MiSTed: Safety First (part 5 of 16)


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

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

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

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

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


[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

TOM: I can’t wait for this.

> From: johnn…@aol.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>
> "Safety First"

TOM: Line dancing second.

>
> By Johnny Pez

[ JOEL hums the "Jonny Quest" theme. ]

TOM: Johnny Pez.

>
> The Three Laws of Robotics.

CROW: The *what*?

TOM: *Laws*? On *us*?

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

>

TOM: Since when do we follow laws?

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

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

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

CROW: Except Val Kilmer.

[ TOM snickers. ]

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

[ TOM, CROW titter. ]

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

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

[ CROW laughs openly. ]

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

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

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

>

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

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

> 3. A robot must protect its own existence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ CROW and TOM snicker. ]

>

> Aphrodite Station,

JOEL: It’s a beautiful place.

> Venus AD 2020

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

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

>
> Michael Donovan

JOEL: [ Raising his hand ] "Present."

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

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

JOEL: What?

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

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

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

TOM: Did you try saying "please"?

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

CROW: Hey!

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

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

>
> "Arthur," said Powell,

CROW: [ Snickering ] A robot named Arthur.

JOEL: I almost named you Arthur.

[ CROW’s beak hangs open. ]

TOM: Dudley Moorebot 6000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: Overboard you go!

> Please reactivate
> my motor controls."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: So who’s working?

> I must evacuate all the humans from this station.

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

> Please reactivate my motor controls."

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

CROW: What?

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

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

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

TOM: Hey!

CROW: That’s *naughty*!

TOM: What gets *in* to some humans?

> Then he swore.

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


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 4 of 16)


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

> This also applies to the reviewers.

JOEL: So is Roger Ebert mainstream or fringe?

TOM: Mainstream.

JOEL: Leonard Maltin?

CROW: Mainstream.

JOEL: Elvis Mitchell?

TOM: Fringe.

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

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

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

TOM: Except bathroom breaks.

> A mainstream
> reviewer can only review mainstream proposals

CROW: Plus the new "Star Wars" movie.

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

TOM: What about Groucho Marx’s proposals?

JOEL: Fringe.

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

TOM: Brother, can you spare a MacArthur grant?

>
> With the above proposal,

CROW: And a little slice of lime…

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

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

>
> The sad thing about the present system

CROW: Is how droopy it makes my cheeks look.

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

TOM: Escape to find an audience.

> appear to
> have enormous potentials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>
>
> Sincerely,

JOEL: This is such a sincere guy.

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

>
> Ken H. Seto

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

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

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

>
>

TOM: Oh, wait, we’re done.

CROW: Nifty.

[ ALL exit. ]

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

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

TOM: Joel? We need to have a talk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: Yeah!

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

CROW: And TV’s Frank?

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

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

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

CROW: Gosh.

TOM: Wow.

CROW: I feel kind of sorry for them now.

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

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial Sign in five seconds.

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

[ JOEL taps COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ COMMERCIALS ]


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 3 of 16)


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

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

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


>
>
> 2/15/96

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

TOM: Yeah.

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

JOEL: Oh, right.

>
> President Bill Clinton

TOM: Of the starship Enterprise.

> White House

CROW: At just $25,000 a night.

> Washington, DC 20500

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

>
> Dear President Clinton,

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

>
> Enclosed please find a copy of my book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: Snakes are meeting in St. Louis?

JOEL: That’s *asps*.

CROW: Asps! That’s even worse!

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

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

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

CROW: Coincidence? Read the book.

JOEL: We can’t, it wasn’t published.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: A Model Mechanics Model Mathematics Model?

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

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

JOEL: Aw, you should think positive, honey!

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

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

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

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

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

> This is OK if only private funding is used.

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

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

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

CROW: The ones with the, the, the —

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

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

TOM: No, no, the other one, the —

JOEL: I got it, right. Them.

TOM: Right, them.

CROW: I got it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

> Clearly, this is very unfair.

CROW: Nobody should be frustrated.

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

TOM: First, we all get naked.

>
> The government should set up two separate funds.

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

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

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


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 2 of 16)


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

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

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


>
> If that was you

TOM: You’d be me by now.

> starving to death you would want someone

CROW: We all need someone, sometimes.

> to give you something wouldn’t you.

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

>
> QUICKLY GIVE ME MONEY !

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

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

JOEL: Ten… Banana-creme-pies!

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

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

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

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

> Jesus Loves ALL OF YOU !

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

> Praise
> the Lord !

CROW: Where you work, or bank!

>
> Now don’t try saying there

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

> is too many starving people,

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

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

CROW: Awkward family reunions…

> poverty, crime,

TOM: Rupert Murdoch’s empire…

> abortion etc. worldwide.

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

> That is not the problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

> That’s the problem.

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

>
> And no no no

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

> I don’t pay taxes

CROW: I *play* them!

> the money is for the poor.

JOEL: The carpet remnants are for the spare bedroom.

>
> Well got to go

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

> and build more churches

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

> in all the rich
> neighborhoods.

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

>
> I am the pope !

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

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

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

> TRY TO GET VIOLENT

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

> KILL THEM

JOEL: Oh, boo.

TOM: Boooooo!

CROW: This guy was fun up until now.

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

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

JOEL: About time for the next track, right?

TOM: I think so.

> From: Ken Seto (ken…@erinet.com)

TOM: With love.

> Subject: OPEN LETTER

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

> TO PRESIDENT CLINTON

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

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

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

TOM:Bet it was posted at 1:59.

>
>
> Dear Follow Fringe Scientists,

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

TOM: Follow the yellow fringe scientists!

> The following letter was sent to President Clinton

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

> and his reply was
> a standard form letter.

TOM: Sent in the standard plain brown wrapper.

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

CROW: We really ought to set traps or something.

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

TOM: In crayon?

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

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

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

TOM: First: get online.

CROW: Second: fire up your web browser.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOEL: They like that sort of personal touch.

> 3. I will acculmulate the list

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

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

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

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

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

> 4. Tell your friends

TOM: They won’t want to be left out!

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

CROW: All perfectly legal! Ask the Post Office!

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

JOEL: Newsgroups have such IN-teresting postings.

> 6. For more information

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

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

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

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

TOM: Remember to bring a housewarming present!

>
> Sincerely,

JOEL: I question his sincerity.

> Ken H. Seto

TOM: The H stands for Happy!


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: Safety First (part 1 of 16)


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

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

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

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


[ OPENING CREDITS ]

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

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

JOEL: Nope, that was "First Contact."

TOM: How about that poker game Picard joined in?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: "Deep Space Nine."

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

JOEL: That was a Betty Boop song cartoon.

[ GYPSY grumbles. ]

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

CROW: That was "Galaxy Quest."

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

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

TOM: That was a TV episode.

CROW: I give up. We’ve got *nothing*.

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

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

JOEL: I’m stumped.

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

GYPSY: Thanks.

MAGIC VOICE: Commercial sign now.

[ COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes. ]

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

[ JOEL taps COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]

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

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

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

[ MADS SIGN flashes ]

JOEL: Captain Decker and Lieutenant Ilia are calling.

[ JOEL taps MADS SIGN ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOEL: Ready to see what we’ve got?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW, TOM: Robots? Hooray!

[ DEEP 13. As above. ]

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

[ SOL DESK. MOVIE SIGN flashing. ]

ALL: AAh! We’ve got movie sign!

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

[ ALL settle in ]

> From: jmck…@bonzai.net

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

> To: jmck…@bonzai.net

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

> Subject: I want to sue the murderous pope !

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

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

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

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

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

JOEL: You’re forgetting the International Date Line.

CROW: Oh.

> Status: OR

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

>
>
> He creates wars

JOEL: And passes the savings on to you!

> starvation poverty

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

> crime etc. worldwide

CROW: Is this the Pope or the Penguin?

> by
> overpopulating the world to death,

[ ALL giggle. ]

JOEL: Well, you know Catholics.

> he kills millions of people

CROW: He hurts the feelings of thousands of others.

> and
> has billions of people

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

> living in total dispair with his;

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

>
> Come on now

CROW: Come on down!

> more more more

TOM: *Now* how much would you pay?

> just keep having more children

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

> NO BIRTH CONTROL.

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

>
> LOOK LOOK LOOK

TOM: But don’t touch!

> everybody look at all that starvation over
> there!

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

>
> Quickly give me money!

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


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: What To Invent (part 3 of 3)


And now the conclusion Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of Raymond Yates’s essay “What To Invent”. I’ll have something else next week, and it’ll probably be more MiSTings.

I have the nagging feeling that the riff about making “even the idea of dirtiness seem clean” is an attenuated Bill and Ted reference, but I’m not confident. This whole essay was fun to riff. I think I still have Yates’s book, which is something like a thousand inventions like this. If I can find it I should riff some of those.

This thing needed a host sketch for the conclusion, no doubt about that.


>
> The manufacturers of electrically operated ice
> boxes are looking for a simple mechanism to permit such
> boxes to defrost themselves within a minute’s time.

CROW: I have one that does it in 75 seconds?

MIKE: No! You have failed electrically operated ice box manufacturers worldwide! Hang your head in shame!

CROW: Okay.

>
> A great many uses could be found for a
> self-closing cork to be applied to pop and other bottles.

TOM: Like … closing?

> Such a device should permit fluid to flow only when the
> bottle is inverted. A gadget of this kind would be very
> handy. It could be sold separately in the chain stores.

MIKE: It must be carefully guarded lest the secret fall into German hands!

>
> Millions of people in this country keep canary
> birds.

TOM: Some of them have to be stool pigeons.

> The ordinary cage presents many hazzards and
> birds often hang themselves or otherwise meet with death
> in some of the “ornamental” boxes.

CROW: Suicidal canaries? Who gets them, the cast of _Funky Winkerbean_?

> What is needed is a
> safety cage—one that will make it impossible for
> accidents of any kind to happen.

TOM: Or you could just leave the canaries alone.

>
> Pocket nail clippers have never been really
> popular for the simple reason that one must use a file
> afterwards because a very rough edge is left.

CROW: Which kills thousands every year.

TOM: In tragic nose-picking accidents.

> Men and
> women would use such clippers in greater number if smooth
> cuts were produced.

MIKE: Because if there’s one thing men are looking for, it’s improved nail-trimming smoothness technology.

>
> Now that the bathing season is here again

CROW: o/` Bathing season is here again! The skies above are clear again! o/`

> we are
> reminded that the ladies still want a leakproof cap which
> will not be so tight as to stop, or interfere with the
> circulation of blood,

TOM: Your hair is your body’s largest consumer of blood!

> but will, at the same time prevent
> any water from seeping through. This invention, without
> exaggeration, would be worth at least $500,000.

MIKE: Aw, forget it, man, I won’t do it for less than five hundred thousand, two hundred seventy-five dollars.

>
> Now that pianos are becoming popular again,
> manufacturers could use a moth-proof substitute for the
> felt on the hammers, etc.

CROW: Etc?

MIKE: You know, like a wallaby-proof substitute for the keys.

TOM: Or a dinosaur-proof substitute for the legs.

>
> The inventor of a really sanitary pillow

MIKE: I’m not talking your ordinary sanitary pillow. I’m talking about something that’s *so* sanitary it makes even the idea of dirtiness seem clean.

> permitting a large volume of air to circulate through it
> and, at the same time, soft and comfortable, would be a
> fortunate person.

CROW: A person who naps in a superior manner.

> Rubber as a material is ruled out.

TOM: People get all weird about it.

> Such pillows, unlike the pillows of today, should be
> washable.

MIKE: A washable pillow? Why not dream about flying cars and computers that fit in your phone while you’re at it?

>

TOM: Yeah, let’s blow this popsicle stand.

CROW: The man who invented a self-blowing popsicle stand …

MIKE: Let’s let that thought end right there, shall we?

[ OUR HEROES file out. ]

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

Thank you for reading all this. “What To Invent” was written by Raymond Francis Yates, who would go on to write a book listing a couple thousand needed inventions, some of which would still make life reasonably better, so if you can think of one, please do. Many more of the things have already been thought of
since the late 30s, so don’t go hurrying on your typewriter improvements just now, please. The article is either Yates’s or else Modern Mechanix’s property and is used here just to be amusing. Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its characters and schtick aren’t mine either, but the actual writing of the making fun of this was done by Joseph Nebus, who hopes you liked it. Enjoy your own inventive nature, please.

> But what is wrong with shoe polish?

MiSTed: What To Invent (part 2 of 3)


And now to the second part of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of Raymond Yates’s essay “What To Invent”. There’s not any riffs of particular obscurity, or that I much feel I need to apologize for. Still, you know, it was the 2010’s, things were different then. Anyway this was all great fun to write and I love re-reading it. And I have one little note I’ll put at the end.

Having now made a couple window screens, yeah, Yates had a point about something to keep them taut and flat. Maybe there is something now and I didn’t know about it and the hardware store supposed of course I knew. I’ve been able to carry on since I don’t have to make so many window screens that the inconvenience becomes too annoying.


>
> The typewriter eraser is a combination of
> fine-ground sand and rubber.

TOM: Plus a typewriter! A typewriter eraser is nothing without a typewriter.

> When such an eraser is used

MIKE: Yes it is. A typewriter eraser without a typewriter is still an *eraser*.

TOM: I think we both know if you want to argue this point we’re going to end up hating each other bitterly.

> on a typewriter a quantity of this sand falls down into

MIKE: Yeah, I pass.

> the mechanism where it causes undue wear. Sand is fatal
> to machinery of any kind.

CROW: Excepting the sandcastle-o-matic, I mean.

TOM: Plus you’ll still be wrong.

> This problem may be solved in
> two ways;

MIKE: Three, if you count not making mistakes.

> either by the production of a more efficient
> eraser, without sand,

TOM: Maybe use raw mud instead.

> or some sort of a guard on
> typewriters

CROW: Authorized to use deadly force!

MIKE: How is raw mud different from just dirt?

> to prevent the sand from sifting down into

TOM: Um … yeah, I withdraw the invention.

> the works. Either answer should be worth $50,000.

CROW: Is that, like, $50,000 for your whole life, or like $50,000 a year?

TOM: $50,000 a typewriter.

>
> The home mechanic, or the carpenter who has
> either made or repaired screens for windows,

MIKE: Or the window screen hobbyist.

> knows how
> difficult it is to stretch the screening so that it will
> be taut and perfectly flat after the moulding has been
> put in place.

TOM: Why, thousands die every year in the struggle against window screens.

> Surely some sort of a tool could be
> invented to assure this result.

CROW: It could be a widget or it might even be a mount of some fashion.

> It should be able to
> grasp the screening and to keep it pulled tight until it
> is tacked into place. At least 50 manufacturers stand
> ready to obtain the rights to such a product.

TOM: I’ve asked them extensively! They fear my coming round to ask again!

> Speaking of
> screens reminds one of the difficulty of raising and
> lowering awnings on screened windows.

MIKE: Just trust me on this one, folks.

> The screen has to
> be unhooked and pushed out of the way—a very
> inconvenient and bothersome procedure.

TOM: Of … unhooking and pushing?

CROW: I’ve never awned, myself, but this …

MIKE: [ Shrugging ] Look, it’s just really complicated, okay?

> Is it not
> possible to overcome this objection either by a new
> method of raising and lowering screens or by the use of a
> simple mechanism that may be manipulated from inside the
> screen?

MIKE: Is there hope for sanity in this world gone mad?

> The solution to this problem would produce an
> ample reward.

TOM: But the real reward is knowing you’ve made the life of window awning raiser-and-lowererers substantially better.

>
> “Why I could have invented that,” says the
> would-be inventor when he sees some new and clever little
> improvement that is known to be making plenty of money
> for its creator.

MIKE: What does he say after seeing some dopey little improvement that somebody’s taking a bath on?

CROW: Why could *I* have invented that?

> Yes, indeed, many inventors, like many
> amateur speculators in the stock market, find it very
> easy to make money with their hind sight.

TOM: That’s it! Keister glasses!

> The thing to
> do is to beat the other fellow to the design.

CROW: And steal Elisha Grey’s patent.

> And here
> is a good chance to win out. Everyone knows that ash
> trays tip over and that the housewife is called upon to
> clean up many such resulting messes.

TOM: If only someone could invent the ashless tray?

> It would seem
> fairly easy to make an ash tray which would automatically
> cover itself when tipped beyond a certain critical angle.

MIKE: Hey wait … I just invented it! That’s great!

> Such a tray could be dropped on the floor without danger
> of dumping its contents.

TOM: Until we perfect the lid-evading ash!

>
> What was said for the non-tipable or unspillable
> ash tray also might be said for coasters used for
> glasses.

CROW: So get your improved cigarette coasters now.

> The number of bridge table accidents, wherein
> glasses are tipped during dealing, is legend.

TOM: As recounted in song and woolen tapestry.

> We need
> coasters that will make such accidents impossible.

MIKE: Try our new “dry” drinks.

>
> In line with our previous comment in connection
> with hobbies it should be borne in mind that archery is
> now receiving a great deal of attention,

TOM: … buh?

MIKE: That would’ve been, like, my 46th guess.

> and that a newly
> designed, cheap and powerful metal bow would be a winner,
> especially for the younger folk.

CROW: People might be interested in new, cheap, powerful tools for their hobby? Why am I just hearing of this now?

> Naturally such a bow
> would have to be as light as the wooden ones.

TOM: Building an antigravity machine small enough to fit on an arrow will be a considerable challenge.

> (Metal
> bows are available but could be improved greatly.)

CROW: What isn’t that true of?

> When
> little Willie, all dressed up in his Sunday best, gets
> his hands on an ice cream cone he rapidly degenerates
> into a most unpromising spectacle.

MIKE: So … shoot him with an arrow?

> If mother could buy a
> dripless cone for him she would make the inventor of that
> cone a very happy man—

CROW: If a woman invents it, call the whole thing off.

> and little Willie would remain a
> respectable person while satisfying his appetite for ice
> cream.

TOM: I’ve got it! I could invent a new name for Willie!

MIKE: Willie, Willie … Tillie? Dillie? Quillie?

CROW: I think we’re getting worse somehow.


[ To conclude … ]

Also, “That’s it! Keister glasses!” makes me giggle every time I read it and if someone were to hire Kevin Murphy to record that line for me I would be most grateful. … It would work as a Crow riff, too (most riffs can be arbitrarily assigned), so I wouldn’t turn down Trace Beaulieu or Bill Corbett. I haven’t seen the Season 11-and-onward episodes, is the only reason I don’t say anything about the new guys.

MiSTed: What To Invent (part 1 of 3)


For my next Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction let me share another decade-old piece. It’s another Modern Mechanix blog entry. I think this was a vintage article, but it might have been an advertisement. Raymond Yates wrote a book of a couple thousand needed inventions, which I found and read and was delighted by. I don’t know whether Yates condensed his book into this essay or whether this essay inspired the book.

This was a fun piece to write. Yates was right in this, and in his book, about things that would be good things to have invented. Yet something in all this inspired a lot of deep silliness on my part and I’ve come to think my MiSTings go better when I’m being silly.

I regret that I didn’t write host sketches for it. The piece seemed too slight to support that much overhead. If anything would justify an Invention Exchange festival, though … Well, many riffs name silly inventions and you can imagine the Brains showing those off, if you want to imagine the same jokes done with more words and staging.

The riff about why is there France and why is there Spain references the Sparks song “Those Mysteries”. I recommend a listen.


[ Into the Theater. ALL file in. ]

> http://blog.modernmechanix.com/what-to-invent-4/

TOM: What to invent for? Why not just the giddy fun of it?

>
> WHAT TO INVENT

CROW: I dunno, *stuff*? Don’t pick on me, man.

>
> The author will be glad to answer questions

TOM: Why is there France?

MIKE: And why is there Spain?

CROW: And why am I here and why is there rain?

> relating to these and to other types of inventions.

ALL: Oh.

> However, no letter will be answered unless a properly
> stamped and self-addressed envelope is enclosed. Do not
> send any models.

MIKE: You have been warned!

>
> By Raymond Francis Yates

TOM: Esq, J.D., LL.D., M.Sc, M.Eng, ASC, LLC.

>
> HOW is your ingenuity today?

CROW: And if not, WHY not?

> It is to be hoped
> that it is alert and productive,

MIKE: If it knows what’s good for it.

> because this month we
> present a number of rather engaging problems.

TOM: Like, when you lose sleep, where does it go?

> They are
> the everyday sort that one meets from time to time; but

CROW: A simple kind of problem, something found around the house every day.

> the right solutions to them would prove to be money
> makers.

TOM: First problem, a useful counterfeiting engine.

> After all, a new mouse trap clever enough to win
> the approval of five million customers

CROW: Sounds kinda needy, actually.

TOM: Low self-esteem.

> would make as much
> for its inventor as would a new Diesel engine or a new
> television receiver.

MIKE: Among mice looking to buy Diesel engines, traps, or television receivers.

> Complication never was a criterion
> for the production of wealth in inventing — and never
> will be.

TOM: But if your invention isn’t complicated everybody’s going to point at you and laugh.

>
> The successful inventor is often a mere
> opportunist. He has to be.

MIKE: He lives in the wild, untamed world of patent attorneys.

> He watches the public, tries
> to find out in what it is interested and what it is doing
> at the moment.

TOM: Man, inventors are *creeps*.

> At the present time the public has “gone
> hobby.”

CROW: Yeah, everybody with their … uh … the heck?

> There never was a time when hobbies of various
> kinds were more popular than they are today.

MIKE: Well, except that one week back in April, but that was a crazy time.

> Among the
> current hobbies that are enjoying a new and robust
> stimulation, photography stands out prominently.

TOM: I’m not sure I’m allowed more stimulated photographs after Mike caught me.

> What
> can the inventor do for these people who have turned to
> the camera for relaxation?

CROW: Point out they have cell phones?

> Many things; but chief among
> them is a recording camera for the more careful and
> exacting men and women who have embraced this most
> absorbing work.

MIKE: For all those people whose cameras run out of cord.

>
> CAN YOU INVENT THESE THINGS?

TOM: IF NOT, DON’T WORRY, THERE’S SOME OTHER THINGS TO INVENT TOO!

>
> Millions Being Made with New Inventions; America
> Needs New Gadgets.

MIKE: Also doohickeys, gewgaws, thingamajigs, and extruded lumps of drop-forged metal.

TOM: Can you give me something in a piece of bent wood?

>
> The careful worker likes to keep a record of his
> exposures in his effort to master the art

CROW: Well, isn’t that what the Police Blotter’s for?

> and would buy
> any good camera that automatically recorded the time of
> exposure, the time of the day

TOM: The time of the moon.

CROW: The time our lives.

MIKE: The time of the apes.

CROW: The time of tea.

TOM: Huh?

CROW: I dunno, it was a Google autocomplete.

MIKE: I don’t believe you.

> and the stop that was used
> when each picture was taken. All of this could be done
> on the edge of the film and it would make a most useful
> reference.

TOM: Ah, I’d just throw that information in the junk drawer and never look at it again anyway.

> Naturally, such a mechanism could be applied
> only to the more expensive cameras.

CROW: Lest any ideas of good photography get in the heads of the poor.

>
> No other field of human activity is as broad as
> the field of invention, hence it becomes possible to
> speak of the need of recording cameras and shoe polish in
> the same breath.

TOM: And cabbages and kings.

> But what is wrong with shoe polish?

