Episode 143: We Have Always Been At War With Ovaltine

The Overthinkers tackle visitors from other worlds.

Matthew Wrather hosts with Peter Fenzel, Josh McNeil, and returning panelist Dave Shechner to overthink visitors from another world and what they like to eat. And what we like to eat.


→ Download Episode 143 (MP3)

Want new episodes of the Overthinking It Podcast to download automatically? Subscribe in iTunes! (Or grab the podcast RSS feed directly.)

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment, use the contact formemail us or call (203) 285-6401 to leave a voicemail.

24 Comments on “Episode 143: We Have Always Been At War With Ovaltine”

  1. Chris #

    After three weeks of guest stars, you’re now doing your “Ron Howard returns to Happy Days” episode of the podcast. Although, I don’t know if Shechner really qualifies as your Richie Cunningham. I reckon Wrather would have to be considered the Richie. Fenzel would be The Fonz. Obviously, Mark Lee is Arnold. Nobody else is anything.


    • Lee OTI Staff #

      Wait, if I’m Arnold, does that mean that a fat white dude is going to replace me after this season?


      Question: was the subject of his Japanese heritage ever the subject of serious conversation on the show? A cursory Google search suggests this was not the case, but I would imagine that anti-Japanese sentiments in the US were still strong during the period depicted on the show.

      By the way, there’s some great fan fic waiting to be written about Mesuma Takahashi’s journey from Japan to 1950’s Wisconson.

      Lastly: I’ll be back on the ‘cast next week in case anyone missed me. I missed this one to go watch an experimental noise collective* in concert. You may have heard of them; they’re called Sonic Youth.

      *for the TFT podcast listeners out there


      • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

        *snort* At this point, more like Sonic Middle Age. Zing!


    • McNeil #

      “nobody else is anything.” Harsh, bro. Harsh.

      Can I be the shark?


      • Chris #

        Fine, you can either be Leather or Pinky Tuscadero. Choose wisely. Down one path is glory, down the other is ruin.


  2. Brian #

    To tie in the alien theme Schechner could be Mork, after all the character originated from Happy Days. Which, having never seen an episode, makes Happy Days seem the weirdest show ever. Also…

    *takes off white glove. throws it to ground. puffs chest up.* Chris, if, with your comparison to late season Happy Days, you are implying the podcast has “jumped the shark” I must inquire as to your “jump the shark moment,” as I will not stand idly to such sly aspersions but voraciously defend OTI’s honor to the death sir. But, if you reveal it is in fact I who is casting the aspersions, I shall humbly prepare a pan fried steak as a gentleman’s apology for the misreading. What be it sir?


    • Chris #

      No, I did not intend my remark to invoke the “jump the shark” moment of Happy Days. It just happened to be the first show that popped into my head when it came to a major character returning, as I have a distinct memory of a beard Ron Howard’s return to Happy Days after Richie had spent some time serving in the army during Vietnam. If I wanted to invoke jumping the shark, I would have been certain to mention Ted McKinley.


      • Brian #

        Ah, fair and settled. And I’ll assume on good faith we both understand “steak” to be metaphorical.


  3. Chris #

    When I think of chili peppers as an internet symbol, it’s as the signifier of an attractive professor on RateMyProfessor.com. Also, in your discussion of aliens as either benevolent overlords or vicious killers, I think Futurama is an excellent counterpoint to that. It’s the vision of the future that is neither utopia nor dystopia. It’s basically a more futuristic version of modern life.


  4. cat #

    Shechner, do you know of a receptor than is endocytosed during clathrin-mediated endocytosis in Arabidopsis? Otherwise, I think human transferrin can be used for my purposes.

    Oh, and the podcast was amazingly haphazard this week. Did you have a plan at all? It completely disintegrated into chaos. Lovely.


    • fenzel #

      We didn’t have much of a plan. More notably, I was pretty sick and had just come back from a weekend of traveling. Josh was apparently eating dinner while podcasting, and Shechner’s heating vent was making a ton of noise. So we were under battle conditions :-P


      • cat #

        Plans can only constrain the creative process…or at least that’s what I tell myself when I haven’t written an outline. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. My brain intended to make an amusing comment on epic poetry but realized it hadn’t absorbed enough enough to do so. Just imagine I said something incredibly brilliant about Paradise Lost and battle conditions and this podcast being recorded for the ages.


