My Greatest Physics Adventure
A Weekly Multimedia Experience starring Bernard Bernouli brought to you by local cable access KLUC
Greetings, adventure fans. It is I, Bernard Bernouli, physics major and part-time world saver here to relate another one of my amazing adventures. With the aid of the Nurse Edna Memorial Video Library and re-creations by my faithful staff (Hoagie and Laverne), we are presenting a hair-raising adventure tonight that I like to call Day of the Tentacle, or, It's Never to Early to Stop Pollution: Let's Start Yesterday.
It all started at maniac Mansion, home of the crazy Edison Family. You'd think Dr. Fred would have learned his lesson about responsible scientific experimentation years ago when I had to rescue him from the clutches of his Brain-o-Drain™ machine and the Evil Purple Meteor, but no! He had to go and activate the Sludge-o-Matic,™ which served no purpose but to pump gallons of toxic mutagens into the creek running by his house. It was bad enough when this foul gunk defoliated the landscape and decimated the duck population (creating paranoid neurosis in a local park ranger), but then Purple Tentacle (one of Dr. Fred's early experiments in gene-splicing) drank the stuff, grew arms, and turned into an evil genius who wanted to take over the world!
I was spending a quiet evening at home, handing up my autographed picture of Stephen Hawking and finishing my notes on a Unified Field Theory, when a heated argument between my roommates in the living room alerted me to the fact that we had a visitor – specifically, a hamster with a note informing us that my old fiend Green Tentacle was in trouble. We wasted no time, but piled into Hoagie's pickup and headed off to Maniac Mansion to investigate. (I did notice some strange, almost alphabetic, cloud formations in the sky as we drove, but assumed this to be an unrelated phenomenon)
When we reached the mansion we split up, mostly to get the other two out of my hair so I could think clearly. I immediately noticed the suspicious nature of the grandfather clock, which I opened to discover the all-too-customary secret passage.
I had just freed the tentacles when Purple Tentacle revealed his true nature, leaving me in shocked horror to greet Dr. Fred, who immediately tried to blame me for the disastrous consequences of his vile tinkering. By appealing to our better natures (and, I must confess, my scientific curiosity), he enlisted Hoagie, Laverne, and me as human guinea pigs for his previously untested Chron-o-Johns.™ Imagine our surprise, when instead of being transported 24 hours into the past, Hoagie ended up 200 years in the past, Laverne ended up 200 years in the future, and I ended up right back where I started, with a frustrated and semi-incoherent Dr. Fred.
Dr. Fred was eventually able to explain that he had used an inferior grade of diamond for his time machine, and we needed to acquire a new diamond. In addition, Hoagie and Laverne needed to plus in their Chron-o-Johns.™ I sensibly pointed out the lack of electrical power available to Hoagie in the Eighteenth Century, but Dr. Fed only muttered something about battery plans and walked off.
My keen scientific mind and brilliant powers of observation quickly led me to deduce that the plans were right there in the lab, on the bulletin board. Dr. Fred made a sudden re-appearance and (as you may imagine) startled me by flushing the plans down the toilet in the Chron-o-John.™ Apparently this was not a real toilet, but a trans-chronal matter transmitter, allowing the interchange of small non-living objects through time. I could certainly appreciate the utility of such a device, and resolved to employ it in helping my friends to return.
It's not his birthday; why does Bernard get the present?
It's true that Hoagie thought it was up to him to save the world,, but (in his own caveman-like way), he suffers from delusions of grandeur, and it seems only logical to begin the next part of this narrative in the present, since my component was the most central and necessary to the whole project.
I decided that I might learn more about the mess we found ourselves in by exploring the mansion and collecting evidence. Knowing Dr. Fred, I thought it possible he might even have mislaid enough cash to buy the diamond, or might have some more stay patent applications that could be sold to raise funds.
I made my way upstairs to the lobby. Taking a closer look around, I realized that the Edisons had fallen on hard times indeed, and apparently had converted their ancestral mansion into a hotel in order to make ends meet. I was able to find a dime in the pay phone in the front hall, but the second dime in the gum on the floor needed more force than my calculator-conditioned fingers could provide. The Help Wanted sign in the window seemed tailor-made for Hoagie, so I gave It to him (with the aid of the Chron-o-John™). I also picked up the vacuum cleaner flier in the lobby rack, because the suggestion on it seemed sensible.
