## MiSTed: Reboot: Breaking the Barriers (Part 16 of 16)

And now, finally, the end of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fanfic “Breaking The Barriers”. And my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic treatment of it. You can find the whole of my MiSTing here, at last.

The story so far: young author Carrie L— had a portal open between her home and the world of pioneering computer-animated series Reboot. She’s met Bob, the guardian of Mainframe, and the various other important characters, hero and villain. The evil Megabyte’s come to Canada’s mall, turned into a vampire, and bitten Carrie. Then they all went back and got her fixed up again. And now she hopes to get safely home again.

The “indirect-addressing jump opcode bug” is a thing from assembly-language code on the 6502 chip, used in all the cheap home computers of the 80s. It’s about making references to something stored at the end of a page of memory. This annoyed programmers in like 1984 and I don’t think you need to worry about it now. Crow’s Price is Right dream is one that I actually had and thought noteworthy enough to save for some later use. The “times change, and newspapers evolve” is another thing from the undergraduate left-wing student newspaper I was on. I think it started as a sincere statement about how groups must continuously work on their self-improvement. But we also recognized it, and treated it, as the sort of earnest yet pompous reason everyone treated us like that. They ignored us.

>
> * * * * * * * *
> * *

TOM: Even the dumb mice can solve this maze.

>
> Part Twenty-Seven

CROW: Three to the third.

>
> Carrie sat up straight. *Where am I?* she thought.

JOEL: Halfway between H and J.

> Then her
> eyes adjusted to the light. *I’m back home!!* She looked around.
> She was in her room, on her bed.

TOM: It’s a good thing she didn’t get slurped up into a laptop and back.

> *How long have I been asleep?* she
> wondered. Then it clicked.

TOM: I’ve *never* been awake!

> "No!" she whispered, "It couldn’t have
> been a dream! It was so life-like!"

JOEL: Maybe it was just another holodeck episode?

> She flopped back down, upset and
> depressed at the thought that all her wonderful adventures were merely
> a figment of her overactive imagination.

TOM: What’re the odds?

> Suddenly, someone knocked on
> her door.

CROW: Pirates!

>
> "Come in." she moaned.

JOEL: It’s somebody looking for Captain Picard.

> Her mother opened the door. "Carrie,
> Robert’s at the door looking for you."

> Sighing, Carrie got up and
> went upstairs to see her best friend.

TOM: This is going to make Robert feel good.

> "Hi!" he said. "Hi." Carrie
> sighed, staring at the floor. "What’s wrong with you?" he asked. "Oh,
> nothing." Carrie moaned.

JOEL: [ As Bob ] Hey, you’re never gonna believe this, but last night I was fiddling on the computer and I got pulled into the world of Automan!

> Then she looked up. Surprise registered on
> her face. Behind her best friend stood someone who bore a striking
> resemblance to Guardian Bob in his human form. Robert smiled.

CROW: Do you think Robert Guardien is a person in Carrie’s real life?

> "Carrie, I’d like you to meet Bob. He just moved into the apartment
> across from mine last night."

JOEL: And if the landlord ever finds out will *he* be in trouble.

> Carrie stood there, speechless. Bob
> smiled. "Uh…We’ve met already." He whispered. Finally, Carrie
> snapped out of it. She ran forward and hugged Bob warmly.

TOM: Robert begins to suspect they went to school together or something.

> "See," he
> breathed, "I told you I’d see you again." Carrie looked up into his
> eyes. "But why…." Bob silenced her with a quick kiss.

JOEL: I decided it’d be the cruelest thing I could do to Dot.

> "I’m just
> taking some time off." he said. "I got a friend to look after
> Mainframe for a bit."

TOM: Now, if a nanosecond is to them like one second is to us, then every minute Bob spends in our world is, like, nineteen hundred years in theirs.

> Carrie looked at him confused. "A friend?" she

CROW: I didn’t know you had friends!

> "Yeah. His name is Symble,

TOM: Actually, over half his names are Symble…

> and he’s a great
> guy!"
>
> THE END?

JOEL: Uh … yes?

TOM: No! No, it’s not.

CROW: I’m going to write in "Beethoven."

>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

JOEL: I could watch the ocean all day.

