Ninja Turtles Under Attack


So we were at Meijer’s trying hard to think of what we went to Meijer’s to buy. We succeeded as far as we know. The store had some toys in those little mid-aisle displays that make it harder to get around the aisle. This one was of those giant Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures. Well, I guess they’re not giant. They are like four feet tall and I think that’s about life-size for the Ninja Turtles. The 1980s Ninja Turtles anyway, that I’m kind of sure-ish about. They’re way giant compared to any toys.

We were walking past and this kid ran out of Seasonals, punched a Michaelangelo right in the stomach, and then ran off before the Ninja Turtle could retaliate.

It all seemed mysterious. And quite unfair. Who sucker-punches a Ninja Turtle? I mean a Ninja Turtle other than Raphael. There must be some story we’re not getting behind this.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

So the main Another Blog, Meanwhile Index dropped seven whole points in scattered trading interrupted by thunderstorms. Analysts say this isn’t going to affect their long-term plans because they just “had a feeling” something like this was going to happen, what with the way the dog was walking funny and tried to eat the flameless votive candle off the coffee table. So they say. I say they were just as surprised as everyone else including the dog was.

83

Advertisements

The Big Picture


I’ve been reading Peter Buse’s The Camera Does The Rest: How Polaroid Changed Photography. It’s the kind of pop history I like, full of nice crunchy little facts sprinkled into paragraphs about the cultural context and implications of making pictures easy. And then quotes from old Polaroid sales copy about how they should encourage customers to make friends at the beach by taking pictures of strangers and giving them the prints. I think that’s a fine idea sure to work right up to the point you get punched. But until then it’s going to do great. Granted most stuff works great if you omit the part where you get punched.

Buse also reveals to me that in the 70s Polaroid made a version of its self-developing film big enough to make prints 20 inches by 24 inches big. The camera weighed over 230 pounds. The film rolls were 150 feet long. And I’m a little sad I can’t talk about this without it sounding like a bit. I can imagine a comedy podcast having the inspiration of “really, really big Polaroid camera” and making five minutes of jokes about it. It’s almost certainly The Flop House. You couldn’t just wheel the camera around and take snapshots, you had to make an appointment to use it. See? Literal facts about it sound like some Bob Newhart thing. Ansel Adams took Jimmy Carter’s portrait in office using it. Again, it sounds like I am being all goofy.

So let me reassure you this isn’t a fun bit of whimsy by pointing out, thanks to a friend, the 20 x 24 Studio’s official web site. It’s got explanations of the camera system and why it’s there and what it’s like and also that it’s closing down in 2017 because it’s so hard to get really large Polaroid film stock anymore. And now I will receive your thanks for bringing to your attention this imagination-capturing whimsy alongside the news that it’s even more imminently doomed than most of us area.

Starry-Eyed Punching


First, I did another comic strips thing on my mathematics blog. Yes, there’s Jumble in it, don’t worry.

Now, something I realized recently about the mirror-universe episode of the original Star Trek. You know, it’s the one everybody does evil-twin universe episodes about. It’s a subtle thing. The episode starts with Kirk meeting the leaders of the Planet of the Week, right before it Ion Rains. Later, Kirk in the Mirror-Universe hails the Weekian leader. And it’s a small thing but the Weekian leader’s disheveled, and he’s got black eyes. He’s been roughed up. Presumably, by Mirror-Universe Kirk.

The Weekian leader on the Mirror Viewscreen, where he's looked better.
I know, I couldn’t find a screen capture that made his black eyes more obvious. I might punch my DVD.

It’s one of those little things you can watch the episode a dozen times before noticing. It’s a great little touch showing how brutal the Mirror Universe is.

And then what I finally realized: wait, so the Empire is diddling around sending starships all over the Mirror Galaxy to non-compliant planets so Mirror Kirk can beam down and punch people until they behave? That seems like a poor use of resources. But then I also realized: that’s pretty much what the Federation and the good-universe Star Trek is about too. It’s mostly Kirk punching the Weekian leaders until they stop screwing up their planets. The Good Universe Kirk is mostly fighting for the dignity of individuals, but that does come down to a lot of fist fights.

