Finger on Remote Control, We are Wired to Your Soul


Nineteen years ago my love bought a TV set. Nobody thought that exceptional, but the thing is we were still watching it until last month. My love and I share an attitude toward durable goods, which is they ought to be. So we’ve had about five years of people asking, “seriously, you don’t have an HDTV yet?” But we were fine. TV shows would just assume we had more horizontal space than we did, like when The Price Is Right changed the Showcase Showdown wheel into a fat ellipsoid, but we rolled with it.

All was fine until one Tuesday after I’d watched a Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD and then my love noticed the screen was flickering and the TV softly hissing. Then it got to hissing a lot louder, and the picture on screen contracted to a temporal anomaly letting through alternate-history episodes of Voyager. Friends who seem to know about this stuff told us the flyback transformer had broken, and that needed to be replaced or else it would explode and cover a four-mile radius with a black, sticky tar, made of the substance left over from leaving How It’s Made on as background noise. Fair enough.

And as we promised, finally time to get a brand-new High Definition set. We shopped around until finding the right set for us: one that a friend had and wasn’t using and that didn’t require us to put the back seat of the car down to fit in the trunk. My love and I grew up in the picture-tube era when a 14-inch set was respectable, and 21-inch meant you’d really made it. In the modern era a 21-inch set is the one you put in the bathroom so while showering you can watch steam. My parents picked up a bed-sized TV set for the living room, and demoted that to bedroom purposes when they got an even larger one, I believe folded up many times over and included with a box of cereal. A large box, mind you, they’re not giving those things away in a mere 12-ounce box of Honey Nut Cheerios. You need the 20-ounce at least. And maybe Golden Grahams instead. We had to rearrange the living room furniture is what I’m getting at.

The hard part was moving the bookshelves, which had been where they were since they were first put in place by glaciers in the Wisconsin Glaciation. This let us discover there wasn’t as much dust as we expected. There was evidence of mice, though. A few years back we had some of the least efficient mice in the world in the house. You know the thing where mice are quiet and kind of shy? They were prowling around, coughing loudly and demanding attention and sitting up next to our pet rabbit looking for all the world like rowboats approaching a dreadnought. We found accommodations for them where we don’t have to hear them all the time.

No mice there. But we did see a few pages, all that was left, from a chewed-up copy of the Consumer Reports Buying Guide for 2008. As best we can work out, the mice were diligently researching which microwave oven to get. I guess they chose wisely. We haven’t heard any complaints.

The other challenge was getting the old TV out of there. I know everyone has problems with power cords and antenna cables and all tangling together. But our house has some special space-warping power around it. I’m fussy about plugging stuff in, and I still have stuff where I plug in my iPod and the digital camera and the cables instantly knot together and there’s fourteen separate USB end plugs, most of which don’t even exist. Between the TV, the cable box, the DVD, the Wii, the record turntable, the CD player, and the audio thingy that I have to keep pressing buttons on to get sound out of, I’m still behind the TV stand now, screaming at wires. It’s been over a month. Send help.

The tangling and twisted mass of power cords, power bricks, and dust that was behind our TV stand. It's quite the mess.
“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?” Scrooge trembled more and more. “Or would you know,” pursued the Ghost, “the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was as full and heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!” Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable: but he could see nothing. “Jacob,” he said, imploringly. “Old Jacob Marley, tell me more. Speak comfort to me, Jacob! I mean wholeheartedly that I shall watch that like season and a half of Doctor Who that’s been piling up!”

Thing is it wasn’t that awful a movie on that Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD. If I had known the trouble it would cause I’d have watched something more epic.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose six points responding to market information that there were abundant Reese’s peanut butter eggs and they were all discounted fifty percent, which means it’s just fine to eat a whole package of six of them in under a minute, okay?

132

Statistics Saturday: Problems Occupying Me


How to better my writing; how to get my career advancing again; how to fix the basement steps; (mostly) how to pluralize 'tv series'; and how to get the car clean enough I feel comfortable taking it in for service.
Not included: how to work up the resolution that I should fix the basement steps now and not at some more convenient time like after we’ve moved into a different house with pre-fixed basement steps.

