In Which I Am Detained by a Childhood Memory


Sorry to run late but you know how it is. You step into the shower and remember that time Underdog had to fight some aliens who were part magician, part flying saucer, and who were kidnapping Sweet Polly Purebred because they couldn’t find anyone else in the galaxy who knew how to make cake, and they cast a spell on him and he spent two installments struggling and shaking off the spell only to recite, “I’m back to myself, but I’m not right at all; I feel myself changing back to a ball!” before turning into a sphere with his face on it and accidentally getting put into a women’s volleyball game or something like that. Throws your whole day off and you can’t even explain it to anyone outside your age cohort because there’s not a single element of those sentences that doesn’t sound like I’m the daft one, but there they are.

A Thought While Watching a Fiasco From Afar


I’m sorry to post late. I was busy thinking about just how much work they’ve got to be getting done at Tesla and SpaceX and all this month, with Elon Fudd being so busy managing Twitter instead. At this pace they might actually build a hyperloop subway or feed the world or something, as long as he stays distracted.

My Mind Is Weighted Down With Thoughts Like These


I apologize for running late, but my mind’s been weighed down all day with the idea that a couple years ago someone announced they were doing a new Golden Girls, even though everyone knew it would have to be awful and an enormous and sad failure. And then I don’t remember ever hearing anything about it again. I don’t think this really happened, but it feels so much like something that could have happened that I don’t feel safe shrugging it off either. But also I’m not bothered enough to go checking. Still, if anyone happens to be at Television Master Command, if you want to poke your head in and say, “Now don’t go doing a new Golden Girls and don’t use this as a prompt to start one!”

I’m Late Writing Up Mark Trail This Week, Sorry


Sorry for the delay but things ate up the time I’d have spent writing. It happens.

It’s all unrelated to this, but I wanted to say, you know, this may look funny but it’s actually dangerous. A flock of inflatable flamingoes can skeletonize a tenth-generation Honda Civic hatchback in under two minutes.

Photograph of a car parked in the driveway. Several inflatable flamingo pool rings are around: on the car's hood, on its windshield, on its roof, and a large one behind the car, another.
Did not know flamingos grew up to be double-decker bird toys.

In Which I Am Looking for a Peer Reviewer


I feel very good about my research, but I understand it means nothing without independent checking. If I’m calculating correctly, thanks to how Press Your Luck adds a “Lose One Whammy” square in the second round of play, it should be possible for a single game to see as many as 18 Whammy hits. So if you need something useful done, it appears I need the assignment. Otherwise, I’m going to be figuring optimal blocker-placement strategy for the short-lived game show Whew!.

In Which I Am Pondering The Making Of Something


Sorry to run late, but I’ve been stuck thinking about how I’ve seen anvils being used for their intended purposes, in historical re-creations of things people used to do. Making horseshoes, at historical villages in like five different states now. Squashing cartoons flat, of course, at the TerryToons Studio Historical Interpretation Center in New Rochelle. It was only Willie the Walrus but he’s technically a cartoon star.

So what’s important is I understand how to use an anvil to make a thing. You get metal really really hot and then hit it against the anvil and the metal comes out horseshoe-shaped. But then I’m stuck on how you make an anvil. If the need came up, I mean, but I suppose some folks might make an anvil recreationally. All I can figure is you have to heat up a lot of metal and beat it against a really huge set of horseshoes until it’s anvil-shaped.

But then you have to get the really huge set of horseshoes from somewhere. The only source for them has to be an even more enormous anvil. But then where do you get that even more enormous anvil from? Flattening a really really really really big Dinky Duck? That’s impossible. Dinky Duck was never that big. And yet there are anvils, so someone has to have solved the problem. How?

Sorry, I’m Stuck Thinking What I’d Use for My Passive-Aggressive Karaoke Fight


So that’s what’s got me late. I’m thinking about this in case I ever end up in a situation like Wilbur Weston’s. Except that in my case it would be different because I would feel wronged for actually legitimate reasons, unlike other people, such as him.

