she said,

CROW: Scrub the bathrooms. They’re filthy.

> "I want you to tell Megabyte that he still owes
> me ten crystals of neurowine." Carrie stared at Hex momentarily.

TOM: And you have to do it without giggling.

> "Uh…I’ll tell him, but I can’t ensure he’ll listen to me. He has
> already repaid my favor." Hex smiled mischeviously. "Don’t worry."
> she whispered, schemingly, "He’ll listen."

JOEL: It’s not so much conflict and resolution as much as it is a Reboot Convention.

> A vid-window pinged before
> Carrie and she once again found herself playing the messenger. As
> Megabyte’s face appeared on the screen, Carrie suddenly felt her
> confidence returning.

TOM: You’d think being able to direct traffic through the multiverse would give her more to do with her time.

> He actually wasn’t scowling at her for
> intruding. "What can I do for you?" he rumbled. Carrie smiled.

JOEL: She’s going to start with Girl Scout cookies and move up to neurowine crystals.

> "Hexadecimal has asked me to tell you that you still owe her ten
> crystals of neurowine." Megabyte growled audibly. "She won’t let
> that drop, will she?" Carrie just shrugged.

CROW: If she lets it drop won’t they spill?

TOM: Try to keep up with us, Crow.

> Megabyte pondered her
> request for a nano, then scowled. "Very well.

JOEL: [ As Megabyte ] You’ve bested me again. Well done.

> It will be sent to her
> by the end of the cycle." Carrie smiled. "Thanks!" she chirped. The
> window closed and Hex smiled down at Carrie.

CROW: He’ll be paying them Tuesday for that hamburger today.

>
> "Very well done!" she said, "You certainly have won his
> favor!" Carrie said nothing. "Now, your way home."

TOM: Would you like to take this way home, or would you like to trade it for what’s inside this box?

> Out of nowhere,
> Hexadecimal’s Looking Glass suddenly appeared.

JOEL: She’s checking if Snow White is still alive.

> The reflective surface
> shivered slightly, and then a room Carrie knew and loved could be seen
> on the other side.

JOEL: If only they looked.

> She gasped in delight. "…..Home!…." she
> murmered.

TOM: Raths…

> She stepped toward the glass, mesmerized.

CROW: Outgabe…

> Then, she
> suddenly remembered something. Turning, she faced her new friend.

TOM: You mean Bob, Hexadecimal, Megabyte, Enzo, Dot, Phong, Scuzzy, or the binomes?

>
> Bob smiled as their eyes locked. "I’m gonna miss you." Carrie
> whispered.

CROW: I don’t know, it seems like getting from the real world to Mainframe and back is about as hard as catching the 173 bus to the MRT station.

> Bob said nothing at first, then produced a small box.
> Carrie gasped in surprise. "I fixed this for you, and added something
> so you would never forget me."

TOM: Gary Seven uses that to talk with his computer.

> Carrie looked up into his soft brown
> eyes. "I could never forget you." she breathed. "Open it." Bob told
> her.

CROW: Dare you to lick it.

> Her eyes glistening, Carrie lifted the lid on the box. Inside
> sat her necklace with the ‘Mouse’ charm on it, but now, there was
> another charm beside it.

JOEL: Yellow hearts, blue clovers, green moons —

CROW: Huh?

> A small gold and black inverted icon impaled
> by a rose. "It’s beautiful!" Carrie gasped.

TOM: It’s… a glam rock tattoo.

> Bob took the necklace
> from the box and gently placed it around her neck. Carrie admired it
> briefly before returning Bob’s gaze. "I’ll wear it always." she
> whispered.
>
> Bob flashed her his killer smile.

[ ALL gasp, choking, and slump in their seats. ]

> "I’ll always wear mine,
> too." he whispered, and gently pulled the gold chain out from
> underneath the coller on his uniform. It almost the same charm as
> Carrie’s did,

JOEL: Hey, he copied her file!

> except that the icon was the usual black and white.

CROW: And then shift-clicked it.

> Carrie couldn’t hold it any longer. She burst into tears and threw
> her arms around him. Bob returned her embrace, listening to her
> gentle sobs. "I’ll never forget you!" Carrie cried.

TOM: Shane! Come back, Shane!

> Bob said nothing
> for a nano, afraid that his voice would reveal his sorrow. "You…you
> better go now."

JOEL: Ah, Louie Louie, aaah… we gotta go.

> he finally stammered. Carrie looked up into his eyes,
> tears glistening on her cheeks. "Thank you," she breathed, "for
> everything."

CROW: She’s in Mainframe, she’s out of Mainframe, she’s in Mainframe, she’s leaving Mainframe, she needs to make up her mind.

>
> She stepped back, smiling. "If I can find a better way," she
> said, "I’ll be back." Bob laughed quietly.

TOM: This way seems to be working out fine.

> "Maybe you should feed
> your computer more often, then it won’t decide to have you for a
> snack!"

JOEL: I guess we’re lucky Carrie’s computer didn’t just swallow Benny, her hamster.

> Carrie laughed, and turned to the Looking Glass. "See you
> later!" Bob said. She stepped up to it and started to reach out to it.
> "Wait!" Carrie turned to Bob again.

TOM: Oh, just *go* you big silly.

> He stood in front of her,
> looking directly into her eyes. "Just one more thing to remember me
> by." he whispered.

CROW: Besides the experience, the vampirism, the charms, and the interdimensional computer portal.

> Carrie froze as he wrapped his arms around her.
> She held her breath as his warm lips pressed gently against hers.

TOM: See, this is how you spread computer viruses.

> She
> couldn’t believe this was happening. She wrapped her arms around him
> and gently returned the kiss. Then, suddenly, all her surroundings
> seemed to melt away.

JOEL: Global Warming sinks Mainframe.

[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 14 of 16)


With another week we draw even closer to the conclusion of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfiction “Breaking the Barriers”. You can read the whole of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of it here. No, I don’t know what I’ll turn to after this.

When a strange portal connects author and protagonist Carrie’s small Canadian hometown to the world of Reboot, characters come visit other realities. At the Three Doors Mall, Megabyte turns out to be a villain and kinda bites Carrie before she saves him from something or other. They rush the injured Carrie back to Mainframe for treatment. So things look good for her apart from how Megabyte’s taken her off to the Tor by himself.

The Michelangelo Virus was a famous computer virus of the early 90s that caused people to write newspaper articles about computer viruses. Kevin Kubusheskie was part of the cast of 80s Nickelodeon series You Can’t Do That On Television and shows what I thought would pass for a forgotten celebrity in 2003. “Angle Pozo, the mathematical herring” is a reference to a joke that Ken Goldstein and Keith Fernbach, the two funniest guys at my undergraduate student newspaper, published one time back in the 90s. They would go on to review the rest areas on the New Jersey Turnpike, describing the clientele at one stop as “men on pay phones apologizing to their wives”, which may be the most perfect bit of scene-setting I could ever hope to read. But there was never a chance the “Angle Pozo” riff would make sense. It’s in there for me alone.

Oof, but that riff about a collection of cats is bad. I’m sorry. On the bright side, the riff about Auntie Anne Pretzel Stands is one of my all-time favorites and I’m reminded of it every time I see an Auntie Anne. I’ve never been to one, but I’ve seen them in many malls.


>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

JOEL: It’s both a punch card and a player piano scroll.

CROW: Another one without a new Part. I bet it’s some tax law.

>
> Bob raced through the Tor. *Why haven’t they tried to stop
> me, yet?* he wondered.

TOM: They must’ve put a homing device on the Millennium Falcon.

> "Glitch!" he said, "Show me Carrie’s
> location." Glitch chirped and displayed a map with a small white dot.
> *She’s only one level above.* he thought.

JOEL: That’s not Carrie, that’s the User from that Indiana Jones and Daisy Duke game a couple chapters back.

> Then another thought hit
> him. "Glitch, show Megabyte’s location." Just as Bob had thought. A
> larger blue dot appeared, directly to the left of the small white one.

TOM: Aw, Road Runner and Coyote are chasing each other through the mining tunnels.

> That meant that Carrie could be in danger. With no thought for
> anything else, Bob sped up and raced toward the room Glitch had shown
> him.

[ JOEL hums the Speed Racer theme ]

>
> Surprising herself, Carrie found herself laughing.

CROW: Caught off guard, she slammed the door shut on herself, making her wait outside until she was ready.

> She
> listened with pleasure as her voice melted together with Megabyte’s
> own deep chuckle,

TOM: Liquid voices.

> finding it melodious and wonderful. *He’s so much
> different than I had thought.*

JOEL: She’s going to end up dumping Bob, I know it.

> In fact, she found him rather amusing,
> in his own way.

CROW: It’s called "evil".

> She looked at him and smiled. He returned her smile,
> and Carrie found herself liking him more and more with each passing
> nano.

TOM: Megabyte’s plan is to seduce Carrie so Bob’s torn between Dot and him?

> Feeling brave, she spoke up.

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] Megabyte, will I go to the dance with me? Uh…

> "You’re very interesting." she
> told him. "There is more to you than meets the eye."

CROW: Robots in disguise!

> Megabyte
> chuckled and returned the compliment. "I never thought I would be
> talking to a User."

TOM: He should take the chance to ask her to uninstall Virex.

> he rumbled, then paused thoughtfully. "But then,
> I never thought I could end up in the User world either."

JOEL: [ As Megabyte ] I never realized the User world was mostly Auntie Anne pretzel stands.

> Carrie
> smiled. "I wasn’t expecting to end up in Mainframe myself."

TOM: So who brought her to Mainframe, anyway?

> she told
> him. *He really is an okay guy once you talk to him.* she thought.

CROW: Now he turns away, smiles, she steps up to him, he reveals vampire fangs and HYAAAAAH!

>
> Bob stopped in front of the door and got off his zip-board.

CROW: Or we cut away to the other story thread.

> He placed his ear to the door. He couldn’t hear anything, and that
> worried him

TOM: It’d be more worrisome if they were in the real world where sounds transmit through objects.

> even more than if he could hear sounds of struggle or
> something.

JOEL: There are some sounds you definitely don’t want to hear.

> Finally, he got frustrated and, raising his foot, kicked
> the door wide open.

TOM: Uh, there’s a doorknob.

CROW: There’s a couple doorknobs.

> Carrie whirled as the door to the Infirmary burst
> open. She watched, shocked, as Bob raced through the door with Glitch
> armed.

JOEL: [ As Carrie, startled ] Bob! What a surprise … uh … you know Megabyte, from the church group … he was … getting a kiss out of my eye … I mean …

> "Alright Megabyte!!" he shouted, "Let her go!!" Carrie stood
> up quickly and walked over to stand beside Megabyte.

CROW: Prelude to a dumping.

> Megabyte simply
> looked down at his hands, casually inspecting his nails.

TOM: He’s this close to pulling a Fonzie.

> "She is not
> being held here." he rumbled, "She is free to leave whenever she
> chooses." Carrie nodded.

JOEL: Are they saying that with their voices merged still?

> "Megabyte saved my life."

CROW: And by "saved" I mean "endangered."

> She said,
> turning to look up at him. She smiled as Megabyte looked over at Bob.
> "Just as she would have done for me."

JOEL: And this emotional turmoil is going on inside all our computers?

TOM: Yes.

CROW: Always.

> Bob lowered his arm, looking
> utterly confused. Carrie smiled and walked up to him.

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] I am your drill thrall.

> "You should
> know that virus’ do have a sense of honour. Remember when you rescued
> him in the crashed game?"

TOM: Oh, SimCity 3000.

> Bob and Megabyte stared at her first, then
> looked at each other.

CROW: It’s a living.

> "He allowed you to leave as a return favor for
> saving him. He could have just deleted you there and won.

JOEL: It’s kind of a Quark and Odo thing.

> But he
> didn’t." She reached out and took Bob’s hand. "I know that he
> wouldn’t hurt me now."

TOM: Megabyte actually left. He’s visiting the Digimon crew.

>
> Then, Carrie turned to Megabyte. "I would like a favor in
> return for my help, though." She said.

JOEL: Help with what?

> Megabyte smiled suspitiously.

TOM: Aah! Don’t *do* that!

> "What would that be?" he asked. Carrie smiled. "I need a way home."

JOEL: Like Glitch and Phong opened up earlier?

> Bob looked at Megabyte. Megabyte was about to answer when Carrie
> held up her hand. "But, you must promise you will not follow me, for
> any reason."

CROW: What if she leaves her wallet behind?

> Megabyte scowled and Bob smiled. *She definatly knows
> about virus’* he thought. "Very well." Megabyte rumbled. Then he
> turned. A vid-window pinged into existance and a small viral binome
> appeared on the screen. "Get me Hexadecimal."

TOM: I can give you two Octals and change.

> Megabyte ordered and
> the binome saluted. The picture changed to that of the dark throne
> room of the Lair in Lost Angles.

CROW: Angle Pozo, the mathematical herring.

> Hexi smiled. "Well, what a pleasant
> surprise!" she murmered, "How nice to see you."

TOM: It’s so *wonderful* that you could be here!

> Megabyte frowned. "I
> have something to ask of you." he rumbled. Hexi gave him a suspitious
> look. "And what would that be, love?"

CROW: This is for 125,000 dollars … What’s the region of Greece where centaurs come from, is it (a) Thrace, (b) Thessaly, (c) Epidaurus, or (d) Epidurmus?

> she asked. Megabyte turned to
> Carrie. "Perhaps you would care to explain it to her?" he asked.

JOEL: So how is this confusing Bob’s priorities?

> Carrie’s heart jumped. *Me?* she thought, *Talk to Hexadecimal?*

TOM: Somebody’s got to.

CROW: You’re carrying that scientific calculator that translates between decimal, hexadecimal, binary, octal, and Swahili, after all.

> She
> began to rub her hands together nervously. *She’s my favorite
> character on the show!*

JOEL: This is a twist Bob didn’t see coming.

> Swallowing hard, Carrie stepped into Hex’s
> view.

TOM: Hey, down in front!

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

JOEL: It’s the kind of constellation a Vulcan draws.

>
> Part Twenty-Six
>
> Carrie stood silently, staring into the suspitious mask of her
> favorite virus.

TOM: I remember when I felt that way for the Michaelangelo virus.

> She opened her mouth but nothing came out.
> Hexadecimal frowned. "Well?" she asked.

CROW: Closer to fair than well, thanks.

> Carrie swallowed hard. "I
> need your help." she blurted.

TOM: I have to get Megabyte something for his birthday and I don’t know what.

> Hex smiled. "So, she can talk. What
> sort of help would you be needing?" she asked.

CROW: Enough narrative discipline to get to the story’s end.

> Carrie clasped her
> hands together. "I know you have great power, and that you can form
> portals to certain places."

TOM: This is like James Bond talking with his travel agent.

> Hex smiled. "Why thank you." she said,
> "But why should I help you?"

TOM: You don’t want to be the last one in town to help, do you?

> Carrie looked down at the floor. "I
> have nothing to give you in return." she whispered.

JOEL: She’s going to play for her on her drum.

> "I just hoped
> that since I am one of your admirers, that you might spare me some
> time out of your second to help."

CROW: This same ploy’s used by aspiring actors all the time.

> Carrie knew that Bob and Megabyte
> were staring at her like she had suddenly grown a third arm,

JOEL: [ As Megabyte ] She *did*!

> or
> something, but this had to work.

TOM: ‘Cause girls will do anything if you flatter them.

>
> Hexadecimal laughed. "You see, brother?" she said, "I, too,
> have a following."

CROW: Come *on*. On the Internet, Kevin Kubusheskie has a following.

TOM: On the Internet, Vegemite has a following.

> Megabyte growled. Carrie motioned to him. "You
> promised." she whispered.

JOEL: No followings.

> Megabyte glared down at her, but said
> nothing. Hex looked from Carrie to her brother curiously. "And why
> are you helping this small one?" she taunted.

TOM: She’s under the limit, he had to throw her back.

> Megabyte said nothing
> at first and Carrie held her breath. Then he chuckled. "She is a
> friend who has come to see that I repay a favor she paid me once."

JOEL: He’s repaying her for saving her life?

> Hexadecimal said nothing at first, then her mask changed to one of
> pleasant surprise.

CROW: Wonder who’s underneath all those masks? Carol Channing.

> "Why, I see you have even brought the Guardian to
> help you ask me of this favor!" she murmered, and Carrie glanced at
> Bob out of the corner of her eye. "How nice!"

JOEL: So what’ve we learned this story?

CROW: Carrie’s nice.

>
> Carrie turned to the vid-window again and looked directly into
> Hex’s smiling face.

CROW: [ As Carrie ] I forsee … a large collection of cats in your future.

> "Please," Carrie whispered, "I really want to go
> home."

TOM: I’m tired and I want to go to bed.

> Hex looked down at her, surprised. "Home?" she asked,
> "Brother! If an admirer of mine needs a way to her home system, all
> you had to do was ask nicely!"

CROW: Click her shoes three times, and…

> She laughed at some inside joke and
> the vid-window closed suddenly. Carrie started at the sudden cut off.
> *Boy! she is impulsive!* she thought.

TOM: That’s not impulsive, that’s just rude.

> She looked at Bob. "Why don’t
> we go to Lost Angles so I can get home?"

JOEL: Why can’t she go back the portal she used last time?

> she offered. Bob smiled and
> offered Carrie his hand. She stepped up onto his zip-board and
> wrapped her arms around his waist. She turned to Megabyte once more.

TOM: He’s doing a good job using Bob’s inner turmoil to his advantage.

> "Thank you, very much." she said. Megabyte chuckled again. "I’ll see
> to it that no one bothers you on the way out."

CROW: That just means he validated their parking.

> He glared at Bob only
> briefly before he turned and disappeared into the shadows.

JOEL: Uh, Megabyte, that’s the broom —

TOM: SMASH!

JOEL: Closet.

> Carrie
> smiled. *I love his dramatic exits!* she thought.

CROW: [ As Megabyte ] I think I broke my leg … can somebody please … hello? Anybody?

> Then she turned to
> Bob. "Let’s go." she said.

TOM: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

> Bob flashed her his killer smile.

JOEL: Gah! Your smile … it’s still … poi … son …

> "Hang
> on." he said.

[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 13 of 16)


And now, after a Halloween hiatus, let’s resume Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfiction “Breaking the Barriers”. All of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of her story should be at this link.

The story so far: a strange portal opens between our author/protagonist Carrie’s home computer and the land of pioneering computer-animated series Reboot. Carrie visits the digital world, where she gets along great with series hero Bob and assistant hero Enzo. and stirs up jealousy from Bob’s not-yet-girlfriend Dot. Even series villain Megabyte likes her, although as someone he can kidnap. The digital world visits her hometown mall, where Megabyte becomes a vampire and neck-bites Carrie. But a return to the digital world and an energy drink get her back into shape. Enzo, angry about all this, has gone off to the Data Dump to find something he can use against Megabyte. And that’s where this segment begins.

One riff mentions Clarabelle Cow as a gossip. I don’t know enough about Clarabelle Cow to say whether she is or not. I know at the time, Disney Channel where I lived was running a lot of segments explaining the minor characters and they said Clarabelle was a gossip.

I trust there was a specific episode of the 80s G.I.Joe cartoon I was thinking of, when Tom asks didn’t this happen in one episode. I no longer remember what. If you know, yeah, I’m curious. Don’t go to any great lengths figuring it out though.

I think Tom’s line about not letting the Tor hit you on the way out is one that gets the Brains’ voice right.

I remember thinking it was a funny concept to delete half a picture window. I now think it’s something where you would concede the logic says this should be funny.

