The Comics (or some of them)


Over that way a bit on my mathematics blog I do a bit of talking about comic strips which mention mathematics or mathematical themes or that just catch my eye for whatever reason. So if you’re interested in comics and a particular theme I’d appreciate your poking over there and reading them. My commentary on them isn’t meant to be funny, but the strips are at least trying for that.

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Thriving In The Modern, Annoying, Economy


Of course, when we talk about ways to screw up the company by diversifying, we have to remember that there’s a lot of different rules if you want to be in an entertainment industry. There, you have to diversify, because it’s more profitable per hour to run around suburban streets with your eyes closed and mouth open and wait for fifty-dollar bills to land upon your tongue than it is to wait for people to pay you for being entertaining. You need to start spinoff products like T-shirts and posters, and iPhone apps, and one-of-a-kind experience events like coming over and watching The Price Is Right with your audience even before they ask. If someday your fans can say, “Oh, yeah, I knew that band back when it was a utopian commune in upstate New York manufacturing kitchen appliances,” then you’re doing something right, which I hope is stoves.

Meaningless Awards


I see from the Institute for General Wordiness that “pusillanimous” has been added to the official collection of Words That May As Well Not Mean Anything, Because Nobody Uses Them Enough To Remember What They Do mean. I’m a little offended because I remember the word very well, as it was one of my favorites in the 7th grade vocabulary sheets that gave us words to learn how to spell and to define, and I was very good in those. Pusillanimous means, I believe, quarrelsome and unpleasant but not quite so much as the March 2011 inductee “lugubrious” does. Anyway, it’s a perfectly “vibrissae” day outside so I’m going to watch the lawn instead of worrying about it.
I mean words, not the lawn. I have people to worry about the lawn for me.

Georges Melies: Going to Bed under Difficulties


The film pioneer Georges Méliès is credited for many things, most prominently, for making astounding films by the simple use of stopping the camera and changing what was on set, and for creating illusions that are still rather jaw-dropping just by exposing the film twice. He’d do this, incredibly, with a hand-cranked camera and simply turned the film back the correct number of cranks before filming the second round of whatever the stunt was. And you can’t even start writing anything about space travel in popular culture without referring to his 1902 A Trip To The Moon.

What he doesn’t get much credit for, despite the awe and wonder and dreamlike enchantment so many of his films inspire, is being funny, so I want to share a two-minute-long short from 1900: Déshabillage Impossible, or, Going To Bed With Difficulties. The premise is simple: the traveller wants to undress for bed. It’s quite simple, and funny in a way that doesn’t show a hundred-plus years of age.

Méliès did pretty much the same film again in 1900 — I believe later in the film, based on the Star Film numbers — to similarly good effect, although I don’t think it’s quite as good. Still, that take, Le Réveil D’un Monsieur Pressé or if you prefer How He Missed His Train, is also fun and only a minute long, so it isn’t asking much of you.

It’s The 70s, So Sure, Pinball Can Be A Game Show


Now that I’ve seen an episode of The Magnificent Marble Machine I know finally what Sid and Marty Krofft’s Password Plus would have been like.

I like how the game show really captures the essence of what makes pinball great: sluggish play by a pair of amateurs on giant board with a handful of targets, for up to a whole sixty seconds, that you get to only after twenty minutes of puttering around watching people try to guess whether “President’s Pad” might be a clue to naming “The White House”.

Now I’m sure the world feels better that I’ve made fun of a forgotten short-lived mid-70s game show. At least the world except the people who made it in the first place, so, I’m sorry about that.