But there’s other problems. Like, at karaoke I can do a thing that satisfies most technical definitions of singing. But I can only sing one significant note, plus something that’s 75 to 85 percent of the way to a minor third above that note. There’s not a lot of songs written for that vocal range. It’s mostly “Mrs Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter”, except that I can’t control what the significant note will be. Also I know about four normal songs, like, ones that anyone has heard of. I could imagine getting someone pretty good with that old Frank Crumit song about being a guy who builds outhouses. But that’s not as on-point as you’d imagine. Plus it’s not going to be in most karaoke machines.

It might be less trouble to just talk sincerely to people I’m mad at.

Tempus Fugitive


Sorry to be late, but I’m still trying to process how it is the satellite radio playing “Monster Mash” at me the other day. This is the time of year the satellite radio should be playing “Alice’s Restaurant”. What is “Monster Mash” doing out of its season?

How 1989’s got me running late now


So a friend referred me to a short-lived but fun game show, Now You See It, from 1989. Not directly from 1989; it made some stopovers in getting to me. But in the middle of the show came this commercial for a cereal supposedly called “S.W.Graham” and, well, here. From about 12:56 in:

This … this is somebody’s prank, right? Somebody wanted to spoof some of John Nesbitt’s Passing Parade shorts from the 40s. And their friend with the camera wanted to spoof 80s music videos and the singing-three-quarters-view-in-front-of-stuff composition? And their friend who could write just heard about Sylvester Graham and could not shut up about his food wackiness, right? And they put that together and slipped it into the only known copy of this episode. That has to be what happened, right? Because I have been trying for ao long to think of another set of events that makes this plausible, and I can’t, and now I’m running late on everything.

And now with the flowers


I realize we have bigger climate issues, what with having destroyed the climate and all. But around here we just realized it’s a month later than we should have planted the daffodils and tulips. It’s just been so warm, you know? Anyway, they’re in the ground now, but it’s so embarrassing to realize our flowers are going to bloom a month later than everybody else’s now.

The Name’s The Same


The thing is, if your name has a numeral suffix? Like, you’re YY Flirch III? Unless you’re a monarch or a Pope or something you don’t expect to keep that suffix your whole life. When YY Flirch I or II dies, you ascend to being YY Flirch II yourself. If they both die, you get to be YY Flirch I. Again, this if you started out as YY Flirch. If you started out as H K Fleeber you have other concerns. The thing we know is that if you’re YY Flirch III and also alive, then there’s a YY Flirch I and YY Flirch II out there being alive.

Now to the specifics. Thurston Howell III implies that Thurston Howell II and Thurston Howell I are still alive in the Gilligan’s Island universe. And not just when the gang was shipwrecked on Gilligan’s Island. In the TV movies made in the late 70s/early 80s, he’s still Thurston Howell III. The last movie even introduced his son, Thurston Howell IV. (Jim Backus wasn’t healthy enough to film scenes where robot duplicates of the Harlem Globetrotters run around. Or whatever the heck was going on.) A 68-year-old man was able to portray someone whose name implies his father and grandfather were still alive.

Never mind, like, all those episodes where some radioactive vitamin makes the Island grow celery stalks 24 feet tall. What’s going on with the Howell family genetics?

And before you go suggesting maybe the Howell family played fast and loose with the rules about numbered suffixes to names, shut up. We’re talking about The Howells. Under no circumstances are the Howells, of freaking Newport, going to be improper about their suffixes. Maybe Thurston Howell V might. But not III.

I can only see one solution that doesn’t require the Howell men to be so long-lived that Gasoline Alley characters ask how they get that old. That’s to suppose that Thurston Howell III was named after someone not his father. An uncle, perhaps, who by the workings of chance might be only one or two years older than he is. And easier still if Thurston Howell II is also named for someone only a little older yet. Let’s infer another uncle that’s only a year older still. I realize this implies the family went from zero Thurstons to three Thurstons in short order. But perhaps in their part of Rhode Island in 1910 everyone went a little Thurston-mad.

So anyway you see why it was important I solve this and not important that I fix that silly web site button nobody else was even asking me about anyway, boss. Thanks.

Distracted by, you know, That Cartoon


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

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

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

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

In which I’m just having a hard time keeping up with it all


Again, I’m sorry. It’s just that WordPress has decided to force me to use some new, “Bad” model editor to enter these posts instead of letting me carry on using the Classic or “good” editor. And if that weren’t enough strain, TCM went and changed their web site so now it shows much less information, but is also slower about it. I haven’t wanted the new version of any web site since 2004 and I have never met anyone who did.

