Keith Palmer's Multi-Purpose Home Page

Welcome to a Web 1.0 outpost. Most of my online presence is on a small journal. Here, I'm trying to describe how I became interested in some of the things I post about the most there. Whether there's anything original to some of my juxtapositions, or whether I'm just one more arrested development case, might be up to each person who happens upon this site.

In the not-too-distant future...With the thought that I couldn't expect everyone to know what Mystery Science Theater 3000 was at first glance, I once tried to find my own description of the TV show. After struggling to come up with something more profound than "puppet robots cracking jokes during cheesy movies" without turning out pretentious, I wound up thinking that maybe the show's better experienced than described. Nowadays it's not that hard to search for clips or even find full episodes, but back when I first heard of Mystery Science Theater that wasn't an option. When other people might have just changed channels one day and started wondering about the silhouettes at the bottom of an old movie, I was in the wrong country for that. However, where even the best description by itself might have been unsatisfying, I became interested in the show through one of its fanworks, MSTings.

In the first years of Mystery Science Theater 3000 little to no video was available online, but some of the show's fans there took a different, simpler tack and began casting sarcastic replies to ridiculous rants, egregious spam, and shoddy fanfics as scripts invoking the voices of the show's characters. A community within the show's larger fan community developed, and when I happened on their work I found MSTings funny and entertaining for all that at first I didn't even know what the characters who were supposed to be performing those scripts looked like. I was still only starting to figure that out when, after having read quite a few MSTings, I began trying to write a few myself.

Through MSTings I had discovered a distinct disdain for new characters in fanfiction with definite resemblances to their quite often male authors who happened to pop into existing stories to charm, rescue, and romance the existing characters those authors liked. It was sort of tempting to think of MSTing authors as a superior collective; after all, the original show was being made by "Best Brains, Inc." As that show left cable at last, though, I did find myself just not liking it when the random references of MSTings began to put down familiar pop culture targets in passing.

My thoughts were also shifting from a different nudge. From the first few episodes of the show itself that I'd seen via official home video, I'd started to get a real sense of how the often lengthy and involved comments of MSTings, text dropped into more text, contrasted to the quicker quips that had to squeeze in among the dialogue of even the slowest movie. Then, lengthy videos began to show up online if you knew where to look for them and how to download them, and the many episodes that weren't on official home video yet were to be found that way. With the whole series coming into grasp, I began to think that perhaps the show let movies speak for themselves in a certain way, that even those cheesy movies had their own unexpected way of entertaining, and that Mystery Science Theater 3000 didn't have to be a bulwark at once against and above a mass culture rejected almost as a whole.

Right around then, however, as the MSTing community dwindled with the show ended, the central archive for them went off-line as the single person who'd run it and seemed to have burned out by degrees on the subtle challenges of archiving fanfiction moved and never set his site up again. The show itself remained, and I did have quite a few MSTings saved as well. The successor projects of those who'd made Mystery Science Theater unfortunately didn't appeal to me; it was too easy to imagine them making the same putdowns in passing of familiar pop culture targets. It took a revival of the show itself before I worked up the courage to try and take that in.

The MSTing Mine: a list of links to MSTings.

Some of my favourite MSTings.

MSTings I wrote or helped to write

Mystery Science Theater 3000 links

filmed in shadowramma

Where it startedAt the beginning of the 1980s my family had a microcomputer in our home, and at an early age I began to try it out, loading low-resolution games off cassette tapes and entering the first and simplest programs in BASIC tutorial manuals. As that decade passed the computers collecting in our house got more colourful displays and their programs became more elaborate. I didn't have much else to compare them to than the boxy PC clones that began to show up in other houses I visited, though.

When we moved at the beginning of the 1990s, some old computer magazines shook loose from where they'd been packed away. In reading them and others I found at high school, I began to really understand there'd been many other different computers around in times even then almost gone. A decade after that, I started finding more information about those machines online and trying out some of them via emulator programs.

There might be as much danger in excessive nostalgia about this as there is to any other form of dwelling on the past; certainly, there seems a risk to turning this particular history into an armchair-quarterbacked morality play condemning everyone for making stupid and obvious mistakes except Bill Gates. I suppose that while I've bought some additional old computer magazines and some modern gadgets that let old computers access files more easily, online archives in very grey areas make it possible to fiddle and fool around very much on the cheap.

