How many frozen poodles can fit in a hallway linen closet?

Dear survivors of the apocalypse: I am proud and happy to be your mailman. Although my job is dangerous, I feel privileged to be the one to connect our towns together with the lifeblood of communication. That said, anyone who tries to mail anything bigger than a 9x12 envelope is getting punched in the junk. I'm a guy on a horse. Now is not the time to try and return the shoes you bought from Zappos. On to your letters!

On the Right Trek

Chris T.
Now that Benedict Cumberbatch's character's name is confirmed as John Harrsion in Star Trek Into Darkness, do you feel like an idiot for the rant you posted last week?

No I do not. I stand by it.

If Cumberbatch is playing a character called John Harrison, as seems to be the case, why they hell didn't J.J. Abrams just tell us? It's not a name any Trek fans recognize. It's not even an interesting name. What did he gain by making us wonder about it for so goddamned long? The obvious answer is buzz, but that's not exactly correct.

How many frozen poodles can fit in a hallway linen closet?

There's a difference between "holy shit did you see all the new footage in the new trailer!?" and "I wonder what Benedict Cumberbatch's characters name is." One builds excitement and the other builds irritation, and I'd say this is firmly the latter. Moreso because Abrams purposefully turned this non-issue into this huge ordeal.

Now, there's the thought since that Cumberbatch was initially announced to be playing a Trek canon character - and John Harrison is not a Trek canon character - that perhaps he takes a new name, or that John Harrison is a fake name. That changes nothing. John Harrison turning into or revealing himself as another person is a plot point, and clearly supposed to be a surprise. I don't want to be spoiled on things that happen in the movie. But if the antagonist has a name, that's he's going to be called for most of the movie, yeah, that's not a spoiler. That's just part of the basic plot summary.

One more thing: This is totally a guess on my part, but it makes sense to me and if I'm right it'll be a spoiler, so spoiler warning for the rest of the paragraph: I'd lay even money that "John Harrison" takes the name Khan by the end of the film. Partially because of that Star Trek II shot from the end of the Japanese Into Darkness trailer, partially because of the earlier "he's a canon character assertion," partially because a change from a nobody character into a classic villain satisfies all the conflicting info given about him, and partially because J.J. Abrams will look like a total douchecanoe for creating this whole furor if the character simply stays John Harrison. And if I'm correct, then he has to be Khan, because "But you see Kirk, I was Gary Mitchell all along!" means nothing to 97% of the movie audience, (same with any other non-Khan character). Only Khan has the name recognition to pull off a reveal like this.

This would be awful, of course, and I hope I'm wrong. This is what I'm expecting, though.

Reality Bites

Alan Bacchiochi:
I have a niggling doubt regarding the spread of zombism. First let us assume that one bit will result in becoming infected. But it also seems that zombies are hell bent on devouring everyone in their path. They are not just taking a nibble and strolling along. Wouldn't that lead to a lot more eaten people than infected people. Moreover, if their gluttony results in less infections wouldn't they be that much easier to wipe out? Most presentations have the world going to zombie batshit hell seemingly overnight and that doesn't ring true to me. Anything in the postal bag about this?

There's a couple different questions in here, but I got ‘em. First, yes, zombies do go for the full human buffet. But we living humans try to make that as difficult as possible. Most zombie infections will occur like they do in the better zombie movies - random bites and scratches that occur while humans are hell bent on running/fighting. There'll be plenty of minor wounds, and thus there'll be plenty of people who will turn into zombies.

Second, most of this will happen during the initial chaos, before people truly realize what's happening. People will be walking along, minding their own business when a seemingly crazy dude starts trying to eat their foot. Any sane person runs away… to become infected and infect someone else the same way. Imagine this repeated pretty much constantly around the world. This gives the zombie outbreak a foothold, then general panic, lack of survival skills and simple denial make most people easy zombie pickin's. Leaving the small groups of people who have the manpower, skills, and ability to get along in horrific circumstances who'll have the ability to actually survive. For a while.

Skeletons in the Closet

Jon Provo:
Ho there, Postman!
I have an rpg-ish question for you, one that arose from a game of Palladium's Beyond the Supernatural I was running some years back. I'll have to set the stage a bit but please note that this was a spur of the moment game, I didn't plan it and never intended for it to get this insane.