I’m sorry but had to be late today


I had to be, though. I’m taking part in the “Smallest, Pettiest, Most Simple Possible Task That You’ve Been Procrastinating Beyond All Reason Completion Challenge” and spent the day trying to work out if I should start tonight or if maybe tomorrow would be better. My schedule won’t be any clearer then, but it will be clogged up in different ways.

What lyrics have me late today


I’m sorry, I’ve been busy going to lyrics sites again and changing `dance` to `pants`, although I admit I’ve been trying to do better because I know everybody’s making pants jokes these days. But there’s limits to what fits there. It really looks like `hands` ought to fit, but only if you say it `hants` and you just don’t do that unless you think your audience will think they must have heard it wrong.

Seized by the thought of this momentous anniversary


I’m sorry I’m late. I got caught up in thinking how it was just 31 years ago tonight that I was sitting up watching, on TV, the coverage of the 20th Anniversary of Apollo 11. Gosh. You never see time moving, especially not this year, and yet there it goes nevertheless. You realize next year is going to be the 10th anniversary of the 20th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch? Just amazing.

What’s Got Me Late Today, Network Stars Edition


I’m sorry, but I was busy thinking how I might explain to my niblings why we as kids watched the Circus of the Stars. “What better chance,” the best I can think of goes, “will we have to see Heather McNair step out of her role as Roxanne Caldwell on the greatest TV show of all time ever, Automan, before it ends what will surely be a twelve-year network run followed by a series of smash movies?” They have never asked about Circus of the Network Stars and I have no reason to think they will. I expect if they have questions, then their relevant parents can handle the matter. But so much has caught me unprepared this year. I don’t want one more thing to.


So far as Wikipedia is aware Heather McNair never appeared on Circus of the Stars. Automan did not run for twelve years and inspired no movies, although I’m going ahead and guessing there’s a reboot of it that’s already in its third of eight-episode seasons on … uh … let’s say HBO BlortStar+, that sounds like a streaming service name.

Getting Into My Hair


So you can tell where I am in this cold: I am busy glaring very hard, every time I visit the bathroom, at our bottles of shampoo and conditioner. The natural order of things, where we use more shampoo than conditioner, has been out of line for a couple months now. The conditioner level’s been below the shampoo level for just ages. Like, we’re … all right, maybe only one-sixth through the current bottle of conditioner, but we only just opened the new bottle of shampoo, and I can’t figure what’s going on that we’re conditioning so much more suddenly. Or is it possible we’ve gotten so ahead on shampoo use that we’ve almost lapped the conditioner? Anyway, this is suddenly very important for me to go disapprove of every time I visit the bathroom. And also to explain to my boss why I haven’t got anything done this week.

Who I Think I’m Kidding


I will never realize that “very clever” is not the same thing as “funny”. Too much of my life is based on the assumption that it is.


Also, folks who are still thinking of the glory days of Apartment 3-G: The Daily Cartoonist recently ran a First-and-Last essay about the strip. This reprints the first and the final week of the comic strip. It also includes strips from each of the different artists credited on the comic, and tries to work out just who did uncredited work. It also includes pictures from the time in the 70s when the comic was renamed The Girls In Apartment 3-G. That name change reflected the brief era when the comic focused on the lives and adventures of the people inhabiting the apartment, rather than being all about what it is to live as a portion of Manhattan real estate. The change was short-lived.

Lampy, we remember you.

But What Does Make Sense For Major Charles Winchester


Since my brain is unwilling to let this go: if he had his family back home send crates of Charles Chips. I am making this joke because I feel like being a seven-year-old who has noticed a word appearing in more than one place and I am going to stand a little too close to you and smile, showing slightly too many teeth, until you agree this is very clever, which I will realize much later is not the same thing as ‘funny’. Yeah, delivery potato chips would be pretty well smashed up by the time they got to Korea but hey, some people like that. You can spackle them together with dip and make a barely edible wad of material that’s sweet, salty, and has lots of sharp edges. That’s definitely in character for Major Winchester.

