Rocket Gab

Zerk and Zark, the saucer siblings, talk rocket repair and maintenance.


MFX: Brief banjo music but like SPAAAAAACE

ZERK: Welcome back to Rocket Gab on Nebula Public Radio with us, Zerk and Zark, broadcasting today from the 624-Hektor Trojan asteroid in Jupiter orbit. We’re here today to take your calls about your rockets, space ships, flying saucers, UFOs—

ZARK: UFOs? Who the hell is still driving a UFO?

ZERK: They’re out there; they’re out there.

ZARK: Listen—

ZARK: Now, now, now

ZERK: Listen, if you’re driving it, you know what you’re driving, right?

ZARK: You would think.

ZERK: And what is a UFO?

ZARK: Whattaya talking about?

ZERK: Come on, come on, what is a UFO?

ZARK: An unidentified flying [ZERK joins in] object.

ZERK: [joining in] -unidentified flying object.

ZARK: Okay

ZERK: So if you’re driving it, by definition it cannot be a UFO.

ZARK: Right.

ZERK: Because it isn’t unidentified.

ZARK: Okay, I take your point. It’s not a good point, but I’ll take it.

ZERK: All right. So.


ZERK: Hey, we got some mail here from a listener.

ZARK: From a listener.

ZERK: That’s what I just said!

ZARK: I’m agreeing with you, geez.

ZERK: All right, all right.

ZARK: So we got a letter.

ZERK: Yeah, we got this letter. Listen to this:

[reading] Dear Rocket Gab, I fly a ’72 Alpha-class Yotota Kelvin with a flux drive and I’ve noticed that there’s a problem with the heating core whenever I fly under Warp-2.

ZARK: That could be a problem.

ZERK: Exactly. [reading again] Whenever I put it into the lower Warp, my heating core starts to lose field integrity and the bridge viewscreens start to fog up. It only happens when I’m in Warp 1 or 2; it doesn’t happen on impulse engines or the higher warp gears. Any idea what could be causing this?
Signed, Porphyria Drax, Lunar Colony 6

[no longer reading] All right, what do you think?

ZARK: Well, Porphyria, it sounds like what you’ve got there is a leak in your heating core shields.

ZERK: And that’s a problem.

ZARK: Big problem.

ZERK: Because what’s happening is you’ve got coolant leaking into the bridge; that’s what’s fogging things up, and—

ZARK: How toxic is that stuff?

ZERK: I mean, you wouldn’t want be breathing it.

ZARK: Space God, no!

ZERK: And you wouldn’t want your bridge crew breathing it.


ZERK: What, you’re good with the bridge crew breathing toxic coolant?

ZARK: They’re the bridge crew; they can handle it. They’re probably immune.

ZERK: Probably.

ZARK: Anyway, Porphyria, you’ve got a big problem here.

ZERK: You know, it’s not a problem for everybody.

ZARK: Very true! If you’re Porphyria’s mechanic, things are looking up for you.

ZERK: Oh, yeah, Porphyria’s about to make some mechanic very happy.

ZARK: Very expensive repair.

ZERK: Honestly, Porphyria, what’d I do is scrap the Kelvin—

ZARK: Strip it for parts-

ZERK: Yeah, strip it for parts, get whatever trade-in value you can, and get yourself a nice new ride. Like a Baldanza star cruiser or a one of those new Callisto Wraith-drives.

ZARK: Ooh, those are nice.

ZERK: Right? You’re not gonna want to stick with your Kelvin.

ZARK: Yeah, because if you go into your local repair shop and say, “I need two new shields for my heating core, because there’s a coolant leak in my ’72 Yotota Kelvin”, they’re gonna jump for joy.

ZERK: “I smell a luxury vacation coming my way.”

ZARK: Exactly, it’s a very expensive repair. Probably more than the Kelvin’s worth at this point.

ZERK: Probably more than it was ever worth at ANY point.

ZARK: Exactly. Good luck, Porphyria.

ZERK: Yeah, good luck.

ZARK: All right, if you’ve got a question about your ship, rocket, or space vehicle, the number to call is 1-888-186-282𝜋 Rocket Gab. Hello, you’re on Rocket Gab.

JOX: Greetings, this is Jox from Portland.

ZARK: Which Portland is that?

JOX: Portland, Europa.

ZERK: Europa.

ZARK: Oh, yeah…

ZERK: Gorgeous place, Portland, Europa.

ZARK: Great weather, I’ve heard.

ZERK: So, what can we do for you, Jox?

JOX: Well, I fly a vintage Apollo model—

ZARK: [low whistle of impressedness]

ZERK: Wow! That’s a hell of a vehicle.

ZARK: There were only, like what, 18 of those ever made?