They did other kinds of episodes, so it’s not like I’m saying the show should be renamed Space Punching. But I have got to re-watch the show with this insight in mind.

On The Convenience Store Shelves


So there sitting on the bottom row of the convenience store cooler, beside the Towne Club flavors, was something new to my experience. Snap Punch. I didn’t get it, what with their having Diet Ruby Red Squirt. But if I read the label right, they’re offering the decent yet slightly watery taste of Snapple, plus interesting and I guess true enough facts like “Beavers were once the size of bears”, topped off with way more hitting. So we’d get to ponder things like, “Wait, does this mean beavers used to be a lot larger, or did bears used to be smaller? Ow! OW! Quit that! OWWW!” It’s a weird business model, but you never really know what’s going to work until you try it.

Statistics Saturday: Room Temperature Versus Time for Programmable and Non-Programmable Thermostats


The gradual rise and fall of a room temperature when subjected to a non-programmable thermostat.
Apparently whoever uses this room works from home so don’t need to turn the thermostat down during the day.
The random fluttering of room temperatures with a programmable thermostat. Includes 11 emergency thermostat interventions and five cases when the thermostat was just punched.
When it gets to 76 degrees, SELL!

I think you’ve been in that second graph’s hotel room, too.

After Our Rabbit’s Holiday


“So you’ve been a bit of a terror, by reports,” I said to our pet rabbit. He was looking at the open pet carrier, and considering whether to punch it.

“They were desperate times,” he finally pronounced.

“They were times at your vacation cottage.” This would be my love’s parents’ house. They watch our pet rabbit when we have to be away more than a day. Our pet rabbit can’t be left unattended that long, because he’ll run up long-distance telephone calls. The funny thing is they’re not even calls that would make sense, like ordering stacks of particularly tasty hay. It’s like he just gets carried away with the fun of dialing. In many ways our pet rabbit is a little kid, except that he doesn’t give us colds or tell us complicated and rambling stories about what happened in school.

“There were dogs chasing me!”

“I know those dogs. They’re four years older than the letter `W’.”

“So they’ve had time to practice their fiendish ways!”

“They don’t have fiendish ways. They’re barely up to falling down anymore.” He sneezed, because somehow our pet rabbit sneezes, and then turned that into a snort. “They haven’t even been growling at me because they can’t work up the energy for that anymore.” And this is true. When I first started visiting my love’s parents, the dogs would take turns barking furiously at me, because they were afraid that if they didn’t, I might go on existing. Eventually they would settle down, only for one or the other to suddenly realize that I was still a thing that existed, so they had to go through it all over again. Since then, sadly, the dogs have gotten more frail. They’ll wander up to me and mutter a half-articulated hwurmf. I tell them that’s very good barking and then they collapse on the floor where they are. I’d pat their heads if that didn’t seem like taunting.

Our rabbit put his paws together and shoved on the front of his carrier, a traditional rabbit way of expressing the concept “I want this shoved over there a little”. It works better on hay and towels and light vegetables. I picked him up by his hind legs and shoved him in the carrier, a traditional rabbit-keeper way of expressing the concept “if you won’t go in I’ll just put you in”. He turned around and punched the carrier’s bars.

Finally he said, “I can scare dogs away.”

“You can scare those dogs away. They’re very timid dogs.”

“I didn’t even have to bite and the bigger one ran away!” The dogs are the same size, but perhaps there are rabbit ways of classifying dogs I don’t understand.

“That dog’s been scared away by clouds. You’re not saying you’re just as ferocious as a cloud, are you?”

“Bring me a cloud and I’ll see who scares who!”

“You’re figuring to make a cloud quiver its knees? What has got into you?”

“I had to spend forever fending off dogs!”

It struck me: the “larger” dog came up to the edge of our rabbit’s pen before running away, while the “smaller” one was too afraid of the interloper to get that close. By “running” I mean “kind of shambling about in a way that isn’t technically falling over most of the time”.

“Luckily,” he said, “I know what to do with dogs.”

“You know what to do with those dogs. You’re an expert at existing.”