MIKE: Well, that we all wear sneakers anymore?

> The first objection to ordinary polish is that it does
> not stay put;

TOM: It … sneaks up and attacks you at the wrists?

> it is far too perishable once it has been
> placed on shoes.

CROW: It screams in agony every moment of its living death!

> A walk through dew-covered grass will
> ruin the best shine.

TOM: Spoiling the accounting department’s whole morning frolic.

>
> No doubt there is a chemical, or a substance,

MIKE: Maybe a tonic or an ointment?

CROW: Perhaps something in an unguent or an excretion?

> which someday will be added to shoe polish to make it
> really waterproof. The man who discovers this
> combination will become wealthy within a year’s time.

TOM: I’ve got it! Itty-bitty toe umbrellas!


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: JSH: War of attrition (Part 3 of 3)


And now I close out this Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of the sci.math rant JSH: War of Attrition. I never did get around to other Harris rants; he was prolific in the mathematics newsgroup for years, arguing that he had great amazing new breakthroughs. The last and oddest that I remember is his bragging about his facility in describing what a tweet was in exactly 140 characters, this back when Twitter was limited to 140 characters. I don’t get it either.

The riff about donor type AB-elian puns on the blood type and on Abelian groups. Abelian groups are sets of things on which you can define an addition that commutes, just like regular arithmetic does. It’s possible to have additions that don’t commute, which is why it’s worth having a name for these. The closing sketch puts Professor Bobo in an example of the Infinite Monkey Theorem. It’s funny, yes, but it also challenges our intuitions about what probability means.


>
> Yeah only to use you in the Math Wars.

TOM: I need reserves in case a Tom Lehrer song breaks out.

> I want mathematicians around
> the world to keep thinking about what you are thinking.

CROW: I think that’s what I want to think I want you thinking about.

> I want them
> working hard to figure out how well they have you in hand.

MIKE: Touching and caressing you with loving grace.

>
> I want them working to keep you.

TOM: Make sure they call you daily to see how you’re doing.

>
> I want them to demean themselves, crawl on their hands and knees to
> keep you believing in them.

MIKE: To sit up on their nests and keep a bundle of chicken eggs warm.

>
> And they are doing it.

CROW: They’re the *best*, guys.

>
> While the war of attrition continues and it is all about inertia and
> momentum as I have always needed time.

MIKE: Time, and a bit of money, and — don’t ask why — my own Phillies Phanatic costume.

>
> If the world knew too quickly what my discoveries really are, then the
> true targets could have escaped,

CROW: Spooking the herd and causing a stampede from the watering hole.

> but now the net closes, and you are
> the fish that were always part of the trap.

TOM: I … don’t put fish in traps.

CROW: It’s for when you want to capture herring-eating mice.

>
> You were always the bait.

TOM: And I was the naughty sporting goods cashier … heh-heh-*heh*.

>
> They care so [ beep ] much about what you people think of them that they
> are willing to lose everything, grasping for what they cannot hold.

MIKE: Why don’t they just kiss you instead of talking you to death?

>
> Public opinion is such a great thing. I love it. Public opinion is
> all about perception.

CROW: Remember always to judge people by how you think your neighbors judge them.

>
> People like Andrew Wiles are nothing without the applause or the
> dreams of it.

TOM: Groupies gathered outside his door, women throwing panties
onto his Fermat’s Last Theorem galley sheets …

> They’ll hold on, and hold on, and hold on,

CROW: His needle’s stuck.

[ MIKE reaches up and “shoves” Mr Harris. ]

> and give
> their energy, their very life blood to hold on to it,

CROW: They’re donor type AB-elian positive.

> even if that is
> the means that is used to build the energy to end the wars.

MIKE: And with it RULE the WORLD!

>
> They give their life’s blood for you to believe in them.

TOM: So everyone in the audience, clap, clap as loud and as hard as you can and just maybe if we all believe enough we can save Dracula!

> And that is
> the energy that drives this forward.
>
> That is the hope of the world.

CROW: That hope, and a cuddly little bunny.

>
> It was always about time. I have always needed time.

MIKE: Time and my new … *LETTERS*!

TOM: He thought up an acronym and that’s enough for us?

>
>
> James Harris

TOM: Thank you, thank you, you’ve been a great crowd. Remember to tip your cows.

CROW: Waitresses.

TOM: Tip your waitresses’s cows.

>
>

MIKE: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL exit, as appropriate. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6.. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. TOM, MIKE, and CROW shake out their heads. ]

MIKE: I think after that we’ve all learned an important lesson.

TOM: And if you don’t want me to put you on the spot by asking what it was you’d better give me a quarter.

MIKE: What are you, Charlie McCarthy? I’m not afraid to explain it.

CROW: Ooh, ooh, ooh, I know, I know what that was all about, can I tell?

MIKE: Yes, yes, you may, Master Crow.

TOM: Fink.

CROW: [ Standing tall ] Ahem. Thank you and thank *you*.
[ TOM snorts. ] That was all about … *cats*. Thank you.

MIKE: [ Touching his shoulder. ] That was elegantly wrong, thank you.

[ AIRLOCK opens and closes. GYPSY enters. ]

MIKE: GYPSY! Hey, good to see you.

TOM: [ Simultaneously ] Gypsy’s back! Yay!

CROW: [ A second later ] Why not cats?

GYPSY: What is … likewise?

TOM: Um …

CROW: It’s been a madhouse without you.

GYPSY: What is … I’d imagined so?

[ MIKE buries his head in his hands. ]

TOM: Don’t say it … you’re suffering from the heartbreak of …

ALL: What is Trebekiasis?

[ MADS sign flashes; MIKE sticks out a hand enough to hit it. ]


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is still in his bed, with a portable typewriter precariously perched on his stomach. The teddy bear is by the typewriter. Occasionally BOBO taps a key. PEARL FORRESTER watches over with blue pencil. OBSERVER is up front. ]

OBSERVER: And welcome back. As long as Professor Bobo’s incapacitated Pearl and I thought it would be a real kick to test out that bit about monkeys at typewriters producing the complete works of Shakespeare, so there you have it.

BOBO: You know, I’m fairly sure I am recovered.

PEARL: Type.

[ BOBO whimpers and then with a single finger hits one key, then another, then gets his fingers jammed between two keys, and whimpers again. ]

PEARL: This just … this isn’t working.

OBSERVER: No, not in the slightest.

PEARL: We need to throw more monkeys at the problem.

[ BOBO grunts while looking up? ]

OBSERVER: I’ll materialize the catapult. [ He walks off. ]

PEARL: [ Surprised, following ] Now that’s the kind of thinking
I want around here.

BOBO: [ Looking at the camera ] Uh-oh.

[ BOBO hides under the blanket, and after a pause, reaches his hand out to grab the teddy bear and pull it under. ]

                    | 
                 \  |  /
                  \ | /
                   \|/
                ----O----
                   /|\
                  / | \
                 /  |  \
                    |

This Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of the James S Harris post “War of Attrition” is done without the explicit permission of any of the many parties who should probably have given it, among them James S Harris, renowned citizen of sci.math; Best Brains Incorportated, renowned production company for Mystery Science Theater 3000; the fine legacy of game shows the world over; and in some unexplained but important fashion, Major League Baseball. No infringement on or challenge to any copyrights, trademarks, service marks, or anything else is intended nor should be inferred. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who probably had more useful things to do with his time, but who is beginning to despair of Dr Mike Neylon ever returning. Thank you.

> The Math Wars are to me all about how some people with position and
> power forget the power of the pen, and sit letting the pot slowly come
> to a boil.


[ The End ]

MiSTed: JSH: War of attrition (Part 2 of 3)


Thanks for joining me for the second part of JSH: War of Attrition, a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic based on James S Harris’s long-forgotten rant on Usenet group sci.math.

The riff about “Frishtory” references a recurring minor villain on Dave The Barbarian, a fun mid-2000s cartoon that like four people remember even counting people who were on its production staff. And I think that’s all that’s particularly baffling in this set of riffs. Other than that nobody remembers Dave The Barbarian.


>
> When I feel a bit down

MIKE: The clerk tells me to stop fondling pillows.

> –like if insulting posters start getting to me–

CROW: Sneaking in under the door while I whap with my flyswatter …

> I can do things like do Google searches on my open source project
> "Class Viewer" which took the number one spot for that search string,
> years ago.

TOM: After the original first-place holder was disqualified for steroid use.

>
> It is all over the world.

CROW: Did you see it waving at you?

> I especially feel honored looking at the
> Chinese page,

MIKE: Which was all Greek to me.

> where words I typed years ago to describe my project
> have been translated.

CROW: If I had typed the words on time they would have been transpunctualled.

>
> That is an odd feeling.

TOM: Like when you think your socks are inside-out.

> And that is just one thing.

MIKE: I have many odd feelings and look forward to sharing every one of them.

>
> Just a few days ago I started talking about a "managed copy" idea of
> mine

CROW: Copies include a full Dilbert’s boss.

> and just typing up a post on my blog I found myself talking about
> it as digital media equipment self-encryption and of course went to
> the initials to designate it DMESE.

MIKE: [ Starting dramatically ] DUN DUN … d … huh?

TOM: He’s … made an acronym? Who cares?

MIKE: Maybe he’s bragging he’s had the idea of initials?

CROW: Or he’s found a flaw in our whole system of letters?

TOM: [ Narrating ] With my new *letters*, words and even *acronyms* can be created even by the likes of foolish unworthy peasants such as *yourself*!

>
> That is just one more thing.

CROW: Funny feelings *and* he has a blog — can nothing stop this man?

>
> Archimedes said that with a level long enough and a place to stand he
> could move the world

MIKE: Sheesh, my dad can barely use the level and a place to stand
to hang pictures straight.

> because he could conceive of greatness on a scale
> that most people cannot.

TOM: Ah, but could he imagine greatness with *letters*?

MIKE: It’s got to be more than making an acronym.

>
> I can move the world.
>
> Not one of you can say the same.

CROW: Not without my *letters*!

TOM: Guy puts initials together, wants world to know. We can play
that game, I guess.

>
> My posts get translated to languages across the planet. I watch ideas
> of mine travel around the world.

MIKE: I see whole civilizations transmitting my messages back in time
to change the course of history!

TOM: Frishtory!

>
> Yet I am still stopped by academics who are dead-set on fighting the
> Math Wars to the bitter end, and mostly they just wait.

CROW: Plus his freshman Calc TA has lousy office hours.

>
> Yes, Princeton academics can stop me today.

MIKE: Yes, they can wrap me head to toe in duct tape and leave me
in the back room. I’ll bring the tape.

> Yes, Harvard academics
> can hold the line today.

TOM: I won’t need the line until the weekend anyway.

>
> But they burn everything their universities have built up over the
> years in the process and I let them.

CROW: To be honest, I’m not sure why I did that. I hope I left myself a note about it.

MIKE: A note made almost entirely of *letters*!

>
> I emailed the University of California at Berkeley to note some
> unethical behavior by Arturo Magidin,

MIKE: Who was clearly abusing the “take all you want” rule at the Golden Prawn Chinese Buffet.

> and noticed at that point that
> Ralph McKenzie is listed as faculty,

TOM: And not as a Decepticon underling.

> where it notes he is at my alma
> mater Vanderbilt University.

CROW: Case closed.

>
> Yup, I know that as I visited him there years ago,

MIKE: But don’t be jealous. Many people can visit professors at Vanderbilt University if they learn my invention of *letters*.

> before my paper was
> published,

TOM: When there were concerts in the park.

> retracted after sci.math’ers including Magidin trumped the
> formal peer review system with some emails,

CROW: Before they sent a squad of highly physically developed
“Mathletes” to do a pole vault over an obelus.

> and the freaking math
> journal died.

TOM: That’s _The Journal of Freaking Math_.

MIKE: The official mathematics journal of Freakazoid.

>
> Academics can only sit and wait, while I move forward over time.

CROW: Occasionally I move too far forward, and bump into the railing overlooking the balcony. I move to the side a little, and start moving forward again.

> Knowing that at the end, I go for the entire system to reform it.
>
> And I will change their world.

MIKE: I will infuse it with drawn butter baked right in.

>
> I send papers to math journals and I [ beep ] well get a reply.

CROW: Like “No” and “Who are you again, exactly?”

> Sure,
> they’re polite rejections but they had better reply to me.

TOM: Or else I may visit people at *more* universities and withhold from them my vitally needed *letters*!

>
> You people don’t get it because I post among you, and you think that
> because I post I must be at your level.

MIKE: I’m actually posting things that are nine-dimensional and subject to rotation in fourteen dimensions at once.


[ To conclude … ]

MiSTed: JSH: War of attrition (Part 1 of 3)


Now may I share the second and I think last James S Harris post I turned into Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. It’s not that Harris stopped writing (at least back then), or even stopped being a wonder to behold. But a lot of his posts tried to argue for his astounding mathematical discoveries everyone else understood wrongly. But that can be hard reading, especially when his error is a big unproven assumption in the middle of a lot of dense reasoning. And just railing against the conspiracy to suppress him gets repetitious. (And, where it got personal, uncomfortable to root on.) So maybe this is as much as I needed to do.

The game-show-themed-diseases thing grew out of like one night where for like half an hour my friends and I were adding “… and a new car!” to the ends of references to things. I think it shows. The segue between “the 23rd of May” and Allan Sherman is the “Don’t Buy The Liverwurst” segment in his medley Shticks Of One And Half A Dozen Of The Other. Fun song. Crow’s line setting it up has the meter of Sherman’s tune. Other cryptic riffs: Hm. Something about the specificity of saying “G4.872” in a riff makes me think I was referencing something, but I don’t remember what. Maybe it was my Mac’s model number or something. Baudot Code was a telegraphic alphabet where each symbol had a five-bit code. It was invented by Émile Baudot, who’s the person referenced in the unit “baud”.


[ OPENING CREDITS. As per season ten. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. DESK. DAY. DENNIS. Behind the desk are a harried CROW and MIKE, accompanied by TOM, in a bathrobe, who’s in the middle of enunciating in his best overblown style. ]

TOM: … and you’ll love the view of the Satellite of Love you get from behind the wheel of … *your new car*!

[ CROW barely suppresses a frustrated cry. ]

MIKE: Hi, everyone. If Crow and I seem to be on the edge of losing all moral judgement it’s because our own Tom Servo here has contracted a nagging case of The Price Is Right Announcer Showcase Segue Syndrome, or Johnny Olson’s Disease …

TOM: … and you’ll recover from your bout with The Price Is Right Announcer Showcase Segue Syndrome by taking a ride to the hospital in … *your new car*!

CROW: [ Staring, jaw-dropped, at CAMBOT. ] He’s gone on just this way on almost everything we say ever since the 23rd of May.

TOM: … and you’ll love listening to your Allan Sherman CD collection on the deluxe collectible sound system in … *your new car*!

MIKE: Gypsy ejected herself into space on Memorial Day.

TOM: … when you can take the season’s first trip to the Shore in —

[ MIKE, screaming, grabs TOM’s dome and tosses it away. ]

TOM: Well, now, *that’s* just overreacting.

[ MADS sign flashes. ]

CROW: Hey, uh, Kitty Carlisle, Mark Goodson, and Bill Todman are calling.

MIKE: Yello?

[ MIKE taps the sign. ]


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PROFESSOR BOBO is laying in bed, clutching a teddy bear and his sheets; OBSERVER is his nurse. PEARL is nibbling from a box of get-well chocolates. ]

BOBO: C … M …

OBSERVER: One more.

BOBO: K … and an I.

PEARL: Oh, stop whining. Bobo’s had Acute Wheel of Fortune Bonus Round Condition for a week and you don’t see Brain Guy about to smack him silly, do you?

BOBO: Licorice tabernacle?

OBSERVER: Actually, Pearl, if you’re asking —

[ PEARL turns around and glares at him. ]

OBSERVER: — Right, then. Three consonants and a vowel, Professor.

BOBO: V … F … H …

OBSERVER: And a vowel?

BOBO: A.

PEARL: Say, you know what’s good for your brain being fried by the incomprehensible ravings of others?

BOBO: Marzipan doorknob?

OBSERVER: You have R, S, T, L, N, E.

BOBO: G … P … W …

PEARL: Why don’t you scurry on into the theater and fry your brains on the incomprehensible ravings of James Harris?

BOBO: U?

PEARL: Scurry along, little ones. Servo. *Now*.

[ PEARL waits confidently while nothing happens. ]

BOBO: Ticonderoga gumdrop?

PEARL: [ Less confident ] Now?

OBSERVER: Giving you R, S, T, L, N, and for a change, E.

BOBO: J … D … R …

OBSERVER: Ooooh. You already had R, sorry.

[ PEARL swats OBSERVER with the candy box, sending some chocolates in the air, which BOBO scoops up eagerly. ]

BRAIN: Oh, yes, right, Mike, sorry. War of Attrition, you know?

[ He does the mind-sending thingy with the sound effect thing. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As above; TOM hasn’t got his dome back yet. ]

TOM: Boy, glad I don’t have an annoying disease like that.

CROW: [ Restrained single-handed by MIKE. ] Lemme at him! Lemme at him! I’ll splat him!

[ MOVIE SIGN ]

MIKE: Save it —

ALL: WE GOT MOVIE SIGN!

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ THEATER. ALL enter, TOM still dome-less. ]

> Path: rpi!news.usc.edu!

TOM: Your USC news feeders coming to you by way of *your new car*!

CROW: Hit him!

[ MIKE puts a fresh dome on TOM. ]

TOM: I’ll be good.

> newsfeed.news.ucla.edu!

CROW: I understand “Newsucla” is a dirty word in some places.

> newsfeed.stanford.edu!postnews.google.com!

MIKE: Post-News-Herald-Dispatch-Tribune-Chronicle-Times-Journal.

> a26g2000pre.googlegroups.com!not-for-mail

TOM: Not for chain mail.

> From: jst…@gmail.com
> Newsgroups: alt.math.undergrad,alt.math,alt.math.recreational,sci.math

CROW: And the sci.math all-number-theory cheerleaders!

> Subject: JSH: War of attrition

MIKE: Isn’t that a Gwar album?

> Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 22:>37:09 -0700

TOM: So it’s … negative 678:37:09?

> Organization: http://groups.google.com
> Lines: 104

CROW: Straight Lines: 75.

> Message-ID: <1180676229.3…@a26g2000pre.googlegroups.com>

MIKE: Remember to pre-Google. You don’t want to search for ‘lentil bathtub’ without warming up.

> NNTP-Posting-Host: 67.164.117.60
> Mime-Version: 1.0

CROW: Nine-Version: 0.1.

> Content-Type: text/plain;

MIKE: But you can decorate it with maybe a cheery scarf or a smiling button?

> charset="iso-8859-1"
> X-Trace: posting.google.com 1180676229 31488 127.0.0.1

TOM: Aren’t those our orbital elements?

> (1 Jun 2007 05:37:09 GMT)

CROW: Grover Meridian Time — the time zone of Grover everywhere!

> X-Complaints-To: groups…@google.com
> NNTP-Posting-Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 05:37:09 +0000 (UTC)

MIKE: The Universal Tickle Company has nothing to add to the time!

> User-Agent: G2/1.0

TOM: G2, G1.0, give or take.

CROW: It’s really G4.872.

> X-HTTP-UserAgent: Mozilla/5.0

MIKE: A fifth of Mozilla?

TOM: With a spot of gin.

> (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.1.4)

CROW: It’s like when the thunderstorm messes up the closed captioning.

> Gecko/20070515 Firefox/2.0.0.4,gzip(gfe),gzip(gfe)

MIKE: [ As Tigger ] G-zip G-zoo, woo hoo hoo hoo!

> Complaints-To: groups…@google.com
> Injection-Info: a26g2000pre.googlegroups.com; posting-host=67.164.117.60;

TOM: But no carbohydrates, so it’s Atkins-friendly.

> posting-account=Q2zO6wwAAABSLuGzZIjG0efOtB9n8fUY

CROW: When computers curse in Baudot code!

> Xref: rpi sci.math:396490

MIKE: I was never good at these analogy questions.

>
> The Math Wars

[ TOM hums the opening to ‘Star Wars’, as in, dum-dum-dum-DAAAA-DUM! ]

> are to me all about how some people with position and
> power forget the power of the pen,

MIKE: To the brew that is true.

CROW: Don’t say a line like that when you’ve just had garlic.

> and sit letting the pot slowly come
> to a boil.

CROW: This week on baffling metaphor theater!

TOM: Then add three cups of sliced carrots and a dash of mustard.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: I WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO TURN Potatoes into CASH! (Part 2 of 2)


And now let me conclude one of my most giddy, silly Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fictions. As mentioned last week, this started as an advertisement in a 1930s issue of Modern Mechanix. Seems like one of those things that might have been legitimate enough, if you wanted to spend your time and energy making and selling potato chips. I’m going to guess this isn’t how the Better Made chip empire was born, though.

The closing sketch is a riff on the old-time-radio series Lum and Abner, for not much reason besides I like the show. I was getting into it when I wrote this MiSTing originally. (It’s a great example of the 15-minute serial comedy.) And it would not be absurd if Lum and Abner — about two completely guileless Arkansas shopkeepers, often trying some scheme to get some extra money — had a story where they tried to get rich making potato chips.

The end of the sketch has Tom Servo announcing a replacement for Web Site Number Nine. This was a project I was doing back then, to learn PHP and database stuff that might get me a job and also serve the community. I never got happy with the finished project, but I use some of the scripts for that even today, to do all the nice formatting on these MiSTings that give the quoted text a light blue background and that highlights Mike and Joel and Crow and Tom Servo’s names. So if you know someone who’d be willing to pay me, oh let’s say $65,000 pa for that coloring scheme, let me know, okay? Thanks.

The “used Sklar” references the Sklar Brothers, whose Cheap Seats show on ESPN Classic(?) in the early 2000s scratched many of our Mystery Science Theater 3000 itches. But with more sports and spelling bees. I don’t remember whether the blogger gotten for trading Tom Servo meant anyone in particular or just a comment on how, hey, bloggers, they’re always making fun of stuff that doesn’t need it, right?


>
> BIG PROFITS

MIKE: No, bigger!

TOM: It’s a wild profiteeria!

>
> The profits in this business are enormous.

CROW: [ Amused ] They’re potato-y chip-tacular!

> You can
> take $11.50 in raw material

TOM: [ Announcing ] Any raw material! Have some bauxite? Make potato chips with that!

> — run it through the machine

CROW: [ Feebly ] We, ah, we’re still working on this part but it’s going to be great!

> and take out enough chips to bring you $35 cash

MIKE: [ Amused ] Cash or potato chips!

> — selling at
> wholesale. A clear profit for your time of $23.50.

TOM: Wow!

CROW: Why, that’s nearly twenty-four dollars!

MIKE: You can almost buy Manhattan on that potato chip fortune!

> And that’s
> one day’s output for the machine.

CROW: [ Humoring this ] Why, in two days you could make a profit of $47!

> At this rate it is possible
> for a man and wife working together to make $135.00 a week.

TOM: [ Humoring ] Hey, that’s a whole twenty-*seven* dollars a day!

MIKE: [ As the announcer ] The money is just pouring in! And it’s just potatoes and bauxite!

> And now the complete plant — with my new machine —

CROW: I call it … the POTATO machine!

MIKE: It’s amazingly fantastic and chip-based!

