I’ve finally gotten in on this whole podcasting thing that the kids are doing these days. Not by actually talking or producing or anything, because that sounds hard, but I have provided some content to the excellent podcast Gallery of Curiosities, specifically with my story Walking the Line. It’s about land surveying, gunplay, and eldritch creatures. Enjoy!
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In case y’all were wondering what I got in the mail that was certified by one of the Great Old Ones, it’s the HP Lovecraft Historical Society’s album of carols, “A Very Scary Solstice”. And if you’re wondering why I’m just now getting a winter solstice album, well, congratulations on having everything together and always getting stuff done on time, Smuggy McGee.
Well, 2020 was quite a year for the Internet Manifestation family. There were many challenges for us all, of course, as there have been for everyone, but we all put our heads down and met each piece of new adversity with a can-do spirit! Except for Lars in Targeted Psychological Advertising.
Our intern Wally had a great year, even though his first day was January 12th, the very day when the eldritch leviathan first rose from the Atlantic. “I guess I don’t need to ask if I can have a week off in March to go to Myrtle Beach now!” he said, which really lightened the mood around the office. Not that we give our interns a whole week off anyway. Wally pitched in wherever he was needed throughout the year, whether it was cleaning ectoplasm off the walls of headquarters or picking up the corpses of the hideous lunar cyborg sparrows that some mysterious entity had sent to probe our defenses. He’ll be missed when he moves on to his new job at Amalgamated Defrenestrations, but we’re all looking forward to meeting our new intern, Lobo McCoy. Welcome to the Internet Manifestion family, Lobo!
In addition to losing Wally, of course, we lost our head of Font and Indentation Policies, Ellabeth Wizenthorpe. Unfortunately, rather than heading off to a new career with Amalgamated Defenestrations, Ellabeth was eaten by spectral rats that had infested the east wing of Internet Manifestation headquarters before anyone noticed. Up until then, though, she’d been having a great year, and was learning needlepoint in her spare time. We’ve decided against promoting from within the department (sorry, Fred and Antonio!), so the position of lead of Font and Indentation policies is still open. Readers interested in applying should send a resume and at least three references to Human Resources!
Speaking of Human Resources, good old Nick Yathapopolis in HR has been doing great work. He had a busy year, thanks needing to fire several employees who could no longer meet Internet Manifestation standards after becoming infected with the dread brain worm of ancient Y’thorglith–exit interviews are hard enough to conduct without needing to do them while wearing a wire mesh suit keyed to anti-brain worm frequencies! Still, he had time to squeeze in a visit to the mysterious gray monolith that recently manifested in the Mojave desert, and he reports that it was time well spent.
Everyone’s favorite Internet Manifestation employee, Marge in Speculative Accounting, spent another year trying to learn how to do pivot tables in Microsoft Excel. You’ll get it one of these years, Marge!
Johnny Yojimbo, who heads up Electron Redirection, has had a fantastic year, despite suffering from a disorder that forms the abstract shapes he sees against his eyelids when he closes his eyes into arcane characters that transmit messages that are as unusual as they are unwanted. He also learned four new languages in 2020, one of them still spoken by humans!
There are plenty of other members of the Internet Manifestation family that have been doing great things in 2020, but frankly it’s hard to keep track of the survivors, what with the eldritch leviathan and the hijinks it’s been getting up to, so I’ll sign off here.
I hope you and yours are doing at least as well as we are, and looking forward to 2021 with the same anticipation!
Actually, to be precise, this pillow case is annoying me. Also irritating me is the lack of standardization between pillow and pillow case sizing, for throw pillows designed for couches. I won’t go into that now (look for my upcoming 6-part series on pillow irritations for that). But suffice to say that I had a heck of a time finding covers that would actually fit these new pillows I bought to stop my head from bonking into the arms of my couch when I lie down on it, because none of the covers I could find seemed to quite fit.
But finally, after an exhaustive search, I found this design:
It’s probably not the first design I would have chosen, but as I said, the choices that would actually fit my pillows were limited, and at first I was perfectly happy with it. But then I noticed those details on the trees, and not I can’t unsee the problem, which alert readers have no doubt already seen. Clearly, someone tried to suggest the look of birch trees with the little notches that allow the off-white of the pillow cover itself to show a little contrast with the gray. But check out where the tree is in front of that (massively-beracked) deer. Now we see black in the notches rather than white, and since black in this case represents the deer that can only mean those notches are actually void space in the trees, not bark patterns.
Actually, as I think about it, maybe the black makes more sense for a bark pattern than the white.