In this segment I’ve replaced one joke. The original riff had alluded to a childhood prank/game that I’m ashamed I ever used. The replacement is funnier. I promise.


[ THEATER. TOM, JOEL, and CROW file in. ]

JOEL: *So* immature.

> As he came around
> the corner, he tripped over something. Pulling himself back up onto
> his feet, Enzo picked up the protruding object.

CROW: He’s found a porn spam!

> It looked like one of
> those old delete commands he’d read about in school.

JOEL: I’m pretty sure there still are delete commands.

> He picked it up
> and brushed it off. It glowed dimly in his hand.

TOM: Couldn’t that kind of delete thing take his fingers off?

> If he remembered
> what Miss Brodie had taught him,

CROW: Our Miss Brodie…

> these old commands couldn’t
> completely delete someone anymore,

JOEL: They’re just called delete commands for the fun of it.

> but they could do some damage.

TOM: So you can see why they leave that kind of thing lying around where anybody can grab it.

> From the look of this one, there was enough energy to at least hurt
> Megabreath.

CROW: The Big Bad Cyberwolf.

> Feeling confident, he leapt onto his zip-board, and
> zoomed away.

JOEL: The implication is, when your computer garbles your e-mail files, it’s the acts of venegence from your graphics display elements.

>
> Back at the Diner, Dot was watching Bob as he comforted
> Carrie. She was not impressed. Suddenly, the door burst open and
> Enzo walked in.

CROW: So Enzo went to the Data Dump, found the Delete command, and got back in about seven seconds.

> Dot, Bob Carrie and Megabyte all turned to look at
> him.

ALL: NORM!

TOM: Norman.

> Enzo strod in, his hands hidden behind his back.

JOEL: He just does that so they don’t have to draw his hands.

> He stopped a
> few feet from Megabyte and smiled slyly.

CROW: OK… got a riddle for you. If an egg and a half can raise a day and a half in a chicken and a half … wait.

> Megabyte simply looked down
> at him. "Enzo!!" Dot said, "Where did you go?" she asked.

JOEL: Was it cold? Did you wear your warm clothes?

> Enzo only
> stood there, smiling at Megabyte. "Enzo, what are you doing?"

CROW: He didn’t even go to the Data Dump, it all happened in his mind.

> Bob
> asked as Enzo stood ready, the delete command held tightly in his
> hand.

JOEL: As his fingernails dissolve.

> "Giving this guy what he deserves!" Enzo shouted, and threw the
> command at Megabyte with all his strength.

TOM: Unfortunately his aim’s bad and he deletes the salad bar, the soda fountain, and half a picture window.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

CROW: A long cold front ending in a small vortex.

>
> Part Twenty-Five

TOM: There is no joke to make about that fact.

>
> "Noooo!"
>
> Megabyte stood, surprised, as Enzo whipped the command at him.

TOM: Here’s a role reversal from the usual dodgeball.

> Then, before he could move, a figure jumped in front of him.
> "Stop!!" she screamed.

JOEL: In the name of love!

> Carrie had placed herself between Megabyte and
> the rapidly approaching command.

CROW: You know it’s serious because we’re moving in slow motion.

> Bob watched in horror as Carrie
> stood with her arms stretched out, protecting the virus.

JOEL: But Megabyte ducked.

> "Glitch,"
> Bob ordered, "Catch!!"

TOM: Unfortunately Glitch was owned by Bill Buckner, and…

[ CROW wimpers ]

> Glitch chirped and caught the command in an
> energy beam. Carrie looked over at him and smiled. Then she moaned
> quietly and collapsed.

JOEL: She’s had a hard day what with becoming a transparent Canadian vampire and all. Let her rest.

>
> Megabyte looked down at Carrie’s fallen form in wonder, then
> picked her up gently.

CROW: [ Singing ] What have I done? … I’ve killed da WAB-bit…

> Bob and the others watched in surprise as
> Megabyte placed her on the counter once again.

TOM: Lucky thing Bob, Enzo, and Megabyte *are* the lunch rush.

> Then, he opened a
> vid-window. A viral binome saluted as he realized it was Megabyte.

JOEL: Hey, aren’t binomes the creepy guys that stole the Enterprise in the good episode from Next Generation’s first year?

> "Yes, sir?" he asked. "I want my limo at Dot’s Diner now. And get
> the infirmary ready for an incoming patient." Megabyte ordered.

CROW: So he’s taking her to the infirmary after she was hurt after taking her to the diner after she was hurt. What a sweetheart!

> The
> binome saluted and Megabyte closed the window before he could answer.

TOM: Ooh, communications breakdown. Their relationship’s in trouble.

> Bob stared as Megabyte picked Carrie up once again, and started toward
> the door.

JOEL: Hope he remembers to turn sideways before going through the door.

>
> "Wait!" Bob said, and Megabyte turned.

CROW: [ As Megabyte ] Uh, I’m *busy*.

> "Where are you taking
> her?" he asked. Megabyte frowned. "To the Tor." he rumbled.

TOM: [ As Bob ] Well, don’t let the Tor hit you on the way out.

JOEL: [ As Megabyte ] Ow!

> Bob
> looked confused. "Why?" he asked. Megabyte simply looked at him.

CROW: Because if we stay here any longer we have to order something.

> "She just risked her life to save mine. That is something that does
> not go unnoticed."

TOM: Didn’t this same thing happen with G.I.Joe once?

> He turned and left, entering his waiting limo.
> Bob raced outside and watched as Megabyte’s vehicle zoomed away. He
> pulled out his zip-board and took off in pursuit.

CROW: They’d get there faster if they just dropped themselves into another folder icon.

> Inside the Diner,
> Dot was talking to a very depressed and upset Enzo. "Why did you do
> that and where did you find that command?"

JOEL: Revenge; and Big Denny’s Discount House Of Loaded Firearms, Defective Firecrackers, and Hair-Trigger Mines.

> she asked. Enzo didn’t
> answer. Dot reached out and put her hand on his shoulder. "What’s
> wrong?" she asked, worriedly.

TOM: Uh, Dot, you were in the scene just passed, right?

> Enzo looked up at her, tears filling
> his eyes.

CROW: Now why would a sprite need to cry?

JOEL: Because he was assigned to Smurf Adventure as the bottom half?

> "I didn’t want to hurt Carrie,." he sobbed, "just
> Megabreath!!"

CROW: It’s only *technically* attempted murder. He *needed* killin’.

> With that, he began to weep and Dot held him, not
> totally sure what to say.

JOEL: A cautionary tale about venegence, or just three more chapters?

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>
> Carrie wasn’t sure what had happened,

TOM: Hey, why doesn’t that break rate a separate Part?

> but what she did know
> was that when she awoke, she found herself in a room she had never
> seen before. "Ah, you’re awake."

CROW: [ As Megabyte ] We downloaded you into a chicken. That OK?

> The voice came from the darkness
> that surrounded her. She knew who it was as soon as she heard it.

JOEL: Unicron!

> "Megabyte." she whispered. He walked out from the shadows, smiling.

TOM: They always walk out of the shadows, smiling. Don’t any supervillains pay the electric bill?

> Carrie took no comfort in his smile. "Why did you bring me here?" she
> asked.

JOEL: He’s hoping to collect the five cent deposit.

> "Now, now." he said, "I mean you no harm." He walked up to
> the side of the bed she was on and looked down into her eyes.

CROW: Don’t worry… We won’t hurt you…

> Carrie
> stared back, mesmerised.

TOM: Sleeeeeeep!

> Megabyte’s eyes were cold and hard, yet,
> somewhere deep below the surface, there burned the fire of feirce
> emotion.

JOEL: Fierce yet generic emotion.

TOM: It’s dull surprise.

> She couldn’t move. It were as though she had been
> hypnotized.

CROW: Brrrrrrr….rruk … cluck cluck cluck cluk cluk…

> Her mind told her that Megabyte was bad news, yet
> something about him intrigued her incredibly. He offered her a hand,

[ JOEL claps ]

> and she took it cautiously. He pulled her up into a sitting position,
> and she swung her legs over the side.

TOM: This is the tender, loving side of Megabyte.

>
> Suddenly, an alarm went off and they both looked up quickly.

JOEL: Klingons!

> A vid-window pinged into existance before them. "Sir!" the viral
> binome saluted, "There’s an intruder on the third level!"

CROW: Sonic the Hedgehog is breaking in!

> Megabyte
> frowned. "Show me."

TOM: Here’s a bunny, and here’s a butterfly, and here’s a puppy dog.

> The viral saluted again and quickly pushed a
> button. The screen switched to a shot from above the intruder,

JOEL: It’s like watching soccer coverage.

> zooming along on a zip-board. "Bob!?!" Carrie said. Megabyte
> frowned, then signaled the viral binome again.

CROW: Why can’t they just learn to not hang up?

> "Should we stop him,
> sir?" The viral asked, excitedly.

TOM: Have they ever been able to stop him?

> "No." Megabyte rumbled. "Allow
> him through."

JOEL: First make him say "Pretty Please with Sugar and Spice on Top."

>
> "Allow him……?" The binome started. "Ahem. Yes sir!" The
> viral saluted again, and the window closed.

TOM: I bet you ten bucks when we get out of here that guy shows up on the hex field view screen.

CROW: You’re on.

> Megabyte turned to Carrie
> and smiled. "It seems the Guardian is concerned about you." he
> chuckled.

CROW: The Mirror doesn’t give a dang, and the Daily Mail barely acknowledges you exist.

> Carrie just looked at him, uncomprhendingly. "What do you
> mean?" she asked.

TOM: What part of that sentence didn’t she get?

> "Well, it’s none of my business, but it seems that
> there already was a significant other in Bob’s life before you came
> along."

JOEL: I didn’t figure Megabyte was a gossip.

CROW: The Clarabele Cow of Mainframe.

> Carrie stared at him in shock, then gasped, covering her
> mouth. *Of course!* she thought, *I forgot about Dot!*

TOM: And here she is, a huge fan of the show, and she forgets its basic emotional dynamic.

> She looked
> down at the floor. *I must really be causing trouble.*

CROW: Aw, the story wouldn’t be the same without you.

> Megabyte
> smiled as he watched Carrie. Perhaps if he could occupy the Guardian
> with his female problem,

JOEL: Oh, yeah, like computer guys have anything to do with girls.

> he would be too busy to bother with stopping
> any attempt at the Supercomputer.

TOM: Maybe Megabyte should try taking over something easy, like a Street Fighter arcade game, and then work his way up to supercomputers.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 12 of 16)


A mysterious portal connects young protagonist Carrie’s Canadian hometown to the world of 90s computer-animated cartoon Reboot. Series villain Megabyte, who’s a vampire in Canada, bites Carrie. Back in the digital world, she becomes half-erased. As Carrie is not just the protagonist but also our author, which might prevent the story from ever finishing. But series hero Bob thinks he can rescue her, if series villain Megabyte keeps to a deal whose terms I don’t think I understand …

And that’s about where we are in Carrie L—‘s fan fiction “Breaking the Barriers”. Also in my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction treatment of it. The entire MiSTing should be available at this link and if it’s not, something will be, I’m sure.

I don’t think there are any riffs that need explanation this time. Somehow the Peter Potamus and the Skeksis references became less obscure than they were in 2003. In the host segment the game that Tom and Crow try distracting Joel and Gypsy with is a mish-mash of old-school games. The twisty maze of passages, or maze of twisty passages, references the 70s game Colossal Cave Adventure. The Vogons and the aspirin are, of course, from the interactive-fiction version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. That’s a game I sometimes got as far as the second room in. The ampersand was the character used to represent an enemy in … I want to say Rogue? I forget if there were a specific reference for the treasure room (Adventure?) and the chair by someone’s side. Hacking a game to turn off sprite collisions would let you get through a round without touching the bad thing killing your guy. But that could keep you from killing the badnasty jumpjumps, too.

I know it’s a bad idea to fall in love with your own writing. But the host sketch here, oh, I love it. I feel like it’s one of the times I captured the voice of the actual show. Crow’s unmotivated wanderings off-camera are there to give the stagehands time to put the stick in or take it out of his hands. I like host sketches that plausibly read like ones they might have been able to record. I also feel like I had a weakness for writing Joel sketches that end with a group hug but I don’t know if the statistics bear out that I wrote more of those than the average MiSTer did.


> * * * * * * * *
> * *
>
> Part Twenty-Four

CROW: I hope we get up to part 28, ’cause that’s a perfect number.

>
> Bob stood silently at the entrance to Dot’s Diner, Carrie
> lying limply in his arms.

TOM: They should just revert to the last saved copy.

> He looked up at the sign, and turned to
> Megabyte. "You have to be patient." Bob told him.

JOEL: I thought Carrie was the patient?

> "This is the only
> way we can return her to normal." Megabyte smiled slyly. "Don’t you
> trust me, Guardian?"

CROW: So if they pushed her back through the portal she’d be a translucent Canadian vampire.

TOM: That could get her a four-year run on UPN.

CROW: You’re right, we’ve got to stop her!

> He asked sarcastically. Bob frowned, and turned,
> pushing the door open. The place was almost deserted.

JOEL: Must be after the dinner rush — see, ’cause it’s … deserted…

> The only
> people there were Enzo and a rather frazzled looking Dot.

CROW: Yakko and Wakko have gone too far!

> As Bob
> entered, Enzo looked up. "Bob!!" he shouted jumping down from his
> stool. He was about to tackle Bob

TOM: Enzo’s veering dangerously close to Scrappy Doo territory.

> when he saw the half-erased sprite
> in his arms. Then his face turned fearful as he saw Megabyte
> following behind.

CROW: This is a weird parade.

> Bob carfully placed Carrie on the counter and Dot
> looked at her in shock.

JOEL: Hey, dead girl *off* the table.

> "What happened?" she asked, "Magnetic
> erasure? Like last time?"

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Last time?

JOEL: [ As Bob ] She was an ADSR waveform, she meant nothing to me.

> Bob shook his head. "It’s a long story,
> right now we need to help her.

CROW: Megabyte zapped her. Hey, that’s not so long.

> What she needs is pure energy." Dot
> nodded.

JOEL: If they download a Jolt ad I’m leaving.

> She didn’t even bother to ask Cecil,

TOM: She’s not getting The Straight Dope?

> she jumped down off her
> stool, and went to get it herself.

CROW: Let’s see… Pure Ivory Soap, pure baking soda, pure vanilla extract, pure table salt, pure baking powder, pure karo syrup, pure … this is harder than I thought.

>
> Bob looked down at Carrie, gently brushing her hair away from
> her face.

TOM: You know, Bob, this could be the chance for some upgrades…

> Enzo came and stood beside him. He looked up at Bob. "Is
> Carrie going to be okay?" he asked, worriedly. Bob smiled down at
> him, hiding his own fear.

JOEL: She has to be, or else one of the Skeksis has to die too.

> "She’s going to be fine." Enzo turned to
> Megabyte, gathering his nerve.

CROW: Aw, he’s gonna ask Megabyte out on a date!

> "You did this, didn’t you?" he asked
> bravely.

TOM: This is how you start an awkward conversation.

> Megabyte looked at him, then chuckled richly. "Of course."
> he rumbled, "Who else could do someting like that?"

JOEL: Taking a wild guess, L. Frank Baum in one of the lesser Oz books.

> Enzo bit his lip,
> struggling to fight back his tears. "How dare you!" he shouted,

TOM: [ As Megabyte ] Yeah? How I *double* dare you!

> shocking both Bob and Dot, who had returned with an energy shake.

JOEL: So now she’s got tea and no tea at once, right?

> "She’s my friend!!"

CROW: She is?

JOEL: Remember that earlier scene where she talked to him?

CROW: Oh, right, that’s friendship.

> Enzo stood right in front of Megabyte, to angry
> to be afraid of the imposing virus.

TOM: Enzo is going to have to try Peter Potamus’s patent-pending Hippo Hurricane Holler.

> He looked up at him defiantly,
> "You can’t do that!!"

JOEL: On television!

> Megabyte simply stared down at him, as Enzo’s
> eyes flooded with tears. "I won’t let you."

TOM: Never gonna let you go, I’m gonna hold you in my arms forever…

> He turned and ran out of
> the Diner. "Enzo!!" Dot wailed as she watched her little brother whip
> out his zip-board and zoom away.

CROW: So how is Enzo keeping Megabyte from hurting Carrie?

>
> Bob watched as Dot sat down on a stool, obviously drained by
> what had been happening.

TOM: Take two double A’s and call me in the morning.

> Suddenly, Carrie moved slightly, and her
> eyes began to flutter open.

JOEL: Maybe Enzo was thinking of somebody else.

> Bob stood near her, as she opened her
> eyes slightly. Dot looked up as Carrie tried to lift her hand towards
> Bob.

TOM: Hey, how come her arms get to work?

> He smiled and took it, holding it gently. "How are you
> feeling?" He asked her. Carrie smiled weakly. "Not too bad."

CROW: A touch small-Endian.

> she
> whispered. Bob reached out and touched her cheek. "You gave me quite
> a scare back there." he said.

JOEL: Stop telling people you see snakes everywhere. They’re scary.

> Carrie sat up with Bob’s help, and she
> swung her legs over the side of the counter. Dot frowned.

TOM: I hope she didn’t bleed electrons all over the menus.

> Why was
> Bob acting like this toward Carrie? What had happened back there? She
> stood up with the intention of asking Bob exactly those questions.

CROW: But first, this word from our subplot.

>
> After he had fled from the Diner, Enzo had gone to Old Man
> Pearson’s Data Dump.

JOEL: Sounds like the setting for a Scooby-Doo video game.

> He knew that he could find something, or
> someone, that could help him get even with Megabyte. He had never felt
> so determined.

TOM: It’s called an "off" switch.

> All he knew was that Carrie was one of the only
> sprites older than him that had treated him as an equal, not some
> little kid.

CROW: He’s a little too impressed by a girl who talks to him.

> Now she was hurt, and he wanted to seek vengance on the
> one who had done that to her.

TOM: And he’ll do it by wielding an old e-mail bulletin of the cafeteria’s menu at Megabyte!

> He smiled slightly. *I like that.*

CROW: It’s silly. Heheheheheheh…

> he
> thought. *The daring and brave Guardian Enzo seeks help to have his
> vengance on the viral evil of his system.*

TOM: Hey, isn’t that giving in to the Dark Side?

JOEL: Bad Enzo. No Dark Side. Bad Enzo.

> His imagination continued
> to whirl as he approached Sector 1001.

CROW: That’s Sector 1001 spelled backwards.

> He stopped infront of Old Man
> Pearson’s trailer. "Frisket!!" he called, "Frisket!!"

JOEL: Frisket? I hardly even *know* it…

> He jumped down
> off his zip-board and began to search for his pet.

TOM: Try looking under CBM.

[ JOEL picks up TOM; they and CROW leave. ]

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

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. The Monopoly game continues; about half the tiles have houses and hotels on them. TOM stands in front of the desk and, below desk top, has a rope tied around his hand. TOM’s token is in jail. JOEL, standing next to GYPSY, finishes moving MAGIC VOICE’s token onto an empty square. ]

CROW: Oh, I don’t believe it.

JOEL: [ Rolling dice ] Magic Voice lucks out again.

MAGIC VOICE: No need to sulk, Crow. Elvis edition never lets me down.

[ JOEL moves his piece ahead, to a square with one house on it. ]

JOEL: OK, that’s my second free landing on one of your squares. I get one more.

CROW: Yeah, yeah, all right. Just roll.

[ JOEL rolls; he moves CROW’s token onto one with a hotel. ]

JOEL: All right, Crow, that takes you to the Yankees edition, mine, hotel, you owe me 700 dollars.

