MiSTed: Safety First (part 16 of 16)


And now, finally, the finish of Mystery Science Theater 3000 inspired by Johnny Pez’s “Safety First”. The whole of the MiSTing is at this link. The previous installment put for the thesis that humans, including our brains, are three-dimensional and therefore we have a 13-symmetry eigenvector of psychology. This will lead us to why there’s a God.

A small content warning. The source being riffed here speaks about “mental retardation” and about IQs as though they were worth anything. It’s about trying to understand the existence of different mental abilities in people, but, if you don’t need that nonsense in your recreational reading you’re right and should maybe skip this. Or jump to the closing sketch, which isn’t based on any of this Scientific Proof Of God stuff.

In the closing sketch here I was finally able to use many of the jokes that my friend Rob S Rice donated when I was stuck for a host sketch.

As for references that need explaining. Mm. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds is the title of a play and a movie that I remembered hearing of in the 80s (the movie was from 1972). I never saw it. Tom’s riff about “oh-four-w-w-NUG” is a Henry Blake line from an early season of M*A*S*H. “Gun repair, bookkeeping, and accounting” was the closing refrain of a longrunning series of commercials offering you courses you could take at home. “Seven sixes in a circle” is lifted from Bloom County. The line about who would believe Asimov as French alludes to his use of the name “Paul French” as pseudonym for a couple juvenile novels. “Love of Chair” is a reference to The Electric Company, and I think marks the start of my putting complete nonsense in my closing credits here.

The closing sketch has a line about mathematicians at an airport. There exists a joke that mathematicians tell about putting Polish mathematicians on one side of an airplane. It’s a pun about these things called ‘poles’ and what their placement on the abstract sort of plane implies for a dynamical system. I make no use of this pun and I can’t think why not, as it would have made sense to as many as two people in my audience, with me as one of them. Well, something for the remastered edition, I guess.


> on
> "Intelligence" with the past 65 years on "Personality",

TOM: And the leftover ten years of daytime talk shows.

> thus explaining
> the ENTIRE 100 YEAR HISTORY of Psychometry.

CROW: Except, strangely, for 1987.

>
> BUT… this isn’t why Hammond fainted..!

JOEL: It was because he had low blood sugar.

> At the moment that he
> realized that the Structural Model was 4-DIMENSIONAL (not 3-dimensional),

TOM: And that meant suddenly he had plenty of room to put all his stuff!

> and that it was caused by the entire 4D space-time metric….

CROW: Wait, I thought we weren’t converting to metric anymore.

> he also
> IMMEDIATELY REALIZED that therefore, the oblique 4×4 Metric of E,N,P,g

JOEL: And a touch of R for good luck.

> represented the CURVATURE OF PSYCHOMETRIC SPACE,

TOM: And its effect on man-in-the-moon marigolds.

> and that therefore
> there was a SINGLE HIGHER ORDER FACTOR caused by this curvature,

CROW: The pursuit of girls!

> and
> which had to be caused by the "brain growth deficit" discussed above

JOEL: Everything else had a good alibi.

> (since IQ loaded on it from Mental retardation IQ measurements) and
> THEREFORE, this factor had to be the GOD that was suspected all along

TOM: It does?

> from the brain growth studies above (Section A. above)…

CROW: Wait, they were all Section A.

> therefore
>
> HAMMOND HAD DISCOVERED THE WORLD’S FIRST SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF GOD

TOM: It’s just a shame he’s keeping it to himself.

>
> Not only that, since the psychometry metric

JOEL: And its measurement in the psychometric metric metric…

> is CAUSED by the Space-time
> Metric…

CROW: So gravity causes personality?

> i.e. X,Y,Z,t causes E,N,P,g (g=IQ),

TOM: Oh-four-w-w-NUG.

> and it is known that the
> curvature of space-time is Gravity,

JOEL: And gravity is what makes the world go around.

CROW: Gravity and angular momentum.

> is seen therefore, that Gravity is
> the cause of God.

TOM: So at mass we should be praying to gravity?

>
> Needless to say, Hammond immediately checked out all of the details

CROW: If it’s needless, why is he saying it?

> from anatomy, Biology, Neurology,

TOM: Ichthyology,

> Psychometry, Factor Analysis,

JOEL: Etymology,

> Relativity, Gravity,

TOM: Philology,

> Theology, Psychology,

CROW: Bicycleology,

> History, Zoology,

JOEL: Vexillology,

> Embryology, Philosophy etc.

TOM: Gun repair, bookkeeping, and accounting.

> etc. etc. To make a long story short,
> 20 years of grueling 16 hour a day

CROW: But … it hasn’t been five years yet.

> labor searching for the Structural
> Model finally found it…

JOEL: It’s always in the last place you look.

> and in what must be characterized as one of
> the most amazing accidents of modern science….

TOM: Seven sixes in a circle look like a dandelion!

> turned out to yield
> the world’s first and only,

JOEL: The one and only! The man, the myth, the …

> SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF GOD.

ALL: Ta-da-daaaaa!

[ JOEL picks up TOM, starts to leave. ]

>
>

CROW: [ As he leaves ] Boy, that’d be neat to hear about.

