Archive for March, 2014

Other Ten Percent 3/31/14

Mar 31 2014 Published by under Daily Posts

I have a very distinct memory of being six years old, sitting in my first grade classroom bored out of my mind and adding up numbers on the big wall calendar. I remember adding up sequential strings of numbers and noticing when you added the first and last number of a sequential series together you get the same number as when you add the second number and the next to last number. And I remember right as I started wondering how long that could go on for my teacher yelled at me for not paying attention to roll call and demanded I face front. I remember all of this because I’m fairly sure I was about 10 seconds away from independently thinking of this which I only heard about years and years later.
I tell you all of this not to brag about how brilliant I was at six (well, not exclusively that though I was and am brilliant and all of you should tell me that all of the time so as to help me avoid crippling self-doubt it might not actually be true) but because “DAMMIT I was about 10 seconds from thinking of that” is, I believe, an uncategorized universal human experience everybody has all the time. For instance I just had it again this week as I listened to 99% invisible with Nikki and discussed how uncanny it is that people just apply the NPR/This American Life house style to basically any subject area possible. I was then distracted by horrible LA traffic before I could think of this. In this case though that’s probably for the best as Mallory Ortberg is, as always, brilliant and hilarious and a national treasure so you should all be glad some dick cut me off and you got her execution of the bit.

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Other Ten Percent 3/28/14

Mar 28 2014 Published by under Daily Posts

I’ve come here today to speak about a topic that is near and dear to all of our hearts: what time period should fictional immortal mad scientists whose long games are only become clear in the present day come from? For a while around 2000 we were very adamant about brilliant Renaissance painters but no we seem to have settled into a rut of early 20th century inventors who are all either Nikola Tesla or might as well be Nikola Tesla. Not pretending like I’m not guilty of this myself mind you but I’m thinking maybe it’s time to move on so I’ve compiled a few useful periods of history you might want to consider the next time you’re creating an evil scientist mastermind that’s been manipulating all of history to, I dunno, create some crazy utopia by killing off 90% of mankind or something.
13th Century Monastic Culture
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times: If you want to create a passable excuse for history to have totally failed to notice the creation of an immortal genius you gotta do it at a time when history was ignoring just a whole heap of stuff. That’s the problem with all the early enlightenment immortal inventors in fiction: people couldn’t STOP paying attention to those dudes. You really think one of them could just turn immortal without somebody noticing? (Okay one of them could but we’ll get to that.) No no no, you want an insane immortal European genius you gotta go dark ages. Go for Albertus Magnus. Mentor to St. Thomas Aquinas, natural philosopher who investigated chemistry and metallurgy, creator of a creepy talking automaton head that freaked Thomas Aquinas out so bad he isntantly destroyed, supposed alchemist. We’re talking about  a scientist whose investigation into immortality and life beyond death made him canonically an influence on Victor Frankenstein and yet nobody’s got him wandering around as a modern day immortal?
Early Soviet Russia
Everybody makes a big thing about how weird and kinda awesome and terrifying state control of every aspect of life made early soviet art but nobody talks about how weird and kinda awesome and terrifying it made early soviet science. Sputnik gets all the glory for freaking out Americans during the cold war but Russia also had dudes who transplanted dog heads onto the bodies of other dogs and kept the dog alive after. That’s not even the insane scientist I want to talk about though because why talk about him when you’ve got Alexander Bogdanov who’s basically an evil Isaac Asimov that killed himself (OR DID HE?) trying to make himself immortal through blood transfusions. He was a darling of the communist party when it rose to power from writing sci-fi where all labor was performed by robots but he then fell out of favor by essentially inventing the concept of psychohistory while doing work on what we’d now think of as systems theory and was so radically communist the communists arrested him for it (though, admittedly at the time that wasn’t that hard). Even if you don’t want to go with literally Bogdanov that whole period of Russian history has tons of insane brilliant people slipping through the cracks who could potentially have made some breakthrough in life extension though.
9th Century China
Gunpowder was literally invented by brilliant Chinese Alchemists who were looking for a serum for Immortality. Read that sentence again and tell me it doesn’t sound like something a pulp adventure comic made up to justify a dude that looks like this trying to take over the world using Zeppelins or something. It’s actually true though and if somebody wanted to write a Chinese villain that WASN’T a horrible racist stereotype could probably do something interesting with an immortal alchemist who’s had 1200 years to bend human history to their whims.
Early Enlightenment Germany
Listen. I get it. Isaac Newton may well have been the smartest human being ever to live and he was also a complete and total douche so the idea that he’s somehow made himself immortal and is trying to, I dunno, return the world to one of orthodox christian piety after foreseeing the secular world he himself would usher in, makes a lot of sense. But, as always with Newton you actually want to go with Leibniz. Dude spent most of his late life traveling around Europe and inventing weird variations on the mechanical calculator that would later (OR WAS IT LATER?) lead to the development of the computer. Dude was an obsessive to the degree most of his patrons hated him because he would travel around gathering ALL the information he required for a thing before he wrote it which meant he took decades to write things his patrons had commissioned him for which sounds like an immortal playing the long game already. Best of all dude “died” so completely unpopular (because Isaac Newton was a dick) that barely anybody showed up to his funeral and he was buried in an unmarked grave and oh my God that’s such an easy death for an immortal genius to fake I can’t believe I even have to spell this out for you. Leibniz is still alive and is determined to convert all matter on earth into perfect calculating nano-machines.

