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

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

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

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

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

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

>
> So they beat up such people,

CROW: [ Snickering ]

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

TOM: The other Freshman Calc TA?

MIKE: Maybe.

> force them out of the discipline,

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

> and
> drown them out with crowd forces.

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

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

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

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

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

> and I was forced into my destiny.

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

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

CROW: Well, don’t let us stop you.

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

>
> But it’s not up to me,

TOM: It’s up to my mom.

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

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

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

TOM: Pig Latin.

> broken. The world
> does not know this

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

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

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

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

CROW: Real people. Salt of the earth types.

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

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

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

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

>
> But mathematics is more than just a word.

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

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

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

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

CROW: GANGWAY!

MIKE: THE NEW FACTORING METHOD IS HERE!

TOM: RUN TO YOUR DESIGNATED PRIME NUMBERS!

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

TOM: Or at least maybe save Delaware.

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

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

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

MIKE: Death by greatest common denominator!

>
> But I am.

TOM: You’re leaving the world vulnerable?

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

CROW: Funny how life changes, huh, guy fiddles around with Fermat’s Little Theorem, the hunter becomes the hunted, well, what’re you gonna do?

>
> These people will let civilization crumble. They will let terrorists
> and other criminals,

MIKE: And people who return library books late.

> or anyone who has the will and know-how to use the
> mathematics in an evil way,

TOM: Or who foolishly open up an evil parabola.

CROW: The cosecants of doom!

MIKE: The quadratic formula for MURDER!

> do it, without the world knowing because it
> trusts them because they are not who they claim to be.

CROW: It’s not even our world! It’s Mars, isn’t that the weirdest thing?

>
> You may die if you do nothing, and isn’t that fair?

TOM: We all have to die of something, you know, a heart attack, a car accident, being shot by the snipers of the worldwide mathematics conspiracy.

[ To conclude … ]

## MiSTed: JSH: So They Lied (Part 1 of 3)

For my next Mystery Science Theater 3000 performance, it’s a Usenet rant. James S Harris was — possibly still is — a regular on sci.math, a group for just what you’d think. Like everyone who loves mathematics, he tried to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem. Like many people, he thought he had something; it’s not difficult to come up with work that looks like it should prove that thing about $a^n + b^n = c^n$. Also like everyone taking that tack, including Fermat, he was wrong. He spent a lot of time arguing with the sci.math Actual Mathematicians about how no, maybe the whole of professional mathematics was wrong and not him.

As a sideline to his Fermat work, he thought he found a new scheme for factoring numbers. And spent a lot of time arguing with the sci.math Actual Mathematicians about how no, maybe the whole of professional mathematics was wrong and not him. So this is one piece of those many fights.

In the introduction sketch I imagine rattling apart a very fragile Tom Servo doll, one like the Crow T Robot that gets frozen to pieces in Eegah. I like writing sketches that have some visual action while staying something basic cable could produce in the 90s. The Izah fat evaporator was based on some similarly-named “make your muscles twitch so you lose weight” scam device I saw ads for in Singapore in the early 2000s. They were oddly hypnotic, showing this box put on various parts of the body while the singer chanted, “zap zap thigh, zap zap thigh, zap zap tummy, zap zap tummy”, and so on. The 17/23 Correlation is some weird conspiracy thing I know about because it got mentioned, and not explained, in The Straight Dope. The “such a Ratliff” that Pearl Forrester warns she has waiting was Stephen Ratliff’s story “Endeavor’s Beginning”, a group project to which I donated riffs. If it was ever finished and published I missed the news. Shame; I remember doing some good work on that. I think the “a kind of fish” line was originally one of Dave Barry’s jokes and forget from where.

[ OPENING CREDITS, SEASON TEN STYLE. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW, MIKE, and TOM SERVO are behind the desk. TOM has a bright yellow power brick-size contraption strapped to his chest; it has an oversized spiral paper disc in front. ]

CROW: [ Taunting ] Tom, you’re gonna die.

TOM: Am not.

MIKE: Gotta side with Crow. [ Looking up: ] Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Satellite of Love, and, uh, Tom is worried about his figure.

TOM: My friends wouldn’t say anything, but I have been packing on a few too many pounds and I don’t have time for a good exercise program, so instead I got an Izah fat evaporator. By stimulating my many muscle groups in rhythmic oscillatory pulses I can shed pounds without any work.

CROW: He’s gonna die.

MIKE: Crow’s right, but hey, you want, you want.

TOM: Right! Fire me up to fitness, Mike!

[ MIKE touches a button on the brick; the paper wheel starts spinning. TOM rattles around like an unbalanced washing machine. TOM makes all sorts of aggedy-aggedy-aggedy and acking type noises, while pieces go flying off — his cap, his head, his skirt, his arms one at a time, the front of his barrel, and finally he collapses behind the desk. ]

CROW: Told you so!

MIKE: Crow, hush, that’s not very nice.

[ MIKE leans down and digs around on the floor. He picks up the small cylinder with TOM’s mouth on it. ]

TOM: [ Dazedly ] I … feel … … lithe.

MIKE: Aw, great, and now Pearl needs us … Hello down there …

[ MIKE hits the MADS SIGN with TOM, who goes ‘Ow!’. ]

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL, PROFESSOR BOBO, and OBSERVER are seated behind card tables covered with books, papers, scrawled notes, strangely marked globes, astrolabes, for that `stuff’ theme. A bare light on a long electrical wire hangs over their heads. BOBO and OBSERVER mutter their lines to each other. ]

BOBO: Federal Reserve …

OBSERVER: Opus Dei …

PEARL: [ To BOBO and OBSERVER, muttering ] Just, keep me posted.
[ To camera, boisterously ] All right, Nel-sonnnn … [ She drags out the ‘n’, thinking of a way to twist it, finally giving up with: ] N. I got to thinking: why go to all the hard work of taking over the world when I can just find the guys who *do* rule the world and take *them* over?

[ BOBO holds up a piece of paper with “17/23” written across it, which OBSERVER does not find interesting. ]

PEARL: So now I just have to find them, and by ‘I’ I mean ‘you’, so, get into that theater and tell me what this tells you about who’s ruling the world, got it?

OBSERVER: Heidi Klum …

BOBO: Goo goo ga joob.

PEARL: BRAIN GUY!

OBSERVER: Hup … one conspiracy in 35 millimeters, coming up.

[ BRAIN GUY noise. ]

PEARL: And you better get it right or I have *such* a Ratliff waiting.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. MIKE is trying out putting the gumball dome under TOM’s mouth, while CROW snickers. ]

TOM: This just feels funny.

[ MOVIE SIGN; ALL panic. ]

ALL: MOVIE SIGN!

[ INTO THE THEATER … 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ MIKE carries in just TOM’s mouthpiece, and hides it behind the chair. ]

> From: jst…@msn.com

CROW: Hail the Missin’com!

MIKE: o/` old.math.river, that old.math.river … o/`

> Subject: JSH: So they lied

CROW: It happens.

> Lines: 109

CROW: Polygons: 28.

[ TOM, back to normal, emerges in silhouette. ]

TOM: It’s ten to one hundredth power of giddy, groupy fun!

>
> I first began to get a real grasp of the true situation when I was
> arguing about my prime counting function,

CROW: We’re … so very sorry for you.

> which is actually THE prime
> counting function,

MIKE: The prime counting function of the whole tri-city area!

> and after yet another useless argument on sci.math
> with some regulars, it occurred to me, they had to know.

TOM: How do you tell when an argument on Usenet is useless?

MIKE: It’s on Usenet?

>
> They had to know that what I had actually was different from what was
> previously known in key ways,

CROW: Like in its delightful lemony scent.

> but they were deliberately lying about
> it.

TOM: I confronted them. They denied it. Case closed.

>
> Now I have found a new factoring method.

MIKE: [ Mad science laughter ] Mwu-hu-ha-hA-HA-HA-HA-HAAA … huh?

>
> Literally trillions of dollars WILL move as a result, but for now, you
> can see the quiet as these people keep lying.

TOM: It was visible out there. Too, too visible.

>
> How is it possible?

MIKE: Can this mixed-up world be as zany as I hope?

>
> Mathematics is a difficult discipline.

CROW: And a worse toothpaste.

>
> Or you can say, math is hard.

TOM: But with a crunchy peanut buttery center.

>
> Most people shy away from it because it IS so hard,

MIKE: Others avoid it because they’re afraid a rogue
isosceles triangle will impale them.

> but a few people
> learned that while doing real mathematics was hard, LOOKING like you
> were doing real mathematics was easier.

TOM: Finally we learn why Sudoku has caught on!

>
> So they fake it.

MIKE: But they were caught when they identified the square root symbol as “a kind of fish”.

[ To continue … ]

## MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 4 of 4)

And now the end of this MiSTing of the Robert McElwaine GALACTIC FEDERATION Update. I’ll have something else next week, I don’t know what.

MOS Burgers is this hamburger chain I got into when I lived in Singapore. They had a lot of advertising copy about being in harmony with nature and such. Good burgers, including the option to get a “bun” made of steamed-rice patties. The Klindesteron beademungen were friendly but incomprehensible aliens encountered in the James Blish short story “Common time”.

Marissa Picard is of course the hero of Stephen Ratliff’s famous Kids Crew Star Trek fanfic series, the series that also made Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic a thing. Jay Gordon was a supporting character in the series. There was no MiSTing with a host sketch where the Brains made Jay Gordon cry, though. I don’t think there was even a host sketch where they met. Marrissa Picard got a few appearances, though. Sonic the Hedgehog also produced a bunch of fanfic that was good for MiSTing.

The mention of Heidi Klum references a Usenet crank of the early 2000s, who held that the aliens who control human destiny leave hints to the future in the career of Heidi Klum. He’d show up in the relevant newsgroup whenever Klum appeared on, say, Conan O’Brien’s show, explaining how to decode her amiable small talk.

>
> Today, we have discussed segments of our shared history that
> explain your origins and the basis of your present condition of
> consciousness.

MIKE: Next week, remember, we’re doing the Polish-Lithuanian monarchy, so read up chapter eight and be ready with questions, people.

> We ask you to use this awareness to examine how far you
> actually have come!

CROW: I’m suddenly more aware of my tongue.

TOM: You don’t have a tongue.

CROW: Then I’m suddenly confused and distressed.

> Your liberation and new world service are truly
> within reach!

TOM: As soon as you pay up your library fines!

> We now take our leave.

MIKE: [ As Groucho ] I’ve had a wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.

> Blessings, dear Ones! Know, in

CROW: In your Diamond of Diamonds,

TOM: In your Club of Clubs..

> that the eternal Supply and perpetual Prosperity
> of Heaven is yours!

> So Be It! Selamat Gajun! Selamat Kasijaram!

CROW: They’re either Malay or the Klindesteron beademungen.

> (Sirian
> for Be One! Blessed in Love and in Joy!)

TOM: And there’s some fine print where you sign up to buy two CDs each month for a year.

>
> Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: Somebody check the Earth’s batteries. Venus was dead three months before we noticed.

> http:
//www.paoweb.com
>
> This copy was reposted by Robert E. McElwaine

TOM: The `E’ stands for `Extra.’

CROW: Robert E. McExtralwaine?

> PAO Member
> Eckankar Initiate

MIKE: And a good friend.

> B.S., Physics and Astronomy, UW-EC

CROW: Hah … Mike?

MIKE: Not my fault, guys.

> http:
//members.aol.com/rem547 PLUS

> http:
//members.aol.com/rem460

TOM: That adds up to rem 1007.

>

//www.paoweb.com/sn122600.htm ,

CROW: A URL actually created by a snore.

> http:
//www.disclosureproject.org .
>

> P.S.:
PASS IT ON !

MIKE: You’ll never guess which of your close friends is waiting for this very message!

>

> ok

TOM: OK? Is that all you have to say for yourself?

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. GYPSY, TOM SERVO, and CROW are there, with many papers scattered on the desk. A pencil is wedged into CROW’s hand. ]

GYPSY: You need line 17 from form 8-E.

CROW: I know, I’m just — look, how many amiable characters from the movies and shorts we watch have visited us on the Hex Field View Screen this year?

TOM: 28, including four visits from Marrissa Picard.

GYPSY: You have to tell them how you made Jay Gordon cry.

TOM: Tell them 35.

CROW: I’m not cheating on these forms!

TOM: Oh, like they’ll check?

GYPSY: It kind of goes against the spirit —

[ MIKE enters. They all hush up for a few seconds. ]

MIKE: So. Who wants to —

[ Simultaneously: ]

GYPSY: Crow.

CROW: Tom.

TOM: Crow.

MIKE: Well?

CROW: We realized we haven’t filled in our reports for the Galactic Federation of Light this year yet.

TOM: You wouldn’t believe how many forms it is, either, but it’s worth doing.

GYPSY: It’s an important part of bringing light to the universe.

MIKE: [ Playing along ] Plus you might get to be Head Beagle.

GYPSY: So we’re listing all this year’s light-bringing.

CROW: You got anything you want reported?

MIKE: I, uh, cleaned the burnt pizza stuff out of the toaster oven.

CROW: That’s good! What else do we have?

TOM: We played keep-away with Observer’s brain for like ten minutes.

MIKE: That didn’t really uplift anyone’s soul.

CROW: Well … what about that fun we had playing backgammon? That had to bring something good into the world.

GYPSY: We just moved the checkers around randomly for five minutes, got bored, then you threw them like ninja stars until you broke the McVote McDLT glasses.

CROW: Oh yeah.

TOM: Well … we had to have done something, right?

GYPSY: We didn’t stop anyone from bringing light.

TOM: Yeah!

CROW: OK, I’m writing that in — Mike, you have any stamps? We need to mail this to the Galactic Federation of Light Central Processing Bureau in Menominee, Michigan.

MIKE: Oh, fresh out. Let’s check in on Pittney-Bowes, shall we?

TOM: Four, five — hey, does Sonic the Hedgehog still exist?

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. The stage is filled by shipping cartons of all sizes, marked “LIGHT BULBS” and stacked precariously high. BOBO, PEARL, and OBSERVER are squeezed in front, reading
papers on a business envelope. ]

OBSERVER: Dahdahdaaah … appreciate your filing early … blah de blah … having reviewed your Federation of Light returns this year … yeah, uh-huh … computed against withholding reported in form 671-X …

PEARL: So how much of a light-bringing refund did we *get*?

BOBO: [ Pointing at a line ] Fifty-five thousand, three hundred forty three!

[ A pause, as PEARL simmers. ]

PEARL: That’s our Zip code, you — [ She pinches his nose. ]

[ BOBO barks, Curly style; his left arm windmills around and hits OBSERVER’s brain, which he drops, apparently onto PEARL’s foot as she grabs her foot and hops. She trips into BOBO, who bounces against one pile of boxes, sending it crashing. He rebounds to knock PEARL and OBSERVER into their own huge stacks, which sends off volleys of crashing and imploding light bulb sounds through the credits … ]

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc. The essay “GALACTIC FEDERATION Update: August 5, 2003” comes to us from Robert McElwaine and Sheldan Nidle. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who intends no particular ill-will towards Robert McElwaine, Sheldan Nidle, or any nigh-omnipotent beings guiding humanity towards a glorious new destiny in the stars, but does enjoy following Kansan’s reports of how they signal their intents through the life and career of Heidi Klum. Come back, Dr. Mike Neylon!

> Greetings, dear Hearts! We return with more interesting topics to
> share with you.

[ The end … for now. ]

## MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 3 of 4)

I hope that you’re enjoying this circa-2003 Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction, riffing on Robert McElwaine’s update from the Galactic Federation of Light. You can read the whole of the MiSTing here. If you don’t like it, that’s all right, I’ll have something else running here in two weeks.

“If [someone] had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened” has always been one of my running jokes in MiSTings. It’s a mistaken reference to the Woody Woodpecker cartoons Bronco Busters. In the cartoon, about how Woody gets taken by a scammer time and time again, the narrator repeatedly says “if Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened”. But I started using it as a reference ages before YouTube was a thing and there was just no checking these things.

Gurmit Singh’s a Singaporean actor and comedian. There’s no good reason to reference him, just, tossing in some local-for-me-at-the-writing color is all. Blue Kryptonite was harmless to Superman but crippled Bizarro. (Usually; the stories, somehow, were not always perfectly consistent.)

Please do not cut yourself on the razor-sharp edge of my takedown of Star Trek: Enterprise.

> At times, these wars seemed endless.

CROW: It was like watching the History Channel.

> The
> devastation’s intensity was inconceivable. We were always astonished at
> the extent to which the star-nations of Anchara would go in order to
> ‘win’ these wars.

MIKE: Star-nations of Anchara? There’s galactic warfare about whether to accept Captain Archer and Team Bland on `Enterprise’?

> Their fierce stockpile of weapons and unspeakably
> brutal military forces sparked a reign of terror across this galaxy.

CROW: Yet still they can’t explain John Ashcroft.

>
> Eventually, our growing alliances led to the Galactic Federation
> of Light.

TOM: And that’ll have to be enough for you.

> The Galactic Federation was one of a number of organizations
> – neutral, dark or one with the Light – operating in this galaxy.

MIKE: And all striving to become the Master of Orion.

> At
> any rate, the wars produced a vast number of ‘wandering’ star-nations
> that moved about according to the circumstances caused by the wars.

CROW: If the Galactic Federation of Light had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened.

> From them, we learned a great deal about the hate and the needless
> actions and divisions caused by limited consciousness

MIKE: You know, like when you overdo the Robitussin.

> and its constant
> train of fear and wrongly-derived assumptions. We found this quite an
> eye-opener.

TOM: It was zesty, and it had a great minty taste!

> We also learned the extent of the Ancharites’ deception.

CROW: The Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Dionne Warwick — none of them ever really existed!

TOM: What?

> Although we were shocked, initially, at how dark this galaxy had
> become, we realized, deep in our Hearts, that this insanity would
> definitely end.

MIKE: Oh, yeah. Superadvanced cosmic being and I bet they just whip out the Ritalin.

> Until that divine moment, we had to do whatever we
> could to stalemate the continuous wars.

TOM: But the Galactic League of Nations proved to be a disappointment.

> Thus, we created technologies
> and strategies that would bring about the required results.

CROW: That seemed too hard, so we started playing Europa Universalis II for a couple millennia to kill time.

>
> Ultimately, just over two million years ago, these wars produced
> conditions that allowed us to colonize your solar system.

MIKE: And we’ve still got half our stuff in cardboard boxes.

> A new set of
> broad-based attacks by the Ancharites, nearly one million years ago,
> destroyed these first human colonies.

TOM: A million years these Federation of Light creeps float about the planet and none of them remembers to not leave sitting ducks all around.

> Later, a counter-attack by
> Galactic Federation forces culminated in the second Earth colony of
> Lemuria

CROW: So Joey the Lemur was a space alien?

TOM: Actually, yeah.

> and the destruction of the Ancharites’ main planetary world.

MIKE: The genocide was necessary, as otherwise some of the Ancharites might have lived.

> Its explosive end produced the asteroid belt that now revolves between
> Mars and Jupiter.

CROW: Explosive ending! No one will be admitted during the last five minutes of the Ancharites’ home world.

> Moreover, many of the smaller moons of Mars, Jupiter
> and the solar system’s other outer planets are the result of the
> carnage from these explosions.

TOM: A couple of them were just tchochkes we picked up at garage sales.

> Indeed, your solar system is a curious
> monument to the violence that was part of these wars.

CROW: Please observe silence while visiting the Solar System.

> It even extends
> to the outer layers of cosmic dust and larger particles that form the
> edge of your solar system.

MIKE: This is all related to Blue Kryptonite, isn’t it?

> Because these clouds were unduly charged,
> the outcome was a constant barrage of comets and asteroids.

TOM: But they do all look really festive come Christmas time.

>
> Even your Sun was not spared the degrees of violence of which the
> Ancharites were capable.

MIKE: And with our powers and a million years to try it was too much work to fix it up again.

> They attempted to permanently disrupt your
> Sun’s interaction with her planetary daughters,

TOM: By being vicious gossips.

> resulting in the highly
> elliptical orbits that still characterize the way your solar system’s

MIKE: The tragic result of putting unbalanced loads in the washer.

> Initially, these orbits were almost circular.
> For that reason, a circle has a 360-degree arc.

CROW: Bake your circle at that 360 degree arc for fifteen to twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

> commemorates the original solar year of 360 days, each lasting 24
> hours.

TOM: Is that mean solar or sidereal time?

> The first colonists of ancient Lemuria decided not to alter this
> situation,

CROW: This reminds me of a story that happened once in … Zobooland.

> and kept this anomaly as a sign to future generations of
> what had actually occurred in this once splendid and beautiful solar
> system.

MIKE: Nice of them to leave us such a hint.

> These wars also caused the conditions needed to plunge you into
> the morass that we know as limited consciousness.

CROW: So, the Federation of Light wants to bring Light to the universe and does it by leaving a broken-down solar system and dropping colonists on it who’ll be too stupid to do any Light-bringing?

TOM: It’s the Galactic Federation of Durrr.

>
> Clearly, the dispersion of humanity into your solar system – even
> your fall into limited consciousness – are by-products of these galaxy-
> wide wars.

TOM: As soon as you leave the solar system, though, you’ll figure out how to travel interstellar distances.

> Furthermore, the Galactic Federation’s acceptance of a
> nearly ‘hands-off’ policy was the result of circumstances brought about
> by these same wars.

MIKE: That hands-off policy that did so well to avoid the war in the first place.

> This policy allowed the Anunnaki to become your
> overlords, and their earthly minions to secretly control you for the
> past 13 millennia.

TOM: Oh, *good* one, Galactic Federation of Light.

> However, this situation was dramatically changed by
> your rise in consciousness and by the Anunnaki’s recent turn to the
> Light.

CROW: And, what the heck, nothing good on TV this week anyway.

> These events have made possible the Galactic Federation’s direct

MIKE: The protection money we demand will be reasonable and collected infrequently.

> It has also given us an opportunity to
> assist those forces of Light that are laboring to transform your world.

TOM: Unfortunately, the only agents they have on the scene are Judge Reinhold and Gurmit Singh, so it’s taking a while.

> This has resulted in the agreements that are about to be revealed.

CROW: I’m betting they call for people to wear less black, though.

>

MIKE: You put it that way, I feel so *naked*.

> You
> are interconnected Beings who are sharing the same destiny. That
> destiny is to be returned to fully conscious Beings of Light.

CROW: Just two weekends a month, and two millennia a geologic age.

> The
> concluding phase, before this divine transition can be fully revealed
> to you, has taken much too long for our liking.

TOM: Frankly, you’re on the verge of failing this class!

> Finally, the last
> vestiges of the dark have begun to see that their continuing battle is
> truly in vain.

CROW: The movies of Jerry Bruckheimer will get more desperate.

> This acknowledgement has allowed a new energy of
> positive intention to envelop your beautiful, blue orb.

MIKE: Clean it every other weekend with a damp cloth, and keep it out of direct sunlight.

CROW: This is what the Mirror Universe had instead of “Highlander 2.”

> This energy has
> provided additional courage to those who are enforcing the agreements,

TOM: This is all going to end up at the World Trade Organization somehow.

> which guarantee that a new reality can be manifested, now, upon your
> world.

CROW: Watch your doorknobs for signs of opening blue eyes.

> We thank all who have helped and, especially, convey our deepest
> gratitude to all Light workers. Your victory is approaching!

TOM: No, really. Going to be here soon. Can’t see it taking more than another 375,000 years at the *latest*.

[ to conclude … ]

## MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 2 of 4)

Thanks for being with me for the next part of this update from the Galactic Federation of Light. The whole Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic based on this rant should be here. Robert McElwaine was one of the great glorious cranks of the Usenet era, often posting things like this which weren’t necessarily bad but were difficult to take seriously.

“The Swan” was a short-lived reality-TV show about taking people who were Hollywood Ugly and dressing them up until they could attract A MAN. This sort of thing seemed important to denounce back then.

The Rydburg constant is from quantum mechanics. It’s part of describing how a hydrogen spectrum looks.

One of my all-time favorite riffs is Crow saying how “one of my most endearing features is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the physical universe”.

>”Robt McElwain” <rmcelwaine@visto.com
> wrote in message

CROW: It’s the 21st century and we’re *still* getting Robert McElwaine. Could we get some new cranks in here?

>
>
> Update from the REAL Galactic Federation

MIKE: The other Galactic Federation is just full of phonies.

> and The Spiritual Hierarchy
> August 5, 2003

TOM: They’re masters of space, time, and dimension, but their Usenet servers are kept up by turtles.

> Communicated thru Sheldan Nidle of The Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: So stop teasing him.