My Brain Continues to Work Really Well on the Important Things


I mean, I guess it’s reasonable Major Winchester would have some sparkling water ahead of urgent need. We never saw it, but that doesn’t mean anything, especially for sitcoms in the 70s. Fine. But then how much is his family supposed to have shipped out? And just how freaking good is this sparkling water that it’s worth shipping to Korea, compared to the club soda they have in the officer’s club that he’s drinking all the time anyway? If he had a stockpile big enough to take multiple showers with, where was it? Under his bunk? How long did he spend opening and pouring bottles into the shower tank so he could have his? This is the high priority stuff.

Clearly My Brain Has Its Priorities Straight


What I need to do: work, for work; cleaning out the mess in the guest room; think of any concept that I could write into 700 words for tomorrow’s long-form essay; re-read three month’s worth of The Phantom for Sunday’s essay.

What I am doing: so there was this one episode of M*A*S*H where the supply trucks are cut off and the camp can’t get any water, particularly. So everybody gets a lot dirtier and smellier and crankier about it. Except Major Winchester, who stays sparkling clean. It turns out not that he’s using the strictly-patients-only water. He’s using his own stock of club soda. Well, sparkling mineral water. Anyway, yeah, first, would that even work. But anyway I’m busy thinking about what a fool I was to just sit and accept this premise for decades without asking how it is Major Winchester can get his family to mail enough sparkling water to shower in, regularly, in circumstances where nobody can get regular water delivered.

What’s got me late and vaguely offended today


My love and I discovered the existence of a town named Oxford, Michigan, and wondered why it had that name. The obvious reason would be it hosted a college, but we couldn’t find one. Maybe a chautauqua? Not that we could find. From the map it looked like it was a lot of swampland, even by Michigan standards, so I said, maybe it’s where they used to have oxes ford the river? And then I remembered I had a book, Michigan Place Names. It says the name was given by Otis C Thompson “since nearly all the settlers had ox-teams and would probably hold on to them for some time”, which is close enough that I feel like the world is undercutting my jokes about the world and I’m very busy with my sulking now.

I’m late because there was a John Candy comic book, that’s why


Yeah, I’d like to get a thing done today but a friend made me aware there was a comic book based on John Candy’s remembered animated series Camp Candy in the late 80s. And … just … like, I know they used to make comic books for just everybody, like Bob Hope or Jerry Lewis or … I’m going to guess Gene Autrey. But this? I had no idea and so that’s why I spent the whole day lying down and trying to figure this all out.

Camp Candy comic book, showing a frightened Counsellor Candy looking over a no less alarmed skunk. Candy says to the campers, 'Freeze, gang! As long as we don't ANTAGONIZE it ... '
Comic Vine’s Wiki has the covers to all the issues. It has summaries of the stories for half the books, too, for example the one where “a lovestruck moose invades the camp and causes problems for everyone”.

I’m Sorry But This Toilet Paper Roll Is Distracting Me


Yeah, I apologize for not getting things done on time today but I want to know the story of this lone non-conformist toilet paper roll and I think you do too. It’ll be a heartwarming children’s book about being true to yourself that will escape being turned into a CGI-animated movie on the grounds that nobody can work out how to make toys of the characters that won’t end in sad conversations.

Sealed twelve-pack roll of toilet paper, with one roll, top center, perpendicular to all the rest.
Yes, this is 12 Mega Rolls, which if I understand toilet paper mathematics correctly is the equivalent of 47 Ultra Rolls, which is the same as 92 Hyper Rolls, three guineas, two shillings and sixpence, which is the equivalent of when the bathroom’s steamed up from the shower walking into a ten-foot cube of paper foam.

The trivial reason I’m running late today


I got to reading some trivia about Incredibles 2 and came to this remarkable revelation:

This movie and The Incredibles (2004) were released in the same year of the death of a voice actor of one of the iconic characters in Beauty and the Beast (1991). The Incredibles (2004) was released in the same year of the death of Jerry Orbach, and this movie was released in the same year of the death of David Ogden Stiers. Both Incredibles films were also released the same year of the death of a member of the heavy metal band Pantera. Incredibles was released the same year Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell was murdered and Incredibles 2 was released the same year Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul died of a heart attack

So who doesn’t need to lie down and rest a while after having trivia like that sitting on their head?