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

[ SOL DESK. JOEL rolls up into view behind the desk; CROW, TOM, and GYPSY are next to him. ]

JOEL: Whew. So, any thoughts about what we’ve learned today, guys?

CROW: I realized there’s a major historian named Gibbon, and a major kind of ape named Gibbon. I think that’s important.

GYPSY: You suppose the historian ever sat down in a chair, reclined, and fell?

TOM: *I* realized there’s a Cato the Censor, a Cato the Younger, and a Cato the Green Hornet’s sidekick.

CROW: I ended up wondering if joining Hari Seldon was better than joining the Hare Krishnas. I don’t think mathematicians go around bugging people at airports, but that might depend on what airline they’re flying.

GYPSY: Do you suppose Seldon harried people often?

TOM: The U. S. Robots people had to cancel the DRR project, because nobody could say R.D.R.R. without giggling.

CROW: Now, I heard that when Asimov wrote a lot of those robot short stories he was working out a philosophy of a C/Fe culture, the carbon-based humans taken on as partners to the iron-based robots.

TOM: Which made *me* think if Asimov were French —

GYPSY: And who would believe Asimov as French?

TOM: They’d be working towards a Fi-Fi culture, where people just don’t make fun of their miniature poodles.

CROW: That sort of thing takes a lot of gaul.

TOM: Which, come to think of it, Ceasar had, didn’t he? I bet he enjoyed his salad days.

GYPSY: Never got over the Germans getting over the Rhine, though.

TOM: A lot of people have that problem, though. Say, you know, a Crowe turned Gladiator not too long ago.

CROW: That’s right. Found the emperor not too Commodious, either.

TOM: Went after him with a gladiolus, which in Latin means either a ‘little sword’ or a flower.

GYPSY: And you’re in a lot of trouble if you get the two mixed up.

TOM: I bet there’s people who mix up the Carthage Rome destroyed with the Carthage in Mississippi.

CROW: It’s a natural mistake, if you’ve ever been there.

TOM: What about you, Joel? What have you learned?

JOEL: That I should stop asking you such open-ended questions. [ Looking up ] What do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. TV’S FRANK stands in front of a brick wall built of those architect’s toys, holding a microphone, with a spotlight on him; DR. FORRESTER sits at the card table with a glass and an (open) soda bottle. ]

FRANK: You know, a lot of people thought Asimov was a God — he was one of them! [ Rim shot. ] It all spiked in Eisenhower’s reelection campaign, when everybody liked Ike. [ Again. ]

DR. F: [ Turning around, to face camera, as TV’s FRANK continues. ]Ahem. All right, Joel. You guys got off a little easy this week.

FRANK: [ Background ] Not everybody liked Ike. Couple editors, they spiked Ike, which he didn’t like. You know, he hung around a group called the Black Widowers, and that was even before the web. It never got too sticky, though. Only rarely turned venomous.

DR. F: And, mark my words, when we find the movie, or whatever, that finally does drive you mad, it will *so* let me take over the world. So *there*. No matter what you think.

[ DR. FORRESTER drops a couple Ever-vescent tabs into his drink, and then pours fresh soda into it. The result is a big explosion of foam and fizz like a small volcano; DR. FORRESTER jumps back. TV’s FRANK continues as if nothing were wrong. The excessive foaming continues. ]

DR. F: Frank! Do something!

FRANK: Do I get a medal?

DR. F: No, Frank.

FRANK: Muttley always got one … [ noticeing DR. FORRESTER’s angered look ] … I’ll just get the button.

DR. F: [ As TV’s FRANK moves off screen. ] Yeah, why don’t you? And the mop, too.

FRANK: [ From off stage ] And be sure to tip your waitresses.


                        \   |   /
                         \  |  /
                          \ | /
                           \|/
                        ----o----
                           /|\
                          / | \
                         /  |  \
                        /   |   \

[ SOUND of foaming continues through to teaser. ]

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its characters and situations are the creation of Best Brains, Inc. "Safety First" is the creation of Johnny Pez, and is used with permission. The Three Laws of Robotics, Powell, Donovan, and their situations are the property of the estate of Dr. Isaac Asimov. The rants and spam "I Want To Sue The Murderous Pope" by jmck…@bonzai.net, "An Open Letter to President Clinton" by Ken H. Seto, "Past GALACTIC WARFARE in OUR Solar System" by Robert McElwaine, and the "SPOG FAQ" by HAMMOND are the creations of their respective authors. This is not an attempt to claim copyright or any other right over the used material. The MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus. "Foundation And Its Friends" and the final sketch could not have been completed without the timely and timeless assistance of Rob S. Rice, who wrote all the funny puns; any mishandled or unfunny ones are the fault of Joseph Nebus. Tune in tomorrow for "Love of Chair."

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


[ The End … ??? ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 15 of 16)


And now to the penultimate segment of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 loosely based around Johnny Pez’s “Safety First”. The whole of the MiSTing is at this link. The previous installment continued explaining how the Scientific Proof of God followed from how brains are like computers running a program called ‘Reality’. Unfortunately, it’s abandonware.