CROW: Shel-*dan*?

> http:
>
> Greetings, dear Hearts!

TOM: Howdy, lovey-kins.

> We return with more interesting topics to
> share with you.

MIKE: And we’ll give you six of them for four easy monthly payments of \$24.99 each.

> One of the things that we find most interesting is how
> your concepts of cosmology have distorted the origins of this physical
> universe.

CROW: Why, thank you. I think one of my most endearing features is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the physical universe.

> Its genesis lies not in a ‘big bang’, but rather in a simple
> series of multiple creations.

TOM: This `Big Bang Burrito’ theory we expect will be slow to catch on.

> These creations produce many different
> dimensions and an abundance of realities. The crucial element is

MIKE: Erbium.

> divine
> consciousness. All of us dwell in a living, conscious universe.

TOM: Except for the audience of “The Swan.”

> That
> universe is composed of inter-dimensional Light and Time, which
> combine, in infinite ways, to form space.

CROW: Is this gonna be on the final?

> It, in turn, creates
> realities and shapes physicality’s countless dimensions. The physical
> universe is a magical place.

MIKE: So that’s why everyone’s after me Lucky Charms.

> The only limitations that exist in any
> reality are those that its inhabitants and its heavenly guardians,
> together, permit.

CROW: I already saw “Free To Be You And Me.” Can I go?

> Your laws of physics are a true misnomer.

TOM: They’re more nagging suggestions of physics instead.

> in awareness or new collective perceptions can instantly alter these
> so-called ‘laws’.

MIKE: One morning I took too much Sudafed and the Rydburg constant? Pfft. Out like a light.

> Now, this important process has begun.

TOM: No, no, no, don’t go rushing into anything right now.

> It promises to
> create an entirely new reality for you and indeed for the rest of
> physicality.

CROW: You know, I can’t get “2000 Flushes” to work right.
Should I be part of creating a new reality for everybody?

>
> Creation is a continuously unfolding phenomenon. The divine plan
> has dealt out to us all a multiplicity of sudden twists and turns.

TOM: You are in a maze of twisty divine plans, all alike.

> Now,
> as a direct result, countless sentient species live in the physical
> universe.

MIKE: The Asian short-clawed otter alone occupies four galaxies.

> Their many different languages, cultures and rituals create
> an immensely wide range of traditions and perceptions that center upon
> the origins of their realities.

TOM: Yet they cannot tell a cabbage from a lettuce.

> They have inspired us to closely study
> the residences of this nearly infinite universe. In our galaxy, it gave
> rise to the creation of

CROW: Kickapoo Joy Juice.

> numerous spiritual sciences, dedicated to
> developing a full understanding of this knowledge, and to discovering
> its precise part in the whole.

TOM: In order to make more efficient ABC Afterschool Specials.

> Eventually, this study laid the first
> foundations for a spiritual anthropology and, later, a spiritual
> sociology.

MIKE: And later still, spiritual philately.

TOM: Spiritual geology was a big hit.

CROW: People say spiritual ichtyology is an easy major, but there’s a lot to it you don’t see.

> These sciences gave us a wealth of information about our
> common origins,

CROW: For example, origins turn out to be common.

> which are far greater than the processes that brought
> about human evolution on the third planet of the Vega solar system more
> than six million years ago.

TOM: As of next Thursday.

> Actually, our beginnings filled a physical
> and spiritual niche foreseen by the divine plan.

MIKE: I mean, it’s like they had God or something setting things out.

> Prior to that event,
> we were all spiritual Beings hanging tenaciously to the vast Life-
> streams of Heaven.

TOM: Oh, here it comes.

CROW: Yup. This is the hard sell. How much, McElwaine?

>
> As humanity advanced through this galaxy,

TOM: We started shooting everything we didn’t understand.

> we encountered physical
> Beings quite unlike us in form, culture and language.

CROW: We would have given them the chance to surrender,
but we didn’t want to look weak.

> If we did not
> succeed in bridging these huge differences, war often resulted.

MIKE: And, really, we went out with the best of intentions.

> At
> first, those who aggressively followed the dark principles of their
> creator-Being, Anchara,

CROW: Leader of the Imperium Sweaters.

> distressed us greatly. Suddenly, we were
> involved in an enormous galactic war that had woven itself across the
> breadth of our galaxy for many tens of millions of years.

TOM: A most savage alien race, they were. When we shot them they fought back.

> This struggle
> created a need for many alliances to form with thousands of other like-
> minded star-nations.

> It also introduced us to the continuing strange
> and violent process that is destined to transform this galaxy from the
> darkness that has engulfed it.

TOM: They’re using the F-U-N-D cheat, aren’t they?

[ to continue … ]

## MiSTed: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update (Part 1 of 4)

I’d wanted to move into sharing a fresh Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. I discovered that a folder I thought had a bunch of long-forgotten MiSTings did not have anything of note in it. So, to give me a month to work this all out, please enjoy this mildly forgotten MiSTing. I shared this update from the Galactic Federation of Light back in 2017, but that was like twenty years ago.

The reference here to “Commodore Schmidlapp” is to Doctor Mike Neylon, who had hosted Web Site Number Nine, the center of the MiSTing community in the 90s. About a year before this MiSTing was posted, he took the site down “for a weekend” for some upgrades or whatnot and he hadn’t been seen since. Observer’s reference to a “force-ten brain-imploder” I’m pretty sure was to whatever MiSTing I was working on next. I don’t have records good enough to say what I thought it was. Possibly a Stephen Ratliff piece. I contributed riffs to many of those and there’s at least one that, so far as I know, never got organized and finished into a complete piece. That might be worth sharing if I could be confident that Mr Ratliff, who was always very kind about people filling his stuff with jokes, would not object.

[ OPENING CREDITS ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE BRIDGE. TOM SERVO is behind the desk. MIKE is sitting up front, near the camera, facing TOM. ]

TOM: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Satellite of Love. I’m Tom Servo, your host. Today we’ve got wonderful news for all of our loving and devoted fans. Starting Tuesday you’ll be able to find our new Special Collectible Crow T. Robot Gold Edition.

[ CROW, looking as he always does, enters from the left. ]

CROW: Hi, everyone. The gold edition me comes complete with netting, fresh-polished nose module, top-of-the-line sarcasm resequencer and an array of opinions on Peter Potamus. But there’s more —

MIKE: [ Raising his hand ] Does that come with director’s commentary?

TOM: Uhm —

CROW: Sure! Lots of commentary.

TOM: Won’t be able to shut him up!

[ GYPSY enters from the right. ]

GYPSY: And with the Ruby Edition collectible Tom Servo —

MIKE: Hold it; does the Crow come with trailers?

CROW: I — uh —

GYPSY: A trailer hitch.

MIKE: Is he in 5.1?

TOM: He’s … in … 8.3. I think.

MIKE: Anamorphic?

CROW: I’ve heard of that.

TOM: Is it good?

GYPSY: I think so.

CROW: Yes! Any further questions?

[ MADS SIGN flashes. MIKE walks back to the table to get it. ]

MIKE: Hang on, the deleted scenes are calling.

[ MIKE taps the sign. ]

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL and BOBO are at a desk working on a great many forms; BOBO is dressed as accountant. OBSERVER watches the camera, curious. Calculators, notepads, and slide rules complete the table clutter. ]

OBSERVER: Does Crow come with animated chapter breaks?

BOBO: Deducting form 8-E, line 17 …

PEARL: Hello, Mike. Peculiar doll-thingies.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ]

CROW: Hey, we’re action figures!

GYPSY: Yeah!

TOM: I’m comfortable being a doll.

MIKE: Ah, what’re you doing, Pearl?

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is muttering to PEARL. A bell rings from off-camera. ]

PEARL: [ To BOBO ] Oh, what, *again*? We’ve had him in the dungeon a *year* now and we’re not getting through.

BOBO: For the capital invested in keeping Doctor Mike — you can’t argue the return-on-evil. Look at the figures.

PEARL: Brain Guy, can’t you do this?

OBSERVER: Oh, Pearl, you know Bobo does forms better than I.

PEARL: [ To MIKE ] What are we doing? Oh, wouldn’t YOU like to know?

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW, TOM, MIKE, and GYPSY are there. ]

MIKE: Well … yeah.

GYPSY: [ To TOM ] I just never saw you as a doll before.

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is fiddling with a slide rule. ]

OBSERVER: Sorry up there, Mike; we’ve got some reports to fill in.

PEARL: Something *you* will understand perfectly after you get through this week’s experiment — if you DARE!

[ PEARL begins to cackle; OBSERVER pats her shoulder. ]

OBSERVER: [ Low-key ] It’s not all that evil.

PEARL: [ Similarly ] No? I thought we were picking these —

OBSERVER: You have to give them a change-up, something odd and then you let go with the force-ten brain-imploder. It works better.

PEARL: You’re the brain guy, but I want them to suffer more —

[ The bell rings again. ]

PEARL: Oh, somebody get Commodore Schmidlapp his tea already.

[ BOBO hits his palm against the slide rule, launching it to stage right. There follow several crashing glass noises, and then the hissing and bubbling of horrid liquids seeping places. BOBO whimpers. ]

PEARL: Brainy?

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As before. ]

GYPSY: They’re getting stranger.

CROW: I just never saw you as a doll.

TOM: You should try accepting an expanded self-image.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General alarm. ]

MIKE: Oh, great, save it — guys, we got movie sign!

[ Screaming and such continues. ]

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ ALL enter theater. ]

MIKE: Wait, she’s torturing other Mikes?

>Path:
rpi!uwm.edu!newsfeed.cs.utexas.edu!in.100proofnews.com!in.100

>proofnews.com!news-out.visi.com!petbe.visi.com!feed.news.qwest.net!

>news.uswest.net.POSTED!not-for-mail

“Baron Maximillian von Schwartzmeinoppenhause”

CROW: Zany? You’re soaking in it!

><schwartz@baronville.com
>

>From:
“Baron Maximillian von Schwartzmeinoppenhause”

><schwartz@baronville.com
>

TOM: That’s for everyone who missed the zany before.

>Newsgroups:
24hoursupport.helpdesk,alt.alien.research,alt.alien.visitors,

>alt.revisionism,sci.astro,soc.history.what-if

MIKE: The gang.

>References:
<20030814025106.21510.00001411@mb-m07.aol.com
>

>

>Subject:
Re: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update: August 5, 2003

CROW: Attention Mister and Missus Galaxy and all the ships at sea! Flash!

>Lines:
159

>X-Priority:
3

TOM: Better tell Wolverine and Professor Xaiver.

>X-MSMail-Priority:
Normal

Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1158

>X-MimeOLE:
Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2800.1165

MIKE: [ Clapping his hands ] Ole’!

>Message-ID:
<hqX5b.733\$Qa.55492@news.uswest.net
>

>Date:
Fri, 5 Sep 2003 02:02:48 -0600

TOM: We get the August update in September?

CROW: They’re pretty laid back in this part of the federation.

>NNTP-Posting-Host:
67.1.139.151

>X-Trace:
news.uswest.net 1062748941 67.1.139.151 (Fri, 05 Sep 2003

>03:
02:21 CDT)

>NNTP-Posting-Date:
Fri, 05 Sep 2003 03:02:21 CDT

MIKE: There, see? Told you it was Central Daylight Time.

>Xref:
rpi alt.alien.visitors:516492 alt.revisionism:1566553

>sci.astro:
445867 soc.history.what-if:738420

TOM: Inside The GPS Signal.

To continue …

## MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 4 of 4)

We come now to the end of Arthur Claude Munyan’s mysterious rant, On Beards And Evolution. Munyan’s rant does include the insulting notion that some peoples — not white people, of course — might have extraterrestrial genes. If you don’t need that racist nonsense in your recreational reading, you are right, and we’ll catch up next week when I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m enjoying digging out old Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction of mine even if I come across jokes that I now regret. (For example, here, a pretty cheap shot at individuals who might “have extraterrestrial genetic material”.)

If you do decide to finish this fanfic, though, it’s got some of my favorite goofy riffs, particularly the set of science fiction stories. You should always be suspicious of jokes you love a little too much, but that exchange? Even the weaker lines in that are great lines and I won’t hear otherwise. The bit in the closing sketch about “authentic interviews” is also an adjective-noun combination that keeps making me smile.

Dr Alan Chartok and Steve Kmetko were Albany (New York) local news personalities in the late 90s/early 2000s. I don’t know where they now are. Gurmit Singh is a Singaporean comic actor. Madonna is someone I was startled to learn is from Bay City, Michigan because I just assumed she was from New Jersey. Doesn’t she seem like someone who’d be from New Jersey? Right? Also back then we all just thought it was merry fun to mock Michael Jackson like that and I regret that now. I don’t believe Zheng He’s armada circumnavigated the world, but I accept for the purposes of making a joke that it might have been able to. The riff about where the Ancient Egyptians are today is adapted from a Robert Benchley line about Napoleon. Please also appreciate how I really nailed the quirks of the History Channel of the late 90s.

All four parts of this MiSTing should be at this tag. If you’d rather read them in order here is the first part, and this link is the second, and here’s the third part. The fourth and final part starts … now.

>
> An interesting and related note is that the Egyptians used to
> harbor an incredible revulsion for facial hair.

JOEL: Oh, sure, I can see how that’s related — huh?

> Many of them would
> depilate their entire bodies, pencil in their eyebrows, and wear
> elaborate wigs made of human hair or wool.

CROW: Yeah, and just look where the ancient Egyptians are today.

>
> Indeed, much of the wisdom of the ancients became lost with the

TOM: So they gave up Zheng He’s armada capable of circumnavigating the world, but they got to shave.

>
> I shall now come to the final phase of my theory.

CROW: I’m going to grow a beard and see if I get dumber.

> For the past
> several years, I have become personally involved in a body of
> research which points to the possibility of the existence of
> extraterrestrial aliens.

[ ALL burst out laughing. ]

TOM: I was afraid the theory was going to be silly!

> I have read extensively the works of such
> noted scholars in the field as Dr. John Mack, David Jacobs, Whitley
> Strieber, and Budd Hopkins.

JOEL: Plus a couple Piers Anthony things for flavor.

TOM: H. G. Wells’s “The Shave Of Things To Come”!

CROW: Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever Wax”!

>
> While reviewing the vast number of sketches that have been made
> of these alien beings, whether you want to believe they’re real,

JOEL: Fred Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth’s “The Moustache Plague”!

CROW: Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonriders of Perm”!

TOM: Cordwainder Smith’s “Alpha Ralpha Barbershop”!

> imagined, or intentionally fabricated, one common denominator among
> them stands out.

CROW: E. M. Forster’s “The Machine Crops”!

TOM: James Blish’s “Surface Tonsure”!

JOEL: Douglas Adams’s “Salon, and Thanks For All the Fish”!

>
> Out of all these sketches, not one of them depicts an alien
> wearing a beard.

[ ALL laugh again. ]

JOEL: Nor do they depict aliens playing T-ball, does that mean T-ball shouldn’t exist?

CROW: No, and the failure of depictions of aliens to show them paying the electric bill indicates power companies are doomed!

TOM: It is abundantly clear that aliens never wear bunny slippers! I am adjusting my lifestyle to compensate!

>
> Not one.

CROW: Actually, the ones in “Cocoon” are *all* beard.

>
> I believe that there may very well be a connection between these
> alien beings and the Mongolian race.

TOM: They are all connected in the great Circle of Goofiness.

> A careful study of these
> sketches reveals that these beings resemble the Mongolian race to a
> greater extent than the other races.

CROW: If you kinda squint.

JOEL: I’ve noticed as well aliens are never depicted painting houses, spackling drywall, or replacing window trim. This bodes ill for the future of odd-jobs workers!

> The most obvious similarity is
> that both tend to exhibit a sloping pattern to their foreheads.

TOM: Unless you’re on Star Trek, when it’s where they put bumps.

>
> A more significant similarity is that they both appear to
> exhibit a trait which is clearly indigenous to the Mongolian race.

TOM: Come to think of it, aliens never stop off at Burger King. You know what this means!

> This trait is known as the "epicanthal fold."

CROW: Hey, you can’t say “epicanthal.”

> This is a biological
> trait that accounts for the distinctive shape of the eyes that
> Asiatic people possess. This same trait also appears evident in
> many the alien sketches I have studied.

TOM: Case closed.

CROW: Notice, too, no depictions of extraterrestrials feature them picking up jumbo boxes of Cheez-Its at Kmart. This is why the retailer’s emergence from bankruptcy is a waste of effort!

>
> Could it be that the Mongolian race is our closest genetic human
> link to these extraterrestrial beings?

CROW: How many humans have extraterrestrial genetic material?

JOEL: At a guess, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Gurmit Singh, and Doctor Alan Chartok.

> I don’t know. We are
> probably eons away from finding out.

JOEL: Longer, if we hit the red lights.

>
> However, the physical similarities between the Mongolian race
> and the alien sketches I have studied are compelling enough to
> warrant further investigation in this direction.

TOM: How, by watching more “Space Kidettes” cartoons until a new breakthrough shows up?

JOEL: I have observed that space aliens almost never play Monopoly.

>
> As stated earlier,

TOM: Was this before or after beards won the Thirty Years War?

> members of the Mongolian race wear beards to
> a lesser frequency and of lesser thickness than do males of any
> other race.

CROW: Including the 10-K fun-run.

> If the sketches of the extraterrestrial aliens I have
> seen are any indication, they don’t appear to wear beards at all.

TOM: So if you see a man without a beard, he’s probably an alien.

JOEL: It occurs to me now that there are no depictions of aliens who eat cold canned ravioli, so shape up! You know who you are.

>
> The implications facing modern men today should now be obvious.

CROW: I’m in way over my head.

>
> In my considered opinion,

JOEL: I’m glad he considered this. If he just posted off the top of his head he might’ve said something goofy and embarassing.

> these advanced beings are trying to
> tell us something.

TOM: They’re telling us to point and snicker at him.

>
> In keeping with the spirit of the new millenium,

CROW: We must abandon our music boxes, to live up to the standards of the aliens who never play them!

> I propose that
> bearded men everywhere surrender to the will of evolution and follow
> their example by shaving them off.

JOEL: But the example of bearded men is wearing beards.

TOM:Our shining new future: Short, pudgy, hairless, big-eyed entities with no way to differentiate between individuals!

>
> Our cooperation will surely facilitate the evolutionary pattern
> that our Creator,

[ CROW, TOM stare at JOEL. ]

> in His divine wisdom,

[ CROW, TOM snicker. ]

JOEL: Don’t start, you two.

> has set in motion for the
> future course of human civilization.

CROW: Under the petty totalitarianism of high school principals.

JOEL: This guy’s his own sort of Woolly Bully.

>
> Arthur Claude Munyan, Sr.

TOM: Not to be taken internally.

CROW: “Arthur Claude Munyan”? That’s not a name, that’s a minor Charles Dickens character.

>
>

CROW: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

JOEL: [ Picking up TOM ] Not a minute too soon.

TOM: What of the aliens, who never watch Steve Kmetko?

CROW: We don’t care.

[ ALL exit. ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. GYPSY, CROW, JOEL, and TOM SERVO are there. ]

JOEL: Hello. I’m Sam Waterston, and you’re watching the Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel.

[ CAMBOT puts up a yellow serifed `MH’ in a circle, covering most of the screen, for a moment. ]

JOEL: If you just joined us you’ve missed “The Moustache That Never Was,” the incredible true story of how British intelligence diverted the Germans away from the invasion of Sicily by planting facial hair on the body of a “drowned” British courier.

CROW: I’m David Aykroyd, and you can catch it again at 11:00 tonight. Coming up next, “Barbershops of the Third Reich” explores how a chance allergic reaction to that blue liquid foiled a plot which could have ended the war in 1942.

GYPSY: And now an Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel Moment.

[ ALL stand stand silent for a few seconds. JOEL holds his breath. ]

GYPSY: This has been an Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel Moment.

TOM: I’m Roger Daltrey. On Civil War Journal we explore to what extent was General George Thomas mislead by his follicles? You’ll find out at midnight in “The Tweezer of Chickamauga.”

JOEL: Tomorrow at ten we use authentic interviews, amazing dramatic re-creations and actual computer analysis to help solve the greatest crime of the 20th century. Tune in to see “The Men Who Shaved Kennedy.”

CROW: All this and more on the Arthur Claude Munyan History Channel!

[ CAMBOT puts the `MH’ logo back up, for a moment. ]

GYPSY: Let’s all be there!

JOEL: What do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK are crouched on the ground and studying a random patch of it closely. ]

DR. F: Yes, yes, all well and good, Joel, now just hold a second.

FRANK: Here it comes!

DR. F: And there’s the one at platform C!

FRANK: And A and B are pulling up!

DR. F: We got it, man! All four platforms!

FRANK: Yes!
[ They high-five each other. ]

DR. F: Ssh! Ssh! We have to savor this.
[ They both pause, listening. ]

FRANK: We did really build something, right?
[ DR. FORRESTER glares at TV’s FRANK for a second. ]

DR. F: Push the button already.
[ TV’s FRANK leans over, reaching out of camera. DR. FORRESTER looks directly at the camera. ]
DR. F: Well, folks … goodnight.

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc. The essay “On Beards and Evolution” is the property of Arthur Claude Munyan, Sr. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph Nebus, who intends no particular ill-will towards Arthur Claude Munyan, Mystery Science Theater 3000, or the History Channel. All beards used in this MiSTing were fictional and any resemblance to actual beards, whether living or shorn, is entirely coincidental. I’m pretty sure that model subways already exist, but the idea I find funny enough to use as an Invention Exchange even though it is so visually boring. When in Singapore be sure to enjoy the shiny new North-East Line, which is fully automated and has windows on the front and back cars, so you can stand there and pretend you’re the engineer. Come back, Dr. Mike Neylon!

> Out of all these sketches, not one of them depicts an alien
> wearing a beard.

## MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 3 of 4)

Now to the third part of another Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This one ridiculing Arthur Claude Munyan’s rant On Beards And Evolution. Part 1 ran two weeks ago, and part 2 ran one week ago. This is how things should work but when I write it like that it sounds harder than it needs to be.

This part includes my original addressing of the question: is this guy for real? And my conclusion, as mentioned last week: does it matter? If the piece was written sincerely, then it deserves its ridicule. If it was written to spoof a particular attitude — a racist, sexist, authoritarian attitude — then it did well. I would hope my falling for the joke makes the original better, then.

Speaking of the joke. This is the part where Munyan asserts he is not a white supremacist but wishes to make a “bioracial” argument. So if you don’t need that kind of white supremacist drivel in your life, even as it’s held up for ridicule, you are right and we’ll catch up again later.

And speaking of that ridicule. I have changed some of my ridicule. One change was of a riff mocking professional racist Phillipe Rushton’s name. The man deserves ridicule but “Phillipe” by itself doesn’t. I remember having doubts about the riff when I wrote it, fifteen or more years ago. But I ignored those doubts because the line sounded, to me, like the riff the Brains would make. And maybe they would have, in the 90s, and maybe they’d regret going for mocking someone’s name. I need to better listen to those doubts in myself.

There were also a couple of riffs about Munyan’s assessment of Asian people. As I re-read this, I saw too much of a gap between my anti-racist intent and how a reasonable person who had not invested the effort to know me might take my exact words. So the thing to do is say something better and I have taken that chance.

>
> Even the courageous victory of Mayor Daley’s Chicago police
> force against the demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic National
> Convention

JOEL: Oh, yeah, glorious victory. They’re still cheering about that one.

> failed to bring us back to our senses. It wasn’t until
> Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency more than ten years later that
> much of our dignity and national pride began to return.

TOM: By running up the debt, slashing environmental protection laws, pretending AIDS would go away by itself, and selling weapons to terrorists.

>
> Today, we are blessed with the definitive knowledge that beards
> are unsanitary.

CROW: Not if you don’t use them to scrub the toilet.

> The excess hair of a beard on a man’s face secretes
> oils which clog up the pores of the underlying skin at an
> accelerated rate.

JOEL: And it passes the savings on to you!

>
> These oils can lead to increased productions of harmful
> bacteria,

TOM: But only if they’ve completed their studies.

> resulting in formations of acne and other skin problems.
> A beard does nothing more than obstruct the surface area of the
> face,

CROW: Which is why shaven people never have pimples.

> preventing it from getting the thorough cleansing that it
> needs.

TOM: Killing hundreds of thousands of people each year — deaths covered up by the powerful Commissar of Beards!

>
> Common sense says that the cleaning of any type of surface is
> best achieved in a succession of layers.

JOEL: My gramma says it’s best achieved starting from the top and working down to the bottom.

> cleaning a floor that is cluttered with dust clods.