A glance into Dr. Fred's office (well, a glance into his bankbook, actually) confirmed my deduction about the gloomy state of the family finances. I checked the safe behind the picture, but apparently Dr. Fred had chanced the combination since my last visit. There was no cash in his desk drawer, either, but I took the Booboo-b-Gone™ since I was almost out at home, and Dr. Fred had apparently hocked his typewriter.
I proceeded through the double doors at the end of the lobby and found myself face-t-face with a terrifying image from my childhood: Oozo, the Bop-em Clown.™ I tried to strike back at this apparition, but the results were always the same – total defeat. I vowed revenge and continued my search. I thought perhaps opening the air conditioning vent by the fireplace might reveal some hidden cash, but no such luck. I was then accosted by a rude cigar salesman hawking (sorry, Stephen) his wares. I was not impressed by his sample, and in an attempt to lose him, displayed interest in an exhibit of self-propelled dentures. I managed to corner these in the open vent, and, pocketing them out of scientific curiosity, proceeded through the swinging door into the kitchen.
There I found coffee, decaf and regular, which I took along in case I was facing a long night of mansion exploration, and a fork which I grabbed as well. In the laundry cabinet by the dryer I discovered a funnel, which I took for luck. Funnels have always been lucky for the Bernoullis.
Then I headed back out to the lobby and thought I would reconnoiter outside. I ran into another old friend, Dead Cousin Ted the mummy, and tried to say hello, but he was as taciturn as ever. In the hotel parking lot, a poor motorist had locked himself out of his car and was vainly attempting to get in with a truly handsome crowbar. I made a mental note to see if I could find any way to help him.
Back in the mansion, I proceeded upstairs, where I came upon a vintage ice machine, filled with vintage ice. I then checked the Honeymoon Suite (room W), where one of the guests was obviously sleeping off a long night at the dinner table. I checked the TV, but there nothing on but that silly Shopping Network, advertising a diamond... A DIAMOND? I ran to the phone, but unfortunately they insisted on some form of payment. Drat.
While in the room, I couldn't resist trying out the Fickle Fingers machine with the dime I had liberated from the pay phone. Its powerful motor was sufficient to partially dislodge the sleeping giant, but it got me no further ward the solution of my problem. In frustration I slammed the door, and discovered a set of keys that I though might be of help to my friend in the parking lot, so I took them along and walked on down the hall.
I saw no need to investigate the candy machine (I wasn't hungry, and it wasn't going to easily give up its quarters), so I tried to check in Room R. There my way was blocked by a stout chain and Dwayne, a designer of novelty items. I decided it would be wisest to remove the dangerous disappearing ink (he might decided to drink it) and I walked on down the hall.
In Room F, I discovered Green Tentacle, who filled me in on the latest news about his band and about the nefarious activities of Purple Tentacle. Having always been fond of the particularly diatonic wave forms found in tentacle rock, I turned on the stereo, and was blown away by a seismic blast of "sucker surf" tunes, the impact of which was strong enough to partially dislodge the fake bark from the lobby ceiling downstairs. Intrigued by the implications of this phenomenon, I pushed over the speaker in the center of the room, and therefore succeeded in dislodging the bar. Another victory for applied physics! I liked the music so well, I borrowed the video. I was going to get Greeny to autograph his bowling ball for me, but it was just too heavy, man (Rock and roll always makes me talk that way. Hoagie loves it).
Upstairs on the landing, I found the family quarters, with Nurse Edna's video room and Weird Ed's den. I gave Edna a playful push, in hopes of watching my video on her VCR, but she obviously had been working out with Oozo. Still, if that statue's arm hadn't been there...
Weird Ed seemed different than the last time I talked to him. He obviously had not worked through all the trauma he experienced on my last visit. I thought it best to confiscate his hamster while it was still alive and in one piece. I was pleased to see his painful memories did not prevent him from keeping the original Maniac Mansion® video game on his computer. In an effort to cheer him up, I showed him the old disappearing ink trick with his stamp album. No sense of humor at all. I decided to keep his stamp until his mood improved.
I found nothing of interest at the top of the stairs, either in the family archives, or in the attic beyond, but when I climbed through the attic window onto the roof, I discovered a charming pulley and crank of exactly the same type we studied in my first high school physics class. I took along the crank for old times' sake. Upon investigation of the chimney, I found it to be highly functional, possibly designed by some clever ancestor of Dr. Fred's in colonial times. I climbed into it to further investigate, and found myself once again in the convention hall.