Well, how do you talk about the Rick Berman-affiliated era of Star Trek shows during the many times you have a pressing need to?

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped four points as it became clear that the new George Foreman grill would not, in fact, make everything all right with the world.

96

In Your Houses Late At Night Sit Down Cozy, Kill That Light


What’s on TV when I’m feeling a little lonely and drifting between channels as they in turn disappoint me.

Oh No, The Contractors Sent The Wrong Kitchen Cabinets. As seen in the lounge at the Toyota dealership waiting for the mysterious tire-pressure problem to be diagnosed as “mysterious” and “something to do with the beads”. Charmingly white couple buy a house and then demolish all its interior surfaces. Then they wait for the contractors to do something wrong, usually with the kitchen cabinets. Sometimes it’s simple: they send cabinets too big for the house, ones that overflow the kitchen, the dining area, the living room, and reach out into the street, proving a hazard to taller traffic. Sometimes it’s also simple: they send cabinets too small. These wrong cabinets could fit one of those old-style coffee mugs grandma had, the ones that are smaller than the teaspoons you’d stir sugar into them in. Most often they’re the wrong shade of white, shades of white that the TV show host says he wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy. He seems in earnest. They’re going to have to make severe cuts in their $625,000 renovation budget, which means they use a cheaper tile for the splash area behind the kitchen counter.

That’s A Lot Of Informercial About Some Collapsible Ladder Thing. And it’s on like half the channels? What even is this?

Rebooted Season Of A Cartoon I Liked In The 90s. Oh, it’s Flash-animated now. And they redesigned the characters so they all look like they were caught in an airport baggage carousel and squashed flat by one of those weird huge cardboard boxes taped shut that someone has on every flight somehow. Also they changed two of the voice actors. And they can say “poop” now, or maybe have to. And everybody’s a lot meaner than they were before. Raises questions about whether the original was quite this obviously gender-essentialist too. Or was it just obliviously sexist? Were we that awful in the 90s? A quick check. YouTube has an episode of the original, only the proportions are weird and there’s some unearthly station logo in two corners. Yeah, the original kinda was. Should not have checked.

Two Guys Laughing At How They Totally Said A Thing. They’ve got a great show tonight and their first guest will be Seth Rogan, they say, evincing a confidence in the inevitability of events that doesn’t seem less obnoxious to me just because it was true, since they taped the episode this evening and now know how things turned out.

Old Timey Movie With Actors I Kind Of Recognize From Bugs Bunny Cartoons. Black and white. Something about a man and a woman who live in San Francisco and have a wonderful time even though they go to bed wearing more clothes than we use today to venture to Antarctica. Features numerous montages during which they walk though multiple-exposure scenes and don’t make eye contact with anything, especially not each other. Also even the driver gets into the car from the passenger’s side. I think maybe one of them is trying to kill the other, possibly because the other thinks the first is trying to kill them and it seems like a violation of trust not to reciprocate. Worth watching for how well everybody articulates in the middle of a heated life-or-death fight.

Simpsons Episode All About A Character I Never Saw Before. I guess he got to be important after I kind of forgot to watch regularly again? Also did Homer always get battered like this in the old days? And deserve even more injury?

History Explored By Wide-Eyed Astonished Guys. Might be about the fabled “Money Pit” of Oak Island. Might be about that World War II plan to make icebergs into aircraft carriers. Might be about the shooting of President Garfield. Doesn’t matter. A couple of guys have eager interviews to do with experts who’ve heard there’s an artifact related to it somewhere in the area. And when they ask another expert they hear about how it’s totally the case that artifacts are things that exist after historical events. Someone at the historical society confirms that historical events happened and some of them even involved other places than the historical society building. The hunt for the artifact drives them to hold up grainy old photographs in front of new buildings and then go inside. The building is being renovated. The floors are all torn up. None of the people working on it know anything about the historical event but they say they didn’t see anything suspicious, just some water-damaged old floorboards. There’s a subbasement they can crawl into if they like, though, and the wide-eyed astonished guys think that’s even more awesome than their old tree fort. I bet the contractors are about to deliver the wrong cabinets. It would be just like them.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Traders brought the Another Blog, Meanwhile index up nine points today when they settled on that old-timey movie as the thing to watch. There’s this surprisingly tense scene where a wind-up toy dog is walking off towards the woman hiding in the closet and they don’t make movies like that anymore.