TOM: I think it would go … something like this:

> One would not
> rush right in and mop the floor without first sweeping or vacuuming
> all that dust.

CROW: Why not? It’s fun!

> Doing so is just as futile as trying to wash a face
> that is cluttered with the stubbles of a beard.

JOEL: So mop your beards after every meal.

>
> One only needs to examine the face of a man who has just shaven
> off his beard to verify the truth of these words.

TOM: Warning: Use only volunteers for this experiment.

> What you
> typically see is a pallid and pasty skin tone, populated by the
> presence of one or more unsightly pimples.

CROW: Munyan’s the kind of guy Singapore tells to lighten up.

>
> In addition to all the oil and bacteria they generate, beards
> prevent the facial skin cells from receiving the amount of
> circulation and sunlight they need.

TOM: Circulation? What, they’re vampire beards?

> A bearded face is not a happy
> face.

JOEL: Even if the person wearing the beard is happy.

>
> The scalp is different. It was designed for hair,

TOM: And not for porridge.

> and that is
> where it belongs. God made it that way.

CROW: And beards were created by, who, General Mills?

> With the hard bony surface
> of the skull directly beneath, there are fewer subcutaneous layers
> of skin where bacteria can grow. This is why pimples hardly ever
> grow on the scalp.
>
> I will say nothing derogatory about nose hairs.

TOM: He doesn’t want to get in trouble with their advocacy groups.

CROW: Oh, come on! This guy can’t be for real. “I will say nothing derogatory about nose hairs?” Who *writes* stuff like that?

> They play a

TOM: You think Munyan’s insincere about his beard feelings?

CROW: This has got to be somebody’s parody of Internet rants.

> vital role in keeping bacteria and dust from entering one’s

TOM: So they sent us a counterfeit?

JOEL: I don’t know … the Mads are evil and all, but that would be mean.

> respiratory system. Ear hair also plays an important function in

CROW: Yeah, but *nobody* connects politics and beards.

TOM: No, no, there’s nothing so stupid it doesn’t have some advocate on the Internet somewhere.

> helping to filter out foreign bodies from entering too deeply into

JOEL: Well, whether Principal Professor Munyan’s man or myth, guys, there’s one thing I know for sure.

CROW: Yeah, and what’s that?

> the ear canal, thus serving to prevent harmful infections.

JOEL: We’re stuck reading the rest of him.

TOM: Great.

CROW: Sheesh. I just feel lied to somehow.

>
> Armpit hairs serve their purpose as well.

JOEL: They’re no shirkers.

> They work in
> synchronocity with the sweat glands

TOM: Let me draw a ridiculous diagram to illustrate.

> in regulating a man’s body
> temperatures during times of physical exertion and stress.

JOEL: I can’t tell you how many times I was stressed out, but the thought of armpit hair kept me going.

>
> Unfortunately, evolution has yet to eliminate the unneeded
> armpit hairs of women.

TOM: Yeah, get on the ball, you mutative processes!

> They look a lot better without them, and
> they certainly don’t need them for their housework.

CROW: What about for their armpit puppet shows?

TOM: And, of course, women can’t do anything else in life.

> A truly
> feminine woman in this day and age keeps her armpits shaven.

JOEL: *IF* she knows what’s good for her.

>
> Hair is good.

TOM: Think about it, won’t you?

> As long as it is kept in the right places.

JOEL: Do not keep your hair in the fridge.

CROW: Avoid storing surplus hair under the car’s distributor cap.

TOM: Under no circumstances put your hair on another person’s tongue.

>
> However, the most compelling reason for modern man to shun the
> wearing of beards

CROW: …is to make it easier for us to find the real Santa Claus.

> is to humbly cooperate with the evolutionary
> pattern of human civilization which has been destined for us.

JOEL: You know, I kind of bought it when he said beards brought an end to slavery, but now I think he’s getting a little silly.

>
> I herewith present a bioracial basis for this argument.

TOM: Good. Nothing makes our lives more pleasant than hearing somebody’s “bioracial” arguments.

>
> But before I do, let me make one thing perfectly clear. Contrary
> to a lot of popular suspicion, I am not a white supremacist.

CROW: Somebody warning you he’s not a white supremacist is usually letting you know he’s a white supremacist.

> Being
> a Caucasian male, I do not consider myself to be a member of a
> superior race.

CROW: We agree.

>
> Instead, I believe this distinction may very well belong to the
> Mongoloid race,

JOEL: The “Mongoloid race”? Where does this guy teach, 1912?

CROW: He *can’t* be for real.

> which includes the various peoples of Asiatic
> descent. The Chinese and the Japanese are our best known examples.
>

TOM: In that they’re the only ones Munyan’s heard of.

> Marco Polo himself expressed this view in the year 1290 when he
> said:

CROW: “Hi! I’m Marco Polo! And I’m padding my travel voucher!”

> “The Chinese are the wisest people in the world.”

ALL: — In bed.

> It is no
> secret that Asians have generally overwhelmed the other races in the
> academic arenas in our nation’s public and private schools and
> institutions of higher learning.

JOEL: That’s just ’cause they got the help of Gamera.

>
> According to Professor Phillipe Rushton of the University of
> Western Ontario,

TOM: “Hi! I’m Marco Polo! And I’m *still* padding my travel voucher!”

> who is one of our leading scholars in the
> scientific investigation of racial differences, there exist various
> indices of significant and striking Asiatic superioity.

CROW: Why, the superioity in their spell checking alone …

>
> When compared to identical average measures for Caucasians, for
> example, Asians have been generally shown to possess larger brains,
> more brain cells,

JOEL: Better fluency in Asian languages!

CROW: More family in Asia!

TOM: Greater average distance from Stamford, Connecticut!

> and higher average IQ scores. They have also been
> shown to have higher marital stability, greater tendencies to abide
> by the laws of their governments, and better mental health and

JOEL: Which I learned from playing them in Civilization II!

>
> They also put us to shame when it comes to sexual restraint.

CROW: Heck, they embarassed us all with that foot binding stuff.

> As
> a whole, the Asians display a significantly reduced proclivity to
> sexual promiscuity in comparison to all other racial groups.

TOM: Which is why there’s three billion people in Asia.

>
> Another difference not yet mentioned is that Asian males have
> fewer beards and beards of less thickness than do males of other
> races. How often do you see a Chinaman with a full length beard?

JOEL: How often do I see a “Chinaman”? I don’t know, depends how often I go building the Transcontinental Railroad.

> My guess would be not very often.
>
> There is a wok chef in one of our local Chinese restaurants who
> has worn a beard for as long as I can remember.

TOM: Case closed.

> Although it has
> reached a considerable length, it is of a very thin and wispy
> thickness and texture. Such is the case of every beard I have ever
> seen worn by an Asian male.

JOEL: And I’ve seen three!

>
> The reason for the lower incidence of beards and reduced beard
> thickness among Asian males is not entirely clear.

CROW: Perhaps the beards are simply waiting to ambush us.

> One theory holds
> that the early Mongolian people used to burn the faces of their
> young male children with heated metal in order to stop the growth of
> facial hair, sparing the lip areas for the growth of mustaches.

TOM: Evolution doesn’t work that way, but where would Comparative Beardology Science be if we rejected every theory that doesn’t work?

[ To be concluded … ]

## On looking over 2500 words about one episode of Conan

In looking over how much typing I did for that one episode of Conan, you know, I guess I see why the original Late Night Fan Abstract Project back in the days sometimes struggled to find someone who’d write up an episode where the comedy sketches were Celebrity Tombstones and Conan’s Lullaby, and the guests were Al Roker and whoever the secondary female lead was for the sitcom NBC was putting on Tuesdays at 9:30 Eastern/Pacific for the next six weeks.

## Conan Abstract Project Episode 1510 – 24 June 2021

The Late Night Fan Abstract Project was one of those expressions of fannish exuberance you got in 1990s Usenet culture. I suppose you get it now too; I just don’t know to handle exuberance anymore. But on Usenet group alt.fan.conan-obrien — organized no later than April 1994 — there grew this tradition. It was one of writing abstracts, summaries of episodes, for those who couldn’t see a show, or who wanted to look up when some guest or some sketch was done, or some noteworthy discussion happened.

I joined, of course. I wasn’t alone, although some weeks it felt like it. Most every night — plus special events, such as when The Allbell got hold of a videotape of Conan’s premiere episode — someone would videotape an episode and go slowly over it to describe what happened. I’d do, usually, about one episode a week, sometimes filling in for Abstracters who had something terribly concrete mess up their plans. I’d like to credit my skills in writing story strip plot summaries to this experience but I doubt that. I fell out of the thing around 2000, probably when I was nearing the end of my thesis and surely when I moved to Singapore. (Late Night with Conan O’Brien didn’t really air in Singapore in the early 2000s, although some episodes would sometimes run on CNBC weekends.) And, of course, Usenet fell apart around then, and Late Night by 2009, and you know. We all have other stuff to get to.

I don’t know that there was ever a Fan Abstract Project for Conan O’Brien’s TBS show, but what the heck. Here’s one entry, as one of the few things I never missed becomes impossible to miss again.

# Conan Abstract Project Episode 1510 – 24 June 2021

## Cold Open: Homer Simpson does exit interview with Conan O’Brien.

• Homer’s there for a big star at TBS; figures it’s one of the Impractical Jokers. ‘That time you and Sal blew up that toilet, I can’t believe that guy lived!’
• Homer’s had hundreds of jobs, at one point even a monorail conductor, ‘What a stupid idea that was!’ Conan thinks that’s a nifty idea.
• ‘How long have you been working at Tibs?’ ‘I think you mean TBS.’ ‘Thanks a lot, smart guy, but I think I know how to spell Tibs.’
• Homer’s favorite moment was that time Conan asked an actor if there were any wacky stuff on the set of his movie and told a mildly interesting anecdote and Andy fell asleep. ‘You just described pretty much all the shows I’ve ever done.’ ‘Good thing I only saw one, then.’
• How would his coworkers describe him? In one word or less. ‘Irish.’ ‘Funny, you don’t look Irish.’
• ‘You know what? I’m gonna get a pencil and write this down.’
• Conan reveals his Homer-level baldness. ‘Oh my god! You’re beautiful! You mean the world to me, Conrad!’

## Opening Credits.

• With Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Four

## Monologue.

• Closing jump obscured by audience sign. No string dance! Conan chant tamped down, ‘It’s getting creepy … I know how Mussolini felt.’ Andy: ‘I don’t think you should say that.’ ‘I thought it all turned out well for ol’ Mussolini, didn’t it?’
• ‘Our final show on TBS.’ Andy: ‘Wait, *what*? I just bought an amphibious car!’
• They’ve done over 4000 hours of TV. Always promised tonight was really great, was often lying.
• Thanks everyone at the Simpsons for the cold open, promotes this little show that’s never broken through.

## Live Over Zoom: Will Ferrel.

• He’s in Boston, shooting a secret project. It’s Batman. ‘In this version he gives oral’.
• Wishing all the best, excited to see what comes next. Was there for the last Late Night, and the last Tonight Show, and now this. It’s krunking *exhausting*.
• Pretapes a few goodbyes for when his next several shows flame out.
• Slates, introducing ‘string of Conan talk show goodbyes’, claps hands together.
• Congratulations on HBOmax show, six episodes isn’t a lot but you packed enough for eight episodes.
• Will from set of his Batman sequel, we all miss his late night talk-show on Al-Jazeera Network. Sorry about the fatwa.
• When I heard MTV3 was looking for host of new reality show, ‘Videos of People Dry-Humping in Trucks’ you were the first name that popped into my head and now, 12 seasons later … good luck, next host Logan Paul Jr.
• I wish we were done! Truly going to miss your Delta Airlines talk show ‘Wheels up!’
• YouTube won’t be the same without your classic unboxing videos, such reverence and wit to episodes such as Kitchen-Aid Serrated Bread Knife.
• Reality Competition Show ‘Celebrity Room-Temperature Oyster Eating Contest’ cut down by explosive diarrhea outbreak; who could have predicted? Everyone.
• Conan is 80% sure we have a great show tonight.

## First Segment.

• So many amazing guests. Here’s a sample.
• Steve Martin reading his diary of Conan’s sluggishness.
• Martin Short, would love to do the shore more often but, you know, pride.
• Jordan Schlansky brings Lego Millennium Falcon to Harrison Ford, who trashes it.
• Fake clip from The Notebook 2. Conan wrote Ryan Reynolds every day for a year; they kiss.
• Tequila Slaps with not sure.
• Betty White is ‘getting better’ seeing muscle-y guy on magazine.
• Lord of the Rings guy showing off a prop ring; ‘My Precious’ guy comes in and swipes it.
• Will Ferrell shows off his dog-training, with maze of dog stunts to perform. Absolutely none of the dogs do anything and it’s all about the dogs going out of control while he freaks out.
• Medley of Zach Galifianakis entrances.
• Woman doing impression of turtle, eats lettuce.
• Woman talking about being single; it gets dirty, shocking Conan. ‘Why does every question I ask you go down a certain [path]?’
• Blue-screen riding stunt with Tom Hanks and Woody on a motorcycle; Woody gets knocked off by road sign.
• Andy Samberg ‘and his new baby girl’; doll is riding on a chest charrier; does a lot of chest-bumping, jumps on the ground and all.
• That cell phone crotch trick I don’t want my Dad to know about.
• Animal expert on; a large (iguana?) wraps their tail around Conan’s leg so the tail pokes out between his legs. Andy: ‘Now they all know the Conan that we know.’
• Comic be-bop singing duet with actor I didn’t recognize.

## Second Segment.

• Conan trying his hand at other careers, ‘I hit it out of the park every time.’
• Mary Kay Beauty Consultant. Goes outside to stare in from the window with mis-painted lips.
• Commercial Actor. Scenario of being too calm while driving in crises. ‘Wait, you’re saying I hit a guy on a bike, but because I’m in such a nice car, I don’t give a krunk? That’s crazy, this car is making me immoral!’ Lighting makes Conan look eight years old.
• Modern Dancer. Alvin Alley dance troupe. Conan gets his head edited on top of a better dancer’s body. Conan starts drumming, picks people who are still dancing when he stops and picks them out. ‘*You* are now Uber drivers.’

## Third Segment.

• Conan Without Borders clips.
• Cuba. Dancing; Cuban pay phones. Supermarket with rows of one product. Manager doesn’t want them filming there. Sings ‘I am Nutella’, other gibberish with street band.
• Korea. Learning the language. Creeps out language instructor. ‘I don’t like you.’ Visiting Demilitarized Zone. K-Pop video.
• Armenia. Sheepherders dressed like bouncers. Conan and Sona Movsesian dress in more traditional garb. Her voice drives sheep along.
• Haiti. Conan desk-drumming in a schoolroom; kids join in. One kid slaps his hand.
• Israel. David invites Conan for coffee, thinks he’s beautiful.
• Australia. Male echidnas have four-pronged penises. ‘Why?’ ‘Why not?’ ‘She’s good.’
• Mexico. Conan giving monologue in Spanish. Collects for the wall; people give the finger.
• Ghana. People get fantasy coffins. Coffin-maker laughs at the turkey coffin gag (‘you get to be the stuffing’), to be polite. ‘It’s not the cough that carries you off, it’s the coffin they carry you off in’. Conan’s fantasy coffin is a giant Conan with a NASCO tv.
• Berlin. The Happy Bavarian dancing, including accidental face-slappings.
• Japan. Companies provide fake families for the lonely. Conan’s fake family doesn’t understand his jokes but laugh to be nice. ‘Do you guys like ramen? Not me, I like my men cooked. … Please tell them to laugh.’ ‘What if I don’t understand his joke?’ ‘You don’t need to, just laugh.’
• Greenland. Conan gives the weather report, reading off the teleprompter.
• Italy. With Jordan Schlansky. Conan yells out random things. Conan wants pumpkin-spice-lattee from bartender; guy in background makes hideous, offended face. Driving with Jordan; Conan has music ‘this sounds very stereotypical to the point of insulting’. Movie sound effects. ‘We can also have silence as well.’ Car stalls out; Conan has fallingsound effect. Raspberry sound effect. Jordan cracks up (!), calling Conan a fool.
• Mentions, went to Armenia with Sona Movsesian, she’s not there as she’s expecting twins any day now. She’s in the audience. Conan didn’t know. ‘You told me you couldn’t work, but you can come here and check the show out?’ Thanks her for everything.

## Fourth Segment. Guest: Jack Black

• Special note: the musical guest on Episode 1 of _Conan_ in 2010 was Jack White. The symmetry goes without mention.
• Black comes out with a cane and a leg cast in what I thought several times was going to be a bit. No; Conan says he was ‘the healthiest I’ve ever seen you yesterday’. They were going to do a bit where Black does a musical number with a lot of physicality and with a fake injury, and paramedics who’d take him, and whom he’d shake out. They were pre-taping the bit where he escapes the paramedics, and doing one more take, and Black tumbled, spraining his ankle. The paramedics for the bit were actors, of course. The ambulance was a fake; it didn’t even have bandages. The paramedic actors drove to CVS to buy bandages. ‘It was a really quick run to CVS’, said Black.
• It’s a real sprain, says the MRI, and he has to do nothing physical while he heals. (I thought he was going to use this to break out and reveal the whole story was a fake. I was wrong.)
• Conan thought it fitting that given the meticulous perfect finishes of Johnny Carson and David Letterman, *they* came up with a bit where Jack Black hurts himself faking getting hurt.
• Ah, but Jack Black can sing. He does ‘You Did It Cone’s Way’, a filk of ‘My Way’. ‘I wrote/ this song today/ that’s why the lyrics/ are so krunk-y’. Though he can’t do *much*, Black is able to stand and twirl his jacket around and toss it to the audience.

## Final Farewell.

• Conan’s beneficiary of hundreds of talented, amazing people. 11 years ago came to TBS; Steve Coonan, ‘what the Irish call a mensch’, said he’d protect you and your people and will support you. They did that. Thanks bunch of TBS people.
• Thank Rick Rosen, Gavin Polone, Libra Keene (?), his squad. Polone’s his agent and I imagine the others are connected similarly.
• Executive Producer Jeff Ross. He peeks out from behind stage. ‘He’s making dinner reservations’.
• Andy Richter, brilliant man, love him forever. Thought of the funniest thing to say a million times. ‘Their chanting is gonna make me cry!’ ‘It would’ve been nice if you, like, fake-laughed once!’ ‘Oh, I did!’
• Always wanted best comedy writers and did, starting in 1993 to now. Courage, ingenuity of writers.
• Particularly: Michael B Sweeney, Matt O’Brien, ‘no relation to me … I always tell people that he’s my uncle’s son and we had to hire him and so many interns think it’s true and don’t give him the respect he’s due and I think it’s the funniest thing in the world.’ Another look backstage, at him.
• Field producer Jason Chillemi who gets everything sorted out on location, ‘gets shot’. He peeks out from backstage; Conan says we didn’t think this through; everyone’s a creep who pokes out of the dark.
• Line producer Sarah Pederovich ‘if she left I’d leave show business’; where are you?
• Lorne Michaels for his faith in a crazy, stupid idea back in 1993.
• Lisa Kudrow, who he met outside these doors in an improv space in 1985; immediately sized her up as one of the coolest people he’d ever meet. In 1993 she had more faith in him than he did, ‘You’re the only one that can do it’. You wouldn’t know him if it wasn’t for Lisa Kudrow.
• Shout-out to parents, who’ll see this three months from now. Siblings ‘they never, ever were impressed by anything … would you?’.
• Most amazing thing was a remote when he met a woman, an advertising executive, ‘you can see me fall in love on camera’, his wife Liza. ‘When we shot the scene in The Notebook when I kiss Ryan Reynolds she said, ‘Well, that ruined both of you for me’.
• And because of Liza, I have two children, I know everyone thinks their children are incredible but I’ve seen some of your children and they suck. My children are better, though.
• ”I have devoted all of my adult life, all of it, to pursuing this strange phantom intersection between smart and stupid. And there’s a lot of people that believe the two cannot coexist, but, God, I will tell you, it is something that I believe religiously, I think when smart and stupid come together — it’s very difficult, but if you can make it happen — I think it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. I am so grateful to all my staff, and the fans in this country and around the world, who have joined me in this really crazy and seemingly pointless pursuit to do things that are kinda stupid but have something smart in there somewhere, and then there’s a little tiny sort of flicker of what is a kind of a magic, I think, that’s what I believe. So, my advice to anyone watching right now, and it’s not easy to do, it is not easy to do, it’s not easy to do, but try, try and do what you love, with people you love, and if you can manage that it’s the definition of heaven on Earth. I swear to God, it really is. So goodnight, thank you very much!”

## MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 2 of 4)

Another special consideration with MiSTing rants? How did you know they were sincere? How do you tell a genuine loopy argument from someone mocking a loopy argument? Like, I remember one Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic that mocked an argument we had proof of time travellers meddling with history by how some events were put inexplicably out of order. The argument gave an example: how could Bruce Lee’s Return of the Dragon, released in 1972, have logically come out before Enter the Dragon, released in 1973? The MiSTing snarked that oh, yeah, one reference book gets movie dates wrong and that proves time travel? Except that, yeah, Return of the Dragon was made before Enter the Dragon. So was the original time-travel-conspiracy rant in earnest? Or making a really sly joke?

Arthur Claude Munyan’s On Beards And Evolution gave me similar vibes. It still does, some. Like, this is an expertly-crafted parody of a particular kind of petty-authoritarian attitude, right? The author didn’t really believe it, right? And yeah, I know, we have the coward excuse that however dumb an argument is someone believes it. But did I get taken in? Or was I ridiculing something actually deserving the ridicule?

Ultimately, I decided, it doesn’t matter. When I say something facetious and find it taken in earnest, I am delighted (and my love offended). If the person behind this rant had similar intentions, I hope they are similarly delighted. Anyway, there’s a lot of riffs in here that I really like, and only a couple that I regret.

And, again, a content warning: Munyan’s piece contains racist attitudes and while my riffing sneers at that, you’re right if that’s not something you want in your recreational reading. We’ll catch up again with, I don’t know, that old Reboot fanfic or something.

Last week featured part 1 of this rant. It’s got two weeks to run yet.

>
> I never cease to be amazed at all the male high school students
> I see who are wearing beards.

TOM: Yes, some minds can find amazement in the most mundane things.

CROW: I thought he stopped all the high schoolers from growing beards?

> Misguided parents who allow this to go
> on are guilty of the worst form of permissiveness.

JOEL: They don’t hate dandruff enough!

>
> These parents ought to be teaching and modeling the true
> meanings of manhood

TOM: Like playing sports and blowing stuff up.

> instead of encouraging their sons to flaunt such
> false symbols thereof under the phony banners of freedom and
> self-expression.

CROW: True individualism consists of watching what everybody else does and conforming without being told.

>
> Let me make it clear that the grooming standards I am promoting
> apply to the twentieth century and beyond.

JOEL: He does not *necessarily* endorse travelling back in time and shaving historical figures. But he wants to keep the option open.

> Before then, we did not
> have the knowledge of good grooming and personal hygiene that we
> have today.

TOM: Basically, everybody before about 1957 was stupid.

>
> Many Americans lived under very adverse frontier conditions.

JOEL: Today, they just struggle to survive network TV.

> By
> necessity, daily survival itself was more important than shaving.

CROW: Hm, should I survive today, or should I shave?

TOM: Well, Billy decided to shave yesterday.

CROW: Did he survive?

TOM: Nope.

>
> Pre-twentieth century man was guided by a different set of
> priorities. Most honorable among them was our noble quest to
> fulfill our divine mission of completing our western expansion.

JOEL: Hm, should I massacre the Sioux today, or should I shave?

CROW: Well, Hank decided to shave yesterday.

JOEL: What happened?

CROW: The Sioux hung on to a scrap of their territory.

JOEL: Dang!

>
> The many savage Indian tribes who constantly tried to stop us
> kept our hands full. Shaving was the least of our worries.

CROW: Being on “Gunsmoke” was worse.

>
> As Americans, we prevailed. Because we are Americans.

TOM: Except for the Americans who were here first.

>
> Therefore, I fault no man for wearing a beard prior to the
> twentieth century. After all, many of our most famous Civil War
> generals wore beards.
>

CROW: And … that’s the only example he can think of.

> However, I cannot help but wonder

JOEL: How *can* I tell a cabbage from a lettuce?

> if the fate of the confederacy
> might have turned out differently if some of Robert E. Lee’s faulty
> his beard.

TOM: So slavery ended because of beards? Good for facial hair!

> I also suspect that Abraham Lincoln was similarly
> distracted when he put forth his Emancipation Proclamation.

