TMCG: Wiseman, Watchman II

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S5EP6-23Feb2011-George-O-Matic

In which Curious George buildeth a cyborg

Many of the events that transpire around Curious George seem bafflingly random, that is, until a cunning and insidious master plan is revealed. George does not evolve—he is being crafted. It is known.

What say you, Polonius?

Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t.

What say you, Gloucester?

As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods.

They kill us for their sport.

What say you, Alyssa Edwards?

Get a grip, get a life, and get over it.

Alas, mama, if only I could. But I must know what George will become, and why Wiseman is building him. Yorbo was just the beginning.

The very next episode starts with that guy from Jurassic Park III telling us that Curious George loves the museum. Thanks, Academy-Award-winning shoveler. Sky is blue, water is wet, the monkey loves the museum.

Half the episodes involve the f*cking museum. It’s like saying Peter Parker loves science. Gee I wonder if Spider-Man is gonna have to fight some guy who did science. Will he himself do science to stop the science-doing guy? Bated dadgum breath I tells ya.

But George learns lessons in the museum. Museum lessons? Sometimes, but it’s always serving some sort of future plot-point. He saw polar bears. He saw penguins. He saw vending machines.

seethemonkey ain’thekeen allthingsserve thef*ckinbeam

Penguins and polar bears frolicking together is as ubiquitous in advertising as anthropomorphic pigs smiling and serving us their barbecued brethren. Thus, it is necessary to repeat, as often as necessary, that in real life

isthisreallife

in real life penguins and polar bears never meet. They live on opposite ends of the Earth. Ground-based predators would make penguins go extinct. But Curious George knows this. In fact, he is more interested in the museum’s vending machines.

As am I. They are weird. Not one of them dispenses a carbonated beverage or a candy bar. They dispense soup, sandwiches, and apples. Never in my life have I seen an apple vending machine. The very idea is obscene and erroneous. They would rot or get stuck in the gears or come out all nasty. Just dadgum ridiculous. George imagines that the apple-dispensing machine has a farmer in it that sleeps until he is called upon to throw an apple down a pipe.

no

Professor Wiseman appears out of nowhere and sets her plan in motion. The Watcher knows. She knows what will transpire. She has already glued together polar bears, penguins and vending machines. She is playing 4D chess while the rest of us are playing checkers with rocks and bottlecaps. She tells George to have an apple, hands him a coin and says “on me!”

The Man in the Yellow Hat (MYH) tries to make conversation. He does not know the role he will play. She will not send him on a quest to cure his grayscale. Wiseman will own him, body and soul. She spins a ridiculous tale.

She was about to go on an expedition to the North and South Poles, she says, but Operation Snow-Go is Operation No-Go

kekkity kek kek

because the Arctic and Antarctic Clubs can’t seem to get along. Could MYH possibly host a dinner—at his apartment—for these two groups of feuding scientists? And MYH be all “oh, sure I can do that well gee golly and so forth.” Meanwhile, Curious George watches a guy replenish the apples in the apple vending machine. He discovers that the machine’s innards are made of wheels and ramps and there is no sleeping farmer. So why did the vending-machine guy show up right then?

allpartoftheplan

Cut to MYH and George cooking dinner. MYH burns it in the oven because of course he does, and then leaves George alone so he can go buy an actual meal from Chef Pisghetti.

Y’all. We’ve seen this before. MYH leaves Curious George alone, Curious George trashes the apartment or floods the building or otherwise causes destruction and misery, only to be magically rescued from any sort of punishment or repercussion. But all these previous shenanigans were not specifically orchestrated by Professor Wiseman.

MYH has tasked George with using Wiseman’s dinner instructions to make a specific dessert.

It is a stupid dessert. I’ve never heard of it before. It is called Snow on the Mountain, which sounds more like Nicholas Sparks’s next novel, or the newest strain of that loud. There is no cooking, no flour, no sugar—none of the things that would normally cover every square inch of the apartment when George was done with them.

She knows

George does the logical thing—he builds a cyborg out of Gnocchi, Chef Pisghetti’s cat.

wat

Don’t tell me about no definitions. A cyborg is a machine made of both mechanical and biological parts. So when a monkey that has until recently been too stupid to count suddenly designs and assembles a vending machine out of toys, wooden spoons, butterflies, a refrigerator box and a dadgum cat, it’s a cyborg.

Where did this monkey get such advanced mechanical training? MYH didn’t teach him; that mouth-breather burnt dinner because he thought turning up the oven’s heat would make it cook faster. And a monkey, a monkey who until recently thought clocks were time machines, all of a sudden can build a cat-powered Snow on the Mountain dispenser.