CROW: Oh, gosh, well … uh … I think I’m a little short on cash…

JOEL: We can work it out. Now, what say I get two more free passes on your squares —

GYPSY: Ah-hem.

JOEL: — Right, yeah, I get one and Gypsy gets one of mine.

MAGIC VOICE: Hey!

JOEL: Right. I’ll need three, I owe Gypsy two of them, and then she passes one to Magic Voice.

TOM: Crow?

CROW: Yes, now.

TOM: [ Turning to face CAMBOT, and sliding to the side so the rope he holds goes slack ] WARNING! DANGER! INCOMING GAME!

GYPSY: What?

TOM: [ Continuing to warn ] INCOMING GAME! INCOMING GAME!

CROW: [ Sidling away, as a large cardboard box wrapped in aluminum foil drops over JOEL and GYPSY ] You’re going to have to defend us, guys, before this zone gets de-rezzed!

JOEL: [ As he is covered ] Guys, this isn’t going to —

CROW: It’s too late! You’re in a maze of twisty passages and the Vogon constructor ships are … uh … and there’s an aspirin in your pocket and everything!

GYPSY: [ Also covered ] I thought it was a twisty maze of passages?

[ CROW slides off-camera ]

TOM: Yeah, and you have to get to the treasure room fast.

JOEL: We’re just going to turn off sprite collisions, you know.


[ CROW, with a stick in his hand, slides back and taps the hotel off his token’s square; he swats TOM’s token out of jail quickly and slides back off screen. ]

TOM: Uh … um … that’s fine, you advance a level … and there’s a chair over by your side and what do you want to do?

[ A beat; GYPSY and JOEL stay silent ]

TOM: There’s a nasty-looking ampersand chasing after you too.

[ CROW, without his stick, slides back on screen. ]

CROW: And… I … I think they’ve beaten the user, then, right?

TOM: Oh, definitely … guys? You can come out now.

[ A beat. ]

CROW: Joel? Gypsy?

TOM: Magic Voice? Are you in there?

CROW: Just lift the box off…

TOM: Uh… game’s over. You can reboot.

[ CROW and TOM look at each other. ]

CROW: Give it a tug.


[ TOM turns around, pulling his rope. The box lifts, revealing JOEL kissing GYPSY’s cheek. ]

CROW, TOM: Gah!

JOEL: [ Noticing them ] Oh, hi there.

TOM: Well — what — what are you doing?

GYPSY: Gotcha!

JOEL: You were trying to cheat!

TOM: No! No, no, no —

MAGIC VOICE: Crow moved the pieces.

[ CROW growls. ]

JOEL: Guys, you can’t put Magic Voice in a box. She’s like Springtime, or children’s laughter, or green. You should know better.

CROW, TOM: We’re sorry.

GYPSY: That’s gonna cost you two free turns, Crow.

JOEL: Each.

CROW: Grr… aahhh…

TOM: I recommend surrender.

CROW: [ Angrily ] I’ll take it.

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial sign in five seconds.

JOEL: Now what did we learn here?

GYPSY: Don’t use "Reboot" to cheat in board games.

JOEL: Exactly. Give me a hug, guys. We’ll be right back.


[ JOEL hugs GYPSY and CROW as COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes. JOEL taps TOM’s head, and then COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 11 of 16)


I hope that you’re still enjoying this MiSTing of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fan fiction “Breaking the Barriers”. I’ve enjoyed looking back at this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction I wrote around 2003. You should be able to read the entire MiSTing at this link.

In the story so far Carrie has discovered a portal between small-town Ontario and the digital world of Reboot. Fortunately she lives in small-town Ontario and has a great time meeting the show’s heroes. Unfortunately the show’s villains emerge into small-town Ontario and threaten Melonville’s mall. She with the help of series hero Bob is able to get Megabyte back into the computer, but the digital virus Symble is getting into the action, and maybe even the mall.

If I wrote this today I wouldn’t use the leadoff joke about “can we go?” “No”. I feel the jokes about being stuck watching the source material work in the context of the actual show. Joel/Mike/Jonah and the bots are trapped watching. But, here? It’s harder to disbelieve that I chose to spend my time reading this, and that I must enjoy it enough to continue reading it. Plus it might give my readers ideas.

Houghton is a small town in Michigan’s upper peninsula, at the base of the Keweenaw Peninsula, which pokes out into Lake Superior. I used to know someone who went to school there. That said the last actual Radio Shack I saw in Michigan was around 2016 in Suttons Bay, a tiny town off the Grand Traverse Bay in the lower peninsula, and I think they were having a going-out-of-business sale.

I no longer remember the meaning of the “Thinkit” reference. Enik was the “good” Sleestak from the original, 1970s, Land of the Lost series. Yes, I know, he was actually one of the Altrusian forebears of the Sleestak propelled by a time-portal accident into (for him) a post apocalyptic future he hoped he could escape and somehow prevent, but it’s important not to add unenlightening complications when you explain something.

The Compute!’s Gazette thing about undoing the ‘NEW’ command. ‘NEW’ was the command you typed in to erase whatever program was in your Commodore’s memory. But it didn’t really erase your program. It just put zeroes at the start of the program’s memory, the code for ‘end of program’. If you started typing a new program, that would replace what used to be there. But if you didn’t? If you used the ‘POKE’ command you could change those zeroes back to a sensible start of your program, and undo this ‘erasure’. Learning this kind of thing is what I did in the 1980s instead of having fun.

You can tell this is my sort of humor writing because no successful writer would leave in a joke about tariff rates within the British Commonwealth.


>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

JOEL: That’s actually a very funny joke, but only on Hollerith cards.

> Part Twenty-Two

CROW: The house is busted. Can we leave?

TOM: No.

>
> Bob stood silently, watching the computer screen for any sign
> that Symble had succeded.

CROW: The smiley face isn’t sign enough?

> He had teamed up with him in the hopes that
> Symble would be trustworthy enough to keep helping him.

JOEL: That’s probably wiser than teaming up with Phong, Dot, and Enzo.

> He had heard
> rumours about a sprite and a virus initializing a child, but he had
> passed it off as fanciful speculation.

TOM: Mixed dating? Unthinkable!

> When Symble told him he was a
> hybrid, he had remembered all those rumours and whispered stories.

CROW: But after he met Symble’s lovely parents Sarek and Amanda, he underestood.

> Suddenly, Carrie’s computer began to beep,tearing him from his
> thoughts. Bob looked over at Megabyte. "That should mean that
> Glitch was successful."

TOM: Or that she’s wanted on Yahoo Messenger. I’m not sure.

> he told him, "This should take you to
> Mainframe. I’ll follow after."

CROW: [ As Bob, snickering ] Right behind. Yup. Just head on in…

JOEL: Doctor *Robotnik* wouldn’t fall for a stunt like *this*.

> Megabyte looked down at Bob. "I
> trust you wouldn’t try to doublecross me."

TOM: Even though he’ll never get as good a chance again ever.

> He rumbled, suspitiously.
> "I can’t." Bob said. "I don’t belong here either."

CROW: I’m not even supposed to be here today.

>
> Bob turned and walked over to Carrie. "I’m going to go after
> Megabyte

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] But he’s right here.

TOM: [ As Bob ] No, I mean I’m going in after him.

> so I can keep my end of the bargain." Bob said,

CROW: The bargain was he’ll let Megabyte go.

> "You’ll be
> okay. Won’t you?" Carrie nodded. "I know about vampires."

JOEL: How?

> she
> assured him. "He didn’t do enough damage to seriously hurt me.

CROW: She can replicate spare parts and be back to operational in just a couple star dates.

> But I
> want to go with you!!" Bob shook his head. "I don’t want you to be in
> any danger." He whispered, "You’ll be safer here."

TOM: Besides, I don’t want to tell your parents about the vampire thing.

> He turned to see
> Megabyte being pulled into the computer screen.

JOEL: It’s a good thing Carrie has a wide screen monitor. Can you picture them all squeezing into a Macintosh SE?

> Carrie forced herself
> to sit up.
>
> "I’m going with you." She told Bob, then pulled herself up
> onto her shaky legs. She lost her balance, and started to fall.

JOEL: Looks like she picked the wrong week to start roller skating everywhere.

> Bob
> caught her, and Carrie wrapped her arms around him, startled by her
> inability to stand.

TOM: [ As Bob ] Carrie, uh, me leaving is more effective if I go.

> "Be careful!" Bob said. Carrie looked up into
> his eyes as he supported her weight.

CROW: Meanwhile Megabyte’s had enough computer time to conquer the mainframe ten times over.

> She hated not being able to
> recover quickly, but yet, she loved being held by Bob.

JOEL: Like she was the entire walk back from the mall.

> She smiled at
> him sheepishly, and he returned it with his killer smile. Carrie’s
> imagination began to fly. She had hoped for this moment for so long!
> To be held by Bob was a dream come true!!

TOM: To hold Bob here while Megabyte conquers his home computer and all he holds dear!

> She continued to stare into
> his eyes, hoping he would sweep her off her feet, like he did in her
> dreams.

[ ALL hum theme from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ ]

> Instead, he picked her up and put her back on the couch.
> "You just stay here."

JOEL: Or I’ll turn this computer around and take you right … oh, you’re home.

> he said, softly brushing her cheek. "I’ll be
> seeing ya!" And he dove through Carrie’s computer screen.

TOM: Wait, they should’ve swapped e-mail addresses.

>
> Carrie wasn’t about to be left behind. She got to her feet
> again, and dove towards her computer before her legs could give out.

CROW: Unfortunately, only her head and torso made it through before the portal closed again.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

JOEL: It’s an ergonomically designed light saber.

>
> Part Twenty-Three

TOM: Skidoo!

>
> Symble stood warily as this virus approached him. He didn’t
> like the way she was looking at him.

JOEL: He’s creeped out by that popping out the eye and waving it around.

> It made him feel like a peice of
> hardware on sale in the shops lining Picadilly Circuits.

CROW: Picadilly? I hardly even know a … wait.
[ JOEL puts a hand on CROW’s shoulder. ]

TOM: Since this story was written Picadilly Circuits has become a Radio Shack in Houghton, Michigan.

> "Who are
> you?" he asked. The virus smiled, revealing sharp teeth.

TOM: Martha Ray, Denture Wearer.

> Symble
> stepped back cautiously. "You needn’t fear me yet." Hexadecimal said.
> "I am Hexadecimal,

JOEL: Thinkit will be so glad to know.

> and I control Lost Angles, for now." She stepped
> closer, and Symble hissed warningly, baring his fangs.

CROW: Wouldn’t it be funny if his teeth fell out right now?

TOM: The vampire fangs would be scarier if he didn’t have the kooky googley eye glasses and Groucho nose too.

> "I may be half
> virus, but don’t provoke me.

TOM: Unless his other half is Neville Chamberlain.

> I will erase anyone who threatens me.
> Virus or Sprite." Hexadecimal giggled.

CROW: Hey, they’re chattering vampire teeth!

> It was a rather unpleasant
> sound, and it made Symble all the more uncomfotable around this virus.

JOEL: He should change his laugh sound to that charming ting noise.

> He was getting very close to the portal now, and he could feel the
> energy radiating from it.

TOM: [ As Bela Lugosi ] PULL the STRINGS!

> "Come now." Hexadecimal said. "You’re new
> around here, and I want to know who you are."
>

CROW: Why not check his web site?

JOEL: There’s spiders in it.

> Suddenly, someone stepped out of the portal. He was a virus
> once again, and he prefered it that way.

TOM: We now join our plot already in progress.

> He looked over to find the
> virus that had sent him through the portal in the first place standing
> in front of Hexadecimal.

JOEL: Enik?

> This virus was poised defensively, and he
> could tell that Hex found this rather amusing.

CROW: It is … oh, you kind of have to be here.

> Megabyte extended his
> claws.

TOM: I bet it’s a real bad day when that happens by accident.

> Virus or no virus, this newcomer had meddled in business other
> than his own, and he would pay dearly. Before Megabyte could do
> anything, he was hit from behind.

JOEL: Uh … woops … I meant to say, ‘Fore’ …

> He was thrown to the ground, and he
> could feel someone standing on his back. "Attack my partner?

TOM: Please!

> I don’t
> think so." Bob looked down at Megabyte, and then stepped off him.

CROW: This way Megabyte can escape and wreak havoc again.

> "I
> agreed to get you here, but I’m still not going to let you hurt anyone
> ." Megabyte stood up, and casually brushed himself off.

TOM: Oh, he’s doing his classic "Little Tramp" routine.

> Symble
> turned and looked at Bob. "So, you’ve returned." He said. "I guess
> this means the next move is mine."

CROW: They’re playing checkers by e-mail.

>
> He turned toward the portal, fully extending his blades.

JOEL: And he’s embarassed because today he only put on the cheese slicers.

> Before he could reach it, someone came diving through it.

TOM: Uh-oh … we could be looking at a Carrie-ka-bob.

> Symble
> caught the figure, and looked into the face. It was Carrie. She was
> unconcious and partially erased.

CROW: Fortunately, Bob read the article in Compute!’s Gazette about how to undo the ‘NEW’ command.

> Symble turned to Bob as he ran
> forward. "Oh no!" Bob said, "I told her not to follow me!"

TOM: Maybe this was pure coincidence.

> He took
> Carrie from Symble and picked her up. She was very weak. Her energy
> had been almost completly drained.

JOEL: The Pizza Hut didn’t save her life after all?

> She was even becoming transparent.

CROW: Aw, that’s just because her skin’s the Chroma-Key color.

> *I have to get help!* he thought. He pulled out his zip-board.
> Before he could get on it, Megabyte grabbed his arm. "Guardian." he
> said.

TOM: You said you’d call.

> "You still have your end of the bargain." Bob just looked at
> him. "I’ll keep my end." he told him.

JOEL: Look, it’s the fifth door on the right, just after the bathroom. Sheesh.

> "But first, I have to help
> Carrie." Megabyte frowned. "Only if I go with you." he rumbled,
> ominously.

TOM: Or what, he’s going to attack Bob and almost kill Carrie?

> Bob started to protest, then thought the better of it.
> "Alright." he said. "Let’s go."
>

TOM: Did they even need to *go* to Canada?

JOEL: With those scenes the story qualifies for better tariff rates in the Commonwealth.

TOM: Oh.

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 10 of 16)


Welcome to part 10 of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic, “Breaking the Barriers”. You can read, and I hope enjoy, the whole story at this link. You can read, and I hope enjoy, all my MiSTings at this link.

A mysterious portal opened between our protagonist and author Carrie’s home and the world of Reboot. After journeying into the pioneering animated series, its characters went and pioneered right back into Carrie’s small Canadian hometown. Big series bad guy Megabyte, translated into the real world, turns out to be a vampire and to hang out at the mall. And what’s on at the food court but Carrie?

Back when I wrote this around 2002, that Google could give you results in any language or even “Elmer Fudd-ese” was a new and fresh and weird discovery. The Thundarr the Barbarian riff alludes to one episode where Ariel magically gigantifies some dimes so they can be shields. I have replaced one riff that I think was too easy to mis-read as sexist. And otherwise I’m not sure there are any other riffs that could benefit from explanation. So, failing that, please enjoy.


>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

JOEL: Hadrian’s Wall, the early years.

> Part Twenty
>
> Carrie’s mind began to whirl. Nothing like this had ever
> happened to her before.

CROW: Except that one weekend she saw Yancy Street.

> She began to panick, kicking and fighting
> feebly against Megabyte’s iron grip. She could feel herself losing
> conciousness, when Megabyte suddenly pulled away and looked at Bob.

TOM: His venom turned her into Silver Age Lois Lane.

> "Now, Bob." he rumbled, " Your friend will not be harmed any further
> if you do as I asked."

JOEL: Hey, should Carrie and Bob have garlic breath that chases him off?

> Carrie hung limply in Megabyte’s arms. She
> tried desperately to speak or lift her head, but she had no energy.

CROW: Her neck deflated!

> She could see Bob out of the corner of her eye, and she watched in
> horror as he looked down at the ground, submissively. "Alright,
> Megabyte."

TOM: Megabyte is *this* close to crossing the line.

> He whispered. "I’ll bring you back, but you have to allow
> me to look after Carrie." Megabyte chuckled.

CROW: [ As Megabyte ] "Dilbert" was really funny today!

> "You are in no position
> to bargain, Guardian." Then he smiled, "But, I am not totally without
> mercy."

TOM: Aren’t you supposed to be?

> He held Carrie out for Bob to take. Carrie could feel Bob’s
> arms, and suddenly she was free of Megabyte’s grip.

CROW: [ As Megabyte ] Whoops — slipped!

>
> She felt safer in Bob’s arms, yet she was terrified at the
> same time.

JOEL: Megabyte doesn’t have a way of soothing people around him.

> Bob couldn’t let Megabyte into the Supercomputer!! He
> could conquer any system if he got into the Armory!

TOM: Within days the world could be flooded with spam and dopey online petitions.

> She struggled to
> force her body to move. She had to tell Bob not to do it!! Then she
> realized something.

JOEL: Turning into a vampire could be really cool.

> If Bob had Glitch, then the tear wasn’t a portal
> anymore.

CROW: That’s a sentence we’ve never seen before.

> How had Bob gotten through?

TOM: Maybe the tear was still a portal.

> Did he have someone helping
> him? Her mind was a jumble of questions as they entered her house and
> went down into the basement.

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] Why does Megabyte want my laundry?

> As they approached her computer,
> Carrie’s fear grew.

CROW: They might find her archive of naughty Animaniacs pictures!

> This meant that Bob really was going to allow
> Megabyte into the Supercomputer to save her. She had to stop him!!

TOM: They’re not saying a lot on this hike home.

JOEL: It’s that awkward silence where they were quiet too long to just start talking again.

>
> "Now, Bob. I want a portal to the Supercomputer’s Armory."
> Megabyte demanded.

CROW: [ As Bob, bargaining ] I know how to make Google’s translate-to-Elmer-Fudd your home page.

> Bob gently placed Carrie on her couch, brushing
> the hair off her forehead gently. "Don’t worry," Bob whispered to
> her. "I know what I’m doing."

TOM: First time for everything, huh?

> Carrie smiled weakly, "I don’t want you
> to let him through just to save me." She whispered hoarsely.

JOEL: But a promise is a promise…

> "Now,
> Guardian." Megabyte interrupted. Bob stood up and turned to Megabyte.
> "I’ll do it." Bob said,

TOM: But before I do, I want you to sing "You’re A Grand Old Flag." Two verses.

> "But you have to allow Carrie to stay behind,
> to make sure she’ll be okay."

CROW: [ As Bob ] Uhh… will you fall for that?

> Megabyte smiled. "Certainly," he said
> softly,

TOM: We wouldn’t want to keep his hostage around until after his demands are met.

> "We wouldn’t want her to suffer, would we?" Bob pulled Glitch
> from his pocket and opened it.

JOEL: Scotty, beam us up.

> He quickly pressed the ‘send recorded
> transmission’ button Glitch had provided.

TOM: He’s pirating free TV!

> Silently, Glitch sent the
> message to Bob’s accomplice waiting on the other side.
>

JOEL: Unfortunately, it’s mistaken for that Nigerian financial scam.

> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

CROW: It’s a road map of Shipshewana, Indiana.

> Part Twenty-One
>

TOM: This is the chapter Charles van Doren helped with.

> He stood silently, peering at the tear before him. *Why do I
> always do this?* he thought.

CROW: For the love of the game?

> *I have better things to do.* He
> crouched down, extending his right blade slightly, and started to draw
> in the dust on the ground.