This served to remind me that I had really made no progress in my quest for a diamond, other than a potential source (the Shopping Network) – if I could procure two million dollars. I thought I might check in again with Dr. Fred in the lab, and I found him as I had left him, finishing off the last of his coffee. I thought maybe a nap would help him think more clearly, so I poured some Decaf into his "I ? Coffee and ?" mug.
Imagine my surprise when he began sleepwalking upstairs, muttering something about the safe and a contract. I quickly followed him to the office and did, in truth, see a contract in the safe, but he was opening and closing it too fast for me to grab the contract. Then I noticed the camera in the office and realized I might get a better view of the combination from Edna's video room.
As I passed the front door, I remembered my friend in the parking lot, so took the keys outside to him, and he was good enough to give me his crowbar in exchange. When I got back to the lobby, I picked up the fake bark from my experiment in auditory physics, and, while thinking of physics, recognized the crowbar as a type of lever and decided to use it on the chewing gum. It produced the desired result, and I quickly realized I could get another dime by using the gum.
On my way upstairs to the video room, I stopped into the Honeymoon Suite to try the Fickle Fingers machine on more time. The incredible Bulk on the bed fell off, revealing a perfectly usable sweater, although somewhat damp. I thought if I brought it along, I might discover some quarters for the dryer. No soon was I back out in the hall than I saw the candy machine. With the aid of my trusty crowbar, I was able to borrow some quarters. (This was not theft, mind you, since any quarters used in the drier would be collected by Dr. Fred just like the quarters in the candy machine.) (Of course, the candy machine didn't work so well after that) (Oh, well... )
Hoagie's not looking for a hero, he's looking for a sandwich
I was convinced that Hoagie could help me solve the riddle of the colonial statue, and, in his own Neolithic way, he did. Eventually.
First, though, he had to wander over to the right of the outhouses and bother Benjamin Franklin, whom Hoagie so colorfully referred to as "the weird fat dude with the kite." Had Hoagie remember anything about history (other than "it was the class before lunch"), he would have realized that Franklin would be exactly the person who could connect him (figuratively speaking) to a source of electricity. Fortunately, for some reason, people seem to confide in Hoagie, and he thus becomes a useful repository of information, as long as it can be conveyed in words of less than four syllables.
He eventually lumbered toward the inn, passing a classic, though somewhat dusty, colonial carriage ("bitchin' wheels, dude"). For some reason he felt moved to look inside Red Edison's mailbox and give me the letter he found there, which did, in truth, prove useful later.
Inside the inn he exchanged a few words with the strangely familiar desk clerk, then opened the grandfather clock and headed down to Red's lab, where he handed over the battery plans. Red, sensing immediately that the written word was not Hoagie's forté, informed him of the necessary ingredients: oil, vinegar, and gold. Hoagie helped himself to a left-handed hammer as well. He has always been fascinated by blunt instruments; he has a tattoo that reads, "If at first you don't succeed, try a bigger hammer." He also took a strange fancy to the lab coat, so I sent him the "Help Wanted" sign to give to Red so that he could pick up the coat.
Back upstairs, Hoagie sailed through the double doors and found himself facing three of our illustrious Founding Father: John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. I find it hard to credit anything that Hoagie reported about his conversations with these three – that Hancock was perpetually chilly, that Jefferson had a pet log, and that Washington was a cigar-smoking egomaniac with a passion for deforestation of cherry trees. I think Hoagie has absorbed far too much voltage in his career as a roadie.
Anyway, as he tells it, he eventually found the kitchen, where to his horror the only available food was uncooked spaghetti and salad oil. What spaghetti was doing in a colonial kitchen is a mystery best left unsolved, but it was food, so Hoagie took it, along with the oil for the battery. He went searching through the adjoining washroom in the vain hope of finding more food, but all he was able to acquire was a bucket and a brush (from inside a cabinet).
He filled the bucket with water at the pump in the kitchen – perhaps he thought he could find a stove somewhere to cook the spaghetti – and headed back to the entrance hall and upstairs.
The first room he saw was non other than that of the Father of our Country, George Washington himself. Having (on all his band tours) studiously believed all those signs about "George Washington slept here", Hoagie couldn't resist using the bed, which meant it ended up looking much like his bed at home, only without the pizza stains. Fortunately, Red' inn had a luxury that our student housing does not, namely a maid service. Hoagie pulled the cord, and then, possibly ashamed of the mess he created, beat a hasty exit. For some reason he then picked up the soap off the maid's cart – perhaps it was time for his twice-yearly bath.