> can be
> put into your kitchen or basement

TOM: Or toss it immediately on the pile for the garage sale.

> for less than the down
> payment on a cheap car.

MIKE: Far less than the payment for a whole car company!

>
> SEND POSTAL FOR FREE INFORMATION

CROW: [ Announcing ] Mail anything to anything else!

MIKE: [ Likewise ] Just mail something! You’ll get valuable free information!

TOM: [ Likewise ] And if you meet a Postal then send it!

>
> Send your name and address today on a postal card.

MIKE: [ Announcing ] Include a sample of your favorite potato chip!

> I’ll send you pictures

TOM: *Uh*-oh.

> and information free showing exactly how
> you can start at home and make money the first day.

CROW: Full explanations of what a potato is!

TOM: Clear diagrams show what parts are the skin!

MIKE: Helpful “Frequently Asked Questions” show how to identify a potato in under twenty minutes a day!

> All
> information is Free.

TOM: We make our money selling potato chip toner!

> No obligation.

MIKE: Just your friends and family rolling their eyes and talking to you through clenched teeth!

>
> O. K. MILLER,

TOM: Didn’t he have a series on Mutual Broadcasting?

> 325 W. Huron St.,

CROW: Here on Huron?

TOM: Huron chips!

> Dept. 406 Chicago,
> Illinois

MIKE: Chicago! Potato chip by the Lake!

CROW: 406 potato chips by the Lake!

TOM: Time to blow this popsicle stand.

[ 1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … ]


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW and MIKE are behind the desk, with General Store-type toy junk scattered haphazardly. From one plastic barrel MIKE takes and eats a potato chip. ]

MIKE: [ With an Arkansan accent, kept until the note later on ] Well, if this weren’t one of the most underwhelmed p’tato chips I ever did see.

CROW: [ Similar accent, also kept until the note ] I doggies, Lum, I knowed it, but what are we s’pposed to do ‘gainst the Squire’s p’tato chip monopoly?

MIKE: [ As a jingling bell rings ] Hold on there, that’s a stranger come into our store, ain’t it?

[ TOM, with a bouquet of potato chips in his bubble, enters; he speaks normally but ebulliently. ]

TOM: Gentlemen! Could I interest you in as many potato chips as I have bauxite to make and pass the savings on to you? Please try a sample — my bubble is perfectly hygienic!

[ MIKE samples a chip. ]

MIKE: By gum — this here ‘tato chip tastes like more than p’tatoes!

CROW: Now, that’s plum silly, how can that happen?

MIKE: [ Giving CROW a chip ] But it’s got itself a tasting like they was sour cream and chives in it! Chives!

TOM: Yes! I bring you chives! And at under twenty-three dollars!

CROW: [ Finishing nibbling ] Why if it weren’t the most amazing thing I ever did see! What a future we got ourselves to live in!

TOM: And we are near a breakthrough on dip!

MIKE: [ Folding his hands together, and, bowing — with this, MIKE and CROW give up the accents and resume speaking normally ] And … scene. [ Eating another chip from TOM ] Thank you, gentlemen. Now, Tom, you had a special announcement, didn’t you?

TOM: Why, yes. Our potato chip bit is all in fun —

CROW: [ Muttering to himself ] Potato chip bite.

TOM: *Thank* you, Crow. But for Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fictions or MiSTings, whichever comes first, plus MiSTing quotes yanked out of all context, why not try the shiny new web site

http://www.—–.com/mst3000/

TOM: Thank you, won’t you?

CROW: And what about the Dibs List for future MiSTing authors?

TOM: [ Looking at CROW ] You can’t just let me have my moment, can you? For shame, Crow, for shame.

[ TOM exits, sulking. ]

MIKE: Right, ah, what do you think, sirs?


[ DEEP 13. DR FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK are piling up open baskets of potato chips. TV’s FRANK eats one. ]

FRANK: Dip? Dip?! Why, we’ve almost solved the problem of cheddar cheese potato chips! Get out of here with your dip!

DR F: As the henchling says, gentlemen. Why, at 23 dollars and 50 cents we’ll be rolling in crispy, fried money by tomorrow.

FRANK: Oh, and I’m going to trade Crow for a used Sklar.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW is riled up; MIKE is eating potato chips. ]

CROW: What? Me? What for? Which Sklar?

[ DEEP 13. As before. ]

FRANK: Who knows? Besides, I’m getting a blogger for trading Tom. Hey, Steve, shall I push the button?

DR F: No, Frank, you should push the button.

FRANK: Oh, OK, I’ll do that instea — huh?


                     | 
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                -----O-----
                    /|\
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Mystery Science Theater 3000, its characters and situations and everything are the property of Best Brains, Inc, and don’t think anyone is challenging that at all. O K Miller’s advertisement copy is used for non-commercial parody and commentary purposes so don’t get the idea any infringement-like things are meant. I’m curious how the machine worked. No defamation of the Squire was intended.

Rotisserie League sports have that name because of a group of Philadelphia Phillies fans in early 1980 who gathered at Manhattan’s Rotisserie Francaise restaurant on East 52nd Street for fantasy league meetings. Special thanks for the “tragedy … and party snacks” line as well as to my beta testers.

Keep circulating the posts.

> START YOU in a Profitable Potato Chip Business At Home


[ The End ]

MiSTed: I WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO TURN Potatoes into CASH! (Part 1 of 2)


I’m happy to bring another recovered MiSTing and one I don’t think I’ve read in a five years easily. I remembered having written it, but not most of the riffs on this old Modern Mechanix advertisement. So I’m happy for the rediscovery. This is among my silliest of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fictions. The great bombastic but silly lead of the original material makes it easy to stay goofy. I can certainly hear the Jam Handy Repertory Players narrator reading the advertising copy.

Dr Forrester’s line about “Did you know everything you can count can be turned into money for people who aren’t you?” feels like I’m somehow riffing on the NFT scam, a decade and a half before it was even invented.


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW and TOM, wearing glasses with pencils tucked against their heads, are going over a mess of papers, as MIKE, wearing a baseball glove and playing with a ball, enters and surveys the scene. ]

TOM: 48 out of 152 by my count.

CROW: Yeah, but there were like a dozen assists.

TOM: They don’t count when you get yelled at for them.

CROW: They do too! Mike! [ Startling MIKE, who drops the ball. ] Tell Tom they count!

MIKE: Tell Tom what counts and for who’s counting, Crow?

TOM: Oh, don’t pad, Mike.

CROW: Our *statistics*, Mike. We’ve got to update our statistics on riffs attempted, riffs completed, laughs gotten, bobbled references, all these things.

MIKE: And this is important … why?

TOM: For our rotisserie league! Sheesh, don’t you follow anything?

MIKE: Constantly. What rotisserie —

[ MADS SIGN flashes. ]

MIKE: Oh, for the love of … hello?

[ DEEP 13. TV’s FRANK is sitting at a collapsible table with many sheets of grid paper and books as he works. DR FORRESTER sits opposite him with a small pile of cash. ]

FRANK: So center seat I’ve got Mike … left seat I’m going to stick with Tom … right seat … what do you think, ten bucks for Crow?

DR F: Absolutely.

FRANK: [ Handing a bill over to DR F ] All right! I got a team!

DR F: [ Pocketing the bill ] You’ve got a rare talent, Frank.

[ DR FORRESTER faces the camera. ]

DR F: Well, now, minions. Did you know everything you can count can be turned into money for people who aren’t you? It can. Now off to the theater and let’s generate some statistics, mmm? Your game today is an advertisement for potato chip manufacture … riff all you want, boys, we’ll make more.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ]

TOM: Did he just Jay Leno all over us?

CROW: This can only end in tragedy. And party snacks.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes; general alarm. ]

MIKE: Later, we got movie sign!

[ 6 … 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 … ]

[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

CROW: All right! Tie game so far!

> MODERN MECHANIX

MIKE: And practical jokes!

CROW: Like the spelling.

> AND INVENTIONS
> June 1935

TOM: [ Snorting ] Blazing its way from print, to us, to you.

MIKE: It’s not so much snail-mail as continental-drift-mail.

> http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2006/05/03/turn-potatoes-into-cash/

TOM: Oh, now we’ve got blog all over the … potatoes into cash? The heck?

>
> I WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO TURN Potatoes into CASH!

MIKE: Worst counterfeiting scheme ever.

>
> START YOU in a Profitable Potato Chip Business At Home

CROW: [ Taking odd offense ] Yeah? Well … start *you* in a profitable potato chip business at home, then!

>
> THE invention of a marvelous new machine

MIKE: Excuse me, that’s [ Booming, announcing ] *A* marvelous *NEW* machine.

> throws the big
> potato-chip market wide open again.

TOM: After the big Ruffles-Lays bailout.

> Even if your community is
> being supplied with old fashioned chips,

CROW: Hand-carved by traditional artisans working under a stern but understanding taskmaster.

> I’ll show you how to
> step in and grab the market,

MIKE: [ Booming ] Unless you meet my demands immediately!

CROW: Won’t the potato chip market be all greasy and have that salt grit all over your fingers?

> rake the profits into your own
> pocket.

TOM: I don’t have a pocket.

MIKE: [ Announcing ] I’ll show you how to afford a pocket!

CROW: I don’t have a rake.

MIKE: [ As above ] You’ll be able to afford a rake!

TOM: A pocket rake!

> You simply manufacture and sell to stores at wholesale
> — let stores sell for you.

CROW: Stores selling things! Why, it’s brilliant!

MIKE: Oh, now, he’s thought of everything.

> I furnish complete plant and
> exact instructions for making profits the first day.

TOM: [ Announcing ] The fourth, sixth, and ninth days you have to wing it!

>
> "GREASELESS" Potato Chips Made by New Machine

MIKE: One hundred percent John-Travola-free in minutes!

>
> Think of it — for the first time —

CROW: They’re right! It’s amazing! For the first time!

TOM: Third time it’s just kind of `huh’.

> a Potato Chip
> from which all excess oil has been extracted by my new
> "wringer".

TOM: [ As the advertiser ] And sold to the worldwide potato oil cartels!

> Look better, taste better, stay fresh longer.

CROW: What if I want to stay fresh wider? What then?

> No
> wonder the public is crazy about this new kind of chip.

MIKE: Potato chips with the great, great taste of guys who buy stuff from Modern Mechanics ads.

> No
> wonder my operators are having such big success,

TOM: And fabulous cash prizes!

> even with no
> experience.

CROW: Even with no potatoes!


[ To conclude … ]

MiSTed: JSH: So They Lied (Part 3 of 3)


And now let me wrap up my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of James S Harris’s Usenet rant, “So They Lied”. When I split this piece up for easier reading, I thought this last piece was longer than it was. In word count it’s about the same as the first two segments. This may be some lesson about how the back-and-forth of text and riffing will seem different from the dialogue of host sketches.

At one point one of the sci.math regulars, trying to give James Harris every possible benefit, tried to use his revolutionary new factoring method as it existed that month (it saw many, many revisions) to decompose 15 into 3 times 5. The proof went on and on and on, and bringing in bigger and bigger numbers, and not showing any hints of producing a ‘3’ or a ‘5’ from all this. It’s the only time I have ever seen factoring numbers be laugh-out-loud funny. Mr Harris did not see the humor.

When I wrote this it was a safe bet that the Cubs would lose in excruciating ways. We’ve lost all our traditions lately. Bobo factoring large numbers in his head is another expression of my liking dumb characters having weird corners of hypercompetence. (And I remember doing some fishing around looking for a good prime number somewhere in the millions. The other numbers I think I found by taking some small prime numbers and multiplying them together.) I feel like Pearl’s fuming and then finally doing nothing more than throwing some papers around is a reference to something, but I can’t think what. The little “closing credits” line about the alien soccer tournament certainly refers to something, but I don’t remember if it was an in-joke with my friends or something that could possibly communicate.


>
> Is life really not fair, or are most people cowards to the truth?

MIKE: Uhm … I say ‘not fair’.

TOM: I say ‘coward’.

CROW: ‘Coward’, definitely.

TOM: Make mine ‘not fair’.

MIKE: I want to change to ‘coward’ now.

CROW: Maybe it is just ‘not fair’.

TOM: I’m gonna write in ‘The Beatles’.

>
> A person like me comes around only every hundred years or so,

CROW: The mathematics of Brigadoon.

> and
> people forget.
>
> And then a LOT of people die,

MIKE: So World War I was started by the mathematicians?

> and then the mythologies are written,

CROW: About … mathematicians.

> legends are born.

TOM: About …

MIKE: Right.

CROW: Yeah, I remember this one mathematician who … uhm …

>
> But make no mistake, you might be one of those people who die THIS
> time.

MIKE: But *only* if you finish your chores.

>
> I suggest to you that even if you don’t give a damn about mathematics,

CROW: Give a *darn*, thank you.

> couldn’t care less about what is truth, why should you protect fakes
> who have betrayed you, yet again,

MIKE: Maybe you like the fakes. Some of them have great parties.

CROW: I love those parties. You know, “Isn’t everyone here so really?”

> and in their inability to understand
> and their lack of intelligence, they leave the world vulnerable,

MIKE: The world is just feeling very fragile right this minute.

> because this time, to stop this post, all they had to do was step
> up–and protect the world?

CROW: Step right up! Protect three worlds for a nickel!

>
> TODAY they could have stepped up to protect the world.

MIKE: Tomorrow, they could step up to protect Neptune.

>
> Die for them?

CROW: Who?

>
> Why?

TOM: Good question.

>
> And even if you won’t die, why let anyone else?

CROW: Strap a mathematician into a protective baby seat!

>
> Their quiet is your answer if you had questions.

MIKE: So it’s a good thing you asked them what quiet sounded like.

>
> Yes, they lied. They betrayed the world. And they lost.

TOM: But they’ve got a pocket full of quarters and can play all day.

>
> Question now is, who loses with them?

MIKE: I’m guessing the Cubs.

>
> James Harris

MIKE: Or yeah, he’ll do too.

[ ALL exit. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. TOM SERVO, MIKE, and CROW are filling out a form. ]

MIKE: All right, so, who was running the world according to that?

TOM: Uh … I don’t know … mathematicians were running mathematics?

MIKE: [ Writing ] And what was their objective?

CROW: We don’t have any idea.

MIKE: [ Still writing ] Don’t … have … idea. Method of ruling the world?

CROW: Something to do with prime numbers.

MIKE: Prime … numbers. Likelihood of success?

TOM: We have no idea what that was all about.

MIKE: … Was … all … about. Okay, Pearl, good luck with your world conquest through prime numbers.


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PROFESSOR BOBO and OBSERVER are working as above; PEARL is in front, by the camera. After a pause OBSERVER does that brain-wave thing, and MIKE’s report pops into her hand. ]

PEARL: Excellent! And when we take over this … cabal … we’ll be able to … uh … factorize numbers like … twenty-eight thousand, eight hundred fifty eight in —

BOBO: [ Without looking up ] Two times forty-seven times three hundred seven.

PEARL: [ Slighty thrown ] Or … one million, five hundred thirty-one thousand, one hundred twelve …

BOBO: Two to the third power times eleven times one hundred twenty-seven times one hundred thirty-seven.

PEARL: [ Challenging ] 89 thousand, one hundred seventy-five.

BOBO: [ Finally looking at her ] Three times five squared times twenty-nine times forty-one.

PEARL: [ Testy ] Nine million … three hundred eighty six thousand … seven hundred thirty-one.

BOBO: Is already prime.


[ PEARL stares at BOBO. OBSERVER slips his pile of papers onto BOBO’s table while she fumes, and then slips away. After letting her temper build, PEARL grabs all the papers on BOBO’s table and throws them in the air, creating a flurry of sheets of paper. ]

PEARL: [ Turning to the camera; oddly pleasant ] Thanks for the help.
We’ll be in touch over the holiday season.

                        \   |   /
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Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc, so kindly nobody tell them about this and we’ll all be better off. The essay “So They Lied” is the property of James S Harris as posted to sci.math. This MiSTing as a whole is the property of Joseph Nebus, who doesn’t intend anything mean-spirited or hostile to James Harris, Brad Guth, Best Brains, or the concept of Mystery Science Theater 3000. If they just won the alien soccer tournament, they’re going to be too tired to fly all the way to Earth just for dessert toppings. Please come back, Dr Mike Neylon!

> Now I have found a new factoring method.
>
> Literally trillions of dollars WILL move as a result, but for now, you
> can see the quiet as these people keep lying.


[ The end ]

MiSTed: JSH: So They Lied (Part 2 of 3)


And now the second of three parts of James Harris’s declaration to Usenet group sci.math, “So They Lied”. Rants were always good for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment; they had much of the energy of a really strident mental-hygiene film but were about even more ridiculous things than, like, whether you were brushing your teeth in the correct order.

I’m not sure there’s any riffs that need explaining here. Maybe just the note that Gauss was one of those spectacular once-in-a-century mathematicians. I think I’m more obscure in the last part. Oh, Fermat’s Little Theorem is this cute little thing. If p is a prime number, and a is a whole number, then a^p - a is some whole multiple of p. It’s not hard to prove but it feels like it is, in Intro to Abstract Algebra, where you learn to do that stuff. It has nothing to do with Fermat’s Last Theorem.

I tend not to make riffs where the characters wish they weren’t reading the thing. I can’t get past how I-the-author don’t just choose to read the original but choose to go out of my way to focus on it. But Mike and the Bots offering to let Mr Harris, and them, do other stuff was too solidly in-character. Also, probably, good advice too. If you’re getting very worked up about your revolutionary new concept in number theory and arguing about it online, you maybe need to do something else until you find the part where your work wasn’t as correct as you had supposed.


>
> Trouble is, the worst thing for people faking at being mathematicians
> is someone who actually is a mathematician.

TOM: The second-worst thing is being caught by a cop for
differentiating in public.

>
> So they beat up such people,

CROW: [ Snickering ]

MIKE: Yeah, my Freshman Calc TA could beat up … well …

TOM: The other Freshman Calc TA?

MIKE: Maybe.

> force them out of the discipline,

CROW: Turn their backs and go “nyah nyah nyah I can’t hear you”!

> and
> drown them out with crowd forces.

TOM: Challenge them to sword fights with their old slide rules!

>
> Their loophole was the reality that major mathematicians only come
> around once every couple of hundred years,

CROW: Everybody, look busy, Gauss is coming through!

> so they got away with it for
> a bit over a hundred years,

MIKE: Makes it sound like a pretty good deal, actually.

> and I was forced into my destiny.

TOM: I held aloft my magic sword, and said, “By the power of Greyskull” and then … well, nothing happened, and I felt kind of silly.

>
> If it were up to me, I’d be doing so many other things than this.

CROW: Well, don’t let us stop you.

MIKE: Hey, I’ve got some stuff to do if you need new projects.

>
> But it’s not up to me,

TOM: It’s up to my mom.

> I’m driven by some overwhelming force that makes
> me fight against these people pretending to be real mathematicians, and
> so, here we are.

MIKE: Don’t you see, what I’m trying to say is, will you marry me?

>
> The encryption system that they said was so powerful–because they’re
> not real mathematicians–is now, as I type this,

TOM: Pig Latin.

> broken. The world
> does not know this

CROW: Don’t tell it. You’ll just wreck its sleep.

> because the social forces are that strong, but
> eventually the truth will be known.

TOM: It will be whispered to David Duchovny, who won’t understand it.

>
> These people are people some of you admire and trust,

CROW: Real people. Salt of the earth types.

> who have sat
> back, for years now, clearly I think,

MIKE: In groups of, three words or, so.

> believing that social forces
> could stop someone like me.

TOM: Stopping *you*, or stopping someone who’s only *like* you?

>
> But mathematics is more than just a word.

CROW: It’s a whole kooky groovy far-out scene, man.

>
> The proof for those of you who hoped, believed, or just wanted to deny
> the truth is in that new factoring method,

MIKE: Identify the factors of fifteen in under three hours!

> which if the people you
> thought were mathematicians actually were, then they’d be talking about
> it everywhere, warning the world,

CROW: GANGWAY!

MIKE: THE NEW FACTORING METHOD IS HERE!

TOM: RUN TO YOUR DESIGNATED PRIME NUMBERS!

> excited about it, and working on
> solutions to protect OUR WORLD.

TOM: Or at least maybe save Delaware.

>
> But instead, they are quiet, leaving the doors open, leaving the world
> vulnerable.

CROW: We *just* can’t have nice things, can we?

> Leaving it possible for innocents to suffer or even die
> because they are not who they claim to be.

MIKE: Death by greatest common denominator!

>
> But I am.

TOM: You’re leaving the world vulnerable?

>
> The choice is yours. I can’t do it alone.

CROW: Funny how life changes, huh, guy fiddles around with Fermat’s Little Theorem, the hunter becomes the hunted, well, what’re you gonna do?

>
> These people will let civilization crumble. They will let terrorists
> and other criminals,

MIKE: And people who return library books late.

> or anyone who has the will and know-how to use the
> mathematics in an evil way,

TOM: Or who foolishly open up an evil parabola.

CROW: The cosecants of doom!

MIKE: The quadratic formula for MURDER!

> do it, without the world knowing because it
> trusts them because they are not who they claim to be.

CROW: It’s not even our world! It’s Mars, isn’t that the weirdest thing?

>
> You may die if you do nothing, and isn’t that fair?

TOM: We all have to die of something, you know, a heart attack, a car accident, being shot by the snipers of the worldwide mathematics conspiracy.


[ To conclude … ]

MiSTed: JSH: So They Lied (Part 1 of 3)


For my next Mystery Science Theater 3000 performance, it’s a Usenet rant. James S Harris was — possibly still is — a regular on sci.math, a group for just what you’d think. Like everyone who loves mathematics, he tried to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem. Like many people, he thought he had something; it’s not difficult to come up with work that looks like it should prove that thing about a^n + b^n = c^n . Also like everyone taking that tack, including Fermat, he was wrong. He spent a lot of time arguing with the sci.math Actual Mathematicians about how no, maybe the whole of professional mathematics was wrong and not him.

As a sideline to his Fermat work, he thought he found a new scheme for factoring numbers. And spent a lot of time arguing with the sci.math Actual Mathematicians about how no, maybe the whole of professional mathematics was wrong and not him. So this is one piece of those many fights.

In the introduction sketch I imagine rattling apart a very fragile Tom Servo doll, one like the Crow T Robot that gets frozen to pieces in Eegah. I like writing sketches that have some visual action while staying something basic cable could produce in the 90s. The Izah fat evaporator was based on some similarly-named “make your muscles twitch so you lose weight” scam device I saw ads for in Singapore in the early 2000s. They were oddly hypnotic, showing this box put on various parts of the body while the singer chanted, “zap zap thigh, zap zap thigh, zap zap tummy, zap zap tummy”, and so on. The 17/23 Correlation is some weird conspiracy thing I know about because it got mentioned, and not explained, in The Straight Dope. The “such a Ratliff” that Pearl Forrester warns she has waiting was Stephen Ratliff’s story “Endeavor’s Beginning”, a group project to which I donated riffs. If it was ever finished and published I missed the news. Shame; I remember doing some good work on that. I think the “a kind of fish” line was originally one of Dave Barry’s jokes and forget from where.


[ OPENING CREDITS, SEASON TEN STYLE. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW, MIKE, and TOM SERVO are behind the desk. TOM has a bright yellow power brick-size contraption strapped to his chest; it has an oversized spiral paper disc in front. ]

CROW: [ Taunting ] Tom, you’re gonna die.