JOEL: If Marvel Comics owned Marvin the Paranoid Android.

> He was just becoming interested in his
> doodles, when his Web-Echo Collector chirped softly.

CROW: He accidentally created Flash animation.

> Looking around
> quickly, Symble made sure there were no more viral binomes around.

TOM: He sent them all back to Newton for binomial expansion.

> He
> had dealt with the ones that had followed Megabyte quickly enough that
> they had no time to call for backup.

JOEL: And by ‘dealt with’ we mean ‘killed.’

> He pulled the small Collector
> from his belt and listened to the message from Bob.

TOM: [ As Collector ] Bob Bob bo bob, banana fana fo fob, mee mi mo mob —

CROW: Click! Bzzzzzzz…

> ‘Symble,’

JOEL: Shephard.

> his
> Collector said, ‘I need you to open a portal to the Chalo Omega
> System’s energy transport.

TOM: Wouldn’t it solve the problem to beam Megabyte to whatever company owns Amiga this week and let them go bankrupt?

> You have to be ready for Megabyte.’
>

CROW: How scared can we get of a villain who fits on one three and a half inch floppy?

> The transmission ended and Symble stood up. He walked toward
> the tear, and extended both blades.

JOEL: Oh, this scene’s just here for the symbolism.

> He stopped just in front of it,
> and closed his eyes in concentration.

TOM: Ohwaaaaa…

JOEL: Tagooooo…

CROW: Siammmmm…

> His breathing slowed and he
> lifted his blades toward the tear.

TOM: If those are conductive blades he could be setting himself up for a *nasty* shock.

> As they approached the sides, he
> opened his eyes again. They had become completely silver.

CROW: The sides, the blades, or his eyes? You make the call.

JOEL: Silver the color, or silver the metal?

> He looked
> forward unseeingly as his blades touched the sides of the tear. The
> energy began to course through his arms, and then his body,

CROW: Found the capacitor!

> yet he
> didn’t react in any way. He stood like that for a nano, then
> something incredible happened.

JOEL: He was hired as acting coach for "Enterprise."

> The tear flickered briefly, then
> became a silver sphere,

CROW: It’s a giant dime! Thundarr the Barbarian was looking for those!

> the same silver as Symble’s eyes had become.
> He stepped back and, blinking, his eyes returned to the usual black on
> red.

JOEL: This is a strange form of color-blindness to catch.

>
> Another person was looking on, quietly from the shadows.

CROW: Polonius!

> She
> had witnessed the whole scene with Megabyte and a sprite she had never
> seen before.

TOM: It’s Carrie’s mom, she’s reading the story!

> The Guardian had followed behind, after foolishly
> testing this new virus.

JOEL: These British newspapers are quirky.

> What she couldn’t figure out was why this
> virus had helped Bob follow her brother. Hexadecimal was glad to see
> him go.

CROW: Binary, octal, and sexagesimal were torn and undecided.

> Now she had all of Mainframe to herself. Yet, she felt
> compelled to simply sit and watch the virus as he guarded the portal.

TOM: It’s not the virus so much as it is the flying toasters.

> She found him intriguing, almost as though she knew him from
> somewhere.

JOEL: She saw him on an earlier episode of the show!

> What she found especially facinating was the fact that
> this virus could also form portals, but by using tear energy, rather
> than his own, as she did.

CROW: Never underestimate the power of a good cry.

> *I must meet this new one.* she thought,
> then stepped from the shadows.
>
> Symble’s ears turned as they picked up a sound behind him. He
> whirled and looked around warily. "Who is out there?"

CROW: Carrie hasn’t decided yet who to have in the story. Sorry.

> he asked the
> silence, "Show yourself!"

JOEL: At least do some funny shadow puppet tricks!

> He stood, poised on the balls of his feet,
> ready to pounce, when a very feminine virus stepped out from the
> shadows.

TOM: What makes a computer virus feminine?

CROW: When she holds your files you only pay 71 cents on the dollar ransom.

> "You don’t have to worry about me." she murmured,

JOEL: I worry for me, so you don’t have to!

> "I pose
> you no harm…yet." Symble watched as her mask changed to a
> suspitious one.

TOM: [ Laser noises ] Ptoo… ptoo ptoo…

> "But, what are you doing in my brother’s territory?"
> Symble looked at her, surprised. "Your….Brother?"

CROW: Luke?

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 9 of 16)


We’ve reached the halfway point in my current Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This is of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fan fiction, “Breaking the Barriers”. You can read the whole MiSTing here, and I hope you enjoy it. The mysterious portal that brought Carrie into the world of beloved animated series Reboot has returned, dropping her, Bob, Glitch, and the villain Megabyte in her Canadian hometown. And now — Megabyte has gone to the mall!

This was always one of my favorite MiSTings and the whole mall sequence is one of my favorite parts. I felt, at the time, like everything was landing well, and I still think so. The mall riffs have dated, but gloriously so. I couldn’t have written the jokes to be so late-90s/early-2000s if I’d tried. The host sketch to open this is also a weird delight. I kept up the conceit of playing out the Monopoly game while talking about other stuff. I think the Adam West jokes were from a first draft at a show-opener sketch that I could’t make work. But it served as a great introduction to Tom Servo’s thing. This sketch is packed with local riffs, and they’re based on Troy, New York, where I had just finished grad school. So the Latham Circle Diner, the 76 Diner, and the Chinese restaurant just south of it were real places. As the name suggests they were near, though not attached to, the Latham Circle Mall beloved in dead-mall … circles. Shalimar’s was this Pakistani-Indian restaurant in downtown Troy that I never ate at enough, but enjoyed each time I did, and am delighted to learn is still there. (Also the comic book shop across the street is still there, somehow.)

Kaya buns, meanwhile, are this kind of Malaysian/Singaporean treat, bread buns with sweet coconut jam filling. Also in the early 2000s Coke experimented with flavors like Lemon Coke, thus, the Durian Coke riff. Scooter Computer and Mister Chips (they’ve got the answers at their fingertips) was a set of public service advertisements ABC ran on Saturday mornings in the 80s trying to explain computers to kids. The “Kirsten to Bridge? Kirsten to Engineering?” riffs reference the legendary Stephen Ratliff Kids Crew/Marrissa Picard stories. I participated in the riffing on many of those. I’d like to share them, but I’m not sure if I ought without permission from the co-authors. At least the editor. (Where possible. Bill Livingston, one of the greatest MST3K fanfic writers of the era, died about a decade ago, for example.)

This segment closes on the riff “If Carrie had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened”. This was a line I put in pretty near every MiSTing I wrote for a long while. It was drawn from the Woody Woodpecker cartoon Bunco Busters, a cop show spoof, in which Woody keeps falling for Buzz Buzzard’s cons while the stern narrator tells us how this could have been avoided. Turns out I got the line wrong. The narrator says “If Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened.” The difference is tiny but it hurts me that I got it wrong. But it had been like fifteen years since I’d seen the cartoon, and it was basically impossible to watch videos online in 2002, even if Woody Woodpecker cartoons had been online. So I must live with a misquoted riff in, like, everything I wrote. Too bad.

Alex Trebek was from what is now Greater Sudbury, Ontario. This fact exhausts what I knew of the place in 2002 as well as what I know now.



[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. The Monopoly set is still on the desk, with the pieces pretty well moved around; a few houses are scattered around the board, including one on Free Parking. GYPSY, CROW, and JOEL are waiting. CROW seems deep in thought. ]

MAGIC VOICE: Why is it always the guy whose turn it is who goes missing?

GYPSY: Would you notice if somebody else left?

JOEL: OK, we give him another minute then go on.

[ TOM SERVO pops up. ]

JOEL: Hey, Magic Voice, can I buy the Peanuts edition from you?

MAGIC VOICE: But you can’t do anything with it.

JOEL: I know, but I like Peanuts.

MAGIC VOICE: Give me a turn to think it over.

JOEL: Fair enough. Hey, Crow, buddy, you awake?

CROW: [ As JOEL nudges him. ] Oh! Joel, do we really know that Ariel (Disney’s The Little Mermaid) and Adam West were different people?

JOEL: [ Taken aback ] Well, one was a cartoon, who could sing, and who was surrounded by colorful and zany characters.

GYPSY: And the other was a mermaid.

CROW: Yeah, but did we ever see them both at the *same* *time*? And if we did, did we know the ‘Adam West’ wasn’t a robot or Alfred in disguise?

JOEL: Uh … well …

[ As ALL ponder this, TOM jumps up. ]

TOM: Greetings!

JOEL: Ah, Tom, it’s your turn. [ He rolls the dice. ]

TOM: Please, do not be alarmed by my presence!

CROW: We’re not. We want to know if you’re buying the Disney edition.

TOM: Yes, I am Thomas Servo. I come to you from the “real world”! In it, you are all the beloved characters from a famous television show.

[ Two beats. ]

CROW: All right, Tom, and where are you going with —

TOM: I’m new to this world! Don’t fear me.

GYPSY: He’s not gonna buy the title.

JOEL: [ Giggling ] So would you like some of our un-real food?

TOM: Why, yes, please.

JOEL: OK. So what do we give a visitor to our reality?

CROW: Ten seconds to go or pass.

GYPSY: How about a RAM chip?

JOEL: Or a block of cheddar cheese?

TOM: White Castle burger would be nice.

CROW: Roll for Cambot, Joel.

[ CAMBOT quickly nods. JOEL rolls; he moves the piece. ]

JOEL: You know what I’d like, my first meal in a new dimension? A thick chocolate shake.

CROW: Fine, then. Kaya buns.

GYPSY: Hey, that’s my square. [ JOEL takes $80 from CAMBOT’s pile and gives it to GYPSY. ] Maybe we should take him to a restaurant?

JOEL: Old Country Buffet for somebody from another dimension?

TOM: I’d be fine with Popeye’s too.

CROW: Now, see, I’d say the Latham Circle Diner or Shalimar’s is more representative of our reality.

GYPSY: Or the 76 Diner, on Route 9.

JOEL: The Chinese buffet just south of there.

[ JOEL rolls, advances GYPSY’s token. ]

MAGIC VOICE: The one with the pizza slices? And the Philly cheesesteaks?

GYPSY: Yeah!

JOEL: That’s the one.

TOM: Yes, this will do nicely.

CROW: Ok, you going to drive, Joel?

JOEL: Yeah, let’s go.

[ JOEL starts to leave; GYPSY and CROW follow, leaving TOM alone. ]

GYPSY: Shotgun!

MAGIC VOICE: [ A moment behind GYPSY ] Shotgun!

CROW: [ Leaving camera ] Aw, you always get shotgun.

JOEL: [ Leaving camera, voice fading ] The rules are the rules. Hey, what’s with this Adam West/Little Mermaid thing?

GYPSY: [ Off-camera, fading ] Usually you think like that at the start of the day’s experiment.

CROW: [ off-camera, faint ] I don’t know, it just came up is all.

[ Several beats. ]

TOM: I don’t think I’m interacting with this reality well.

[ TOM looks around. ]

TOM: Hey, the Coca-Cola edition’s mine! Crow owes me!

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes ]

TOM: And now we’ve got movie sign too… JOEL!

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

[ THEATER. TOM is by himself. ]

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

TOM: It’s a very confused trail of ants.

>
> Part Eighteen

TOM: This was the original title of Part Twenty-Two.

>
> As Megabyte wandered through the crowd, he wondered if
> everything about him had changed.

TOM: You ever feel like the world’s Manhattan and you’re Greater Sudbury, Ontario?

> He certainly felt different. His
> normal viral impulses had given way to stronger and stranger ones.

TOM: He’s becoming a compulsive spender.

> For some reason, all these people surrounding him, seemed like prey.

TOM: Even his bunny books seem empty to him.

> Yet, they only talked to and interacted with each other. He could see
> no evidence that anyone looked upon him as a predator.

TOM: Maybe Canadians just don’t naturally distrust mall-walkers.

> And he also
> had this knowledge that he was now able to infect them, but not as a
> virus.

TOM: So interdimensional portals give you a lot of exposition?

> Unsure of these feelings, he simply continued to wander
> through the crowds.

TOM: And he’s attacked by a focus group that wants to know if he likes new Durian Coke.

>
> As Carrie and Bob ran into the crowd of people, they began
> looking for Megabyte.

TOM: He’ll be easy to spot, since he’s the only guy at the mall with a proper name.

> "Can you see him?" Carrie asked. "No." Bob
> said.

[ JOEL, CROW file in. JOEL cracks open a fortune cookie. ]

TOM: About *time*, guys.

JOEL: "Your friends are often surprised by your kindness."

TOM: That’s an ambiguous fortune.

CROW: It’s your cookie, Tom.

[ JOEL feeds the cookie pieces to TOM. ]

> "He’s no where in sight." "Maybe we should split up and look
> for him that way." Carrie said. Bob thought about that for a second.

JOEL: Scooby, Shaggy, and Velma can check the basement. We’ll check the attic.

> "O.K." he said, "But, I’m giving you Glitch’s extension peice. If you
> find him, call me through Glitch. Don’t confront him alone."

CROW: Yeah, that advice will last for seconds.

> Carrie
> blushed at his concern for her well being. "Thanks," she said, taking
> the extension. "I’ll be careful."

MAGIC VOICE: [ Startling JOEL, TOM, and CROW ] Fifteen seconds until Carrie is captured. Fifteen seconds.

JOEL: [ Recovering his composure ] I knew that.

TOM: Did *not*.

> Bob smiled shyly, then did
> something really unexpected. He stepped close to Carrie, and kissed
> her gently on the cheek. "I don’t want you to get hurt."

CROW: But it is, after all, Ape Law.

> He
> whispered, then turned and entered the crowd. Carrie just stood there
> for a moment, shocked and pleasantly surprised.

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] Boy, this couldn’t be any better, nothing could possibly happen to me now …

> *I’m glad Dot’s not
> here.* she thought, *Or I’d be in BIG trouble now.*

CROW: [ As Carrie ] I’m glad I started wearing high heels today. And this chic tight skirt, sure, I can’t run, but I look great!

> Smiling, she took
> off in the other direction to look for Megabyte.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] It’s going to be a nice easy shift, and good, ’cause it’s just two days until my retirement.

>
> As Bob ran swiftly through the crowd, his mind raced at an
> even greater speed.

JOEL: Did you know the fastest computer in the world is a PDP-11 that’s been dropped from a helicopter?

> *Where did that come from?* he wondered, *Why in
> the world would I kiss Carrie, and never Dot? Is she so different?*

TOM: [ As Bob ] Maybe it’s me. Maybe *I’m* Carrie, and she’s Dot. Does that make sense?

> His mind was a flurry of questions as he realized something. He
> didn’t even know what Megabyte looked like as a human.

CROW: D’oh!

TOM: Just because he’s the Guardian of Mainframe doesn’t mean he can handle a Kaybee Toys.

> Carrie hadn’t
> told him. *Well, no wonder,* he thought, *After what you did, how
> could she be thinking straight?*

JOEL: ‘Cause girls turn stupid when they kiss.

> Bob knew Carrie liked him. He
> turned, deciding to see if he could find her.

CROW: You left her ten seconds ago, how hard do you have to look?

> *Wait,* he thought, and
> pulled Glitch from his pocket. "Glitch," he said, "communication to
> extension."

JOEL: Kirsten to Bridge?

> Glitch beeped, then processed the request. After a
> couple of seconds, it beeped again, this time, puzzledly.

JOEL: Kirsten to Engineering?

> ‘Connection
> unsuccessful. No reply.’ Glitch displayed. Bob stared at the screen in
> shock.

CROW: Bob’s the kind of person who hangs up on the second ring.

> "Glitch, trace location of extension." Glitch displayed a
> small map with a blinking dot.

TOM: You’re here, and she’s got the traveller’s cheques there.

> Closing Glitch, Bob ran to the spot it
> had shown him. Looking around, Bob couldn’t see Carrie anywhere.

CROW: I bet he wishes he had traceroute up and running now.

> Then, he looked down at the ground. There was Glitch’s extension, and
> it was crushed.

JOEL: Absolutely heartbroken!

> The gravel on the ground showed signs of a struggle.

TOM: Yes, Carrie’s pager fought back brilliantly.

> *No!* Bob thought, then something else caught his eye. Picking it up,
> he realized what it was.

CROW: Shiny things are pretty!

> It was a broken necklace, bearing the name
> ‘Mouse’.

TOM: [ As Bob ] Somebody else had a "Mouse" necklace too!

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

CROW: Couple more pieces and we can make a Lego axe.

> Part Nineteen
>
> Carrie struggled and fought against Megabyte, trying
> desperately to break free.

JOEL: She should trace a little green marker around his edge.

> "Now now," He rumbled, "You know that
> won’t do you any good."

TOM: You’d think this could attract the attention of the mall cops.

> Carrie continued to fight, hoping to loosen
> his grip enough that she could slip away. *If I can just get to Bob,
> or tell him about this somehow!!*

CROW: [ As Carrie ] Oh, why couldn’t I have been pulled into the world of Scooter Computer and Mister Chips?

> she thought, *He could get me out of
> here.* Megabyte dragged Carrie behind one of the generator trucks,
> and set her on the ground. "If you scream," Megabyte said,

TOM: You’ll be in SOOOOO much trouble…

> "Your
> punishment will be very severe." Carrie’s eyes widened as he spoke.

JOEL: He’s not a very good makeout artist.

> *Oh, God!!* she thought. Megabyte was no longer a virus, but he
> wasn’t human either.

TOM: Not to suggest that all Armani-wearing white guys are evil inhuman monsters out to destroy the world.

CROW: There are nearly two dozen guys who aren’t.

> He looked normal, except for one thing. He had
> fangs. *Just like a…Oh No!!* Carrie’s mind raced. Only one kind of
> creature had teeth like that, but they weren’t supposed to exist.

CROW: They’re not real, like Megabyte.

> They were myths!! *He’s a….a ….Vampire!!* Carrie’s mind screamed
> at her. She sat unmoving as Megabyte removed his hand from her mouth.

TOM: Oh, sheesh… now cut that out!

JOEL: I dunno, I could buy it when the computer pulled Carrie into "Reboot," but this is getting kind of out there.

> "Good." he said, standing up straight. Carrie looked up at him.
> "What do you want with me?" She asked him. He chuckled richly. "You
> are the bait to catch a Guardian." He said.

JOEL: You and this can of mealworms.

> "You are my ensurance
> that he will send me back to Mainframe."

TOM: You just *left* Mainframe.

> He thought silently for a
> few seconds, then smiled, evily. "Maybe even to the Supercomputer!"

CROW: Did he even have to *go* to the mall?

JOEL: His plan was to get out of Carrie’s bedroom, lose Carrie and Bob, wander around, find Carrie and Bob, and get to Carrie’s bedroom.

>
> Carrie pulled her knees up to her chest, and hugged them
> tightly. *What am I going to do?* she thought, *I can’t let this
> happen!*

TOM: Dare him to squeeze into a wireless networking card!

> She started to try and come up with a plan. If she could at
> least get him away from the Carnival, that would help.

CROW: What good luck — outside the Hudson’s Bay they just opened a new "World of Garlic and Silver Bullets"!

> She looked
> over at Megabyte. he was turned, looking at the Midway, expecting Bob
> from that direction.

TOM: We all expect Bob from one direction or another.

> *Maybe I can get away by going around the other
> way.* She straightened her legs, silently, then tried to stand up.

CROW: With her legs straightened that’s kind of tricky.

> "I wouldn’t try that if I were you." Megabyte said, not even turning.
> Carrie looked at him, surprised. *How did he know?* she wondered.