>
> Ok! So it isn’t a really great ending,

TOM: It’s an ending, dear, and that’s all we ever want from experiments.

CROW: And we only get one about half the time.

> but it’s the only way I
> could come up with to get poor Carrie out of the mess I had her in and
> still let her be happy. If anybody has a better ending, I’d love to
> hear it.

CROW: How about simply accepting not every pleasant fling is meant to be a lifetime relationship?

JOEL: But they shared so much with Mainframe and Canada and all.

> I know that in the end the characters ended up probably
> being out of character, but, Hey!

TOM: It was the only way they could beat the Kobayashi Maru.

> I was really tapped on how to solve
> Carrie’s problem!!

JOEL: Just peek in the back of the book and work it out from there.

> [Without just having her sit up in bed and have it
> all be a dream, ’cause that ending really rots!! : ) ]

CROW: What if it turned out there was no monster?

> If anyone has
> a real major problem with it, just tell Max and she’ll tell me.

TOM: I have never known anybody named Max.

> Don’t
> worry, I don’t get mad about things like that. Critisim does more
> good than harm most of the time anyway.

JOEL: That’s what they all say …

ALL: At first.

> Hope you did like it, even
> though it is kinda weird.
>
> This story was taken from a recurring dream I always seem to
> have after going through my collection of fan fics.

CROW: Please. Don’t commit acts of fan fiction. And if you must commit fan fiction, don’t sleep.

> I never dream the
> ending though. Which makes me mad, but, can’t do anything about it.

TOM: Didn’t A.E. Van Vogt have the same technique?

JOEL: And he’s Canadian too! We’re on to something here.

> I had to make up my own ending ’cause my dreams end even before Carrie
> goes to see Hex!!

CROW: She should set her alarm for about ten minutes later.

> The last part of that dream is when Carrie passes
> out after she attempts to stop the delete command heading for
> Megabyte.

JOEL: Except this one time where they stumbled into Square One Television.

> Everything after that is all my daytime thoughts on how to
> get her out of that mess!!

TOM: That didn’t play like most of the daytime television I’ve seen.

JOEL: Not enough chair-throwing.

> [And besides! Who out there didn’t want
> to see her get together with Bob anyway!?! I know I wanted her to get
> the guy!!

CROW: Or Bob. Whoever.

> ; ) ]

JOEL: Hey, check it out, a double-chinned smiley.

TOM: A happy Marlon Brando winks.

>
> Hope you liked it!!!
>
> Later, sugah!!

CROW: Uh-huh-uh-huh-uh-huh … now, honey honey!

>
> ‘Mouse’ ; )
> (A.K.A. Carrie)

JOEL: Mouse, the sprite named Carrie.

TOM: Versus Carrie, the mouse named Sprite.

CROW: And Sprite, the carry named Mouse.

JOEL: [ Picking up TOM ] Thank you, Carrie, for making us laugh about the indirect-addressing jump opcode bug …. again.

[ They leave. ]

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

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. JOEL is counting up cash totals. GYPSY, CROW, and TOM are anxiously waiting for the winner. ]

CROW: Before today, I really hadn’t thought about ReBoot much. I’d never thought people would dream themselves into it.

TOM: It’s understandable. Many’s the time I woke up to realize I had just imagined myself the dashing leader of the Autobots.

CROW: Yeah, right. I betcha he really dreams of being Leader One.

TOM: [ As JOEL giggles ] Hey!

JOEL: And Gypsy I bet —

GYPSY, JOEL: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

JOEL: [ Looking up ] Now and then I picture myself as host of "Saturday Night Live" … I’m standing there on stage, giving the monologue … one of the cast members just stood up as an audience member and asked a question and I’m staring out into the cameras and wading through the dead silence and I start walking out and feeling despair over what’s become of the show.

TOM: We all feel that. Now I remember one particularly vivid night I dreamed I was standing on a beach with Shaggy and Scooby-Doo as the tide was rolling in … I wanted to climb up the rocks and get away from the water, but none of us could move as the water rose ever-higher … and I kinda liked it that way.

GYPSY: Sometimes I dream I’m Popeye. But Crow is Olive Oyl.

TOM: Hah hah!

[ JOEL grins. ]

CROW: Hey!