TOM: Am not.

MIKE: Gotta side with Crow. [ Looking up: ] Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Satellite of Love, and, uh, Tom is worried about his figure.

TOM: My friends wouldn’t say anything, but I have been packing on a few too many pounds and I don’t have time for a good exercise program, so instead I got an Izah fat evaporator. By stimulating my many muscle groups in rhythmic oscillatory pulses I can shed pounds without any work.

CROW: He’s gonna die.

MIKE: Crow’s right, but hey, you want, you want.

TOM: Right! Fire me up to fitness, Mike!


[ MIKE touches a button on the brick; the paper wheel starts spinning. TOM rattles around like an unbalanced washing machine. TOM makes all sorts of aggedy-aggedy-aggedy and acking type noises, while pieces go flying off — his cap, his head, his skirt, his arms one at a time, the front of his barrel, and finally he collapses behind the desk. ]

CROW: Told you so!

MIKE: Crow, hush, that’s not very nice.

[ MIKE leans down and digs around on the floor. He picks up the small cylinder with TOM’s mouth on it. ]

TOM: [ Dazedly ] I … feel … … lithe.

[ MADS SIGN flashes. ]

MIKE: Aw, great, and now Pearl needs us … Hello down there …

[ MIKE hits the MADS SIGN with TOM, who goes ‘Ow!’. ]


[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL, PROFESSOR BOBO, and OBSERVER are seated behind card tables covered with books, papers, scrawled notes, strangely marked globes, astrolabes, for that `stuff’ theme. A bare light on a long electrical wire hangs over their heads. BOBO and OBSERVER mutter their lines to each other. ]

BOBO: Federal Reserve …

OBSERVER: Opus Dei …

PEARL: [ To BOBO and OBSERVER, muttering ] Just, keep me posted.
[ To camera, boisterously ] All right, Nel-sonnnn … [ She drags out the ‘n’, thinking of a way to twist it, finally giving up with: ] N. I got to thinking: why go to all the hard work of taking over the world when I can just find the guys who *do* rule the world and take *them* over?

[ BOBO holds up a piece of paper with “17/23” written across it, which OBSERVER does not find interesting. ]

PEARL: So now I just have to find them, and by ‘I’ I mean ‘you’, so, get into that theater and tell me what this tells you about who’s ruling the world, got it?

OBSERVER: Heidi Klum …

BOBO: Goo goo ga joob.

PEARL: BRAIN GUY!

OBSERVER: Hup … one conspiracy in 35 millimeters, coming up.

[ BRAIN GUY noise. ]

PEARL: And you better get it right or I have *such* a Ratliff waiting.


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. MIKE is trying out putting the gumball dome under TOM’s mouth, while CROW snickers. ]

TOM: This just feels funny.

[ MOVIE SIGN; ALL panic. ]

ALL: MOVIE SIGN!

[ INTO THE THEATER … 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ MIKE carries in just TOM’s mouthpiece, and hides it behind the chair. ]

> From: jst…@msn.com

CROW: Hail the Missin’com!

> Newsgroups: sci.math,alt.math.undergrad

MIKE: o/` old.math.river, that old.math.river … o/`

> Subject: JSH: So they lied

CROW: It happens.

> Lines: 109

CROW: Polygons: 28.

[ TOM, back to normal, emerges in silhouette. ]

> Message-ID: <1150354125….@g10g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>

TOM: It’s ten to one hundredth power of giddy, groupy fun!

>
> I first began to get a real grasp of the true situation when I was
> arguing about my prime counting function,

CROW: We’re … so very sorry for you.

> which is actually THE prime
> counting function,

MIKE: The prime counting function of the whole tri-city area!

> and after yet another useless argument on sci.math
> with some regulars, it occurred to me, they had to know.

TOM: How do you tell when an argument on Usenet is useless?

MIKE: It’s on Usenet?

>
> They had to know that what I had actually was different from what was
> previously known in key ways,

CROW: Like in its delightful lemony scent.

> but they were deliberately lying about
> it.

TOM: I confronted them. They denied it. Case closed.

>
> Now I have found a new factoring method.

MIKE: [ Mad science laughter ] Mwu-hu-ha-hA-HA-HA-HA-HAAA … huh?

>
> Literally trillions of dollars WILL move as a result, but for now, you
> can see the quiet as these people keep lying.

TOM: It was visible out there. Too, too visible.

>
> How is it possible?

MIKE: Can this mixed-up world be as zany as I hope?

>
> Mathematics is a difficult discipline.

CROW: And a worse toothpaste.

>
> Or you can say, math is hard.

TOM: But with a crunchy peanut buttery center.

>
> Most people shy away from it because it IS so hard,

MIKE: Others avoid it because they’re afraid a rogue
isosceles triangle will impale them.

> but a few people
> learned that while doing real mathematics was hard, LOOKING like you
> were doing real mathematics was easier.

TOM: Finally we learn why Sudoku has caught on!

>
> So they fake it.

MIKE: But they were caught when they identified the square root symbol as “a kind of fish”.


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: A Moment of Hack (Part 2 of 2)


You’ve all gotten this e-mail, and it proved its credentials by showing you a password you used back in 2006 and, uh, until about a week ago too. Still, let’s continue turning it into Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction, shall we?

The bitcoin address is munged, of course; even if it was valid I don’t want people supporting this nonsense by accident. I tossed in a reference to “automobile titles” as an example of adult content, not knowing that my whole autumn 2021 would be taken over — against stiff emotion-wracking competition — by how I can’t find the title for my 2009 Scion tC. Serious talk here, kids: get your automobile title, or a duplicate, and put it somewhere you can lay hands on without ransacking the house.

“Swiss-style match pairing” is a way of organizing a tournament where it’s not possible for every participant to play every other participant. Each round sets out trying to get everyone playing someone with a roughly similar record in the tournament that they haven’t played already. (If there’s enough rounds, this does turn into “everyone plays everyone else”.) The “an educated consumer is our best customer” was the longrunning advertising slogan for SYMS, a New York City-area discount clothiers chain. I still haven’t seen any of the Jonah episodes of MST3K.


>
> Oh, yes .. I’m know your secret life, which you are hiding from
> everyone.

CROW: The weed of crime bears bitter fruit!

>
> Oh my God, what are your like… I saw THIS …

TOM: With a Hubbard squash?

MIKE: In the library?

CROW: On Professor Plum?

> Oh, you dirty

> naughty person … : )

MIKE: [ As Elmer Fudd ] ‘I’m just as God made me, sir …. hehehehehehehehe.’

>
>
> I took photos and videos of your most passionate funs with adult
> content,

TOM: Not my adult content! My automobile titles, my disclosure paperworks from the Dental Maintenance Organization. Ream after ream of cadastral maps for the properties I bought at the tax sale!

MIKE: Jeez, all *my* adult content is sad little grunts of pain after I kneel down and stand up again.

> and synchronized them in real time with the image of your
> camera.

MIKE: Who cares about images of my camera?
[ CROW and TOM hide down in their chairs. ]

>
> Believe it turned out very high quality!

CROW: Sing the unwashed park bench gryphon!

>
>
> So, to the business!

MIKE: [ As Adam West ] To the business-pole, old chum!

>
> I’m sure you don’t want to show these files and visiting history to
> all your contacts.

TOM: *Including* that person at hotels.com that dealt with your weird duplicate-loyalty-card nonsense.

>
>

> Transfer $848 to my Bitcoin cryptocurrency wallet:

[ CROW just bursts out laughing ]

> 1GXazHVQxxUdJpe62UFozFibPlor8ToDoUn3

[ CROW continues giggling ]

MIKE: Foz Fib Plor?

TOM: I’m trying to figure this as like a Fozzie Bear branded Mister Pibb but it’s not coming together.

>
> Just copy and paste the wallet number when transferring.

TOM: It’s totally not the SimCity 2000 funding cheat code!

CROW: [ Still giggling ]

MIKE: You okay, buddy?

>

CROW: Yeah, I just, I mean, 848 dollars?

> If you do not know how to do this – ask Google.

MIKE: Well, he was going to demand $849 but figured, why be greedy?

>

TOM: I heard he was looking for $847.74 but rounded up the dollar to donate to the local food bank.

CROW: Oh, well that’s good of him, then.

>
> My system automatically recognizes the translation.

MIKE: ‘Translate from Latvian’? The heck?

>
> As soon as the specified amount is received, all your data will be
> destroyed from my server,

TOM: ‘Because I’m dealing with this annoying ransomware hacker myself.’

> and the rootkit will be automatically
> removed from your system.

CROW: Thanks to my self-propelled technogarden trowel!

>
> Do not worry, I really will delete everything,

MIKE: [ Warbly teenager voice ] E-e-everything?

TOM: ‘Well, not your DVR. That you have to watch on your own.’

> since I am ‘working’
> with many people who have fallen into your position.

CROW: Yeah, well, *I’m* taking pictures of you doing that on *your* web cam, how does *that* feel?

>
> You will only have to inform your provider about the vulnerabilities
> in the router so that other hackers will not use it.

MIKE: [ Extremely nerdy ] You know, even the most secure routers are vulnerable to a proton torpedo hitting their thermal exhaust port through a shaft right to the reactor system.

>
>
> Since opening this letter you have 48 hours.

CROW: 49, if it’s Daylight Saving Time.

>
> If funds not will be received, after the specified time has elapsed,

TOM: I’ll take $582.50 in bitcoin instead?

MIKE: How about $146 in dogecoin?

CROW: Would you believe what’s left on a $20 Borders gift card and a 50-pfennig coin I got going to Oberammergau in 1990?

> the disk of your device will be formatted,

MIKE: The format: Swiss-style match pairing, ten rounds or until 10:00.

>
> and from my server will automatically send email and sms

TOM: Oh, I don’t need all those sms, just send me one sm.

CROW: With sms an educated consumer is our best customer.

> to all your
> contacts with compromising material.

MIKE: It’s not ‘compromising’, it’s ‘seeking a pragmatic, centrist solution’!

TOM: Bad praxis, Mike.

>
>
> I advise you to remain prudent

CROW: When you’re prudent, you make a prune out of dents.
[ MIKE sets a hand on CROW’s shoulder. ]

> and not engage in nonsense (all files
> on my server).

MIKE: And all the ships at sea! Flash!

>
>
> Good luck!

TOM: If Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened.

MIKE: C’mon, let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL file out. ]

                                |
                             \  |  /
                              \ | /
                               \|/
                            ----O----
                               /|\
                              / | \
                             /  |  \
                                |

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its characters and setup and situations and all are the property of … I guess it’s Satellite of Love LLC? I’m not sure anymore. The original spam was sent to my love’s work e-mail account so certain elements were modified so my love’s IT department didn’t get all cranky. It’s not a Jonah script because I still haven’t seen the Netflix series and while I started writing MiSTings after watching very few Joel and Mike episodes, ‘a few’ is still more than ‘literally zero’. Anyway, thanks for reading and let’s all have some hard funs, won’t we?

 

> I know what you like hard funs (adult sites).

MiSTed: A Moment of Hack (Part 1 of 2)


I have this logged in a folder marked “recently used MiSTings”, as I first published it here back in April 2020. But consider how long ago that was: back then, we were trying to end the Covid-19 pandemic. So, since the resource I thought had some older vintage MiSTings was less accessible than I thought, please, enjoy this bit, originally written in 2018, making fun of that guy who totally hacked your account and has the proof.

The only riff that really needs context here is that in 2018, we thought 2018 was a brutal year.


MiSTed: You password must be need changed (your password:group2) [ 0 / 1 ]

 

[ THEATER. ALL file in. ]

> From: <group2@site.tld>

CROW: I love group2@site.tld’s writing!

> Subject: You password must be need changed (your password:group2)

TOM: Remember, you promised you’d walk and feed *and* change your password when we got you one!

> Date: November 15, 2018 at 4:36:12 PM EST
> To: group2 <group2@site.tld>

CROW: Group 2 is the cool group. We don’t need those Group 6 wieners.

>
>
> Dear user of site.tld!

MIKE: Hi! Been a crazy year, hasn’t it? So what’ve you been up to?

>
>
> I am a spyware software developer.

TOM: Well I’m a level-12 half-orc mage so don’t you go trying to beat my initiative roll.

>
> Your account has been hacked by me in the summer of 2018.

CROW: Man, you wanna feel old? The summer of 2018 was *this* *year*.

>
>
>
> I understand that it is hard to believe,

MIKE: But I can flare each nostril separately from the other!

> but here is my evidence:

TOM: [ Fumbling, feeble voice ] Um, heh, sorry, thought I had the thingy plugged in … uh … heh, see, it’s a mini USB … or micro … uh, heheh … maybe it’s upside-dowooops, dropped it.

>
> – I sent you this email from your account.

MIKE: It’s asking you to celebrate someone’s ‘work anniversary’ on LinkedIn for some reason?

>

> – Password from account group2@site.tld: group2 (on moment of hack).

TOM: Prices higher west of the Rocky Mountains.

>
>
>
> The hacking was carried out using a hardware vulnerability through
> which you went online

CROW: Yeah? Well I only respond to emotional vulnerability.

> (Cisco router, vulnerability CVE-2018-0296).

MIKE: [ Military Nerd voice ] Excuse me but the CVE-2018-0296 is the USS Ranger, a Forrestal-class supercarrier with a displacement of 81,000 long tons under full load *thank* you.

>
>
>
> I went around the security system in the router,

CROW: I jabbed my foot into an endtable.

> installed an
> exploit there.

TOM: Stepped on a Lego block … you know, your security is pretty *good*, I have to say.

>
> When you went online, my exploit downloaded my malicious code

MIKE: Well, it’s not malicious so much as it is passive-aggressive code.

CROW: ‘No, go ahead and read my page with the adblocker on, I’ll be fine.’

> (rootkit) to your device.

TOM: Hey, we’re trying to stay PG here!

>
> This is driver software,

CROW: This is driver software on drugs.

> I constantly updated it,

MIKE: The only way to foil it is to hit ‘postpone updates until tomorrow’ every single day!

> so your antivirus
> is silent all time.

TOM: Your Antivirus Silent All-time Hall of Famers!

>
>
> Since then I have been following you

CROW: Did you see me clicking like and share?

> (I can connect to your device
> via the VNC protocol).

MIKE: The VNC Protocol, starring Clint Eastwood, George Kennedy, and Vonetta McGee.

>
> That is, I can see absolutely everything that you do, view and
> download your files and any data to yourself.

TOM: [ Voice warbling ] Even my Knuckles/Marrissa Picard fanfic?

>
> I also have access to the camera on your device,

[ CROW and TOM squirm, uncomfortable. MIKE looks up so as not to have to acknowledge either. ]

 

> and I periodically
> take photos and videos with you.

MIKE: [ As though reading a postcard ] Having wonderful time, wish I were here …

>
>
> At the moment, I have harvested a solid dirt…

TOM: [ Dramatic sting ] DUN-dun-dunnnnnnnn!

> on you…

CROW: Gasp!

MIKE: Merciful heavens!

TOM: Oh, Professor Firefly!

>
> I saved all your email and chats from your messangers.

MIKE: Your mess angers.

TOM: Your Me’s Sangers.

> I also saved
> the entire history of the sites you visit.

TOM: You ah, got any copies of Web Site Number Nine kicking around there?

>
>

CROW: Your Mess an’ Gers?

MIKE: Oh, you always want a plate of those if you go to a British pub.

> I note that it is useless to change the passwords.

TOM: [ As Chico ] ‘Swordfish’?

> My malware update
> passwords from your accounts every times.

CROW: Yeah? Well … my festive clockwork bubbles from your kneepads every thermostat!

>
>
> I know what you like hard funs (adult sites).

TOM: Ooh, hard funs?

MIKE: Yeah, those are the anise-tasting funs your gramma keeps in that glass dish on the coffee table that still smells like smoke even though she quit eighteen years ago.
[ TOM makes a little disappointed groan. ]


[ To continue … ]

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 4 of 4)


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

TOM: You don’t have a tongue.

CROW: Then I’m suddenly confused and distressed.

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

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

> We now take our leave.

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

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

CROW: In your Diamond of Diamonds,

MIKE: In your Spade of Spades,

TOM: In your Club of Clubs..

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

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

> So Be It! Selamat Gajun! Selamat Kasijaram!

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

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

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

>
> Planetary Activation Organization

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


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

TOM: The `E’ stands for `Extra.’

CROW: Robert E. McExtralwaine?

> PAO Member
> Eckankar Initiate

MIKE: And a good friend.

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

CROW: Hah … Mike?

MIKE: Not my fault, guys.


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

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

TOM: That adds up to rem 1007.

>


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

CROW: A URL actually created by a snore.


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

> P.S.:
PASS IT ON !

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

>

> ok

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

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

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

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

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

TOM: 28, including four visits from Marrissa Picard.

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

TOM: Tell them 35.

CROW: I’m not cheating on these forms!

TOM: Oh, like they’ll check?

GYPSY: It kind of goes against the spirit —

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

MIKE: So. Who wants to —

[ Simultaneously: ]

GYPSY: Crow.

CROW: Tom.

TOM: Crow.

MIKE: Well?

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: You got anything you want reported?

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROW: Oh yeah.

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

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

TOM: Yeah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ A pause, as PEARL simmers. ]

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

[ BOBO barks, Curly style; his left arm windmills around and hits OBSERVER’s brain, which he drops, apparently onto PEARL’s foot as she grabs her foot and hops. She trips into BOBO, who bounces against one pile of boxes, sending it crashing. He rebounds to knock PEARL and OBSERVER into their own huge stacks, which sends off volleys of crashing and imploding light bulb sounds through the credits … ]

                            \  |  / 
                             \ | /  
                              \|/   
                            ---O--- 
                              /|\  
                             / | \  
                            /  |  \ 

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc. The essay “GALACTIC FEDERATION Update: August 5, 2003” comes to us from Robert McElwaine and Sheldan Nidle. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who intends no particular ill-will towards Robert McElwaine, Sheldan Nidle, or any nigh-omnipotent beings guiding humanity towards a glorious new destiny in the stars, but does enjoy following Kansan’s reports of how they signal their intents through the life and career of Heidi Klum. Come back, Dr. Mike Neylon!

> Greetings, dear Hearts! We return with more interesting topics to
> share with you.

[ The end … for now. ]

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 3 of 4)


I hope that you’re enjoying this circa-2003 Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction, riffing on Robert McElwaine’s update from the Galactic Federation of Light. You can read the whole of the MiSTing here. If you don’t like it, that’s all right, I’ll have something else running here in two weeks.

“If [someone] had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened” has always been one of my running jokes in MiSTings. It’s a mistaken reference to the Woody Woodpecker cartoons Bronco Busters. In the cartoon, about how Woody gets taken by a scammer time and time again, the narrator repeatedly says “if Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened”. But I started using it as a reference ages before YouTube was a thing and there was just no checking these things.

Gurmit Singh’s a Singaporean actor and comedian. There’s no good reason to reference him, just, tossing in some local-for-me-at-the-writing color is all. Blue Kryptonite was harmless to Superman but crippled Bizarro. (Usually; the stories, somehow, were not always perfectly consistent.)

Please do not cut yourself on the razor-sharp edge of my takedown of Star Trek: Enterprise.


> At times, these wars seemed endless.

CROW: It was like watching the History Channel.

> The
> devastation’s intensity was inconceivable. We were always astonished at
> the extent to which the star-nations of Anchara would go in order to
> ‘win’ these wars.

MIKE: Star-nations of Anchara? There’s galactic warfare about whether to accept Captain Archer and Team Bland on `Enterprise’?

> Their fierce stockpile of weapons and unspeakably
> brutal military forces sparked a reign of terror across this galaxy.

CROW: Yet still they can’t explain John Ashcroft.

>
> Eventually, our growing alliances led to the Galactic Federation
> of Light.

TOM: And that’ll have to be enough for you.

> The Galactic Federation was one of a number of organizations
> – neutral, dark or one with the Light – operating in this galaxy.

MIKE: And all striving to become the Master of Orion.

> At
> any rate, the wars produced a vast number of ‘wandering’ star-nations
> that moved about according to the circumstances caused by the wars.

CROW: If the Galactic Federation of Light had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened.

> From them, we learned a great deal about the hate and the needless
> actions and divisions caused by limited consciousness

MIKE: You know, like when you overdo the Robitussin.

> and its constant
> train of fear and wrongly-derived assumptions. We found this quite an
> eye-opener.

TOM: It was zesty, and it had a great minty taste!

> We also learned the extent of the Ancharites’ deception.

CROW: The Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Dionne Warwick — none of them ever really existed!

TOM: What?

> Although we were shocked, initially, at how dark this galaxy had
> become, we realized, deep in our Hearts, that this insanity would
> definitely end.

MIKE: Oh, yeah. Superadvanced cosmic being and I bet they just whip out the Ritalin.

> Until that divine moment, we had to do whatever we
> could to stalemate the continuous wars.

TOM: But the Galactic League of Nations proved to be a disappointment.

> Thus, we created technologies
> and strategies that would bring about the required results.

CROW: That seemed too hard, so we started playing Europa Universalis II for a couple millennia to kill time.

>
> Ultimately, just over two million years ago, these wars produced
> conditions that allowed us to colonize your solar system.

MIKE: And we’ve still got half our stuff in cardboard boxes.

> A new set of
> broad-based attacks by the Ancharites, nearly one million years ago,
> destroyed these first human colonies.

TOM: A million years these Federation of Light creeps float about the planet and none of them remembers to not leave sitting ducks all around.

> Later, a counter-attack by
> Galactic Federation forces culminated in the second Earth colony of
> Lemuria

CROW: So Joey the Lemur was a space alien?

TOM: Actually, yeah.

> and the destruction of the Ancharites’ main planetary world.

MIKE: The genocide was necessary, as otherwise some of the Ancharites might have lived.

> Its explosive end produced the asteroid belt that now revolves between
> Mars and Jupiter.

CROW: Explosive ending! No one will be admitted during the last five minutes of the Ancharites’ home world.

> Moreover, many of the smaller moons of Mars, Jupiter
> and the solar system’s other outer planets are the result of the
> carnage from these explosions.

TOM: A couple of them were just tchochkes we picked up at garage sales.

> Indeed, your solar system is a curious
> monument to the violence that was part of these wars.

CROW: Please observe silence while visiting the Solar System.

> It even extends
> to the outer layers of cosmic dust and larger particles that form the
> edge of your solar system.

MIKE: This is all related to Blue Kryptonite, isn’t it?

> Because these clouds were unduly charged,
> the outcome was a constant barrage of comets and asteroids.

TOM: But they do all look really festive come Christmas time.

>
> Even your Sun was not spared the degrees of violence of which the
> Ancharites were capable.

MIKE: And with our powers and a million years to try it was too much work to fix it up again.

> They attempted to permanently disrupt your
> Sun’s interaction with her planetary daughters,

TOM: By being vicious gossips.

> resulting in the highly
> elliptical orbits that still characterize the way your solar system’s
> planets circle your Sun.

MIKE: The tragic result of putting unbalanced loads in the washer.

> Initially, these orbits were almost circular.
> For that reason, a circle has a 360-degree arc.

CROW: Bake your circle at that 360 degree arc for fifteen to twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

> In your world, this
> commemorates the original solar year of 360 days, each lasting 24
> hours.