ZERK: 17

ZARK: Right, right.

ZERK: What model you flying? Not one of the early ones, I hope—

ZARK: Yeah, the first few models could be a little rickety.

JOX: No, I’ve got a mark-11.

ZERK: Oh! A classic!

ZARK: Now that is a gorgeous, gorgeous model.

ZERK: I could marry that module.

ZARK: Right? Gorgeous. You’re a lucky being, Jox.

JOX: [chuckling] Yes, I know…

ZERK: So what can we help you with, Jox?

ZARK: Yeah, what can we help you with? You’ve got an Apollo, you could get anyone in the galaxy to help you with that.

ZERK: I would pay you to let me work on that module.

ZARK: No, you wouldn’t.

ZERK: Okay, fine; no I wouldn’t.

ZARK: Pay to work on a module.

ZERK: It’s a great model! It’s a classic! Wouldn’t you want—

ZARK: Sure it’s a classic, but—

ZERK: Are you saying you wouldn’t want to poke around under the hood of a vintage Apollo?

ZARK: No, no, of course not; I’d love a look at a vintage Apollo, but I’m not gonna pay somebody for it.

ZERK: Fine. So Jox, what can we do for you?

JOX: So, recently, I’ve been hearing a grinding sound from my orbital maneuvering engines.

ZARK: What kind of a grinding? Is it like a kind of a [NOISE]?

JOX: No, it’s more of a [NOISE]. I can even feel the grinding through the brake pedals.

ZERK: Got it. When did this start?

JOX: About a quarter cycle ago.

ZERK: A quarter cycle and you haven’t gotten it looked at yet?

ZARK: And you’re only calling us now?

JOX: Well, I don’t fly it that often. I take it out of the silo every month or so, but it’s not my everyday rocket.

ZERK: That’s…that’s fair.

ZARK: Are you kidding me?

ZERK: What?

ZARK: If I had a mint-condition vintage Apollo mark 11 no way in hell would I leave it in the silo.

ZERK: I would be flying that thing day and night.

ZARK: I’d be running extra errands just to fly

ZERK: Pickin’ up each thing from the grocery store separately.

ZARK: One at a time. Anyway. JOX. Your incredible, mint-condition, classic Apollo—

ZERK: —Mint condition except for the weird grinding noise—

ZARK: Right, except for that. Now, Jox. What have you done to it so far?

JOX: Well, I took a look under the hood and I didn’t see anything wrong, so I took it over to my buddy who’s a mechanic, he’s a classic rocket guy, and asked what he thought.

ZERK: Oh, no.

JOX: Right, and he said it needed some work on the engine connections, and that he could take care of it for me.

ZARK: Right. So what happened?

JOX: I pick it up the next day,

ZARK: Let me guess: the noise was back.

JOX: Right. Now the whole thing was shaking around like a satellite on an uncontrolled reentry.

ZARK: What’d your buddy say?

JOX: He said it was something wrong with the fuel line; he’d needed to plug in some specific part.

ZARK: An Armstrong coupling?

JOX: Yeah.

ZARK: And when you got it back, the noise was worse.

JOX: Yeah, it was a kind of a [much more worrisome noise].

ZERK: Oh, boy.

ZARK: All right, here’s what happened.

ZERK: So first of all, your buddy’s garage is staffed by idiots.

ZARK: Complete morons.

ZERK: Or at least one particular complete moron.

ZARK: Right.

ZERK: So, here’s what happened—here’s what I think happened. Your friend the mechanic, and I use that word loosely, your friend the mechanic took one look at the engines and thought, “Ah, I just happen to have a spare Armstrong coupling here, that must be what’s going on. Classic module, must have a classic part that needs service.”

ZARK: Exactly. When you’ve got a hammer, everything [ZERK joins in] looks like a nail.

ZERK: [joining in]—everything looks like a nail. And what he’s done, what this guy has done, is replace a perfectly fine Armstrong coupling instead of paying attention to the real problem.

JOX: And what’s that?

ZARK: The converter chip.

ZERK: Yeah, that grinding sound you’re hearing is a classic converter chip problem.

ZARK: So what you gotta do is take your module to an actual mechanic—

ZERK: —Not your buddy—

ZARK: —right, not your buddy, take it in to a mechanic, tell them you’ve got a malfunctioning converter chip and non-compliant Armstrong coupling.

ZERK: And never let your buddy the mechanic look at it ever again.

ZARK: Never.

JOX: Okay, thanks.

ZERK: Oh boy.

ZARK: Whoa.

ZERK: A mark-11 Apollo.

ZARK: Incredible.

ZERK: 1-888-186-282𝜋 Rocket Gab. Hello, you’re on Rocket Gab.