110

Thinking About TV Movies


That bit about The Kinks’ Arthur the other day got me thinking about TV movies. I don’t see them anymore. But I grew up occasionally watching TV movies when my parents didn’t want to change the channel after the real shows were done for the night. I knew it as a genre in which over the course of two hours we’d get to meet a generically pleasant cast of characters and discover the wife was murdered by Mike Farrell. I suppose they did things differently in 1969 Britain, when The Kinks were making their not-made TV movie. I’m not sure they had even invented Mike Farrell by then, and the wife had to be murdered by Wayne Rogers instead. If anyone’s got definite word please let me know.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Another Blog, Meanwhile index traders agree that it’s just five points, it’s just another five points lost since yesterday, it’s not even a full five percent and there’s no reason we can’t see just as big a rebound as the last week saw declines and how can it be so long since we were in the 140s when it was just Wednesday for crying out loud? What makes this happen to good little indices?

108

The Unmaking


A friend was amused by something I said that alluded to The Kinks’ album Arthur. I went on to explain the album to him, something he consented to by not chewing his own tail off to make good his escape. I was kind. I just wanted to explain how the definitely best song in it was “Some Mother’s Son”, unless the best song was “Shangri-La”. In any case the most cheerily catchy song on it is clearly “Victoria” unless it’s “She’s Bought A Hat like Princess Marina”. Look, just listen to it, all right?

I started to explain whether it’s a rock opera before my friend tore my leg off and whacked me over the head with it. It’s a contentious issue. If you ask Ray Davies about it, he’ll explain that it was totally the first rock opera except for the ones that snuck out between when he had the idea and when he finished it. Also that of course it wasn’t an rock opera and he doesn’t know why critics call it that. Also that people only say it’s a rock opera to stir up trouble. Also that Dave Davies should get over here so he can punch him. Also that who cares about writing rock operas. I’m happy to let Ray Davies have whatever view on Arthur he wishes, in accord with my life goal of getting through it without being punched by him. So far, successful for 16,089 days running!

Thing is I’ll go along with saying Arthur wasn’t the first rock opera, or even a rock opera at all, especially if Ray Davies is looking for someone to punch. Unless he really wants it to be a rock opera because, again, 16,089 days and counting. It was created to be the soundtrack for an unmade TV movie. And that’s what’s caught my imagination. Not calling it a TV movie. I’m used to that idea.

What’s got me is the phrase “unmade movie”. They want to express it was a never-made movie. But it’s got me thinking of what it would take to un-make a movie. You’d have to start with a made movie, sure. Let’s say something like 2006’s My Super Ex-Girlfriend, which was as slightly made a movie as has been the least mediocre choice of in-flight entertainment since the Disney Radio channel was still doing the Hamster Dance song somehow. I should be clear, I didn’t hate the movie or anything, it was just on and a little annoying up to the point that the in-flight entertainment system crashed and couldn’t be brought back up. Could be any movie.

You’d start, I guess, by taking any prints of the film and rinsing them clean, bringing them back to a faint silver-tinged cloud of colloidal particulate matter. And I don’t care if that isn’t what unexposed film is like. It’s too much fun to write “faint silver-tinged cloud of colloidal particulate matter”. Go ahead. Try coming up with a better phrase that seems like it ought to have something to do with film stock.

I don’t know if it existed in digital form any, but I suppose we can write new stuff, I’m thinking saved games of Civilization II, onto whatever they came from. I’m thinking USB Flash drives. Very large ones, to be able to hold films. Like, they’re on keychains, but for those novelty-size Keys to the City. Really big ones. Have to play a lot of Civ II to fill those up, but I can do that.