CROW: Well, again, yay for beards!

>
> During the early part of the twentieth century, our armed forces
> finally wised up.

TOM: Not to hear the enlisted men tell it.

> They adopted the practice of giving all recruits a
> decent haircut, and a shave if necessary,

JOEL: Two bits.

TOM: And a pantsing where applicable.

> on their first day of
> basic training.

JOEL: And that has to last them *all* year.

>
> They finally realized that they can more effectively tap into
> and train the "inner man" into the fighting machine he was meant to
> become without a lot of superfluous hair in the way.

CROW: What, the beard absorbs orders that would otherwise be followed?

>
> History has shown us that military decisions are best made with

TOM: And a lot of shouting.

> A clean shaven face and a decent haircut go hand in
> hand with a clear head.

JOEL: Wait a minute — hands don’t go in heads!

> Even the Roman warriors favored clean shaven
> faces, in order to give their adversaries less area to grab hold and
> pull during hand to hand encounters.

TOM: And by having all males shave now, that’ll save us ten minutes before starting at the next war!

>
> They were also among the first to adopt the "high and tight"
> hairstyles

CROW: ‘Nuff said.

> that most of our recruits wear with honor and pride in
> our military boot camps today. It is most unfortunate that our
> Civil War heroes failed to follow their example.

TOM: Or the North could’ve won two years earlier.

>
> The twentieth century marked a major turning point in the
> history of grooming practices among our leaders.

CROW: Yes, the twentieth century will be remembered for automobiles, airplanes, computers, *and* the Gilette triple razor blade.

> The last U.S.
> president to wear a beard was Benjamin Harrison, who served his term
> from 1889 to 1993.

JOEL: His first 20 years were OK, but the last 84 kind of stank.

CROW: His effectiveness declined sharply after he died.

>
> Since then, not one of our presidents has ever sported a beard.
>
> Not one.

TOM: Their loss.

>
> Indeed, the first sixty years of the twentieth century was a
> golden age of grooming among men.

TOM: Soon they started grooming each other, but found they liked it too much.

> Most men were clean cut and
> shaved on a regular basis. Barber shops in practically every town
> and city in America fluorished.

>
> However, this glorious era was temporarily interrupted during
> the turbulent and ugly decade of the sixties.

JOEL: What’s so funny about peace, love, and Wildroot creme oil?

>
> Perhaps, the first omen of what was yet to come took place when
> Richard Nixon himself failed to give himself a proper shave before
> his televised debates with JFK in 1960.

CROW: He explained it as his Flintstone fandom, but nobody bought it.

> His five ‘o clock shadows
> clearly did him in,

TOM: When it grabbed a knife and attacked Jack Paar.

> as he came across as a character on a wanted
> poster instead of the dedicated communist fighter he truly was.

CROW: If he was a dedicated communist fighter, shouldn’t he at some point in his career have found a communist instead of just mudslinging Daniel Ellsworth?

>
> As a result of being duped by a more clean shaven and
> charismatic Kennedy,

JOEL: People stopped wearing enough hats.

> the American electorate had to endure eight
> years of Democratic rule and all the turmoil that it wrought.
>
> Shortly after this fateful election,

TOM: Fate stepped in.

> the Beatles came along with
> their mop style hair cuts. Teenage boys everywhere began to forsake
> their Brylcream and started growing their hair like the mangy
> sheepdogs that their heroes emulated.

JOEL: Oh, yeah, remember the “longhair” Beatles of ’64, with hair that grew as much as two and a *half* inches long.

> Popular American culture was
> just beginning its rapid descent into depravity.

CROW: What, when “Gilligan’s Island” came on?

>
> The cancer grew even worse with the emergence of the hippies a
> few short years later,

CROW: Short years are like regular years, but staffed by Munchkins.

> with even longer, more unkempt hairstyles and
> beards. Their influence on our American youth was devastating.

JOEL: Those pesky minorities started acting like they should have actual civil rights and stuff.

> Clean cut young men everywhere were seduced into their ranks, taking
> up pot smoking, internalizing anti-American ideas,

CROW: Watching Adam West on Batman.

> and protesting
> our nation’s gallant efforts to stop the spread of communism in
> Southeast Asia.

TOM: Efforts which were cancelled to make room for the Vietnam War.

>
> Instead of listening to leaders like Richard Nixon and Spiro T.
> Agnew,

CROW: They followed people with souls.

> they started following the likes of Jerry Rubin, Abbie
> Hoffman, and scores of other political agitators

JOEL: Vince Lombardi!

CROW: Tommy Smothers!

JOEL: Rowan and Martin!

TOM: Bubble Puppy!

JOEL: Robbie the Robot!

TOM: Sandy Koufax!

CROW: Underdog!

JOEL: Neil Armstrong!

> who were glorified
> to high heaven by our liberal news media.
>
> Rock stars with beards and long dirty stringy hair started to
> multiply like rabbits.

CROW: I loved seeing their cute little bunny paws working slide rules.

> Clean cut wholesome musicians like Lawrence
> Welk and Pat Boone became passe.

JOEL: Oh, they were passe even when they were hot.

CROW: Notice he says nothing about Liberace.

>
> Something was wrong. Our nation was going to hell.

TOM: If Woody had gone straight to the police this would never have happened.

> The chaos
> and decline of traditional moral values the hippies wrought was
> clear evidence that long hair and beards were clearly inappropriate
> for modern twentieth century man.

CROW: Every other century could handle beards, but they were just too much for the 60s, man.

[ To be continued … ]

## MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 1 of 4)

I mentioned last week needing time to figure out who this Arthur Claude Munyan name I referenced was. Munyan was the name given as writing a lovely little rant that I had MiSTed, On Beards And Evolution. So I’d like to share that. Bit of a content warning for the whole piece, although not so much this week’s installment: Munyan shows some racist attitudes and vocabulary, terms along the lines of “Asiatic People” or referencing professional racist Phillipe Rushton in apparent sincerity. If you don’t need that in your recreational reading, you are right and we’ll catch up on a later piece.

Rants were a special sort of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. Since they were never solicited, and were rarely even on topic for the Usenet group, they were treated with a particular disdain. This included refusing the courtesy of asking authors for permission to MiST them. How did we rationalize disregarding someone’s copyright in this way? Well, the normal mode of Usenet was for people to reply to posts, with new text inserted into the old. If you published on Usenet you accepted that, at least in principle, anyone might do that. So, we did.

[ OPENING THEME ]

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

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. At the desk are GYPSY, CROW, JOEL, and TOM. All looks normal. Too normal. ]

JOEL: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Satellite of Love. I’m Joel Robinson, these are my bots Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Crow, and it’s a holiday week.

CROW: So you know what that means …

GYPSY: It’s a half day!

TOM: And there’s inexplicable TV specials that have nothing to do with the holidays on.

JOEL: Also it’s your mother’s birthday on Friday, don’t forget to call her, so we’re going to jump right into the invention exchange.

TOM: We’re inspired by the electric toothbrush, which many dentists say is a good way to adequately brush even those hard-to-reach back teeth —

CROW: Especially if you’re incredibly lazy.

[ JOEL takes from behind the desk a two-foot tall electric toothbrush. ]

JOEL: So we’ve invented the electric soap-brush! Just lather it up, turn it on —

[ JOEL presses the side, and the soapbrush starts whirring. It splashes foam everywhere, in as excessive a manner possible. ]

GYPSY: And gently wave it over your body…

CROW: Scrubbing you clean!

JOEL: So you don’t have to!

TOM: Coming for Father’s Day, the power loofah.

JOEL: Now down to you, Bausch and Loam.

[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER is wearing a train engineer’s uniform, down to the striped cap, with Deep 13 patches sewn on. TV’s FRANK is standing behind, similarly dressed. The floor is bare. ]

DR. F: And hello, Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe. Like many generic middle-aged men, TV’s Frank is an avid model railroader.

FRANK: I *am* the God of PlasticVille USA!

DR. F: Much as model railroads excel in simulating vaguely 1953 small-town America, if you want the thrill of the big city and of high-population-density transportation networks, you have to look to our invention this week.

FRANK: It’s the model subway!

DR. F: In O, HO, Z, or N gauge now you too can recreate the experience of shuttling hundreds of thousands of tiny passengers far beneath your busy city streets.

[ TV’s FRANK goes to the upper left of the screen, half kneels, and holds his hands out, `showcasing’ the floor. ]

DR. F: There’s the New York City Interboro Rapid Transit lines (Brooklyn Mass Transit sold separately).
[ TV’s FRANK moves to the upper right, and repeats his gestures. ]
DR. F: The stylish and elegant Paris Metro!

[ TV’s FRANK stands stage center and kneels. ]

FRANK: Boston’s MTA — Charlie sold separately! Also available in MBTA.

[ TV’s FRANK moves just behind and left of DR. FORRESTER and gestures. ]

DR. F: The granddaddy of them all, the London Underground!
[ TV’s FRANK moves to the right, and gestures. ]
DR. F: And for the novice, Singapore’s shiny new North-East Line MRT.

[ TV’s FRANK and DR. FORRESTER begin grinning at a private joke. ]

DR. F: What station you at, Frank?

FRANK: Dhoby Ghaut!

DR. F: [ As Ernie Anderson ] In Color!

FRANK: [ Also as Ernie Anderson ] A Quinn Martin Production!

[ BOTH giggle for several seconds, and look to the camera. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. JOEL is toweling off TOM SERVO and CROW. ]

CROW: They’re just amusing themselves now, right?

JOEL: I think they shouldn’t have skimped on their oxygen budget.

[ DEEP 13. As above. TV’s FRANK is humming a generic 70s detective- show-style theme song. ]

DR. F: Well, Robert Moses, your experiment this week is a little piece all about facial hair and political destiny. It’s sure to make you think you’re hallucinating. Bon appetit!

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As above. ]

TOM: Did they actually make anything?

CROW: I’d buy the Washington Metro, if they’ve got it.

JOEL: I’m thinking of the fantasy line for Madison.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General alarm. ]

ALL: Aaah! We got movie sign!

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ ALL enter theater. ]

> Path: rpi!usc.edu!attla2!ip.att.net!in.100proofnews.com!in.

CROW: The only news source that’s constantly drunk!

> news.aol.com!audrey-m1.news.aol.com!not-for-mail
> Lines:

JOEL: Line? Anyone?

> 329
> From: professormunyan@aol.com (Professor Munyan)

TOM: Professor Munyan and his bunion enjoy some Funyuns!

> Date: 22 Sep 2003 10:21:20 GMT
> Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com

CROW: So all of AOL sent this post?

> Subject: On Beards And Evolution

JOEL: I was wondering when somebody would finally connect them.

> Message-ID: <20030922062120.08275.00001245@mb-m14.aol.com>

TOM: It’s the Xref that makes this extra special.

>
>
>
>
> ON BEARDS AND EVOLUTION

CROW: Oh .. uhm …

TOM: This is gonna be good.

>
>
> I am an educator and an American.

CROW: When Miss Brooks ruled the world!

>
> As an educator, I fulfilled a dream two years ago by becoming
> principal of my high school.

CROW: Finally he gets to show the bullies in gym class who’s boss!

> Prior to that, I taught American
> history for over twenty years.

JOEL: He stopped when somebody pointed out America has almost four hundred years of history, not just twenty.

>
> I taught with a passion for the patriotism and traditional
> American values that made our country great.

CROW: Memorization, rote learning, conformity and mindless obedience!

> As a member of our
> local American Legion, I was also the faculty sponsor for our Boys
> State Club.
>

CROW: *Darned* sure.

> that our members dressed, groomed, and
> conducted themselves like young clean cut gentlemen.

TOM: He was embarassed to learn he taught at a girls’ school.

> This meant no
> punk or hippie haircuts.

JOEL: Which served him well when he was teleported back to 1968.

> No earrings, no tattoos, and no beards.

CROW: Oh, yeah, tough guy stopping ninth graders from growing beards. What next, you suspend the girls who grow feathers?

>
> Today, I want to talk about beards.

TOM: We’re all mighty excited to hear that.

>
> We have just embarked upon a new millenium,

JOEL: Please keep your hands and feet inside the cart until we come to a complete stop.

> one whose beginning
> marks a critical juncture in the evolution of human civilization.

TOM: Unlike the rest of human civilization.

> In order to facilitate its progress, it behooves modern men today to
> abstain from the wearing of beards.

CROW: Oh, well, sure, if you put it like — huh?

>
> I will grant three exceptions.

JOEL: Oh, *thank* you, Mister Munyan.

>
> First, I will excuse the actors.

TOM: So Skeet Ulrich, you go ahead and grow a beard.

> Sometimes, an actor is called
> upon to portray a historical figure who wore a beard.
>
> I can relate to this personally.

JOEL: I was afraid he’d have to relate to it only through other people.

> About ten years ago, I was
> offered the opportunity to play the role of General Stonewall
> Jackson in a school play.

CROW: But the play was “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

>
> Normally, I would have considered it a dream come true to play
> a man like Stonewall Jackson.

TOM: Men like him, such as Braxton Bragg.

> But with deep regret, I had to turn
> it down.
>
> It was early in life when I learned that my face was not cut out

JOEL: No, your face is supposed to be attached to you. That’s how it works.

> for the beard I would have had to grow for the part.

TOM: So this guy can only grow pathetic wispy beards, and we have to hear about it?

>
> During a survival camping expedition during my twenties, I went
> an entire week without shaving,

JOEL: I barely escaped with my life!

> and that was about all that I could
> stand.

> My face itched to high heaven until I was able to seek the
> relief of a razor.

CROW: Then it took another two weeks till I remembered which way the blade is supposed to face.

>
> Second, I will excuse certain religious groups.

CROW: He’ll grant permission to people who don’t care about getting his approval.

> The Amish, in
> particular, have earned my highest admiration for their old
> fashioned morality and simple way of life. They deserve a lot of
> credit.

JOEL: So you can have buttons, or you can have a beard. Choose wisely.

>
> The Orthodox Jews are another example. So are the Sikhs.
>
> Finally, I will excuse the liberals.

JOEL: And the occasional Labour MP.

> If they want to look like
> the leftover overaged hippies they truly are, then I won’t stand in
> their way.

CROW: Yeah, he’s scared somebody’s going to drag him into their psychedellic circus.

> In the meantime, I call upon any good conservative out
> there who is still wearing a beard to shave it off.
>
> Otherwise, I see no other legitimate reason for any modern man
> in this day and age to wear a beard.

TOM: Except for Will Riker.

> Any man who does so without
> just cause is obviously suffering from a deep seated personal

JOEL: So why are *you* growing a beard?

TOM: Just ’cause.

JOEL: Well, you pass.

>
> If a man is truly content with his manhood, then why does he
> need to grow all that excess hair?

JOEL: They’re selling it on the black market!

> What is he trying to hide?

CROW: Communism!

[ To be continued … ]

## MiSTed: What’s Actually HOT and NASTY About Venus? Part 2 of 2

And today I conclude another MiSTing. This of Brad Guth’s essay demanding that someone explain what in fact makes Venus a nasty place for us. The first half of this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic ran last week, and next week? We’ll just see what I do.

The reference at the far end to Arthur Claude Munyan is an allusion to the author of another rant I had MiSTed. I’d completely forgotten and needed about twenty minutes of work to figure out what the heck I was on about. The weird non sequitur bit about tennis nets is from a Robert Benchley essay because I was going through a phase where I thought adding silly nonsense made the credits longer and therefore better. I apologize for my error.

> In fact, the acclamation to that sort of environment might
> even become humanly doable,

TOM: You just have to find the fun.

> within as little as 0.1% O2 and the bulk
> of the remainder as CO2

JOEL: CO2 — The Wrath of Khan!

> or perhaps artificially accommodated by a gas
> of some other element that’s quite likely already within the
> technology that’s at hand.

CROW: Like those dancing soda cans.

>
> There’s certainly no shortage of green/renewable energy at one’s
> disposal,

TOM: In fact, there’s none at all.

> thus no amount of raw energy need be imported.

JOEL: Just refill your thermos at the natural fountains of Red Bull.

> There’s
> certainly no shortage of H2O that’s sequestered within them
> relatively cool clouds

CROW: Them’s cool clouds, baby.

TOM: They’re the Barry Whites of strato-cumulus formations.

> (especially those of their nighttime season).

JOEL: In the nighttime season’s when we let it all hang out.

>
> I have a good number of other qualifiers

CROW: A couple conditionals, and three uses of the subjunctive tense …

> plus my humanly subjective
> interpretations of an image (nearly 3D at 36 looks per 8-bit pixel)

TOM: It’s just an ASCII art calendar of Snoopy.

> closeup look-see at what can be reviewed as every bit as most likely
> artificial,

JOEL: Venus is dyeing her hair?

> as otherwise nicely surrounded by whatever else is
> supposedly so freaking hot and nasty about Venus

CROW: Like her bratty kids and obnoxious dog.

> (whereas hot being
> almost entirely in reference to geological/geothermal heat since so
> little solar energy ever migrates into the surface).

JOEL: Um … you’re dangling participles there, Brad.

TOM: He’s dangling *everything* there.

> Of course, this
> information as having been deductively obtained from my
> observationology

CROW: Brad’s a certified expert in observationologicalizationalizing.

> perspective is now nearly 6 years old,

JOEL: Obervationologicalisms are so cute at that age.

> whereas I’d
> informed our NASA as to sharing my SWAG (scientific wild [ bleep ]
> guess) upon a few specific items of interest,

TOM: They were most interested in the chance at saving up to fifteen percent by switching to Geico.

> as having been so
> nicely imaged by way of their Magellan mission,

CROW: They’re not bad observationologicalisticalizers themselves.

> as to my sharing upon
> exactly what was worth taking a second unbiased review upon whatever
> Venus has to offer.

TOM: I called dibs on the chewey caramel inside.

> Silly me for thinking outside the box,

CROW: Or on top of spaghetti.

> much less
> upon anything the least bit positive or in my expecting something
> other of productive considerations

TOM: Does he mean money?

> as would have come by way of our
> nay-say (nondisclosure) folks at NASA,

JOEL: They say nay-say, we say, yes-way.

> that which apparently still
> had a good cash of way more than their fair share of "the right
> stuff",

CROW: Space rant mention of “The Right Stuff”, check.

> rather than having to risk dealing with anything as having to
> do with our moon nor Venus

JOEL: Wait, what’s the moon got to do with this?

TOM: Joel, have you not been observationalicologizing the same thing as the rest of us?

> regardless of whatever science and
> discovery potential may have been previously overlooked or simply
> underestimated, thus unappreciated.

JOEL: Okay, I’ll give five dollars to the first person who can diagram that sentence correctly.

>

CROW: I want to be censored. Daily. By Barbara Feldon.

> in order to minimise
> topic/author stalking, topic diversions into unrelated forums

JOEL: Well, sure, I can see how that … huh?

> and MOS
> spermware attacks upon my PC.

ALL: AAAAH!

TOM: GAH!

CROW: Don’t DO that!

JOEL: Hey, these are young bots!

CROW: I always thought MOS was more into serving chicken burgers with rice patty buns and smiley suns and stuff.

> The previous topic of "What’s so HOT

TOM: Previous?

CROW: Did we fall into a time vortex?

JOEL: We’ll need more careful observationaligisticalication to be sure.

> sci.space.history/browse_frm/

CROW: Browse Ferret.

> 7a7cab487beb942d/a7f016c63e03207b?

ALL: o/`It’s the most remarkable word I’ve ever seen! o/`

> a7f016c63e03207b

JOEL: Queen to Queen’s level three.

> offers good info at least from myself but, otherwise
> having been quite thoroughly hammered by those encharge

TOM: Encharge!

CROW: Guard! Turn!

JOEL: Parry! Thrust! Spin!

> of keeping
> our perpetrated cold-war(s) and space-race lids on tight, thus giving
> need for a fresh topic reset. ~

JOEL: This is all going to tie in to the Legion of Superheroes at some point.

>
> Life on Venus, Township w/Bridge

CROW: A Venusian haiku.

> and ET/UFO Park-n-Ride Tarmac:

TOM: And the Ferris Wheel to Jupiter!

> http://guthvenus.tripod.com/gv-town.htm

TOM: Forget it, Jake, it’s gv-town.

> The Russian/China LSE-CM/ISS

JOEL: And write in `pizza’ where it says `machine gun’.

> (Lunar Space Elevator)

CROW: With Bubble Puppy, tonight in concert.

> http://guthvenus.tripod.com/lunar-space-elevator.htm Venus ETs, plus

TOM: Neptunian Encounters of the Third Kind.

> the updated sub-topics; Brad Guth / GASA-IEIS

JOEL: Well, try some Chloretts.

> http://guthvenus.tripod.com/gv-topics.htm
> "In war there are no rules" –

CROW: Not even in tactical field backgammon.

TOM: He certainly did.

CROW: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL exit. ]

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

[ SOL DESK. JOEL is sitting down, head on his hands on the desk,
and he’s wet. TOM and CROW are by his side, holding water guns,
squirting his face and hair regularly. The scene holds, JOEL
getting progressively damper, for several seconds; the longer,
the better. ]

GYPSY: [ Leaning into view ] Remember to keep your humans moist. This message brought to you by the Church of Latter-Day Venus.

[ TOM and CROW squirt one last time. ]

JOEL: What do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. DR FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK are both on the couch, holding half-eaten TV lunches, watching TV. DR FORRESTER groans still; TV’s FRANK is chipper as ever. ]

FRANK: Want more of the macaroni and cheese made from slightly sour milk and that gnarly little half-pat of butter meal?

DR F: [ Whimpers ]

FRANK: Right-O, pushing the button, boss.

[ TV’s FRANK reaches over and … ]

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc, and are used while they aren’t looking. The essay “What’s actually HOT and NASTY about Venus?” is the property of Brad Guth. This MiSTing as a whole is the property of Joseph Nebus, who intends no ill-will towards Brad Guth, Best Brains, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Arthur Claude Munyan, or the Swanson’s corporation. The tennis net does not appear until the 17th century. Up until that time a rope, either fringed or tasseled, was stretched across the court. This probably had to be abandoned because it was so easy to crawl under it and chase your opponent. Come back, Dr Mike Neylon!

> BTW; I’ve included "news.admin.censorship" in order to minimise
> topic/author stalking, topic diversions into unrelated forums and MOS
> spermware attacks upon my PC.

## MiSTed: What’s Actually HOT and NASTY About Venus? Part 1 of 2

I share today the start of another MiSTing. As I’ve been doing this, first, I’ve been worrying a lot less about what to write for the big Thursday pieces. Second, I’ve been discovering a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction that I forgot I ever wrote. It’s neat finding these old pieces and I’m glad to share them with you.

So today and next week I hope to share Brad Guth’s essay/rant “What’s actually HOT and NASTY about Venus?” It is a companion piece to “Venus for Dummies”, as Mr Guth was eager to dispel the common vision of Venus as, at least, a planet with some issues. As of 5:50 this afternoon Brad Guth has not revolutionized the world’s understanding of Venus.

Please be careful, when reading this, not to cut yourself on the sharp edge of that TV Lunches Invention Exchange.

I’ve ridden reverse bungees twice, on opposite sides of the world, so I count at least one of those as being a normal-bungee ride.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ] GYPSY, CROW, and JOEL are behind the desk;
a wide slingshot-style rubber band reaches across the view. ]

JOEL: Hi, everyone, welcome to the Satellite of Love. This is Gypsy, Crow, and demonstrating our invention this week is Tom Servo.

TOM: [ Off-screen ] SAVE ME!

GYPSY: Our idea was based on one’s natural inclination to go bungee jumping.

CROW: But most people aren’t insane or Australian enough to plunge headfirst into the unknown.

TOM: I’M NOT AUSTRALIAN!

JOEL: And reverse bungee, where you sit in a cannister and fling upwards, isn’t much better.

GYPSY: So we unveil — the sideways bungee!

TOM: LEMME OUT!

CROW: Tom has his hoverskirt, but normal customers would just wear roller skates for a reasonably friction-free experience.

TOM: NO!

CROW: You heard him, Gypsy, go!

[ GYPSY’s light blinks; TOM, screaming, is flung across the camera,
and — after a few seconds — flung the opposite way. He does
not crash into anything. GYPSY, CROW, and JOEL watch TOM go
through several oscillations this way. MADS SIGN flashes. ]

JOEL: So, uh, what do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. FRANK hosts; DR FORRESTER sits listlessly on a couch,
behind a TV set (screen hidden from view), with a TV dinner
tray on a snack stand, and he holds and stares at a half-eaten
peanut butter and jelly sandwich, without moving. ]

FRANK: [ Cheery as always ] TV Dinners: one of the great American contributions to humanity, like atom bombs and `Night Court’. Besides inventing a use for this country’s vast annual tater tot output, it allows many bachelors to consume nutrition-inspired yet unsatisfying suppers alone in a fraction of the time! So we thought, why not extend this to other meals?