JOEL: He’s got eyes in the back of his head!

TOM: It’s not well known, but Megabyte *is* a Mom.

>
> Suddenly, Megabyte was hit in the chest by a flying brick.

CROW: Ignatz Mouse is *way* off base this time.

> He
> stumbled slightly as Bob came racing around the corner of the booth
> beside the truck. "Alright, Megabyte."

TOM: I’d give Carrie ten bucks to put Dig Dug here instead.

> He said, "This ends here!"
> Megabyte picked up the offending brick, and casually tossed it to the
> side. "Now, Bob."

JOEL: You could have hit someone with that. In fact, you did!

> He rumbled, "If you want your friend returned in
> one peice, I suggest you take me into the Supercomputer."

CROW: And, uh, any supplies of Krazy Glue you have would be appreciated.

> Reaching
> over, Megabyte caught Carrie before she could even attempt to run.
> Carrie turned to Megabyte.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Oh, yeah, big strong guy, you can catch a girl who’s *sitting*.

> "I don’t care what you do!" She shouted at
> him. "I would rather have you kill me then see you get into the
> Supercomputer!!"

JOEL: [ As Bob ] Don’t look at me, I don’t know how you get into the Supercomputer from here.

> Megabyte smiled evily, and Carrie began to tremble
> with fear.

CROW: [ As Megabyte ] Run that first part by me again …

> "I don’t have to kill you," he said, "I have another
> ability I can use."

TOM: He can apply his extensive knowledge of Gilbert and Sullivan.

> Carrie’s eyes widened in fear as he once again
> clamped his hand over her mouth. He lifted her off the ground
> slightly, and pulled her head to the side.

JOEL: Bob’s got other things to do this scene.

> Smiling quickly at Bob, he
> opened his mouth, revealing his long fangs, then his head descended
> towards Carrie’s neck.

CROW: How does he know to do that?

> *Nooooo!!!* Carrie’s mind echoed Bob’s scream
> as she felt Megabyte’s fangs sink deeply into her skin.

JOEL: We’re veering dangerously close to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" territory now.

TOM: If Carrie had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened.

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 8 of 16)


And now we reach the halfway point in my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic “Breaking the Barriers”. The whole MiSTing of this work should be at this link.

The story so far: Carrie, our author, was messing around on the computer one day when she got zapped into cyberspace! Or at least into the world of Reboot. She goes with Bob to investigate a weird energy portal thingy and finds series villain Megabyte. Megabyte captures her, and Symble the cat virus shoves the two of them through the portal before she can break free.

The riff about Chuck Woolery after a mention of “greed” referenced a short-lived game show, Greed, that he hosted back when every network was trying to clone Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. The mention of “Valentina” refers to a series of novellas that Analog Science Fiction ran in the early 80s about some science types who accidentally created an artificial intelligence computer goddess. You know, like people did all the time back then. In hindsight, science fiction writers overestimated the capabilities of programming in PILOT. The stories got collected into a book that I remember as being a fast read.

The reference to Megabyte trying “to comprehend an Eckart” confuses me too. I think that it’s a typo and I meant “an Eckert”, as in Max Eckert’s various map projections. If it’s not that then I have no idea what it could mean. Crow’s riff about the fake note from Carrie’s parents strikes me as terribly mean, now, and I wouldn’t make it if I were writing this today. I say this acknowledging that it’s the sort of joke the show would make, at least in the 90s. (I can think of specific riffs, many delivered by Crow, built on the same premise.) Canadian 2-for-1 pizza was a Singapore pizza chain. I liked their pizza, but their gimmick — two pies for the price of one — meant they were selling too much pizza for me to get often. “Marlboro Day” reflects that I used to live in Marlboro and now and then they had Days.

I’ve edited this slightly, removing the name given to Carrie’s hometown, out of the concern for not unintentionally embarrassing her eighteen years later by naming what seems a pretty small place. This took out one riff, also, that was just the obvious riff to make about the place’s name anyway. I left in the bit where she named her best friend because I believe the character to be fictional.


> Part Sixteen
>
> As Carrie came to, she struggled to remember what had
> happened.

TOM: It’s kind of that way for us, too.

> She looked up to find her computer running and her chair
> tipped over on its side.

CROW: It must have been a very small, localized earthquake…

> *Now I remember!* She thought, standing up.

JOEL: It was stuffing *instead* of potatoes!

> *Was it only a dream?* She picked up the chair, then noticed that
> the top was scratched.

CROW: It must’ve itched something terrible.

> As she inspected the gouges, her throat
> tightened. Only one thing could account for marks like that.

JOEL: She’s got a cat!

> She
> turned slowly, hoping against hope that she wouldn’t find him there.
> She gasped and stepped back when she saw him. He had changed.

CROW: He was trying to make himself good enough for her.

> He was
> dressed elegantly, in an expensive looking Armani style suit.

TOM: Withholding antecedents doesn’t make the story more dramatic!

> His
> hair was like fire,

JOEL: And vice-versa.

> but his skin was pale.

CROW: Oh, yeah, computer science guys.

> He was powerfully built as
> he had been as a virus,

TOM: Only now he wasn’t that scared of Norton Disk Doctor.

> and his face looked like the envy of every
> male model. He had the classic GQ gentlemanly look,

CROW: This is not to suggest every man wearing an Armani suit is evil.

TOM: But they are.

> yet he still had
> a look of power and greed to him.

JOEL: President Chuck Woolery!

> Even unconcious, Carrie recognized
> him immediately.

CROW: I thought she woke up?

> *So, * she thought, *that’s what Megabyte looks like
> as a human.*

TOM: I wonder what other humanoid bodies he might have turned into.

> She had often wondered that, but now, she would rather
> not have had to find out.

CROW: If her parents walk in this is going to be *so* weird to explain.

>
> Suddenly, her computer began beeping strangely.

JOEL: Is that you, Valentina darling?

> She turned,
> and then she was struck by something. She fell, with a limp body
> sprawled across her.

TOM: I hope telemarketers never figure out this trick.

> She pushed out from under it, and gasped as she
> saw the face. "Oh my God!" she whispered. It was Bob. He had
> followed her through the portal.

CROW: You’ve got male!

> He was dressed in blue jeans, a grey
> T-shirt and had a jean shirt over top. His hair had become light
> brown shoulder length dreads and his skin was a deep tan.

JOEL: He’s in the real world and he can still fit in the Commodore 64 color set.

> "Bob!"
> Carrie said. "Wake up!" she shook him gently. "Please, wake up!"

CROW: Oh, now he’s just being difficult.

>
> He stirred, and Carrie smiled.

JOEL: Someday he’ll be able to mix his own hot cocoa.

> Bob sat up, holding his head in his
> hands. "Oh, man." he moaned.

TOM: He looks around and discovers *he’s* been pulled into the world of *his* favorite cartoon.

>
> Carrie got up and helped him to his feet. "Thank goodness
> you’re alright!" Carrie said. Bob looked up at her and smiled.

CROW: [ As Bob ] Actually, half of me is —

TOM: [ Sternly ] No.

> "Nothing can bring a Guardian down."

JOEL: That’s why he’s so bad in escalators.

> He said, then winced in pain.

TOM: Aw, he’s going to Shatner all over the place.

> "Oh, brother," he said, "Does my head ever hurt!" Carrie giggled,
> then turned and stiffened. "We’ve got a problem."

CROW: I hope it’s not a word problem.

TOM: Yeah, that stupid dancing paperclip is back.

> She told Bob. Bob
> looked at her, puzzled. "What?" He asked.

TOM: There’s like eight thousand words to go and the only thing going on is some flirting.

> Carrie pointed at the
> floor beside them. "What? There’s nothing there." Bob said. Carrie
> nodded.

CROW: Those two trains left Chicago!

> "Exactly." she whispered, "Megabyte’s gone!"

TOM: So he regained consciousnessness, figured out where he was, planned what to do, and snuck out under cover of day, all in about sixteen seconds.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

JOEL: [ Singing ] Well, she was …

> Part Seventeen

JOEL: [ Continuing ] — you know what I mean —

>
> Megabyte stood silently, surveying the land that spread before
> him.

TOM: Most people don’t know this, but Megabyte’s a top geologist.

> He had never seen anything like this. *Quite strange.*

CROW: Megabyte tries to comprehend an Eckart.

> he
> thought, as he inspected the horizon. Carrie’s hometown [ … ] was
> a small place, dominated by empty feilds, even though she lived in
> what was considered the heart of the town, closest to the small
> shopping mall.

TOM: It’s not so much a town as it is the setting *for* a town.

> Even from here, Megabyte could hear people and
> laughter. Turning, he headed toward the source of the noises.
>

CROW: That’s a pretty loud mall.

TOM: Both of Canada’s rowdy guys are there today.

> Carrie and Bob raced upstairs. "MOM!?!" Carrie shouted,

JOEL: Wait, that’s not his name, it was …

> "DAD!?!

JOEL: Yeah, that’s it … or, wait, was it …

> Anybody!?!"

JOEL: They’ll have to answer me now!

> She ran into the kitchen

JOEL: Oh, no sense waiting.

> to find a note on the
> table.

CROW: Dear Carrie: Saw you drawn into computer, couldn’t pass up chance, goodbye forever — hey, wait!

> *Dear Mouse, we decided to out to dinner, and when we couldn’t
> find you, we figured you’d gone to see Bob.

TOM: But you don’t know anyone named Bob, so we worried about you. We hope it’s just a phase.

> We’ll be back by nine
> o’clock. There’s leftover pizza in the fridge for you. Love Mom.*
> Carrie sighed. "Thank goodness!" she said.

CROW: She’s at that awkward age where she needs her parents, but is embarassed to be in the same fan fiction with them.

> She looked at Bob, and he
> gave her a puzzled look. "How did they know you’d end up in
> Mainframe?" Carrie giggled.

TOM: It was a lucky guess.

> "Not you, silly!" she said, "My best
> friend!

JOEL: Bob Bobbobbobovich.

> His name is Robert T. Gardien,

TOM: Famed for Crockett’s Victory Gardien.

> but everybody calls him Bob!"

CROW: I wonder what the ‘T’ stands for.

> Bob smiled "Bob T. _Gardien_?" he said, "And I just happen to be Bob
> the _Gaurdian_? No coincedence, right?"

TOM: Heh heh heh heh heh … I don’t get it.

> Carrie blushed. "If you’re
> ego gets any bigger," she teased, "you won’t fit in my house!"

JOEL: How’s he going to fit back in her computer?

> Then
> she grabbed his hand. "Come on!" she said, "We still have to find
> Megabyte!!"

TOM: He’s in the living room watching "The Raccoons."

>
> Before she left, she turned to the fridge. "Oh, just a sec."

JOEL: She needs to leave it a few instructions before she goes. [ As Carrie ] Ahem. Stay cool. There, that’ll do.

> she said, tugging the door open. "I’m hungry."

CROW: Forget saving the world! I want a Tim Horton’s doughnut!

> She pulled out a pizza
> box with the Pizza Hut symbol emblazened on it.

JOEL: Hey, product placement.

TOM: On second thought, let’s try starving to death.

> She put it on the
> table and opened it. "Yumm!" she said, "Full toppings! My fave!!"

JOEL: Toppings’ll make us sleepy.

> She pulled out a peice and took an enormous bite out of it. As she
> chewed enthusiastically, Bob looked down at the contents of the box.

CROW: That’s … not … pepperoni.

> "What’s that?" he asked. Carrie started to choke, swallowed hard,
> then started to laugh.

TOM: It’s funny ’cause it’s pizza.

> "You don’t know what a pizza is?" She asked
> him, surprised. "No." Bob said.

CROW: Think of it as a "Burger Time" gone horribly wrong.

> "Remember, you never had an energy
> shake, either."

JOEL: Shouldn’t she be eating Canadian 2-for-1 Pizza instead?

> Carrie blushed again. Then she offered her peice to
> him. "Wanna try some?" she asked.

TOM: How can a computer guy not live on pizza and Mountain Dew?

JOEL: He eats a lot of Thai.

> Bob took it gingerly, then, took a
> bite the same way Carrie had. She smiled as Bob closed his eyes in
> pleasure.

CROW: The warm and tender moment is interrupted only briefly by the screams of Megabyte’s victims.

> When he had swallowed it, he opened his eyes and looked
> into hers. "That’s delicious!!" He said, and Carrie giggled. "I knew
> you’d like it!" She said. She grabbed another peice, "Let’s go."

JOEL: And, hey — let’s be careful out there.

>
> As they entered her backyard, they could hear noises coming
> from the area of the mall. "Oh no!!" Carrie shouted,

TOM: Augustus has fallen into the gloop!

> "He must have
> gone over there! It’s the Carnival this weekend!!"

CROW: They’re just celebrating the idea of malls.

> She turned to
> Bob. "There’s got to be tons of kids over there!!"

JOEL: Cumulatively, anyway, sure.

> Bob put his hands
> on his hips, and looked over at the mall.

TOM: I’m Hans Christian Anderson!

> He could see the midway
> rides and could hear the people laughing and shouting.

CROW: It’s terrible! They’re celebrating Marlboro Day! And it’s not Marlboro!

> "Glitch," he
> said, raising his left arm, only to find nothing there. "Glitch!?!"

JOEL: Uh, more like minor blooper, thanks.

> Carrie turned to find Bob looking at her, worry etched into his face.
> "Where’s Glitch?" He said. Carrie looked at the empty spot above his
> left wrist.

CROW: Shouldn’t there be a hand there?

> "I don’t know." She said. "Wait! What’s in your pocket?"

TOM: Twenty-two cents, an unidentified key and three pieces of string.

> Bob reached into his pocket, and pulled out what looked like a tiny
> computer.

CROW: Awww…

TOM: Oh, it’s so cute at that age!

CROW: Bet it wants its mommy.

> It was grey and black with the word ‘Glitch’ inscribed on
> it in metallic blue. "Glitch?" Bob asked, and the little computer
> beeped almost cheerfully.

JOEL: I hope we get to see it grow up into an Artoo droid.

> "Well," Carrie said, "Now I know what
> Glitch looks like in my world, too."

TOM: Yup.

CROW: Sure do.

TOM: There’s no gainsaying the obvious.

> Bob smiled, and put Glitch back
> in his pocket. "O.K.," he said, taking Carrie’s hand, much to her
> delight. "Let’s go!" and they headed towards the mall.

JOEL: [ Picking up TOM ] Oh, let’s just go to Borders instead.

[ TOM, JOEL, and CROW exit. ]

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 7 of 16)


I hope you’re all continuing to enjoy Reboot: Breaking the Barriers, written by Carrie L— long ago, and turned into Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction by me a little less long ago. This whole MiSTing should be gathered at this link for your convenient reading.

The story so far: Carrie has fallen through a weird portal into her computer and, more, the world of pioneering computer-animated cartoon Reboot. She’s met up with the heroes and they’re all getting along great. So all she needs is to get home again — and hey, there’s some kind of roaming tear in space puttering around the digital world. Might be worth checking out.

I lived in Singapore when I wrote this, which is why there’s references to Mos Burger (a hamburger place, with some neat rice-bun burgers that I miss). The reference to Guardian and Watsons is about a couple of pharmacy chains. Bennie the Ball is one of the supporting cats from Top Cat, a series I figured was consigned to obscurity by the early 2000s. The Retlaw Plant poisoned Mr Sulu in an episode of the original Star Trek cartoon that Walter Koenig wrote. (Get the name yet?)


>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>
> Part Fourteen
>

JOEL: See, and that’s just thirteen dots, for chapter fourteen.

CROW: That’s eleven dots.

JOEL: No, that was … wait …

> The structure they approached was stunning yet foreboding at
> the same time.

TOM: Sounds like the Registrar’s office.

> Carrie knew this place well, and her knowledge of
> it made her nervous and apprehensive. As they crossed the border,
> Carrie’s throat constricted.

CROW: Oh no! The "Mouse" bracelet is taking over!

> *Silicon Tor,*

JOEL: Younger brother of Gigan Tor.

TOM: Next-door neighbor to Phosphorus Tor.

> she thought, *The home of
> Megabyte.*

JOEL: All our servings come in three sizes, bit, byte, and megabyte.

> A shiver went through her as she thought of the things
> Megabyte would do to them if her caught them in his territory.

CROW: He might force them to watch his vacation slides.

> *I
> wonder if he can infect sprites?* she thought,

TOM: Sprite, Dr Pepper, Pepsi Twist…

> then turned away from
> such thoughts. It wouldn’t help to be negative now.

CROW: No negatives? Are you positive?

JOEL: Neither. She’s a Carrie bit.

>
> Carrie looked over at Bob. He was intently studying the map
> Glitch was displaying.

CROW: You Are Here … Ah, there’s the Mos Burger … Walden’s … Pet Safari … ah, pathway into other reality, right next to the As Seen On TV store.

> he stood Glitch down, then turned to Carrie.
> "It’s just ahead."

TOM: It’s the big tear-shaped thing.

> he whispered, then moved forward, turning into an
> alley.

JOEL: I can’t get enough of that "morph" trick.

> Carrie followed behind him. When she turned the corner, her
> eyes were bombarded by a bright light.

TOM: And long-lost relatives standing nearby…

> Shading her eyes, she took in
> a sight she was strangely happy to see.

CROW: It looks just like a puppy dog!

> The tear was now stationary
> and was as stable as a tear could really be.

TOM: And it will lead them back to the Alpha quadrant!

> It was impressive to see
> this form of energy up close for the first time.

CROW: Boy, it’s like we’re right here.

>
> "Glitch," Bob said, "Key direct portal to energy transport
> beam in the Chalo Omega system."

JOEL: Chalo Omega … didn’t he rule the Autobots before Optimus Prime?

> He aimed Glitch at the tear and it
> flew out. As it approached it, the tear transformed into a silvery
> sphere with Glitch attatched to the front.

TOM: [ As Glitch ] Yeee–aaaaaahhhh — JANE! STOP THIS CRAZY THING!

> On the other side, seen
> through Glitch was an orange beam of energy.

JOEL: They’ve tapped into the Orange Julius dimension!

> Bob looked over at
> Carrie. "This is the only place we could find that could bring you
> home."

TOM: You *do* live in a pumpkin, right?

> he told her. "Phong says that the computer attatched to the end
> of this beam should be yours."

CROW: It *should* be, but it’s too danged lazy.

>
> Carrie smiled. "Thank you." she said, "For everything."

JOEL: And, hey … call sometime, OK?

> Bob
> returned her smile, and offered her his hand. She took it gently,
> expecting to recieve a warm handshake.

CROW: You suppose if she downloaded some MP3’s right now then when she gets back she’ll never get them out of her head?

> Instead, she suddenly found
> herself in Bob’s arms.

JOEL: She was shrinking, and kind of liked it.

> She stiffly wrapped her arms around him,
> returning his friendly embrace.

TOM: He’s showing a lot of affection for not knowing who she is.

> Stepping back, he placed his hands on
> her shoulders. "Good luck." he whispered, his eyes shining.

CROW: Will she stay blue and digital when she gets back to Canada?

> "Don’t
> worry," Carrie said, "I’ll visit the next time my computer decides to
> swallow me whole."

TOM: Isn’t there a bandwidth issue in computers swallowing people?

> Bob smiled. "Well," he said, "I guess this is
> goodbye."

JOEL: I bet there’s a surprise coming right up.

>
> "Oh, not just yet."

CROW: You haven’t filled out your complimentary survey card.

> A deep, velvet voice intoned behind them.

TOM: They’re being attacked by melTorme.com!

> "I haven’t been introduced to your friend, Guardian."