Unmaking the movie would go farther, sure. I suppose you’d bring all the cast and crew back together so everyone could go through the scenes backwards, undoing it all. I’m not sure if you’d have to undo the alternate takes or unused scenes. I guess it depends how busy the people are. Unmaking the movie can’t be their whole job. Probably it’s not necessary to unbuild the sets, since they do that anyway.

There might be some outfits that could be unstitched and turned back to pieces of cloth. I don’t imagine that we’d take, like, any bits of wool and restore them to the original sheep, as most film companies don’t keep records in sufficient detail for this. Similarly there’s no sense at all restoring any cotton used in the outfits to the original sheep, because sheep only produce cotton if they’re looking for a little extra income as poorly-paid farm workers. There’s limits to how much you’d have to do to fully un-make a film, is all I’m saying.

Again, I don’t want the people whose lives brought them to the point of making My Super Ex-Girlfriend to think I’m picking on them. It’s just a movie I’m holding up as an example of something we could unmake if we really tried. If we needed some different unmade movie I’ll take suggestions. Thank you for your time considering the problem.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Um. All right. Traders aren’t looking to panic or anything here but what the flipping heck, guys? Fourteen points in one flipping day? Where did that come from? Where did they go? When are they coming back? Analysts disagree about why the sudden drop happened except for that one who’s being all smug about how she knew this was inevitable. We don’t need that stuff just now.

131

Stray Thoughts About The Puppet Master


I realize that it’s just a programming convention. But when you stop and notice it, it’s kind of weird that the Muppets name all their stuff Muppet stuff. Imagine the reverse; would you watch The Human Show? Well, I guess I would, but I’d be expecting some faintly punk British-produced angry comedy along the lines of The Young Ones. Special case. But then how about, say, Human Treasure Island or Human Wizard of Oz or Humans From Space? … All right, again, that’s starting out interesting. The Humans Take Manhattan? … Saying that out loud I guess I see why the Muppets do that. All right, but let’s imagine a reporter for the local news introduced himself, “Hi ho, this is Kermit the White Guy with a Human News Flash.” OK, this is getting compelling. Forget that I was doing something like grousing.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index drifted four points lower over the day. Analysis credit this to the trading community commissioning an illustration of them as Crystal Gems and now they’re all worried about what if they have to ask the artist for something to be changed, like their vests aren’t the right length or something? And some are saying that of course they can check that at the first-sketch stage and asking for a minor change like that is nothing, artists are fine with that as long as you’re clear as early as possible about what you do and don’t want, while others just feel like they’d die if they had to say anything wasn’t exactly right. A nasty fight broke out when someone brought up the time in 1999 they tried getting a drawing of themselves as Powerpuff Girls and they never did get the finished picture, although the artist for that recently e-mailed to say he knows he’s late but he’s been going through some drama and he’s hoping to get the commission backlog done as soon as he has a free weekend to knock them out.

141

The Usual Sort Of Monday-ish Stuff


Background, Quark the bartender looking all huffy. Foreground, Harry Kim and Tom Paris all sure that they're going to be on the good series.
As one of the leading bars on the far edge of explored space it’s important that Quark stock his shelves with those sanitizing liquids barbershops keep their combs and scissors in.

Tom Paris, the one holding his fingers together: “And if we combine the supporting casts of Star Trek: Voyager and Deep Space Nine we’ll form this mighty pop cultural armada so powerful that within five years people will ask `William Shatner who?’ … are you ready to join us?”

Quark, the bartender rocking the Rhoda outfit: “Yeah, you’re cut off.”

And here’s some space for your own captions, if you’ve got a better one.

And finally my mathematics blog talked about comic strips yesterday. All goes well it’ll talk about them tomorrow too.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index drifted down four points owing to traders being distracted by all the decorative gourds they have at the stores these days. Last year we found one that looked just like a perfect goose, with the stem even making a perfect beak. We’ve had some good results this year including one that makes a respectable crane (the bird kind) but man, nothing is ever going to top that goose gourd. Ah, well, such things can’t last forever; if they could, would we appreciate them while they lasted? Yes, of course we would.

145

Statistics Saturday: Actual Star Trek: The Next Generation Plots That Sound Like Parodies Of Star Trek: The Next Generation Plots


With thanks to my love for noticing this.