But that just makes it worse, and anyway, the trees on the pillow cover still seem to have notches cut out of them for some reason. This is very upsetting, and I think I need to go lie down on my couch.
“Fusilli Jerry” is a classic episode of the TV show Seinfeld, possessed of various cultural markers. One of these is Kramer’s quote “You meet a proctologist at a party, don’t walk away. Plant yourself there, because you will hear the funniest stories you’ve ever heard.”
Unfortunately, as I recently discovered, the same doesn’t hold true of septic tank technicians, despite the tangential relationship of the two occupations. The guy who pumps out septic tanks may be gregarious and have a lot to talk about, but that doesn’t mean his anecdotes will be all that entertaining.
This got me thinking, what occupations would tend to have good stories to tell? Now is a good time to make a list, as we all prepare for a time when we have parties again.
So far, I’ve got:
- Test pilot
- Wildlands firefighter
- Flight attendant
I’m sure there are a few others. I’ll update as I think of them, for use in making lists of invitations.
I was driven from my comfortable home recently in search of a burrito, which search took me to the village of Hamilton. As I drove in, I noticed for the first time a sign proclaiming Hamilton to be the birthplace of “John Attanasoff, Inventor of the Computer”. Now, as all computer geeks and steampunk enthusiasts know, that title properly belongs to Charles Babbage.
Granted, “Inventor of the First Digital Electronic Computer” is a bit wordy for a sign in a 45 MPH zone, but maybe they could do some kind of multi-sign Burma Shave thing. And true, Babbage never actually built his difference engine so maybe a sign mentioning him would need a few caveats as well, but I think we can all agree that precision in language is important when discussing computers, digital or otherwise.
I was out skiing the other day, and ran across this:
There’s a dizzying array of possible stories here, all sorts of inspiring prompts.
Did one of the people involved with the romance memorialized on the tree come back after things went badly, hacking away at it with a Bowie knife (a birthday gift form their former lover), over and over until all evidence was gone? Did the third end of a romantic triangle find the original carving while on a walk through the forest and obliterate the initials of both their unrequited love and their hated rival? So many different stories.
Anyway, happy Valentine’s Day, folks!
Today is the 40th anniversary of the first appearance of Garfield! To celebrate, please enjoy some favorites of Internet Manifestation, Garfield Minus Garfield, which gets to the very heart of what makes the strip so deeply melancholy and unsettling, and the horrifying Lasagna Cat, where Garfield strips are acted out by real live people.
Like me, you may have experienced feelings of dread when listening to Uptown Girl, or seen visions of cyclopean ruins when Captain Jack comes on the radio.
I have a connection with Binghamton, New York, so it was with interest that I read about the city’s double-A baseball team name change, despite my generally solid indifference to baseball. But of course, you may have already heard about it, thanks to the fact that they’ve opened the name change to an internet vote, and limited the choice to some frankly bizarre names (Bullheads, Gobblers, Rocking Horses, Rumble Ponies, Stud Muffins, or Timber Jockeys). I assume that Boaty McBoatface hangs heavy over their decision not to let folks on the Internet actually suggest names, but given that they should have asked someone who had, like, good ideas.
This is something of a sore point for me, since my alma mater, in the same area, used a committee to decide on a new mascot for SUNY-Binghamton (shortly after another committee decided to stop calling it SUNY-Binghamton). Granted the old mascot “The Colonial” was kind of dumb, but the new mascot, the Bearcat, is worse. Not that I have anything against bearcats, per se. I mean, look at the little fellow:
No, the problem is that the committee that decided on the mascot had somehow heard of bearcats but never bothered to research what they were, and in fact, based on their press release, labored under the misapprehension that bearcats are mythical, like griffins, or hippogriffs. So the logo looks something like a pissed-off bear rather than a cuddly, musk-emitting rodent.
It seems Binghamton just has trouble with sporting names, because this latest committee seems to have developed a strange fixation on Binghamton’s connection to carousels. Which, okay, be proud of the carousel thing, I guess, but Binghamton has so many other historical connections that seem a bit more vigorous and manly than carnival rides. For example, the famous shoe people Endicott-Johnson started there (technically in the suburbs of Endicott and Johnson City, I guess). Why not call them the Binghamton Booters, or Ass-kickers? And of course, IBM was big in Binghamton once. How about the Binghamton Business Machines? There’d have to be some awesome logos for that. The flight simulator was invented there – how about the Binghamton Fake Flyers? Or the team could be named after the local delicacy – the Binghamton Spiedies sounds athletic, right?
All that said, “Timber Jockeys” works, I guess.