Dead End Job

Last week’s foray into inviting complete strangers to eat chinese food was an unmitigated success, even in face of Beltzner’s sensible observation that I scheduled it:

  1. during a Stanley Cup playoff game, and
  2. somewhere in Canada.

So we’re going to do it again. And Thursday works for me. But I note that the NHL is completely unheedful of my schedule this week, and they’ve scheduled another playoff game for this Thursday, the bastards. So I’ll poll some people, but I don’t think it’ll be a big outing this week. Next week, though, I expect legions. I’m going to invite the entire league.

The rest of this entry is going to be extremely geek-intensive, so you’ve been warned.

One thing that came up during a protracted foray into geek-talk was Voltron. And not the Lion Voltron, either: the much lamer Vehicle Voltron. And because in addition to being a bunch of dyed-in-the-polyester nerds, the lot of us are now adults with adultish concerns, the topic turned ugly.

If you’ve ever tried to get anything done with mid-to-large group of people, you know in your bones that a small, focused team is a hell of a lot more productive than a legion of anything. One is not enough, but less is clearly better. And if you’re on the five-person Lion Voltron team, you’re there; your organizational heirarchy is two levels, “Torso” and “Limbs”, with clearly delimited responsibilities, basically “You two grab things, swing the sword around and punch things, you other two kick whatever needs kicking and keep our ass of the sand the rest of the time, I’ll keep everything together and handle the big-picture strategy stuff.”

If you’re one of the fifteen people on the extended Vehicle Voltron team, though, things are not so rosy – Your heirarchy starts with “Head”, and has to trickle down through no less than eight other vehicles before you get to the Foot-Cars. They might have other names, of course, being Planetary Exploration Vehicles of some kind, but nobody would actually say that. They’d say “I drive the right knee” or “I fly the sword hand.” And that’s where the trouble starts, because one of those vehicles, an oblong black thing, is the part that connects the Voltron legs to the Voltron torso.

Put yourself in this man’s shoes. You start as an idealistic youngster, you train your whole life, get straight A’s in school and eventually make the cut for this elite force of intrepid explorers, and somewhere in all that process, you’ve ended up piloting a big black robot ass. What the hell do you do then? They never covered this in the show, of course, but the morale in that vehicle must be miserable. What do you tell people at parties?

“I’m part of the Voltron Force, I… I pilot the… the hips”.

“So they put you in charge of the ass, eh? Did you lose a bet?”

“I do not drive the ass. I fly the lower torso; It’s a very important position.”

“I’m sure it is. You can’t slack off when you’re driving the Ass Bus.”

“I do not drive the Ass Bus.”

“Are you well-equipped out there on the Ass Bus? Do you have some kind of long, robotic
protrusion you can whip out? You know, for probing things?”

“Shut up.”

“Maybe you could use that to fix the other Ass Bus on some other Voltron. How often do you clean that thing, by the way?”

Maybe they rotate that assignment or pay him extra, or something, because there’s just no way to draw lots or assign it at random that won’t be completely demoralizing. And God help any woman who gets put in that job; that’d be worse. “How are we going to get this shipment to Cygnus Four?” “Mary will take it in… er, Lieutenant Smith will transport it in the storage space in the lower-torso unit.” “I see.”

One Comment

  1. Posted June 6, 2004 at 3:21 am | Permalink


    Hoye got some good mileage the other day out ofthe relative inferiority of the vehicle-based Voltron series, and I was tempted to embellish upon his reflections with my own wandering thoughts — please find attached, elsewhere, sometime, perhaps, …