  • Aliens replace Captain Picard with a double who’d be perfect if not for his rousing drunken singalongs in the bar.
  • A historian from the future turns out to be a con artist from the past. Picard decides whether to risk saving a planet suffering from too much static electricity.
  • Data practices how to sneeze. Also he has an evil twin.
  • In an alternate timeline the Federation is doomed, but Guinan and Tasha Yar are great friends.
  • The transporter makes Picard twelve years old while space pirates take over the Enterprise.
  • A planet of extremely white scantily-clad sex partners wants to execute Wesley for tripping over a flower.
  • Worf has a crush on some fish-aliens, one of whom is Mick Fleetwood for some reason. Troi’s Mom hits on a holodeck bartender.
  • Riker’s the lead actor in Dr Crusher’s play! Also maybe crazy.
  • Worf gets dizzy whenever he falls into a parallel universe.
  • Dr Crusher gets a Ferengi scientist killed when she incorrectly diagnoses another alien as being dead.
  • Troi shows Mark Twain around the Enterprise. Picard pretends to lead a San Francisco theatrical company. (Emmy Award-winning episode, for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series.)
  • Worf finds a planet where Klingons and Romulans live together peacefully and puts a stop to that. Data has crazypants dreams.
  • Poker night holds the only key to escaping a spacetime anomaly.
  • Data makes friends with a little alien girl over his Space Ham Radio, so they save her planet.
  • It just so happens nobody had ever asked if Data was a person or a thing before making him third-in-command of the Federation flagship.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index fell three points, then rose three points and dropped another three points, just to see if it could get your attention from all the way over there in your peripheral vision.

129

While Waiting At Rite-Aid For Fifteen Minutes After The Flu Shot


They used to have a TV set here, didn’t they? Little thing here in the seating area outside the vaccination room. I remember they were always showing that afternoon chat show. You know. Four Women Excited That Bradley Cooper Will Be Stopping By Later. He’s never with the four women excited. He’s always supposed to be on a later segment, or maybe later this week, or maybe next week. No idea why they’d take out the TV set. People would watch that. Maybe Bradley Cooper finally stopped by and they’re retooling the show. Four Women Excited That Idris Elba Will Be Stopping By Later would have to be at least as popular, I’d think. No reason to take the set out.

Boy even for a free “health magazine” that’s all advertisements for prescription drugs this “health magazine” has a lot of advertisements for prescription drugs. Great set of tips for people buying sunglasses in October. I guess four sentences is enough for people doing that. We’re just going to have a hazy cloudy cover through to about April anyway and nobody sells cloudglasses worth anything these days.

Got to be something else here. Wonder what the Wi-Fi password is. ‘riteaid’? … no. ‘RiteAid’? … no. ‘Rite_Aid’? … no. They say there’s Wi-Fi in the store, why don’t they tell us what … it can’t be ‘password’, can it? While it can be, it is not. Good to have that sorted out.

Well, I can wander around some. If I collapse in the store they’ll send someone around to smoosh a mop against me. Hey, one of those Classic Video Game units-in-one thingies. Those are tempting. What do they have for the Atari? Oh, Tank. Tank II. SuperTank. Color SuperTank. Hm. Why don’t they ever have the god-awful games like E.T. or Superman? I bet they’re way less totally unplayable now that I have motor control and can read the eight-page instruction book. I’m in practice from all those grand strategy games. They have, like, an eighty-page instruction book that explains you can start a trade with another nation by clicking on the ‘diplomacy’ tab and clicking the ‘start trade’ button. They never explain whether putting a pile of rare earth metals on your side means you’re offering a pile of rare earth metals or whether you’re asking for them. So there’s never any guessing why your deal is getting rejected, until you give up even trying. Oh, Pong II. Hey, I remember that time at that boring con the only thing to do was play with this thing in the video game room. There was that whole baseball game where I never had any idea whether I was batting or pitching. And I drew a crowd of appreciative watchers, none of whom could tell either. We had similar results with the football game. And the guy who owned it asked if I wanted to take it home and I didn’t realize he was trying to give it away. It was easier playing games as a kid. You just argued with your siblings over whose turn it was, and punched. Didn’t even need the game.