[ DR FORRESTER groans. ]

FRANK: Thus we present — the TV Lunch! Not enough food to make you stop being hungry, but just cheap enough to make fixing a real lunch seem like too much trouble. We’ve got … peanut butter sandwiches with that swipe of the last jelly in the jar; single slices of ham and cheese with plenty of mayo and a couple drops of mustard-stained water; and many more. Each sandwich entree comes with a second half-sandwich made by folding a crust end over. A damp salad of lima beans, squash, and string beans leaks over into the chipped cookie, and overall you have the perfect meal that says: I’m eating this while watching McLean Stevenson blow a question on `Match Game 78′.

[ DR FORRESTER whimpers. ]

FRANK: We think it’ll be a big hit. So, Joeleroo, we’ve got a little trip for you this week through molten rock, carbon dioxide narcosis, and of course, Usenet.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ]

CROW: I don’t like when he calls you ‘Joeleroo’.

GYPSY: He means well.

TOM: [ Bungeeing across the screen again. ] LET ME OUT!

JOEL: Gypsy, you’ll let him out when he comes to a stop, please?

GYPSY: Sure.
[ MOVIE SIGN begins flashing; general alarum ]

JOEL: Good, ’cause WE’VE GOT MOVIE SIGN!

TOM: [ Bungeeing back the other way ] GOOD FOR YOU!

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

> Path:

CROW: Ineligible Rethiever.

> rpi!news.usc.edu!newsfeed.news.ucla.edu!news.maxwell.syr.edu!postnews

TOM: Boy, this thing’s better-travelled than we are.

> Newsgroups:
> sci.space.history,sci.astro.seti,

TOM: Sci Astro City, five miles.

> sci.astro,sci.philosophy.tech,news.

JOEL: talk.poofy.hair.

TOM: comp.sys.amiga.fondlers.

> Subject: What’s actually HOT and NASTY about Venus?

CROW: Besides the pools of molten lead, I mean.

> Date: 3 Sep 2005 15:26:37 -0700
> Lines: 76

JOEL: Monsters of the Message Id.

> NNTP-Posting-Host: 64.40.55.39
> Mime-Version: 1.0

CROW: Aah … he’s trapped in a glass box?

> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

JOEL: That’s a sarcastic way of referring to a charset.

TOM: Isn’t a charset the only thing that beats a bulbasaur?

> X-Trace:

CROW: EXTREEEEEEME! Trace!

> posting.google.com 1125786403 9973 127.0.0.1 (3 Sep 2005

> 22:26:43 GMT)

TOM: It’s a sin to google groups yourself, you know.

> NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 3 Sep 2005 22:26:43 +0000 (UTC)
> User-Agent: G2/0.2

CROW: So that’s … G10?

> X-HTTP-UserAgent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSN 2.5; Windows
> 98; T312461),gzip(gfe),gzip(gfe)

JOEL: … rstln(e) …

TOM: … plorfnop(rezniz) …

CROW: … potrzebie.

> Injection-Info:

TOM: Once daily under physician’s or nurse’s approval.

JOEL: Symptoms may persist.

> posting-host=64.40.55.39;

TOM: Hike!

> posting-account=mSmX5Q0AAABAOTfKTkCm7WO5PvgF8_A4

CROW: They really should encode stuff like this.

> Xref: rpi sci.space.history:59672 sci.astro.seti:8583 sci.astro:73410

TOM: [ As arena announcer ] The totals on the board are correct-ect-ect
… sci.astro is the winner-ner-ner …

>
> Simply stated;

JOEL: Because I’m not that bright,

> Venus is not insurmountably hot,

CROW: It’s cold at the center. Try nuking it a couple minutes.

> and furthermore,
> because it’s surface and whatever else that’s situated below an
> altitude of 25~35 km remains reasonably dry,

TOM: Past the sulphuric acid rains …

> as such it’s actually
> not all that nasty.

CROW: And it’s got a great personality.

>
> Upon Earth; http:>//www.valleywater.net/hydration.htm

JOEL: Valley water. Water for clean, clean people.

> 1500 ml/day excretion by kidneys in the form of urine

CROW: Shape of, a kangaroo.

> 500 ml/day evaporation and perspiration from the skin

TOM: So if you’re coming to Venus, don’t bring your skin.

> 300 ml/day from the lungs

CROW: 150 milliliters per day from the adenoids.

> 200 ml/day from the gastrointestinal tract

JOEL: And field.

TOM: 84 milliliters per day angrily skipping commercials at the front of DVDs.

CROW: 108 milliliters per day, gratuity.

>
> Human metabolic perspiration (internal as well as external
> excretions)

JOEL: And their afterschool activities.

> represents a wee bit of a testy if not terribly corrosive
> problem at 2500 ml/day,

CROW: But remember at all times to keep your humans moist.

> whereas everything that’s fluid effectively
> leaks out,

TOM: Well, who would want ineffective leaking?

> boils off and/or evaporates at reduced ambient pressure,

JOEL: Peer pressure.

> and just the opposite for having to survive within a greater ambient
> pressure,

CROW: When streams of Sprite Ice are injected daily into your face.

> though please do try to remember that I’m not the village
> idiot

TOM: He’s just goofball for the Fourth Ward.

> that’s even remotely suggesting we should be going there in
> person.

JOEL: So get that foolish thought out of your head, you silly, silly man.

> However, under nearly 100 bar of pressure

TOM: *Chocolate* bars of pressure.

> that’ll have
> essentially equalized throughout our body

JOEL: Under the mighty wrath of the Hershey’s corporation.

> and thus affecting every
> organ and molecule

TOM: With a lovely concerto for organ and molecule.

> involved isn’t all that likely to sweat nearly as
> much, if at all.

CROW: Perspiration declines quickly after death.

JOEL: Mitchum. So effective you can even skip a death.

>
> Thereby even CO2 as a replacement for N2 isn’t nearly as lethal as
> we’d thought,

TOM: It’s only *mostly* lethal.

> or from having been told by all of our NASA certified
> wizards.

CROW: I love seeing Wally Schirra wave that sparkly magic wand around.

[ To be concluded … ]

## MiSTed: Brad Guth’s _Venus for Dummies_, Part 3 of 3

And now we come to the end of this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction I’d written in 2012. One may ask whether it’s fair or right to mock someone’s difficult-to-follow conspiracy theory about the space program. One may also ask, well, what else are you going to do? It’s a fair question. Another fair question: what am I going to do next week? I don’t know, but I’m eager to find out myself. The reference at the end to my own Still-Store web site is to a project I’d had, to make a MiSTing archive, which reached the point that I finished all the really hard programming problems and then never found the energy to actually complete. Good use of time there. Well, it accomplished something, anyway: the tools I use to give the MiSTing a nice style here are ones I developed for that web site project.

If you want to catch up on how we got here, here was Part 1 of the MiSTing and here was Part 2 of Venus For Dummies. And now, the conclusion.

> do reconsider
> as to bothering yourself to take another subjective look-see

CROW: Call ahead! It’d be embarrassing if Venus were out when you get there.

> and then
> honestly interpret this thick and dense atmospheric insulated terrain
> for yourself,

TOM: But ask for help understanding the dirty jokes in the Malagasy Orogeny.

> as to what some of those highly unusual patterns could
> possibly represent, as anything other than the random geology
> happenstance of hot rocks.

CROW: I see a bunny.

JOEL: I see a painting by Thomas Eakins.

>
> =93Guth Venus=94 1:1, plus 10x resample/enlargement of the area in
> question:

TOM: Are we to suppose this is some “magic late-bombardment protoplanet”?

>

JOEL: The picture is nice enough but I like seeing all those 3’s up there.

> This is not to say that 99.9999% of this Venus surface doesn’t look
> perfectly natural (at least it does to me),

CROW: And I’ve been looking at things for *years*!

> just like the surface of
> Earth might look if having to use the exact same SAR-C imaging methods

TOM: The same saucy imaging methods? Wow!

> and its limited resolution that could be easily improved upon by any
> new missions for mapping Venus in greater detail (such as 7.5 meters/
> pixel).

CROW: Oh, we’d just run out of pixels at that rate.

> After all, a millionth of that hot Venus surface area is
> still 4.6e8 m2, or 460 km2,

TOM: Or sixty barleycorns, two pottles, and half a Lords-Whacking-Stick!

> and this most complex area of =93Guth
> Venus=94 (100 x 100 pixels or 506 km2

CROW: 485 if you use coupon code GUTHVENUS!

> ) that which includes mostly
> natural geology, isn’t involving but a fraction more than a millionth
> of the Venus surface area,

JOEL: It all adds up to three squintillionths of a Venusian barleycorn!

> and yet it seems as though highly developed
> and to a large enough scale that makes for deductively interpreting
> those patterns

JOEL: Socrates is a mortal.

TOM: Pants are rarely worn on the head.

CROW: A person with plenty of time need not run for the train.

TOM: Oranges are not sharp metal instruments.

JOEL: Therefore, Socrates is being chased by a tiger!

> as rather easy and reliably pixel truthworthy items
> that do in fact exist because the image resampling process isn’t even
> capable of artificially creating them.

TOM: Iron-clad proof! These pictures are impossible to make!

>
> It can also be suggested and reasonably argued that initially (4+
> billion years ago)

JOEL: Actually it was 3.95 billion years ago. It just aged badly.

> our sun was 25% cooler than nowadays (possibly a
> third cooler),

CROW: Back when it wore those hipster glasses.

TOM: Hipster sunglasses.

> thereby making Venus quite Goldilocks approved even if
> she was naked and totally dumbfounded.

JOEL: Didn’t Theodore Sturgeon write this story?

> But even this cool beginning
> still doesn’t fully explain as to why such a large and complex
> geometric sale of a structured community

CROW: Featuring a golf course, a security booth, and a clubhouse!

> or mining operation was
> established,

TOM: Well, what’s mine is mine.

JOEL: Or Daffy Duck’s.

> and as to why Venus has been radiating such a large
> amount of its geothermal core energy

CROW: Maybe it’s trying to keep power the Autobots?

> plus having been creating all of
> that unprotected atmosphere that should have been extensively solar
> wind blown away as of more than a billion years ago,

CROW: Except Venus’s Mom made it wear a sensible woolen cap!

> there’s more than enough new atmosphere created to make up for the
> lack of having a protective geomagnetosphere.

JOEL: An over-protective geomagnetosphere. It makes Venus call home every like ten minutes.

>
> BTW; there’s terrestrial objective proof that life even as we know
> it can adjust or acclimate to extreme pressures and even tolerate much
> higher temperatures,

TOM: What Guth means is, squirrels know how to work the thermostat.

> and yet lo and behold there’s still no American
> flags on Venus,

CROW: But there’s the flag of Burkina Faso on Neptune. Go figure.

> but there have been USSR/Russian flags on multiple
> landers that got there decades before us.

TOM: To be fair, the flag of Venus is all over Italy.

JOEL: Oh yeah.

> So, perhaps we’ll have to
> accept that Venus and all of its natural resources belongs to Russia.

CROW: Giving Russia a huge lead in the uninhabitable wasteland race.

> Otherwise NOVA as having been owned by Google could help all of us
> better understand and appreciate what the extremely nearby planet
> Venus has to offer, but only if they wanted to.

JOEL: Google is figuring they can use Venus to store Usenet.

> Obviously our NASA
> has been avoiding this extremely nearby planet,

TOM: They’re playing hard-to-get so Venus will be interested in NASA.

> perhaps because our
> expertise and talent for getting active probes to survive with that
> atmosphere is simply less than what Russians have accomplished.

CROW: Like crashing into Venus and melting.

>

TOM: GuthVenus was tried in the fourth district court, county of Los Angeles. In a moment, the results of that trial.

CROW: [ Chanting the Dragnet theme ] Dun-dah-dun-dun.

TOM: GuthVenus was convicted of existing and sentenced to not more than twenty Venusian days of hard labor and between three and seven Latin pedants arguing about what its adjective should be.

CROW: [ Chanting the Dragnet theme ] Dun-dah-dun-dun-DAAAAAH.

JOEL: Well, nice seeing everyone again.

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

[ ALL file out. ]

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the creation and the property of Best Brains. Brad Guth and Guth Venus are the creation and property of Brad Guth, and I certainly don’t mean to take over any of that. This fan fiction was created by Joseph Nebus, and should not be taken internally except as ordered by a Venusian. My little Still-Store web site will be back up and running soon with all sorts of new behind-the-scenes coding that petty Venusian minds could not begin to comprehend.

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

Keep riffing the posts.

> honestly interpret this thick and dense atmospheric insulated terrain
> for yourself, as to what some of those highly unusual patterns could
> possibly represent, as anything other than the random geology
> happenstance of hot rocks.

## MiSTed: Brad Guth’s _Venus for Dummies_, Part 2 of 3

And now please let me continue the 2012 vintage riffing of Brad Guth’s Venus for Dummies. Guth was one of the fine cranks to hang around the space newsgroups, telling people he and he alone knew the truth of Venus and whatever his plans for it were. If you do not care for making fun of someone’s sincere yet sad contrary view of things like “is Venus a lie?”, you’re right, and should probably skip this week’s and next week’s long-form piece. I’ll move on to something else soon enough.

If you’re just running across this you can read Part 1 right here, and will be able to find the conclusion soon enough.

>
> Interplanetary travel capability and especially that of interstellar
> also represents

CROW: Interplanet Janet!

> more than sufficient technical expertise to deal with
> any hellish planet like Venus,

JOEL: It also represents being able to get through La Guardia.

> or even those of whatever cryogenic
> nature,

> because that’s what advanced physics and good science is fully
> capable of doing in spite of the odds against us.

JOEL: They can live on Venus yet they still cannot tell a cabbage from a lettuce!

>
> If anything, the metallicity of Venus is somewhat greater than Earth,

TOM: But it’s still not greater than the good old U.S. of A, am I right, folks?

> and its ability to create and maintain its substantial atmosphere of
> mostly CO2 as having such an abundance (12 ppm) of helium that’s

CROW: That everyone talking about Venus has a silly voice.

> offering roughly 200+ times as much as Earth,

TOM: 210 times as much if you don’t count Iowa.

> and having sustained its
> terrific atmosphere without benefit of any moon or

CROW: Or even Moon Helper! Make your moon into a meal!

> the geomagnetic
> protection like our planet has to work with,

JOEL: The invaluable help of Earth’s jaunty Madagascar.

> is truly an impressive
> accomplishment,

TOM: Even bigger than that guy who ate 40 White Castle burgers at one sitting.

> and especially for a smaller than Earth like planet w/
> o moon and managed even though it’s so much closer to the sun.

CROW: And even though it’s in a region zoned “light commercial/sulfuric acid”.

>
> Firstly, our mainstream eyecandy cache of science infomercials via our
> public funded NASA and otherwise NOVA as owned by Google,

JOEL: Google, run by Rankin-Bass, operated by Cougartown, a division of RCA.

> could just
> as easily help with exploiting this ongoing research if they wanted
> to,

TOM: But they’re too busy making up Twitter accounts from Mars probes.

> and otherwise without their assistance you might try to understand
> that we really do not need to use microscopic or even much higher
> resolution

CROW: Wait, you’re bringing a microscope out to look at Venus?

TOM: I’m picturing a flock of astronomers with those little toy microscopes pointing up at the sky and looking at their fingerprints.

> than 75 m/pixel imaging when the items of most interest
> have always been so extremely or unusually big to begin with.

JOEL: It sounds so obvious when you hear it. Just look at Big Venus instead!

> So, you
> can continue to argue that these images as a derivative from a 36

CROW: Or you can have the halfback sneak around the corner right after the snap and run over to the concession stands.

> confirming look or scanned composite offering this initial 225 meters
> per pixel format are simply not good enough,

JOEL: But they made an honest effort and we appreciate them for that.

> but you’d only be proving
> to yourself and others as to how unintelligent and/or obstructive that
> sort of closed or naysay mindset really is stuck in denial more than
> reality.

TOM: This is that new shame-based astronomy you hear so much about.

CROW: It’s all the rage among space geeks with low self-esteem.

>
> Venus is perhaps not unlike hell,

JOEL: What isn’t?

> but otherwise its unusually high
> metallicity as indicated by its radar reflective attributes and its
> considerable surplus of helium

TOM: And excessive supplies of silly bouncy balls.

CROW: Venus leads the inner solar system in paper cups with jokes written on the bottom!

JOEL: No other planet has so much Mork And Mindy themed bubble gum!

> plus the mostly geothermal driven
> environment, is at least technically manageable

CROW: For all those planets that need PERT charts.

TOM: They’re hoping to be the first ISO 9001-certified space thingy.

> as long as you have a
> functioning brain of at least a 5th grader

CROW: Or a third and a second grader put together.

> without all the usual
> mainstream status-quo tumors that disable your investigative skills
> and deductive reasoning,

> that’s otherwise considered as human
> intelligence.

CROW: We’re looking for the thinking men’s tumors here.

>
> Of course to most of you that have taken a basic look-see at this old
> Magellan radar obtained image of Venus,

TOM: You’re a bunch of peepers!

JOEL: Want to be a peeper too.

> and especially of the fuzzy or
> blocky pixel image of =93Guth Venus=94 or =93GuthVenus=94,

CROW: Guth Venus ’94!

TOM: He’s running with Vermin Supreme.

> is perhaps
> suggestive of nothing more than offering a nasty looking terrain of
> random geology

CROW: Just throw that glacial moraine anywhere. I’m kind of living out of my asthenosphere.

JOEL: Vermin knows better.

> with piles of extruded hot rock that just so happen to
> look as though artificial or as having been intelligently morphed into
> what seems to offer rational patterns.

TOM: Well, sure. Look at that big ‘EAT AT ZERBLATT’S’ sign on the equator.

> However, within these highly
> confirmed patterns of such mostly hot rock are several odd geometric
> items

JOEL: Like the sulfuric acid parallelogram.

CROW: Finally my geometry teacher will respect me!

> of somewhat large scale and offering us those extremely
> interesting formations,

TOM: Marching in uniform and playing brass instruments!

> that at least on Earth or upon any other
> imaged planet or moon

CROW: Or accretion disc!

TOM: Or black hole!

> hasn’t come remotely close to offering this
> level of sophisticated geology complexity

JOEL: They had little cozies for their martini glasses.

> and rational community
> looking configuration or modification of such a mountainous terrain
> site.

TOM: Perfect for filming Venus Car commercials!

JOEL: You’ll love cruising in the new Buick Aphrodite 8.

> This makes GuthVenus into a one of a kind off-world location,
> at least up until other better resolution images become available.

TOM: But you can join and operate a GuthPlanet Franchise today!

CROW: Prime locations still available.

JOEL: GuthSaturn closing soon!

>
> Besides merely following my deductive interpretations,

CROW: Socrates is a mortal.

JOEL: Planets will not last forever.

TOM: No two-headed person has ever been Vice-President.

CROW: The owner of the dog does not have a job as a plumber.

JOEL: Therefore Socrates is a mermaid!

TOM: Logical, logical.

[ To be concluded … ]

## MiSTed: Brad Guth’s _Venus for Dummies_, Part 1 of 3

I am still deciding what I wish to do for these long-form pieces, now that The Tale Of Fatty Raccoon is finally complete. I’m inclined toward doing another big MiSTing, since they’re fun and easy and I like the old tradition of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. I haven’t decided, though. But I will come up with something.

In the meanwhile please enjoy a bit from the archives. This is a MiSTing I wrote back in early 2012. The original source was Usenet, and particularly, a crank named Brad Guth who was very sure that They were hiding all sorts of good stuff on Venus. He hung around the space-themed newsgroups for a long, long while. He was hard to take seriously, and I did not.

If you don’t care for snickering about someone’s elaborately explained yet still obscure conspiracy theory you are right in your tastes, and should skip the next three weeks of this.

You may not see the merry fun in riffing a bunch of newsgroup headers, long lines of what are mostly control messages. I don’t know either, exactly, but we always loved doing those in the Usenet days. It’s kind of like doing movie-credit riffs.

The reference to “LOLVenus” is alluding to “LOLcats”, a name sometimes used back in the days before dirt was invented for what we now call “memes”. I apologize for any confusion this term entails.

[ ALL file into theater ]

CROW: We don’t even get to say hello to anyone?

TOM: Man, austerity stinks.

JOEL: Don’t get political this early in the year, Tommy.

> >MIME-Version: 1.0

JOEL: Sure, now it’s mime, but when we got it it was ourms.

TOM: Stanford! Topeka! Tahlequah! Watervliet!

> > not-for-mail

TOM: How did we get it, then?

> >Newsgroups: alt.astronomy,

JOEL: I like indie astronomy better.

> sci.space.policy,sci.space.history,

TOM: Space history.

CROW: “Well, used to be we didn’t walk on the Moon, then we did, then we didn’t again, and that brings us to the present day.”

> >alt.news-media,alt.journalism

TOM: I like that grunge journalism.

CROW: I’m here for the news-media gangnam style.

> >Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2012 16:42:04 -0700 (PDT)

CROW: Picture all Google coming to a stop because somebody complained about usenet there.

> >Injection-Info:

TOM: Shouldn’t this part be for the pharmacy majors?

JOEL: Discontinue use of GoktI if symptoms persist.

> >NNTP-Posting-Host: 98.125.250.68

CROW: Hike!

> >User-Agent: G2/1.0

TOM: That reduces to G2.0.

> >X-HTTP-UserAgent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:14.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/14.0.1,gzip(gfe)

JOEL: User Agent Mozilla 5.0.

TOM: Women want him. Men want to be him.

TOM: Hey, that’s a cracked Photoshop license key!

> >Subject: Venus for dummies (6.0) / Brad Guth (GuthVenus)

CROW: Finally, some relief from that *smart* Venus.

TOM: He certainly *is*.

> >Injection-Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2012 23:42:04 +0000

JOEL: He’s in a pleasing time-release form.

> >Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252

CROW: Windows 1252 is the version that went to the Model Parliament, right?

> >Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

TOM: Cut! Print it, Raoul!

> >Lines: 137
> >Xref: panix

CROW: *I’M NOT PANICKING! WHO’S PANICKING?*

> alt.astronomy:502748 sci.space.policy:489326

TOM: So with 85 percent of the vote in we’re projecting a win for alt.astronomy.

> sci.space.history:317343 alt.news-media:339276 alt.journalism:263200

JOEL: And in the school board elections alt.news-media has taken the lead.

>
> What sort of weird planet geology, or that of its active geodynamics,
> looks or acts anything like this?

CROW: A pudding planet geology!

>
> Thumbnail images of Venus,

[ JOEL holds up his thumb. ]

TOM: That’s not Venus, that’s a wart.

> including mgn_c115s095_1.gif (225 m/pixel)

CROW: 225 men per pixel?!

> http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/thumbnail_pages/venus_thumbnails.html
> Lava channels, Lo Shen Valles, Venus from Magellan Cycle 1

TOM: o/` We didn’t start the fire … o/`

> http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/html/object_page/mgn_c115s095_1.html

JOEL: C115 S095 underscore 1.

CROW: You — you sank my battleship!

> http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/hires/mgn_c115s095_1.gif
> =93Guth Venus=94, at 1:1, then 10x resample/enlargement of the area in
> question:

TOM: You can see Oswald turn and shoot Mark David Chapman.

CROW: That’s not Venus, that’s a picture of my cat!

TOM: I hate that you said that.

>

JOEL: [ Sheepish ] I’m sorry.

> Not even the most active moon of Jupiter being Io offers up anything
> like this

TOM: Io doesn’t even try! You invite it to the potluck and it brings a bag of Doritos every-single-time.

> remarkable degree of surface geology complexity,

CROW: Fine dentition, good arch in the back. A good mudder.

> and there=92s

JOEL: Mostly oats and hay.

> certainly nothing remotely artificial looking with anything discovered

TOM: Apart from the big ‘MADE IN TAIWAN’ across the Mariner Valley.

> or thus far of any other planet or moon to speak
> of,

CROW: We don’t talk about it.

> outside of Venus that gets within 110 LD every 19 months

TOM: Except when taken internally by a physician.

> (any
> closer and we=92d have to reevaluate Venus as a NEO).

CROW: So if you spot Venus coming any closer to Earth than Venus
ever comes, that’d be suspicious.

>
> Of any humanoids or other intelligent species that’s capable of
> surviving interstellar treks,

TOM: So, what, we’re ignoring the total morons who make it across space?