TOM: Is that mean solar or sidereal time?

> The first colonists of ancient Lemuria decided not to alter this
> situation,

CROW: This reminds me of a story that happened once in … Zobooland.

> and kept this anomaly as a sign to future generations of
> what had actually occurred in this once splendid and beautiful solar
> system.

MIKE: Nice of them to leave us such a hint.

> These wars also caused the conditions needed to plunge you into
> the morass that we know as limited consciousness.

CROW: So, the Federation of Light wants to bring Light to the universe and does it by leaving a broken-down solar system and dropping colonists on it who’ll be too stupid to do any Light-bringing?

TOM: It’s the Galactic Federation of Durrr.

>
> Clearly, the dispersion of humanity into your solar system – even
> your fall into limited consciousness – are by-products of these galaxy-
> wide wars.

TOM: As soon as you leave the solar system, though, you’ll figure out how to travel interstellar distances.

> Furthermore, the Galactic Federation’s acceptance of a
> nearly ‘hands-off’ policy was the result of circumstances brought about
> by these same wars.

MIKE: That hands-off policy that did so well to avoid the war in the first place.

> This policy allowed the Anunnaki to become your
> overlords, and their earthly minions to secretly control you for the
> past 13 millennia.

TOM: Oh, *good* one, Galactic Federation of Light.

> However, this situation was dramatically changed by
> your rise in consciousness and by the Anunnaki’s recent turn to the
> Light.

CROW: And, what the heck, nothing good on TV this week anyway.

> These events have made possible the Galactic Federation’s direct
> intervention in your affairs.

MIKE: The protection money we demand will be reasonable and collected infrequently.

> It has also given us an opportunity to
> assist those forces of Light that are laboring to transform your world.

TOM: Unfortunately, the only agents they have on the scene are Judge Reinhold and Gurmit Singh, so it’s taking a while.

> This has resulted in the agreements that are about to be revealed.

CROW: I’m betting they call for people to wear less black, though.

>
> Heaven and your collective self are co-creating your reality.

MIKE: You put it that way, I feel so *naked*.

> You
> are interconnected Beings who are sharing the same destiny. That
> destiny is to be returned to fully conscious Beings of Light.

CROW: Just two weekends a month, and two millennia a geologic age.

> The
> concluding phase, before this divine transition can be fully revealed
> to you, has taken much too long for our liking.

TOM: Frankly, you’re on the verge of failing this class!

> Finally, the last
> vestiges of the dark have begun to see that their continuing battle is
> truly in vain.

CROW: The movies of Jerry Bruckheimer will get more desperate.

> This acknowledgement has allowed a new energy of
> positive intention to envelop your beautiful, blue orb.

MIKE: Clean it every other weekend with a damp cloth, and keep it out of direct sunlight.

CROW: This is what the Mirror Universe had instead of “Highlander 2.”

> This energy has
> provided additional courage to those who are enforcing the agreements,

TOM: This is all going to end up at the World Trade Organization somehow.

> which guarantee that a new reality can be manifested, now, upon your
> world.

CROW: Watch your doorknobs for signs of opening blue eyes.

> We thank all who have helped and, especially, convey our deepest
> gratitude to all Light workers. Your victory is approaching!

TOM: No, really. Going to be here soon. Can’t see it taking more than another 375,000 years at the *latest*.


[ to conclude … ]

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 2 of 4)


Thanks for being with me for the next part of this update from the Galactic Federation of Light. The whole Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic based on this rant should be here. Robert McElwaine was one of the great glorious cranks of the Usenet era, often posting things like this which weren’t necessarily bad but were difficult to take seriously.

“The Swan” was a short-lived reality-TV show about taking people who were Hollywood Ugly and dressing them up until they could attract A MAN. This sort of thing seemed important to denounce back then.

The Rydburg constant is from quantum mechanics. It’s part of describing how a hydrogen spectrum looks.

One of my all-time favorite riffs is Crow saying how “one of my most endearing features is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the physical universe”.


>”Robt McElwain” <rmcelwaine@visto.com
> wrote in message

news:87befcb5.0308151233.2e7aa480@posting.google.com…

CROW: It’s the 21st century and we’re *still* getting Robert McElwaine. Could we get some new cranks in here?

>
>
> Update from the REAL Galactic Federation

MIKE: The other Galactic Federation is just full of phonies.

> and The Spiritual Hierarchy
> August 5, 2003

TOM: They’re masters of space, time, and dimension, but their Usenet servers are kept up by turtles.

> Communicated thru Sheldan Nidle of The Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: So stop teasing him.

CROW: Shel-*dan*?


> http:
//www.paoweb.com/updates.htm
>
> Greetings, dear Hearts!

TOM: Howdy, lovey-kins.

> We return with more interesting topics to
> share with you.

MIKE: And we’ll give you six of them for four easy monthly payments of $24.99 each.

> One of the things that we find most interesting is how
> your concepts of cosmology have distorted the origins of this physical
> universe.

CROW: Why, thank you. I think one of my most endearing features is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the physical universe.

> Its genesis lies not in a ‘big bang’, but rather in a simple
> series of multiple creations.

TOM: This `Big Bang Burrito’ theory we expect will be slow to catch on.

> These creations produce many different
> dimensions and an abundance of realities. The crucial element is

MIKE: Erbium.

> divine
> consciousness. All of us dwell in a living, conscious universe.

TOM: Except for the audience of “The Swan.”

> That
> universe is composed of inter-dimensional Light and Time, which
> combine, in infinite ways, to form space.

CROW: Is this gonna be on the final?

> It, in turn, creates
> realities and shapes physicality’s countless dimensions. The physical
> universe is a magical place.

MIKE: So that’s why everyone’s after me Lucky Charms.

> The only limitations that exist in any
> reality are those that its inhabitants and its heavenly guardians,
> together, permit.

CROW: I already saw “Free To Be You And Me.” Can I go?

> Your laws of physics are a true misnomer.

TOM: They’re more nagging suggestions of physics instead.

> Your growth
> in awareness or new collective perceptions can instantly alter these
> so-called ‘laws’.

MIKE: One morning I took too much Sudafed and the Rydburg constant? Pfft. Out like a light.

> Now, this important process has begun.

TOM: No, no, no, don’t go rushing into anything right now.

> It promises to
> create an entirely new reality for you and indeed for the rest of
> physicality.

CROW: You know, I can’t get “2000 Flushes” to work right.
Should I be part of creating a new reality for everybody?

>
> Creation is a continuously unfolding phenomenon. The divine plan
> has dealt out to us all a multiplicity of sudden twists and turns.

TOM: You are in a maze of twisty divine plans, all alike.

> Now,
> as a direct result, countless sentient species live in the physical
> universe.

MIKE: The Asian short-clawed otter alone occupies four galaxies.

> Their many different languages, cultures and rituals create
> an immensely wide range of traditions and perceptions that center upon
> the origins of their realities.

TOM: Yet they cannot tell a cabbage from a lettuce.

> They have inspired us to closely study
> the residences of this nearly infinite universe. In our galaxy, it gave
> rise to the creation of

CROW: Kickapoo Joy Juice.

> numerous spiritual sciences, dedicated to
> developing a full understanding of this knowledge, and to discovering
> its precise part in the whole.

TOM: In order to make more efficient ABC Afterschool Specials.

> Eventually, this study laid the first
> foundations for a spiritual anthropology and, later, a spiritual
> sociology.

MIKE: And later still, spiritual philately.

TOM: Spiritual geology was a big hit.

CROW: People say spiritual ichtyology is an easy major, but there’s a lot to it you don’t see.

> These sciences gave us a wealth of information about our
> common origins,

CROW: For example, origins turn out to be common.

> which are far greater than the processes that brought
> about human evolution on the third planet of the Vega solar system more
> than six million years ago.

TOM: As of next Thursday.

> Actually, our beginnings filled a physical
> and spiritual niche foreseen by the divine plan.

MIKE: I mean, it’s like they had God or something setting things out.

> Prior to that event,
> we were all spiritual Beings hanging tenaciously to the vast Life-
> streams of Heaven.

TOM: Oh, here it comes.

CROW: Yup. This is the hard sell. How much, McElwaine?

>
> As humanity advanced through this galaxy,

TOM: We started shooting everything we didn’t understand.

> we encountered physical
> Beings quite unlike us in form, culture and language.

CROW: We would have given them the chance to surrender,
but we didn’t want to look weak.

> If we did not
> succeed in bridging these huge differences, war often resulted.

MIKE: And, really, we went out with the best of intentions.

> At
> first, those who aggressively followed the dark principles of their
> creator-Being, Anchara,

CROW: Leader of the Imperium Sweaters.

> distressed us greatly. Suddenly, we were
> involved in an enormous galactic war that had woven itself across the
> breadth of our galaxy for many tens of millions of years.

TOM: A most savage alien race, they were. When we shot them they fought back.

> This struggle
> created a need for many alliances to form with thousands of other like-
> minded star-nations.

MIKE: We had to shoot first. We had them surrounded.

> It also introduced us to the continuing strange
> and violent process that is destined to transform this galaxy from the
> darkness that has engulfed it.

TOM: They’re using the F-U-N-D cheat, aren’t they?


[ to continue … ]

MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 1 of 4)


I’d wanted to move into sharing a fresh Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. I discovered that a folder I thought had a bunch of long-forgotten MiSTings did not have anything of note in it. So, to give me a month to work this all out, please enjoy this mildly forgotten MiSTing. I shared this update from the Galactic Federation of Light back in 2017, but that was like twenty years ago.

The reference here to “Commodore Schmidlapp” is to Doctor Mike Neylon, who had hosted Web Site Number Nine, the center of the MiSTing community in the 90s. About a year before this MiSTing was posted, he took the site down “for a weekend” for some upgrades or whatnot and he hadn’t been seen since. Observer’s reference to a “force-ten brain-imploder” I’m pretty sure was to whatever MiSTing I was working on next. I don’t have records good enough to say what I thought it was. Possibly a Stephen Ratliff piece. I contributed riffs to many of those and there’s at least one that, so far as I know, never got organized and finished into a complete piece. That might be worth sharing if I could be confident that Mr Ratliff, who was always very kind about people filling his stuff with jokes, would not object.


[ OPENING CREDITS ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE BRIDGE. TOM SERVO is behind the desk. MIKE is sitting up front, near the camera, facing TOM. ]

TOM: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Satellite of Love. I’m Tom Servo, your host. Today we’ve got wonderful news for all of our loving and devoted fans. Starting Tuesday you’ll be able to find our new Special Collectible Crow T. Robot Gold Edition.

[ CROW, looking as he always does, enters from the left. ]

CROW: Hi, everyone. The gold edition me comes complete with netting, fresh-polished nose module, top-of-the-line sarcasm resequencer and an array of opinions on Peter Potamus. But there’s more —

MIKE: [ Raising his hand ] Does that come with director’s commentary?

TOM: Uhm —

CROW: Sure! Lots of commentary.

TOM: Won’t be able to shut him up!

[ GYPSY enters from the right. ]

GYPSY: And with the Ruby Edition collectible Tom Servo —

MIKE: Hold it; does the Crow come with trailers?

CROW: I — uh —

GYPSY: A trailer hitch.

MIKE: Is he in 5.1?

TOM: He’s … in … 8.3. I think.

MIKE: Anamorphic?

CROW: I’ve heard of that.

TOM: Is it good?

GYPSY: I think so.

CROW: Yes! Any further questions?

[ MADS SIGN flashes. MIKE walks back to the table to get it. ]

MIKE: Hang on, the deleted scenes are calling.

[ MIKE taps the sign. ]

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL and BOBO are at a desk working on a great many forms; BOBO is dressed as accountant. OBSERVER watches the camera, curious. Calculators, notepads, and slide rules complete the table clutter. ]

OBSERVER: Does Crow come with animated chapter breaks?

BOBO: Deducting form 8-E, line 17 …

PEARL: Hello, Mike. Peculiar doll-thingies.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ]

CROW: Hey, we’re action figures!

GYPSY: Yeah!

TOM: I’m comfortable being a doll.

MIKE: Ah, what’re you doing, Pearl?

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is muttering to PEARL. A bell rings from off-camera. ]

PEARL: [ To BOBO ] Oh, what, *again*? We’ve had him in the dungeon a *year* now and we’re not getting through.

BOBO: For the capital invested in keeping Doctor Mike — you can’t argue the return-on-evil. Look at the figures.

PEARL: Brain Guy, can’t you do this?

OBSERVER: Oh, Pearl, you know Bobo does forms better than I.

PEARL: [ To MIKE ] What are we doing? Oh, wouldn’t YOU like to know?

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW, TOM, MIKE, and GYPSY are there. ]

MIKE: Well … yeah.

GYPSY: [ To TOM ] I just never saw you as a doll before.

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is fiddling with a slide rule. ]

OBSERVER: Sorry up there, Mike; we’ve got some reports to fill in.

PEARL: Something *you* will understand perfectly after you get through this week’s experiment — if you DARE!

[ PEARL begins to cackle; OBSERVER pats her shoulder. ]

OBSERVER: [ Low-key ] It’s not all that evil.

PEARL: [ Similarly ] No? I thought we were picking these —

OBSERVER: You have to give them a change-up, something odd and then you let go with the force-ten brain-imploder. It works better.

PEARL: You’re the brain guy, but I want them to suffer more —

[ The bell rings again. ]

PEARL: Oh, somebody get Commodore Schmidlapp his tea already.

[ BOBO hits his palm against the slide rule, launching it to stage right. There follow several crashing glass noises, and then the hissing and bubbling of horrid liquids seeping places. BOBO whimpers. ]

PEARL: Brainy?

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As before. ]

GYPSY: They’re getting stranger.

CROW: I just never saw you as a doll.

TOM: You should try accepting an expanded self-image.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General alarm. ]

MIKE: Oh, great, save it — guys, we got movie sign!

[ Screaming and such continues. ]

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ ALL enter theater. ]

MIKE: Wait, she’s torturing other Mikes?


>Path:
rpi!uwm.edu!newsfeed.cs.utexas.edu!in.100proofnews.com!in.100

>proofnews.com!news-out.visi.com!petbe.visi.com!feed.news.qwest.net!

>news.uswest.net.POSTED!not-for-mail

>Reply-To:
“Baron Maximillian von Schwartzmeinoppenhause”

CROW: Zany? You’re soaking in it!

><schwartz@baronville.com
>


>From:
“Baron Maximillian von Schwartzmeinoppenhause”

><schwartz@baronville.com
>

TOM: That’s for everyone who missed the zany before.


>Newsgroups:
24hoursupport.helpdesk,alt.alien.research,alt.alien.visitors,

>alt.revisionism,sci.astro,soc.history.what-if

MIKE: The gang.


>References:
<20030814025106.21510.00001411@mb-m07.aol.com
>

><87befcb5.0308151233.2e7aa480@posting.google.com
>

>Subject:
Re: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update: August 5, 2003

CROW: Attention Mister and Missus Galaxy and all the ships at sea! Flash!


>Lines:
159

>X-Priority:
3

TOM: Better tell Wolverine and Professor Xaiver.


>X-MSMail-Priority:
Normal

>X-Newsreader:
Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1158

>X-MimeOLE:
Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2800.1165

MIKE: [ Clapping his hands ] Ole’!


>Message-ID:
<hqX5b.733$Qa.55492@news.uswest.net
>

>Date:
Fri, 5 Sep 2003 02:02:48 -0600

TOM: We get the August update in September?

CROW: They’re pretty laid back in this part of the federation.


>NNTP-Posting-Host:
67.1.139.151

>X-Trace:
news.uswest.net 1062748941 67.1.139.151 (Fri, 05 Sep 2003

>03:
02:21 CDT)

>NNTP-Posting-Date:
Fri, 05 Sep 2003 03:02:21 CDT

MIKE: There, see? Told you it was Central Daylight Time.


>Xref:
rpi alt.alien.visitors:516492 alt.revisionism:1566553

>sci.astro:
445867 soc.history.what-if:738420

TOM: Inside The GPS Signal.


To continue …

Statistics Saturday: Trivia about The Facts Of Life I’ve been having a hard time dealing with this week


  • Dana Plato was not a regular on The Facts Of Life. She was on Diff’rent Strokes.
  • There were many more episodes made after the gang was at the Academy (122) than there were when the Academy was the premise of the show (79).
  • In fact, Dana Plato wasn’t on The Facts Of Life at all, except for the stealth-pilot episode that aired as part of Diff’rent Strokes‘s original run and the first episode of the first season.
  • Molly Ringwald played one of the characters first season, until the show decided they had too many characters and she was one of the ones that got cut.
  • Heck, Dana Plato played her character Kimberly Drummond on more episodes of Hello, Larry (three) than The Facts Of Life (one or maybe two depending how you count the stealth pilot).
  • Had Soviet Air Defece Force officer Stanislav Petrov not kept his cool during the 1983 false nuclear alarm incident, and had allowed the mistaken reports of a sneak attack by the United States to escalate into a nuclear “retaliation”, the first episode of The Facts Of Life which would have been preempted for nuclear war was #80, titled “Gamma Gamma or Bust”.
  • There are five episodes of Diff’rent Strokes that Gary Coleman was not in. This has nothing to do with The Facts Of Life, but it is hard to accept.
  • The Facts Of Life has been mentioned in more host sketches, through season twelve, of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (one) than have any works of science fiction legend Ray Bradbury (zero).

Not listed: the first Diff’rent Strokes episode that would have been preempted had the world destroyed itself in nuclear war in 1983 was the one where they’re filming an episode of The A-Team in the Drummonds’ apartment for some reason and so Arnold (Gary Coleman) makes himself up as a miniature Mister T.

Reference: Naming Infinity: A True Story Of Religious Mysticism and Mathematical Creativity, Loren Graham, Jean-Michel Kantor.

What’s Going On In Gil Thorp? Why is Gil Thorp sometimes in color now? March – May 2021


Beats me! There’s a couple different feeds for Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp and one of them offers colorized pictures. GoComics.com, where I read the strip, has, like, always used the black-and-white feed. But then in March it started, sometimes, switching to the color feed for a week or two. And then switching back to black-and-white. If I ever hear an explanation why I’ll pass it on. I do find the color version of the strip easier to read, making me wonder how Rod Whigham plans out the comics.

So this essay, I hope, will catch you up to date on Gil Thorp for late May 2021. If you’re reading after about August 2021 there’s likely a more up-to-date Gil Thorp plot recap here. Thanks for reading.

Gil Thorp.

8 March – 30 May 2021.

When last we saw Milford Sports, girls basketball center Tessi Milton was declining Vic Doucette for a date. Any date. This after she flirted with him to get the enthusiastic student sports commenter to cover girls basketball games.

The other girls basketball players decide Doucette needs to know she’ll never date him and why. She says it’s because he drives this “grandpa van”. The other players take her at her word. I’d wonder if Milton was offering a less-bad excuse than that she doesn’t want to date someone handicapped like Doucette is. His car is a 2004 GMC Something, modified so that he can drive it on days his cerebral palsy is particularly bad.

So they tell him. She won’t date him, because of his car. “And because she’s vapid and shallow”. Doucette says he can stop working on his prom-posal, then, a statement they take at face value. I’m not sure he wasn’t being wry. Doucette’s friend Doug Guthrie (they bonded over car stuff) tries consoling by the weird tack of asking why he was interested in Milton at all. Doucette liked how she was cute and seemed interested in him, and asks if that isn’t shallow. Which … like, all right, but you don’t need deep reasons to go see a movie with someone. It could be Guthrie’s bad at sympathy. But Guthrie does know that revenge is a dish best served in a cryptic, confusing way.

[ At the unofficial team photo ] A 1966 Pontiac GTO, licence plate 'MST3K', drives up in front of the girls basketball team. Vic Doucette waves from the driver's seat: 'Hey, Tessi! Looking good!' And then the car tears out of there.
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 26th of March, 2021. Okay, so I see why the boys teams can’t get to the playdowns if they’re made up of Mystery Science Theater 3000 nerds and not athletes. Quick check here, Coach Thorp: if you tell a player “heads up” and toss a softball at them, do they flinch before or after the ball hits them? If it’s after, maybe make them second-string.

Guthrie gets the team to take some photos. At the photo session, after the team gets knocked out of the first round of playdowns? Why, Doucette pulls up behind the wheels of a 1966 Pontiac Something, which I’m told is a cool car to have. He waves to Milton and then tears off.

He’s physically able to do this because Doug Guthrie crouches under the seat, working the pedals. (It’s Guthrie’s car; he and his father restored it.) And that sure showed her … uh … I’m not sure I can tell you. It has the shape of revenge, but I can’t imagine Milton feeling humiliated by this. But I also can’t read Doucette as being too traumatized by someone who flirted with him not being willing to date. Disappointed, sure, but … ? Eh, what do I understand of high school drama?


With that, the 27th of March, the Vic Doucette and girls-basketball storyline ended. The current one began the 29th of March, with one of the Milford Library Board resigning. Family’s moving to Denver. Also with senior Zane Clark rejoining the boys softball team. Things are “looking up” at home, in that he thinks he can make the time to be on the ball team. His father’s disabled, and his mother can only work part-time. So Zane Clark’s working, like, to midnight most nights. I am not sure what Zane thinks is “looking up”. But he’s also the vice-president of the senior class. So he seems to be one of those people who needs to do everything. He might even see his girlfriend Katy Brito again.

Meanwhile, Brito’s family Internet is out. This sends her father, grumbling, to the library to get some work done. There, Abel Brito discovers the library has computers that aren’t even being used. And a librarian who’s just, like, standing there answering questions that better signage could handle. He comes home fuming about the waste of taxpayer money.

(At a family dinner) [ Abel Brito gets ramped up --- again --- about the library ] Abel: 'Seriously, why do they need all those computers?' Zach Clark: 'For people like me! We can't even pay for cable anymore, Mr Brito. We have three kids sharing one outdated PC.'
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 23rd of April, 2021. “And another thing! The library had lights on over stacks that nobody was even in! And don’t get me started on how much money they’re throwing down the toilet with bathrooms on both floors of the building!”

He’s still fuming weeks later, after Zane Clark’s first and ultimately successful spell as relief pitcher, when he comes for a family dinner. Clark takes Abel’s attack on the library having computers personally. He depends on them, after all, and knows other people do, and that the library does not always have more than it needs. And storms out. It plays a bit abrupt, but we have to allow some narrative compression. I suppose also that they must have met before. The story introduces Clark and Katy Brito as an established couple. And Abel Brito must have been like this before. You don’t wake up one day the sort of person who fumes about the city spending money on the library. You get there by making a long series of wrong choices about your politics.

Mrs Brito says if Abel is so worked up about the library why doesn’t he join its board. And since it would be a terrible idea for him to take this advice, he takes this advice. When Clark learns there aren’t any other candidates, he decides to take responsibility and applies. Partly to kick back at Abel Brito, yes. Partly also because Corinna Karenna has pointed out his need to focus instead of bouncing around things. She meant about his pitching, which flutters between lousy and awesome. But when you give someone advice there’s no controlling how they’re going to use it.

So things look to be exciting for Katy Brito, who knew nothing about Clark’s plans until after they were made. So she’s angry at him, even though he declares he can’t see what he was wrong about.