“Now Better Crunch! Easier To Bite!” That’s a heck of a claim there, pack of granola bars. I bet they did it a chintzy way. I bet they nerfed the granola bars’s mouth-evasion AI. That’ll be convenient in some ways, I guess. I’ve had enough granola bars leap away from my lips and into my forehead, my left kneecap, into the mantle clock, over to the squirrel feeder. Too many light snacks have been ruined by my needing to disguise my mouth behind something that doesn’t trigger the granola bar’s fears. Maybe a picture of John Harvey Kellogg. Maybe a TV showing Four Women Excited That Chris Pratt Will Be Stopping By Later.

Ah, the local alt-weekly, that’s something. So … OK, why is the City of Lansing holding a tender to buy Harley-Davidsons? The city dates to 1847. It’s too old for this sort of midlife crisis. Oh, good, Dave still has his Reasonable Lawn-Mowing service going. Far better than those people who charge, like, four hundred thousand dollars and mow the lawn by beating it with an unchewable granola bar.

Maybe the password is “RiteAid” followed by whatever the store number is.

OK, what time is it? I should be able to leave in … thirteen minutes.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index rose a point just to see what all the noise up there was about. (It was an accident. They didn’t know their subwoofer was turned all the way up.)

134

Statistics Saturday: TV Shows I Remember In Too Much Detail


Shorter list: everything I watched from 1978 through 1991 except _Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future_ and _It's Garry Shandling's Show_.
I am embarrassed to say I do not remember Supertrain in enough detail to include it in this list, but I kind of wish I did.

In my defense, Automan is the coolest show in the world if it is 1984 and you are eleven and don’t see enough TV shows with Chuck Wagner in them.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose nearly nine points, and then topped it off because it seemed like a waste not to take the full ninth point, following intense speculation that one of the traders might win a date with Tad Hamilton! He’s the dreamiest!

127

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.

Caption This: Why Even Spend The Whole Episode In Smooth-Floored Caves


Picard, Data, Spock, and some Romulans standing around the cave.
Decades of work figuring out Romulan Tasha Yar’s plot from the episode have finally revealed that the only way it makes a lick of sense if you suppose everybody involved was lying to each other about what the scheme actually was, even when they were doing the big reveal of what the evil scheme of evilness was all about.

“My parents! They’re home already! Guys, we gotta clean this cave up right now!”

[ Do you have a better caption? Maybe. I like this one, but what the heck. Use the space below as you like. Winners to be informed. ]


So over on my mathematics blog, I wrote all about a bunch of comic strips for the 5th of April. I posted it there on the 9th of April, and I’m posting this pointer to it on what WordPress’s servers says is the 13th of April but which my own personal time zone which I let many people share say is the 12th of April. I do this in the hopes of clearing up any confusion.

Caption This: Agent 13 In The Delta Quadrant


Somebody other other poking his head out the wall, to Tuvok.
Agent 13: “Hi, Max. It’s been centuries!”
Tuvok: “Hello. Have you observed any instances of Kazon agents in the area?”
Agent 13: “Hey, did the Chief ever answer my vacation request?”

“I came into Star Fleet for the action, the excitement. Go anywhere, travel light, get in, get out, wherever there’s trouble, a man alone. Now they got the whole starship sectioned off, you can’t make a move without a form.”


The wrong riff? Could be. Please, enjoy this space for one of your own, or someone else’s:

Meanwhile, over on my mathematics blog, there were a couple comic strips for Pi Day. Also some general mathematics stuff. You’ll enjoy them, I hope.

Statistics Saturday: Episodes Where Captain Kirk Gets His Shirt Torn Or Taken Off, By Season


5 torn shirts the first season, 2 in the second, none in the third or the movies. 4 shirtless moments in the first season, 5 in the second, 4 in the third, and none in the movies either.
You can positively see the budget getting tighter!
First season totals include the pilot episode when they could throw some more money around.