MAGIC VOICE: My favorite dreams are when I’m narrating Bullwinkle.

JOEL: Fess up, Crow, what’s yours?

CROW: I’m alone in this open curved cement walkway. Suddenly I turn around and there’s a studio audience and a refrigerator. Bob Barker is standing there and he opens the fridge. It’s almost all full of men’s shirts inside plastic boxes, but there are a couple misshapen oranges and limes that look like bananas there. He explains he’s giving me a target price and I have to pick out something in there that’s under that price. The target price is 14 dollars, 95 cents … and I look hard at the shirts and the oranges and the limes and I see there’s a label pasted on the fruits, 35 cents each.

So I ask, I just pick out any single thing that’s less than 14.95, and he says yes, and I look again and the price tags are still on and it makes no sense. I start to ask again but the audience is booing me and I pick the lemon. Bob asks me to repeat it and I do and the audience boos louder. He asks if I really want it and I nod and the audience boos and he tells them they should let me make my pick whatever it is, and he asks one last time if I want to change my mind.But I don’t, and he reveals the price card, and the lime is 35 cents and the music starts up like I’ve won and the audience is mad and Bob waves for it all to stop and says now we play the super round if I want, and I start to say yes but the audience boos so loud I say no, and that just makes them boo *louder*. Bob gives me another chance but I just want to get out as soon as I possibly can.

JOEL: Wow.

GYPSY: Creepy.

TOM: I like Carrie L—‘s TV show dreams better.

JOEL: Me too.

CROW: Yeah. But in the Showcase Showdown my bid’s only four dollars low and I win both showcases, so mine’s cool too.

GYPSY: So who wins the game?

JOEL: [ Tapping the pad ] By forty dollars and the Atlantic City edition of Monopoly —

ALL: [ Quickly, facing the camera for just the word ] Huh?

JOEL: … Cambot!

TOM: [ As CAMBOT nods ] Fix!

JOEL: Can’t please everybody. What do you think, sirs?

[ JOEL taps MADS SIGN. ]

[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK are still stuck back-to-back. ]

FRANK: What if we just took off our shirts?

DR. F: One of my life’s goals is to never see you shirtless.

FRANK: What if you took yours off?

DR. F: Another is that you never see me shirtless.

FRANK: This is just like a dream I had about The Odd Couple.

DR. F: I’ve never dreamed myself into anything besides 60 Minutes.

FRANK: If we get a little cereal residue in a water pistol, I bet we could make a tractor beam out of Cheerios!

DR. F: It’s time, Frank.

[ DR. FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK shuffle around backwards. Then DR. FORRESTER starts jumping backwards, not making TV’s FRANK move in the least. ]

DR. F: [ As he jumps back ] Come … on! Push … the … button!

FRANK: Oh!

[ TV’s FRANK leans forward, as DR. FORRESTER jumps back and rolls off, towards the camera and into another table and … ]

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its characters and situations are the creation of Best Brains, Inc. "Breaking the Barriers" is by Carrie L— and used with permission. Reboot and its characters and situations are the property of Mainframe Entertainment, if I don’t miss my guess. The MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus. Despite Gypsy’s claim they would follow the standard rules, the Monopoly game represented herein followed the time-limited rule variation. The management apologizes for any confusion. Times change, and newspapers evolve.

## Thoughts while waiting for the Showcases

Just got to thinking about a moment we must infer happened sometime in the 70s. The Price Is Right production team was thinking out ways to bring prizes out on-camera. And someone declared, “We shall have a tugboat pull them out!” Were they immediately recognized as wise? Were they laughed at at the time? But stayed confident in their rightness and lived to hear their doubters admit they were wrong? What were the rejected possibilities? Parachutes, obviously. Submarines, too, given the difficulty working out agreements with the show filming the next floor under them. LSTs.

Or am I thinking of it backwards? Did someone originally buy The Price Is Right Tugboat by some complicated mistake, and then go about looking for ways to use it? And every time it’s brought out they thank their lucky stars that it came out okay?

These are all questions I feel I cannot answer.

## Is Ray Davies A Normal Person?

My love and I got to discussing this the other day. I forget how. But I’d like to lay out the arguments for and against.