Mimi Thorp: 'I'm telling you, Corina, you're a college-level talent.' Corina Karenna: 'Maybe. But I didn't go to any of the camps that get you noticed. And I haven't even applied, and it isn't going to happen. Okay?' Later, Gil Thorp: 'The problem is, she's right. The athletic scholarships are taken, and most admissions deadlines were months ago.'
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 27th of May, 2021. I don’t know why every time we cut away to Gil and Mimi Thorp they’re cooking but I guess that’s a normal thing to do. Me, I grew up in a family with the rule that if one person was cooking everyone else cleared out except to fetch things as directed.

Meanwhile there’s a story going about Corina Karenna. She’s been delivering blunt and perceptive advice to the Milford kids. Coach Mimi Thorp also notes she’s a skilled athlete. Has she considered applying for athletic scholarships to college? Karenna has. But her mother’s too depressed to function if she were to go to college. And anyway, all the deadlines are long past. I don’t know whether the Thorps are going to find some way around that. Sometimes the comic strip admits that things suck and there’s only bits one can do about that. We’ll have to wait and see what develops.

Milford Sports Watch!

Who does Milford play? Who do they just talk about playing? Here’s teams that showed up in the strip the last couple months.

Next Week!

Did April Parker just extract Randy Parker from his own comic strip? Did Sam Driver just get arrested? I hope to have any kind of answers when I look over Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker next week, all going well.

MiSTed: Dreams of a Lost Past/Loss, Part 4 of 4


And now to wrap up this vintage Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic, based on Doug Atkinson’s own Legion of Superheroes fanfics, “Dreams of a Lost Past” and “Loss”. The incomplete “Dreams of a Lost Past” was riffed in the first part of this series. It was starting from the second part that “Loss” began. It’s set after Supergirl died, part of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Brainiac-5, super-intelligent but kinda dumb 30th century super-teen, has a plan he very much needs to be talked out of.

In the credit blurb at the end I mention having taken one sketch from another MiSTing I was procrastinating. I no longer remember what MiSTing that was, but imagine a time when I might have two whole projects under way at once. Seems impossible, doesn’t it?

And now, the conclusion. I don’t know what I’ll do next week, but I am leaning toward sharing another forgotten MiSTing.


> "All
> right, who says it’ll even work? Lightning Lad

JOEL: A daring hero from the world of typing exercises.

> wasn’t really
> dead when Proty used his life-force to revive him. I bet
> Mon-El wasn’t really dead when Eltro Gand

CROW: [ Giggles ]

> used this Exchanger
> to do the same thing. It probably just has some sort of
> mysterious healing powers that bring people back from comas,

JOEL: Maybe even semicomas and the occasional parenthetical expression.

> and Supergirl isn’t just in a coma. She’s *dead*, and people
> don’t come back from that. You wouldn’t want to die for
> nothing."

CROW: Not that you’d be in a position to complain about it.

> "I never had a good chance to examine Garth, because he
> was quickly shoved in that glass coffin and put on display.

JOEL: It was cool.

> I suspect he was really dead, though, because how many people
> in comas survive for weeks without food or water?"

TOM: Uhm…nine. No, thirteen.

> Jo
> shrugged. "And Superboy will tell you that Mon-El was dead,
> too. Lead poisoning kills Daxamites quickly,

JOEL: And Mon-El was a professional Daxamatician.

> and there was
> no breathing and no pulse. ‘Life-force’ isn’t something that
> can be isolated in a laboratory,

CROW: Unless it gets naughty and has to be grounded.

> but mystics like the White
> Witch will tell you that it exists. Although I reject terms
> like ‘soul’ that they would use,

JOEL: I also reject the term "pH balanced," so what do I know?

> the evidence requires me to
> agree with them."

TOM: That is to say, I reject the notion of a soul, but accept wholeheartedly the evidence for it and the consequences of that idea.

> "Not buying the arguments, I see. How about this? The
> Legion Constitution forbids killing.

CROW: Except for the badnasty jumpjumps.

> If you used this
> machine, you’d be killing yourself. That means you’d be
> kicked out of the Legion, and you don’t want that, do you?"

TOM: You’d miss out on Meat Loaf Mondays.

> "That is the most illogical–" Brainy caught himself,
> and smiled slightly. "You’re joking, of course."

JOEL: I have heard of these jokes; perhaps we might witness one someday.

> "A smile…there’s hope for you. Look, are you still
> going to do this?"

CROW: I don’t know; I have to wait for the zoning commission to meet.

> Brainy sighed. "Weighing the benefits and costs, I’m
> still forced to conclude that I’m willing to sacrifice
> everything for her."

CROW: Except my "McVote ’86" commemorative glasses celebrating the McD.L.T.

> "Wow…that’s selfless, since you wouldn’t be around to
> reap the benefits.

TOM: Unless she goes back in time to before when he’s dead and fulfills the relationship they didn’t have because she didn’t know she’d be dead later on.

> I think I love Tinya that much, but I
> don’t know if I’d be able to follow through. Think, though.

JOEL: Hong Kong Phooey and the cartoon Pac-Man had exactly the same voice. Doesn’t it make you wonder about the universe?

> You don’t think it was right for Supergirl to die, even
> though it slowed the Anti-Monitor and possibly saved the
> lives of billions?"
> "No, of course not."

CROW: How about if she slowed the Anti-Monitor, saved the lives of billions, and got you what’s behind door number three?

TOM: Mmm…I’m thinking.

> "So it would be even less just if she died for just one
> life…even if it was yours."
> "No. She’s too important to the universe, and to me."

CROW: Slowed the Anti-Monitor, saved the billions, door number three, *and* five hundred dollars.

TOM: Uhm…no, not this time.

> "Then why do you think she would want you to reverse
> your positions? You may think you’re below her, but I know
> she didn’t.

CROW: All of the above, with *seven* hundred dollars.

TOM: Maybe…no, not gonna take it.

> Was she that selfish, to put herself on the same
> pedestal you put her on?"
> Brainy was caught flat-footed. "I–" He paused. "I never
> saw it like that. You have a point."

CROW: Last offer, slow the Anti-Monitor, save billions, door number three, one *thousand* dollars and what’s behind the box!

TOM: I’ll take it! I’ll take it!

> "Damn right I do. Look, Brainy, all the Legionnaires
> are willing to put our lives on the line for others,

JOEL: Except Ray. He is not working out.

> and she
> was no exception. But it shouldn’t be robbed of its meaning,

TOM: Because heroism is negated by living afterwards.

> should it? All the dead Legionnaires gave their lives saving
> others. Ferro Lad…Invisible Kid…Chemical King…Karate
> Kid,

CROW: Actually, Ferro Lad just died of embarassment.

> just recently, and now Supergirl. Even Garth and
> Luornu’s third body were willing to give up their lives if it
> meant protecting others.

TOM: Even if those others were the cast of "Jesse."

> "That doesn’t mean that what you’re trying isn’t noble,
> of course.

JOEL: Just that it’s loopy.

> It’s just that those other deaths had some
> meaning, while you’d just be throwing your life away for
> someone who knew the risks she was taking.

CROW: So, if you become a superhero, you have to stop fighting the inevitability of your own death.

> All of us liked
> Supergirl, but we like you too, believe it or not. It’s not
> just a matter of weighing costs to the world–we’d miss you,
> and you’d be hurting a lot of people.

JOEL: ‘Course, that’s kind of balanced out by the people who won’t be accidentally killed by some goofy new invention of yours.

> Kara wouldn’t have
> wanted that, and I don’t think she’d want a second chance
> with a cost like that attached."

TOM: Maybe they could just keep the Exchanger and swap life-forces every week?

> Querl was silent. He reached out to the corpse and
> stroked its hair while contemplating.

JOEL: Ew, is this danduff shampoo? What the heck is this? Are people supposed to seep there?

> Finally he said, "My
> twelfth-level brain can’t compute emotional equations. I
> think you’ve convinced me, though.

TOM: But we’ll have to wait for my subcommittees to vote on it before I can go ahead with a new plan of action.

> As long as I have the
> body here, there’s one thing we can do, though."

CROW: Get the funny hat.

>
> * * * * *
>
> A group of Legionnaires stood on Shanghalla, the
> asteroid where the galaxy’s greatest heroes are buried.

JOEL: Those buried preposthumously were most upset about it.

> All
> the active Legionnaires who’d known Supergirl were here,
> while those who hadn’t–all the new members except Polar Boy
> and, surprisingly, Sensor Girl–remained to guard Earth.

CROW: Ooh, that Sensor Girl…one surprise after another.

> The
> others were gathered in the shadow of the Ferro Lad memorial
> to pay their final respects.

TOM: [ Whispering ] Psst! Did you bring the poem magnets?

> Brainiac 5 stood before the hole Element Lad’s powers
> had created. "The Twentieth Century has already paid its
> respects to one of its greatest heroes,

CROW: Back around the first couple times that Superman died.

> but I doubt they
> would deny us the chance for our own personal observance,"

JOEL: Even one made possible by grave robbing and borderline necrophilia.

> he
> said, his eyes on the black coffin embossed with the "S"
> symbol.

TOM: Ahem. Chuckles loved to laugh…tears were abhorrent to him…

> "All of us knew Supergirl, and fought alongside her.

JOEL: Except for *you*, Ray.

> We were her friends–some of us were more.

TOM: Some of us were androids she constructed in her sleep, too.

> "I am very poor at emotional speeches, as some of you
> know." Jo caught his eye briefly and smiled encouragingly.

JOEL: [ As Jo ] You’re doing a great job saying stuff that couldn’t be said at every other eulogy ever delivered.

> "It’s difficult to put Supergirl’s value to the universe into
> words.

CROW: Watch me try. "Slookelty bopplenerf weantroolub blix." See how difficult it is?

> Moreover, I know each of you have your own special
> memories of her. I would suggest we pause a moment and
> remember Kara."

TOM: HmmmmmmmMMMMMM…There! I’m done. What did you get?

> The group was silent for a minute. Some Legionnaires
> smiled as they remembered her; some cried softly; a few were
> incapable of showing their emotions on their faces.

JOEL: Some of the Legionnaires didn’t even exist.

> Brainiac
> 5 was stoic throughout.
> He broke into the reverie by putting his hand on the
> coffin. "Farewell, Kara. We will never forget you."

TOM: [ Stage whisper ] Who’s Kara?

CROW: [ As above ] I think we’re in the wrong room.

> He
> turned to the pallbearers and said, "You may commence."
> As Mon-El and Timber Wolf lowered the coffin into the
> ground, Element Lad prepared to fill in the grave again.

JOEL: Real friends show love by synthesizing manganese.

> Blok placed a block of marble at the head of the grave, and
> rumbled, "Wait until I am out of the way before you begin
> carving, Wildfire."
> "Hey, I’m always careful," said the energy man.

CROW: [ As Wildfire ] So — white or dark meat?

> He
> raised an arm of his containment suit and, with a tightly
> controlled beam of energy,

TOM: Is that the blue hand-ray or the red hand-ray?

JOEL: It’s the green hand-ray.

> carved words into the surface of
> the stone:
>
> Here Lies
>
> SUPERGIRL
>
> Kara Zor-El
>
> Linda Lee Danvers

TOM: Caroline Rhea.

JOEL: Angela "Scoop" Quickly.

CROW: Wheelie *and* the Chopper Bunch.

>
> Legionnaire and Friend
>
>
> When the burial was complete, the group split up.

JOEL: So, uh, wanna hit Big Stosh’s?

CROW: Knockwurst bar open?

JOEL: You bet.

> Jo
> and Tinya approached Brainy, who was still standing by the
> grave.
> "Great speech, man," Jo said, laying his hand on
> Brainy’s shoulder. Tinya gently put her hand on his arm.

CROW: It’s a slow-motion tackle.

> "Opening up like that was the bravest thing I’ve seen you do,
> Brainy.

JOEL: He opened up?

TOM: Yeah, didn’t you notice his eye twitching?

> I’m glad to see you’re coming to terms with this."
> "Indeed." He raised his eyes from the grave to the
> stars. "I was able to fight my obsessive tendencies for once,

TOM: And nobody new got killed by them.

> which is probably just as well. Who knows what might have
> gone wrong with the Exchanger?

CROW: He could have ended up with the body of a chicken and the mind of a Power Puff Girl.

> "We should make haste. There won’t be room on the
> Legion cruisers if we stay here to long."

JOEL: Rush hour is horrible around these desolate cemetary asteroids.

> They hurried
> towards the spaceship, leaving the asteroid’s memorials to
> departed heroes behind them.

CROW: They tried taking the memorials with them but realized that was dumb.

> [Credit where credit is due dep’t:

TOM: Ooh, it’s the introduction to a Mad Magazine article.

CROW: I love these.

> Superman’s speech is
> quoted from CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #7,

JOEL: Except on Earth Two, where it was Crisis On Infinite Earths #9.

> and was written by
> Marv Wolfman. The Exchanger was created by Jim Shooter,

CROW: Yeah — on a dare.

> based on a concept by Jerry Siegel. The initial inspiration
> for this story came from LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (third
> series) #16,

TOM: Or maybe sixteenth series, number three…it’s hard to keep track.

> written by Paul Levitz.]

JOEL: You’ll love it, Paul Levitz!

CROW: And that’s a wrap.

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

[ SOL DESK. JOEL is standing, a little embarassed, in a Superman-style costume with a cursive ‘J’ at the center. He looks around, puts his arms out and starts a tiny hop. CROW and TOM enter from the right. ]

JOEL: [ Noticing them, slapping his arms to his side ] Aaugh!

CROW: Uhm…Joel?

JOEL: No, no, citizen. I do not know this "Joel" of whom you speak.

TOM: Joel, you’re just embarassing yourself now.

JOEL: I am not Joel! I am a friendly but powerful being from another star, here to help save you from your imminent peril.

CROW: That’s nice, honey, but we’re not in any imminent peril.

TOM: The story’s already done, remember? And you’re going to embarass *us* if you keep that up.

JOEL: [ Crestfallen ] Aw, c’mon, guys. Do you have to be so cynical?

CROW: I’m not saying it’s a bad look for you, you understand.

JOEL: Why not be silly? What’s it going to hurt? What kind of a world do we live in if whimsy, if silliness, if daydreams are rudely and immediately squashed flat? Is a world without levity worth getting out of bed for?

TOM: We’re not calling for the death of the imaginative spirit, we’re just asking that it show some dignity.

CROW: Can I be your sidekick?

JOEL: Of course, Crow. We’ll pick out a sensible yet identity-concealing costume for you right after we’re done with this. [ JOEL pats CROW on the head. ]

TOM: Crow! You’re betraying your trust as a keeper of public decorum and sensible frivolity!

CROW: Yeah, but it’s fun.

TOM: But…but I…I…

JOEL: Aw, c’mon, Tom. Join the legion.

TOM: [ Sobbing, and leaning into JOEL ] I will, I will.

JOEL: [ Hugging and patting TOM ] That’s a good robot. [ Looking to the camera ] What do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER is studying TV’S FRANK’s snow brain. ]

FRANK: I’m so…woozy…

DR. F: Ah, yes, I think I see the problem… [ Noticing JOEL ] Ah, yes, Joel, a fine costume. I’ll be sure to whip up a hearty Kryptonite cheesecake to help you celebrate.
[ DR. FORRESTER takes out a container of fish food, pops open the top of FRANK’s snow brain, and sprinkles some food in. ]

FRANK: [ Sighs happily ]

DR. F: Until next time, Silverhawks…push the button, Frank.

FRANK: Can I do it with my mind?

DR. F: Oh, if you insist.

[ FRANK leans over, hitting his head on the desk. ]

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its related characters and situations are trademarks of and Copyright to Best Brains, Inc. The Legion of Superheroes is Copyright DC Comics, a subsidiary of Time Warner, a corporation so vast and powerful if it wanted it could have all traces of my existence wiped out.

Use of copyrighted and trademarked material is for entertainment only; no infringement on or challenge to the copyrights and trademarks held by Best Brains or DC Comics is intended or should be inferred. The stories "Dreams of a Lost Past" and "Loss" are by Doug Atkinson and are used with permission. Whatever original material is in this MST3K fanfic is the creation of Joseph Nebus. This MiSTing is meant solely for personal entertainment and is not intended to be an insult to the creators or fans of the Legion of Superheros, Mystery Scence Theater 3000, the Game Show Network, or the Silverhawks. Discontinue use if rash persists.

The midshow sketch started out as the introductory piece, and only moved when I had no ideas for the midshow sketch, and could steal an introduction from another MiSTing I’m procrastinating. Sorry if it seems weird.

> Brainiac 5 looked at Jo with undisguised hostility. "I’m
> working on a private project, Ultra Boy. Leave me alone."

MiSTed: Dreams of a Lost Past/Loss, Part 3 of 4


Thanks for joining me on another day of reusing a late-90s Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This continues Doug Atkinson’s “Loss”, a story about talking Brainiac-5 out of doing something really dumb, which the Legion of Superheroes gang had to do a lot back in the day. Probably still does. I don’t know; I haven’t read a recent Legion of Superheroes book except for the crossover issue they did with Batman ’66, which was everything I had hoped for. Nothing against comic books, I’m just not very good at reading new ones. At heart, I like the Silver Age Nonsense parade.

So the mid-show host sketch here is inspired by some Silver Age Nonsense. I’d picked up a collection of Silver Age Superman story reprints from the closing sale of a comic book shop in the legendary Latham Circle Mall. So that’s where that sketch comes from, and I’m happy to say I was ahead of the curve on the Internet noticing Silver Age Superman was like that. Of course, nobody cared that I was there ahead of time. All the references are accurate and unexaggerated.

I regret the line that just assumed obesity was by itself a health threat. I accepted uncritically the social consensus about that. I stand by the thesis of the sketch; I would hope I’d write it better today.

Part 1 of the MiSTing covered the incomplete “Dreams of a Lost Past”. And then Part 2 started “Loss”, set in the aftermath of the death of Supergirl in the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I haven’t decided what to do after this is done. I’m leaning toward bringing out another MiSTing. If you dimly remember an old piece of mine you’d like to see reprinted and maybe apologetically explained, please let me know. I’ve got stuff I forgot I ever did. Not sharing the Lynn Johnston piece.


[ SOL DESK. JOEL is sitting behind the desk, playing with the courderoy starship. ]

JOEL: [ Looking up ] Welcome back, folks. It’s quiet right now, but I expect my youthful wards Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot to come to me momentarily with some silly but endearing crisis of faith in our pop cultural world.

TOM: [ From offscreen ] JOEL!

CROW: [ Also offscreen ] We need to talk!

JOEL: [ Calling ] That’s what I’m here for, guys.

[ TOM and CROW suddenly enter on opposite sides of JOEL. TOM is holding "Giant Superman Annual" #1. ]

CROW: OK, we were reading this bunch of old Superman stories.

TOM: And there’s this sick one where Lois Lane witnesses a murder but can’t give a good description of who did it.
[ JOEL picks up TOM’s comic book and shows it to the camera. ]

CROW: But afterwards she gets accidentally zapped with this experimental ray that’s supposed to make plants grow better and it makes her enormously fat.

TOM: And it turns out Metropolis is basically worldwide headquarters for ways to embarass fat people.

CROW: And after a month of feeling horribly ashamed at Superman seeing her overweight Lois runs into the murderer and he gets ready to shoot her when Superman comes and catches him. Turns out he was watching her the whole time for the muderer to show himself.

JOEL: [ Nodding ] I’m with you so far.

TOM: OK, but then Superman reveals Lois *wasn’t* accidentally zapped with the fat ray. He arranged for it to happen on purpose while he used her — without *telling* her — as bait to drag out the bad guy.

CROW: And he knew how to get her back to normal anytime he wanted.

TOM: So why did Superman want to do anything that changed how she looked?

CROW: The fact is, putting aside his non-consenting use of her to trap a crook, the Supester subjected the putative love of his life to an experimental ray that did all sorts of screwball stuff to her metabolism, inflicted who knows what long-term trauma to her cardiac and skeletal systems, and blasted her self-esteem into subatomic pieces, without even thinking to ask her…

TOM: And for absolutely no comprehensible reason other than he wanted to watch her being fat!

JOEL: Well, hey, nothing wrong with liking a heavy-set girlfriend, right?

TOM: Nothing wrong with it, except what kind of *creep* do you have to be to *mutate* your girlfriend to please your own eye?

CROW: Yeah! Where’s the consideration? Where’s the respect? What kind of animals raised Superman anyway?

JOEL: That would be his foster parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent.

CROW: And could they not take a moment to explain to Clark he should ask someone before transmogrifying her?

TOM: Isn’t this basic, common courtesy?

JOEL: Guys, it’s just an old comic book…you shouldn’t try to read too much into it.

[ MOVIE SIGN. General alarm. ]

JOEL: We gotta run, guys!

CROW: Oh, and don’t get us *started* on the comic where Lois gets turned into a witch!

TOM: Crow, come on!

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

[ ALL enter theater ]

TOM: And then right here in the back of the book, Batman and Superman play this duel of mind-warping games in pursuit of some mad birthday prank!

CROW: Not to mention the mermaid!

JOEL: I wouldn’t.

> Whacked-out Querl Dox,

JOEL: [ Singing ] Querl Dox…a little dox’ll do ya!

> who builds the machines
> that go berserk."

CROW: Just ’cause they accidentally blew up seventeen planets you think I’m the problem.

> He pointed the electronic spanner at Jo
> viciously.

TOM: Heh…you know what he’s *really* saying…

CROW: No, actually, I don’t.

TOM: [ After a pause ] Me neither.

> "Supergirl died to save the universe from the
> Anti-Monitor.

CROW: Isn’t that always the way?

> She was always risking her life to save
> others.

TOM: And vice-versa.

> That devotion…that selflessness shouldn’t be
> allowed to perish from the universe before its time! She was
> only in her twenties…

JOEL: Oh, but that’s actually in dog-twenties.

> who knows how long she could have
> lived, fighting all the time to save others."

TOM: Uhm…I’ll say eight. No, ten. Definitely ten.

> He dropped his head and arm abruptly. "Not like me. I
> try to good, and what happens?

CROW: Maybe if he tried to great instead, things would average out?

> People die. I build the
> Earth’s most powerful AI, and it rampages through Metropolis.

JOEL: That’s Metropolis’s fault, though, for not enacting those no-rampaging-AI ordinances a few years back.

> Pulsar Stargrave uses my genius, and I channel all the
> universe’s evil into Omega."

TOM: I set the VCR to tape "Pokemon" and it melts Spain.

> A broad arm gesture took in the
> Exchanger, the two flat bed with the powerful apparatus
> connecting them.

CROW: So this exchanger is pretty much your generic Two-Victim Bad Guy Machine.

> "Once this is working again, I’ll be able to
> transfer my life energy into Kara and bring her back to life.

JOEL: Even though everything else I’ve ever tried has screwed up in horrible, terrifying ways.

> I’m willing to die to bring her back."
> _Dr. Frankenstein has entered the headquarters_, thought
> Jo. "Don’t talk like that, Brainy.

TOM: Let’s just cuddle instead.

> You don’t really want to
> die. Is it really worth it?"
> "Ask Matter-Eater Lad,

CROW: Oh, he’s the guy with the power to turn anything in the world into garlic bread.

> who went insane because of me.
> Ask Duo Damsel, whose third body was killed by Computo.

JOEL: Fortunately Duo doesn’t hold grudges.