> at least technically should have no
> problems with remaining stealthy

CROW: ‘Sure, you’ll have no trouble being stealthy on Earth, mister

> or even capable of infiltrating and
> mingle within any community of existing life-forms upon any given
> planet they chose to study

CROW: I’m imagining a pack of Vulcans wearing costumes trying to hang around a pack of wallabies.

> or even to populate and commercialize by
> extracting valuable elements in order to suit their own needs.

TOM: I don’t want to be a nitpicker but that sentence was 62 words long and forgot to have a predicate.

[ To be continued … ]

## Some more things to say about The Story Of Brick

To get back to The Story of Brick, as told by the American Face Brick Association. I don’t want to over-sell the joy I feel in this book. I know these are hard times. Maybe things that bring me a little cheer are intensified. Still, I think there is a lot to enjoy here.

There’s a stretch of book trying to show what the different brick-laying styles are. In the text this is done by pictures. The eBook reader that for some reason gave me this, though, puts some of them as text. So it’s full of weird ASCII art. Like, here:

The Common or American bond, in order to secure transverse strength of wall, can be treated in a way to produce pleasing effects, as may Fig 7.

```m
ZZ3EZ~]C~Z3CZZI]CZrj.
Fig. 3.
Common
ME
oc
:es3c
U^r```

The Flemish bond (Fig. 5) is secured by

```mi
nm
immzznm
izmmz.
DCZS3
IIEE3E
nnc```

```|/>)(\(//-/>
<<|//-<-\|<|(\-///\\)|)--</>
())((//<-<
(-/(<\|/-(|(
/(>>/()|-->
(\))|(()(/|-->|/)-->)>>-)||</\/\|(|/<((<|/-(\\|)-)/\>-(>|/)\
```

Herring!

```               .-_|\
/     \
Perth ->*.--._/
v  <- Tasmania
```

And despite that fine presentation of good new LinkedIn passwords for me, it just runs a picture for “Chimney Top”. I know what a chimney top looks like. I have one on my house. At least I did last time I checked. It’s been a while.

OK, I’m back. Yes, my chimney top is still there, along with all the chimney middle. You may mock me for checking that nothing had come along and swiped my chimney top without my knowing, but I remember that this is the year 2020. You know what would be stranger than something stealing the tops of chimneys of otherwise untouched buildings? Every single day since the 14th of January.

I don’t fault the book having a pro-brick agenda. I’m sure there’s a comparable book from the American Wood Shingles and Shakes Association that keeps pointing out how lousy bricks are. This if the shingles and shakes people get along. But the enthusiasm this book brings to bricks sometimes paints weird scenes. For example, remember the Great Baltimore Fire that destroyed over 1,300 buildings in February 1904? Me neither but I’ve only over driven through 1904 on the way to 1908 or 1894. Yes, I’m a Coxey’s Army hipster. But the American Face Brick Association notes “there was something saved, however, for a special committee … reported that between 200,000000 and 300,000,000 usable brick worth \$5.00 a thousand were recovered”.

So now this paints a scene of a time when “brick” was the plural of brick? Maybe it was a character-recognition error. No, but they do this all over the book. All right. Let me move on.

So this also paints a scene of Baltimore, smashed by a catastrophic fire. Through the smoldering ruins, though, a civic leader stands up. I’ll assume his name was “Archibald”, since that’s an era when civic leaders had names like Archibald or Edwin or Vernon or all that at once. “It is not all lost, my fellow Baltimoreans,” cried Archibald, holding up two pretty good brick in his right and one fractured brick in his left. “There is merchantable salvage comprising a million and a half of dollars of brick here!” I bet his news was greeted with deep, impressed looks from the survivors picking through ruin. I bet they shared their joy and brick with him. And then Archibald interjected, “Herring!”

So it’s a good thing to know there were a quarter-billion still-usable bricks in Baltimore in 1904. It shows what kind of a craftsman I am that actually using them seems like maybe more effort than they’re worth. Of course, what they’re worth was a million and a half dollars, according to Archibald Edwin Vernon. That is a lot of effort to not go to. It’s just I think of my own uses for used bricks.

There’s one set behind the microwave so we don’t push it up against the wall when we press the door-release lever. There’s a brick I use to get a crowbar in the right place, when I do my annual prying-open-of-a-window-some-cursed-former-resident-painted-shut. There’s one we keep in the basement, next to the stairs, so that we can stub our toes if that hasn’t happened already. I think if we stretched our imaginations we could use as many as two more brick.

So that covers a market for five used brick. This leaves 1904 Baltimore with needing to find applications for only a quarter-billion more brick. They could solve this by building more houses, sure, but that’s still 40 to 60 million houses to use up all that brick. It makes one wonder what they were doing with all those brick in the first place.

Herring!

## More Thoughts While Doing My Daily Walk Around Town

Is that … snow? Yes, that’s snow. I’ve seen snow before, although not so much this winter. Who ordered snow? My parents better not hear about this.

Oh, hey, the place that used to be the 24-hour diner. Then the new owners figured instead of being the diner everybody went to because it was 3 am, they could just open for breakfast and lunch. Then they fired the staff and closed entirely. And forgot to get the social media passwords from the staffers. Then they tore down the diner because they figured the vacant lot was worth more than a diner-filled lot. Well, that turned out great. Hey, this has to be the spot where J— discovered his eyeglasses had gouged ridges into the side of his head. Good times.

This … was a lot warmer, like, a week ago. We are going into spring, right? We couldn’t be going right back out of spring again, not with how much everybody agreed on having a spring.

That’s a nice clearly-marked bike lane that comes into existence and runs nearly the length of a full block before fading out again. Probably a story there. Probably also an angry Facebook group.

Oh, criminy, it’s the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13. That would be nice and timely. I did that thing for Apollo 11 and forgot to do anything for Apollo 12. Let me see if there’s anything there, let me think a while and see if I can come up with like three jokes, that’s enough to build a piece around. Oh, who am I kidding, that’s a dumb idea.

So that’s a lone coffee mug six feet from the sidewalk on the torn-up field that used to have a convenience store and now just has the telephone pole with an ‘ATM Inside’ sign on it. This seems to be the setting for some short story with too poignant an imagery to actually read.

Oh, but remember how angry the Usenet group sci.space.history got over the From The Earth To The Moon series, when its Apollo 13 episode wasn’t just doing the movie all over again but on way less budget? Everybody was so angry about it being how reporter Jay Mohr won over reporter Cranky Old Guy. I mean, not so mad as they’d be when the Apollo 16 episode. They got so mad the episode was about the astronaut wives instead of how the Apollo crew drank too much orange drink and passed gas the whole flight. Boy, but the Internet used to be fun to be angry on. What happened?

If I just took that coffee mug how much would I have to clean it to use it again? I’m kidding, I would never stop cleaning it.

Well now I’m just thinking about that report where the Mars Curiosity team had shifted over to working remotely. It’s just, like, they already kind of were. They probably get that a lot. If I ever meet anybody on the team I’m going to have to not tell them that one.

Ooh, hey, the hipster bar left their Wi-Fi on even though they’ve been closed a month now. Good grief it has been a month now. All right. Well, that’s going to be great if my iPod does that thing again where I pause my podcast and it decides to throw away the file and I have to re-download the whole thing. … And I do that when I happen to be right next to the bar. Well, they left the curtain up front open just enough that if I press my face against the window and stare I can kind of make out what have to be the pinball machines. I can stop around to do that a while.

Still thinking about how the Lansing airport listed they had four flights arriving today and only two departing. That’s got to be atypical, right? They can’t be stocking up on two extra planes a day, indefinitely. They’d fill up the parking lot.

All right that’s … nine … ten … twelve pairs of sneakers lined up on the curb, and with a locker mirror and a \$4 yard sale price stick on it. There’s probably a good explanation for all of this and the only way I’ll ever know is to knock on the door and ask. They probably get a lot of people knocking on the door asking about the shoe lineup and mirror, though. Maybe I’ll check if they have a web site instead.

Oh, the guys who practice drums four hours a day are still doing that. Still … sounds like drumming. It’s nice to have that to rely on.

## Where I’m At Today, a Monday

I was just struck by the recollection of this time in maybe 1997 or 1998, on Usenet. Someone had been explaining the etymological origins of the names for the days of the week. You know, like how Thursday comes from Thor’s Day, or Wednesday from Woden’s Day, or Friday from Freya’s Day. And after this quite reasonable, quick description of the origins of day names someone comes in and declares, “I don’t believe it. Sounds like a folk etymology to me.” Anyway so I’m angry about that all over again and just hope that the person who insisted it was absurd to think that, like, Tuesday had anything to do with Tyr has had this come back to humiliate them, ideally by blowing what would otherwise have been a decisive victory in the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions. You know, in the way people have normal and healthy reactions to things.

## What’s Going On In Dick Tracy? Is The Green Hornet Eating Bread? April – July 2018

I’m glad you wonder what’s happening in Joe Staton, Mike Curtis, Shelley Pleger, and Shane Fisher’s Dick Tracy. For me, its the middle of July 2018, and my answers reflect that. If it’s much later than July 2018 I might have a more up-to-date post. It’ll be at or near the top of this page, if there is one. Thanks for reading.

My mathematics blog reviews comic strips too, with at least one post a week about Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and Andertoons. You might like it.

# Dick Tracy.

## 22 April – 14 July 2018.

Central City newspaper publisher Britt Reid is secretly notorious racketeer The Green Hornet. But The Green Hornet is secretly on the side of justice. He sneaks into the criminal organizations that police and even FBI men cannot touch and breaks them up. And now, he’s appeared in Dick Tracy’s city, just behind Central City mobster Cyrus Topper. Reid, in his guise as a respectable newspaperman, and an unsuspecting Dick Tracy are sure they’ll get Topper. Tracy also thinks he can finally put The Green Hornet behind bars. So now sit back, pour yourself a large, hearty bowl of Post Toasties — fortified with pep shot from guns! — and enjoy this past three months’ installments of Dick Tracy and the Green Hornet.

Topper is trying to work with The Apparatus, the major crime syndicate in Tracy’s city. They suspect he’ll bring the Green Hornet in on them. It never crosses their minds that the Green Hornet and his new parter, Red Wasp, might be breaking up criminal organizations. They did, after all, just smash a counterfeiting ring. Hornet and Wasp used the Green Hornet’s supercar Black Beauty to smash it open.

The Apparatus wants the Green Hornet away from Topper’s proposed Protection-Racket-As-A-Service. I’m fuzzy on how that scheme supposed to work. The “protection” is from blackouts on the computers small-time people rent out to banks who need the processing for transfers. Is that a thing?

But I mostly doubt the details matter. The part that doesn’t doubt remembers Matty Squared. Mister Bribery’s artificial-intelligence agent is laying low in Cyber-Mexico until the heat’s off. But another digital crime thing might be a thread they’re saving for later.

Anyway, the Apparatus is confident the Green Hornet won’t muscle in, and assigns Jarman as his first protectee. Topper starts explaining to Jarman that he’ll be paying money when The Green Hornet muscles in, if we pretend guns are muscles. The Green Hornet starts explaining to Jarman that he’ll take the protection money when Dick Tracy muscles in, if we pretend guns are muscles. The Green Hornet drops a gas grenade, making his way to Black Beauty and starting a chase. Topper gives chase. Tracy, somehow, can’t get out of the gas fast enough to chase after the cars. So he instead meets with the police chief’s informant from Central City, Lafayette Austin. Lafayette Austin’s introduced like someone we should recognize. I admit I don’t. He’s not listed in John Dunning’s Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio for either Dick Tracy or the Green Hornet’s radio shows. He might be original.

Topper loses the Green Hornet. Hornet doesn’t return the favor. Kato, the Hornet’s faithful valet, has been secretly working as Topper’s valet “Skiyaki”. Topper figures to try shaking down his an old friend at Mazuma National Bank, before skipping town. But Dick Tracy, tipped off by Austin, is there. The Green Hornet, I assume tipped off by Kato, is there too. Also there: the Green Hornet’s smoke bomb and gas. Also also there: Dick Tracy’s two-way radio gas masks. In the fight, the Green Hornet clobbers Tracy and Kato knocks out Sam Catchem. But they use Tracy’s wrist-radio to summon backup, and leave the also-unconscious Topper for arrest.

Tracy gets credit for arresting Topper, and for scaring the Green Hornet back to Central City. That reported sighting’s premature, made by the Red Wasp — Lenore Case, Britt Reid’s romantic lead — with the backup Black Beauty. It should give Reid time to clear out of town gracefully.

And that, with the 27th of May, closes the Dick Tracy/Green Hornet crossover adventure. The 28th begins a new one, one with many parts moving together. The first part is Sawtooth, contract killer last seen in the strip around Christmas, not-killing Dick Tracy. Mister Bribery, his contractee, micromanaged the murder. You freelancers out there know how it is. Mister Bribery is, from prison, offering \$25,000 for the murder of his former pet scientist Ygor Glitch. Sawtooth is up for it, and what the heck, figures he can try killing Dick Tracy again and see what happens.

Meanwhile Diet Smith and the Moon Governor have put together the “Moon Compound”. It’s a museum exhibit meant to explain the Lunarians to the people of Earth who have nothing to fear from their advanced science, and secret colony living in an undisclosed location, and control over magnetism, and cute stubby little antennas, and power to dispense electric shocks severe enough to render adults unconscious, and close ties to the industrialist billionaire Diet Smith who himself enjoys confidential ties with a police officer who has an 87-year track record of extrajudicial killings of suspects in often fantastically gruesome ways. The unwashed masses can have such weird, inexplicable fears!

Honeymoon Tracy and her friend Ugly Crystal — Mister Bribery’s niece — bond over their strange family experiences. Honeymoon’s half-Lunarian. Her mother, the original Moon Maiden, was killed long ago. A second Moon Maiden, Mysta Chimera, surgically created by human superscience from the amnesiac daughter of a mob boss, has joined the strip and loosely Honeymoon’s family. Please do try to keep up. Ugly Crystal doesn’t know her father, and Honeymoon wonders whether anyone could do something about that mystery. If she only had an in with some scientific superdetective or something.

So at a midnight screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dick Tracy’s partner Sam Catchem — uh. Sorry. I have to go lie down a moment. I don’t know what’s even real anymore.

So at a midnight screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dick Tracy’s partner Sam Catchem runs into Sawtooth. Catchem’s there for the fun of it. Sawtooth is there on business: he knew Glitch was a Picture-Head, as they call Rocky Horror Picture Show fans. So he went where he knew Glitch would be, and eats him. I mean, I’m fairly sure that’s what I’m meant to infer. “It was as if some huge predator caught him by the throat” could mean many things, I suppose.

Tracy’s able to identify the victim, and the perpetrator, and who likely ordered the hit. This is thanks to his scientific superdetective work of having Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo character Inspector Ishida call up and tell him what’s going on. So, y’know, never under-develop your intelligence network. (I haven’t read Usagi Yojimbo but I hear good stuff about it. I’m just going by what the captions, complete with copyright notices that I haven’t seen under other crossover guest stars, tell me.) Also Sawtooth might have given the scheme away by warning Catchem he was coming for Dick Tracy.

On to the search for Sawtooth. With special guest Lafayette Austin, who’s introduced with such emphasis one wonders if they feared we wouldn’t notice him. Sawtooth and his assistant/boat-anchor Grimm are hiding out in a hotel. Grimm is losing all their cash betting on horses. Sawtooth is figuring to kill Tracy and then head out of town. Sawtooth looks to The Pouch for tips.

The Pouch, by the way, is an information-dealer who works the city zoo as a balloon vendor. His backstory is he used to be a circus-show Fat Man, and lost almost all that weight. He took the flabby excesses of skin and sewed them into numerous closable pouches with with to be a courier. In the 70s, he used a popcorn popper to kill a guy and got away undetected. So remember: if you aren’t perpetually going “Wait, what?” you’re not reading authentic Dick Tracy.

Okay. Now stuff is coming together fast. The Moon Compound exhibit is getting ready to open. Honeymoon and Ugly Crystal enjoy a tour, under the supervision of Mysta and some of the minor Lunarians. Grimm loses the last of his and Sawtooth’s money as Sawtooth wants to check out. Meanwhile, Dick Tracy is thrilled to be entering his sourdough bread in — I’m sorry, I have to go lie down a bit again.

Right. Dick Tracy is baking sourdough bread for a charity banquet. And he’s got people ready to pick up his many fine loaves of enthusiastically-baked bread. The bread-transport guys arrived Saturday. They’re Sawtooth and Grimm, in disguise.

So. Yes. There is a lot that’s been happening the last two months, and it’s not all clearly a single unified thread. This was, to me, a bit hard to follow day-by-day. But it’s quite clear when read in bulk like this. Tracy continues to have a lot of his investigative triumphs come by people just thinking to tell him the plot. There have been a couple references and guest appearances, even besides the Green Hornet’s.

The most noteworthy of those was Michael Patterson from Lynn Johnston’s For Better Or For Worse poking in back in late June. That was a great reminder of the old days on Usenet group rec.arts.comics.strips and every other comics-discussion group. We’d gather to talk about how awful the prose of his in-universe award-winning super-novel was. And how nasty the strip was to the upstairs neighbors, who were painted as villains without actually doing anything worse than not liking Michael. And how much everybody hated Elizabeth getting yanked out of her life and forced to marry Granthony. And how nastily Lynn Johnson treated Granthony’s first wife because — gasp — she didn’t want to have a child, but did anyway after Granthony whined her into it. This is way too much space given to a side appearance like this, but do please understand. My Gen-X cohort has endured many betrayals in our lifetime. One of the most lingering was the last couple years of For Better Or For Worse. Complaining about it was such a glorious experience while it lasted. I mean, it’s okay talking about how stuff in Funky Winkerbean doesn’t work like that. But it didn’t have the epic fall from what we thought-at-the-time-was-greatness-and-maybe-kinda-wasn’t that For Better Or For Worse did.

Anyway. Topper’s failed cyber-protection racket might feed into artificial intelligence Matty Squared. Still no developments on B O Plenty’s house being haunted. And Denny Lien was kind enough to explain a bit of Diet Smith’s strange mention of a time machine machine last December. Apparently a while back Smith had been working on a time machine, in the hopes of saving his long-dead son Brilliant Smith. The machine wasn’t practical. But the thing about a time machine is the development and testing cycle of a working one can be as short as you like, once you take it seriously. Those are the major outstanding plot threads that stand out to me. Well, that and whatever it is we’re supposed to make of Lafayette Austin. Some of the GoComics.com commenters have suggested that would be “Shaggy from Scooby-Doo”. All right.

#### Next Week!

Yes, the appearance of old-time radio star The Green Hornet worked! Jim Scancarelli is out of hiding. So when we ask what’s Going On In Gasoline Alley? What’s up with Jim Scancarelli? The heck with all this Little Orphan Annie stuff? At least one of these questions can now be answered!

## What’s Going On In Mark Trail? Why Is He Making So Many Nerd Movie Jokes? February – May 2018.

Here’s my most recent recap of James Allen’s Mark Trail. At or near the top of that link, anyway. My recap here should cover the early part of 2018. Good luck.

And I discuss comic strips with mathematical themes on my other blog. I hope you find that interesting too.

# Mark Trail.

## 11 February – 6 May 2018.

Last time in Mark Trail there were a bunch of animals in weird places. I mean weird by Mark Trail’s standards. A giraffe eating Rusty’s apples. An ostrich with an organ-grinding monkey teasing Doc. A rhino chasing down a couple of Mark Trail cartoonist James Allen’s friends. Mark could be baffled by these goings-on while we readers weren’t. And not because Mark or anyone was being dumb. We had information that they didn’t: “Dirty” Dyer read about how the Tingling Brothers Circus was making its last tour. How or why their animals were loose might be a mystery, but why there should be a giraffe at the Lost Forest at this time of year was not. Oh, also, Dyer is figuring to kill Mark Trail. But he’s taking his time and working up to it.

After hearing of Rusty and Doc’s weird-animal reports, Mark steps out on the porch and sees a tiger. He swings into action and steps back inside, to toss a ham outside. A big old ham, too, like you see in 1950s humor comic books. The tiger eats the ham, proving to Mark that this isn’t some hallucination, somehow? After that odd moment, though, Mark calls the authorities, who it turns out were coming to visit anyway. The Sheriff explains. The Circus train derailed and most of the animals got loose.

Then he launches into what’s almost a shaggy dog story. It’s built on the premise that the clown car took it hardest: “You should have seen it, Mark — greasepaint and rubber chickens on the tracks for miles!”. The story then goes into the clowns, who were all safely in the bar car, in full makeup and dress. The dazed group, led by the eldest and most respected clown, the Great Wilhelm — “the clown that never spoke, he just screamed a lot” — wandered away. They stumbled through a graveyard and toward a bonfire where some kids were having a camping night and telling monster stories and stuff. So you can imagine how well a pack of dazed, disheveled clowns stumbling out of the graveyard were received. The clowns, frightened by the kids’ screams, turned and fled. Old Man Basil, overseeing the bonfire, fired a load of rock salt and hit The Great Wilhelm in the back. “They said you could hear Wilhelm scream from the other end of the valley!”

Okay. So. First. I’m not afraid of clowns. Not in the slightest. I don’t get what is supposed to be frightening about clowns. I think the pop culture default assumption that of course clowns are evil terrifying monsters who have to be stamped out of society is a sickness. I’ll grant there are people afraid of clowns, but, I mean, there are people afraid of any living matter that has lots of holes in it, like some kinds of fungus have. We don’t grant that phobia a privileged place in society and tell each other that of course the phobia is correct. “But wait,” people trying to talk me into fearing clowns say. “What about the clown from It? Aren’t you scared of that clown?”

I’ve never read It, nor seen the movie. But as I understand it, the clown from It is an unstoppable supernatural monster dragging people to a horrible death. The scary thing there is “unstoppable supernatural monster dragging people to a horrible death”. That he manifests as a clown doesn’t enter into it. I would not feel less menaced if the unstoppable supernatural monster dragging people to a horrible death were a freelance insurance-claims investigator.

Second. Wilhelm Scream? As in the scream that I guess is in every movie nerds like. James Allen put into Mark Trail a nerd-culture riff like that? And I didn’t notice? Even though he quite fairly set it up and underlined it several times, talking about The Great Wilhelm who “just screamed a lot”. And I didn’t notice. Well, fair enough. I’ve never noticed the Wilhelm Scream sound effect even though it’s apparently in every movie I’ve watched more than three times, including the Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business and Mister Bug Goes To Town. (Don’t @ me. I’ve listened to the scream in isolation, and I’ve listened to scenes with it in. I’ve learned that it turns out I just don’t care.) I’m not sure how I feel about Mark Trail making nerd culture jokes. But he put in a good one, and did it well, laying out the setup where anyone could see and trusting people wouldn’t notice.

Anyway. Back to the story. Mark and Dusty go looking for animals. There’s the ground rumbling. Mark says “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” and I see what he did there. It’s an elephant. Mark gets to the tranquilizer gun and knocks out the elephant before anybody can come to particular harm.

Then a new, bearded, bald guy comes in. In Mark Trail tradition this signals that we’ve finally met the villain. But no: he’s Marlin Creed from the Eden Gardens Zoo. There is no villain in this piece. He and his assistant Jim are here to help trap the animals and to ask if you get the reference there. Well? Do you? BETTER SAY YES! (2 points to the first person who gets what my reference there is. That person will be Roymark Kassinger.). (5 points to the first person who figures out what I’m referencing with this points-to-the-first-person-who stuff.)

With the arrival of Marlin and Jim, and the news that the circus people are getting organized again, the story looks like it’s finally ended. Mark mentions he’s going to have a vacation in Mexico soon. And then it turns out there’s a ruckus off-screen. There’s a tiger fighting a rhinoceros, because hey, how often do you get to justify having a tiger fight a rhinoceros? I mean outside March Mammal Madness? (I have not forgotten #Unsettlegate. Don’t ask what this is all about. You’re better off not knowing.)

The tiger runs off in one direction, the rhino in another. Mark, Marlin, and Jim chase the rhino in a cool zebra-striped jeep. Meanwhile Joel Robinson in the corner of the screen whispers out, “Daktari”. After the Wilhelm Scream thing I’m not getting nerd-snookered again. Marlin sends Jim out to annoy the rhino with a stick. Mark asks “is that safe?” Marlin says “No.” Like in the jokes about Wild America made back when we made jokes about Marlin and Jim and Wild America. The rhino is successfully annoyed and smashes the jeep. But Mark’s able to shoot him with a tranquilizer dart.

With the 14th of April this story is officially closed. We’re told the circus has recovered all their missing animals. This includes “Twinkles, the flaming-log-juggling hippo”. I assume this is a reference to something and I’m waiting to see what it is in Dick Tracy.