There is a third-season episode where Kirk’s pants get torn. It’s the one where rock monster aliens pretend to be Abraham Lincoln so they can learn a little something about humanity. The pants-tearing probably wasn’t on purpose.

Bob and Ray Tell You What’s On Channel 6


I want to share some of the gentle, absurd, kindly wonderful humor of Bob and Ray. Here’s something a bit mysterious. Its description on archive.org is able to give only some information about where it’s from. It was an Armed Forces Radio Service transcription disc. It would seem to come from one of their 1958-era broadcasts, apparently on NBC’s Monitor weekend service. I can’t pin it down more precisely than that.

The audio is patchy. But I think their appeal comes through. They offer brownies to the audience and that goes as well as anyone might hope. There’s a look into the difficult world of the soap opera writer. And there’s a review of what could be found on TV. I too would watch that Weird Theater tales meant to keep you in suspense.

Statistics Saturday, January 2016 Edition


For January on my blogs I did something I couldn’t have thought possible, even recently. I didn’t look at the monthly statistics partway through and start fretting about how things would go. Around the humor blog that’s probably for the best as the slide back to a post-Apocalypse 3-G world continued. My total page views were down to 1,211, compared to December’s 1,593 and November’s 4,528. Unique viewers were back down also, to 645 distinct visitors. December had seen 785, and November 2,308.

However, all that is getting pretty near in line with what readership I had before September, when the disaster at Apartment 3-G really got out of control. The statistics to suggest reader engagement have hardly changed. There were 272 likes in January, down from 278 in December and 299 in November, barely a change at all. (This is lower than a year ago, for some reason, although I don’t know what might have driven that.) There were 66 comments, up from 40 in December and a surprisingly few 45 in November. That, again, is down from a year ago. I don’t have good guesses about what drove that change.

What was popular reading in January? Mostly, anything that included bad comic strips:

To get to the popular listing of countries, here’s some: The United States, 895. Germany, 42. Canada, 32. The United Kingdom, 27. The Australia, 19. Those were the countries sending me the most page views. India sent me twelve, well up from December’s six.

My single-reader countries were Armenia, Denmark, Ecuador, Georgia, Guyana, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Pakistan, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. Only Hungary was a repeat from last month, and no country’s on a three-month streak.

It was mostly the usual sorts of search terms bringing people here, although I didn’t see any searches for what people found inside the 2015 penny. Maybe that bit of clickbait has had its course. Only one person got here looking for “facts about Turbo movie” too. There was a lot of searching for Apartment 3-G information too, including a bunch for “Apt 3G”, an abbreviation I couldn’t bring myself to use. Sorry.

February starts out with 31,434 total page views from 16,030 visitors. There’s 636 WordPress followers, if the stats are to be believed, although not everybody’s looking every day, I guess. That’s fair enough.

Your Inspirational Thought For The Day


Over in a Star Trek forum I quite like, there’s a heated debate raging. The question: is the “Captain’s Office”, the part of his quarters that Captain Kirk used for discussions with senior officers when they needed confidential discussions, functionally the same as the “Ready Room” where Captain Picard or the other, less important, Star Trek captains would go to not be on the bridge while still having tea and getting told that they’d “better come see this”? Or are they completely different structures, serving wholly different roles, not to be mistaken for one another except by people who didn’t understand the question?

And now the inspiration. You have no part whatsoever in this quarrel, and nobody is expecting you to have any part of it. Even if you have an opinion, you don’t have to have an opinion. And I believe that’s a comforting thought even in these difficult times.

When The Dance Dance Revolution Comes


My love’s been working out on Dance Dance Revolution lately. It’s easier than actual revolutions, considering there’s so much less spinning involved. I haven’t. I’ve tried Dance Dance Revolution, and other rhythm games like that.

Now, I do have a sense of rhythm. It’s just that I don’t have any control over what rhythm it is I express. Like, if I need to clap regularly, fine. I can do that for as long as the clapping mood moves me. If you need me to clap to a beat that’s not the one my body has chosen — and it might not choose the same one next time — then I’m sorry but you’re just going to have to be more reasonable. Retooling from one beat to another requires figuring out completely different stances and attitudes and maybe also plastic surgery to change the length of my legs.