In the next room, Hoagie found a true Founding Mother – Betsy Ross, who, in Hoagie's eyes, was only a bad-tempered drudge at the mercy of the fickly design whims of Washington & company. He then checked the next room – Franklin's bedroom and workshop – but the only thing of interest to Hoagie was a bottle of wine, which he took, of course.
Perhaps Hoagie got into this wine. This is he only thing I can think of that would account for his story of finding a talking horse on the landing of the next stairway. And not just an ordinary talking horse, but a talking horse with false teeth. Incredible.
I find it far easier to credit his account of the young artistic Edison brothers, partially because it is so characteristic of Hoagie to pull the infantile practical joke of switching his left-handed hammer for the artist's right-handed hammer. I am also forced to believe because this simple-minded prank altered history and solved my problem with the colonial statue.
Hoagie insisted on exploring the attic, where he found a cat playing with a toy mouse and a bucket of red paint which he correctly assumed might soon prove useful. But first I had to get that combination.
Bernard to the rescue, or, Dr. Fred's in trouble now
With a different statue, I felt confident in pushing Nurse Edna out of the room. Unfortunately, I made a rare trigonometric error of calculation, and she rolled all the way down the stairs with disastrous results. Physics isn't always pretty.
At least this gave me the opportunity , by observing Dr. Fred opening the safe, to do some good for the Edisons. Except – he was still too fast with that dial. Then I noticed there were two speed settings on the VCR. I inserted my videotape, and proceeded to tape Dr. Fred – with unexpected results. I also taped his arrest by the IRS, who said they were taking him "upstairs." I would have to rescue him, but my scientific curiosity compelled me to find out the combination first, so I rewound the tape, played it on slow speed, and memorized the combination. Then down to the safe, which I easily opened and acquired the contract.
While I was downstairs, I put the sweater in the dryer, and, since the dryer didn't look too reliable, just deposited all my quarters. Who cares about time when you've got a time machine?
Now where would the IRS be keeping Dr. Fred? It seemed likely they would want to look through the records in the family archive, so I headed all the way back upstairs, and there they were, in all their grey-suited arrogance, denying me access to the attic where they had imprisoned Fred. If I wanted my friends back, I needed Dr. Fred. Luckily, I knew something the IRS did not – that I could get to the roof through the chimney. Back downstairs I went, and up the chimney like a skinny, pocket-protectored Santa Claus. I quickly traversed the window sill and found the missing scientist, firmly trussed up in rope and red tape. I easily removed the rope, but the tape might take hours. To clear my head, I thought I would see if the pulley was in good working order. Out on the roof, I used the tope, and the pulley did, indeed, appear to be functional. I used the chimney as a quick route to the first floor and went out through the front door to see what I could use as a counterweight.
And there stood Ted, serving no useful purpose other than holding up a birdbath. He didn't voice any objections to helping with my experiment, so I looped the rope around his neck, went back up the chimney to the roof, and pulled. Sadly, I neglected to account for the light grasp Ted had on the birdbath, and the difference in weight resulted in a rather hard landing. Nonetheless, I was anxious to see if Ted had survived his trip upstairs, so I dashed back up the chimney and into the attic.
Ted was fine, but I was no closer to freeing Dr. Fred... or was I? I looked at Ted, then I looked at Fred, and then I remembered Hoagie's red paint. He sent it to me, and after a judicious application, Ted and Fred looked as much alike as Ned and Jed. I switched the two, and a snoopy IRS guard confirmed that my ruse was successful. Now I merely had to get Ted-er-Jed-I mean-Fred downstairs. Having once again tied on the rope, I used the pulley, and, well, let's just say that Isaac Newton was once more proved correct. Hole-ly correct.
There was just one little problem. I needed Fred to sign the contract, and Fred was still out cold. I felt my luck had finally deserted me... until I remembered my lucky funnel. With the aid of the funnel and a hearty dose of regular coffee, Dr. Fred was his old, hand-wringing, cantankerous self again. In fact he was so much back to normal, I had a rough time talking him into signing the contract. It wasn't until I gave up completely that he finally came around.