The 16th of April starts what might be the current story. It’s in the Bahamas where Dirty Dyer has been lounging on the beach and scaring resort guests with his knife-throwing practice. Also shooting off guns. Also reading Weapons For Dummies, Calvin and Hobbes, and To Serve Man. Dyer glad-handles the guy sent to report on how he’s alarming the guests into becoming his assistant.

I say this might be the current story. We’ve seen one or two-week interludes with Dirty Dyer before. James Allen is letting this story simmer. I don’t know whether Mark Trail is going to encounter Dirty Dyer yet.

So the 26th of April starts what is unambiguously the current story. The Trails are flying to Mexico. Rusty has an honestly endearing moment where he’s amazed at the size of the airport. “We’re only going to Mexico — I didn’t think we’d need an airport this big!” I sincerely like the kid-logic that how far you’re going should affect the size of the airport you go to. It’s even got enough bits of truth to it to make sense. Rusty Trail comes in for a lot of jokes about being a terrifying homunculus. I’m glad to see him being a normal-ish child.

Not much has happened here yet. While taking off Cherry Trail mentions a couple stories back where the island Mark was on exploded under a volcano. And Mark talks a bit about where they’re going. It’s called the Azyoulik, an ecoresort near Tulum. And right near the town of Santa Poco. Get it?

Yeah, me neither. Mark explains, “Interestingly enough, Santa Poco was saved from bandits in the silent movie era by three American cowboy actors!” So I do thank James Allen for explaining he was making a Three Amigos reference. Rusty’s already wandered off to meet someone named Mara, whose family is also going to Tulum. And that’s where we are as of Saturday.

So all in all, I don’t know why Mark Trail is making so many nerd movie jokes lately. I think Allen’s just having fun with the strip’s hip-because-square reputation.

### Sunday Animals Watch

What bits of nature have been showcased on Sundays recently? These have been:

• Sea Turtles, 11 February 2018. Really, really endangered.
• Bougainvillea, 18 February 2018. Not endangered except by spelling bee contestants who’ve just been knocked out.
• Prairies Dogs and Black-Footed Ferrets, 25 February 2018. Finally. The Black-Footed Ferrets are incredibly endangered. Prairie Dogs are making a comeback.
• Spiders and Great Heights, 4 March 2018. While public-speaking on an airplane naked in front of the House Centipede convention.
• Blue Tarantulas, 11 March 2018. Freshly-discovered and so very popular so we’re going to destroy it any day now.
• Rhesus Macaque Monkeys on this island near Puerto Rico, 18 March 2018. They survived Hurricane Maria and the future disgraced former president hasn’t ordered their gizzards drilled for coal yet!
• Black-Footed [wild] Cat of southwest Africa, 25 March 2018. Really, really endangered.
• Feral Pigs, 1 April 2018. Endangering you. Seriously. That bit at the start of The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy falls in the pig pen and the Cowardly Lion’s farmhand’sona rescues her? That’s showing off his bravery. The movie thought that part out.
• Tiger Sharks, 8 April 2018. ThunderCats, but for sea life, why wouldn’t this be a hit? Because it didn’t make sense even by the standards of the SilverHawks universe is why. I mean, when your show would have been less baffling if you didn’t include the pilot episode laying out how everybody came to be Tiger Sharks and what their powers and all were you have world-building problems.
• Chameleons, 15 April 2018. All my attempts to learn about how their faces fluoresce were obliterated by noticing Mark Trail calling them “squamates” and I have to sit and stare at that word for a long while even though (a) I know full well it’s a legitimate way to refer to them and (b) I knew the root word “squamous” before Mark Trail got onto it so there.
• Marbled Crayfish, 22 April 2018. You know, those crayfish that are doing way better since they stopped dealing with the males of the species.
• Harris’s Hawks, 6 May 2018. Not endangered yet, but just you wait.

#### Next Week!

Muffins. What are they, and what became of them? Can you put mayonnaise on a muffin? Come back in a week and I’ll share the weird message of existential despair from the car place down the block.

## In Which Usenet Turns Out To Not Be Dead

So back in the 90s there was this troll on Usenet. I know, shocking. The guy would post to the group alt.tv.game-shows, which was about such TV game shows as had that grunge sound. Also sometimes to the other TV newsgroups. He’d post about the forgotten 1984 Bill Cullen game show Hot Potato.

Anyway, the troll would post, sometimes several times a day, the question: how was Hot Potato played? Did Bill Cullen throw a hot potato at the contestants? That would be funny. And then he’d sit back and wait for the offended corrections to roll in. When the fun of that paled, he would repost, spelling some of the words wrong. You have to understand, this was the 90s. While it was theoretically possible to watch a video online, it couldn’t actually be done. All you could do was spend three hours downloading some program that claimed to be able to show videos, then spend an hour downloading a video, which would be a postage-stamp-sized thing that was mostly black, with occasional green speckles, that would then crash. And while memes were technologically possible, no one believed they could be made practical. We had to do what we could.

So anyway now you can imagine my joy to notice that this got posted last month to alt.tv.mst3k:

how wuz hat putato plaed? did bil kulin tos a putato at thu kuntestintz? tat wuld b a funi.

And doesn’t that just make you feel young again?

For the record, Hot Potato was played by Bill Cullen giving a category, and then the contestants having to name stuff in that category. Very few physical things were ever thrown at anyone during the game, as the referees kept very good game control.

## MiSTed: Galactic Federation Update, Part 4/4

OK, so, MOS Burgers: at the time I was living in Singapore and they had the Japanese(?) chain there and I really got into their whole style. Not just a good variety of burger and burger-like patties, and the choice to have a rice bun instead of a bread-based one, but also, like, advertising copy about being in touch with nature and all that. The reference to someday getting to be Head Beagle is from Peanuts, of course, and a storyline that they reran earlier this year that made Charles Schulz seem impossibly timely. Seriously. Scarily timely.

I suppose it’s inconsistent with my opening-sketch claim that Professor Bobo was good with forms that he misreads one in the closing sketch. The idea that he would be good with forms was ripped off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show where Ted Baxter had some weirdly specific moments of supreme competence. (Knowing who had won every local-TV award ever, for example, or being able to do arithmetic instantly as long as he imagined it was about money.) I like idiot characters with narrowly-defined fields of competence.

The closing line about Heidi Klum refers to a cranky person who used to haunt the late-night talk show newsgroups on Usenet. He had the idea that the aliens guiding human destiny left clues to their plans in the news about Heidi Klum. Sounds ridiculous? All right. He was incredibly happy to answer any and all questions you had, indefatigably. He eventually promised his wife and therapist he’d stop promoting his Heidi Klum theory, and as far as I know he did. But boy did he leave a deep impression on everyone who saw his work.

>

> Today, we have discussed segments of our shared history that

> explain your origins and the basis of your present condition of

> consciousness.

MIKE: Next week, remember, we’re doing the Polish-Lithuanian monarchy,

> We ask you to use this awareness to examine how far you

> actually have come!

CROW: I’m suddenly more aware of my tongue.

TOM: You don’t have a tongue.

CROW: Then I’m suddenly confused and distressed.

> Your liberation and new world service are truly

> within reach!

TOM: As soon as you pay up your library fines!

> We now take our leave.

MIKE: [ As Groucho ] I’ve had a wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.

> Blessings, dear Ones! Know, in

CROW: In your Diamond of Diamonds,

TOM: In your Club of Clubs..

> that the eternal Supply and perpetual Prosperity

> of Heaven is yours!

> So Be It! Selamat Gajun! Selamat Kasijaram!

CROW: They’re either Malay or the Klindesteron beademungen.

> (Sirian

> for Be One! Blessed in Love and in Joy!)

each month for a year.

>

> Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: Somebody check the Earth’s batteries. Venus was dead
three months before we noticed.

> http:
//www.paoweb.com

>

> This copy was reposted by Robert E. McElwaine

TOM: The `E’ stands for `Extra.’

CROW: Robert E. McExtralwaine?

> PAO Member

> Eckankar Initiate

MIKE: And a good friend.

> B.S., Physics and Astronomy, UW-EC

CROW: Hah … Mike?

MIKE: Not my fault, guys.

> http:
//members.aol.com/rem547 PLUS

> http:
//members.aol.com/rem460

TOM: That adds up to rem 1007.

>

//www.paoweb.com/sn122600.htm ,

CROW: A URL actually created by a snore.

> http:
//www.disclosureproject.org .

>

> P.S.:
PASS IT ON !

MIKE: You’ll never guess which of your close friends is waiting
for this very message!

>

> ok

TOM: OK? Is that all you have to say for yourself?

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. GYPSY, TOM SERVO, and CROW are there, with
many papers scattered on the desk. A pencil is wedged into
CROW’s hand. ]

GYPSY: You need line 17 from form 8-E.

CROW: I know, I’m just — look, how many amiable characters from the
movies and shorts we watch have visited us on the Hex Field View
Screen this year?

TOM: 28, including four visits from Marrissa Picard.

GYPSY: You have to tell them how you made Jay Gordon cry.

TOM: Tell them 35.

CROW: I’m not cheating on these forms!

TOM: Oh, like they’ll check?

GYPSY: It kind of goes against the spirit —

[ MIKE enters. They all hush up for a few seconds. ]

MIKE: So. Who wants to —

[ Simultaneously: ]

GYPSY: Crow.

CROW: Tom.

TOM: Crow.

MIKE: Well?

CROW: We realized we haven’t filled in our reports for the
Galactic Federation of Light this year yet.

TOM: You wouldn’t believe how many forms it is, either,
but it’s worth doing.

GYPSY: It’s an important part of bringing light to the universe.

MIKE: [ Playing along ] Plus you might get to be Head Beagle.

GYPSY: So we’re listing all this year’s light-bringing.

CROW: You got anything you want reported?

MIKE: I, uh, cleaned the burnt pizza stuff out of the toaster oven.

CROW: That’s good! What else do we have?

TOM: We played keep-away with Observer’s brain for like ten minutes.

MIKE: That didn’t really uplift anyone’s soul.

to bring something good into the world.

GYPSY: We just moved the checkers around randomly for five minutes,
got bored, then you threw them like ninja stars until
you broke the McVote McDLT glasses.

CROW: Oh yeah.

TOM: Well … we had to have done something, right?

GYPSY: We didn’t stop anyone from bringing light.

TOM: Yeah!

CROW: OK, I’m writing that in — Mike, you have any stamps? We
need to mail this to the Galactic Federation of Light Central
Processing Bureau in Menominee, Michigan.

MIKE: Oh, fresh out. Let’s check in on Pittney-Bowes, shall we?

TOM: Four, five — hey, does Sonic the Hedgehog still exist?

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. The stage is filled by shipping cartons of all
sizes, marked “LIGHT BULBS” and stacked precariously high.
BOBO, PEARL, and OBSERVER are squeezed in front, reading
papers on a business envelope. ]

OBSERVER: Dahdahdaaah … appreciate your filing early … blah de
blah … having reviewed your Federation of Light returns this
year … yeah, uh-huh … computed against withholding reported
in form 671-X …

PEARL: So how much of a light-bringing refund did we *get*?

BOBO: [ Pointing at a line ] Fifty-five thousand, three hundred
forty three!

[ A pause, as PEARL simmers. ]

PEARL: That’s our Zip code, you — [ She pinches his nose. ]

[ BOBO barks, Curly style; his left arm windmills around and hits
OBSERVER’s brain, which he drops, apparently onto PEARL’s
foot as she grabs her foot and hops. She trips into BOBO, who
bounces against one pile of boxes, sending it crashing. He
rebounds to knock PEARL and OBSERVER into their own huge stacks,
which sends off volleys of crashing and imploding light bulb
sounds through the credits … ]

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

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations
therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc. The essay “GALACTIC FEDERATION Update: August 5, 2003” comes to us from Robert McElwaine
and Sheldan Nidle. This MiSTing as a whole is the creation of Joseph
Nebus, who intends no particular ill-will towards Robert McElwaine,
Sheldan Nidle, or any nigh-omnipotent beings guiding humanity towards
a glorious new destiny in the stars, but does enjoy following Kansan’s
reports of how they signal their intents through the life and career
of Heidi Klum. Come back, Dr. Mike Neylon!

> Greetings, dear Hearts! We return with more interesting topics to

> share with you.

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

With a rise of eight more points it’s starting to look like we’re never going to get traders off of this Belgian cricket diet bubble. We may have to resort to drastic measures.

# 229

## MiSTed: Galactic Federation Update, Part 3/4

Write enough MiSTings and you pick up your own little habits and recurring jokes. One of mine was “if [someone] had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened”. Recognize the origin? You’re fine if you don’t. It’s from one of the very many very minor Woody Woodpecker cartoons of the 50s, Bronco Busters. I was really into Woody Woodpecker when I was a kid. Of all the not-actually-good cartoons I watched obsessively back then it was probably the best of the lot. Apparently in the cartoon the line is actually “if Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened” but please understand: I wrote this before YouTube was a thing. I had to remember what the line was from decades earlier.

Gurmit Singh’s a Singaporean actor and comedian whom I saw a lot when I was living in Singapore, as I was back when I wrote this. I had come to figure, why not make local references that refer to my locality, rather than to the Minneapolis-local references the actual MST3K crew knew and made? What do I know about Minneapolis-local references apart from what was actually on the show? Exactly. I don’t remember that anyone ever was baffled or curious enough about this to ask, ever.

> At times, these wars seemed endless.

CROW: It was like watching the History Channel.

> The

> devastation’s intensity was inconceivable. We were always astonished at

> the extent to which the star-nations of Anchara would go in order to

> ‘win’ these wars.

MIKE: Star-nations of Anchara? There’s galactic warfare about whether
to accept Captain Archer and Team Bland on `Enterprise’?

> Their fierce stockpile of weapons and unspeakably

> brutal military forces sparked a reign of terror across this galaxy.

CROW: Yet still they can’t explain John Ashcroft.

>

> Eventually, our growing alliances led to the Galactic Federation

> of Light.

TOM: And that’ll have to be enough for you.

> The Galactic Federation was one of a number of organizations

> – neutral, dark or one with the Light – operating in this galaxy.

MIKE: And all striving to become the Master of Orion.

> At

> any rate, the wars produced a vast number of ‘wandering’ star-nations

> that moved about according to the circumstances caused by the wars.

CROW: If the Galactic Federation of Light had gone straight
to the police, this would never have happened.

> From them, we learned a great deal about the hate and the needless

> actions and divisions caused by limited consciousness

MIKE: You know, like when you overdo the Robitussin.

> and its constant

> train of fear and wrongly-derived assumptions. We found this quite an

> eye-opener.

TOM: It was zesty, and it had a great minty taste!

> We also learned the extent of the Ancharites’ deception.

CROW: The Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Dionne Warwick — none of them
ever really existed!

TOM: What?

> Although we were shocked, initially, at how dark this galaxy had

> become, we realized, deep in our Hearts, that this insanity would

> definitely end.

MIKE: Oh, yeah. Superadvanced cosmic being and I bet they just
whip out the Ritalin.

> Until that divine moment, we had to do whatever we

> could to stalemate the continuous wars.

TOM: But the Galactic League of Nations proved to be a disappointment.

> Thus, we created technologies

> and strategies that would bring about the required results.

CROW: That seemed too hard, so we started playing Europa Universalis II
for a couple millennia to kill time.

>

> Ultimately, just over two million years ago, these wars produced

> conditions that allowed us to colonize your solar system.

MIKE: And we’ve still got half our stuff in cardboard boxes.

> A new set of

> broad-based attacks by the Ancharites, nearly one million years ago,

> destroyed these first human colonies.

TOM: A million years these Federation of Light creeps float about
the planet and none of them remembers to not leave sitting ducks
all around.

> Later, a counter-attack by

> Galactic Federation forces culminated in the second Earth colony of

> Lemuria

CROW: So Joey the Lemur was a space alien?

TOM: Actually, yeah.

> and the destruction of the Ancharites’ main planetary world.

MIKE: The genocide was necessary, as otherwise some of the Ancharites
might have lived.

> Its explosive end produced the asteroid belt that now revolves between

> Mars and Jupiter.

CROW: Explosive ending! No one will be admitted during the
last five minutes of the Ancharites’ home world.

> Moreover, many of the smaller moons of Mars, Jupiter

> and the solar system’s other outer planets are the result of the

> carnage from these explosions.

TOM: A couple of them were just tchochkes we picked up at garage sales.

> Indeed, your solar system is a curious

> monument to the violence that was part of these wars.

CROW: Please observe silence while visiting the Solar System.

> It even extends

> to the outer layers of cosmic dust and larger particles that form the

> edge of your solar system.

MIKE: This is all related to Blue Kryptonite, isn’t it?

> Because these clouds were unduly charged,

> the outcome was a constant barrage of comets and asteroids.

TOM: But they do all look really festive come Christmas time.

>

> Even your Sun was not spared the degrees of violence of which the

> Ancharites were capable.

MIKE: And with our powers and a million years to try it was
too much work to fix it up again.

> They attempted to permanently disrupt your

> Sun’s interaction with her planetary daughters,

TOM: By being vicious gossips.

> resulting in the highly

> elliptical orbits that still characterize the way your solar system’s

MIKE: The tragic result of putting unbalanced loads in the washer.

> Initially, these orbits were almost circular.

> For that reason, a circle has a 360-degree arc.

CROW: Bake your circle at that 360 degree arc for fifteen to
twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center
comes out clean.

> commemorates the original solar year of 360 days, each lasting 24

> hours.

TOM: Is that mean solar or sidereal time?

> The first colonists of ancient Lemuria decided not to alter this

> situation,

CROW: This reminds me of a story that happened once in … Zobooland.

> and kept this anomaly as a sign to future generations of

> what had actually occurred in this once splendid and beautiful solar

> system.

MIKE: Nice of them to leave us such a hint.

> These wars also caused the conditions needed to plunge you into

> the morass that we know as limited consciousness.

CROW: So, the Federation of Light wants to bring Light to the universe
and does it by leaving a broken-down solar system and dropping
colonists on it who’ll be too stupid to do any Light-bringing?

TOM: It’s the Galactic Federation of Durrr.

>

> Clearly, the dispersion of humanity into your solar system – even

> your fall into limited consciousness – are by-products of these galaxy-

> wide wars.

TOM: As soon as you leave the solar system, though, you’ll figure out
how to travel interstellar distances.

> Furthermore, the Galactic Federation’s acceptance of a

> nearly ‘hands-off’ policy was the result of circumstances brought about

> by these same wars.

MIKE: That hands-off policy that did so well to avoid the war
in the first place.

> This policy allowed the Anunnaki to become your

> overlords, and their earthly minions to secretly control you for the

> past 13 millennia.

TOM: Oh, *good* one, Galactic Federation of Light.

> However, this situation was dramatically changed by

> your rise in consciousness and by the Anunnaki’s recent turn to the

> Light.

CROW: And, what the heck, nothing good on TV this week anyway.

> These events have made possible the Galactic Federation’s direct

MIKE: The protection money we demand will be reasonable
and collected infrequently.

> It has also given us an opportunity to

> assist those forces of Light that are laboring to transform your world.

TOM: Unfortunately, the only agents they have on the scene are
Judge Reinhold and Gurmit Singh, so it’s taking a while.

> This has resulted in the agreements that are about to be revealed.

CROW: I’m betting they call for people to wear less black, though.

>

MIKE: You put it that way, I feel so *naked*.

> You

> are interconnected Beings who are sharing the same destiny. That

> destiny is to be returned to fully conscious Beings of Light.

CROW: Just two weekends a month, and two millennia a geologic age.

> The

> concluding phase, before this divine transition can be fully revealed

> to you, has taken much too long for our liking.

TOM: Frankly, you’re on the verge of failing this class!

> Finally, the last

> vestiges of the dark have begun to see that their continuing battle is

> truly in vain.

CROW: The movies of Jerry Bruckheimer will get more desperate.

> This acknowledgement has allowed a new energy of

> positive intention to envelop your beautiful, blue orb.

MIKE: Clean it every other weekend with a damp cloth, and keep it
out of direct sunlight.

CROW: This is what the Mirror Universe had instead of “Highlander 2.”

> This energy has

> provided additional courage to those who are enforcing the agreements,

TOM: This is all going to end up at the World Trade Organization somehow.

> which guarantee that a new reality can be manifested, now, upon your

> world.

CROW: Watch your doorknobs for signs of opening blue eyes.

> We thank all who have helped and, especially, convey our deepest

> gratitude to all Light workers. Your victory is approaching!

TOM: No, really. Going to be here soon. Can’t see it taking more
than another 375,000 years at the *latest*.

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose thirteen points in trading excited by word of a Brussels startup trying to sell crickets as food to Belgians, even though we’ve been through this before and we’re just not doing the insect-eating thing, thank you. Not as anything but a novelty, and no it does not help if you’re going to make them garlic flavored. If they were garlic-flavored we’d be eating them for the garlic, not the cricket, and we can get garlic flavor from non-insect-based sources. Anyway, this can’t last.

# 215

## MiSTed: Galactic Federation Update, Part 2/4

So, a lot of MiSTings inspire a certain crankiness. Yes, we, the writers, choose to read these things and write jokes about it and immerse ourselves in the whole thing. And it’s mostly fun. But there is still a slog to it because when you look at every line of a post you realize there’s a lot of lines to it. And so many of them are boring. Not this time, though. This was a giddy, playful piece to write. I had fun and I think you can tell from the silliness of a lot of my riffs.

“The Swan” was a short-lived reality-TV show about taking people who were Hollywood Ugly and dressing them up until they could attract A MAN. This sort of thing seemed important to denounce back then.

>"Robt McElwain" <rmcelwaine@visto.com
> wrote in message

CROW: It’s the 21st century and we’re *still* getting Robert McElwaine.
Could we get some new cranks in here?

>

>

> Update from the REAL Galactic Federation

MIKE: The other Galactic Federation is just full of phonies.

> and The Spiritual Hierarchy

> August 5, 2003

TOM: They’re masters of space, time, and dimension, but their Usenet
servers are kept up by turtles.

> Communicated thru Sheldan Nidle of The Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: So stop teasing him.

CROW: Shel-*dan*?

> http:

>

> Greetings, dear Hearts!

TOM: Howdy, lovey-kins.

> We return with more interesting topics to

> share with you.

MIKE: And we’ll give you six of them for four easy monthly payments
of \$24.99 each.

> One of the things that we find most interesting is how

> your concepts of cosmology have distorted the origins of this physical

> universe.

CROW: Why, thank you. I think one of my most endearing features
is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the
physical universe.

> Its genesis lies not in a ‘big bang’, but rather in a simple

> series of multiple creations.

TOM: This `Big Bang Burrito’ theory we expect will be slow to catch on.

> These creations produce many different

> dimensions and an abundance of realities. The crucial element is

MIKE: Erbium.

> divine

> consciousness. All of us dwell in a living, conscious universe.

TOM: Except for the audience of “The Swan.”

> That

> universe is composed of inter-dimensional Light and Time, which

> combine, in infinite ways, to form space.

CROW: Is this gonna be on the final?

> It, in turn, creates

> realities and shapes physicality’s countless dimensions. The physical

> universe is a magical place.

MIKE: So that’s why everyone’s after me Lucky Charms.

> The only limitations that exist in any

> reality are those that its inhabitants and its heavenly guardians,

> together, permit.

CROW: I already saw “Free To Be You And Me.” Can I go?

> Your laws of physics are a true misnomer.

TOM: They’re more nagging suggestions of physics instead.

> in awareness or new collective perceptions can instantly alter these

> so-called ‘laws’.

MIKE: One morning I took too much Sudafed and the Rydburg constant?
Pfft. Out like a light.

> Now, this important process has begun.

TOM: No, no, no, don’t go rushing into anything right now.

> It promises to

> create an entirely new reality for you and indeed for the rest of

> physicality.

CROW: You know, I can’t get “2000 Flushes” to work right.
Should I be part of creating a new reality for everybody?

>

> Creation is a continuously unfolding phenomenon. The divine plan

> has dealt out to us all a multiplicity of sudden twists and turns.

TOM: You are in a maze of twisty divine plans, all alike.

> Now,

> as a direct result, countless sentient species live in the physical

> universe.

MIKE: The Asian short-clawed otter alone occupies four galaxies.

> Their many different languages, cultures and rituals create

> an immensely wide range of traditions and perceptions that center upon

> the origins of their realities.

TOM: Yet they cannot tell a cabbage from a lettuce.

> They have inspired us to closely study

> the residences of this nearly infinite universe. In our galaxy, it gave

> rise to the creation of

CROW: Kickapoo Joy Juice.