Also after dozens of attempts all I can conclude is that I’m incompetent at converting the symbols on the Dance Dance Revolution screen to any kind of body response. I can tell you what the up arrow or the down arrow mean, it’s just that what happens when I try to hit the up arrow or the down arrow on the dance pad is that I tip precariously over and threaten to fall on our pet rabbit, to his disapproval. I don’t blame him. If I tumbled over on me, I’d probably disapprove of me too.

I hardly blame my love for being good at Dance Dance Revolution while I’m awful at it. All I can do is look on, impressed, while we both try to figure out whether we actually watched the TV series Ashes To Ashes and if we did, whether we liked it or not. We’re not sure and would appreciate any advice you can offer.

Statistics Saturday: Ten Unsettling Sentences In Wikipedia’s Guide To ‘Wild Kratts’ Episodes


Drawn from “List Of Wild Kratts Episodes”:

  1. Using the combined powers of whale and squid, the Kratt brothers try to withstand the immense water pressure of the ocean to save the whale and her calf before its too late.
  2. But after their new worm friend is carried off by a bird and left on the sidewalk to die, Chris and Martin race to save the worm before the sun dehydrates her.
  3. And if breaking the dam over and over again was not enough, they also have to deal with beaver predators, and they must solve the issue by the use of the abilities of the beaver.
  4. Meanwhile, Zach devises to plan to keep the neighborhood children off his lawn, by turning T[asmanian]-devils into Tasmanian devil robots.
  5. But after getting lost in the forest, Chris and Martin challenge each other to a creature contest, to see which is the better oak tree planter, the gray squirrels or the blue jays.
  6. And this is no ordinary [ badminton ] birdie — it is Aviva’s precious family heirloom.
  7. When a miniaturized Chris gets covered with pollen and ends up sticking to a bee, he is off into the remarkable world of the pollinators.
  8. Chris and Martin find a wolf pup in Martin’s bag after a chaotic morning involving a wolf pack and Chris’s Creature Power Suit set in moose mode.
  9. However, Zach tied balloons to many animals that then floated to his jet.
  10. But when the unstable [night vision] goggles stop working, the brothers find themselves taken in by the nocturnal society of the tarsier.

Bonus unsettling point: all this is from the first season of the show. It’s now halfway through its fourth season.

The Most Alarming Paragraph I’ve Ever Read On Wikipedia This Week


From Wikipedia’s entry on Teen Angel, the short-lived ABC “Thank Goodness It’s Funny” sitcom. The show was created in 1997 by The Simpsons‘s Al Jean and Mike Reiss, I imagine to comply with the terms of a very specific ransom demand:

Teen Angel follows a high school boy, Steve Beauchamp (Corbin Allred), and his recently deceased best friend, Marty DePolo (Mike Damus), who dies from eating a six-month-old hamburger from under Steve’s bed on a dare and is then sent back to Earth as Steve’s guardian angel. Marty’s guide is a large, orange and disembodied head named Rod (Ron Glass), who identifies as God’s cousin (a running gag throughout the series is that Rod is mistaken for God himself). Maureen McCormick, who played Steve’s mother, Judy, left the series halfway through its run.

That first sentence is the one that most sits on my head and makes me beg for mercy. Not just for content, but the way it’s said. I write some convoluted sentences myself, but that’s in order to achieve a deliberate effect. A big old Wikipedia Heaping Pile Of More Words (Now With More Words! If you find some more, please add them to the pile!) like this makes me want to diagram sentences, which I shouldn’t be doing since I’m not in eighth grade anymore.

So naturally I would like to know: why, in the start of the 1974 Rankin/Bass animated special Twas The Night Before Christmas, are the children of Junctionville sending letters to the rather touchy Santa Claus in September? Well? Huh? Maybe Santa had no idea a mouse published mean stuff about him in the local newspaper and instead he was just peeved they were begging for stuff before Labor Day For Crying Out Loud. Maybe all the characters’ little drama just went completely unnoticed.