Not much of this week’s riffing needs to be explained. I think that I swiped the “get the hence, Sir Chilblain” line from Walt Kelly’s Pogo, a comic strip that needs a much better web presence. As for riffs that I need to apologize for, oh, that line about being 35 and living with your parents is one I regret. It echos actual riffs from the 90s show but a lot of 90s humor was bad, actually.


>
> a. On the basis of this we suspect that "miracles"

JOEL: And Miracle "Gro"s…

> would simply be when the brain in a given individual

CROW: Like Skeet Ulrich, Robert Urich, or Sally Jesse Raphael.

> suddenly obtains a small spurt of "growth" and

TOM: Pop!

> the entire persons "reality" changes because of it
> because his brain changed.

JOEL: So one day you change your mind, and you grow an extra nose?

> This is based on the
> "Brain as a Computer" model,

TOM: This is based on the Brain as a Computer Model on Drugs. Any questions?

> whereby the program
> running on the computer is called "reality",

CROW: And then we switch out to play Solitaire a while.

> and
> sudden brain growth is like "upgrading" the computer
> with a faster processor and more memory.

TOM: None of this will help you find where you left your car keys.

> As far
> as the "program" is concerned (reality)

JOEL: 21st Century or Weichart?

> this is a
> supernatural and unexplained event,

CROW: And it’s pretty darned cool.

> and is called
> a "MIRACLE".

JOEL: It’s the quote marks that make it really special.

>
> OK… all of this is only SUSPICION…

TOM: But I’m pretty sure it was Professor Plum, wherever it was.

> it looks reasonable to a
> SCIENTIST,

CROW: And a GENTLEMAN.

> but there is no PROOF that it is true.

JOEL: It’s so tempting to look in the back of the book.

>
> HOWEVER, in 1997 HAMMOND discovered

TOM: It’s HAMMOND time!

> an AMAZING PROOF

CROW: Some a*MAZ*ing discoveries!

> that in fact
> the above SUSPICION is ABSOLUTELY SCIENTIFICALLY TRUE.

JOEL: [ Sing-song ] Absolutely scientifically expialidocious!

>
> The proof begins with Hammond’s discovery of the STRUCTURAL MODEL
> in Psychology

CROW: It turns onto the Northway and hits the road for Canada!

> which he published in the peer reviewed literature

TOM: That means somebody was looking over his shoulder when he stuffed it in a copy of "Huckleberry Finn."

> in
> 1994 (Called the Cartesian Theory).

CROW: I think, therefore I think. I think.

> An online copy of this published

> paper is permanently stored at:

JOEL: www-dot-online-copy-is-permanently-stored-here-dot-com.

>

> http://people.ne.mediaone.net/ghammond/cart.html
>
> In this paper hammond

TOM: e.e. cumming hammond.

> explains how all of the EXISTING results
> in PSYCHOMETRY

CROW: Except that one about why we can’t resist checking the pay phone for loose change.

> can be explained by the "3-Axis orthogonal Geometry
> of the Human Body and Brain"

TOM: Icky though it may be.

> (called the "Cartesian Geometry" of
> the Brain).

JOEL: Or "Pookie," by its best friends.

>
> IOW,

TOM: More of that jargon again.

> it was already a known fact that there are 2,3,4,5,6,7,9,13

CROW: Hut! Hut! Hike!

> eigenvector models that can be extracted from any correlation matrix
> in Psychology.

JOEL: So we use that to redirect the tetryon beam through the deflector array an establish a duotronic field that rebalances the warp bubble dynamics.

> And all the Psychologists were arguing over which
> model was right,

TOM: And which ones just looked best.

> and above all else, arguing about WHERE THEY CAME
> FROM physically.

JOEL: Our leading theory: they’re made by Marx!

>
> Hammond (1994) showed that the entire human body is 3-Axis Cartesian
> geometrically,

TOM: He’s discovered humans are three dimensional?

> including the BRAIN, in fact that the brain is CUBIC

CROW: And featuring the power of CHEESE.

> (another word for Cartesian),

TOM: No it’s not.

> and therefore, since a common cube has
> 13-Symmetry axes,

JOEL: And uncommon cubes have four more they keep secret.

> that NATURALLY, there would be found 13 eigenvectors
> in Psychometry,

CROW: Yup. There’s no gainsaying the obvious.

> and that MOREOVER, the 2,3,4,5,6,7,9,13 Factor models
> were just GEOMETRICAL REDACTIONS of the CUBE.

TOM: You put the redactions on page two, under the table of contents.

> (SEE PAPER CITED ABOVE)

CROW: The Bible?

>
> OK, this OVERWHELMINGLY explains the Structural Model,

TOM: Hey, wasn’t this about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
at one point?

> and it turns
> out that all of the numerical data

JOEL: And a nice card from my mom.

> from psychometry confirms Hammond’s
> CARTESIAN THEORY

CROW: Hey, don’t… put the Cartesian before the horse here.

> as being the correct explanation of the long sought
> for Structural Model.

TOM: That’s where you have the building supported by Iman.

>
> Note, that Hammond’s 1994 Structural Model is a 3-dimensional
> structure, a Cube.