  5. Brian #

    Yeah, benevolent vs. killer aliens is exclusive of that middle ground, but how useful it is depends on time frame, in modern time that’s a small middle, but it’s large in future stuff. For a really dubious categorization, an open thread inspired me to categorize differences in modern day alien encounters depending on locations urban, suburban, country; and the benevolent vs. killer dichotomy fits nicely on how the citizens feel about the government/military response to the alien encounter.

    For example, E.T takes place in suburbia and the government response is viewed negatively-they’re vicious killers; but in MIB government response is viewed positively. I know one alien is mean the other is nice but hold on. Yeah, there’s suburban alien attacks, but the interesting thing is there’s very few positive Urban alien encounters when compared to suburban encounters.

    In the city you never get the citizens to protect an alien from the government like they protect E.T. Even in MIB where a lot of citizens are aliens, in human disguise, there’s some alien even more alien that only a government agency can protect the citizens from. But this is built on cherry picked data so if anyone has examples positive urban alien encounters let me know. All I got is Coneheads, and I suspect batteries not included but don’t remember the government response.


  6. shechner OTI Staff #

    It’s the sad narrative of my life that–no where in this discussion was it ever remotely considered that I might be Fonzie. This, even *after* I demonstrated my ability to resurrect failing ThermoCyclers by punching them.

    @Cat: I’m glad you asked this question. Off the top of my head, would the Auxin efflux carrier PIN-INFORMED (PIN) proteins work? They’re used in an arabidopsis endocytosis assay in:
    Robert, S., et al (2010) Cell. 143(1). pp. 111-121.

    Else, is endocytosis of the phototropins clathryn-mediated? I’m *sure* this was mentioned somewhere in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

    @Chris – great catch with Futurama!


    • cat #

      Right, can you be on the podcast every week? :)

      I couldn’t find the actual article you cited (it’s almost as if they’re trying to hide all this valuable research about clathrin away) but I found two articles to read that will hopefully confirm that PIN can be used.

      I would not be able to handle a combination of Menken and molecular biology. I have trouble containing myself as is whenever clathrin is mentioned in lecture. The past few weeks have been on vesicle transport so you can imagine my excitement. How are you at Organic Chemistry? Kidding…


      • shechner OTI Staff #

        Hrm – it’s bizarre that you can’t get access to the article. Here’s a direct link (I’d put the Rickrolling probability–P(R^2)–at about 10%):


        Here here on vesicular transport! I learned this stuff from a guy named Ira Melman, (then) Yale MCDB professor and lead singer/guitarist for a band called the “Cell Mates.” The memory of his lectures on Golgi transport (the COPI/COPII systems) is indelibly marred by the COPS Theme parody that accompanied it.

        “…Bad boys, bad boys. Whatcha gonna’ do? Whatcha gonna’ do when they condense N-Acetyl Glucosamine on you?…”

        (Answer: inspire a chorus of awkward groans from students, generally).

        O-Chem, eh? Oy… Well, it’s probably better than my Cell Bio, actually. At least, I know my Claisen condensations from my Claisen rearrangements, while I’m not sure I can promise the same for my Ras’s, Rap’s, Ran’s and Rag’s. Oh GTP, you little slut…


  7. EZ #

    FYI guys, Robocop is on Watch Instantly.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      I may have spoken too soon about Ghostbusters 2. The current thinking is “The Karate Kid”, though “Robocop” is definitely on the horizon.


  8. Gab #

    I don’t have much substantive stuff to say, just reminders of different pop culture stuff.

    Who the heck hates on Hook???? That’s a totally new one on me, seriously. I love that movie to the marrow in my bones, I do. But Rufio, the actor’s name is Dante Brasco and he did the voice for Prince Zuko in the Avatar animated series, actually. I figured that out by IMDBing it after the first couple episodes when I binge-watched the whole series on Netflix last summer- the voice was painfully familiar (as are a lot of the voices on that show, actually).