“I spent my whole life getting ready to exist!”

Our pet rabbit, partly standing --- paw resting on his exercise pen's frame --- while he nibbles at a tree branch.
Our pet rabbit, existing, with panache.

“You could be in trouble if you had to face other dogs, you know.”

He almost stopped wriggling his nose a moment. “What other dogs?”

“You know there’s more than two dogs in the world.”

“No, I heard them both.”

“Did you ever notice the dogs going over to the window and barking like crazy, then stopping and hiding from the window?”

He nodded, which is the sort of thing that involves a lot of ear-flapping. “When they forgot where I was!”

“No, that’s when they saw there was another dog walking past, outside. They stopped when the other dog noticed them.”

He pushed the carrier door with one paw, letting his fingers melt through the bars. “So there are … 98 dogs in the world?”

“More than that, even. Some dogs they didn’t notice.” I figured it not worth mentioning some of the dogs were walked past the house several times, mostly on different days.

He sniffed. “More than 98 dogs seems like too many. Let’s get home.”

I don’t agree with him on the dog count, but getting home was what I hoped for too.

Making Myself Not Understood


I was at Taco Bell, which is a tiny bit interesting because until about two years ago I’d never eaten at one. It isn’t like I have anything particular against Taco Bell, even though their corporate overlords used to have the supervillain-corporate name of Tricon Global, and now have the faintly-Orwellian menace name of Yum! Brands, Inc. I just never got around to it before. I probably should have. I sincerely like their extruded burritos. But I’ve always liked extruded things.

What I want to get at is that besides the seven-extruded burrito and a cheese quesadilla I ordered a pop. I did this because I was thirsty and this was Michigan. One thing I’ve known since childhood about the midwest was that “soda” was called “pop” there. This I heard before the 90s, when everybody got on the Internet and started discussing how they call the same things by different names and how other places than home pronounce words wrong. (That was all anyone talked about online all 1997.) When I moved to Michigan, I found this “pop” thing was true. But the guy working the register didn’t understand me. I said a regular pop, and please, and still didn’t get my point across. So I gave up and said “soda” and that was fine.

Thing is, this keeps happening to me. Or at least around me. I ask for pop from people who should be used to people asking for pop, and they don’t know what to make of that. I’d understand confusion if I asked for pop from someone that would be unusual, such as in New Jersey, at a furniture store, from the guy the building code office sent to check on a crack in a load-bearing pillow. I couldn’t complain much if the guy chose to slug me. But why is this confusing?

I have to figure the problem is my accent. I come from New Jersey, and I’m not more defensive about that than average, and I must just say words like “pop” in ways they don’t understand. I don’t have a very strong New Jersey accent. I routinely surprise people when they hear where I’m from. “You don’t sound like you’re from New Jersey,” is the sort of thing I get. “I’d have guessed you were from … ” and then they’re not able to pin down just where they were thinking I was from, and they knock over a pyramid of soda cans and run away in the confusion.

I know what people expect from a New Jersey accent. It’s a bit loud and fast, with touches of 1940s Movie Brooklyn in it. College football is unpronounced. The average sentence will have something that has to get beeped out. Instead of clearly pronouncing the “-ing” at the end of words, speakers punch something. Maybe a person, maybe a tree, maybe the shoreline, maybe the abstract concept of justice, maybe a vending machine. Just something that’s available. The New Jersey accent is a crossing of the basic Atlantic Midlands dialect with swerving across four lanes of heavy traffic to cut someone off. I haven’t got a strong accent, because I’m too shy to punch an extruded burrito in a Taco Bell in Michigan. Most of my accent expresses itself in referring to Bruce Springsteen as if we were on a first-name basis, taking a surprising amount of guff for talking about people in queues being “on line”, and in getting into tiresome arguments about how people in other states are forced to pump their own gas. Also I expect to be able to order pork roll, although not at Taco Bell. I like to think my natural speech is a good bit rhotic, but I have no idea what that means. I might just want to be rhotic for the attention.

