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Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


Adding Machine (1969)

Hero is called Mr. Zero

ZERO: I killed him, see. Right through the heart with a bill file, see. Now, I want you to get that straight, all of you: 1, 2, 3, 4, …., 12, twelve of you. Six and six that makes twelve. Figured that up often enough. And 5 is 17 and 8 is 25 and three is 28. Oh, cut it out. Damn figures. I can’t forget them. 25 years see, 8 hours a day, except Sundays and one week’s vacation with pay, another one without, if you want it. Who wants it. Laying around at home listen to the wife tell you where to get off. Oh and legal holidays, I nearly forgot about them. There’s New Years, Washington’s birthday, Declaration Day, 4th of July, Labor day, Election Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Good Friday, if you want it. 25 years and never missed a day, never more than 5 minutes late. Look at my time card if you don’t believe me: 8:27, 8:30, 8:29, 8:27, 8:32, 8 and 32 is 40. Ah, cut it out. Damn figures. Can’t forget them. You know, it’s a funny thing about them figures. They remind you of people sometimes. The eights, see, there is 2 dots for the eyes a dot for the nose and a line (here he draws an 8 in the air). That’s a mouth, see. And there is others that remind you of other things, but, well, I can’t talk about them on account of there being ladies present. Sure I killed him, but why didn’t he shut up instead of going on and on about how sorry he was and what a good guy I was. I felt like saying: Shut up! But I just didn’t have the nerve to talk to a boss like that. He was standing there right close to me and I counted/spotted/totalled? 6 buttons on him, six and six is twelve and six, oh, cut it out. And there was the bill file there on the desk, right close where I could touch it…. I mean 25, 25, 25, cut it out

Exercise in the jail courtyard. Zero is counting while exercising. .
….four and four is eight, 1,2,3,4, four and four is eight, 5,6, 7, 8

newspaper headline: Zero to die 3 p.m today!