So I had the signed contract, and I even had a stamp to mail it with – except it was a pony express stamp! No problem; I just sent the stamped contract back to Hoagie and let him mail it in the inn's mailbox. Then, with the aid of Dr. Fred's newly enriched bankbook, I called the Shopping Network and ordered the diamond. Now (gulp) it was up to Hoagie and Laverne.
False alarm, or, Hoagie's gold rush
I thought it best to remind Hoagie of what he was looking for, and also that Laverne was still stuck in that tree. Hoagie asked if it was a kumquat tree. When I said I thought so, he asked me to return the red paint. He also asked how vinegar was made, and when I told him, he began to chuckle. Hoagie is not a well person.
At any rate, he headed back down the chimney and walked straight over to Jefferson to give him the wine. When he told me Jefferson put it in the time capsule, I began to see what Hoagie was up to. He then walked outside and painted the tree. Now this was too silly. Nobody would mistake a red-painted kumquat for a cherry; nobody, apparently, except for George Washington. The tree was down, and in the future, Laverne was free – for approximately 30 seconds, until she was captured by tentacles and thrown into a holding cell. Well, one problem at a time.
Now Hoagie had to get gold, and the most obvious source was the quill pen on the table. He could have just grabbed it and run, but Hoagie runs about as well as he does differential equations. So getting rid of the Founding Fathers (preferably non-violently) seemed to be the way to go. What was that he'd said about Washington's fondness for cigars? Maybe an explosion could scare them out.
But first I had to get an exploding cigar from the salesman without it exploding, which meant I couldn't let him light it. What if that lighter gun were switched for the flag gun in Dwayne's room. No, no, it was all too elaborate, and besides, how could I get Dwayne away from the gun?
Then I remembered the letter Hoagy had given me – the letter congratulated an inventor on a good idea. I re-read it, and sure enough, there weren't any names mentioned, so it might work. Dwayne read the letter and took off, which left me free to get the gun out of his totally messy room. With all the food around, it was easy to see why mice had set up shop in the baseboard.
The gun switch worked perfectly, and after getting the cigar from a slightly miffed salesman (served him right!), I sent cigar and lighter off to Hoagie. The resulting explosion when he gave the cigar to Washington didn't frighten anyone, but it didn't seem right to leave the Father of our Country toothless, so I sent along the chattering teeth as well. Interestingly enough, this led to a fire being built. Remembering Jefferson's remarks about smoke, and noticing the primitive smoke detector, Hoagie grabbed Hancock's blanket and headed for the roof and the chimney (He majored in smoke effects in the Roadie Correspondence Course). As I have constantly tried to impress upon him, educations paid off, and the Founding Fathers found the window to be an excellent fire escape.
Once Hoagie grabbed the gold (and I remembered that the time capsule had an expiration date in the twenty-second century), I realized we had to concentrate on Laverne.
The future looks sushi; or Laverne unleashed
Laverne's great skill (other than free-lance surgery) has always been her ability to chatter on until all other arguments disappear. Using this dubious ability, she was able to convince the guard she needed to see the doctor (I've known this for years). The doctor had never encountered a human like Laverne – who has? – and unwisely left her alone. She grabbed the tentacle chart (she's always been a sucker for a good chart) and took full advantage of her freedom to run away through the double doors and down to the end of the hall and... back into her cell. Drat.
This time she convinced the guard she had to go outside and found her way to the Chron-o-John.™ She had decided that she needed a tentacle costume, and thought that Hoagie, with his show business background, might know someone who could help, so she flushed him the tentacle plans. I thought she might be safer without her scalpel, and besides, I had plans of my own. I sent her the crank to keep her courage up.
Just by chance, Hoagie did someone with sewing skills, and dropped off the tentacle plans with Betsy Ross. This worked better than he could have dreamed. Laverne, who has never been too fond of fresh air (or anything else that could be called healthy) made her way back into the mansion and into her cell.
Unfortunately, Laverne is also claustrophobic, and soon got herself out by pretending to be sick again. This time, though, she thought she'd try the chimney to escape (don't ask) and once on the roof with a tentacle costume staring her in the face, even Laverne could figure out how to use the crank to lower the flag and put it on. When she came back downstairs (or downchimney), she got a little carried away with her role as a tentacle, and before she knew it had signed up with the blue tentacle for the human contest. Too bad she didn't have a human (Laverne has never gotten along well with humans).