We unleash the world's most powerful graphics technology.One of the diversions from back then I was only somewhat aware of at the time and was left to realise a feeling of having missed out on was adventure games presented all in text. Discovering a few years later that other people also remembered those games to the point of making their own was intriguing, but I have to admit to still not having much success at solving their puzzles; I'm more pleased these games still exist than that I can still play them myself.

After signing up to Tumblr, I wound up posting mostly old computer magazine covers there.

Adventure Games

Robotech doesn't really have a catchphrase.Given all the accusations of unique reprehensibility levelled against Robotech by fans of the Japanese animation that syndicated cartoon was put together from, I might look a little more respectable claiming my own interest in anime was seeded by several "localizations" of the 1980s. Back then, though, unaware as I was Robotech did just seem more interesting, both for the transforming fighter jets people piloted and for a lack of voiceover claims nobody ever died in the action.

Dropped into a story already well begun to start off, I did have to piece together the shifts in what was happening on visits to my grandparents. Only later having the luck to see the show's first episodes, I started drawing a primitive and peculiar comic of my own to try and fix a little of the experience outside my memory. I then happened on genuine Robotech novelizations at a school book sale, as it turned out after it had gone off the air.

Perhaps Macross doesn't either.Over the next few years I shifted from drawing comics to writing stories without ever quite escaping peculiarity. Still, that carried me into a new decade and into high school, my interest in animation maintained as it became a little more respectable in general. Bit by bit, but much slower than some, I was also sorting out Robotech hadn't been just a singular effort from some nebulous nearby place all cartoons came from and a time now departed, but made from animation from Japan. I even began to sort out that some more of that animation, and some of the comics called manga that animation was linked to, was starting to show up over here, if still not quite where I couldn't miss it.

In the summer after graduating from high school, I got properly online. One of the first things I thought of looking up was whether anyone else still remembered Robotech a decade after it had first aired. A few people did, but the first discussions among them I saw were arguments and accusations about the spinoffs I'd depended on not living up to their rigorous and realistic interpretations of the animation. This made for a bumpy welcome, but as I went off to university and spotted posters for the anime club there, I was also being exposed to the accusations against Robotech, which kept me returning to a relative safe haven.

Eventually, Macross wound up here.I did keep going back to the anime club's shows all the same, managing to deal with the shock effects of "cartoons that weren't for kids," picking up on the general terms of reference involving shows perhaps so popular the club preferred to screen other titles, and beginning to take in some wider variety of genre. When I graduated there was still anime I wanted to see. Seeing all of Robotech at last was almost an anticlimax after giving up on the arguments that hadn't ended, but I moved on to Macross, Southern Cross, and Mospeada, the three anime series that had been combined into it, and have returned to all of them in the years since.

My longevity as an anime fan can feel unusual. I suppose that in recognizing certain limitations to it, and to animation in general, I managed to accept them. As for what breadth anime does offer, I do move back and forth between titles decades old and brand new. There can be a special kind of straight-faced absurdity to some anime not that far from the sincerity of other titles. In a simpler way, at times I think back to having managed to stay interested in Robotech's story even when my mental reconstructions of it had blurred and faded, and suppose one uncomplicated thing that now appeals to me about anime and manga is liking the varied ways they look.

You're Not For Real, Snoopy!A few old Peanuts collections were in my family's home from the time of my earliest memories. I read them almost to pieces, along with following the daily comic strip in our newspaper, signing the collections of new and old comics alike out of my school library, and reading adaptations of some of the TV specials, although there I could feel especially sorry for Charlie Brown sometimes and think something big was missing when Snoopy didn't have a voiceover.

I'm Not Your Sweet Babboo!For all of that, I still had the sense from sample strips in certain publications of there being a lot of Peanuts out there beyond my reach. That sense might have become stronger as collections became harder to find in bookstores. As the strip approached its fortieth anniversary, it could even have become easier to start brushing it by in favour of newer comics.

