the attaman thread

A few days ago, I misspoke in a post. I meant to say that Linette and I had trapped a strain of the cold virus in our living room, beneath an ottoman. Instead, I wrote that we had it cornered beneath an ataman. I tried to play it off later like I’d meant to say that we had a Cossack chief (or “ataman”) here in our house, but a few folks called me on it and took the opportunity to have some fun at my expense (even though, I should point out, I was terribly sick with a cold at the time).

One of the individuals to jump on the pile and contribute to the “Mark doesn’t know how to spell ottoman” thread was Brett R. Schutzman, who suggested that I might have meant to say Automan, an obscure computer-generated crime fighter portrayed on television by Chuck Wagner for a fraction of a season in 1983. Somehow, then the conversation then took a sharp turn toward Mohamed Atta Man, the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And, it was at that point that a reader named be-OH-be decided to pull all the threads together and tie them up in one big, beautiful bow with an image of Mohamed Atta, as cyber-hero Automan, riding alongside Desi Arnas Jr., who played New York City Police Department computer genius Walter Nebicher, the programmer responsible for Automan in the series of the same name… I have no idea what any of this means, but I love things that develop organically like this, taking many wonderful, unpredictable twists and turns along the way… And, perhaps more importantly, I wanted an excuse to put a link to this very cool Automan sound clip on the front page along with be-OH-be’s image… If you have way to keep this thread alive, please do so. (If not for the memory of Automan, then do it for the children.)

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  1. Tony Buttons
    Posted October 7, 2005 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    The glowing seat-belt is a nice touch. Car crashes can be particularly damaging to holograms.

    One thing confuses me though – where is Desi’s body? (If I were the kind of person to make completely tasteless jokes, I might suggest that Atta cut his head off so that he could take control of the vehicle. Fortunately, I’m not the kind of person to do something like that.)

  2. be OH bE
    Posted October 7, 2005 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Desi does kinda have that suprised, frozen-in-time look on his face. And the more I look at it, I really like Mohammed’s deadpan stare a la Norman Fell (Allah Norman Fell?). He would’ve made a great straight man in Hollywood buddy movies. Such wasted talent.

  3. Tony Buttons
    Posted October 7, 2005 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    He seems like more of a Tony Randall type to me.

    He could have easily done the Odd Couple in dinner theater with someone like Christian Slater in the Klugman role.

  4. Kristin
    Posted October 7, 2005 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Desi Arnaz, Jr? There is a Z at the end of his name, even though they tricked you with the S in Desi. Did you know the full name is Desiderio?

  5. Posted October 7, 2005 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

  6. Posted October 7, 2005 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Yikes. Wrong link.

  7. Posted October 7, 2005 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Automan is no Manimal.

  8. Shanster
    Posted October 8, 2005 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    I just got an e-mail from the Michigan Automotive Development Corp. titled “Automan Global Conference 2005”. I figured it was just a joke from one of you guys, but it turns out the conference will be this weekend at the Ritz in Dearborn ( It has nothing to do with Desi, but is probably in violation of some copyright laws.

    Bart sometimes called Otto the busdriver Otto-man.

  9. Posted October 8, 2005 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I don’t recall Desi jr being a very memorable performer, and I certainly never thought “Ah yes, clearly the child of Lucy and Desi sr!”

    No Buballoos, no WAAAAAAHHHHHHs, nothing.

    The scenes where he’d have to ride around in Automan’s car (which sort of resembled a Lamborghini) were always a bit unbelievable, even to my generally accepting youthful mind- It would supposedly travel at something like 700 mph, and then make a 90degree turn without slowing down (much like a TRON lightcycle); this generally plastered Desi humorously against a window, while automan (a hologram) never was affected by g forces and would just say “sorry” or something like that. I always felt that movement like this would most likely have turned a human’s flesh into liquid.

    Of course, at the time, I had no problem with David Hasslehoff flying through a truck of cement blocks at 400 mph, not wearing a seatbelt, and landing with a casual “Whooaah, KITT, that was a close one!”

    Going back to the “In the Town of Bedrock” post, where Jeep, Orco, and Gazoo were mentioned, Automan had a sidekick called ‘Cursor’ which was a little ball of light that actually constructed his vehicles for him whenever they were needed, and provided many cute little sidekick-y moments. The credits list “Cursor….as himself.”

    Remember when computers were so new, that even a damn cursor was considered interesting enough to anthropomorphize? Those were the days.

  10. mark
    Posted October 8, 2005 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Let’s all show up at the Automan conference with tons and tons of “Automan” memorabilia, dressed as characters, etc. According to Shanster’s link, it’s in Dearborn October 12 and 13. If we all chipped in, I bet we could even fly Chuck Wagner in and demand that they put him on one of the panels.

  11. Posted October 8, 2005 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s a fine idea, Mark.

    Best of luck to you and everyone else, though, in your efforts to catch up with my:

    vintage 1984 personally autographed 8×10 glossy of Chuck Wagner.

  12. mark
    Posted October 8, 2005 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    So, you’ve been holding back the good stuff from Ebay.

  13. Posted October 8, 2005 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Oh, this is worth much more to me than the $1.99 (plus shipping) which I’m sure it would fetch.

    If it makes you sad, mark, I know a fellow who can offer you some Zyban.

  14. Posted October 8, 2005 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    ..and mark, I realize you and linette may have already made other plans, but if you need a halloween costume idea for clementine, I think I’ve found just the thing.

  15. mark
    Posted October 9, 2005 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    This has been a crazy busy weekend, so not much time for blogging… Hopefully, if I have time, I’ll be able to get something up tonight about my secret meeting with Brett to discuss our “Automan strategy” though.

  16. Posted October 9, 2005 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I just put the order in for 1000 feet of reflective tape and a black light, mark. The plan’s coming together.

  17. Posted October 11, 2005 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I love it when a plan comes together

  18. mark
    Posted October 11, 2005 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I ain’t gettin’ in no airplane, Steve Cherry!

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