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

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TMCG: MYH is KHV

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S4EP7-16Feb2010-Relax

 

I am not sure if the latest episode of Curious George is empowering for women, or humiliating for men.

Porque no los dos?

I fully expect to see MYH posting on /r9k/ this very evening, two-fisting Code Reds and weeping into a bag of spicy Cheetos. Normies beware—there is a deep sadness in the Man in the Yellow Hat, a higher loneliness, the kind of desperate self-loathing that accelerates the emergence of the Reticulated American Douchebag, compels him to join with his kind in the friendzone, and there recite together a kaddish for the pisghetti that flowed from their pockets.

The Yellow Hat is not a fedora, but it is close enough.

Bless Dr. Wiseman. She has no idea what has been wrought. She is a good, kind, intelligent woman who no doubt finds MYH both capable and charming in a dorky sort of way. He is helpful. He is kind to animals. He has the patience of Garrison Keillor munching Quaaludes while attempting to translate the Voynich Manuscript into Yankee Lutheran.

But he is not her type, alas.

MYH and Curious George visited Dr. Wiseman at the museum. She was answering phones and stacking papers and basically being a whirling dervish of a competent professor. MYH saw his chance. He screwed his courage to the sticking place and said, “Dr. Wiseman, you need to relax. Wanna come with George and me and do something relaxing on Saturday?”

Perfect opening gambit. It’s a group thing, no weird “just you and me” schtick. I could see it in his eyes. He had been hoping for this moment for months.

She accepted! Oh frabjous day! Caillou! Callay!

MYH and Curious George went back to the apartment to plan the…date? Was it a date? Why, yes, I do believe it might be a date! No George, she won’t want to jumprope.

A picnic seems like a great idea, despite the horrible fake etymology the internet has bestowed on the word.

And so it came to pass that MYH, Dr. Wiseman and Curious George had a picnic in the park. Dr. Wiseman was wearing jeans. She said she had been practicing reclining at a 45 degree angle, which was the most relaxing angle. In short, she made herself absolutely nerd-adorable without even trying. Just so awkwardly cute. Waifu material. They shared a brief, giggly moment.

Then the day imploded. MYH cannot be trusted with himself. As an aside, I know this feel. I know how it is to love with pock-marked teenage ardor the achingly desirable girl who does not even know how desirable she is. I also know how it feels to f*ck it up in a way I had heretofore believed to be unpossible, by out-dorking even the dorkiest of dorks.

“Dr. Wiseman, you want a pickle? They are very relaxing.”

(Freud)

Dr. Wiseman DID want a pickle, one of the big ones, but MYH could not get the jar open. Neither could Curious George, though I suspect he was only pretending he couldn’t open it in order to be a good wingman to MYH and not embarrass him. Wiseman helps George open the jar, and he accidentally dumps all the pickles all over MYH.

“Well,” MYH says, “maybe pickles aren’t THAT relaxing.”

MYH’s next attempt is a hammock. Yes, a hammock strung between two trees in the park. He suggests that she should lay in it. But he doesn’t want to be creepy, so he doesn’t say they should lie in it together. He does not tell George to go away. Again I see the gears turning—how to convince Dr. Wiseman to lay in the hammock without sounding geeky, weird, or desperate.

But then he says—I sh*t you not—

“What could be more relaxing than hanging from a tree?”

ohshitoshitdudewhatareyouDOING?

Yes. He did that. George scrambles up the tree and hangs by his feet to show Dr. Wiseman what MYH was TRYING to say and oh my God I didn’t mean it like that dear Lord just let the ground swallow me up.

The hammock swallows him up instead, and then Dr. Wiseman picks up a baseball bat. She says she will help get him out of the hammock. MYH laughs nervously and asks if she will get him out like she gets candy out of a piñata.

For that is what he deserves.

But no, she uses the bat to lever the strings apart. Dare MYH hope that things will now improve?

No. The damage is done. Dr. Wiseman says she has to go soon.

MYH panics. He starts blubbering about how she needs to relax and they’ve been there all day and she’s had to do stuff for them and has not been RELAXING. Um, let’s feed the ducks, Dr. Wiseman, wanna feed the ducks?

George does, but somehow, in the midst of duck-feeding, MYH’s yellow hat ends up in the middle of the pond.

His essence. That which makes him, him. Dr. Wiseman fashions a hook and line out of a paperclip and some yarn, but cannot retrieve the hat.

“We need more weight,” says Dr. Wiseman. This phrase destroyed MYH as easily as it did Giles Corey, but in this case a little more Freudian symbolism was called for.

Dr. Wiseman looks around for something with which to weight the makeshift hook. She discovers a small pickle in MYH’s pocket, pulls it out, snaps it in half, and uses one half to weight the hook.

The hat is now retrieved.

Dr. Wiseman says not to worry—the day was relaxing after all. MYH says he’s going home to take a nap.

But he won’t be napping.

 

-Professor Zac Showers