Then, following up on a comment once seen, I did try collecting the strip myself by pasting newspaper clippings into a notebook. As I'd seen, that did help my impressions. Around then, too, I managed to find a good number of old collections from a used book sale sprawling over our church lawn, and filled in more gaps later from other sales and stores.

After the strip had ended, announcements of a complete collection series very much got my attention. Perhaps I'm still most likely to turn to strips drawn before I was born, but the thought of dismissing everything that appeared while I was alive was unappealing, and with a sense of all the different moods and changes over time I do want to say it's satisfying for me as a whole.

The Complete Peanuts

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

Part of the initial cadre of kids lucky (or just self-mythologizing) enough to have first seen Star Wars at the movies, but only just, I was taken to a re-release of the original film at the beginning of the 1980s. At the time, I was at the lower end of the age range once suggested by George Lucas himself as able to get something out of the movie. While I remember little specific of my own first screening, the storybooks and toys that collected over the next few years do suggest it had a big impact.

The Empire Strikes Back seems to have been considered too much for me to see that young. I knew Return of the Jedi was coming, but for some reason nobody in my family can remember I didn't see it at the movies. It wasn't until the opening tide of merchandising had ebbed that I moved beyond comics and books to the actual closing two-thirds of the trilogy through the panned-and-scanned confines of home video.

As a new decade got under way and I got older, new Star Wars novels and comics began showing up. I did start reading them, and when I had the chance to see what other people were saying about the saga online I took it. It didn't take long, though, until I began to get the feeling I somehow didn't quite fit in. When a few novels were held up and all the others cast down for not acknowledging those proclaimed best examples, to me the distinction didn't feel as sharp. When the three movies were divided the same way, it started feeling dissatisfying to identify and dwell on disappointments and proclamations of unfulfilled promises. When all of Star Wars seemed summed up as a force of Rebels battling the mass of the Empire, that just seemed not that different from a whole swathe of science fiction. With all of that, though, there was something else bigger and getting closer to wonder and worry about.

I might never have had the chance to form uninfluenced opinions about The Phantom Menace. In the final days before the first new Star Wars movie in years opened, the advance reaction to some broad comedy relief already seemed so violent I was sort of braced through opening night for some single moment that would spark visceral revulsion in me too. It never showed up. I left the theatre convinced I'd really liked the movie, but that feeling had to stand against a frenzy swallowing altogether everything in the movie in the same hostile glare, and when that just didn't seem worth joining I began to feel very alone indeed. Sour condemnations stumbled on always when I wasn't expecting them cast a chill on how I reacted to the last years of the MSTing community and even left me a little glad Mystery Science Theater 3000 itself had ended when it did. Years later, that feeling would keep me from taking in several new projects from the people who'd made the show. It might have distanced me from a lot of other science fiction and live-action movies raised sky-high in gloating comparison, and it definitely finished pushing me away from the Star Wars novels when they also became something held up in total. It's even possible my interest in anime held up through the years many others my age became jaded in just because anime fans didn't make quite as many putdowns in passing of Star Wars.

In a darkest hour, after Attack of the Clones had been engulfed too by the same scramble towards all-encompassing negativity, I did find the courage to look a little further into the works of one new fan who'd seemed positive about what the first new movie had added to the story. There, I was pointed to a small community of fans also staying positive. Jumping in, I found my focus shifting back to where it might have started, with the main characters. Accepting that the story of the movies was the story of someone whose power and attachments together had led him astray into ruin only to be saved at last by the compassion of his son, an illustration of larger common themes rather than just one specific war or even adventure, seemed at last and just in time for Revenge of the Sith to give all six movies together some weight worth at least some of the attention heaped on them over the years. It also might have made them self-contained in a way that meant I shrugged off new movies made without the involvement of George Lucas when they started off with what seemed to me the shallowest emulation of the oldest films and no particular interest in showing the original characters as developing on from a happy ending. As I just said, though, the six movies do remain self-contained, and perhaps more cinema now than they once seemed.

I once wrote a few essays for an online journal organized by the small community of positive fans. That journal is now only reachable through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, but while I was among the least of the contributors there, I have retrieved my old essays and made them available here.

My Bluesky account