Except that doesn’t make sense because I hate drawing attention to myself. I feel like I’m taking too much of the cashier’s attention just by ordering my food. Going back around and explaining that by a pop I mean a soda, which is how he would have said pop is just horrible. I want to curl up in a ball underneath the plastic packs of chili sauce and go unnoticed, except they’d probably catch me when I snuck off to the bathroom. Except what would I have to go to the bathroom for if I can’t get a pop to drink?

Caption This: From the first season of Star Trek Enterprise


Two Andorians hold phase pistols on the regulars while T'Pol's head pops up into view.
In the episode The Andorian Incident, the crazy paranoid overly suspicious Andorians think there’s a secret spy base inside a Vulcan Space Monastery. They’re right, but can only prove this by the traditional method of getting anything done on Star Trek: Enterprise, which is punching Captain Archer over and over and over. Which is fine with everyone.

What really enraged the Andorians was the relentless Vulcan campaign of photobombing.


(I’m interested what other folks might make of this, especially given that lovely woodwork in the Vulcan Space Monastery.)

Caption This: With Spock On Romulus


Spock busy looking way too dignified to be in this episode, and staring at a Romulan who's just got the most unfortunate grin on his face.
Ambassador Spock, Romulan Senator Pardek, and somebody wearing a shower curtain standing around the Who Would Buy This aisle at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Romulan Guy In The Middle: “Ambassador Spock, may I at last present you with the face I have brought you halfway across the galaxy to punch.”

Spock: “I regard punching this face as a solemn duty and a service to the galaxy.”


Yeah, it’s a quick little thing, but in my defense, I’m tired after writing about another bunch of comic strips that mention mathematical themes, in which I explain how they’re doing things that are perfectly funny if you understand them well enough. Also, hey, I reached 15,000 page views over the past day, which is a nice fairly round number. Hi, gang.

The Secret Life Of Ray Davies


My love and I were in the bookstore and leafed through Ray Davies’s book Americana: The Kinks, The Riff, The Road: The Story, and ran across a delightful little point. Apparently, in the mid-70s, when The Kinks had gotten really into doing complex stage shows performing their concept albums about the shifting mores and quiet existential despair of the British middle classes, Ray Davies would routinely choose to go to parties afterwards. But he didn’t want to be recognized and hassled throughout the parties, and I am sympathetic to this. I wouldn’t go to parties either if people kept asking me to sing “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”, though neither would they if they ever heard me singing. So for a while there he would go unrecognized at after-show parties by wearing the mask he’d been wearing during the show.

I’m delighted to learn that during his most energetic, hard-rocking, hard-partying days at the touring peak of his career, Ray Davies was apparently also a seven-year-old boy sneaking into the cinemas wearing a long trenchcoat and sitting on Dave Davies’s shoulders. Of course, based on the book, the costume apparently worked and he didn’t get people saying they recognized him, possibly because none of the partygoers wanted to be punched by Ray Davies. I’m also sympathetic to this. One of my goals in life is to get through it without being punched by Ray Davies, and that’s going pretty well so far; how about you?

Statistics Saturday: What’s Being Talked About On The New-Trek Movies Forum


Topic How Much Is About This
When are they going to make a new reboot already? 7.8%
Shouldn’t somebody go back in time and un-explode Vulcan? 5.8%
What are you calling a reboot? 7.1%
Just making fun of the New Klingons 12.5%
So is Data’s head still in San Francisco? 2.9%
Somebody joking about how engineering now looks like it’s a brewery and then finding out they actually did use a brewery for the set 10.2%
Kirk isn’t getting punched enough for the way he acts 7.6%
What is the precise definition of a “reboot” anyway? 2.0%
The starships they all so big, so so big 7.1%
Yeah, well, you’re a reboot 7.3%
Why couldn’t they cast somebody non-white as Ricardo Montalban? 10.7%
What, so whites can’t play Ricardo Montalban anymore? 11.8%
Does Chekov have siblings in the new timeline? 7.0%
Those aliens Kirk saves at the start of Into Darkness? So what happened to them in the original timeline where Kirk probably wasn’t in charge of the Enterprise yet and they probably weren’t anywhere near when the planet was going to explode? Hey, maybe I should go ask.