227: Color Codes

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Color Codes
It's the TMBG Dial-a-Song line, to save you some time.
Title text: It's the TMBG Dial-a-Song line, to save you some time.


Resistors are electronic components carrying color-coded bands indicating their value (measured in ohms) and tolerance (e.g. 5%). Cueball has been hunched over his work for so long that, when asked for his phone number (by his Cueball-like friend), he absentmindedly reads out his phone's area code as a sequence of colors found on the aforementioned resistors (each color corresponding to one of the ten decimal digits, in this case 718 – see Resistor color-coding). He realizes his mistake after these first three digits and begins again using numbers to state the entire phone number. His friend points out that such a mistake means it's a good time to take a break, and Cueball concurs.

It's not uncommon for readers to try calling phone numbers they see inside a book or a comic strip, just to discover what it actually goes to. Randall foresees this, and in the title text he simply tells you what the phone number is.

TMBG is They Might Be Giants, an alternative rock band responsible for toe-tapping chart-topping "Birdhouse In Your Soul." At one point, they recorded individual songs on an answering machine and advertised the phone number so people could call and listen to the song on the machine. Hence, Dial-A-Song. However, the number was changed to (844)-387-6962 in 2015. TMBG has also created a website with the same function: https://dialasong.com.

Resistor color codes were mentioned again in 992: Mnemonics and 1604: Snakes.


[Cueball sits hunched over his desk, which is littered with objects. His Cueball-like friend holding his cell phone talks to him.]
Friend: Hey, what's your cell number?
Cueball: (Violet Brown Gray)— Uh, I mean, (718)-387-6962.
Friend: Okay, you are putting down those resistors and going outside for a while.
Cueball: That's probably a good idea.

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Interestingly enough, violet brown grey corresponds to 710,000,000 ohms. BlueRoll18 (talk) 02:39, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Which part of that fact is interesting? 20:28, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
It's 71*10^8, the first digits of the phone number. Compro01 (talk) 19:31, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
isn't that the joke in the first place? Just some random derp 18:32, 17 June 2015 (UTC)

That's interesting because that's the beginning of the phone number (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

There has been a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the new Category:Multiple Cueballs. I have also changed the explanation and transcript so Cueball is the interesting person of this comic - i.e. the one who talks in color codes. And then made a note that the other guy also looks like Cueball. --Kynde (talk) 12:01, 17 November 2015 (UTC)

Any idea if there is any significance to the phone number? 19:05, 4 June 2020 (UTC)

It's in the title text *and* in the explanation, good grief.--The Cat Lady (talk) 10:23, 13 August 2021 (UTC)