JOEL: Dashiel Hammond’s The Maltese Cube.

> It exists in 3-dimensional Psychometric eigevector
> space.

TOM: I just like the flow of the phrase "three-dimensional psychometric eigenvector space."

> In fact in "Personality" space,

CROW: That’s like outer space, but customized to fit the astronaut.

> it DOES NOT include Intelligence
> (IQ)

JOEL: But it does include free refills.

> which is the other major field of psychometry "Mental Ability"

CROW: And natural "fashion sense"

> which is usually called "Intelligence".

TOM: By those who don’t know any better.

>
> However, in 1997 Hammond found out that Cattell had discovered FOUR
> 3rd order Factors (eigenvectors),

CROW: The fourth fell behind the bookshelf and was hard to get out again.

> whereas Hammond’s theory held that
> there were only THREE dimensions.

JOEL: The only way to settle it: Thumb wrestling!

> Hammond was standing there in his
> 3rd floor garret apartment

TOM: Third floor Garrett Morris apartment.

> pondering "what could possibly be orthogonal
> to 3-dimensional space"…

CROW: And yet taste so much like regular space?

> when suddenly his knees collapsed from under
> him and he went into a faint.

TOM: I know linear algebra can cause unconsciousness,
but it’s not usually *that* way.

> Hammond suddenly realized on February
> 3rd 1997,

CROW: Hey, remember where we were on February 3, 1997?

TOM: We were stuck on the satellite, being forced to watch bad movies?

CROW: Yeah, I remember it like it was yesterday.

> that IQ (Intelligence) had to be a "4th dimension" to the
> Structural Model,

TOM: A dimension not of sight or sound, but of mind.

> and that this was because "Intelligence" was already
> known to be "mental speed"

CROW: That’s the measure of how fast [ shifting to an Ed Grimley impersonation ] you go completely mental, I must say, but then again, who doesn’t?

> and therefore it would correlate with the
> TIME dimension,

JOEL: But in the Newsweek spacetime continuum.

CROW: Hey, shouldn’t he be inventing the flux capacitor by now?

> whereas the other 3 Personality dimensions correlated
> with the 3-SPACE dimensions (3-symmetry axes of the brain).. HENCE,

TOM: Get thee hence, sir Chilblain! … We need the eggs.

> the theory of Psychometry was caused by the ENTIRE 4D SPACE-TIME METRIC.

CROW: Hey, wasn’t this about God at one point?

> He suddenly realized he had united the first 35 years of psychometry

JOEL: Psychometry’s 35 years old and it’s still living with its parents?


[ to conclude … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 14 of 16)


Continuing now with a Mystery Science Theater 3000 marching steadily away from Johnny Pez’s “Safety First”. The whole of the MiSTing is at this link. The previous installment began a discussion about the Scientific Proof of God. I hope it helps anyone who’d been worrying about God-proofing their lives.

A bit of content warning here. In this section the riffed material talks about mental disabilities. And particularly about third-world people suffering more disabilities owing to poor nutrition. If you don’t need someone talking about “IQ deficits” in your recreational reading, you are right, and you should skip this piece at least.

For obscure references this time around, not much. There’s a mention about “B.J. fiddling with your pants overnight” that refers to one of the like two episodes of M*A*S*H where B.J. was a prank master screwing with Major Winchester. Also, I am aware that “reify” is a word. I keep looking it up to learn what it means, and agreeing that’s a thing it’s nice to have a word for (it’s to treat an abstraction as if it had real existence), but I then forget the word’s meaning and that it is a word all over again.


> 5. [NOTE: I am now going to bend over backwards

TOM: Hammond’s CONTORTIONIST SPOG!

> as far as I
> can possibly bend

JOEL: He’s going to have to call Plastic-Man in as his technical advisor.

> to explain this SPOG in the simplest terms

CROW: While wearing my feety pajamas.

> w/o using any technical jargon or omitting any logical steps.

JOEL: Unfortunately, this darned margin is so small…

> …. please dummy up and pay attention,

TOM: Dummy up and slide right.

> this is your last chance]:

CROW: Your last chance for great savings!

>
> A. First, it is discovered

JOEL: See how easy that was?

> (basically by talking to a lot
> of crazy people),

TOM: Finally, years spent on the Internet pay off.

> the "suspicion" that it is "poor growth"
> that cause people to believe in "a higher power".

CROW: When really it’s just a guy standong on top of the ladder.

> IOW,

JOEL: Hey, I thought you said "no jargon."

> it
> is suspected that a large percent of the population is being
> affected

TOM: A large percent of the population is like a storm raging inside you.

> by the fact that their BRAINS

ALL: [ Zombie accents ] BRAINS!

> (just like the rest of
> their body BTW) is NOT FULLY GROWN.

JOEL: But that’ll all change when you’re visited by a special friend right about when you turn twelve or thirteen … or fourteen…

>
> a. This suspicion is further reified

CROW: Reified? Is that even a word?

TOM: I think that’s what happens when you crash into the Great Barrier Reef.

CROW: Oh.

> by the
> fact that a well known similar effect

JOEL: Known as tickling.

