I have to confess I like that the sound effect for spontaneous gender reassignment is “Splort!” It just sounds so classy.
Hey, let’s list some more mad-science music! I put the list on hold a while ago, but it was only a matter of time before I accrued more songs about nerdy stuff.
64. “Fifty Years After the Fair,” by Aimee Mann
How beautiful it was tomorrow
We’ll never have a day of sorrow
We got through the ’30’s, but our belts were tight
We conceived of a future with no hope in sight
We’ve got decades ahead of us to get it right I swear
Fifty years after the fair
One of my favorite geek things is old futurism–visions of the future from decades past. Obviously, this means I love World’s Fairs and similar showcases of the glorious future that will be made possible by Science!, so this song about the 1939 World’s Fair (which was also the site of the first Worldcon) is gold. Aimee Mann has done a ton of great mad-sciency songs; I already mentioned her “Frankenstein” earlier on the list, and this is far from the end.
I’m pretty happy with the character design for Dave’s lady form. As this strip suggests, I didn’t want her to look stereotypically “hot,” more like just a female version of Dave. I also thought it would be funny if she was short. There’s no good biological reason for it, and I don’t care.
That said, I kind of wish I’d been able to make girl-Dave cuter, in a short, nerdy way. She looks pretty good in the second panel here, but I could’ve done better a lot of the time. I regret that I didn’t have a chance to draw her later in the strip, when my drawing skills were better.
65. “Still Alive,” by Jonathan Coulton and Ellen McLean
But there’s no sense crying
Over every mistake
You just keep on trying
Till you run out of cake
And the Science gets done
And you make a neat gun
For the people who are still alive
Yes, people of the Internet, I am aware that Jonathan Coulton wrote a lovely mad-science song, performed by voice actress Ellen McLean, for the end credits of the game “Portal.” Thank you for the many alerts on this subject. No, I have not played “Portal.” I don’t own any video-game system more advanced than a Super Nintendo, and I’m a little intimidated by the fancy graphics and advanced gameplay on that one, preferring to concentrate on beating my time on “DuckTales” for NES. No, I will not get your cake jokes. Yes, you may offer me cake. But there had better really be cake this time.
Man, my lettering is sprawling all over the place here. If you want to be really, really generous, you can say it reflects the characters’ panic. If not, you can just say I really needed to buy a damn ruler.
It looks like Helen’s sucking in his gut in the last panel to impress Madblood. Now that would be funny.
66. “Virtual Insanity,” by Jamiroquai
Futures made of virtual insanity
Now always seem to be governed by this love we have
For useless, twisting of our new technology
Oh, there is no sound, for we all live underground
I missed a lot of the music of my teenage years because I was really into Broadway musicals and Gilbert and Sullivan. To be honest, though, I probably would have missed out on most of the music for which the ’90s are revered anyway. In my suburban Ohio town, it was all about Whitney Houston, UB40, and Ace of Base; only the freaks and burnouts listened to that weird grunge music. My friend Miki wore a black armband to school the day after Kurt Cobain died, and everyone just looked at her like she was crazy. I didn’t go to my high-school reunion last year, but I’ll bet you a million dollars they played Nirvana and R.E.M. and everyone remembered being totally into the Seattle scene. Memory is usually nice about smoothing over reality for you, so you don’t have to remember that, during one of the most transformative eras of rock, you were hell of grooving to Boyz II Men.
None of which has anything to do with Jamiroquai. My point is that I missed nearly all music of the ’90s, good, bad, and indifferent, because I was busy memorizing the Major-General’s Song from The Pirates of Penzance. So I never got the chance to get sick of this one-hit wonder when it debuted, and I never even heard it until Andrew and I were up all night watching old music videos on YouTube a while back. Not only is it a funky mad-science song, it has a boss video. To be painfully honest, I still find stuff like this more entertaining than Nirvana.
Remember “Rent”? Ah, the ’90s, when if you were a bohemian left-wing slacker type your biggest problem was that your landlord might actually make you pay rent on your fabulous Alphabet City loft, forcing you to take a high-paying job in the booming media market instead of spending all your time making a Steadicam doc about your equally comfortable slacker friends. Also AIDS. Now we don’t have any of the good stuff and we still have AIDS. It doesn’t seem right. Also, the “Rent” movie forced everyone to realize that it was actually a pretty dumb play, which was another letdown. This decade bites.
I don’t know why this is the week where I talk extensively in the notes about the ’90s. It must be turning 30 that does it.
Presumably the fortress Madblood is working on is his spectacular moonbase, although you can’t tell from the artwork here. I don’t know how it’s possible to make a phone call from the Moon, but Madblood does have access to mad science, which circumvents the restrictions of normal engineering. Much later, Dave is able to make calls from the Moon with equal ease.
67. “Van Occupanther,” by Midlake
I must be careful now in my steps
Years of calculations and the stress
My science is waiting, nearly complete
One glass will last for nearly a week
Recently suggested in the comments by Pete. Thanks, Pete!
I hate the art in this one except for Helen’s ANGRY EYES! in the first panel. The perspective in panel two is a mess even by my standards. Why is it so hard to draw a simple walk-and-talk? And Helen’s pose in expression in the last panel are all wrong.
I’m shaking my fist angrily at Shaenon of the Past.
68. “Science Fiction Man,” by Clare and the Reasons
Science fiction man
You didn’t know that this was real and happening
Painting a color that I’ve never seen before
And I am with you
And I adore you
I hope I have these lyrics right, as this is the second song on the list that doesn’t seem to have lyrics posted online. Also good is “Pluto” from the same album, which is about real science: an ode to Pluto on the event of its declassification as a planet:
Pluto I have some frightful news dear
in the New York Times
They’ve just reported you’ve been overthrown
from your solar throne for good
Pluto they say that you can’t handle
your own gravity
well how can you overcome your body force
to clear the path for your own orbit
Then they do a remix called “Pluton” with theramin music. Damn, pop music needs more theramin. I gotta have more theramin, baby. I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more theramin.
I still like this strip. I bet Dave spent a lot of time in the shower anyway. I also like that Dave is apparently already resigned to this ridiculous situation and is already getting back to work. This is how Dave survives.
69. “Mad Monster Party”
The full moon
Brings out the monster in you
A strange tune
Seems to be playing for you
Could you be someone’s invention
So unreal as you feel tonight?
Did you sell your soul to the devil
At that monster party last night?
Yes, I own the soundtrack to Mad Monster Party, one of the more unsettling Rankin-Bass stop-motion holiday specials, which is saying a lot. I even had a dream about it recently. From my dream journal, 5/6/08:
“Mad Monster Party” was an ongoing TV series with a serious, elaborate story arc, like “Babylon 5.” The Phyllis Diller puppet was taking over the world with a monster pig-man she had created, which had fallen in love with her.