Everything There Is To Say About Procrastination


Procrastination is a way to turn things we need to do into things we feel lousy about not doing. Procrastination surrounds us and envelops us. Logic tells us there has to have been a time people just knew their cars had back seats, for example. They wouldn’t have felt like they should Do Something about them.

Everyone procrastinates, to some degree. Oh, you encounter people who insist they never do. They’ll give you advice on how to not procrastinate, too. “If you know something will take less than two minutes to do, just stop and do it right then,” they’ll say. These are miserable people. They’re trapped behind their reputation for efficiency and accomplishment. They’re hoping for release. By release they mean “get stuffed into a plastic bin in a storage locker someone means to organize someday”. Nobody will ever get around to doing them this mercy. You know if you die at e-mail inbox zero you don’t get to hang around as a ghost. You’re just gone.

It would be interesting to know why we procrastinate. It seems counterproductive. Without procrastination, we’d just have, say, coffee tables. With it, we turn those coffee tables into balls of explosive guilt. “I have to get some sleep before that big presentation at work location tomorrow! I only have four hours! Why am I thinking about how the coffee table still has the wristbands from the county fair and that three-month-old free weekly newspaper on it in untidy piles?” This is all right. You haven’t started writing that presentation anyway. It’ll definitely help if you lie awake two and a half more hours cursing yourself for not Doing Something about the coffee table. In this way we have a cluttered table, a lousy night’s sleep, and a work presentation so bad they tell you that you never have to present anything again, ever. So it’s not all bad. You at least become legend. They talk for years about how the quarterly presentation slide went. But we can’t expect such good results every time.

I guess the trouble is that to get something done, we have to do it. And that would be great. There’s few things in the world that feel better than having a thing done. Having a barber shave the back of your neck with a straight razor, that’s about the only better thing. But getting a thing done just means that you get something else to do. Nobody knows where these things come from. The universe just slots some new task right in front of you, just as you’re enjoying being done and how that hot shaving lotion feels. So what if you never do that thing? Then you have the same outcome: you’ve still got a thing to do in front of you. And you’ve saved the effort of having to do it. And all you lose is the feeling of joy that you’ve accomplished a thing. It just costs you turning everything in your life into something that makes you feel bad. I should probably make a better guess. This won’t work.

To procrastinate is easy and you can do it most anytime. You will need:

1. A thing to do.
2. Absolutely anything else in the universe to exist.

To procrastinate, remind yourself that there is this thing to do. Then let anything else exist, right in front of you. Then just do what comes naturally. This will be any other thing. Some readers may think this sounds a lot like Robert Benchley’s Principle, “anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment”. This was explained in his classic essay “How To Get Things Done”. You should definitely read it, by which I mean, you should mean to get around to reading it. You can find it on the Internet.

The Internet is a great way to remind you that things exist. Also that most of them are terrible. This gets you a head start on feeling guilty about this all. You shouldn’t go out looking for things to feel terrible about, because that could crash the whole scheme of procrastination. We’d have to replace this weirdly miserable, faintly self-destructive habit with something else. And whatever we come up with would be worse. You’ve met people. You know that’s true.

If you do need to get something done, without losing the guilt and shame attached to procrastinating, there are compromises. You could, for example, get something mostly done, but quit doing it while there’s some small but noticeable piece undone. This way you never have to

Today’s Excuse For Why I’m Running Late On Everything


I’m very sorry but I have been caught up with the momentousness of ordinary days. Like, particularly: there was one day that one person chose to promote the idea that the decaffeinated coffee should be in the pot with the orange handle. And that every place, ever, that has followed that convention is ultimately following that person’s lead. Think, then, of the day that person picked orange handles. Did they have any idea that this was the day they were going to crush the idea of a green handle, or a handle with one red stripe instead, or any of the other many ways that the information could be conveyed? Did they have rivals whose hopes for alternate conventions were crushed? Did their rivals know right away that their ideas were doomed? Was the orange-handle idea promulgated at a morning or an afternoon meeting? With whom? What did that person have for breakfast?

My guess is tea.

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