> is
> observed in nutritionally growth stunted
> people (by the millions)

CROW: All of them. They just gather around and observe.

> in 3rd World
> country’s where a severe IQ deficit is

TOM: A good line for those playing along at home to work from.

> caused by "brain growth stunting".

JOEL: This sounds like a depressing episode of "Pinky and the Brain."

>
> b. This is further reified

CROW: Rheostatted.

JOEL: Re-iffy-fileted.

> by observations on
> Mental Retardation,

TOM: Flowers for SPOGernon.

> which is generally
> attributed to "arrested growth"

JOEL: Pull over, growth. Get out of the car.

> (of the
> brain) on the normal growth curve.

CROW: Caution! Dangerous growth curves ahead.

>
> c. It is particularly noted that the large
> majority of "Mental Cases" are

TOM: Ed Norton.

> people of
> poor growth and development.

JOEL: They’re just generally bad people is all he’s saying.

> And all most
> of them do all day is talk about "God".

CROW: God, and the CIA-Martian alliance.

>
> d. Obviously such a thing as "incomplete brain
> growth" is a natural candidate for explaining
> "God".

TOM: Other explanations, like a sense of wonder and excitement at the incredible beauty and majesty of the world, fall short.

> As one person put it,

CROW: Another will un-put it.

> it can be seen
> as a candidate in the following way;

JOEL: Uh — has everybody got their 3-D glasses on?

> assume
> the brain is a computer running a program

> called "reality". Then:

TOM: I’m going to wait for the upgrade. Nobody wise runs the point-zero release.

>
> The Human Brain is like a computer,
> running a program called Reality.

JOEL: Is the human brain like a computer, running a program called reality?

TOM: No, I think the human brain is like a computer, running a program called reality.

CROW: You can think that if you want, but I saw the human brain is like a computer, and it runs a program called reality.

> Any change in the program is called
> a Law of Reality (science),

CROW: Hey, wait a minute — what if it’s running a program called "Realty" instead?

TOM: Deus ex Homeowners Association?

> but any
> change (‘upgrade’) in the Computer

JOEL: Comes out of your warranty.

> is called an Act of God.

TOM: So God handles hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and bug patches.

>
> Here, "grain growth" is compared to

JOEL: I never saw the connection between God and corn before.

TOM: Never heard about "Corn as high as the pastor’s eye"?

JOEL: Oh, you’re right.

> upgrading the computer with a faster
> processor and more memory,

CROW: As long as they keep that dancing paperclip out of the way I’m all right.

> and obviously
> would have a "supernatural", "miraculous"
> effect on the "reality" program.

TOM: Hey, if God keeps growing your brain, won’t that eventually make your skull pop open?

CROW: Cool!

>
>
> B. Secondly, it is KNOWN

JOEL: Yet it is not generally BELIEVED

> that there is such a thing as a
> SECULAR TREND in human growth.

TOM: Up until the point they become teenagers, and get all surly and hostile.

> That is, that the entire
> Human Race is achieving higher and higher levels of
> GROWTH with each passing generation.

CROW: Meaning in a few short generations we will *all* be able to look on top of the refrigerator!

> It is also known
> that this is NOT a genetic effect,

JOEL: It’s caused by B.J. fiddling with your pants overnight.

> that it is caused
> entirely by the RISING WORLD STANDARD OF LIVING,

TOM: Caused by the Giant World Escalator.

> particularly NUTRITION.

TOM: That too.

> This leads to a simple arithmetic

> formula:

JOEL: Vitamin E equals M Vitamin C squared.

>

> Growth curve deficit: GCD=Genotype-Phenotype

TOM: Trilobyte.

CROW: Neophyte.

JOEL: Anorthocite.

CROW: Palomite.

>

> see: http://people.ne.mediaone.net/ghammond/growth5.JPG
> for a
> picture of this.

TOM: And that great cartoon of "You Want It When?"

>
> According to the Secular Trend

JOEL: And anonymous sources close to the Secular Trend.

> then, the SUSPICION would be
> that there is and always has been, a "brain growth deficit"

TOM: It’s a Brain Growth Gap! The Commies are pulling out ahead of us!

> in the human population, and that this "deficit" has been
> slowly decreasing

JOEL: They’re finally getting over that brain deficit spending.

> for millenniums (probably rapidly since
> the Industrial Revolution BTW),

CROW: Slower in the no-passing zones.

> and that this explains the
> 4,000 year history of "God"

TOM: Isn’t that kind of overlooking, like, twelve thousand years of Egyptian history and their Gods too?

> and explains why we believe
> we are heading toward "Kingdom Come" or the Perfect
> World…

JOEL: Or a Different World.

CROW: Or just Cool World.

> since this would obviously be when the "Deficit"
> finally reaches zero.

TOM: And then we’ll blow it on a big tax cut for the rich.


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 13 of 16)


This Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction finally reaches to the last quarter of my work inspired by Johnny Pez’s “Safety First”. The whole of the MiSTing is at this link. The previous installment finished up a report from the Galactic Federation of Light. But this part starts a new rant, the Scientific Proof Of God. I’m glad to be able to bring you the proof.