JOEL: Or your rival, Watsons.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

CROW: See? It’s eleven dots.

JOEL: It’s a tough market for dots this year.

> Part Fifteen
>
> Before she could react to what was happenng,

CROW: We took a break for a word from these sponsors.

> Carrie found
> herself being lifted off the ground by a grip of steel.

TOM: That’s *buns* of steel, thank you.

JOEL: Ew.

> She tried to
> scream,

CROW: That’s your standard response.

> but a large viral hand clamped over her mouth and spun her
> around.

TOM: Being twirled by salmonella … that’s no responsible way to live.

> Carrie looked up to find herself staring into the mesmerising
> red on green

CROW: Ho ho ho!

> eyes of Megabyte.

JOEL: [ As Megabyte ] Oh, I’m not *that* Mega … you’re too kind.

> "Really, Bob." Megabyte rumbled,

TOM: Bill Daly cracks down.

> "How
> rude." Carrie grabbed Megabyte’s arm and pulled at it futally.

CROW: [ As Carrie ] I hope I wasn’t out of line with that crack about the gorillas.

> All
> he did was laugh, amused by her terror.

JOEL: Megabyte needs more hobbies.

>
> "Let her go, Megabyte!" Bob shouted, aiming Glitch at him.
> Megabyte looked at him. "No, I don’t think so." he said.

TOM: They have the same fight every *week*. The marriage counselor is this close to giving up.

> "Now, you
> do as I ask,

JOEL: Not as I do.

> or your friend suffers an early erasure."

CROW: That’s a threat we haven’t heard before.

> He turned
> Carrie around so she was facing Bob,

TOM: He’s aiming her for Dish TV.

> then held his free hand above her
> threateningly.

CROW: Big bucks … no whammies …

> As his hand began to descend towards Carrie, Bob
> lowered his arm.

CROW: STOP!

> "Alright!" he said, "What do you want?" Megabyte
> chuckled richly. "Oh, it’s very minor."

JOEL: Forty-niner.

[ CROW looks at JOEL. ]

> he drawled, "I want what
> every virus wants from a Guardian, your keytool." Carrie’s eyes
> widened in fear.

TOM: See, that would’ve been my third guess.

> *No!* she thought, *Don’t give it to him!*

CROW: Spit on it first, then he’ll be too grossed out to take it.

> She
> started struggling and kicking,

TOM: [ As Curly ] Whum – WHUM wulluwullwull.

> trying to break free, or at least
> distract Megabyte long enough for Bob to get them out of there.

JOEL: Hey, look, a big distracting thing!

>
> As it turned out, she didn’t need to.

TOM: Megabyte suddenly remembered a big dental appointment.

> Suddenly, a large bolt
> of bright red energy slammed into Megabyte’s chest.

JOEL: A tip for young writers: Story stalled out? Get it going again with a random explosion.

> It threw him off
> balance long enough for a fast moving figure to get in front of him.

CROW: Speedy Gonzales, hooray!

> With a sudden swipe of a long, pale green blade protruding from it’s
> hand,

TOM: Oh, this better not be Wesley Snipes.

> the figure pushed Megabyte through the portal.
>
> Megabyte let go of Carrie’s mouth, but succeded in grabbing
> her arm.

CROW: Pop!

> With a scream of terror, Carrie reached out to Bob as she
> was pulled in after Megabyte.

TOM: Hey, isn’t this the cliffhanger from "Beast Wars"?

> "Nooo!" Bob shouted. Then he whirled
> to face the figure. "Look what you’ve done!"

JOEL: And all over the floor!

> he yelled. The figure
> moved suddenly

CROW: And a pirate ship appeared over the horizon.

> and Bob found himself suspended against the wall with
> the end of a large blade against his throat.

TOM: [ Sheepishly ] "I didn’t mean you *personally*"…

> "Look, Guardian," the
> figure breathed, "I just saved you from deletion.

JOEL: So hurry up and get to making that CD-ROM backup of yourself.

> Don’t force me do
> it myself." Bob looked down at this person.

CROW: You shouldn’t be looking down at people.

> He was wearing a grey
> outfit with gold trim and gloves. He had pale green skin with blue
> triangular markings.

TOM: So a Retlaw plant joined the Superfriends?

> His hair was white with two blue and red
> streaks, but the most stunning part about him was his face.

JOEL: Mister Potato-Head?

> His
> features were feline with black on red eyes.

TOM: Bennie the Ball — Cybercop!

> He had the same
> triangular markings on his cheeks.

CROW: His cheeks are not to be stood on.

> "I didn’t have to save you, now
> did I?"

JOEL: No, but it’s wise to save a little extra Bob in case of a rainy day.

> As he spoke, Bob noticed large fangs and pointed teeth.

TOM: Vampires!

> Only
> one kind of creature looked like that, a feline virus.

CROW: Kitty!

TOM: So ThunderCat Cheetara became a Microsoft Word macro?

>
> "Where did you come from?" Bob asked.

JOEL: Nowhere particular.

CROW: Man, I wish I was you.

> The virus dropped him.
> "That is not important." he said.

TOM: What is important is can’t you see what I’m trying to tell you, I *love* you?

> "Your friend is." Turning, he
> headed toward the shadows, retracting his blades into his wrists.

JOEL: [ Yelping in pain ] Gee-yow! That *hurts*! What was I *think*ing?

> "Wait!" Bob said, "What’s your name?" he asked.

TOM: If he’s Batman I’m gonna slap this story so hard —

CROW: Catman.

> The figure paused
> long enough to glance over his shoulder. "Symble."

TOM: I think it’s pretty complex.

> He said, then
> vanished into the shadows.

CROW: And *that’s* my only line.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>

JOEL: Holding at eleven spots before liftoff.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 6 of 16)


I hope you’ve been enjoying my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction-sharing here. I plan to keep it going a while yet, which you knew from the subject line there. Also surely known to you: this is a continuation of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fan fiction, “Breaking the Barriers”. You can read the whole MiSTing, as it’s posted, here. You can read all of my MiSTings here, if I remember to tag them right.

The story so far: protagonist Carrie has disappeared into the world of pioneering computer-animated series Reboot. She’s met the main heroes of the show for real now. And she and series star Bob survived the perils of a Game thanks to Carrie’s expert play. But will they survive Bob’s girlfriend Dot asking why they were in a Game together?

The riff about Paul Frees references the 1953 Tom and Jerry cartoon The Missing Mouse. The “last time I had a good cry” bit references an episode of Taxi for no good reason. This segment has another instance of the joke where in-text a character asks why don’t they ask something, and then I riff the character asking that. I love that joke structure, but I feel like I probably swiped it from Get Smart. This week’s cryptic eight-bit Commodore machine-language bit: FFD8 was the routine to save computer memory to a device, such as cassette tape or disk drive.


>
> Part Twelve

JOEL: All this time and we’re barely started.

>
> Carrie stood there patiently as Enzo began to ask her question
> after question.

TOM: He should wait for an answer.

> "You’re new around here, aren’t you? Where’d you come
> from? How do you know Bob? Huh, huh?"

CROW: Why does it rain? Why is the sky blue? Is Santa Claus real? Can I have a nickel? I want a bicycle. Why does —
[ JOEL puts a hand on CROW’s shoulder. ]

> Carrie smiled at Enzo’s
> enthusiasm,

TOM: [ As Carrie ] He’s cute. I’ll eat him last.

> and answered his first and last questions,

CROW: By Olaf Stapledon.

> carefully
> avoiding the other.

JOEL: She didn’t know why the sky was blue.

> "This is my first time in Mainframe." she told
> him, "I’ve never been here before."

CROW: But I already saved the star of the show. I’m ahead of schedule.

> She smiled down at his curious
> face. "Actually, I ended up here by accident. That’s how I met Bob.

JOEL: Ask your mother. She’ll tell you.

> I’d heard of him before, but I just met him this cycle."

CROW: We’re very close to our motorcycles.

>
> Dot looked over at Carrie, frowning in suspition.

JOEL: [ As Dot ] I don’t think she’s eight-bit.

> "So she
> says she a user," she said to Bob, who shrugged and nodded. "How do
> we know if she’s telling the truth?" She asked him.

JOEL: Hold a survey on your web site?

> "I’m not sure,"
> Bob said, "she seemed to know alot about us,

CROW: She knows stuff we don’t know about ourselves.

> maybe she knows things
> only the user could know?"

TOM: How would Dot know what those things are?

> Dot mulled that over for a nano, then
> smiled slightly. "Why don’t we ask her and find out."

CROW: [ As Dot ] Carrie, how would you ask us who you are?

> she said slyly,
> and they both turned to look at Carrie.

TOM: You ask her. I’m bitter.

>
> When Carrie was at home, she always wore a necklace that her
> mother had given to her that bore her nickname, also given to her by
> her mother.

CROW: It’s a very personal thing that hasn’t been mentioned until now.

JOEL: I bet it’ll give us a touching insight into her character.

> The name ‘Mouse’.

ALL: Ooooh.

> When she had been pulled into
> Mainframe, it had been reformatted

CROW: How much of its space was free now?

> into an almost choker style band
> with a gold charm bearing the same inscription.

JOEL: [ Reading ] Over hill, over dale, Carrie Mouse will never fail.

> Enzo’s eagle eyes had
> spotted it,

[ TOM screeches, like an eagle ]

> and he immeadiately began to ask her about it. "How come
> it says ‘Mouse’?

CROW: It’s so she doesn’t forget her favorite rodent.

> Do you know her? Are you her sister or cousin or
> something?

JOEL: Are you her twin from the future of the mirror universe?

> Are you really her in disguise?"

TOM: To look like human guys?

>
> Carrie reached up and touched the charm.

JOEL: [ Giggling, ticklish ]

> The thought of her
> mother suddenly made her very homesick,

TOM: The first week at college is the hardest.

> and her eyes began to burn
> with tears. She closed her eyes, holding back the tears that wanted
> to escape.

CROW: She shouldn’t do that, she’ll pop!

TOM: Remember what Paul Frees taught us. The white Mouse will not explode.

> She thought about home and her family, about how she may
> never see them again,

JOEL: She remembers her last words to Mom were, "Don’t worry, I won’t get pulled into the computer and into a TV show" …

> and finally the tears began to escape. Covering
> her face with her hands, Carrie fought for control.

CROW: Must… fulfill… prime directive…

> She didn’t want
> to worry Enzo. As she began to regain control,

TOM: Damage control … all systems non-responsive … whirrr whirrrrrrrr … beedooop.

> she felt a hand on her
> shoulder and looked up into Bob’s worried eyes. "Are you alright?" he
> asked. Carrie smiled through the last of her tears.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] You know when’s the last time I had a good cry?

JOEL: [ As Bob ] No… when?

TOM: [ As Carrie ] This morning.

> "Yeah," she
> whispered, "I was just thinking of home and my family.

CROW: And whether I left the VCR set.

> I really miss
> them, and I want to go home."

TOM: I’m tired and I want to go to bed.

> Dot came up beside her, "I’m sure we
> can try and get you home," she said,

JOEL: Can she be sent parcel post?

> "But we need to ask you some
> questions first." Carrie looked at her, puzzled. "Questions?" she
> asked, "About what?"

CROW: The quadratic formula.

> Dot looked at her, and then decided to just tell
> her. "I just need proof that you’re really a user, so I want to know
> everything you know about us.

JOEL: Because … Dot knows how to send users home?

> Let’s go to the Diner."

ALL: [ Singing ] Let’s all go to the diner … let’s all go to the diner … let’s all go to the diner … and have ourselves a snack!

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
>
> Part Thirteen

CROW: Hey, that was only eleven dots. This can’t be part thirteen.

>
> The four of them sat together in the booth at Dot’s Diner.

TOM: [ Singing the ‘Seinfeld’ lick ] Beeow de dow dee dow

> Carrie’s little emotional episode had worried Bob, so he insisted on
> sitting beside her, much to Dot’s chagrin.

CROW: Bob’s got to sit either next to or across from her. Choose your poison.

> Carrie sat silently,
> staring at her folded hands

JOEL: Digital digits.

> on the table in front of her. Dot cleared
> her throat gently.

TOM: Uh, one of us has to order.

> "Carrie," she said, "We need you to tell us what
> you know about us."

JOEL: Use both sides of the paper if necessary.

> Carrie looked up, confused. "Why?" she
> whispered. Dot sighed quietly. "It’s the only way I know of finding
> proof that you’re a User."

CROW: Didn’t we just come from this scene?

> Carrie looked over at Bob, who flashed his
> killer smile,

JOEL: Aaah! Your smile — it’s … poi … son …

CROW: You did that already.

> and told her it was okay.

ALL: It’s OK.

>
> Carrie swallowed hard. This was exactly what she had wanted
> to avoid.

CROW: She’s got odd streaks of shyness.

> She didn’t want to reveal all her knowledge of Mainframe
> because she didn’t want to be looked upon as someone who encroached
> upon their privacy.

TOM: Oh, yeah, I can see how … huh?

> *Still,* she thought, *if it means getting home,
> I’ll tell them everything.*

JOEL: Begin with a comprehensive report about riboflavin.

> So taking a deep breath, Carrie began to
> tell them what she knew.
>
> Before she could really start, she was interrupted by a
> beeping.

CROW: Uh-oh. The plot’s getting in the way.

> Bob looked down at Glitch, then allowed the message through.

TOM: It’s from Star Fleet Command. It seems we have 139 star dates to kill the 26 invading Klingons before full-scale war breaks out. There are six star bases in our sector.

> The cube-shaped face of a one binome looked up from the circular
> viewscreen.

JOEL: For extra credit, see how many ways you can rearrange the words in that sentence and have it still make equal sense.

> He wore the distinct green helmet with visor of the
> CPU’s, alerting Carrie to the fact that this was important. "Excuse
> me, sir." the binome saluted,

JOEL: Hail Caesar.

> "Sorry to bother you,

TOM: But WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!

ALL: [ Screaming ]

> but we’ve just
> recieved reports of a roaming tear left by the last game."

CROW: It’s making us look less manly.

> Bob
> nodded. "I’ll be over in a nano."

TOM: Nano … Visitor?

> he said, getting to his feet.
> "Where’s it located?" he asked.

JOEL: It’s a direct portal from FFD8 to Ontario. It may be plot-related.

> The binome looked down at the
> organizer he held, then returned Bob’s gaze. "That’s the problem,
> sir."

CROW: It doesn’t exist. Look, we were lonely, okay?

> he reported, "It’s located near Silicon Tor."
>

TOM: [ As Tor Johnson ] Time for go to net!

JOEL: That’s the new district. The ancient one is Germanium Tor.

> "Silicon Tor?!" Enzo said, "Dude! Can I come? Can I, can I?
> Huh?"

CROW: Enzo’s this close to getting his mouth module deactivated.

> Dot shushed him. "No, Enzo." she said, "Bob can do this
> alone."

TOM: No sense us risking *our* necks.

> Bob looked over at her as Glitch closed, ending the
> transmission. "No, not alone." Carrie interrupted,

JOEL: There is one other.

> and all three
> whirled to face her. "I know about tears." she said,

CROW: I’ve been holding them back for years … but I really love them!

> "And that little
> ball of energy could be my ticket home."

JOEL: Enzo?

> She slid out of the booth,
> and stood in front of Bob. "I’m going with you."

TOM: [ As Bob ] I wasn’t going.

> she told him,
> determindly. "Besides, I’ve always wanted to see the Tor."

CROW: His one-man show is to die for.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 5 of 16)


The fifth part of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction begins with a tag for commercials. This reflects a tradition, at least in people writing long-form MiSTings, to structure their stories the way the actual show was. Which, in those days, was divided into four pieces. The first piece had two host sketches to start and one to finish, and the rest in the theater. The second had nothing but theater time. The third piece had a host sketch to start and another to end. The last piece had mostly theater time, but a host sketch to conclude, plus credits.

I enjoyed, when I had the energy to write long pieces, respecting this structure. If I ever reorganize the Tale of Fatty Raccoon I’ll try to frame it with host sketches in that way.

This MiSTing is of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fan fiction, “Breaking the Barriers”. Again, while Carrie L— liked my work in around 2002 when it was published, that was a long while ago. And as the protagonist is a version of the author, I’m withholding the name so as to avoid unnecessary humiliation.

The story so far — you can find the whole thing at this link — has seen Carrie mysteriously journey into the world within the computer. She’s met up with the heroes of the pioneering computer-animation show Reboot. And now, with series-hero Bob, she faces one of the great perils of the series. The mysterious User of the Reboot computer has started to play a game. For the user, it’s a pastime. For those trapped within the game, it’s life or deletion.

I have no recollection at all what the “red card key” line refers to. I’m open to nominations for what it could possibly have meant. To help frame your answers please remember this was written, I believe, in late 2002 but certainly no later than 2003. Also while my interests have changed some in the past 18 years, I’ve always thought about things the same way I do now.


[ COMMERCIALS ]

[ THEATER. TOM, JOEL, and CROW file in. ]

> * * * * * * * *
> * *

CROW: This is the toughest piece to play in Tetris.

>
> Part Ten
>
> Dot and Enzo stood outside the game cube watching for a sign
> that Bob had won the game.

JOEL: [ As Dot ] They’re watching back at us!

> "Come on, Bob!" Enzo shouted, "Kick their
> bitmaps!!" Dot pulled out her organizer and called Phong.

TOM: Isn’t he busy helping A-tor?

> As his
> face appeared on the small screen, Dot asked him if he knew how things
> were going in the game.

JOEL: [ As Enzo ] The Babylonians just wiped out the Russians, and the Aztecs built Marco Polo’s Embassy so I’m redirecting my project to Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop … I think we can pull this out.

> "Bob is doing quite well, my child," Phong
> assured her, "they should be out soon."

CROW: Just like the last 68 times you asked.

> "Thanks Phong." Dot said, and
> left him to continue scanning the game. Looking up at the cube, she
> frowned. The cube had landed on an empty sector,

TOM: And the only starship in it was the Enterprise.

> yet Phong had said
> ‘they’, was that just a slip up, or did Bob have another sprite in
> there with him.

JOEL: That would imply Mainframe has more than eight people in it.

>
> ———————————————————————-
> ——————————-

CROW: This is gonna be a tough "Hangman."

>
> Meanwhile,

TOM: [ As the narrator from "Dangermouse" ] Look, is that all I’m going to have to say this episode?

> inside the game…..
>
> Carrie and Bob raced through the corridors. Bob looked down
> at Glitch. "Game Stats."

CROW: The Cubs lost.

> he ordered and Glitch whired to life. "How
> are we doing?" Carrie panted,

JOEL: We checked the game stats almost perfectly.

> as they continued to run down the hall.
> "We’re almost there," He said, "just down this hallway, to the right.

TOM: [ Snickering ] Swing the door wide open, don’t turn the light on!

> "Where’s The User?" she asked.

CROW: The one that isn’t you?

TOM: Yeah, hey, if this is Carrie’s computer then who’s on it?

> Bob pushed one of the buttons on
> Glitch, then laughed. "The User hasn’t even passed the third level
> yet!"

CROW: [ Snorting ] The schmuckle balls they let on computers these days.

JOEL: He’s trying to figure out how to get the red card key.

> He stopped running, and Carrie started to catch her breath.
> "The third level?" She gasped, "That’s five behind us!!" Bob nodded,
> and Carrie laughed.

TOM: Tournament Chutes and Ladders.

> "I guess we have no worries about it beating us
> there!" she giggled. "Let’s get into the chamber."

CROW: Won’t John McEnroe torment them, then?

> He turned towards
> the door, then stopped and faced Carrie again.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Should we go kick sand in the user’s face some?