My players' investigators were hired by a man (basically Peter Lorre from the Maltese Falcon) to discover why his poodles kept exploding. During the course of their investigation they found a book on demon summoning that dealt with sacrificing lesser creatures to attain demonic power, the more animals sacrificed the more powerful the entity summoned, in the client's house. They also found a linen closet just stuffed to the brim with freeze dried toy poodles. I was then asked a very sensible (for the situation) question. How many poodles were in the closet?

We then spent the next three hours of actual real time researching the problem. Sadly this was before the days of Google and the internet was less forthcoming than we'd expected. For the sake of the game I finally settled of 72, but we always felt like that wasn't quite right. We tried writing Mensa but never received an answer and now I turn to you Rob… how many poodles were in the closet?

So I was all set to make up a number and present it on its own, as fact, but much like you and your players did, I got sucked into trying to find the real answer.

There's no standard linen closet size - some are smaller than standard closets, some are larger to hold things in addition to linens. Most ceilings are 8-feet tall, and most non-coat closets are about 2-feet deep. There's no standard width - closets just take up as much room as the floorplan allows - but 4-feet is a decent average. So 2 x 4 x 8 equals 64 cubic feet.

Now for the poodles. You might be surprised to learn there are no resources on the internet when you type "How big is an average toy poodle torso," although everyone agrees that most toy poodles are 10-inches long. More problematically, toy poodles are not ideally suited for stacking - they have tiny heads and extra tiny butts but they bulge out at the shoulders. It'd be like trying to stack eggplants.

So I'm going to make a guess that, with careful positioning (you'd have to fold in the arms and legs like the Voltron lions, that's for sure) that you could get four average-sized, freeze-dried toy poodles in a cubic foot. Times 64, that's 256, give or take.

In related news, I have totally creeped myself out. Oh wait, there's a P.S…

P.S.: It didn't ultimately matter as they decided to burn the house down. They never learned why the man's dogs kept blowing up like over filled balloons or how he'd planed of reviving them for the ritual sacrifice. They just burnt that s.o.b.'s house down.

…and that sums up pretty much every single RPG session I played in from 1990-92.

Derezzed Delight

How many frozen poodles can fit in a hallway linen closet?

Russell Christianson:
Any word on whether Daft Punk will be scoring the new Tron 3 movie that has been getting a lot of buzz?

No word, but Disney seems to be making a lot of good decisions lately, so I imagine they'll stick with ‘em. The one thing pretty much everyone could agree about Tron: Legacy was that Daft Punk did a fantastic job with the soundtrack. Besides, can you think of anyone else on the planet better-suited to the task, even if Disney wanted to hire someone else? I can't.

Weighty Affairs

Henry Lawton:
Dear Postman,
What exactly is a "shit-ton?"
Thank you in advance.

256 freeze-dried poodles.

Lights, Camera, Action

Joshua Ninke:
I never get tired of watching a good old fashioned action movie. Stuff blows up, the hero keeps his cool, and bad guys fall from skyscrapers in penance for their crimes.

So I ask you, who is the ultimate action hero? There are so many to choose from. Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, Norris... I just realized I accidentally started writing out the cast of Expendables 2..

I would easily and happily tell you that the first Die Hard is the greatest action movie ever made, but action hero? The three latter Die Hard movies aren't even close to great. But does the average rule out John McClane, or does his one film of perfection outweigh everything else?

How many frozen poodles can fit in a hallway linen closet?

But - as I believe you're implying by listing action movie actors, and not characters - I have to go with Schwarzenegger. Look at the pedigree: the Conan movies, Predator, Commando, the Terminator movies, Total Recall, True Lies, The Expendables, The Running Man, Red Heat - no one comes close.

And remember, Schwarznegger was a foreign bodybuilder with a near intelligible accent, and he's not that good an actor, either (seriously, Willis and Stallone occasionally play roles, but Schwarzenegger is just Schwarzenegger, every single time). There's no way he should have become a star. But instead he became one of the biggest box office draws in the world, purely on his massive charisma - which was so considerable it helped him get elected governor twice. Between the sheer volume of his awesome action work and the degree of difficulty in which he completed it, I'd say Arnold is definitely the ultimate action star.

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