There’s not much needing particular explanation this section. The Hall Effect is about how a magnetic field affects electrical currents. LUD is “local usage details”, that is, phone records, a thing I didn’t need to look up back when I watched Law and Order regularly. And boy, am I glad that joke about Yoko Ono was based on an informed opinion. I’d feel horrible if I were thoughtlessly repeating a weak line without considering whether its common currency might be due to misogyny with a slice of racism! I wouldn’t want to insult someone without ever considering whether the person deserves this insult!


[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

> http://people.ne.mediaone.net/ghammond/SPOGFAQ.html

JOEL: Media One. A Media One Through Five Corporation.

>
> . SPOG FAQ

TOM: [ Singing ] The SPOG FAQ is a little old place where… We can get! To! Get! Ther!

>
>
> What is the "SCIENTIFIC PROOF" of God? —

CROW: Do *you* know how Encyclopedia Brown figured it out?
Check page 176 to see if you’re right!

>
> (Relativity and Psychometry)

TOM: You got relativity on my psychometry!

CROW: You got psychometry on my relativity!

>
> A "scientific proof" is like a court judgment,

JOEL: You get interviewed by Doug Llewellyn after it?

> it hinges
> on the assertion "BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT".

CROW: I’m not so sure about that.

>
> For instance, here is no "absolute proof"

TOM: Absolut Vodka.

> that "space-time
> curvature causes Gravity" (Einstein 1915).

JOEL: It *might* just be an unforseen side effect.

> However, there is
> a MASSIVE body of fact and logical theory bearing on the matter,

CROW: And it slipped the judge a couple of bucks under the table, too.

> and the judgment of the (overwhelming) majority of experts
> in the field is,

TOM: This dress doesn’t make me look fat. Does it?

> that the evidence is such that it is
> "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Space-time Curvature causes
> Gravity.

JOEL: So it better have a good explanation why it does that, or else it’s in a lot of trouble, mister.

> This then, is called a "Scientific proof that
> Curvature causes Gravity"…. or simply a "SCIENTIFIC PROOF".

TOM: In fact, it’s a scien-*terrific* proof!

> Now, when Einstein published the theory of Relativity in 1915,
> he advanced it as a "SCIENTIFIC PROOF".

CROW: Because promoting it as a new Sherlock Holmes mystery would be confusing.

>
> OK, Hammond claims that he has found a SCIENTIFIC PROOF of
> the existence of God….

TOM: Oh, and organs.

> same thing, same exact situation as
> Einstein, or any other major SCIENTIFIC PROOF.

CROW: Except for the science part.

>
> Hammond’s SPOG is a classic,

JOEL: A triumph of the human spirit!

CROW: A story that will live through the ages!

TOM: Thank you, Hammond’s SPOG, for making us laugh about love… again.

> by the book,

CROW: Hours could seem like days.

> ordinary, rigorous,

JOEL: And with a "Law and Order" twist.

> hard scientific proof, meeting all the canons of science

TOM: Like our 22-inch Feynman diagrams and the new dreadnought-caliber Hall Effect device.

> and all

> the requirements for a proof:

CROW: Patent pending.

>

> The situation is this:

JOEL: There are 47 Klingons and three Starbases in your sector. You have 82 Stardates to destroy them.

>
> 1. There is a 4,000 year old "rumor",

TOM: But it’s about Paul Lynde so nobody’s really worked up about it.

> based on many
> eyewitness testimonies,

CROW: And one article in "Variety."

> that there is such a thing
> as a "God".

TOM: And He’s responsible for this divine cheesecake recipe!

> The Bible for instance is one documented
> source for these reports.

JOEL: The canon of Kevin Smith movies, however, is not.

>
> 2. The historical sources (cf. Bible)

CROW: Do you know me? I’m C.F. Bible, and that’s why I carry American Express.

> describe this "God"
> as an invisible power,

TOM: Ah, a wind-powered diety.

> apparently in the form of an
> invisible perfect man,

JOEL: By G.K. Chesterton and Ralph Ellison.

> who can perform miraculous
> feats (generally of salvation)

TOM: And occasionally a great card trick.

> by somehow supernaturally
> "violating the Laws of Physics".

CROW: Or the Laws of Cartoon Physics.

>

> (Note: w/o wrangling over what Christianity says..

TOM: I can’t be bothered to let information mess up my argument.

> I think
> you will have to grant that this is a fair synopsis

CROW: Fair, turning partly cloudy overnight.

> of
> what "God" has been known as, for the past 2,000 years)

JOEL: Except during that weird period when he was teamed up with Yoko Ono.

>
> 3. OK, so a reasonable scientist would say…

CROW: "Hi! I’m a reasonable scientist, and here’s what I’ll say!"

> "well, we’ll keep our
> eyes open

TOM: And our tongue to the grindstone!

CROW: Our ears to the … huh?

> in case any new scientific phenomena turn up

JOEL: [ Pointing ] Hey, look, there’s one!

CROW: [ Giggling ] And over there! There’s another!

TOM: [ Snickering ] Look fast, that’s one now!

JOEL: Boy, this is the coolest scientific phenomena hangout ever.