The Watcher did this. Wiseman did this. And then she tests it.

When the Arctic and Antarctic clubs arrive, they look like distinguished scientists in the same way a bicycle looks like a sperm whale. They’re all wearing snowsuits over businesswear in the middle of a city in the middle of the damn summer. They divide up at MYH’s house like Sharks and Jets at the dance party. The North Pole crew are all wearing polar bear hats and are led by a dumpy guy that looks like pre-weightloss Al Roker. Meanwhile, South Pole Squad got them penguin snapbacks, son, and their leader is a high-chinned lady whose first words had to have been “Well, I never!” His name is Dewey Freezem, and her name is Chilla DeWinter.

Totally not made-up names. Totally not henchmen of the Wiseman.

One time I read this article about a psychological experiment. They put all the participants into a waiting room and said the experiment would start shortly. But the waiting room WAS the experiment. I think they just slowly raised the temperature in the room until everybody killed each other or something like that.

notreal scientists theyain’treal

I’m saying, we don’t even get to watch them eat dinner. MYH has opened the balcony doors and turned on the fan, because it’s so hot in his apartment that his ten guests are all wearing giant coats.

Wiseman says it is time for the entertainment. MYH says he forgot all about the entertainment. Wiseman isn’t worried.

She knows

Here comes George with his vending machine. He puts a butterfly into a coinslot cut into the side of the box. Inside, Gnocchi chases the butterfly, which turns a wheel, which scoops blueberries into a bowl and sprinkles coconut shavings on top of it. No human engineer on the planet has ever conceived of nor built such a machine, but a monkey did it with garbage and a cat.

Everybody gets Snow on the Mountain. Chilla DeWinter and Dewey Freezem bond over childhood memories of the dessert.

I just met a girl named Maria

Suddenly Gnocchi goes berserk inside the machine and wrecks it. Coconut shavings and blueberries go everywhere and destroy the apartment. Nobody cares—the Arctic/Antarctic street gangs laugh and cheer. Freezem says he loves the snow in the Arctic. DeWinter says she loves the snow in the Antarctic. But they’re friends now, because, as they say, “Snow is snow.”

Hold up now wait a minute

But that’s bullsh*t. None of this is true. It’s not snow; it’s coconut. It doesn’t snow in the Antarctic; Antarctica is the world’s driest desert—it makes the Sahara seem like Waikiki. She a lie.

She a damn lie

So what was the point? Why in the name of all that is holy would Professor Wiseman have a fake dinner for fake scientists and destroy MYH’s apartment?

Just to see George build a vending machine.

Imagine me as the butter-robot on Rick and Morty:

Oh My God

 

-Professor Zac Showers

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TMCG: Wiseman, Watchman I

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S5EP5-22Feb2011-Metal Detective

 

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
I wonder if there is a long con afoot in the Curious George universe. I no longer have any idea who is watching whom, who is the subject and who is the observer. To keep what remains of my sanity, I must believe that someone is in charge, that there is some sort of grand experiment being conducted, and that a Watcher in some sort of Foucaultian Panopticon is gleefully f*cking with his prisoners.
Is this God?
Am I God? Am I the Watcher? The nature of television seems to dictate that this is so, that I myself am the all-powerful, He Who Can End Misery With the Holy Clicker.
But I cannot end it. As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. A god would be able to stay away, and I am therefore a toad. I will therefore be a toad. Stoned like Stephen, still hanging onto ideology, so soaked with misguided belief that it would take a Crane to get it out. I am the prisoner, not the watcher.
So is there a simpler explanation? Is there an in-universe puppeteer who controls the destinies of all involved, so that my delusions of control and omnipotence are akin to someone reading about an experiment in a scientific journal and irrationally declaring his own hand in the results? If I am not around to hear Curious George chortle and shriek, does he make a sound?
Consider Yorbo. Yorbo is a robot, an ephemeral robot that exists for one episode only. He is dubbed George’s favorite toy by both the Man in the Yellow Hat (MYH) and George himself. If Yorbo has not achieved AI self-awareness, he is very close—Yorbo can understand George’s grunts and chitters as if they were a language, he follows complex commands, and he coherently answers questions. In my own universe, such a robot would be worth many thousands of dollars and exist either in the robotics lab of an American university or the lobby of a Tokyo car dealership.
Curious George takes Yorbo to the beach. When a storm rolls in, George and MYH rush into the house and leave Yorbo in the sand. When George suggests they need to get Yorbo, MYH says it is raining too hard. In fact, Yorbo the sentient robot is not even worth searching for until the storm is over, and by that time he has either been buried in the sand or washed out to sea.
MYH and George go out to look for Yorbo. MYH and George rake up all the seaweed and then just randomly dig holes. A passing beachcomber offers the use of her metal detector, but it soon runs out of batteries. What to do?