Pro Ray Davies being a normal person: If many of his lyrics are a guide to his mental state, he’s fairly sure he’s either crazy or just barely holding it together. The only thing that could possibly be more universally true is if he realized how every evening he was tired and sad about the way the day had gone.

Con Ray Davies being a normal person: He spent decades as the front man for one of the world’s most popular and influential rock bands. This is unusual behavior, exhibited by only about five percent of the population, thus, not normal.

Pro: Again going by his lyrics, he mostly would like modern life to stop being quite so much and leave him alone to drink his tea. It is easy to suppose that like the rest of us, he is gradually doing fewer things online because it’s getting to be too much work to do a password reset every time he forgets what his Picarto or Twitch account should be. Also he’s never able to keep straight whether the ID is his full e-mail address or just rdavies0644. This is further normal behavior.

Con: Was propped up statue-like at the center of the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony for the world to sing at, a thing that almost nobody can expect to ever do.

Pro: He made use of the assonance between “slave” and “lathe” for one line in Second-Hand Car Spiv, and there’s almost nothing more natural than that. Maybe rhyming “moon” with “spoon” in all those merry songs about how you mix celestial bodies into your milk and stir it all up.

Con: He knows which of the birds in the comic strip is Shoe. I know, too, but I recognize that’s my personal eccentricity and that it’s not shared by anyone I ever meet.

Pro: As a white guy spent much of the 1970s arguing with bare acquaintances about what exactly is a “rock opera” versus “concept album” and who had the first of them. Granted, yes, this would often be after he had snuck out to a party dressed as the schoolboy-in-disgrace or whatever he was performing on stage and thought people didn’t recognize him, but who wouldn’t do that in the same case? And it was important to let him make arguments about how yes, there was that thing by that band that was before Tommy that he never heard either and no he is not thinking of Days of Future Passed and he has a whole presentation he can give about this. It wasn’t in dispute, but aren’t your best longwinded rhetorical arguments about stuff that wasn’t actually in dispute too? Thank you.

Con: Even today we can’t be completely sure he isn’t going to release Preservation Act III. Do you know anyone who’s working on that still? Are you? Exactly.

Pro: Does not regularly speak with legendary Kinks founder Dave Davies. Most people can hope to have a conversation with Dave Davies at most once, possibly twice before they die, and so does Ray Davies.

Con: Ray Davies’s mailing address has way too many things in it:

Sir Raymond Davies OBO
Solempne House
2 1/2-A Daunger Gyse Lane Without
Shrieval Pudding
Gebetan-Dream-upon-Mere under the Bridge
Southwark
Grimshire 00 18 463 11 00
Rutland Boundings
Lesser Notts and Glos
Greater Notts and Glos (Ceremonial)
North London, Greater London, England, UK, FRS, BAAS N10 3NU ZERO ZERO ZERO DESTRUCT ZERO
Green

Pro: Yeah, but every British address looks like that. Nobody has ever successfully sent a postcard to anyone in Britain and that’s why.

Con: Feels no thrill when he notices in the closing credits of The Price Is Right how the second contestant was found to be ineligible and thus could not receive the patio furniture they’d won in their Item-Up-For-Bid.

And now to add it all up please make a computer-y beep-bop-boop noise for a few minutes, and then reduce your answer by an appropriate amount. In sum we find that Ray Davies is not in fact a normal person, but only because he hasn’t yet given up on his DeviantArt account. The subject may be reviewed after ninety days.

## Year In Review: Top Ten Events Of 2017

10. 14 May. That incredibly good shower right after you got up that didn’t start as anything special but somehow felt like washing way adulthood and the only thing that has to be done was to see how long you could hold a pencil upright in your belly button.

9. 22 June. CRUISE SHIPS.

8. 8 April. Every wedding reception turns out to be at hotels that also have a furry convention booked that weekend. So now there’s tens of thousands of families that have video of Great-Aunt Carol, confused but game, dancing to “Sweet Caroline” with a cat Ghostbuster. Also mom will not let dad wear that pig snout he bought EXCEPT ON HALLOWEEN.