> which
> would seem to be connected with any such thing".

TOM: We’ll have Jerry Orbach look over their LUDs and see what turns up.

>
> 4. Sure enough, in 1997 HAMMOND

JOEL: As the superhero HAMMOND-MAN!

> discovered an OBVIOUS physical
> mechanism,

CROW: It’s called the "wheel." We’ve known it for months.

> which explains this 4,000 year history,

TOM: All of which is going to be on the exam! I hope you studied.

> so COMPLETELY,
> so SIMPLY, so COMPREHENSIVELY,

JOEL: So ROUND, so FIRM, so FULLY PACKED.

> so OVERWHELMINGLY, so COMPELLINGLY,
> and so OBVIOUSLY,

TOM: I think he’s in danger of overselling it at this point.

> that he has now advanced it as a
> "SCIENTIFIC PROOF"

CROW: With Retsyn.

JOEL: Ting!

> of the existence of this "God"

TOM: This God, that God, just take a deity out of petty cash, OK?

> that people
> have been reporting for 4,000 years.

JOEL: They’ve been reporting the same thing for four thousand years?

CROW: I didn’t even know they had cable news channels four thousand years ago.

>


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 12 of 16)


And now we get to three-quarters through my MiSTing centered around Johnny Pez’s “Safety First”. The whole of the MiSTing is at this link. If you’d like to just catch the previous segment of this rant, a report from the Galactic Federation of Light, you can find it here. Or you can just jump in. There’s not that many millions of years of backstory.

The line about “Diet Galactic Federation” references how, like, Diet Coke is sold in some countries as Coke Light. Imperialism II was a turn-based grand strategy game that I spent roughly all of 1999 and 2000 playing. Mac System 9.1 broke it, so it was the first game I ever postponed upgrading my operating system for.

The host sketch has the biggest cast of any of my host sketches (I’m sure). My recollection is that the sketch started as just Joel talking with the Bots about the Laws of Robotics, and I found I didn’t have enough of a punch line for it. Combining it with a second idea that’s amusing but not quite possessed of a punch line elevates both, I think. (Still, Gypsy’s clearly reading Tom Servo’s lines.) It at least makes the sketch feel more like a hangout with people it’s fun to see, anyway. The sketch ends up being one I like for feeling plausibly like something the show might do, although it would be a staging hassle to get so many groups of people entering and exiting the Hex Field View Screen stage without someone tripping or bursting into flame or something.

Coming up with costumes that felt like people that might be on the Hex Field View Screen was fun. Also, if Tom Servo is obsessively pursuing a weird, needless goal? You probably have a good host sketch there. He obsesses in a more methodical, rigorous way than Crow does.


> However, rebel groups captured it about 13,000
> years ago.

TOM: I know it was a Wednesday, because we had meat loaf at lunch.

>
> "You are quite familiar with the sorry tale of this battle planet-
> world.

JOEL: A tale of a fateful trip.

> Let us merely say that, due to the influence of your solar
> system’s Spiritual Hierarchy and the demise of its dark allies,

TOM: And our first-round draft pick that year…

> those
> who dwell in the realm that you call Niburu

CROW: Better not call them that to their face.

> have turned to the Light
> and joined the Galactic Federation of Light.

TOM: I thought it was Diet Galactic Federation?

> We have fully welcomed
> this wondrous development,

JOEL: The light doesn’t mess up the film development?

> which is yet another sign of the
> transformation of your present darkness into Light.

TOM: You kids stop leaving all the lights on! We’re not trying to light up the great outdoors!

> You should realize
> that your own changes reflect the shifts in your reality

CROW: So you’ll want to adjust yourself discretely.

> and are part
> of our complex preparations.

JOEL: Now, let’s rehearse. Earth, duck down behind the love seat and be ready to shout "SURPRISE!"

> Underlying them is the sacred hand of
> Heaven.

CROW: Oh, and the Care Bears.

> Everywhere, the decrees of the divine plan are visible.

TOM: Except on the home shopping channels.

> Always
> remember, Beloveds,

CROW: [ Giggles ] Ooh … not out here, Luvy-kins.

> that the sacred work of the Creator is carried out
> according to a divine timeframe.

TOM: Subject to union restrictions.

> The moment for your final
> transformation is fast approaching.

JOEL: So if you’ve got any library books, return them soon.

>
> "Today, we have discussed current events in your solar system.

CROW: Now I want you all to go home and read the newspapers and bring us a clipping and be prepared to explain it tomorrow!

> They are a sign that your preparations are approaching their
> culmination.

JOEL: We can’t just throw this all together at the last minute.

> As they do so, we are increasing our care and effort.

TOM: You better appreciate this, mister.

> We
> are determined to complete this operation

JOEL: Water on the knees? … oh, wait, right…

> in the time that the divine
> plan has assigned us.

CROW: We may need an extention. See, we just got Imperialism II and we’re kind of hooked on it.

> Know, Beloveds,

TOM: Remember, Snuggy-cakes.

> that many marvelous surprises are
> converging on you.

JOEL: It’s like Christmas all year round!

> We now take our leave.