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Other Ten Percent 3/10/14

Mar 10 2014 Published by under Daily Posts

Hey everybody! We’re down in LA already and enjoying our comically huge new apartment that’s even more comically huge since our stuff hasn’t arrived yet and we’re sleeping on an air mattress but I do have internet access so OTP can finally resume.
The bad news is that I DON’T have my video editing computer however since the screen got damaged in the move and I’ve had to take it in for repairs. You don’t really have to worry too much since it turns out the damage was mostly just cosmetic and it should be back in my hands for the cost of a little over a hundred dollars and a little over a week of my time but it does mean OTP is going to be in text that talks about video mode for a bit rather than full video entires. Today lets talk about True Detective parodies because there have been a lot of them since I got into full on moving mode and they’re all pretty fantastic.
You’ve all seen The Yellow King Theory right? An amazing exercise in slow-burn commitment to the bit that I only wish I could match. If it were me I think I would have broken somewhere around the two minute mark. “No,” I would say “we can’t just keep doing variations on this bit with a straight face. It’s going to stop being funny at some point.” I would have been wrong though. It NEVER stops being funny.
Then there’s The Soup’s parody starring Jim Rash and Joel Mchale. I can’t say I’ve had had this particular problem watching True Detective but that may be a growing up in Georgia thing. Regardless the fact that he can slap this together while also hosting a nightly roundup show AND starring in a network sitcom really cements that the dude is one of the hardest working men in show business.
I feel like there’s one more I’m missing so I apologize but this whole thing is actually on my mind due to a missed opportunity to do a video of my own. I’ve been so busy moving I had a great idea for my own True Detective viral video stolen out from under me by this great little number.
I was going to do this whole high concept thing (because, hi, have you met me?) where a Spike TV executive got hired by HBO accidentally and wasted millions in reshoots and redone SFX shots before being fired three weeks later which was just an excuse to do horribly tonally dissonant jokes around HBO programs. Really though the core of it was just a True Detective joke where you show Rust doing one of his philosophical meditations on the utter existential despair of human existence and then *FREEZE FRAME* *Explosion sound effect* *TRUE DETECTIVE in a horribly gaudy font with a huge drop shadow smashes onto the screen.* Honestly the only joke I really loved other than that was the Spike TV exec having absolutely no notes for True Blood though so it’s probably fine I didn’t go through with the whole thing.

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