7. 2 November. The tension of the first known alien visit to Earth dissipates when it turns out they just wanted to check out the flea market on Route 35. And then it turned out they were just snagging a bunch of reprint Harvey Comics books. And they lost every chance of claiming superiority when they put scotch tape over the staples on the cover and in the center to somehow make the books “last longer”. So any time you feel bad that, like, they’ve got faster-than-light travel remember that we at least know how to keep a Richie Rich comic book in good condition.

6. Mid-June to Early August. That weird call-and-response song that we never got an agreed-upon name for? That was fantastic, with those lines that had easy-to-learn rules about how to change the verse for the next song around. That was a lot of fun and we’d probably be doing it yet if someone hadn’t discovered the verse-changing rules turned out to be Turing-complete and some cretin set up a scheme so the song turned into bitcoin-mining. So yeah, now if anyone starts singing it we have to slug them and that’s a bummer, but try to remember the time it was just good.

5. 3 October. The phone and the new camera both take the same size mini-USB cable to plug in even though they are two distinct and different things.

4. 16 February. Sure, we all remember this as the day everybody put their right feet on their left legs and vice-versa. But photos of the day show that in fact fewer than one person in five participated in this weird and spontaneous event. Doesn’t matter. Those who joined in made the day an event of pleasant, slight awkwardness and a chance to see the world in a different light. Yes, it inspired over twenty thinkpieces about the arbitrariness of left and right but don’t worry. The people who wrote that were, in their way, participating in the fun too.

3. 22 September. All three contestants spin a dollar in the Showcase Showdown that episode of The Price Is Right, and then two of them spin a dollar in the tiebreaker round. And that after all six contestants won their pricing games. We don’t remember if someone went on to win both showcases but we’re going to remember it that way because it was already just that great.

2. 28 June. This was that day your phone kept making all those strange little noises that didn’t match anything you had on it. It seemed like the phone might be calving off a new app, inspiring thoughts about how maybe your phone would be the birthplace of a something that disrupts a something or other and then investors would flock to you and give you billions of dollars for a widget to make, who knows, something a bit more snoop-y than something previously was. The thoughts are still fun to savor, even since the phone stopped making that noise about 8:30 pm and hasn’t made it since.

1. 6 January. It was supposed to be an ordinary little patch that should have left squirrels immune to clothing. But some errant use of a : instead of a ; deep in the code left everybody’s clothing warping around things, jumping to weird places, growing or shrinking uncontrollably, merging and separating in amoebic blobs with other pieces of clothes, and so on. People were furious for the first hour or so but after that we settled in to embrace the absurdity. And now we’re coming up to what is, somehow, only the first anniversary of “facepants” becoming such a beloved meme. Can 2018 do anything to top that?

## Statistics Saturday: Toto’s ‘Africa’ By Parts

Because sometimes you just run up to deadline and you have to go with what you have and those are always the bits people like best anyway and sometimes I wonder why I go into writing a second hundred words anyway and I just want a hug thank you.

Meanwhile: if you need to score a movie or TV scene and want to evoke mid-80s nostalgia without digging deep you’re going to pick “Out Of Africa”, sure. But what’s the equivalent for other decades? If you just want a wash of mid-90s nostalgia without digging deep then, sure, Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”, or maybe Nirvana’s “Oh Whatever You Have On Hand”. But what about the 70s? The 60s? For the 50s I’d say “Mister Sandman” but that might just be Back To The Future talking. For the 40s there’s Glenn Miller’s “American Patrol”. How about the rest? Yes, start from the 1750s.

Also not depicted: realizing like thirty years after that of course the song isn’t called “Out Of Africa” and you’ve been naming it wrong all this time.

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped two points as traders got around to watching Wednesday’s The Price Is Right and it was another double overbid in the Showcase and it sure seems like there’ve been a lot of them this season. There was even one on, like, the Mother’s Day show. Everyone’s all cranky about this now and trying to undrestand how this keeps going wrong.

# 199

## An Apology In My Dreams

So to the seagull in my dream who was trying to apologize by delivering a fully functional rocket to my backyard: I appreciate the gesture. It’s a most impressive gift. And I do appreciate the work gone in to getting a Saturn I — not a V, not even the more hip I-B but an actual Saturn I as used in flight testing and development from 1961 through 1965. It’s a true connoisseur’s choice of rocket vehicle. Nevertheless, while I’ll accept presents as tokens of reconciliation they are not, by themselves, reconciliation. It is harder to deliver a simple “I’m sorry” from your own beak, but it would mean something that no present ever could, and I promise to accept it with as much grace as possible given our history. And I do thank you for the gesture.