> He flashed her his
> killer smile, then grabbed her hand.

JOEL: Aack! Your smile — it’s — poi…son…

> He pushed the heavy door open,
> and they walked in together.
>
> The room sparkled and shone brightly. The walls of the
> chamber were made of the finest crystal in all colours.

TOM: *This* is where all that money invested in dot-coms went.

> Light was
> reflecting in all directions, the source was a beautifully ingraved
> gold box

JOEL: It’s where Grandmom keeps her sewing kit.

> set on a pedestal that appeared to be able to generate it’s
> own light.

CROW: It’s got Quentin Tarantino’s whole career in there.

> They walked toward it, marvelling in the splendor they
> were witnessing.

TOM: To sum up, it was way cool.

> Bob still hadn’t released Carrie’s hand, but she
> didn’t notice, or care for that matter, she quite enjoyed it.

TOM: She’s enjoying the sensation she’s not experiencing.

> They
> slowly approached the pedestal, staring in awe at this beautiful
> artifact.

CROW: [ As Carrie ] Ahem. The *Box*.

TOM: [ As Bob ] Right, right, sorry.

> "I guess that’s what we’re looking for." Carrie breathed,

JOEL: Now look for the little dot that says "You are here."

> afraid to speak in more than a whisper. "I guess so." Bob whispered,
> then he reached out to touch it.

JOEL: [ As the Wizard of Oz ] COME FORWARD, Cowardly Lion!

> "Wait!" Carrie said, grabbing his
> wrist.

TOM: No! Don’t touch it! It’s EEEEEvil!

> Bob looked at her, confused. "This is the biggest trick of
> all." She explained.

CROW: So remember which is your card.

> "When there’s more than one player, we have to
> touch the box at the same time or it releases the final trap.

TOM: It’s a little trap the game designer put in because he knew it’d be a plot point someday.

> I
> learned that the hard way a few times." Releasing his wrist, she
> smiled at him, then squeezed his other hand gently.

CROW: OK, let’s take a countdown, right? One, two, three …

> He returned her
> smile, and they reached out to the box at the same time.

TOM: I thought you were going to touch on three!

CROW: NO, I was going to count three and then say, "NOW!"

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * *
>
> Part Eleven

TOM: Now stepping out onto the high dive…

>
> The box was small, so when Carrie and Bob touched it, their
> hands overlapped gently.

JOEL: Oh, I think their rasters just interrupted the methods.

>
> "GAME OVER! GAME OVER!"

TOM: This is a bug hunt, man!

>
> Carrie closed her eyes as the game cube began to ascend into
> the sky.

JOEL: Cube-on, take me away!

> She could feel the bottom of the cube sweep over her,

CROW: OOh! You naughty, naughty cube.

> taking
> her game character with it.

TOM: That just means she changed clothes.

> As she opened her eyes, she looked at Bob
> and smiled.

JOEL: What would happen if they were dropped into a game of The Sims?

> As he returned her smile, they heard a sound behind them.

TOM: [ "Law and Order" type sting ] Dum-dummm!

> "Ahem."
>
> Bob and Carrie turned. There stood Dot and Enzo.

CROW: Enzo’s jealous ’cause Bob promised to kiss him next.

> Enzo looked
> as if his jaw was going to hit the ground and Dot looked like she was
> ready to delete someone.

JOEL: Let’s hope it’s Carson Daly.

> "Bob," she said, her anger tightly
> controlled, "Who is that?"

TOM: [ As Carrie ] It’s Bob.

JOEL: [ As Bob ] She means you, dear.

> Bob and Carrie looked at each other, then
> realized that they were still holding each others hands.

JOEL: Quick, pass them back to each other and put them back on.

> Carrie
> pulled her hands away, and stuck them behind her back. Bob smiled
> nervously, trying to lighten the subject.

TOM: So! Any questions?

> "Oh," he said, waving a
> hand at Carrie neutrally. "Dot, this is Carrie.

CROW: Add, this is carry. Clear?

> She’s…uh…she’s
> new to Mainframe." he stammered, "Carrie, this is Dot Matrix."

JOEL: Joan Rivers? Here?

>
> Carrie smiled at Dot, hoping to change her obvious first
> impression. "Hello."

TOM: She should try ‘READY.’

> Carrie said, "It’s a pleasure to finally meet
> you."

CROW: Aw, first dates are so awkward.

> Carrie’s mind raced. *Say something positive!* she thought.

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] Three minus five! D’oh!

> "Bob’s told me so much about you.

TOM: Just don’t ask Bob to tell you what.

> You’re Mainframe’s best
> entrepreneur, aren’t you?"

CROW: Shouldn’t that be info-preneur?

TOM: Not while we have a shred of dignity left in the world.

> Bob and Dot both looked at her surprised.
> "Well," Dot said, "I run a data diner in Baudway."

TOM: So let’s put on a show!

> Carrie smiled.
> *Good! I hit the right subject!*

JOEL: Talk *about* the other person’s interest, it can work!

>
> Carrie looked at Bob. "Oh yes," she said, "Bob told me about
> that. ‘Fastest food in Mainframe’!"

TOM: And he didn’t say a word about those five dead health inspec– [ Embarassed ] –tors.

> Dot smiled, obviously flattered
> by Carrie’s comments. "Why, thank you."

CROW: To show gratitude? To be polite?

JOEL: Huh?

> Dot said, then she frowned
> at Bob. "May I have a word with you?"

TOM: Only if it’s not "factotum."

> she asked him, "Please excuse
> us for a moment."

JOEL: You’re excused.

> she told Carrie and Enzo, and she pulled Bob off to
> the side.

TOM: [ As Dot ] I told you no-more-fanfic-writers!

> "Bob, why were you two in the game together?"

CROW: A big cube fell on them.

> Bob glanced
> over at Carrie, who was talking to an excited Enzo.

JOEL: Enzo’s easily excited.

> Taking a deep
> breath, Bob began to explain what had happened.

CROW: In the beginning, there was FORTRAN.

>
> * * * * * * * *

TOM: didididit didididit

> * *

TOM: didit.

CROW: A Muppet News Bulletin.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 4 of 16)


And now the fourth part of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic, ”Breaking The Barriers”. Again, this MiSTing was done with Carrie L—‘s approval, but as it is a self-insertion fan fiction, I want to obscure her name unless she communicates to me that she’s not embarrassed with a youthful presentation of her story-ready self.

The full MiSTing should be available at this link. So far in the story, Carrie was puttering around on her computer when she got mysteriously zapped to the world inside. She met up with Bob and Phong of the pioneering animated cartoon Reboot. Carrie’s reluctant to reveal her true origins, lest she sound daft. But otherwise it looks like everyone is happy and everything is fine and there’ll be no problems from here on out!

The host sketch at the end, Joel talking about the eight-bit computer era, is one of my first exercises in exploring my own nostalgia. It began as a rambling monologue, along the lines of Joel talking about the swinging 60s in the episode “Catalina Caper”, but a friend said it was too self-indulgent. I think it could have played well, but that depends on the performer. And it’s asking a lot of the reader to go through a wall of text and read it funny. Breaking it up into dialogue makes it much better. Easier to read and easier to read funny in your head. This even though (as I recall) I didn’t really change the lines or where they were placed. Just putting them in different character’s mouths changed how the scene played.

I still use “the computer had 16 colors, and three of them were grey” to talk about what computing in the 80s was like. “We may not have been there, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know all about it” is a line I don’t use much but appreciate for the attitude it captures.

There’s lines in there about all the big eight-bit computers but my experience was centered on the Commodore 64 so that’s where the jokes default. Also note how in 2002 when I wrote this I somehow couldn’t think of a more universal annoying computer experience than “there’s a lot of spam in that there e-mail thing, you know”.


>
> Part Eight
>

JOEL: We’re going to have every part except the one that completes the jigsaw puzzle.

> Since Phong wasn’t able to do much more for them,

TOM: He’s genial, but kind of helpless.

> and had
> responsibilities for running the Principle Office,

CROW: That’s where they get their ethics.

> Bob and Carrie
> headed back to his apartment to try and work out how to get Carrie
> home.

JOEL: Why doesn’t Carrie just try saying "Xyzzy" some?

> On the way there, Bob called Dot and told her to meet him at
> his apartment.

TOM: But in a wacky mixup they go to different Bob’s apartments!

> On the way there, Bob began to ask Carrie about her
> home. He was curious to know what it was like.

JOEL: [ As Bob ] So, do you have people where you come from?

TOM: [ As Carrie ] I don’t know… I never talked to one.

> As Carrie was
> describing her hometown, the sky suddenly darkened, and the sound of
> crackling static could be heard everywhere. "WARNING! INCOMING GAME!
> WARNING! INCOMING GAME!"

CROW: Red alert! It’s the Atari 2600 "E.T." cartridge!

JOEL: We’re surrounded! It’s "Superman" in the other direction!

>
> As the voice boomed through the sky, Bob cursed quietly under
> his breath. "Not now!!" He shouted, "Why now!?!"

TOM: Why not? You got someplace else to be?

> Carrie looked at
> him, fear etched into her delicate features. Bob looked over at her.
> *What am I going to do?* he thought, *I can’t let that game close
> without me, but I don’t want to endanger Carrie!*

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] Oh, all right, you go and *play* your little *game*, dear, I’ll wait up for *you*, I don’t have anything else to do.

> Bob saw the fear
> flash in Carrie’s eyes, then she smiled and the fear changed to
> burning fire. "What are you waiting for?"

CROW: I want to check the web site for cheat codes first.

> she asked, "We can’t let
> that game drop onto that empty sector, or it’ll be nullified for sure
> with no one to beat the User.

TOM: So get in there fast, before nobody’s at risk!

> You’re the one who knows the most about
> games,

CROW: You and Sid Meier.

> you’ve got to go." Bob marveled at her courage. "I’m not
> willing to risk your life!" He said.

TOM: Oh, just burn a copy of her to CD and don’t worry about it.

> Carrie shifted in her seat so
> that she was facing him squarely. "You don’t have a choice!" She
> shouted over the static, "The whole sector will get nullified if you
> don’t enter that Game!!"

JOEL: They should really just turn "disasters off" and maybe try auto-budgeting too.

CROW: There’s also the .% bond trick.

> Bob stared at her, then turned his car
> sharply. The engine in his 262 whined

TOM: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…ricky…

> as it strained to pick up
> speed. "Hang on!" Bob shouted, "This is gonna be close!!"
>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

CROW: Made it in just under the chapter break.

>
> Part Nine
>
> Carrie opened her eyes slowly.

CROW: o/~ Ding o/~ Welcome to Carrie OS.

> She had tried to enter the
> game as fearlessly as Bob, but it had gotten the best of her and she
> had closed her eyes in fright.

TOM: She’s afraid of Q*Bert?

> As her eyes focused in the dim light,
> she began to recognize her surroundings. They were standing in a
> large cavern lit by a single flickering torch.

JOEL: She’s in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

> "I know this game…"
> Bob started. "It’s Crystal Chambers."

TOM: That’s not a video game, that’s a porn starlet.

[ JOEL, CROW look at TOM. ]

CROW: I think it’s the one with the bear collecting gems.

> Carrie said, and Bob turned,
> surprised. "The idea is to be the first to get to the final chamber a
> retrive the artifact without releasing any of the traps."

CROW: Hey, it’s inhumane to keep traps all trapped up like that!

JOEL: Let the traps go!

> Bob just
> stared at her, and Carrie giggled. "Don’t look so shocked, I’ve
> played this game before.

TOM: And make sure you don’t get caught by the Wumpus.

> I know all the secrets."

JOEL: Boy, she’s just got the *best* luck.

> Feeling confident,
> she reached up and touched her icon twice gently. "ReBoot!"

TOM: Ribbit!

> She
> could feel a wave of energy sweep over her. When it was gone, she
> opened her eyes and turned to Bob. "ReBoot!"

CROW: C’mon, reboot, darned you! Aw… would you jiggle the thing?

>
> Bob was surrounded by a beam of fluorescent green energy.

JOEL: [ Electrocution noises ] Buzzuzzuzzuzuzzuzzuzzerzzzert!

> When the beam faded, Carrie’s eyes began to wander down along Bob’s
> well formatted body.

TOM: Unfortunately, she was Mac, he was MS-DOS… they could never get along.

> His blue uniform had morphed into a worn leather
> jacket over a white shirt with brown pants and hiking boots.

JOEL: It’s a digital Fonzie.

> He was
> equipped with a carrying bag and a long bullwhip. Sitting fashionably
> on the top of his head was a rather beat-up looking fedora.

CROW: This is a weird Dixon Hill episode.

> He turned
> to face Carrie, and her heart skipped a beat.

TOM: Null pointer error in class Heart method advance(int beat).

> In that outfit, he
> looked absolutely stunning!! She let her eyes trace his body once
> again, then carefully returned his gaze.

CROW, TOM: [ In unison ] "What is ‘kiss’?"

> "You look like Indiana
> Jones." Carrie remarked, placing her hand on her hip. "You don’t
> look so bad yourself." Bob smirked, but his real thoughts were very
> different.

TOM: [ As Bob ] Who’s this Deanna Jones I’m supposed to be in?

> Carrie was wearing short cutoff jeans with a baby blue
> midriff blouse tied in a knot. She had tall brown boots with a long
> jewelled dagger attached to the right one. She also had a large gun
> holsted around her waist.

JOEL: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Daisy Dukes.

>
> *Wow!* Bob thought, *She looks awesome! I wonder if she
> dresses like that at home?*

TOM: And he accidentally sends that to an IRC channel.

> Then he reached up and tilted the fedora
> slightly. "Well," he said,

CROW: The problems of two sprites don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy mixed-up world…

> "If we’re gonna win this game, we better
> get a move on."

JOEL: They’re stored on ROM page four. We can get any move we need.

> Reaching up, he removed the torch from its holder,
> and they moved forward together into the unknown.
>

TOM: Let’s get back to the real game.

JOEL: [ Picking up TOM ] Works for me.

[ ALL leave. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6.. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. The Monopoly set is on the center of the
table; GYPSY, CROW, JOEL, and TOM are gathered around to play.
All their tokens are on "Go" — the game is about to start.
JOEL rolls the dice. ]

JOEL: OK, that’s a six, that puts Gypsy [ moving her piece ] on the
State Forests edition … you want to buy it?

GYPSY: Yeah.

TOM: [ As JOEL takes cash from GYPSY’s pile, and gives a title card ]
Joel, what is it with human fantasies about going into the
computer’s world?

CROW: Yeah, there’s Reboot, there’s Tron, there’s … um …

TOM: Uh …

[ An awkward pause. JOEL rolls the dice, and advances MAGIC VOICE’s token ]

JOEL: [ Not paying attention as TOM and CROW think of an example ] You want the Peanuts edition?

MAGIC VOICE: Yes, please.

GYPSY: I hope I get the Lionel Train edition.

CROW: There’s…

[ As JOEL takes cash from MAGIC VOICE’s pile and turns over a card ]

GYPSY: Automan.

CROW: [ Leaping on it ] Yeah! Automan!

TOM: Yeah, and … uh … well, just lots of stuff. What’s with it?

JOEL: [ Rolling ] Ooh, sorry, Tom, you got a four.

TOM: [ As JOEL moves his piece to "Income Tax" ] Aw, sheesh. Still.

JOEL: [ Taking 10 percent from TOM’s pile. ] In the 80s we suddenly
had computers going from the mysterious impersonal things sending
Johnny Carson comically misaddressed letters to these curious and
friendly things in every home.

CROW: [ As JOEL rolls, and moves CROW’s piece up seven. ] Ooh, chance.

JOEL: [ Taking a card. ] Advance to London Edition.

CROW: I’ll take it. So, what, people just jumped on the newest thing?

JOEL: [ Rolling, advancing his piece to GYPSY’s, and giving her some cash. ] Well, there were a lot of articles about how computers think differently from you and me … me, anyway. How everything’s binary, yes/no, on/off, how they could turn ninety degrees but not just a smidgen to the side … it fired the imagination, there was this alien worldview there for the price of an RF adaptor to hook your Color Computer up to the living room set.

TOM: And that’s an excuse to put Desi Arnaz Junior on TV?

JOEL: Hey, the eight-bit computing era was a great time.

CROW: Hold on now. We may not have been there, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know all about it.

TOM: Mostly it was people saying you could keep recipes on an Atari 800 and being deservedly ridiculed.

JOEL: The Micro Adventure book series gave us a world of international espionage with the fantasy of portable computers and secret messages given us in X-Men comics. A few far-thinkers worked out schemes where two programs would run at the same time but we never knew why we’d want to.

TOM: The computer had sixteen colors, and three of them were grey.

CROW: It was an achievement to have both text and a graphic on screen.

JOEL: Or it was HIRES2 mode.

GYPSY: They thought everybody would have to learn BASIC.

JOEL: We knew something about Wordstar.

TOM: Another point for us.

CROW: You had to *type in* programs, especially if you forgot your *tape* drive.

JOEL: [ Noddding, happily ] And there were rumors how if you used the modem just right you could get free phone calls, of if you had the right sound programs you didn’t need a modem, you could just hold the phone up to the TV set.

GYPSY: Couldn’t you lose your program by looking at the disk directory?

JOEL: Yeah, if you didn’t move the start of memory for the listing, like who didn’t know how to do that?

CROW: Radio Shack pushed comic books.

JOEL: The Microcomputer Kids told us Superman’s brain was exactly as powerful as a TRS-80 Model I.

TOM: That was the pre-Crisis Superman, right?

JOEL: Yeah.

CROW: Mmm… that’s probably fair.

JOEL: They also said someday in the future we’d read the Metropolis Daily Planet on the computer, and play chess with students thousands of miles away, and shop online or even send electronic mail messages.

TOM: Yeah, the Coleco Adam was a slice of the 21st century dropped on your desk.

JOEL: We knew how to swap out ROM and fix the ASC function bug even if we never used it, ever.

TOM: The only thing animated on a computer was that guy juggling checkered balls on Amiga screens.

JOEL: Yeah! They’d never imagine the movie Rocky and Bullwinkle, Scooby-Doo, or Stuart Little 2.

CROW: Your disk drive got faster if you blanked out the screen.

JOEL: A good seven percent faster! Try that on today’s hardware.

TOM: And it went out of alignment whenever anybody in the county sneezed.

JOEL: Mine never did. Except once.

GYPSY: Wasn’t there a save-with-replace bug?

JOEL: Yeah, but if you remember how the 4040 turned into the 1540 and then the 1541 and 1571 it was completely avoidable. A lot of the time.

TOM: 3-2-1 Contact magazine claimed you needed to know what "modem" stands for.

JOEL: That was Enter magazine. It only folded *into* 3-2-1 Contact.

CROW: They put membrane keyboards on computers!

JOEL: On the Mattel Aquarius. We didn’t buy it then either.

GYPSY: A sprite could have color or be big enough to see.

TOM: The only messaging was to whoever logged on the bulletin board system after you freed up the line.

JOEL: But they helped you change your cursor to the USS Discovery from "2001".

CROW: You never got an upgrade or a bug patch either.

JOEL: And the computer was ready the second you turned on the power.

TOM: They tried to sell people the Commodore 16.

JOEL: And then somehow we got GEOS, Omni bought out Compute!’s Gazette and in the blink of an eye it was all gone. Computers became an expensive way to play solitaire and get fifty unwanted e-mails a day. But for a little while there was magic, there was love, there was a dream that was … Camelot.

CROW: And it came with lines to change if you were typing it in to an Apple IIc.

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial sign in five seconds.