> numerous spiritual sciences, dedicated to

> developing a full understanding of this knowledge, and to discovering

> its precise part in the whole.

TOM: In order to make more efficient ABC Afterschool Specials.

> Eventually, this study laid the first

> foundations for a spiritual anthropology and, later, a spiritual

> sociology.

MIKE: And later still, spiritual philately.

TOM: Spiritual geology was a big hit.

CROW: People say spiritual ichtyology is an easy major, but there’s
a lot to it you don’t see.

> These sciences gave us a wealth of information about our

> common origins,

CROW: For example, origins turn out to be common.

> which are far greater than the processes that brought

> about human evolution on the third planet of the Vega solar system more

> than six million years ago.

TOM: As of next Thursday.

> Actually, our beginnings filled a physical

> and spiritual niche foreseen by the divine plan.

MIKE: I mean, it’s like they had God or something setting things out.

> Prior to that event,

> we were all spiritual Beings hanging tenaciously to the vast Life-

> streams of Heaven.

TOM: Oh, here it comes.

CROW: Yup. This is the hard sell. How much, McElwaine?

>

> As humanity advanced through this galaxy,

TOM: We started shooting everything we didn’t understand.

> we encountered physical

> Beings quite unlike us in form, culture and language.

CROW: We would have given them the chance to surrender,
but we didn’t want to look weak.

> If we did not

> succeed in bridging these huge differences, war often resulted.

MIKE: And, really, we went out with the best of intentions.

> At

> first, those who aggressively followed the dark principles of their

> creator-Being, Anchara,

CROW: Leader of the Imperium Sweaters.

> distressed us greatly. Suddenly, we were

> involved in an enormous galactic war that had woven itself across the

> breadth of our galaxy for many tens of millions of years.

TOM: A most savage alien race, they were. When we shot them
they fought back.

> This struggle

> created a need for many alliances to form with thousands of other like-

> minded star-nations.

> It also introduced us to the continuing strange

> and violent process that is destined to transform this galaxy from the

> darkness that has engulfed it.

TOM: They’re using the F-U-N-D cheat, aren’t they?

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose a dozen points today as the radio had a bunch of great songs all in a row. Um. Also there was a commodity listing for Rough Rice that totally dominated their thinking about long-term fiduciary potentiometers or something.

# 202

## MiSTed: Galactic Federation Update, Part 1/4

So, I was digging around and found some Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction I had completely and utterly forgotten I’d written. Since some of this goes back over a decade I hope you can forgive me that. But I felt like sharing so, here goes. This is from the “riffing on someone’s rant” mode, although in this case the original text is less a rant than a … well, bit of crank literature, let’s say.

The reference here to “Commodore Schmidlapp” is steeped in rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc folklore, such as it is. Something like a year before this MiSTing was posted, Doctor Mike Neylon had taken down his Web Site Number Nine, the center of the MiSTing community, for a weekend for some kind of upgrades or whatnot and he hadn’t been seen since. So I thought it would be a merry little joke that the right people would get if I snuck in a bit suggesting he had been kidnapped by Pearl Forrester and her crew. Thus you now understand why this is a correctly-formed joke construct and shall laugh.

As I remember it, I was right, folks did like the joke. Still haven’t seen Mike Neylon. I suppose if he ever does reappear I’ll have to resolve the joke in a new MiSTing.

Oh yeah, before you do: comic strips in my mathematics blog. You might like that too. I do.

[ OPENING CREDITS ]

[ 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE BRIDGE. TOM SERVO is behind the desk. MIKE is
sitting up front, near the camera, facing TOM. ]

TOM: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Satellite of Love. I’m Tom
Servo, your host. Today we’ve got wonderful news for all of our
loving and devoted fans. Starting Tuesday you’ll be able to find
our new Special Collectible Crow T. Robot Gold Edition.

[ CROW, looking as he always does, enters from the left. ]

CROW: Hi, everyone. The gold edition me comes complete with netting,
fresh-polished nose module, top-of-the-line sarcasm resequencer
and an array of opinions on Peter Potamus. But there’s more —

MIKE: [ Raising his hand ] Does that come with director’s commentary?

TOM: Uhm —

CROW: Sure! Lots of commentary.

TOM: Won’t be able to shut him up!

[ GYPSY enters from the right. ]

GYPSY: And with the Ruby Edition collectible Tom Servo —

MIKE: Hold it; does the Crow come with trailers?

CROW: I — uh —

GYPSY: A trailer hitch.

MIKE: Is he in 5.1?

TOM: He’s … in … 8.3. I think.

MIKE: Anamorphic?

CROW: I’ve heard of that.

TOM: Is it good?

GYPSY: I think so.

CROW: Yes! Any further questions?

[ MADS SIGN flashes. MIKE walks back to the table to get it. ]

MIKE: Hang on, the deleted scenes are calling.

[ MIKE taps the sign. ]

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. PEARL and BOBO are at a desk working on a great
many forms; BOBO is dressed as accountant. OBSERVER watches the
camera, curious. Calculators, notepads, and slide rules complete
the table clutter. ]

OBSERVER: Does Crow come with animated chapter breaks?

BOBO: Deducting form 8-E, line 17 …

PEARL: Hello, Mike. Peculiar doll-thingies.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ]

CROW: Hey, we’re action figures!

GYPSY: Yeah!

TOM: I’m comfortable being a doll.

MIKE: Ah, what’re you doing, Pearl?

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is muttering to PEARL. A bell rings
from off-camera. ]

PEARL: [ To BOBO ] Oh, what, *again*? We’ve had him in the dungeon
a *year* now and we’re not getting through.

BOBO: For the capital invested in keeping Doctor Mike — you can’t
argue the return-on-evil. Look at the figures.

PEARL: Brain Guy, can’t you do this?

OBSERVER: Oh, Pearl, you know Bobo does forms better than I.

PEARL: [ To MIKE ] What are we doing? Oh, wouldn’t YOU like to know?

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. CROW, TOM, MIKE, and GYPSY are there. ]

MIKE: Well … yeah.

GYPSY: [ To TOM ] I just never saw you as a doll before.

[ CASTLE FORRESTER. BOBO is fiddling with a slide rule. ]

OBSERVER: Sorry up there, Mike; we’ve got some reports to fill in.

PEARL: Something *you* will understand perfectly after you get through
this week’s experiment — if you DARE!

[ PEARL begins to cackle; OBSERVER pats her shoulder. ]

OBSERVER: [ Low-key ] It’s not all that evil.

PEARL: [ Similarly ] No? I thought we were picking these —

OBSERVER: You have to give them a change-up, something odd and then you
let go with the force-ten brain-imploder. It works better.

PEARL: You’re the brain guy, but I want them to suffer more —

[ The bell rings again. ]

PEARL: Oh, somebody get Commodore Schmidlapp his tea already.

[ BOBO hits his palm against the slide rule, launching it to stage right.
There follow several crashing glass noises, and then the hissing and
bubbling of horrid liquids seeping places. BOBO whimpers. ]

PEARL: Brainy?

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As before. ]

GYPSY: They’re getting stranger.

CROW: I just never saw you as a doll.

TOM: You should try accepting an expanded self-image.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General alarm. ]

MIKE: Oh, great, save it — guys, we got movie sign!

[ Screaming and such continues. ]

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ ALL enter theater. ]

MIKE: Wait, she’s torturing other Mikes?

>Path:
rpi!uwm.edu!newsfeed.cs.utexas.edu!in.100proofnews.com!in.100

>proofnews.com!news-out.visi.com!petbe.visi.com!feed.news.qwest.net!

>news.uswest.net.POSTED!not-for-mail

"Baron Maximillian von Schwartzmeinoppenhause"

CROW: Zany? You’re soaking in it!

><schwartz@baronville.com
>

>From:
"Baron Maximillian von Schwartzmeinoppenhause"

><schwartz@baronville.com
>

TOM: That’s for everyone who missed the zany before.

>Newsgroups:
24hoursupport.helpdesk,alt.alien.research,alt.alien.visitors,

>alt.revisionism,sci.astro,soc.history.what-if

MIKE: The gang.

>References:
<20030814025106.21510.00001411@mb-m07.aol.com
>

>

>Subject:
Re: GALACTIC FEDERATION Update: August 5, 2003

CROW: Attention Mister and Missus Galaxy and all the ships at sea!
Flash!

>Lines:
159

>X-Priority:
3

TOM: Better tell Wolverine and Professor Xaiver.

>X-MSMail-Priority:
Normal

Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1158

>X-MimeOLE:
Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2800.1165

MIKE: [ Clapping his hands ] Ole’!

>Message-ID:
<hqX5b.733\$Qa.55492@news.uswest.net
>

>Date:
Fri, 5 Sep 2003 02:02:48 -0600

TOM: We get the August update in September?

CROW: They’re pretty laid back in this part of the federation.

>NNTP-Posting-Host:
67.1.139.151

>X-Trace:
news.uswest.net 1062748941 67.1.139.151 (Fri, 05 Sep 2003

>03:
02:21 CDT)

>NNTP-Posting-Date:
Fri, 05 Sep 2003 03:02:21 CDT

MIKE: There, see? Told you it was Central Daylight Time.

>Xref:
rpi alt.alien.visitors:516492 alt.revisionism:1566553

>sci.astro:
445867 soc.history.what-if:738420

TOM: Inside The GPS Signal.

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index plummeted nineteen points as traders considered that story about the guy who tried to get rid of some bees by setting a firecracker on their hive and ended up destroying his own garage and while that’s kind of funny it also feels really bad to laugh about that, plus, you know, there’s the bees to consider. Nobody feels really proud about the whole situation.

# 190

Tue/Wed 11/12
MiSTed: Galactic Federation Update, Part 2/4

So, a lot of MiSTings inspire a certain crankiness. Yes, we, the writers, choose to read these things and write jokes about it and immerse ourselves in the whole thing. And it’s mostly fun. But there is still a slog to it because when you look at every line of a post you realize there’s a lot of lines to it. And so many of them are boring. Not this time, though. This was a giddy, playful piece to write. I had fun and I think you can tell from the silliness of a lot of my riffs.

“The Swan” was a short-lived reality-TV show about taking people who were Hollywood Ugly and dressing them up until they could attract A MAN. This sort of thing seemed important to denounce back then.

>"Robt McElwain" <rmcelwaine@visto.com
> wrote in message

CROW: It’s the 21st century and we’re *still* getting Robert McElwaine.
Could we get some new cranks in here?

>

>

> Update from the REAL Galactic Federation

MIKE: The other Galactic Federation is just full of phonies.

> and The Spiritual Hierarchy

> August 5, 2003

TOM: They’re masters of space, time, and dimension, but their Usenet
servers are kept up by turtles.

> Communicated thru Sheldan Nidle of The Planetary Activation Organization

MIKE: So stop teasing him.

CROW: Shel-*dan*?

> http:

>

> Greetings, dear Hearts!

TOM: Howdy, lovey-kins.

> We return with more interesting topics to

> share with you.

MIKE: And we’ll give you six of them for four easy monthly payments
of \$24.99 each.

> One of the things that we find most interesting is how

> your concepts of cosmology have distorted the origins of this physical

> universe.

CROW: Why, thank you. I think one of my most endearing features
is how my concepts of cosmology distort the origins of the
physical universe.

> Its genesis lies not in a ‘big bang’, but rather in a simple

> series of multiple creations.

TOM: This `Big Bang Burrito’ theory we expect will be slow to catch on.

> These creations produce many different

> dimensions and an abundance of realities. The crucial element is

MIKE: Erbium.

> divine

> consciousness. All of us dwell in a living, conscious universe.

TOM: Except for the audience of “The Swan.”

> That

> universe is composed of inter-dimensional Light and Time, which

> combine, in infinite ways, to form space.

CROW: Is this gonna be on the final?

> It, in turn, creates

> realities and shapes physicality’s countless dimensions. The physical

> universe is a magical place.

MIKE: So that’s why everyone’s after me Lucky Charms.

> The only limitations that exist in any

> reality are those that its inhabitants and its heavenly guardians,

> together, permit.

CROW: I already saw “Free To Be You And Me.” Can I go?

> Your laws of physics are a true misnomer.

TOM: They’re more nagging suggestions of physics instead.

> in awareness or new collective perceptions can instantly alter these

> so-called ‘laws’.

MIKE: One morning I took too much Sudafed and the Rydburg constant?
Pfft. Out like a light.

> Now, this important process has begun.

TOM: No, no, no, don’t go rushing into anything right now.

> It promises to

> create an entirely new reality for you and indeed for the rest of

> physicality.

CROW: You know, I can’t get “2000 Flushes” to work right.
Should I be part of creating a new reality for everybody?

>

> Creation is a continuously unfolding phenomenon. The divine plan

> has dealt out to us all a multiplicity of sudden twists and turns.

TOM: You are in a maze of twisty divine plans, all alike.

> Now,

> as a direct result, countless sentient species live in the physical

> universe.

MIKE: The Asian short-clawed otter alone occupies four galaxies.

> Their many different languages, cultures and rituals create

> an immensely wide range of traditions and perceptions that center upon

> the origins of their realities.

TOM: Yet they cannot tell a cabbage from a lettuce.

> They have inspired us to closely study

> the residences of this nearly infinite universe. In our galaxy, it gave

> rise to the creation of

CROW: Kickapoo Joy Juice.

> numerous spiritual sciences, dedicated to

> developing a full understanding of this knowledge, and to discovering

> its precise part in the whole.

TOM: In order to make more efficient ABC Afterschool Specials.

> Eventually, this study laid the first

> foundations for a spiritual anthropology and, later, a spiritual

> sociology.

MIKE: And later still, spiritual philately.

TOM: Spiritual geology was a big hit.

CROW: People say spiritual ichtyology is an easy major, but there’s
a lot to it you don’t see.

> These sciences gave us a wealth of information about our

> common origins,

CROW: For example, origins turn out to be common.

> which are far greater than the processes that brought

> about human evolution on the third planet of the Vega solar system more

> than six million years ago.

TOM: As of next Thursday.

> Actually, our beginnings filled a physical

> and spiritual niche foreseen by the divine plan.

MIKE: I mean, it’s like they had God or something setting things out.

> Prior to that event,

> we were all spiritual Beings hanging tenaciously to the vast Life-

> streams of Heaven.

TOM: Oh, here it comes.

CROW: Yup. This is the hard sell. How much, McElwaine?

>

> As humanity advanced through this galaxy,

TOM: We started shooting everything we didn’t understand.

> we encountered physical

> Beings quite unlike us in form, culture and language.

CROW: We would have given them the chance to surrender,
but we didn’t want to look weak.

> If we did not

> succeed in bridging these huge differences, war often resulted.

MIKE: And, really, we went out with the best of intentions.

> At

> first, those who aggressively followed the dark principles of their

> creator-Being, Anchara,

CROW: Leader of the Imperium Sweaters.

> distressed us greatly. Suddenly, we were

> involved in an enormous galactic war that had woven itself across the

> breadth of our galaxy for many tens of millions of years.

TOM: A most savage alien race, they were. When we shot them
they fought back.

> This struggle

> created a need for many alliances to form with thousands of other like-

> minded star-nations.

> It also introduced us to the continuing strange

> and violent process that is destined to transform this galaxy from the

> darkness that has engulfed it.

TOM: They’re using the F-U-N-D cheat, aren’t they?

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose a dozen points today as the radio had a bunch of great songs all in a row. Um. Also there was a commodity listing for Rough Rice that totally dominated their thinking about long-term fiduciary potentiometers or something.

# 202

## After The End Of Everything

Everything ends. I guess we can’t put a stop to that. In early 1999 the Sci-Fi Channel decided not to renew Mystery Science Theater 3000. There were a bunch of ideas for continuing the show, most of them floated by the regulars on Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc. There was moving to another cable channel. Or maybe going to PBS. Maybe releasing stuff direct to videotape or that newfangled DVD. Maybe forget about fangling stuff and just release stuff online. Maybe save the we-imagined pricey business of recording host sketches and stuff and instead just release audio tracks that people could match to movies they’d buy. Maybe just go to doing live shows on new, never-ending college tours. Maybe even transcend the movies thing altogether and do comic books or something. Maybe do some fundraising scheme to buy new episodes. Not interested in this: the people who actually made the show, far as we could tell. It went off the air in August 1999 with the final episode, Danger Diabolik, and then went off the air again in September 1999 with Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders which had been sitting in some kind of rights quibble for months. The show went off the air once again with The Screaming Skull a bit over four years later, when the Sci-Fi Channel stopped airing reruns.

But losing the original show hurts a group of fans gathered for stuff. And yes, the group’s focus expanded; we got to talking about movies and TV shows and books and all sorts of pop culture, viewed with that perspective of loving good stuff, but also loving looking for what’s enjoyable about the bad. Or looking at the bad and trying to find stuff enjoyable about it. If Mystery Science Theater 3000 has any positive insight, it’s that there is something worth sharing that can be made out of most anything.

Still, it hurts a group to lose its TV show. And it hurts a group to be on Usenet. The great thing about Usenet is it was designed in the early 80s, for anyone who likes to run a server to set up and run and share with people. The thing that kills it is that who wants to set up and run a server for talking about cancelled TV shows? If there’s any money in it, it’s in proper web forums that can show advertisements or at least harvest user information. Usenet can’t do that. Servers dwindled out of operation, probably because they broke and nobody knew they were even there or how to fix them. A couple of big ISPs dropped Usenet on allegations the system was used to pirate movies and TV shows and music and while that may have been true we also used it to legitimately talk about urban legends and pinball and comic strips and stuff like that. Still, with each month, there was a little less Usenet, and some people drifted away not to be seen again, and so there was even less Usenet, and some more people drifted off, and then suddenly there wasn’t anything left but a few people who refuse to turn off the lights.

My community dwindled away. Web Site Number Nine, the center of the MiSTing community, went down for a weekend of maintenance sometime in 2004 and hasn’t come back yet. rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc I’d say had its final collapse around 2007 or 2008. I stick around, checking in some and talking occasionally. I try to write at least one new MiSTing a year and post that, but I admit a lot of it feels like putting in designated at-bats to keep alive some abstract streak no one but me even knows exists.

There’s still fans, though. One time I had a rare chance to meet in person some friends from the Seattle area; they spent nearly the whole weekend talking in MST3K quotes, to the point I felt like I was being quizzed. Did I recognize the episode with the jingle about “when you want the flavor of bacon in a dip”? Well, of course I did, but … is this everything we have to talk about? Somehow it felt alienating and I started taking dives, claiming I don’t recognize episodes that I actually do. Boy that’s screwy.

Weirder stuff happened. Really, every crazy plan we had on Usenet in 1999 to save the show came true. There’s live shows, as Cinematic Titanic and as Rifftrax. There’s recorded audio-only tracks, for Rifftrax. There’s episodes made direct for DVD release. There’s episodes brought back on air, sent to PBS stations or some of those weird digital sub-channels on broadcast TV. I remember somewhere seeing a plan to license an MST3K comic book, but goodness knows if that’ll come about.

And so we come to today, when the Kickstarter-funded, Netflix-backed season debuts. I haven’t seen it yet. Don’t have Netflix. We used to get Internet through AT&T, and they don’t want working-class neighborhoods in the state capitol as customers, so we couldn’t get Internet nearly fast enough to stream videos. They were bad enough that Comcast was the improvement. We probably have fast enough Internet to stream videos now. But the habit built from getting ten minutes into a show and stuff freezing up, until I call tech support and demand someone answer “Why?” dies hard. I recommend asking tech support “Why?” It’s at least as productive as saying what your specific problem is, and we do need more people working out exactly why we’ve let society come to this.

So I don’t know what I feel or what I expect exactly from the new season. I want to be enthusiastic, but I’m not good with enthusiasm. Especially if it’s something lots of people are enthusiastic about. It makes me worry something’s going wrong. So here’s what I can manage, before ever seeing Season Eleven: I really hope they don’t screw this up.

I don’t know if I want you to tell me whether they did.

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Light trading today as investors were paying much more attention to the discovery of the Candy Land wiki and that it allows comments and that the comments can include stuff like “HOW DARE YOU REPLACE MR. MINT WITH SOME STUPID LOOKING GARY-STU!!!”. The index rose one point.

# 134

## Me, MST3K, and Marissa Picard

It was, like many newsgroups in the mid-to-late 90s, a lively place. Hundreds of people delighting in how they liked something, and how much they liked something, and how they liked it more than other people, and how other people didn’t like the right stuff about it, and how other people should stop liking the wrong stuff about it. You know, like people do. This sounds bog-standard now, but it was new to us all back then.

Some of the most fascinating stuff going on back then was a kind of flame war with a Star Trek fanfic writer. The fellow was named Stephen Ratliff. So far as I know he still is. You remember that episode where the Enterprise crashed into an Irwin Allen Disaster Movie, and the crew has to endure adventures like Worf helping O’Brien deliver her baby and Data popping his head off and Picard getting some kids to climb out of a stuck elevator? Stephen Ratliff was inspired by the kids of that episode and wrote some fan fiction. It has the kids start playing Star Fleet Officer on the holodecks and all that and forming their own little Kids Crew of under-twelve-year-olds. Anyone could have that idea. Ratliff had an idea of pure genius. He came up with some reason to put these kids in charge of the actual starship Enterprise. And then do it again, in more fan fiction.

There had been Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction — taking the text of something and inserting jokes, using the characters from the show — for a couple years even then. But when one MiSTer (get it?) discovered Stephen Ratliff the genre was made. The stories had this magnificent natural absurdity told, in the earliest stories, with remarkable ineptitude. These flame wars on rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc amounted to people decrying the offensiveness of the Kids Crew premise — ten-year-olds put in command of starships, even Next Generation starships where nothing all that bad ever really happens? — and Stephen Ratliff defending his premise with remarkable patience and grace and the not-quite-off-point argument that kids used to be inducted into the Royal Navy so why not have that happen again?

Sure, even without Stephen Ratliff there’d probably be a good MiSTing genre. The idea is too good. But he made it part of the fandom. Partly by writing stuff that was so joyous to read, and to riff on. Partly by being so interesting to talk about. Marissa, the girl from the elevator, gets adopted by Picard and becomes Princess of Deep Space England and travels in time to hook up Wesley Crusher and Chelsea Clinton before sending a space shuttle to Mars and becomes Lord High Admiral of the Federation and all that? (I swear.) How do you not want in on that?

So I got in, despite having — then — only seen a handful of episodes. I had a good source text. There was this cartoon series based on Sonic the Hedgehog, the video game character. In it he and the gang are rebels trying to save the world from the evil Doctor Robotnik and his robots — you know what? Doesn’t matter. It was popular in the 90s, and a lot of people wrote fan fiction. I found a piece and asked the author for permission to riff it. Asking permission was an important part of MiSTing culture. I mean, we didn’t ask for permission to riff spam. But if it was something someone identifiable wrote, it was at least bad form not to ask permission, and to give the author the chance to veto any truly unfair lines — or, in principle, the whole thing — before publishing. No sense being a cad.

It was well-received. One of my friends who’d written his own Sonic the Hedgehog fanfictions asked me to riff his. Other people in the group started looking to Sonic fandom and finding volunteers. There was much more to the MiSTing community than Stephen Ratliff and Sonic the Hedgehog, of course. There was a lot of fanfiction. There were the bizarre rants and conspiracy theories that people published on Usenet without regard for whether that made any sense. My favorite was someone accusing the English department of my grad school, an engineering school, with working to bring down civilization. (Did we even have an English department?) There was spam. So much spam. There was more normal yet poorly-targeted commercial messages. Someone did a whole Tom Swift novel. We did a lot of writing. I learned from it, a good bit about timing and pacing and how to write host sketches that could plausibly be done on the actual show. (Two or three minutes at most, few characters, few entrances and exits, as little editing as possible. This was my taste. Others wrote sketches that could only be done in fan fiction, where budgets and staging action and all aren’t issues. Their tastes.) Stephen Ratliff continued writing Marissa Picard stories that were gradually getting better, in internal logic and in fundamental writing technique. And sending out announcements so people could organize who’d get to riff his newest work.

He won us over. How can you not like someone who listens to you telling him why his stories suck, and thanks you, and writes stories that stop sucking those ways? We won him over. How can you not like an alert and obsessively responsive set of readers for your every word?

There was a lot that was great in the 90s. Mystery Science Theater 3000, Usenet, and MiSTing, were big parts of my great 90s.

Friday: I bet I have some more of this talk in me.

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose five points on exciting news that astronaut Peggy Whitson is expected soon to become the most experienced United States astronaut in terms of time spent in space, and also on learning the name of a current astronaut.