As she wandered back in the front hall, she gained enough rationality to recognize the grandfather clock and realize that the hamster-driven electrical generator was probably still downstairs. This presented two problems: there was still a guard in front of the clock, and I was the only person she knew with access to a hamster – two hundred years in her past. It couldn't go through the Chron-o-John,™ so how could I put a hamster on ice... on ice! Cryogenics was the answer. I stashed the hamster in the ice machine by the honeymoon suite, and sure enough, when Laverne got upstairs, she found it there – almost perfectly preserved. She decided to explore a little, and in Room W in her time, she found the time capsule, a far more useful discovery than a sleeping conventioneer. Hoagie sent her his can opener, and she was quickly able to return the favor by sending him the vinegar.
Ben says "Charge it!", or, Hoagie learns that AC/DC isn't just a band name
Now Hoagie was ready to rock and roll. He took the battery ingredients down to the lab to Red and Red made the battery, leaving it on a convenient shelf for Hoagie to steal.
But there was still the question of how to charge the battery. Since Red was unavailable ("Hey, dude, how do I get the juice to this bogus battery I ripped from you?" seemed unlikely even to Hoagie), it finally occurred to Hoagie to check with the only other eighteenth century scientist he knew – Ben Franklin.
Hoagie realized that the kite was the key (heh, heh), especially with that battery-sized pocket in it, but a storm was needed. There was only one thing to do – wash the carriage! This, of course, has no meteorological cause and effect relationship in real life, but it worked for Hoagie. He combined soap with water and set to work with his brush, and shortly produced a storm that drove Franklin indoors to look for better kite material.
As luck would have it, Hoagie had available some durable, waterproof material – the lab coat. He gave it to Ben, and in no time they were out in the field ready to fly the "Frank-o-Copter". Hoagie used the battery with the kite, and pushed when Ben told him to, and Eureka! – a charged battery. All Hoagy had to do was plug the Chron-o-John™ into the battery, and we both were ready... to bail out Laverne.
Laverne says, "Don't calamari me, I'll calamari you"
Laverne exited the colonial display and went on to room R, where she found a 1970's display and Disco Ted (Hoagie always said disco was dead, but I didn't know it was mummified). Laverne's shrewd knowledge of anatomy allowed her to instantly recognize that Ted was – or had once been – a human being, and she decided to enter him in the contest. She slapped the entry badge on his chest, equipped him with roller skates for better nobility, and gave him the old Nurse Edna push down the hall.
She then tiptoed past the Head Tentacle's room and made her way upstairs to the Human Show, where she insisted on wandering around and talking to Doctor Tentacle. Her luck held, and he didn't recognize her, but she did satisfy herself as to the high health standards of the human contest. She then went over to nag the judges into getting on with the contest and soon found out that Ted didn't stand a chance with Harold around. "Gosh," she thought, "it's too bad I didn't bring along any of my test tubes of plague bacillus, or we could disqualify that nasty old Harold in nothing flat!" I convinced her that my plastic barf used with Harold might work just as well.
But still the judges found something not quite right about Ted, so Laverne set out to get him better hair, smile and laugh. Hoagie thought the spaghetti might work for hair, so he gave that to Laverne. He also thought the talking horse on the landing had a great smile, but to get it, he'd have to put the horse to sleep. Then he remembered I always used to read him selections from the Chicago Manual on Thermodynamic Flux Design when I tucked him in at night, so I sent him my textbook, and after a surprisingly short selection, he was able to grab the horse dentures and send them to Laverne to use on Ted.
At this point I was getting disgusted with Laverne's being distracted by all this human contest business, so I decided to take out my aggressions on Oozo with the aid of Laverne's scalpel. It was eminently satisfying, and in the process I found a laugh for Ted that seemed to work just fine. Laverne whined at the judges once more, but they still didn't like Ted's "hair." The only thing I had that looked like a comb was the fork, and that seemed to do the trick. Ted had won, and we could get back to figuring out how to get Laverne back. Yes, I know you're saying, "Why bother?", but one must be loyal to one's roommates. Especially when they haven't paid the rent yet.