JOEL: It was a golden age.

TOM: The computers were slow, cranky, and awkward.

[ COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes ]

JOEL: They couldn’t have been better. We’ll be right back.

[ JOEL taps COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 3 of 16)


Welcome back to my tour of old Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This piece from around 2003 is “Breaking the Barriers”, a Reboot fanfic by Carrie L—. Name truncated because the protagonist is a version of the author. While she was happy with my writing in 2003, I don’t know that this would not be horribly embarrassing eighteen years later.

The entirety of this MiSTing is, or should be, at this link. In the first part a mysterious computer thingy brought Carrie into the world of her computer. In the second part she got to meet Bob and Phong and other characters of the Reboot show she loves.

I come down surprisingly hard on the idea that Reboot is a popular show here. I don’t know; the joke seems quite petty. My recollection is that even at the time it was obvious Reboot would be a show people remembered and that would have influence, even if it wasn’t an Animaniacs-class success. One problem with the MiSTing habit is snarking mindlessly. Good snark, I suspect, needs to target sloppy or malicious thinking. “I like this cartoon” is neither sloppy nor malicious.


>
> Part Six
>
> Taking a deep breath,

TOM: Hey, give that back!

> Carrie sat up, but then looked down at
> the floor.

JOEL: The action here has the flow of a game of Arkanoid.

> "What I’m going to tell you is confidential," She
> whispered,

CROW: So I hope you’re just very confident.

> "and it’s going to sound like I’ve gone random.

TOM: But I’m really just sampling voice chip three.

> You have
> got to believe me, I could not just make this up."

ALL: MAKEUP!

[ JOEL pulls out a pillow, bops TOM, CROW. ]

> She looked up to
> find Bob and Phong watching her with rapt attention.

CROW: You got — you got something on — something on your — right —

> Licking her lips
> unconciously,

TOM: She’s going to have to get some CyberLip Balm if she keeps doing that.

> Carrie began to run through what she was going to say,
> in her mind.

JOEL: I probably shouldn’t talk too much about radiator fluids, it’s just too much of a diversion.

>
> "I come from a place called Earth."

CROW: [ As Bob ] You do? Do you know Peter?

> She said, "I am a human,
> not a sprite.

TOM: I am not a binary-coded-decimal number!

> Where I come from, you aren’t supposed to really
> exist."

JOEL: You’re just a metaphor for improved comprehension.

> she smiled a little at Bob’s startled reaction,

TOM: [ As Bob ] Yeah, well, where we come from *you* don’t exist, so double-dumb nyah on you!

> then kept
> going. "You see, where I am from, you are known only

CROW: To a select group of Cartoon Network junkies.

> as characters in
> a cartoon. Now I’m sure you’re wondering what a cartoon is,

JOEL: And why I’ve brought you here together.

> but I’ll
> have to explain that some other time."

TOM: Next time she’s freakishly pulled into the world of a cartoon?

> She raced through all the
> things she could say,

CROW: I bet there are some things she *could* say that she is *not* considering.

> and all the things she couldn’t say.

JOEL: Saying them would violate the Prime Directive.

> "This
> cartoon is called ‘ReBoot’, and it is very popular.

CROW: …mostly among people who ever bid more than thirty dollars on eBay for an SLP recording of the Transformers where Sea Spray meets the mermaid.

> You were
> wondering why I knew who you were, it’s because,

TOM: I’m assembling you into my Impossible Missions force.

> in this show, you are
> the main character.

CROW: Unless it’s that year you don’t appear at all.

> Anyone who’s even seen just part of the show
> knows who Bob is because you’re in every episode."

TOM: OK, OK, Bob’s the king of the world, OK? Good for you.

>
> It was then that Carrie realized that Phong had moved to his
> retrieval Vid- Window,

TOM: Which immediately crashes.

> and was skimming through the information there.

CROW: Huh … make money fast sending emails to pet kittens at home…

> "What are you looking for, Phong?" Bob asked, curiously.

JOEL: Phong? The fish is ready.

> Phong
> looked up at him, then at Carrie.

TOM: Sorry, I stumbled on the "Red Hot RS-232C Action" site by mistake.

> "I remembered hearing a story once
> before

JOEL: It was amusing. I liked it.

> about a species called ‘humans’, and I am looking to see if I
> can find a reference to them."

CROW: So far Google’s returned 2,038 billion sites, and a cute cartoon of a guy getting gumballs out of an ‘o’ in its logo.

> Phong began to race through the
> information, as Bob went over to see what he was looking at. "Ah,
> here it is." Phong said,

TOM: Search results found. Entries deleted. Have a nice day.

> "The term ‘human’ was once used by a visitor
> to another system, by the name of Jeff Bridges.

JOEL: A system named Jeff Bridges?

CROW: They’re so advanced they can get the behind-the-scenes documentary of "Tron."

> He claimed to come
> from Earth, just as you do." Phong looked up at Carrie, and she
> swallowed hard.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] I knew I shouldn’t have written all those tank programs!

>
> "That’s not the only way you know humans." She said, and
> Phong looked surprised.

CROW: Does taking the clown hat off help you recognize us?

> "And how else should we know of ‘humans’?" he
> asked.

JOEL: Have you tried our web site? http://www.humans.int/ ?

> Carrie looked down at her feet, and stayed silent, not sure
> how to tell them.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Hey, when’d I get ruby slippers?

> She felt a hand on her shoulder, and looked up.

CROW: Why, thank you, Thing.

> She found herself looking into Bob’s eyes as he sat down next to her.
> "It’s O.K.," he said, quietly, "you can tell us." As he flashed her
> his killer smile, her fears and her heart, began to melt.

TOM: This is what happens when the cooling fan breaks.

CROW: They should’ve packed her on dry ice.

> "Well,"
> she whispered, "Not only am I human, but when I am home on Earth, I
> would be known to you as…."

JOEL: Darkwing Duck!

> She swallowed and looked at Bob for
> reassurance. When he smiled and placed his hand on her shoulder
> again,

CROW: They’re running out of hands there.

TOM: Shoulders too.

> she looked up at the ceiling and took a deep breath. "I am
> known to you as a ‘User’."

JOEL: I had no respect for individuals, just what I could make them do.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * *

CROW: It’s a badly written square root sign.

>
> Part Seven
>
> Carrie sat silently as Phong and Bob stared at her in shock
> and disbelief.

TOM: [ As Phong ] Another one of *these*.

CROW: [ As Bob ] I tell ya, full moon, that’s when the crazies come out.

> She had known this was going to happen eventually, and
> she was sure that they would think she was random.

TOM: Why is telling them she’s a User going to make them like her more?

> Instead of smiling
> nicely and then quietly locking her away, Bob stood up. "I don’t know
> what to say." he whispered,

CROW: Perhaps I could use a Markov chain generator to create some generic poetry product for you.

> and then turned slightly, avoiding her
> gaze. Carrie clasped her hands together, and looked at him with
> pleading eyes. "I know how bad it sounds," she whispered, "but you’ve
> got to believe me.

TOM: Why?

> This is the truth, no matter how weird it sounds."
> She let her eyes trace his gorgeous profile, looking for any signs of
> belief, or slight acceptance.
>
> As she watched his face began to change, slowly.

JOEL: Uhoh. Morph programs. Trouble.

> Then he did
> something unexpected, he whirled around to face her, his face a mask
> of fierce concentration and withheld emotions.

TOM: Must… be… bland!

> "I can’t accept that
> you’re a User!" He almost shouted, "The User is threat to the sprites
> of Mainframe!"

CROW: This pretty accurately gets how computers feel about their users.

> He looked down at the floor, his hands clenched into
> fists at his sides, breathing hard with the exertion used to hold back
> his anger. Carrie sat back, surprised and shocked at the outburst.

TOM: [ As Carrie ] I just know they’re going to think I’m a Mary Sue…

> Her throat constricted, and she could feel tears begin to burn in her
> eyes. The last thing she had wanted to do was to upset Bob or anyone,
> and now she had done just that.

JOEL: Oh, *that’s* what she did. I forgot.

> She waited for him to storm away or
> hit something, she was sure he was mad at her.

TOM: [ As Bob ] I oughta interrupt your raster vectoring…

> "I just can’t accept
> that." he whispered, then looked up at her, his eyes glistening with
> tears of his own.

JOEL: Hey, there’s no crying in cyberspace!

> "I know you can’t be a User because you just don’t
> come across as one."

CROW: That sounds like a major dis, really.

>
> Carrie slid gracefully off the bio-bed, and walked forward.
> She stopped just in front of him, and looked up into his eyes.

TOM: Is she shrinking?

CROW: She’s conserving disk space.

> "I
> know you don’t believe me," she said, "but you’re going to have to. I
> can’t stay here, I have to return to Earth and my home."

JOEL: So she can get on the ‘net and sit there all week.

> Bob just
> looked at her for a while, but couldn’t say anything. "I know that
> you have the ability to get me back home." Carrie said,

CROW: Yeah, right after he gets the kid from Voyager, the Dungeons and Dragons kids, Samurai Jack, and Kidd Video back home.

TOM: I’m going to stick around until he gets the kid from Liddsville home, and that’s it.

> "I just hope
> you’re willing to believe me enough to do it." Bob looked away for a
> bit, deep in thought, then turned back to face her.

TOM: [ Harshly ] Abort, Retry… [ Softly ] Ignore?

> "I don’t know if
> I can," he sighed, " No Mainframer has ever been to the world of the
> User, so I don’t think there’s anyway you can get there."

JOEL: Well. Can you direct me to Max Headroom, then?

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

TOM: That’s a signature so abstract nobody knows who it is.

[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 2 of 16)


Welcome back to my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic treatment of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic “Breaking The Barriers”. Everything posted from “Breaking the Barriers” should be at this link”. And all of my reposted MiSTings should be at this link, someday.

In the first part of this story, Carrie L—, Canadian author, admired how many things there were on the Internet. (Name partly redacted because this was a self-insertion fanfic and I don’t wish to force the author to be too easily embarrassed, if she would be.) Then came a mysterious error and she woke to discover she’s now one of those things. Join us now as she wakes to meet the cast of Reboot.

I don’t remember why I took on this MiSTing. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t only for the chance to toss in a bunch of old-time-even-then computer jokes. But it would be like me for that. Crow’s line about “Just go 4C E2 FC” is the machine language instructions for a Commodore 64 to reset the computer. There are a bunch of good dumb jokes I still like, such as Phong inquiring as to Carrie’s former appearance, or Joel’s energy shake. Hope you enjoy.

It was an article of Internet lore in the 90s that you could only get decaffeinated Mountain Dew in Canada. I don’t know whether that was true, or true in a shaded way, like, it only had less caffeine. But that’s what makes that line a correctly formed joke, which to a know-it-all like me is even better than a funny joke.


>
> Part Three

JOEL: The part of the third part will be known in this fanfic as the part of the third part.

>
> After a bit of confusion,

ALL: [ Muttering loudly to themselves, to the effect of "Where am I? Who are you? Where are we? What’s going on? Should we be doing something? ]

TOM: At some point she might want to ask how she got there.

> Carrie managed to calm down and was
> able to answer and ask questions normally.

CROW: [ As Carrie ] Oh, I dunno, what do you wanna do?

JOEL: [ As Bob ] I dunno. What do you wanna do?

> Looking up from the energy
> shake she had been given,

TOM: You’re sure I can’t get that supersized?

> Carrie found herself once again staring into
> those eyes.

JOEL: You have a liiiiiittle booger, right there.

>
> "You really are Bob, aren’t you?" she asked, sheepishly.
> "Last time I checked." he said, then he looked at her funny.

CROW: What was Mister Carlin telling you?

> "How do
> you know me?"

TOM: Let me count the ways.

> he asked, "I know you’re not from Mainframe." Looking
> back down at her energy shake,

JOEL: So she’s got no tea, right?

> Carrie tried to think of a good answer.

CROW: How would it be if I just spelled Mississippi?

> "Uh…well…you’re pretty well known where I come from."

TOM: In about the same way that Mister Spaceley is a leading industrialist back where she comes from.

> She said,
> then took a cautious sip of her shake.

JOEL: It was unlike any shake she had cautiously sipped before.

> It was as if she were drinking
> adrenaline or something.

TOM: MM-mmm. Endocrine solutions, just like Mom used to distill.

> Her whole body felt revitalized and her head
> started to clear. With a feeling of both surprise and pleasure, she
> started to gulp down the shake.

TOM: What the — no, get your head out of there! You’ll get stuck!

>
> "Whoa!" Bob said, "Be careful or you’re gonna choke!"

JOEL: Oh, and your face will freeze like that.

> Putting
> her drink down, Carrie smiled shyly. "I’ve never tasted, or felt,

CROW: Or deliberately bathed in…

> anything like that before!" she said. "You mean you’ve never had an
> energy shake?"

JOEL: I think an energy shake would go something… like this.
[ ALL stand up and start wiggling around. ]

> Bob asked, surprised. "No," Carrie whispered, "They
> don’t have these where I come from."

TOM: Yeah, they decaffeinate Mountain Dew too.

> She looked back up at Bob, and
> found him staring at her.

CROW: Sooner or later, one of them has to blink.

> "Just where do you come from anyway?" He
> asked.

TOM: Come from. Go to’s considered harmful.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

CROW: The barriers will never heal if you don’t stop picking at them.

>
> Part Four
>
> Carrie swallowed hard. How was she going to explain the fact
> that she was a user to Bob without him thinking

CROW: You could jingle your car keys and distract him.

> she was completely
> random?

JOEL: Don’t throw in an unpredictable series of digits?

> She glanced down at her feet,

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Wait a minute, *three*?

> thinking of something to say,
> when she realized that her shoes and clothes were all wrong.

CROW: They were *so* fifteen milliseconds ago.

> Instead
> of her usual blue jeans and high-top runners, she was wearing black
> leather pants

JOEL: And felt-tip socks.

> and knee-high black boots. Each boot had a symbol

CROW: And vice-versa.

> crested at the top under the knee, a black and white bisected circle,

JOEL: The mark of the standardized test!

> impaled by a black and white diamond. She stretched her arms out and
> began to examine the sleeves of her shirt.

TOM: Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat!

CROW: But that trick *never* works!

> What had been a plain grey
> sweatshirt, was now a maroon bodysuit

CROW: Without that suit, she wouldn’t have a body at all.

> with chrome trim.

TOM: And huge fins and that Edsel horse-collar grille.

> Her hands,
> once the sun-kissed brown

JOEL: If the sun kissed me I’d probably get third degree burns.

> of a Native-Canadian, had instead become an
> aquamarine colour.

CROW: Of a Newfoundlander.

JOEL: Or one of Namor’s armies.

>
> With a starled gasp, she jumped off the couch and ran to the
> mirror on the other side of the room.

TOM: Bob keeps that mirror around so he can put on his makeup.

> The face that stared back at
> her bore the same aquamarine colour as her hands, and she now had
> metallic blue hair.

JOEL: I guess she’s going through her Blue Period.

TOM: She’s really got to *steel* herself for this look!

> Her lips were a deep turquoise

CROW: Two feet deep, in fact.

> and her eyes…
> fortunately, her eyes were still the same hazel that had always stared
> back at her.

CROW: She clashes with every conceivable color and style.

JOEL: Black, white, maroon, and turquoise. She’s become a CGA graphic.

> With a small shriek of disbelief, she turned to Bob who
> had come up beside her.

TOM: I hope he doesn’t frighten Miss Muffet away.

>
> "What’s wrong?" he asked, worried. "I don’t look the same!!"

CROW: Uh… wait… new haircut? Different dress?

> Carrie almost shouted. "What’s happened to me?" I…I…" She turned
> back to the mirror again,

TOM: [ As Carrie ] Oh, magic mirror, take me away from this all.

> and now noticed the same black and white
> bisected circle that was on her boots was also placed near her left
> collarbone.

JOEL: So her neck’s become a boot?

> Reaching up to touch it,

TOM: If that’s a hot spot, she’s going to be in a lot of trouble.

> she looked at Bob’s worried face
> in the mirror.

CROW: It looks like a mirror, but it’s actually a web camera serving over five thousand people a day.

> "This is all wrong!" she whispered, "I’m not a
> sprite!"

JOEL: You’d rather be a raster interrupt method?

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * *

TOM: There’s one now.

>
> Part Five

CROW: Part Five is alive!

>
> At Carrie’s shock and dismay at her appearence,

TOM: I like her appearance.

> and her
> insistance that she was not a sprite, Bob decided it would be a good
> idea to take her to see Phong.

TOM: It *was* a good idea…

ALL: At first.

> Upon arriving at the Principle Office,
> Phong took her to the Infirmary

CROW: Because they were on the Infirmaration Superhighway.

> to see if there was anything the
> scanners could pick up.

JOEL: Hey, those aren’t scanners, they’re just an alpha channel effect.

> As he ran the tests,

CROW: Carrie regretted not studying earlier.

> Phong began to ask
> Carrie questions.

JOEL: Live around here much?

TOM: If you were a natural-born human transported by freakish accident to the world inside the computer, how would you convince people you weren’t insane?

>
> "You say that you do not look as you are supposed to." Phong
> said, "May I inquire as to your former appearence?"

CROW: [ As Carrie ] Go right ahead.

TOM: [ As Phong ] What is your former appearance?

> Carrie stared up
> at the ceiling,

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] What the… there’s people dancing on it!

> and started to recount her human appearence to them,

TOM: [ As Phong ] So you were the most beautiful person we ever saw… and we’re drawn to your beautiful eyes, that are quiet pools of tranquility that still betray a deep secret and still penetrate our souls… any distinguishing features?

> being careful not to sound like she was crazy.

CROW: So she had to keep from honking.

> "Well, I had brown
> hair before,

JOEL: But not on my head!

> and my skin was a dark beige colour. My lips were not
> turquoise, more of a pink colour.

CROW: Carrie L—, for the new Color Trinitron.

> These aren’t even my clothes!" She
> sighed deeply,

TOM: Inhaling over four kilobytes of memory.

> and turned her head to look at Phong.

[ CROW makes a slow, squeaking, hinge-in-need-of-oil sound. ]

> "I know it
> sounds crazy," she said, "but you’ve gotta believe me.

TOM: [ As Phong ] Sure thing, Mister Napoleon.

> I don’t belong
> here, and I need to get back home."

CROW: She’s only been gone fifteen milliseconds and already her ISP’s disconnected her forty times.

> Bob looked over at her

JOEL: Good woman. Tasty.

> and gave
> her a look she didn’t quite understand.

TOM: He gives looks in Klingon.

> "I can try and get you home."

CROW: Just go ‘4C E2 FC’, ‘4C E2 FC’, ‘4C E2 FC’ while clicking your VIC-IIs together three times.

> he said, "The only thing is, I need to know where you’re from.

JOEL: And if you can pay half tolls.

> You
> still haven’t told me."

TOM: Why, it almost makes me not want to trust the person I’ve never met before and know almost nothing about.

> Carrie swallowed hard,

CROW: There goes another 24 k of the stack.

> and looked up into his
> eyes.

TOM: As a sprite, would you feel more comfortable if we put you into a Snoopy Versus The Red Baron game?

> "Um.. well…I…you see," she stammered. From the look on his
> face,

JOEL: And the banner ad running across his forehead…

> she decided then and there, that she was going to have to tell
> him the truth,

JOEL: [ As Carrie ] This isn’t as cool as I thought it would be.

> no matter what the conciquences.

CROW: Is that the Canadian spelling?

TOM: That’s the Canadian misspelling.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *

JOEL: They haven’t gotten very far building that wall.


[ To continue … ]

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