 

Deus ex machina. The Watcher, the Prime Experimenter, appears on MYH’s laptop screen. It is Professor Wiseman. She knows all. Wiseman has been watching. She knows there was a storm. She knows all about Yorbo, bewails his disappearance, and then instructs George on how to build his own metal detector by taping a calculator to an AM radio (I Googled this. It is not bullshit). Wiseman knows what drawer the calculator and tape are in; she knows what shelf upon which the radio can be found.
Wiseman is the panopticon. Her name is neither random nor ironic.

 

With the help of this gadget, Yorbo is unearthed. He is no worse for the wear, which is a stick in the eye for MYH, who had suggested earlier that water would rust a metal robot. MYH a damn fool. Yorbo jumps with glee at being found and hugs George; together, monkey and robot disappear over a sand dune, playing and living joyfully.
No one ever sees or discusses Yorbo again. Yorbo is Richie Cunningham’s older brother. Yorbo existed for George to love and lose, so that Wiseman might teach a lesson about electronics and engineering.

 

How do I know? Because friendships and robots and bit players are as impermanent as storms, but George does not forget a lesson. By the very next episode, Curious George is building his own machines.

 

 

-Professor Zac Showers

TMCG: Vacuum

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S4EP2-9Sep2009-George Cleans Up

 

I’m not sure how much longer I can do this. I daydream about breaking a cartoon monkey upon the wheel.

Curious George is become Death, destroyer of worlds.

This time he was left at home by himself all day.

He made a mess. He dumped out the potted plant. He chopped up all the magazines in the house in order to make chains of paper monkeys. There was confetti and potting soil and garbage everywhere. The Man in the Yellow Hat (MYH) came home from a long day of drawing stupid pictures or giving speeches or torturing dogs or whatever.

He brought with him five valuable stamps, and patiently explained to George that there were indeed five of them, and he had to give them to Mr. Stamp. Then he notices the mess, and decides today is a perfect day to teach George to use a vacuum.

Three guesses as to wtf Curious George will do with this newfound knowledge.

But the makers of Curious George won’t let us off this easily. It is no fun snatching hope from the hopeless. For one brief moment, we are led to believe Curious George WON’T do what we all know he will do.

Curious George is too short to operate the vacuum. He cannot clean up the mess. He cannot destroy Mr. Stamps’s stamps. Dare we hope for peace? Will MYH finally take responsibility and clean up after his pet?

No. Right before he leaves on some meaningless errand, MYH gives Curious George a Dustbuster, which he calls a “monkey-sized vacuum.”

Good Lord.

The stamps are the first to go, after which Curious George ingests LSD.

Maybe not, but I can think of no other reason why Curious George begins to vividly hallucinate and run out into traffic. Wearing a cape, and calling himself a superhero.

George thinks he will save the city by vacuuming things. He sucks up the birdseed a lady is scattering for the pigeons. The pigeons swear revenge.

MYH, meanwhile, learns that the stamps are gone. His frantic search for George and the Dustbuster leads to the best dialogue I have yet discovered:

MYH: Hey lady, have you seen a monkey with a vacuum?
Lady: Was he wearing a cape?

Ponder this, my faithful readers. The lady seeks clarification. Was it the cape-wearing monkey, or was it one of the other monkeys with vacuums she saw today?

Then a random guy shows up and yells “Help! A monkey just sucked up my winning lottery ticket!”

Winning lottery ticket. Sucked up by a monkey.

Words cannot adequately express the horrible shit I would do to a monkey that sucked up my winning lottery ticket. I would keep him alive for weeks, doing things that, translated into cuneiform, would make even the ancient Persians vomit on their sandals. I would know every noise a monkey’s shattered vocal cords could whimper, and I would replay them all through Peavey speakers every Christmas.

But I do not have a winning lottery ticket. And I do not exist in the Curious George universe.

And so, just as George is about to empty the vacuum bag in a construction site dumpster, MYH catches him. Stamps, birdseed and lottery ticket are saved.

No one knows what happens next. By the next episode, none of it ever happened.

 

-Professor Zac Showers