CROW: You were getting fingerprints all over it.

> Blessings!

TOM: [ Sneezes … then after a beat … ] Wow!

> Know that the
> endless Abundance and Prosperity of Heaven is yours!

JOEL: We just need somebody to sign for the delivery.

> Amen.

CROW: Shouldn’t it be "a *man*" instead?

> Selamat
> Gajun!

TOM: Tiamat Cajun?

> Selamat Ja!

JOEL: [ Waving ] Tiamat right back at’cha!

> (Sirian for Be One!

CROW: Sirian for BreathAssure!

TOM: Wait a minute, ‘Selamat’ isn’t alien. It’s Malay!

CROW: So they’re not being Sirius with us?

> And Be in Joy!)"

JOEL: And be in fun!

TOM: And be in seasons in the sun!

>
> Planetary Activation Organization

JOEL: Try putting in the batteries the other way around.

> http://www.paoweb.com

TOM: Paa-a-a-ao! Paa-a-a-ao-web!

> http://www.paoweb.com/uf080401.htm

JOEL: UFO ate 401?

>
> This copy was sent or reposted by Robert E. McElwaine

CROW: And we thank you for it.

TOM: Hey! This was McElwaine? And Forrester didn’t even warn us?

JOEL: I think he’s getting sloppy.

> PA’O Member

JOEL: [ Exaggerated Irish accent ] Pay O’Member, me lads.

> Eckankar Initiate

TOM: Necking Car Institute?

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

CROW: University of Weehauken — Easy Comics!

JOEL: Uncle Wobbly — Early Complainer!

TOM: United Wombats — Everyone Cheer!

> http://www.angelfire.com/wi/mcelwaine

JOEL: Where Angelfire goes, trouble follows.

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

TOM: Remember 460.

>

> See also the various web pages at http://www.disclosureproject.org .

CROW: Disclosureproject dot org dot com dot co dot uk dot edu dot dot dot.

>
>

TOM: Hey, we made it through to the other side.

[ ALL file out. ]

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

[ SOL DESK. TOM is on stage left of the desk, facing (and talking to) the Hex Field View Screen. JOEL, CROW, and GYPSY talk, stage right. The Hex Field View Screen closes as the sketch starts. ]

TOM: … yeah, OK, all right, *bye*.

JOEL: So you see, the "Three Laws of Robotics" reflect in a way the ideal for human behavior, the selflessness, faithfullness, and kindness humans want to believe they’re capable of.

[ The Hex Field View Screen opens; a guy in a jumpsuit and a dog costume head is in it. ]

TOM: Yeah, hi, look, can you leave a message? I’m expecting a really
big call any moment now.

[ The dog shrugs and the View Screen closes. ]

JOEL: Now, you’re all well and adorably made robots [ JOEL scratches GYPSY’s head ] if I may say so myself —

CROW: Please *do*

JOEL: So if I order you to clean the load pan bays, you respond …?

GYPSY: Can’t.

CROW: Yeah. First Law priority override whatwhoosis.

[ The Hex Field View Screen opens; a guy in aluminum-foil robot costume is in it. ]

TOM: Hi. Waiting on a call. See you later. No, later. Bye. Have to *go*. *Now*. Good*bye*.

[ The Hex Field View Screen closes. ]

JOEL: Uh– no, no, see, First Law is where you can’t do something because it’d hurt a human, as in, me.

GYPSY: Or the mads.

JOEL: Yes, or Doctor Forrester or TV’s Frank.

CROW: Still, it’s to protect you we mustn’t clean the load pan bays.

JOEL: All right, how do you figure that?

[ The Hex Field View Screen opens; a spacesuited woman with propeller beanie and "Cave Dwellers"-type sword and shield is in it. ]

TOM: Yeah, hi. Look, I’m sure you’re wonderful, can’t talk now. *Bye*.

[ The Hex Field View Screen closes. ]

CROW: Fact: We mean the world to you.

GYPSY: And fact: Something might happen to us while cleaning them.

CROW: So if it *did*

GYPSY: You’d never forgive yourself.

CROW: The only thing we can do is save you from that sense of guilt.

GYPSY: So we can’t clean them.

JOEL: OK, have I tried explaining the Three Laws are metaphorical —

GYPSY, CROW: Yeeeees.

[ The Hex Field View Screen opens; there’s a cricket player in it. ]

TOM: Hi. You’re not on Venus, right? Right. Can’t talk. Bye. Bye. Goodbye. Leave. Now.

[ The Hex Field View Screen Closes. ]

GYPSY: Who’s Tom waiting for on the Hex Field?

JOEL: Oh, he just thinks Powell and Donovan are sure to call us, and he wants to tease Arthur when they do.

CROW: Should you really leave him alone like that? He could start an intergalactic war or something.

[ COMMERCIAL SIGN begins flashing. ]

JOEL: It’s OK. I left him on the "harmless guys in silly costumes" chat hailing frequency.

CROW: Oh, he’ll be busy with them for *weeks*.

JOEL: Yeah. We’ll be right back.

[ JOEL taps COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ COMMERCIALS. ]


[ to continue … ]

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 … ]

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