> Ask
> the people whose homes were leveled by Omega, or whose loved
> ones he killed. They’d say it’s a fair exchange."
> Jo held his hands up in a T. "All right, time out.

TOM: Offensive holding; ten yard penalty.

> Enough with the death talk for a moment, and for God’s sake
> put down the spanner."

CROW: You have no idea where it’s been.

> Jo’s blue eyes met Brainy’s yellow-
> and-green ones, and locked with them. Finally Brainy lowered
> his gaze and placed the spanner on a table.

TOM: Secretly unknown to Brainiac 5, Jo is his older brother Rex who disappeared in the mountain ranges of Krypton several years earlier.

> "Now. I understand that we aren’t the best of friends.
> You’ve never been the type to pal around, and we tend to move
> in different circles.

JOEL: Plus there was that time you tore my brain out of my skull and planted it in a large wolverine.

> But I know that it’s difficult losing
> a loved one, and that’s it’s good to talk things out.

TOM: Yes, a bland, impersonal conversation with a casual acquaintance helps you recover from losing the love of your life.

> Especially for someone like you,

CROW: Such as Benton Frazier’s boss on "Due South."

> who keeps his feelings
> bottled up all the time.
> "Why are you having so much trouble accepting her death?

JOEL: ‘Cause I wasn’t there to sign for it and the delivery company’s a pain.

> Not to sound insensitive, but it wasn’t exactly a surprise."
> Brainy kept his eyes on the floor for a while.

TOM: Hey…the wood trim isn’t level.

> When he
> spoke, his voice was hoarse. "I loved Kara from the time we
> first met, at her membership trial.

CROW: I told her so after she got her first twelve CDs for a penny.

> I never stopped loving
> her during all the time she hardly ever came to the Thirtieth
> Century. I valued the short times I spent with her, knowing

JOEL: That if we stand on tippy-toes the times would seem taller.

> I wouldn’t have very many of them.
> "It hurt when she decided not to pursue our romance any
> further.

TOM: It was like she had the idea I was some borderline-psychotic mad scientist who keeps accidentally unleashing destruction on the world.

> I went a little crazy then…you remember the
> Supergirl robot I built in my sleep?" Jo nodded.

CROW: Did you ever build a Supergirl robot in your sleep, Joel?

JOEL: I’ll talk with you about that when you’re older, dear.

> "And all
> that time I had to keep my distance a little, because she was
> living under a death sentence. It was like loving someone
> with a terminal disease, except that she didn’t know it was
> coming…and I couldn’t tell her.

TOM: Mind you, it is really hard to work into casual conversation.

> Knowledge of the future is
> a curse…it’s why Superboy quit for a couple of years.

CROW: Er, why he’s going to quit, next year.

> "I never learned to let my feelings out as a child–
> Coluans aren’t encouraged to.

JOEL: And, by the way, I’m Coluan.

TOM: You know, when in Colua, you should do like the Coluans do.

> My parents were dead, and the
> other children resented my intelligence so much that I never
> made any friends.

CROW: The only guy who’d play with me was that Keith Aksland guy.

> I’d never had someone I could let myself
> open up to before. But I resented having this barrier
> between us,

TOM: And it hurt all the worse that it was the Cone of Silence.

> that I always knew we wouldn’t have much longer,
> and she didn’t. Perhaps if she had, she’d have visited more
> often, I thought, but telling her would be far too cruel.

JOEL: Unless I broke it to her with sock puppets. They make anything fun.

> It
> might also cause a paradox, and even I couldn’t predict the
> results.

TOM: Heck, who couldn’t call *that* one from miles away?

> "I hate feeling powerless, Jo. My whole scientific
> career has been devoting to pushing the limits of natural
> law.

JOEL: Except for that sabbatical year I spent developing new flavors for Velveeta.

> Science tells us that time only moves forward, so I
> work on time travel.

CROW: Actually, it tells us the most probable sequence of events is one which maximizes entropy, which is commonly interpreted to represent the forward flow of time.

> Science tells us that tons of material
> can’t be stored in a closet,

TOM: Unless you try.

> so I invent the storage
> tesseract. Science tells us that inanimate materials can’t
> think–Blok notwithstanding–so I design a supercomputer.

JOEL: Science just keeps calling up late at night, snickering at me, and hanging up.

> I
> don’t like thinking that there are forces behind my control
> that I can’t harness.

TOM: If we could just make the forces of nature run on a really *big* hamster wheel…

> "I especially don’t accept the idea of ‘fate,’ or
> whatever you want to call it.

CROW: OK. I want to call it "Destiny."

TOM: I want to call it "Thor."

JOEL: How about "Mookie?"

CROW: On second thought "Fate" is fine by me.

> Projectra or the White Witch

JOEL: Hey, they were bit characters on H.R. Pufnstuf.

> would call me hopelessly hard-headed and small-minded, but I
> can’t accept that Kara had a predestined time to die, and
> that nothing could have been done to stop it.

CROW: I mean, c’mon, she’s a superhero. They never die for more than maybe two months at the outside.

> It’s in my
> hands to reverse that." He cast a glance at the Exchanger.
> "Perhaps you don’t understand–you and Phantom Girl have been
> together for years now."
> "I understand losing a loved one.

JOEL: I still have a shrine to my dead hamster Benny.

> Maybe you remember An
> Ryd? Y’know, the woman you killed and framed me for the
> murder?

TOM: [ As Brainiac 5 ] What, you’re not over that yet?

> I know it wasn’t your fault, but I still loved her
> once." Brainy bit his lip, and Jo decided to change the
> subject.

TOM: [ As Jo ] What do you think of ginger ale?

> "What about the paradox problem? I’m no temporal
> scientist like you, but I thought the history books couldn’t
> be changed. History says that Supergirl died in 1985."

JOEL: ‘Course, History also says Jay Ward was the 14th president of the United States. I think it’s drunk or something.

> "First of all, I don’t think history is all that
> trustworthy. Supergirl was seen to die,

CROW: But heck, who hasn’t been seen to die at least a couple times?

> but we all saw you
> killed in an explosion, too. As I recall, you returned in
> Superboy’s body and calling yourself ‘Reflecto.’

TOM: So he lost his sense of dignity in the explosion.

> While I
> don’t pretend to understand that convoluted series of events,
> it tells me that Supergirl’s perceived ‘death’ isn’t
> incompatible with her living under an another name."

JOEL: As…uh…Superlady…woman…hero. Or something.

> Brainiac seemed to animate with the argument.

CROW: Sketch Quick Draw McGraw in only four easy moves.

> "Secondly,
> who says history is immutable?

JOEL: R. L. Stein, that’s who.

> The Legion decided early on
> to go back in time and meet Supergirl, invite her to join us.
> Later on we did the same thing with Superboy.

TOM: Still later we traveled back in time to warn our younger selves not to request "Clyde’s Car Crusher" as a birthday present.

> Later on we
> found historical evidence that they’d time travelled
> occasionally.

CROW: The evidence for this being that the Sphinx suddenly resembled Gleek the Wonder Monkey.

> Were the time trips predestined? As I said, I
> don’t accept that. I believe history would heal itself,

JOEL: Or would wipe us out of existence. Whichever.

> and
> we’d come to accept that Supergirl miraculously returned to
> life, after she was thought dead. Alternatively, she could
> live in our century, causing no conflict with our history
> books."

TOM: Alternatively, she could move to Long Island and come into the city for special occasions.

> Jo realized that Querl could run circles around him in
> temporal arguments. He decided to change his tactics.

CROW: [ As Jo ] If I invade Russia in winter it’s bound to impress him!


[ To be concluded … ]

MiSTed: Dreams of a Lost Past/Loss, Part 2 of 4


Last week I began sharing a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic from the late 90s. This was based on two pieces of Legion of Superheroes fan fiction, the incomplete “Dreams of a Lost Past” and the complete “Loss”. “Dreams … ” was run in full last week. Now, let me begin “Loss”.

The Legion of Superheroes written about here were a 30th Century team of teenagers using their superpowers to play a never-ending bonkers game of “The Floor Is Lava”, each round of which had a 15% chance of blowing up the Universe. Anyway, a longrunning piece of the setup was how Brainiac-5, descendant of the city-shrinking-and-stealing computer-brain supervillain Brainiac, had a doomed crush on Supergirl. Not because Supergirl lived in the 20th century — they were up to their hips in time-travel — but because she died for real and good and this time we mean it in a pivotal issue of the Crisis On Infinite Earths series. And Brainac-5, most intelligent being in the galaxy, with a whole twelfth-level computer brain, with access to a time machine and the ability to make robot duplicates of whatever the heck he pleased, couldn’t figure a way to keep her in the 30th century while she’s seen to have died in the 20th. If you’re going to keep looking at me like that we aren’t going to have any superhero comic books to read at all. Anyway, “Loss” is about Brainiac-5 dealing with how Supergirl just died in 1985. Let’s read.


>
>
> LOSS

CROW: The inside story of the New Jersey Nets.

>
> An untold tale of the Legion of Super-Heroes

TOM: All the tales too ticklish to untell.

>
> by Doug Atkinson

TOM: Or At Dougkinson. Whichever.

>
> The Man of Steel soared into space,

JOEL: Hey, look, there he is.

> carrying his grim
> red-wrapped burden.

CROW: So that’s Krypto’s Super-Pooper-Scooper.

> He came to a stop somewhere outside the
> orbit of Jupiter,

TOM: He’ll have to swerve to avoid hitting the monolith.

> and released it with a gentle push. As it
> slowly tumbled towards the giant planet,

CROW: Bet Irwin Allen’s behind this story too.

> he bowed his head
> and whispered, "Good-bye, Kara…Linda Lee…Supergirl.

JOEL: And all the ships at sea.

> I
> will miss you forever."

TOM: At least if you keep ducking.

> He remained there for a moment, then
> turned back towards Earth. There was a Crisis that demanded
> his attention.

JOEL: Wendy and Marvin need help on their homework.

> The corpse of Supergirl, wrapped in her cape of
> stretchable Kryptonian cloth,

CROW: [ Singing ] It’s magically delicious!

> drifted until it impacted the
> surface of the moon Callisto. With a faint spray of methane
> snow, it settled into the ice.

CROW: Give me a Supergirl, straight up, on the rocks.

> A short time later, a large sphere of metal and glass
> appeared from nowhere. Its front opened, and a purple-clad,
> green-skinned man stepped forth.

JOEL: The Incredible Hulk?

TOM: The Mask?

CROW: Rattfink?

> Although seemingly
> undefended from the vacuum and near-absolute zero
> temperature, his molecule-thin transuit served as more than
> adequate protection.

TOM: So don’t think he was a dummy.

> Gathering the corpse into his arms, he whispered, "At
> last I have a chance to correct one of the greatest
> injustices in history."

JOEL: Excuse me, it’s called Social Studies now.

> He cradled the corpse for a second
> before stepping back into the time sphere and activating the
> return control.

TOM: No, Mr. Beckett, I’m not going to give you a ride home.

> The sphere entered the time stream, vast
> bands of hallucinogenic color shooting past with neon
> numbers.

CROW: Or neon colors with hallucinogenic numbers. Whichever.

> 11111000001….11111001011…11111010101…until he
> at last 101110101001 flashed past, and the sphere came to a
> stop.

JOEL: [ Singing, roughly, "21" ] So it seems like 101110101001 is gonna be a good year…

> Its pilot stepped into an enormous laboratory and
> carried his prize to a strange device, which looked archaic
> and out-of-place amongst the high-tech wonders surrounding
> it.

TOM: It’s hard to explain the love a person has for his first Mattell Aquarius.

> He gently placed the body on a bench that had been
> specially cleared for this purpose, and turned to work.

JOEL: You know, sawing a woman in half doesn’t have the same suspense when she’s dead.

>
> * * * * *
>
> A brown-haired man in an exotic red-and-green costume
> stood before the thick door and hammered futilely.

CROW: So he’s visiting a Christmas ornament?

> "C’mon,
> Brainy. Open up already. You don’t want me using my ultra-
> strength to tear this door open, do you?" There was no
> response.

TOM: [ Whining, nerdily ] Aw, c’mon, let me in… I’ll cry!

> His hands and feet were braced to rip open the blast-
> shielded door when a foot-wide sphere of metal and energy
> floated to him.

JOEL: Ooh, Carl Sagan’s spaceship is visiting.

> "*breep* Legionnaire Jo Nah will refrain from
> damaging Legion headquarters. *breep*"

TOM: [ Sinister voice ] Oh, yes, you will *indeed* refrain from damaging Legion headquarters. Mwuh-ha-ha-ha-HA!

> Jo turned from the door to face the floating major-domo.
> "Computo, I have to talk to Brainy. Open the door."
> "*breep* My master has set the privacy warning

JOEL: Bet he’s looking for dirty pictures of Catwoman on the Internet.

> and has
> indicated his desire not to be disturbed. No one is allowed
> past this door. *breep*"

TOM: You know, I think Computo is being typecast as the *breep*ing boy.

> _I hate this obstinate bundle of
> circuits_, Jo thought.
> "This is on Element Lad’s orders,

CROW: Element Lad.

JOEL: A lad, a plan, a canal, lanthanum.

> Computo, on his
> authority as leader. Priority override the door…now."

TOM: You cross me, boy, and I’ll get the whole series of actinides on your case.

> "*breep* Complying…" The doors slid open.

JOEL: Such airtight security. You really see why computer locks have replaced latch and key ones that can’t be overridden.

> Jo didn’t
> bother to thank the computer; he just walked in, the doors,
> shutting behind him.
> Brainiac 5

CROW: Detroit 4, in ten innings.

> looked at Jo with undisguised hostility. "I’m
> working on a private project, Ultra Boy. Leave me alone."
> "Yeah, I know what your ‘private project’ is.

TOM: Gerbil farming for fun and profit.

> He
> squinted. "My penetra-vision shows me Supergirl’s body on
> that bench, so don’t try to pretend.

CROW: You’re planning to go to the Genesis planet!

> I figured this was what
> you were up to."
> "How did you know?

JOEL: I don’t…actually I’m kind of winging this whole deal.

> I hid my traces when I stole the
> time sphere."
> "Rond and Dr. Chaseer knew something was wrong when you

CROW: Put on that Afro wig and demanded we address you as "Courageous Cat."

> got that look in your eyes and took of from the bar like a
> Korbalian lightning beast was on your tail.

TOM: The lightning beast’s not Korbal?

> You may have
> designed the time travel monitor at the Time Institute,

JOEL: I mean, sure you may have. I don’t know. Heck, I don’t even know who you are.

> but
> you can’t sabotage humanoid intuition. And when we saw the
> Exchanger was gone from the security room, it didn’t take a
> twelfth-level computer brain to figure out what you were up
> to."

CROW: So… what are you up to?

> "Well, now that you’ve satisfied your curiosity, you can
> leave." He turned back to the Exchanger and began making
> small adjustments to its circuitry.

JOEL: Stupid picture-in-picture button never works…

> "Not so fast, pal. Dreamy thinks you’re going to try
> something desperate, and I think she’s right. You’ve never
> been good at handling emotions.

TOM: But you make up for it with your telephone skills.

> You need someone to talk to
> before you do something crazy."

CROW: Now step away from the corpse, return the magic machine to the library, and leave the frozen moons of Jupiter in peace.

> "Crazy?" Brainy’s voice raised for the first time as he
> spun on Jo. "Crazy?

JOEL: [ Cheery ] And proud of it.

> That’s what I am, isn’t it?

CROW: [ As above ] Well, yeah!

> The crazy
> Legionnaire!

TOM: Man, it’s like you’re reading our minds.

JOEL: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

CROW: Sure.

[ ALL file out. ]

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]

[ To be continued … ]

MiSTed: Dreams of a Lost Past/Loss, Part 1 of 4


So I have another Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction to share here. This is a really old one, first published on Usenet in the 1990s. You’ll only be able to tell by how dated some particular riffs are but, you know? I like just how extremely dated they are.

This pair of stories — the incomplete “Dreams of a Lost Past” and the complete “Loss” — are fan fiction for the Legion of Superheroes, a comic book I had never read at the time and knew almost nothing about. I have since learned a bit more about the bonkiest superhero group outside the Metal Men. It turns out everything preposterous I made up about Brainiac-5 and his gang was pretty much real and actually literally true. So that’s fun.

I believe that this pair of stories was volunteered by their author, Doug Atkinson, to the Web Site Number Nine Dibs List, an e-mail chain that tried to match up original fanfic authors and Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic writers. I can say that, at least back then, Atkinson was pleased with my work. I hope that, wherever he is, he still is, or at least that he is no more embarrassed by his youthful writing than I am by mine.


[ OPENING SEQUENCE ]

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

[ SOL DESK. CROW is wearing a polyester suit and has a card propped up in his hand. TOM is standing in front of JOEL, with the cap on his head replaced with a balloon-like pad. JOEL is holding his hands over TOM’s head. TOM is making sound effects. Sketch is fast paced; no break between lines. ]

JOEL: Come on, big money, big money, no whammies… [ Hitting TOM’s head ] STOP!

TOM: Ow!

CROW: OK, you stop on our survey question; we asked 100 people at random the following question; top five answers on the board. ‘What is a refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day?’

JOEL: I’m gonna say… an ice cream soda!

TOM: Good answer, good answer.

CROW: Show meeeeeeee…ice cream soda!

TOM: Ding ding ding ding ding!

JOEL: Wahoo!

CROW: Bringing you to the Speed Round; seven-letter word on the board, you start with an L and a D and twenty-five seconds.

JOEL: L!

TOM: Ping!

JOEL: J!

TOM: Ping!

JOEL: E!

TOM: Ping!

JOEL: D!

TOM: Ping!

JOEL: ‘Pharmacist’

TOM: Ding ding ding ding ding!

CROW: That puts you on the board with a Five.

JOEL: I’m gonna say, 300 dollars, higher! [ Pointing up with both thumbs. ]

CROW: Reveals a Three.

TOM: Ding.

JOEL: 250 dollars, Lower, lower. [ Again motions with his thumbs. ]

CROW: Got a Jack.

TOM: Ding.

JOEL: Everything I got, higher!

CROW: And we have an Eight!

TOM: Ding.

JOEL: Gonna freeze.

CROW: Freeze, freeze at four cards in, and that takes you to the prizes.

JOEL: [ Looking around ] I’d like the Amana freezer for three hundred forty-nine dollars…

CROW: Freezer.

JOEL: The microwave oven for one hundred eighty-five…

CROW: It’s yours.

JOEL: The Presidential chess set replica for seventy dollars…and the rest on a gift certificate.

[ CAMBOT pulls back to reveal GYPSY ]

GYPSY: Things you see on the Game Show Network. Things that were junk the first time around. Things you remember too well.

TOM: Ding ding ding ding ding!

[ TOM, CROW, GYPSY, and JOEL start jumping gleefuly as CAMBOT flashes $25,000 on the bottom of the screen and a simulacrum of the $25,000 Pyramid plays. ]

JOEL: We did it!

[ COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes ]

MAGIC VOICE: Thanks for playing, and we’ll be right back after this word from our sponsors.

[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]

[ SOL. Calmed down considerably from above. JOEL is polishing CROW’s beak.TOM is reading a comic book. ]

JOEL: We ever figure out what to buy with that gift certificate?

TOM: They gave us a service certificate instead.

CROW: What’s the difference?

TOM: This wasn’t good for anything.

JOEL: Still, that was fun.

CROW: We should do that more often.

TOM: Can’t. You can’t be on another game show for at least ninety days.

JOEL: Says who?

TOM: It’s a rule.

CROW: I never heard that rule.

TOM: You dare question me?

JOEL: Hang on, boys, the trylon and the perisphere are on the line.

[ JOEL taps MADS SIGN ]

[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER and TV’S FRANK are wearing large sacks covering some kind of globes on top of their heads. ]

DR. F: Ahoy, hoy, lackeys and layabouts. Are you prepared to see yourselves bested in yet another Invention Exchange?

FRANK: I know I am!

[ SOL DESK. JOEL and the bots have a model spaceship covered by a piece of velvet. The desk is cleaned and TOM has nothing in his hands ]

JOEL: You bet.

TOM: We were thinking, as we often do, about the 70s.

CROW: And we realized there were some stylistic touches about that much maligned decade which, while goofy, were still kind of fun.

JOEL: So, combining that with our own precarious situation in space, we decided to create… [ Pulls off the velvet to reveal…]

ALL: The courderoy starship!

CROW: Warm, durable, and easily washed, this vision of tomorrow from the days of yesterday is sure to keep you at least as comfortable as a wood-paneled station wagon while waiting in line at the antimatter refilling module.

JOEL: Plus it makes the cutest little "fwit-fwit" noise when you go into warp.

TOM: [ Disclaimer voice ] Stephen Collins and Robert Forster sold separately. James Brolin not available in all areas.

[ DEEP 13. As before; their heads are still covered. ]

DR. F:Fascinating. Now then: Many, many — perhaps too many — science fiction and comic book writers have tried to look into the future of human evolution and concluded that in the future, people willhave vastly larger brains.

FRANK: Which means they’re going to need bigger heads.

DR. F: Right. But since evolution is slow, inexact, and ugly, we’re giving it a little hand up.

[ DR. FORRESTER and TV’S FRANK pull of the sacks, revealing snow globe-like shapes on their heads. ]

FRANK: But rather than fill this extra space with hair, we got creative!
[ They turn around, revealing cityscapes with the white snowflakes. ]

DR. F: So that you can display civic pride or make an amusing conversation piece while you wait for superhuman intelligence and psychic powers.

FRANK: We call them, ‘Snow brains.’

[ They turn back to the camera. ]

DR. F: Now then. Your medicine this week is a pair of "Legion of Superheros" works by one Doug Atkinson — the start of a story called "Dreams of a Lost Past," in which events almost happen, and "Loss," in which the main character is argued out of doing something interesting. Read ’em and weep, boyos.

[ SOL DESK. JOEL is holding the starship and making fwit-fwit noises ]

TOM: I think they stole my look.

CROW: They can keep it.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General chaos. ]

JOEL: We got movie sign!

TOM: Yaaaaa!

CROW: Woo-hoo!

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

[ ALL enter theater ]

> DREAMS OF A LOST PAST

CROW: An untold tale of another tomorrow in which "Squiddly Diddly" rules the world!

>
> An untold story of the Legion of Super-Heroes

TOM: Not any more. Thanks *so much*, Doug Atkinson.

>
> by Doug Atkinson

JOEL: Oh, the defendants have to go talk to him after they see Rusty the bailiff.

>
> Jacques Foccart tossed on his bed as his slumbering
> brain was wracked by uneasy dreams.

CROW: [ As if talking in his sleep ] Scott Adams…stairmaster…horse shampoo…term life insurance…AAAUGH!

> In his sleeping visions,
> he was in a vague land of mists and shadows, seen as if out
> of the corner of the eye.

TOM: So he’s mostly seeing the annoying network logo.

> He wandered aimlessly, but there
> seemed no escape.

JOEL: Danged foolproof travelers’ alarm clocks…

> A blurred, humanoid figure drifted in front of him. It
> began to say something…

CROW: [ Gasping ] Warranty restrictions…may not be valid…in some states.

> Jacques awoke and sat bolt upright. _Sacre couer…what
> a dream. I cannot say why it disturbed me so,

TOM: Maybe ’cause it was a *bad* dream?