JAHN: Hello! It is I, Jahn Smythe!

ZERK: Where ya calling from today, Jahn?

JAHN: I am Everywhere.

ZARK: …Right, okay.

ZERK: That’s out by Phobos and Deimos, right?

ZARK: Oh, yeah, that’s right, there’s that little space station.

ZERK: Practically a truck stop.

ZARK: Nice place. So what can we do you for, Jahn?

ZERK: Yeah, whattaya flying around in?

JAHN: I am everywhere. But my problem concerns a 3712 Astero Aeronaut.

ZERK: With the, ah, flux drive or the traditional warp?

ZARK: Oh, that’s right, you could get that model both ways.

ZERK: God, I hope it’s a warp drive.

JAHN: My model possesses the flux drive.

ZARK: That complicates things a little bit.

ZERK: What’s going on with it, Jahn from Everywhere?

JAHN: Both of my two normal human eyes have perceived that the holographic display is malfunctioning. I, Jahn Smythe, have perceived this through the biological process of absorbing light into my visual orbs, focusing that light onto my retinas, and then using my neural connections to comprehend the patterns.

ZERK: Now, that sounds like a computer problem to me.

ZARK: Yeah. Now, when you power up the display—

JAHN: Using my human finger digits and phalanges.

ZERK: Yeah, when you power up the display, what exactly happens?

JAHN: The machine emits what I understand is an unusual sound.

ZARK: What does it sound like, exactly?

ZERK: Yeah, is it a sort of a [noise]?

JAHN: The sound, which I process using my human ears and not by sensing the sound waves as they pass through my eternal formlessness, resembles the wave pattern of a repeated sonic tone at the note that humans like me call “d-minor”. Each period of sound lasts precisely 4 16ths of a human second.

ZARK: I can’t quite picture it.

JAHN: It is an [noise].

ZARK: Oh, that’s your spark plugs.

ZERK: Yeah, that’s your spark plugs. Classic spark plug sound.

JAHN: Thank you, new friends!

ZARK: All right, take care there, Jahn.

ZERK: Spark plugs.

ZARK: Exactly.

ZERK: All right, once again, we’re at 1-888-186-282𝜋 Rocket Gab. Go ahead and call in with your questions about your rockets, saucers, UFO

ZARK: Ok, come on, we talked about the UFO thing

ZERK: Your non-UFOS fine. 1-888-186-282𝜋 Hello, you’re on Rocket Gab.

LULI: Hi, this is Luli from Fizzbit in the Kuiper Belt.

ZERK: Hello Luli.

LULI: Hello.

ZARK: So, how can we help you today Luli?

LULI: I’ve been having some trouble with my carburetor.

ZARK: What are you flying?

LULI: A 1998 Honda Civic.

ZARK: Nice. What kind of miles you got on that?

LULI: Just under 65 million miles.

ZERK: Okay, so what’s been going on?

LULI: Well, I’ve noticed the last, like half-cycle or so that every once in a while, when I’m accelerating or braking, the engine stalls out.

ZARK: Let me ask you this: is it making any kind of a noise?

LULI: Not really.

ZERK: Well, that’s disappointing.

ZARK: Do you think you could do a noise anyway? Just for the listeners? They really like this stuff.

LULI: Um, sure? [noise]

ZERK: Thank you. Now, Luli

ZARK: Luli

ZERK: Let me tell you what I think is going on here. It sounds to me like your carburetor.

ZARK: That’s exactly what I was gonna say.

ZERK: It’s gonna be one of two things. Either you’ve got a busted accelerator pump or it’s a bad carburetor float.

ZARK: Now, you could just take it apart—are you–let me ask you this–are you somebody who likes to do your own maintenance?

LULI: Not really. Like, I can deal with the basic stuff, but anything really advanced I take in to the garage.

ZERK: So then you’re not going to want to take it apart and replace the parts yourself.

LULI: [chuckling] No

ZARK: That’s fine; carburetors are—I tell you: they’re tricky

ZERK: They are advanced placement repairs.

ZARK: Exactly, so what you’re gonna want to do here is go in, get a new carburetor, get it replaced, and that’ll solve your problem.

ZERK: Good luck, Luli.

ZARK: Yeah, thanks for your call.

ZERK: Right, well, thank you all for joining us this week.

ZARK: It’s happened again; you’ve wasted another galactic standard hour listening to Rocket Gab.

ZERK: And remember: don’t fly like my sibling.

ZARK: Don’t fly like MY sibling.

ZERK: Thanks for listening. We’ll be back next week.

ZARK: And even though the Rigellian High Counsel retract their secondary antennae in pain whenever they hear us say it, this is NPR, Nebula Public Radio.