Polecat panic and radiated rodents
While in the Seventies display, Laverne displayed amazing good judgment in picking up the extension cord attached to the lamp for use with the Chron-o-John.™ She said she was feeling a little lost (so what else is new?) after the excitement of the contest, so she decided to visit (of all places) the human kennel. The guard seemed especially interested in taking her out to dinner, and since Laverne thought whatever tentacles might eat would be especially yuchhy (her term, not mine), she gave him the dinner certificate she had won. This left her alone in the cell with the humans, and she realized if she could get the humans to escape, maybe the tentacle guarding the clock might run after them, and she could get at the generator. The humans, though, seemed in no mood to escape, because they were scared of wild animals.
She went outside to look for wild animals, but all she could find was a scraggly black cat. Fortunately, Laverne's favorite Saturday morning cartoon character was Stinkee La Skunque, so she knew that all she had to do was find some way to paint this cat's back white in order to convert it into a frightening wild animal. I suggested my correction fluid, and by applying it to the cat's favorite fence, she was able to produce an excellent facsimile skunk... who was now so frightened it had fled to the roof.
Hoagie was sure the toy mouse in the attic would lure it down, if he could figure some way to get it away from his local cat. Unfortunately, he couldn't, and sat down on the nearest bed to think further. He noticed that the squeaky mattress attracted the cat, and deduced that if he used the mattress with the other bed, he might have enough time to grab the toy mouse before the came back. It worked! Laverne got the mouse, lured the cat, used the cat to scare the humans, and gained access to the generator.
Laverne complained she didn't have a hamster to run the generator. A valid point, but hamsters don't flush. Then I remembered she was doing a term paper on cryogenics, and – since it was an emergency –tucked the little hamster from Ed's room into the ice machine, knowing that no one else would touch that ice for two hundred years. I was right (as usual) and Laverne was able to extracts it safely in the future.
Somehow a hamster in a block of ice didn't seem likely to be able to run much, so Laverne found the kitchen and thought it out in the microwave. (I wouldn't have had the nerve after my Maniac Mansion experience with Ed's original hamster.) The hamster still looked chilly, so I suggested she check the dryer. Sure enough, there was my sweater, shrunk down to hamster size. Now we had a fully functional hamster, so it was back to the lab for Laverne.
When she used the hamster with the generator, she neglected to account for the paranoia of the tentacles concerning human devices. She found herself regaining consciousness (or what passes for consciousness with Laverne) in the ruins of the time machine, with a thoroughly frightened hamster hiding in the mousehole.
If you could thaw out a hamster with a microwave, it seemed only logical that you could extract a hamster with a vacuum cleaner. If only someone had been thoughtful enough to leave a vacuum cleaner in the basement... wait a minute! What did that flier say again? Right, that should work. I sent the flier to Hoagie and instructed him to use it with the suggestion box. A vacuum cleaner conveniently appeared. Laverne used it with the mousehole, and then opened the hatch to acquire a dusty, but healthy hamster. She then put the hamster back on the generator treadmill, hooked the extension cord to the generator, threw the cord out the window, then ran outside to complete the connection. "At last," I thought, "the nightmare is over." Silly me.
Togetherness pays off, or, Roommates that get out of a hole together, bowl together
The tentacle invasion of earth has been so thoroughly covered in the media that I need only sketch in the details: The spoiling of our joyous reunion by the intervention of Purple Tentacle, our dash to the past, the horror of finding ourselves in one misshapen body, the threat of the growing tentacle army, Old Purple Tentacle and his infernal shrinking ray – I'm sure you've seen al of this on CNN or nightly network news until you're sick of it.
Suffice to say we found ourselves hiding out in the Honeymoon Suite. I knew we had to get down to the lab and turn off the switch, but when we tried, there were those ten tentacles guarding Fred and the sludge machine.
I must admit it was Hoagie who recognized their formation and suggested the bowling ball (after all, bowling is the official roadie sport). Every time we tried to get into Green Tentacle's room, though, Old Purple would shrink us. I finally remembered the mousehole in Dwayne's room, which got us in, and as soon as the shrink ray wore off, we grabbed the bowling ball and headed for the basement to knock over some tentacles.
We reckoned without the tenacity of Old Purple, who insisted on minimizing our efforts. Luckily, I minored in psychology, and was able to talk him into taking out his aggressions on Dr. Fred. Boy, did I make that tentacle feel small.
Dr. Fred helped us disentangle all remaining complications, and as we walked off into the sunset, I felt that somehow Hancock, Jefferson, Franklin, Ross, and Washington would have been proud of our efforts to keep our country safe. May the gloriously triangular/ red, white, and blue long wave over this proud nation of free scientific inquiry! Physics Forever!