Still, on another level, I can’t see any way to launch the blasted thing from my backyard, what with how the goldfish pond isn’t nearly deep enough a water trench for the necessary sound suppression. Not to mention not being deep enough for the goldfish to come out well afterwards. Plus who’s got a launch gantry in mid-Michigan anyway? I’ve got too much stuff just hanging around to show to accept something that hasn’t got practical use.

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Traders showed a sharp loss of confidence today when they learned that contestants on The Price Is Right are not drawn randomly from the audience but are instead screened while entering to see if they’d probably look good on camera and have a bunch of people cheering specifically for them.

# 128

• Carrots are good for the eyes. Myth started by the British during World War II as cover for radar’s abilities to detect airplanes.
• Carrots are good for the ears. Myth started by the British during World War I as cover for sonar’s abilities to detect submarines.
• “Carrot” the plant is the same word as “carrot” the vegetable. These are etymologically completely separate words that happen to be spelled alike, much like “bear” the animal and “bear” meaning to-put-up-with, that were merged in the one act of simplifying English that anyone was ever able to agree on.
• Carrots are good for the sense of touch. Myth started by the British during the Franco-Prussian War just in case they had to get involved and needed cover for their long-stick technologies.
• Carrots are naturally orange. They were bred to be orange; in their natural state they are polka-dotted.
• Carrots are good for the sense of taste. Myth started by the British immediately after the Battle of Austerlitz because apparently you can get Germans at war to believe anything about carrots.
• Carrots are kind of long, tapered candle-shaped things. They are actually five-dimensional spheres and this is just how they appear projected into our three-dimensional Euclidean space.
• Carrots are good for the smell. Myth started by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War because they wanted in on this fun too as long as they had to deal with Hessians.
• Carrots have never started forest fires. Well, often myths have an element of truth to them. In fact carrots have never put out forest fires, but not for want of trying.
• It’s interesting whether Mel Blanc liked carrots or not. He was an actor hired to play someone who liked carrots.

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped nearly ten percent in trading due to panic from the discovery that the DVR has suddenly stopped recording The Price Is Right and nobody knows how to get it through its head that these are so new episodes that it should be recording.

# 85

## This Sort Of Observation Was More Merry Whimsical Fun Last Year

But once again Weather Underground seems to think something we should probably know about is happening in the middle of next week. (It’s a road trip to Baltimore.)

For today, my mathematics blog had some more comic strips to review for yesterday, for you, if you’ll have it. How’s that?

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped two points over uncertainty inspired by the DVR having decided The Price Is Right is in reruns this month even though the show is not and now they have to send someone to watch each episode and say if there’s a particularly good round of Rat Race and they’re all so good how do you make a choice?

# 96

## And It Was Just A Flyer For Cheap Tires Anyway

So we forgot to check the mail, and left it in the surprisingly leaky mailbox while something like 400 feet of rain came down in some rain-like process. We’ve had that kind of spring. And yet somehow the mail remained dry enough that NASA wanted to research it for possible Martian bacteria. Unfortunately, they told us of this interest in a letter they sent the next week, where it was out in a mild drizzle for four minutes between the time it was delivered and the time there was a convenient break in The Price Is Right so I could get it. And in that time the letter was dissolved into postage soup. Ah well. I don’t know who on Mars would even be writing us in the first place. Maybe that would’ve been one the things NASA studied.

## Statistics Saturday: April Fool’s Day, By Content

But you can understand people being angry at April Fool’s Day, what with the Internet being flooded with dubious news stories, jokes in questionable taste, ill-considered surprise changes in web sites, and causes for phony outrage, only we know ahead of time the day’s going to be full of them.

## The Big Picture

We’ve started looking at maybe buying a new TV. Our current TV is working fine, which has been part of the problem, since it’s your old-fashioned standard-definition tube-model TV screen hewn by Alan B DuMont himself from his shadowy hidden laboratory deep in the highlands of North Jersey. It was a fine TV in its time, and it’s clearly determined to outlast the entropic heat-death of the universe, but it’s starting to get annoying watching TV shows that assume screens are wider, like they are anymore. The Daily Show is pretty good about not putting stuff outside the bounds of the standard-definition screen, but it’s getting tiresome to guess what’s happening on the missing edges of Cona O’Brie.