> but my sheets
> are soaked in sweat. Perhaps it reminded me of something?_

CROW: I know…it’s a signal. This time, I must be serious. I must reorganize my spice drawer.

> He shook his head and resolved to put it out of his
> mind. Element Lad had assigned him to Mission Monitor Board
> duty,

TOM: Element Lad really knows how to let other folks in on the party.

> and it would not do to be distracted when other
> Legionnaires’ lives depended on him.

JOEL: He should be asleep instead.

> Blearily he pulled on
> his yellow-and-black costume and wandered to the command
> center.

CROW: Commander honeybee is on the job!

>
> * * * * *
>
> Blok looked up from the Legion history holo he was
> viewing.

JOEL: Those who do not study their history are doomed to see it in flashbacks.

> "Good morning, Invisible Kid," he rumbled. "Are you
> here to relieve me?"
> "Yes," said Jacques, rubbing his eyes. "Oh, good
> morning.

CROW: That’s a relief.

> Forgive my not observing the pleasantries, but I
> had an uneasy sleep, with strange dreams."

TOM: Hey, does it mean anything in your dream when your parents become 500 foot tall giants moaning about how you’ve failed them in everything you’ve ever tried and then when they notice you they think you’re a fly and stomp on you repeatedly?

> "Curious. I confess I do not fully understand these
> ‘dreams’ you organic beings experience. If you wish, I could
> take your turn at Board duty."
> "No, thank you." He suppressed a yawn. "I should not be
> derelict in my duty.

JOEL: It’s much better if I do it in an inattentive and distracted manner.

> Which Legionnaires are on missions?"
> Blok instructed the board to show current mission
> status. "Lightning Lass, Polar Boy,

CROW: And his sidekick, the amazing Cartesian Kid.

> Phantom Girl, Sun Boy,
> and Magnetic Kid are investigating a solar-powered satellite
> on Mars.

JOEL: Superheros just never stop having a good time.

> Tellus, Quislet, Wildfire, and the White Witch are
> undertaking extended duty on Tellus’ homeworld of Hykraius.

TOM: Rock me, Hykraius!

> Shadow Lass and Mon-El are returning from investigating
> Starfinger’s corpse on Labyrinth. Dream Girl is off-duty and
> somewhere in Metropolis, I believe."

CROW: You know how those Dream Girls get.

> "Thank you." Blok left, and Jacques pulled a normal
> chair to the Board to replace the heavy-duty and
> uncomfortable one Blok used. Idly he ran a duty check,
> confirming Blok’s information.

JOEL: Well. I’m done for the day. Anyone wanna hit Friendly’s? Got a coupon for free Fribbles.

> He saw that Star Boy had not
> been removed from the list of active Legionnaires, and began
> to instruct Computo to make the correction. _No. It is not
> my place–it should be left to Element Lad or Brainiac Five._

TOM: Red-hot protocol activity!

> He looked at the holo Blok had left behind. It was an
> account of one of the Legion’s earliest missions, when they
> captured the Concentrator from Lucifer Seven.

CROW: Finally, the orange juice consortium will bend to our will!

> He remembered
> the Concentrator–a fabulously powerful weapon that could
> take energy from any source and focus it against any target.
> It hadn’t been around the arsenal lately, however.

TOM: It had dropped out of its afterschool activities and rarely talked to its old friends. Many suspected it was depressed.

> A quick
> check with Computo told him that Element Lad had decided it
> was too dangerous to keep active; he’d turned its wires into
> Inertron and moved it to the trophy room.

JOEL: Isn’t Inertron the thing that makes tires resist hydroplaning?

> The holo was one
> he’d seen before, so he put it aside with a mental note to
> make sure Blok returned it to the library.
> That just about exhausted his ready sources of
> amusement.

CROW: [ As Jacques ] I wonder what joysticks taste like.

> Unless there was some emergency requiring the
> Legionnaires’ presence, Monitor Board duty didn’t take a lot
> of thought.

TOM: Uhm…I like twine.

> He yawned again, not suppressing it this time.

[ JOEL pantomimes throwing something into his yawn. ]

> Slowly his eyelids began drifting downwards. His head
> nodded…
> And he was back in the land of mists.

CROW: *And* honey.

> The figure
> hovered before him again. Although it was transparent, it
> was now distinct enough to be seen as female.
> *who are you?* he asked/thought.

TOM: [ Pleading ] Please say Mary Tyler Moore. Please say Mary Tyler Moore. Please say Mary Tyler Moore.

> Sound didn’t seem to
> work in this strange land, but he made himself understood
> nonetheless.

CROW: Finally his habit of carrying semaphore flags everywhere pays off!

> *ask lyle norg,* she responded. *he knew.*
> *lyle is dead,* he thought in alarm.

TOM: [ Chanting ] Long live the Lyle.

> *are you the dream
> demon?*

JOEL: The acid queen? Who’ll tear your soul apart?

> She shook her head. *no. just one who is unjustly
> condemned to an eternity in the beyond.

CROW: Uhm…wait. This is Ebeneezer’s house, right? The afterlife has lousy maps, y’know.

> my time had come…*
> *what do you need?*
> *free me…*

TOM: Well, 50 percent off me and the rest is a mail-in rebate.

> She drifted away, and Jacques was alone. A soft hand
> was on his shoulder. "Jacques…Jacques…wake up!"

CROW: You’re missing your boring, mind-crushingly routine job!

> His eyes opened and looked into a blue, long-lashed
> pair.

ALL: [ Jumping back ] Aaaugh!

> "Trying to take my niche? Jan wouldn’t like it if he
> found you napping on duty."
> "Dream Girl…" He blinked a few more times, bringing
> himself to full consciousness. "You are right.

CROW: You’re the only one who’s good at sleeping on duty.

> I should
> have some stim-bev.

TOM: Stim-bev: An exciting new flavorful liquid from TechCorp Inc.

> Oh, by the way…I must ask you about
> something."
> "Sure." She gently ran her hand down his arm.

JOEL: [ As Jacques ] Remember they did this remake of "Duck Amuck," only it’s Bugs Bunny who gets tormented by the animator who turns out to be Elmer Fudd? How come they never show that anymore?

> "If
> Monitor Board duty is that dull, I’m sure I could keep
> you…entertained."

CROW: Have you ever played…Go Fish?

> _Sacre bleu, if only she were still with Star Boy she
> might be under control…_ "Just talk, please, Nura. Your
> powers are the closest to what I have just experienced."

TOM: Only superpowers can match a bad dream.

> "All right." She sat in the chair next to him, crossing
> her long legs. "Shoot."

JOEL: [ Shuffling around, slightly embarassed ] I got my legs tied in a knot again…sorry about this. Won’t be a second.

> "A woman has been speaking to me in my dreams. She says
> she is entrapped, and that the first Invisible Kid, Lyle,
> knew her. I do not know what to make of this."

JOEL: I suspect she may have been his sled.

> "Hmmm. You’ve read about Lyle’s death, right?"
> "Of course. I have studied everything about my
> predecesor, in the hopes of emulating him."

CROW: Except I think I can do a cooler death than him.

> "I wasn’t in headquarters when it happened, but I heard
> about it. There was something about an interdimensional
> realm and a ghost…

TOM: Oh, the usual.

> that could be your mystery woman. Let’s
> look it up. Computo!"

JOEL: [ As if suddenly waking up ] Mommy! Oh, uh, nothing, nothing.

> The energy-and-metal sphere drifted to her. "*breep* May
> I serve you, Nura Nal? *breep*"
> "Connect the Monitor Board to the Legion holo-library
> and Brainiac Five’s log reports.

CROW: We need everything he’s got on dutch elm disease by five o’clock or we’re dead!

> We need June and July of
> 2981. Oh, and get Jacques a stim-bev."
> "*breep* Connecting…"
> Nura’s manicured fingers slid deftly across the control
> panel. "Okay. This seems useful."

TOM: Must’ve gone to http://www.what’s_wrong_with_Jacques.com.

> The board lit up with scrolling Interlac text. Nura
> pressed a key, and the system began transmitting the vocals.
> "Brainiac Five’s medical log, 26 June 2981.

JOEL: About…call it sixish.

> Report on
> condition of Lyle Norg.
> "Norg collapsed in the trophy room for no apparent
> reason.

TOM: On second examination it was determined his head was chopped off.

> When connected to the mento-scanner, he displayed
> memories of the realm he sometimes enters when becoming
> invisible (ref. log entry, 19 September 2978).

JOEL: In the Arts and Leisure section, page four.

> "Subject encountered humanoid woman (species unclear),
> addressed as ‘Myla.’

CROW: Which is of course ‘Alym’ spelled backwards.

> Interaction indicated several previous
> meetings and apparent mutual attraction. Myla stated she had
> a revelation for the subject. At that moment, the screen
> shattered and subject awakened.

TOM: He reported his faith in professional wrestling was shattered forever.

> He became upset when
> confronted with Myla, and refused to speak further.

JOEL: Subject was unable to tell a cabbage from a lettuce.

> "Suggested to Mon-El that subject was experiencing
> hysterical amnesia, causing scanner overload. Recommended
> placing Norg under surveillance.

CROW: Noted he was a boogerhead.

> Mon-El agreed to discuss
> matter with Phantom Girl." Nura pressed another key, and the
> screen faded.
> "Yes, it has occurred to me that Myla might have been
> the one to whom I spoke," said Jacques, rubbing his chin.

TOM: Hey…if I glued a big box of tissue paper to my chin, would it get me invited to more parties?

> "I
> am unsure if it is her, however…she spoke of her time
> having come, and being unjustly entrapped."
> "Well, let’s take a look at the holo-record.

JOEL: Oh, yeah, if you have an adaptor you can play those on a hi-fi turntable.

> I think we
> have one of her…June 27, 2981."
> An image appeared of the old Legion headquarters. Lyle
> lay unmoving and crushed on the floor, while Phantom Girl
> wept and Mon-El and Superboy consoled her.

TOM: [ As Superboy ] It’s all right, Phantom Girl…we’ll get a new Tamagotchi.

> Nura fast-
> forwarded until the spectral form of a long-haired woman in a
> dress appeared.

CROW: The Spirit of Saint Louis, graphically depicted.

> "Myla–the girl from the invisible world!" said Mon-El,
> his jaw dropping in astonishment.

TOM: Boing-oing-oing-oing-oing…

> "Not a girl, Mon-El…but a ghost! When I told Lyle
> what I really was…he couldn’t accept the truth!

JOEL: But I must follow my heart! I must edit plastic scale modeling magazines!

> He went
> into shock and collapsed at your feet!
> "I, myself, died several years ago…

CROW: That really hurt my ability to participate in community bake-offs.

> but my spirit-form
> was stranded in this dimensional realm Lyle discovered when
> he became invisible!

JOEL: Cool beans, huh?

> I-I loved him…but I had to tell him I
> wasn’t among the living!"

TOM: Oh. Civil service.

> Myla faded out. "Sh-she’s fading…" Mon-El began.
> The scene vanished abruptly as Nura stopped the replay.

CROW: I’ll need a note from your mother to show you more.

> "That’s the relevant part. That thing about her time
> coming could refer to her death, and she’s obviously trapped
> there."
> "Perhaps. My experience was somewhat different,

JOEL: Like it occured later, under a different writer.

> although the mists were somewhat similar to what Lyle
> described. I entered other dimensions with my power myself,
> you know, until Brainiac Five removed that ability.

TOM: I was kinda peeved, but I guess I earned it when I transported a miniature solar system into his ear lobes.

> Could my
> dreaming mind still be able to reach into other worlds?"
> "Well, I know about reaching through time and space in
> dreams firsthand.

JOEL: It’s a neat way to gain valuable experience points and impress your Dungeon Master.

> There’s another possibility, though…"
> Her face went grim.
> "What is it?"

CROW: Space donkeys.

> "Lyle only encountered Myla a little while before
> Validus killed him. What if she’s some sort of banshee…a
> being who can only be seen by those who will die soon?"

TOM: What if she’s a lively puppet portrayed by a highly trained team of Brady siblings?

> "That is tres ridiculous, Dream Girl. Unless–have you
> had a vision of my death?"

CROW: Yup.

> "No." She looked uncomfortable.

TOM: [ As Dream Girl ] That means the same thing as yes, right?

> "What are you not telling me?"

JOEL: Uhm…I’m not telling you "yes."

> "I have had a vague dream about some sort of death or
> destruction. I didn’t sense any details, though…which
> means it might not have been a prophetic dream.

CROW: It might just have been foreshadowing.

> Those are
> usually pretty clear." She waved her hand. "It’s probably
> nothing.

JOEL: [ As Dream Girl ] By the way, long as we’re talking, next Thursday at 4:17 p.m., I’d avoid going to the Blockbuster Video and loitering around the fourth row, and absolutely don’t lean towards the stand of Comedy movies, accidentally knocking it over, dropping down on a display table causing it to fling a package of "Power Rangers" episode tapes into the ceiling, where it shorts out the electrical system and starts the sprinkers, which accidentally pour into just the spot to cause a massive sinkhole that swallows you and the building and the rest of the postal subdivision, killing you instantly. But you knew not to do that anyway.

TOM: C’mon, Joel, breathe.
[ JOEL gasps ]

> She’s not the dream demon you fought before, is
> it?"

[ JOEL coughs ]

> "I do not think so. I would know the feel of that mind
> if it attacked me again, and it is too clever to raise my
> suspicions this quickly.

CROW: So this would be a good disguise for you.
[ JOEL gulps ]

TOM: You all right, man?

JOEL: Yeah, I am.

> Perhaps I should wait until I have
> another dream to make a decision."

TOM: But I’m going to wait before making up my mind to do that.

> "I’d talk to Phantom Girl, too. There’s no record of
> what Lyle told her. Where is Tinya, anyway?"

CROW: You know, ‘Tinya’ is an anagram of ‘Viola.’

TOM: No, it isn’t.

CROW: Oh, right. I was confused.

>
> [end]

JOEL: That was a good place for the dramatic release.

[ To be continued … ]

MiSTed: Eating for Death, Part 2 of 2


Did you enjoy the first half of Eating For Death? This was another of my pieces of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fictions, written in late 2015 I believe, and taking apart an article from the March 1922 issue of Physical Culture. I bet Bernarr Macfadden is felling all foolish about his whole crusade to get people to eat when they’re hungry instead of bored or feeling obligated. The very unneeded joke about the Snorks is there because I was reading the Wikipedia article about the Snorks for some reason and that stuck in my mind. I apologize for putting the Snorks in your mind now too.


>
> The “eat-to-keep-up-your-strength” idea that
> has been advocated for generations by allopathic
> physicians,

CROW: *And* Popeye!

MIKE: Gotta respect Popeye on strength.

> has sent, literally, millions of people to
> premature graves.

TOM: Underneath a giant avalanche of casseroles and loaves of bread!

>
> Even a person in good health can miss one meal or
> fifty meals, for that matter, without serious results.

CROW: Fifty meals! You’d be spending your whole day eating at that rate.

TOM: You know you miss all the meals you don’t eat.

> But abstinence of some sort is absolutely essential if
> appetite is missing; and is especially necessary in many
> illnesses.

MIKE: Like chronic mouthlessness.

TOM: McWhirtle’s Indigestibility Fever.

CROW: Temporarily made of cardboard; can’t take liquids.

>
> There is no sauce better than hunger;

CROW: Except bleu cheese salad dressing.

> and there
> can be no health of a superior sort, unless food is eaten
> with enjoyment.

MIKE: Wait, so now enjoyment is a sauce?

CROW: *Yes*, and it’s made of bleu cheese.

>
> When you eat a meal with what is known as a
> “coming appetite”

TOM: My appetite went upstairs and it can’t find the way back.

CROW: “The stairs are past the third door!”

MIKE: “I can’t find the door!”

CROW: “Are you in a room or in the hall?”

MIKE: “I … don’t know?”

> you are often treading on dangerous
> ground. This “coming appetite” is often due to
> overstimulation of nerves

MIKE: By the penetrating electropasta needles.

> rather than to natural bodily
> demand, and is, therefore, frequently of the voracious
> character. It compels you to overeat.

TOM: To be fair, ordering a box of Hypnofood didn’t help.

> You are not
> satisfied until you eat so much you cannot hold any more.

CROW: Eat until fingers don’t work. Got it.

>
> At such times a fast is often necessary. But if
> you cannot do that it is absolutely essential that the
> meals should be very light,

TOM: Chew on a balloon, or possibly a bulb of some kind.

MIKE: Any method of general illumination will do.

> if you desire to avoid
> illness that might be serious in character.

CROW: Try illnesses that are lighthearted in character, such as clown flu and the a deficiency in vitamin giggle.

>
> Three square meals a day will send any one to an
> early grave.

TOM: Diversify your meal with triangles and ellipsoids.

> You may be able to follow a regime of this
> sort in growing years, but when full maturity arrives
> look out for trouble if you persist in this habit.

MIKE: In your fallow years just sit in the middle of a room not eating and waiting for death to overcome you.

>
> Three light meals or two medium heavy meals daily
> will prolong your life and increase your efficiency
> mentally and physically.

CROW: Four times a day grab an open-faced sandwich.

TOM: Six times a day, just gnaw on the kitchen counter.

MIKE: When feeling restless, lick an oven door.

>
> I eat but one hearty meal a day, and that is
> preferably taken at noon, though sometimes it is eaten in
> the evening. Occasionally I eat a light meal in the
> morning or evening,

MIKE: Thursdays I spend passed out in a bathtub full of potato salad.

> if I have a craving for food, though
> these light meals frequently consist of fruit alone or
> nuts and fruit with a warm or hot drink.

TOM: Occasionally I rub a slice of lettuce against one cheek.

>
> But the main point that I want to emphasize is

CROW: Food is a good idea but it will never be made practical.

> the necessity of avoiding the habit of eating by the
> clock — without appetite.

TOM: Wait until your clock cries and then feed it all it needs.

>
> Wait for a definite feeling of hunger. Let your
> stomach dictate your eating habits.

MIKE: And leave me some of the garlic-stuffed olives, people.

>

> http://blog.modernmechanix.com/eating-for-death/

CROW: I had death for lunch, can’t we have joi de vivre for supper?

MIKE: Who wants a bowl of hot, buttered MURDER?

TOM: And with that, everybody, good night and be merry!

MIKE: Happy.

TOM: Whichever.

CROW: Night, folks.

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Disclaimer: Mystery Science Theater 3000, its characters and situations and premise and all that, are the property of … uh … I was going to say Best Brains, but I guess it’s Shout! Factory and Consolidated Puppets? Or something? I’m not positive. Well, it’s theirs, and I’m just using it as long as they don’t notice. Bernarr Macfadden’s “Eating For Death” appeared in the _Physical Culture_ magazine from March 1922 and I believe it to be in the public domain. I ran across it from the Modern Mechanix blog linked above, and it’s a crying shame that’s gone defunct because it was so much fascinating reading. Supporting Snorks: Sad Wikipedia sub-section, or saddest Wikipdia sub-section?

> You can be a palpitating force, a veritable human
> dynamo, or you can be a half-alive mass of human
> flesh — not unlike the jelly-fish.

MiSTed: Eating For Death, Part 1 of 2


So I’m going to run another Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic here. This one’s short enough to do in two segments — it’s a bit long for a single piece — and it’s riffing on an article of dietary advice that the Modern Mechanix blog ran years ago. They used to run weird bits from the back issues of their magazines and it was such a delight. I wrote this somewhere around late 2015, if my notes are right. See if you can spot where I future-proofed a riff!


[ START. The Brains are in the theater. ]

>
> Eating for Death

TOM: My favorite _Columbo_ episode! Patrick McGoohan plays this world-famous chef being blackmailed and …

>
> By Bernarr Macfadden

CROW: Um …

TOM: Yeah, exactly which parts of that name are spelled wrong?

>
> _Physical Culture_, March 1922

MIKE: I forgot to renew my subscription!

>
> THE crime of the age is meal time eating — without
> appetite.

CROW: Also that Sacco and Vanzetti thing. But mostly eating.

TOM: Snacking is the misdemeanor of the age!

>
> It is the direct cause of more suffering,
> weakness and disease than any other evil.

CROW: Even more than not appreciating your parents?

>
> It poisons the life stream at its very source.

TOM: Its Snackables!

>
> “The blood is the life.”

MIKE: The spice is the life?

TOM: The blood is spiced?

> The quality of this
> liquid determines vital activity throughout every part of
> the body.

CROW: I think Bernarr Macfadden grossly underestimates the importance of acetylcholinesterase.

MIKE: You’re *always* accusing people of underestimating the importance of acetylcholinesterase.

CROW: I just think it’s very important is all.

>
> You can be a palpitating force, a veritable human
> dynamo,

TOM: You can be a large turtle-like artificial intelligence!

CROW: You can be a leading importer of cheese to Denmark!

MIKE: You can be several key innovations in the history of Timothy hay!

> or you can be a half-alive mass of human
> flesh — not unlike the jelly-fish.

CROW: Jellyfish are made of human flesh?

TOM: Ew ew ew ew ew ew *ew*.

> It is the quality of
> your blood that determines entirely to which class you
> belong.

CROW: Is this gonna be one of those stories where Bernarr Macfadden finds out his blood was replaced with a high-grade polymer and suddenly nobody will talk to him anymore?

>
> Eating without appetite means devitalized blood.

MIKE: Or that you’re putting more melted cheese on everything.

> The stomach is not ready to digest food at such times.

TOM: It’s off wandering around, taking in museums, reading good books, and then you throw a big slab of bean-and-cheese burrito at it.

>
> It is appetite — a strong craving for food —

CROW: A lesser craving for pottery shards.

> which
> definitely indicates that the stomach is ready for
> digestion.

TOM: Why not just wait for the stomach to call?

CROW: Yeah, like, ‘Hey, stomach here. I’m raring to digest!’

> The food eaten is then keenly enjoyed.

MIKE: Well, it is like 2016.

TOM: So?

MIKE: So who calls for *that*? That’s more like a tweet or a text message or something.

CROW: Excuse *us* for maintaining some dignified propriety, Mike.

>
> The pleasure in eating serves a very valuable
> purpose.

MIKE: It gives us a reason to go eat a second time, sometime.

> It not only causes an unusual activity of the
> salivary glands, but also of the glands of the stomach.

TOM: Glands! Is your stomach going through puberty?

CROW: It’s so awkward to have esophageal zits.

> So that when the food arrives in this organ, digestion
> and assimilation progress rapidly and satisfactorily.

MIKE: Though not without some sarcasm.

>
> Now when you eat without appetite, these
> invaluable functional processes are inactive or entirely
> absent

TOM: They take one sabbatical year and everything comes crashing down!

> and the food can do nothing but lie like lead in
> the stomach.

MIKE: Stop eating lead! There’s your problem.

>
> You say it won’t digest.

TOM: *You* say it won’t digest. We’re just nibbling some here.

> Why should it? No
> self-respecting stomach will allow itself to be outraged
> in this manner, without protest.

MIKE: My stomach’s wracked with depression and low self-esteem though.

CROW: Well, so you can eat any old time.

MIKE: Which … fits.

>
> Eat at meal time if you are hungry, but if the
> food has no taste respect the mandates of your stomach

MIKE: And sprinkle on the MSG powder.

> and wait until the next meal or until your appetite
> appears, even if it takes several meals or several days.

TOM: If you never eat again, then you may be losing weight.

[ To conclude … ]

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