    And I’m reminded of the made of awesome scene in The Cable Guy that takes place at Medieval Times- from Genine Garofalo being the beer wench (“Dude, I got a lotta tables.”) to the re-enactment of the “classic Star Trek scene” between Carey and Broderick, that’s one of the best comical sequences I’ve ever experienced in my quarter-century of living (probably due to how it taps in to so much of my personal nerdery, it’s like the scene was written for me and my crowd of friends).

    The binary solo, Wrather, reminded me of the binary solo in “Robots” by Flight of the Conchords.

    While I loved Signs (go ahead, make fun of me), what bothered me about the aliens wasn’t necessarily that they went after a planet that’s 80% water, but rather that the fact that water is what kills them was discovered in the Middle East- the implication was that it happened in the desert. Desert. Water. Eh?


  9. Wade #

    So is “unboxing porn” in any way related to “destruction porn”? I don’t actually know what the term for it is, but there’s a whole subset of videos out there of people taking the latest gadget (or just any random object) and destroying it in their contraption of choice. The classic example I guess would be BlendTec’s “Will It Blend” series, but in my cursory research, I discovered this video of a guy unboxing and then microwaving a brand new Nintendo 3DS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIikjdkgT6U

    What is this world coming to?


  10. Pasteur #

    Hook is amazing, it has Gwyneth Paltrow in it.


  11. Edvamp #

    At the end of the podcast you mention the commentaries of the podcast which got me thinking about an earlier thread…discussing the commentary threads on Overthinkingit. Would such a discussion be considered meta?

    I think another example of unboxing porn is weapon porn, very common to 80’s action flicks, where ridiculous amounts of attention is paid to the laying out, preparation or strapping on of weapons.

    Besides the good vs bad technologically advanced alien you also have the alien as human analog as depicted in Star Trek, something that always amused/annoyed me depending on context. Even tho the shows tried to portray the Federation as not human centric, there was always a human bias. Most races were compared to humans in regards to lifespan, strength, intelligence, etc. And any species with 2 arms, 2 legs, etc, were referred to as ‘humanoid’. (The novels addressed this in one with a Cardassian focus they refer to it as Cardassoid anatomy).

    Basically only humans were seen as a varied race with different sub cultures and interests, while the rest were, as TV Tropes puts it, a Planet of Hats.

    Go see Paul immediately. Just the opening scene at ComicCon is worth the price of the ticket, and it gets better from there, in my opinion.


  12. Timothy J Swann #

    Just as I tried to lay claim to London Agent in my e-mail to get on the podcast, I think of Schechner as the Science Officer of the good ship Overthinking.

    The whole unpronounceable name is most memorable for me in Splash where it is actively destructive to say her real name. And yes, it is weird that aliens tend to share modalities with us – why not have an alien species that communicates electrically for example? I imagine this has been done in some overlooked hard sci-fi.

    The podcasts should not merely be numbered, but should have an edition, volume and number for proper citing purposes.

    It’s interesting that McNeil is eating a steak and not the traditional podcast food of risotto.

    Isn’t yellowcake something more dangerous than basic sponge cake?

    I imagine that Neckbeard eventually established the Pirate Bay.

    You know, I’m pretty sure you can say anything on here and get away with it. I got no hatemail for my Imperialist Revanchist Irredentist views. Maybe Wrather did?

    And one example of Earth exporting food was at the end of children’s series Animorphs, where our cinnamon buns became galactically popular. And who can blame them!


  13. Devon #

    I can’t believe you dissed Midwestern food. Take this fine example of culinary excellence, straight from the 100th Anniversary Cookbook of the Christian Reformed Church of Edgerton, Minnesota:

    Tuna Chip Casserole
    1 can drained tuna
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    3/4 cup milk
    1 cup crushed potato chips.

    Break chunks of tuna into a bowl. Stir in soup and milk. Add 3/4 cup crushed potato chips. Mix well. Pour into greased baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining chips over top. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 4-6.


Add a Comment