The obvious change in TV technology since our old set was made has been the size, of course. There’s now no way to buy a TV set smaller than a tennis court in area, which will demand we rearrange the living room so it fits. We might have to have a carpenter come in and take out the stairwell, and just get to our bedroom by way of a rope ladder, trampoline, or perhaps a very patient giraffe (possibly mechanized). On the bright side modern TVs are only half as thick as other units of the same model, so if we buy a flatscreen we’ll be able to slip it in-between the wall and the paint on the wall.

The other thing is that shapes have changed. Picture-tube TVs all had that slight outward curve made. That curve was great as you could just place a large enough number of picture tubes near one another and automatically form a ball of television sets thirty feet across, allowing anyone to create an art installation about the disposability of modern pop culture whenever they wanted. But then they started making screens flat, so that every TV show you looked at seemed to be weirdly impacted in the middle, like someone had smooshed Bob Barker right in the belly. They’ve fixed that now, by finding a pre-smooshed host for The Pric Is Righ, and I suppose they’ve worked out what to do for other shows too.

And now the stores have innovative new shapes, too. The big one at the store last week was screens curled inward, giving us the experience of watching a couple seconds of a waterfall then a roller coaster then fireworks then the Grand Canyon while staring at the inside of a bowl. I guess that’s got advantages in how it makes the picture look curled inwards, and how the eyes of the Best Buy sales associates follow you wherever you go until in a fit of shyness you curl up behind the bin of \$4.99 games for the Wii.

Besides these inverted-bowl shapes there’s exciting new concepts in solid geometry coming, such as the saddle-curve hyperboloid which wowed people at the Consumer Electronics Show. It expertly suggested the experience of horse-riding, what with how as you get closer to the screen it looms higher and higher over you, until you get right up close to it, at which point the it bites your hair, covers your head an inch deep in horse boogers, and stomps on your foot, which any horse-expert person like my sister will tell you is a show that the horse likes you and it’s all your fault anyway. I didn’t even know my sister watched that much TV, what with her horse-experting to do. Anyway, television boogers clean up easily, but cleaning them off leaves you open to charges you’re one of those people who announces “I never watch television” every four minutes, even to empty rooms.

Personally, I think the most exciting new TV shape is one that projects the image onto the contact surface formed in the tangent space $M \times \textbf{R}^{2n+1}$ so that for any fiber bundle $\alpha$ you can find a sympletic coordinate pair perfectly matching, say, the statistical entropy to the chemical potentials of the system. I think most of you agree with my assessment because you’re hoping if you nod vigorously enough I’ll stop talking what might be mathematics or physics or possibly some conspiracy theory linking Nikolai Tesla to the Knights Templar and go on to literally any other topic at all. (Hi, LFFL!)

Anyway, this is all very thrilling stuff and it makes me figure that I should go back to watching narrower programs on the old TV set.

## Is Yoghurt Deliberately Slowing Down Internet TV?

Advertising has always been driven by a pathological hatred of the consumer, on the grounds that if people really, really hate the commercial they’re going to remember that hatred, and therefore buy the product sponsoring it because the name is kind of familiar-ish from somewhere. The theory is incredibly sound, based on longrunning experience like the time the advertisers themselves bought their homes from a guy they knew nothing about except that one time he leapt out of a dark alley and bludgeoned them with a small caribou. They were so impressed they spent decades searching out their assailant and talking him into taking up a career in real estate just so they could buy homes from him. This is how powerful a sales and skeletal impression the caribou made.

Being annoying used to be a scattershot business, advertisers just guessing at what would irritate the viewer, but now that computers make it easy for them to harass web site users into describing their demographic niches exactly (“no, we can’t POSSIBLY set up an account recording what birds you saw in the yard unless we know whether you’re male or female, your age to within five years, and whether you’ve ever been bludgeoned by a caribou with a postgraduate degree”) they can get much more exactingly infuriating. For me, this involves making me sit through yoghurt ads when I’m just trying to watch The Price Is Right online.